Normally, my blog is a place of happiness. I enjoy sharing my thoughts and ideas on how to make improvements…in life, in friendships, in business, in communication.
Today, I approach my blog with a patina of sadness, confusion, anger and disappointment. My city, Baltimore, is burning, and it seems inexplicable to me.
My businesses have been in Baltimore City since 1977. Periodically, there has been crime which affects my shops…broken window maybe once or twice a decade, graffiti periodically, those types of things. Do we feel completely safe here? Normally, not completely, but enough that we just have to be situationally aware of our surroundings and be smart about our own personal safety. On a regular, day to day basis, I do not consciously consider my safety in the city, just on a deeper, subconscious level.
Now, safety is all I can think about. Rather than walk through my city neighborhood and consider that all people I view are benevolent, or at least intend me and/or my businesses no harm, now I view people with vague suspicion, wondering if they have malicious reasons for being on my street.
What a shattering and devastating turn of events.
Businesses like mine employ city residents, offer services to city residents and workers, and pay lots and lots of city taxes. We spend our money with other city businesses…restaurants, parking garages, professional services, rent, etc. Our presence in the city has improved conditions that would have otherwise been less favorable had we not been here.
Why would anyone target my business, or my neighbors’ businesses, for any reason at all? The wanton destruction of personal property during these riots is beyond comprehension. Burning down senior centers and libraries? Why?
My heart and psyche ache with the mere contemplation of an answer.
The concept of personal property needs to be sacrosanct in order for any rational investor to put one more cent into any permanent structures in the city. This is not a feeling we have been experiencing the past few days, those of us who are property and business owners in Baltimore City, especially when it appears that our government “leaders” gave their tacit approval for “room to destroy.” City Hall, yes, private property, NO!
So many people have worked so hard over these past few decades to improve conditions in the city, in OUR city. The sub-humans who have perpetrated these horrifying acts on police, citizens, and property in the city have likely set that progress back years and years.
For what? Some “free” candy and wigs from local vendors who had no part in any of the alleged issues at the heart of what has happened?
The rioters have injured the entire soul of Baltimore City in exchange for some looted stuff and the opportunity to destroy property not belonging to them. It is clear that they had no agenda other than stealing and destruction, as opposed to the peaceful protesters who were trying to get a response from the government over an incident.
I certainly hope the peaceful protesters are as upset by all of this as the rest of the city inhabitants who were adversely affected by the perhaps unintended consequences of the protests.
What is the takeaway here? There must be a positive lesson in the wake of such ruin, both physical and emotional.
Normally an optimist, I am really struggling to find a silver lining. Even if the police end up providing more transparency and care in handling cases of the Gray nature, that result might have happened anyway with simply responding to the peaceful protests, so that doesn’t count. I suppose if enough of the miscreants are arrested and taken off the street, it might protect against future crime, but that seems naïve.
I think the only possible positive to take away from this disaster, from the cancelled concerts, ballgames, conferences, meetings, school days and work hours, is the idea that the spirit of the citizens and constituents of Baltimore can rise up from the ashes, both real and proverbial, and overcome even this. The good people of the city can come together, clean up, go back to “business as usual” while we all try to heal from this interlude. It is dreadful to have to be placed in that position, but here we are anyway, and this is what we must try to do.