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The Answer to the Violence in our Cities

People often want easy solutions to the issues that surround us. They want to toss some money at the problems, or march for an hour, or start a campaign on social media. But what I have found in my work and life is that one of the most powerful forces for change is love. In Philly and many other major cities we are facing high levels of violence in our communities. They’re is much talk about how we can reduce this violence. While I realize that this issue is deep and multi-faceted, I have witnessed the power of love to bring peace where there would have been violence.

I have witnessed the power of love to bring peace where there would have been violence.

I have seen a young man raging about his friend (my neighbor) who was shot in the head and left most likely as a “vegetable” for the rest of his life. That young man came to me, going off about how he knew who had done it and he was going to take him out! He came to me because he knew I cared. I then let him just get it all out.

I listened. I expressed compassion for the pain he was experiencing over the state of his friend. I watched him calming down from that rage-filled state and as he did, I began to ask questions to help walk him through what would happen each step of the way if he carried out his plan to kill the person who had shot his friend. I didn’t have to preach at him- he came up with the answers and realized that the end of it all would only be more retaliation, more violence, more loss, including his own imprisonment or death.

At the end, he said, “I gotta go give my gun to my cousin to hold for me so I don’t do anything stupid.”

What made the difference? It was love. Love was there for this angry, hurting young man. Love listened. Love welcomed him on as he was. Love saw past the anger to the pain and felt it with him. Love came alongside to help him see for himself. Because of love, how many lives were saved? How many were kept out of prison? How many mothers went to sleep knowing there child was alive? That’s the power of love.

Such a simple answer, yet often the much more difficult path that people would rather not take because it requires an opening up of their own hearts. And that is a risk. But it’s a risk worth taking.

Lillian Amado

Philadelphia, PA

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