When I hear about incidents like the one Ashley just posted, I am devastated by the violence in our neighborhood and feel an overwhelming pain for the children growing up exposed to it. A (more selfish) part of me is also devastated by my fear for my friends. What if someone hit Greg when he stepped into the circle? What if that guy had followed Ashley home? A lot of days I want to encase my friends in bullet proof armors and store them all in the FCW warehouse, emerging only to pick heirloom tomatoes from the community gardens to eat. Because those tomatoes are worth coming out of hiding for.
I have been thinking a lot about the different forms of violence in our neighborhood lately. Yesterday, I met with some caseworkers at Gladden to discuss some disturbing behavior happening in homework help. One five year old has been saying really inappropriate things and drew a picture of me taking a shower with one of the male volunteers last week. Her sister has started calling me “mom.” The caseworkers are working very hard to contact their family, but say that it is difficult to prove any kind of abuse. They basically told me that I need to stay out of it, draw more boundaries with the kids, and stop walking them home. I don’t know how we can have boundaries in our neighborhood. These kids live a block from me. I see them after school and at community garden events. Since I have moved to Franklinton, I feel like all of my boundaries have disappeared or expanded. The boundary defining my family as Brian and my biological relations. The boundary around personal possessions. The boundary of what is normative behavior.
Most people who see a fight would draw their own personal boundaries and refuse to break it up. I know some boundaries are important, but right now they seem like walls society tells us to build to protect ourselves. I wonder if some boundaries can be a type of violence, too.