If you lived in Chicago as I have, part of you can never be surprised at how unruly it can get. It’s always been a special kind of crazy, in my opinion.
It is, after all, where disco not only died, it was murdered. In July 1979, some hooligans decided to storm Chicago’s Comisky Park to blow up disco records and incite a riot all because they didn’t like the genre. In the early 1990s, every time the Chicago Bulls won an NBA championship, rioting, looting, and a death or two would occur.
I moved out of the city shortly after the Bulls won their second title, and from a safe distance have shaken my head as the crazy continued. In the last few years, gun violence has grown ridiculously – drive-by shootings at a funeral and toddlers being shot while strapped to their car seats have become normal news stories.
I wonder why this is so.
Isn’t Chicago the city where Oprah became Oprah Inc.? Where Barack began his political journey to become President Obama? Clearly, its citizens can make good choices. Long before Oprah and Obama, Chicago produced many good and useful things, too numerous to mention. Of course, Chicagoans are capable of so much more than just to bust up their hometown or watch helplessly as it happens.
But just this past weekend, another mass looting occurred, two months after the nationwide looting incidents that unfairly coincided with the Black Lives Matter protests. This time, however, the destruction and theft were undertaken by an organization of hundreds of individuals who drove into the city with cars, vans and tools. Their precision was so perfectly planned and practiced, the Chicago police department was overwhelmed and the bridges into the city were raised to stop movement.
It saddens me. It was the first home different from my childhood village when I moved away for college. It was where I became an adult, where I met my wife, where I became aware of what I could do and envisioned what I could become.
But today, the place is nuts. How? Why? I can only think that The Jerry Springer Show and the nuclear bomb were created here, so this must be the universe’s payback.
From my safe distance, I am realizing that what’s happening in Chicago is actually happening all over the country. So this column isn’t to point out Chicago’s plight, rather it is to make a clear point about how out of hand the rest of America has become and how it’s become unrecognizable to so many of us.
We desperately need new leaders. We especially need to jettison every career politician in Washington. As I searched my mind trying to understand these recent Chicago looters, I realized that they really were not much different from our representatives and senators in DC. In fact, they are scarily similar.
For one thing, like the looters, they are an organized body of individuals who prioritize their agendas over the towns and neighborhoods they affect.
If you don’t believe me, think about this: The additional weekly $600 benefit for the millions of unemployed Americans expired this month without any regard for the real-life peril that most households face without assistance. It was a slow train wreck that the lawmakers watched as they argued with each other over what they wanted as party members, not what American families needed.
Had they prioritized what households required both materially and for the sake of mental stability, I wouldn’t have written this column, certainly. More importantly, renters, mortgage payers, mothers and fathers would feel that their lives and their vote carried weight when it mattered the most.
But they don’t. The American people have been looted for votes the same way Chicago businesses have been looted for appliances and fancy purses.
Truthfully, I am less incensed by the looters. After all, they probably were down on their luck like everyone else. Unlike elected leaders, they did not seek anyone’s trust and then betray it. Therefore, the disappointment they wreak pales to the shaft our elected officials have given the public.
In fact, give me looters any day. We can always fix a cracked window and restore order; insurance will always cover material loss. But can we please get rid of these elected disappointments, already? Can we consciously support new, young voices that are brave and enthusiastic? We cannot keep things broken for years and decades. Even Jerry Springer knew when it was time to stop.
Dan Ho, a native of Agat, is a writer and teacher and holds a Ph.D. in indigenous studies. Follow his garden adventures on Instagram @HoandGarden.