When I read Malcolm Gladwells The Tipping Point I could not lay it down. It was one of the most compelling social commentaries I had read in a long time. I was fascinated with the writing style, I was fascinated with the subject matter and I was fascinated with the ‘tipping point’ concept. I read the book as we traveled this fall, talking incessantly each new chapter.
Now we are in Tucson, Arizona for the winter. We are staying in a gated community on the east side of Tucson in a RV resort designed for 55+ people. It appears that we are safe in our little world…we walk at night, don’t lock up a lot of the time and never think about the real world lurking at the gateway.
But Tucson is a very dangerous place to live compared to other places in Arizona. The crime rate both for property crimes and violent crimes exceed the state average in every statistic. In 2005 the community had over 5000 violent crimes and in excess of 31,000 property crimes.
Now I am sure that statistics effect you like they do me. My eyes glaze over and I begin humming “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”. But here is the deal. The lady that lives across from me here in our little safe haven has a son. He was shot in the head not more than a few blocks from here in a drive by shooting this summer. He did survive but is still going through therapy. Another victim in early September was not so lucky.
When crime hits this close to home, you have to wonder what would be the “tipping point” that would make this sort of thing happen less often.
When you travel in Mexico or Canada for example, you can be assured that the average kid on the street is not going to be armed with a gun. A knife yes but a gun no. But the fact here is that guns are not bought and sold at the corner store…and policemen carry very big military type weapons. Is it safer there than here? Well probably not. Banditos ride buses at night and you must be careful.
But I loved Rudy Giuliani’s solution to crime in New York City. He stopped minor crime in the subway. He simply posted guards so thugs had to pay for their subway ticket…and it worked. As I remember they cleaned up parks so thugs were driven from neighborhood by the simple cleanliness of it all. (Criminals are generally drawn to dark, dirty, down trodden places.) People reemerged from their houses and reclaimed their lives. Crime in New York City dropped through the bottom.
So how does this apply to Tucson? I don’t know but I do know there is a way and it probably does not involve bigger prisons or stronger laws. It is probably as simple as really enforcing licence plate tag laws or something of that nature. Some one simply has to come up with some better ideas. And I think that Malcolm Gladwell has started us thinking about solutions that are not rocket science but just good common sense. The ideas that spreads like wildfire has to be: 1) Guns make you a smaller man. If you were a big man you would not need it. 2) Grafitti is like a dog peeing on a rock. 3) Poverty is no excuse for filth and slovenly lives. Criminals simply leave a clean and upright community. I know personally that this is true!
We love Tucson. We live here without fear. It is just like anywhere else. It is just a matter of not being in the wrong place at the wrong time. But wouldn’t it be nice if the statistics weren’t so bad? I think so.
Just a thought.