Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Taking your life in your hands

Recently, I was cautioned about visiting certain neighborhoods, for fear of becoming a victim of crime. There was an implication that the place was not "civilize[d]", that you could never know when someone might "go on a spree," and that visitors need to "know what they could be in for." Just to visit such a place, I was warned, was "taking your life in your hands."
Bad neighborhood
An intriguing phrase. When are you not taking your own life in your hands? When you get behind the wheel of a car, when you step off the sidewalk into the street, when you walk among your fellow human beings, are you not always holding your own life in your hands?

Random evils do occur. Brakes fail. Accidents happen. Buildings collapse. People can get hurt in myriad horrific ways.

Bad neighborhood
My Cassandra delivering the warning, though, seemed more fearful of deliberate human evil - criminals who rob, assault, or even kill. In her world, if you're caught in the wrong neighborhood after dark, you're in danger of becoming a victim of criminals who live there. 

Bad neighborhood
But oddly, what she fears is just as random as anvils falling from the sky - she fears criminals who strike without reason, of sudden, unpredictable assault by irrational people who - somehow, unerringly - have the ability to pick you out as their prey, from all the other people present.

Most crimes upon persons are committed by people the victims know. Unprovoked assaults are statistically rare. People usually beat, stab, shoot and throttle people they know - in fact, frequently, it's people they profess to love.

Bad neighborhood 
There's another discussion to have about how Cassandra determines which places and people are the wrong ones. That's not what I want to talk about here. What she made me think of, first, is about how people feel about their personal safety. Some people live in a frightening world. Sometimes they have a good reason to be frightened, a horrible experience in their past. Other people walk the world without fear - and often foolishly put themselves in danger.

Bad neighborhood
If you walk the world in  fear of what other people will do to you, how does it color your view of the world? How does it make you view yourself?

I'll give you my take on my own experience with personal safety, but first I want to hear from you.

Have you been a victim of crime?  Has it changed the way you see other people? Has it changed the way you see yourself?

UPDATES - See comments.


ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

We've all been a victim of crime. A cabal of Wall Street types and the politicians they own robbed us blind.

P.S. I worked on Wall Street for almost 2 decades. The thing is, banking, involving as it does customer deposits insured by the government, needs to be separated from the gambling. And the public should never be on the hook for failed gambles.

And the executives whose institutions were bailed out by the public? How can they still be in charge, after paying themselves a fortune for failure?

P.S. Sorry if this rant was off-topic, but this is a crime we've all been victimized by, and continue to be victimized by.

Anonymous said...

We lived, for 18 months, in a neighborhood known as "Felony Flats." Yet I never feared for my safety; my husband and I took nightly walks in the area. Our home was burglarized once during that time, and yes, I felt violated. It was never proven but the detective believed that the thief/thieves were friends of the renters next door. We were fairly poor (why else would you live in a place called "Felony Flats" -- unless your probation required close proximity to the courthouse?) so we only "lost" a stereo system, a pocket knife, a $1 bill, and a Samsonite suitcase.
I like the neighborhood location and I think it would be wonderful to improve it, but it wasn't someplace I wanted to raise my kids and live the rest of my days.

San Diego Momma said...

I went to college in an exceedingly "urban" section of Milwaukee. I lived in a "crack house" alone for the summer, and regularly walked home -- solo -- without incident. Strangely enough, it was my seven roommates -- who came to join me in the Fall -- who were robbed ALL AT ONCE.

I don't know. I'm pretty fearful. But I think you can always worry and you can always fear. And you just never know. So LIVE.

Also...did you see The Brave One?

It was an interesting reaction to how crime victims might respond. I related.

shrink on the couch said...

It might also depend on what time of day you walk through some neighborhoods. I wouldn't have fear at 9am. But at 9pm? Different story.

We Austinites watched a news clip in horror a few months ago - woman walking to a nightclub, alone, at about 6th and Red River ... as a purse grabber sucker punched her in the face. Fortunately they caught the guy. He was a regular at a bar nearby, bartender called him in, police found him on his usual bar stool. Anyhow, I now think it unwise to carry a purse. To carry a small pouch close to my body seems safer.

shrink on the couch said...

I do love your photo coverage and am grateful you do not heed the warnings.

Sheila said...

If you are referring to my comments and not someone else, you are not saying what I said. Quotation marks are only used when you are quoting EXACTLY the words of another. If it's your interpretation of what was said, you don't use quotation marks; that is incorrect and misleading. Maybe you're talking about what someone else said. I don't know. I don't mind being quoted when it is something I have said; I just want it to be exact. Interpretation of what someone said is not a quote.

Aunt Snow said...

Sheila's comment has caused me to correct some minor punctuation errors in this post regarding her comments. I apologize for the unintended inaccuracies.

Here's what Sheila said:

"It would be fun going to a lively, ethnic area with great food like this if you weren't taking your life in your hands by doing so. There are people around that main street that are doing their best to civilize the area, and it's great for the people who live there, I guess. There's still tons of gang activity in the area and who knows when someone may go on a spree. People who don't know what they could be in for in the area (or on the way to it, depending on which way they are coming from) should at least be given a heads up. At the very least don't be there after dark."

I have removed the quotes around the adjective "wrong" - which she did not use in her comment and I apologize for - bracketed the "d" in "civilized" that I had added for grammatical reasons, and added the words "could be" to complete a phrase I shortened by omitting those words.

Otherwise, I quoted her accurately. She implied that visitors to the neighborhood were in danger. They're simply not.