I had no idea about the string of massive robberies in the US until my mom pointed it out this week. She visited us in Antigua with my father to get a break from Los Angeles. While we sat in the living room on her first night on the island, she asked for my perspective on the smash-and-grab incidents.
My uninformed response led her to tell me about the organized groups of up to 80 people entering stores and stealing merchandise. San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Chicago retailers have reported incidents. The holiday season has inspired a surge of these crimes.
After the conversation with my mom, we had a good meal with a celebratory cake for my father's 70th birthday. Then, we went to their hotel, and I helped them set up their tv. Before I left for home, we turned on CNN and video footage aired of a smash-and-grab at a Nordstrom store.
It looked like mayhem, and I felt like I was watching a scene from a movie. First, approximately thirty masked people rushed the store's entrance and hit the display cases with hammers. Then, they grabbed the merchandise and sprinted out the door in less than two minutes.
The clip didn’t seem real.
Life outside the US often disconnects you from the frequency of organized crime. But, of course, theft and other crimes are not restricted to the borders of any country. The scale and display of these sophisticated operations make life in the United States different from other countries.
What if we smashed and grabbed more of the wasted time in our lives? What if we smashed and grabbed our personal and professional goals with the support necessary to increase our chances of achievement? Could we be better teachers, students, partners, friends, siblings, parents, employees, or business owners?
I know we can excel with the help of others and a more disciplined focus on our life's goals.
The day after talking about smash-and-grab with my parents, the Michigan school shooting happened. I'm sure you know about the tragedy that took the lives of four students and injured seven others. The prosecution charged the fifteen-year-old with terrorism and murder.
Smash-and-grab crimes and the Michigan school shooting are indicators we can do better to support our young people. They suffer from psychological trauma related to the pandemic, bullying practices at school, and a host of other mental and behavioral challenges.
Listen, I am not offering excuses for young folks who steal or murder. Those decisions deserve consequences. I intend to create ideas that can guide us toward compassion-filled solutions to gaps in the education and criminal justice systems.
What if we had more counselors in schools? What if we prepared students for college, trade professions, and artistic options? What if we put in place more financial and emotional support for families in underserved communities? What if we emphasized more body, mind, and spirit resources to impact the lives of young people?
I claim more questions than answers to the unique and complex challenges of the US, but change is possible with egoless individual determination and holistic collective approaches to success.
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