Crime Isn't Personal, Until It Is
Every morning I walk down my driveway, admire the sky, take a deep breath of cool air, and brace myself for the headlines that await me on the front page of the paper. Rarely is it good news. More often than not, it’s reports of crime, corruption, decay and hopelessness. Most days, I shake my head, say a silent prayer for those involved, and move on with my day. Most days, the bad news isn’t personal.
Being a life-long Albuquerque resident, I’m not ignorant of the various ailments that plague our city. I’ve long known of the Duke City’s deadly love affair with drugs. Prostitution and human trafficking are a heartbreaking reality. Domestic violence, crimes against children, property crimes, auto theft . . . the statistics on any one of these categories is enough to make you sick to your stomach.
I’ve been a victim of crime personally and professionally. My car has been broken into. Our home was robbed twice. Now, the non-profit which I direct has been hit by vandalism, leaving our truck windshield shattered and a building window smashed.
I don’t believe that any of these crimes were personal--at least not in the sense that someone thought, “I hate that crazy ginger lady. Let’s rob the place.” While the crimes may not have been directed toward my family or me specifically, it was certainly personal. Each robbery left a feeling of violation and caused a level of trauma.
Now, I’m dealing with the aftermath of workplace vandalism. I pretty sure no one read the sign on our building and got enraged. It was probably just random window smashing. Though we are Love INC (In the Name of Christ), it likely wasn’t an attack against us (or Jesus). But, it kind of was.
Little did the vandals know that our whole mission is to help the community. We provide furniture and household goods to the needy. We give access to hygiene products, clothing, food and minor home repairs. Through our partnership with churches, we pool the resources and skills that they and their congregants have to offer, to make this city a better place. Everyone we help is shown love and care. Who knows? We might have even helped family members of the vandal.
Between replacing the truck window and buying fencing materials to secure the property, we’re up to $500. I’m thankful that the building owner will replace the other broken window. I’ll tell you though, that $500 is felling very personal. Each dollar spent restoring what was lost impacts the people that we serve, and those who serve along side of us. Vandals don’t know (and likely don’t care) that $500 is nearly a year’s worth of giving for the family who donates $40 each month to our ministry. $500 is gas for the truck for many months, fueling our only means to pick up donated furniture. $500 is part of a paycheck for one of our 3 employees. $500 is personal.
You’ve heard the expression “Hurt people hurt people.” I think it’s also true that “People who break things have been broken.” Were the vandal to come to me tomorrow, asking for help to get back on his/her feet, the answer would be yes. If we, as God-fearing members of our community, don’t work with and walk alongside the desperate, who will? Investing time, care and compassion into the life of those who believe crime is a means to an end, or simply a thrill, is the only way to impart the chance for restoration.
I am not suggesting there be no penalty for crime. Actions have consequences. Laws must be upheld. However, a criminal record reveals only a tiny portion of who someone is. What if, you and I worked together, with the hurt and broken, and treated them personally? I’m willing to bet that our city would be a far different (and better) place.
If you would like to learn more about how to get involved with Love INC, or would like to help financially, please visit https://www.loveincabq.org.