Tuesday, April 10, 2012


Transient-"Lasting only for a short time, impermanent."

About 6 months before we moved into our community I remember listening to Robert Montague, director of the BDC, talk about the biggest problem with Binghampton. Contrary to popular belief it isn't drugs, alcohol or even crime. No, the biggest problem with our neighborhood is apathy. Mixed feelings of despair swirl with a feverish state of indifference.

It's that dark place when you hit rock bottom and you don't care and most importantly you don't feel like anyone else cares either. Which in turn leads to things like not taking care of your home, yard, family, bills or yourself.

The result? Transient people, living transient lives. It is rare for someone to move into our neighborhood and live more than about 6 months to a year. We do have several neighbors who have been here for 40+ years but I am talking about the people who have moved in and out over and over in the last 6 years we have lived here. It is mainly young people who have given up.

So they find jobs that last about 6 months, they move into rental properties owned by slum lords who don't care anymore than their renters, they charge an exorbitant amount of rent on a run down home because they know what we all know, in a short amount of time the renter will no longer be able to pay the rent and they will inevitably disappear. And the cycle continues.

The casualties? The kids. Kids like Madji who walked over this weekend to tell me he doesn't like his new place because he is scared of the neighbors in the apartment complex.  Kids like Tevin, Elante, Erik, etc...they move from home to home and school to school almost as often as the seasons change. Who more than likely will end up in a gang, because for some of them it is the first time they have heard about being a part of something, and being in a gang feels like belonging.

Then these kids turn into apathetic adults who don't care because they've never been given anything to care about. They make poor decisions and continue down the same transient path. And society wants to point fingers and say things like, "they should've stayed in school," or "they should've worked harder."

The system is broken, the world is broken. And it is hard to breathe some days from the thick fog of callousness.

The answer? I'm still working on that. Not sure there is a clear one this side of heaven. I do know what helps. Neighbors who put a stake in the ground and say "I'm here for the long haul." A community of believers who step outside and take their neighbor by the hand and say, "I care about you, you matter to me, how can I serve you?" It takes loving people with joy in their heart to spend 30 min-1 hour a week investing in a child in an inner city school. Helping to break the cycle and put hope back in their lives. Offering stability in their ever transient world.

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