Those dots, mercifully, appear to be finding connection.
The longer I kick around this wacky little planet, the clearer it becomes to me that very little in the universe occurs in a vacuum. Society’s ills fall quite far short of presenting any exception to this axiom.
So it’s encouraging to see a conversation has begun about some of the woes that have befallen Naperville in recent times, and how the principle of cause and effect links them together.
Residents and officials are making note that apparently disparate phenomena can in fact share some common threads.
Councilman Joe McElroy brought it up at the and of last week’s City Council meeting, just after Police Chief Robert Marshall reported on the recent spate of burglaries concentrated on the city’s south side.
“I’m just curious — it seems like there’s three social problems that might be related to each other,” McElroy said after hearing that residential break-ins, interestingly, were more frequent last year, albeit more spread out geographically. “We’re talking about burglaries now, but we’ve also talked a lot about suicides and suicide prevention, and also the uptick in the use of heroin. I suspect that these sort of feed off each other ... I just think it would be a good idea if we just looked at this as a whole picture.”
The chief confirmed that burglaries often involve the sale of stolen goods to get money to get drugs.
“There has been an established linkage between burglaries and drug users, drug dealers committing burglaries to get funds to buy heroin,” Marshall said of the pattern found in the city and elsewhere across the U.S.
And because we know mental illness is often a variable in drug abuse — those in a dark and desperate place frequently turn to the numbing effects of street drugs to escape their torment — I would submit that addressing depression and other behavioral disorders should be added to the mix.
Certainly it’s a factor in the gut-wrenching incidence of mass serial murder — and yes, I’m suggesting the ready availability of firearms demands addressing once and for all, too. Nine of 10 of us want to see change in the accessibility of guns, so that we don’t have to be afraid to show up in our workplaces, go to the movies or send our kids to school. There does seem to be a sense that, if what happened in Sandy Hook doesn’t make this happen, the cause is lost. I have to cling to the belief that we’re better than that.
And while we’re at it, I think it makes some sense to acknowledge that economic hardship drives the incidence of crime as well. I have to believe that property crimes aren’t committed most often by folks whose incomes are sufficient to provide for their needs. This does not in any way excuse the act, of course; it’s just another ingredient to fold into the grim stew.
Answers aren’t easy, but they need to reach a broad spectrum of targets. Mental illness is beginning to get our attention, and that’s encouraging. So, too, is the new funding Naperville officials have allocated for suicide prevention and drug abuse. And certainly the fact that we’re connecting the dots gives reason for hope. And it doesn’t appear that advocates for keeping guns out of the hands of people most likely to inflict mass carnage with them are about to give up.
This will take buy-in across the board — systemic change is that way — along with a commitment to establishing once and for all that we are in fact better than conditions sometimes seem to indicate.
My sleeves are rolled up. How about yours?