In December, I wrote a post titled “Stop the Insanity” in which I shared a story of how one of our elderly community members was attacked, beaten and robbed and how no one came to her aid. This week another disturbing encounter took place between another one of our elderly community members and the youth of Fairfield Court.
Our friend, whom we will call Mrs. B, was on her way to our community gathering when she tripped and fell. Mrs. B is a large woman who is dependent on her cane to walk. When she fell, she cried out for help, but no one came. Mrs. B saw a group of youth standing close by and called out to them. Rather than come to her aid, these young people began laughing at her and calling her names. She realized that she was on her own, and began struggling to make her way to her feet, repeatedly falling which only caused the youth to laugh louder. After about fifteen minutes of struggling, Mrs. B was finally able to get to her feet, find her cane and continue on her way. However, the echoes of the laughter continued to torment her.
When Mrs. B arrived at our gathering, she burst into tears. She shared how she had fallen and we all assumed she had been injured. However, as she retold the story we realized that it was her pride that had been bruised. The youth had not beaten her like our friend several months back, but their laughter had humiliated her and only further caused her to distrust and fear the youth of her community. I wondered several months ago how anyone could be so cruel as to beat an elderly woman and I realized as she shared her story, that perpetrators of violence often start off with small acts of cruelty that only grows more intense over time as they dehumanize their victims.
Over the past year that we have been in Fairfield and Hillside court, we have heard countless elderly residents share similar stories of being tormented, attacked and treated disrespectfully by the youth in the community. Many are scared to go outside and see the youth as one of the major contributors to the violence in their communities.It raises these questions for me.
What is driving this disrespect for the elderly? Are the young people only projecting onto those weaker than them the cruelty they experience from others? Or is there a deeper disrespect for human life that is fueling these acts?
This week in our Hillside community, a young mother was found shot to death. Last week another woman was found in shot to death in the Oak Grove Community adjacent to Hillside and a few weeks prior to that a dead body was found in Bellmeade Community on the other side of Hillside Court. In our community meeting when the topic of the shooting was brought up, I am told the reaction was “well, that kind of stuff happens.” It is almost “normal.” I shared this same sentiment in my post “The Weirdest Day Ever”. One of my team members shared how he has witnessed countless shootouts as if it is no big deal. Our Program Director, Janie Walker, said something very powerful when she said, “When we get desensitized to death, we become desensitized to life.”