An Endorsement: On Problem Solving and Criminal Justice

Where I live, you see a lot of problems. The grip of poverty and poor decision-making permeates nearly everyone who lives across from me in the Santa Rita Courts. These problems are not what most struggle with. These are ugly problems. These are illegal problems. These are evil problems. There's a mother crying on your porch, cracked out on something at 2 AM, screaming at you that she hates her six year-old son whose cut on his lip suddenly seems like it's not from a broken glass after all. There's a man knocking on your door to ask for money, or a ride to the hospital. There's a dog catcher picking up a stray dog. There's an immigrant pushing a cart full of popsicles, trailed by a little boy who keeps yelling "Ice cream!" but the raspa man just keeps pushing because he knows the little boy has no money and it's hot and there are other houses to see. There's a clean-cut thirteen year-old saving up for a pair of Nikes who somehow manages to steal things, small things, from you, thinking you won't notice. There's a family whose lives have been disrupted due to drugs and abuse and who move further and further away from you, and whose children memorize your phone numbers because the numbers--or you--are the only things they have in their life that stay the same.

These are ugly problems to wake up to.

It's easy to think that they are not your own problems. Oh, that is the easiest of them all, as if these problems are some external force, some blustery wind that swept up the other people like trash blowing down the street. You watch them blow away and you thank any God you believe in that they are not your problems, and you sweep off your curb and go inside.

That is the easiest way. But it is not the right way.

You cry with the mother and you tell her to love. You hand a dollar and give a ride and expect nothing but a fleeting moment of gratitude. You waive down the raspa man and buy the little boy a popsicle. You find a way to forgive those who truly trespass against you and you encourage another way. You go, as far as you have to, to be a constant in an otherwise shattered life. Whenever you can, you answer the phone.

You can either be a part of the solution or you can watch the suffering. You can fortress yourself with the safety of judgement, and wipe your conscience clean of any reason to get involved, or you can open your door when someone is knocking. You become vulnerable, and you will be questioned for this. But you do what you can to solve the problems and you remember, at all times, that they are your own.

This is why I am supporting Charlie Baird for the Travis County District Attorney's race. Our criminal justice system has problems. Worse yet, our criminal justice system causes problems. We do not need someone simply to manage them; we need someone who wants to have a part in solving them. Charlie Baird will work to solve the problems that lead to so much destruction within our community.

We are all blowing away. In our struggle, we catch on others, and, if we are to be good and if we are to hold on, we try to help those who we may never want to know.

2 Response to "An Endorsement: On Problem Solving and Criminal Justice"

  • downfromtheledge Says:

    So you aren't on the "safe" (i.e. whiter) side of I-35??? Purdy scary. I remember moving there in 2008 and being shown, not so subtly, by the apartment locators which part of the map I should stay in. And I did!

    It's a luxury to be able to choose a place to live where you feel safe and comfortable and insulated from the horrors you describe. I can see how being faced with suffering up close would motivate you even more to change things.

  • Mean Rachel Says:

    Yep, I bought a house on the eastside two years ago.
    There is something to be said for facing the suffering, indeed.