Posts filed under ‘Violence’
We often talk about health in terms of treating disease or not getting sick. But there are other factors that can negatively affect one’s health that aren’t so obvious, such as violence. This is a major public health issue that is monitored by the Center for Disease Control.
Take for instance young people. The CDC reports that:
“Youth violence results in considerable physical, emotional, social, and economic consequences. Although rates of youth homicide have declined substantially during recent years, much work remains in reducing this public health burden. Homicide is the second leading cause of death among youth aged 10–24 years in the United States. Violence is also a major cause of nonfatal injuries among youth. In 2009, a total of 650,843 young people aged 10–24 years were treated in emergency departments for nonfatal injuries sustained from assaults.”
Children are not the only vulnerable group, however. Those in intimate relationships are another group that suffer at the hands of others in significant numbers. The CDC goes on:
“On average, 24 people per minute are victims of rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner in the United States, according to new findings released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Over the course of a year, that equals more than 12 million women and men. Those numbers only tell part of the story – more than 1 million women are raped in a year, and over 6 million women and men are victims of stalking. These findings emphasize that sexual violence, stalking, and intimate partner violence are major public health problems in the United States.”
At what point does a neighborhood begin to acquiesce to violence? When does apathy, fear, or futility cause us to accept crime as inevitable? On the other hand, what galvanizes individuals, neighbors, or community members to protest against rising violence and decay?
Well-intentioned efforts such as installing home security systems and taking personal safety training can make people feel safer. But what turns the tide for a whole community? It has to come from a mental protest against violence in our midst, followed by effective action. Even before my retirement from a law enforcement career, prayer has been the catalyst that strengthens my resolve to challenge a violent status quo. What could the heartfelt prayers of many accomplish? Prayer provides a resolve that can be a tipping point toward safety and well-being for every member of our community, especially the more vulnerable and least represented. This can bring measurable improvement to community health. It might include beefing up law enforcement and improving public policy, or providing youth centers and safe, affordable childcare.
As a Captain in the Lane County Sheriff’s Office, I often prayed about my work. One day a wanted suspect, who was known to be violent and have firearms, was located in a house where children were also living. All the ingredients for a bad situation were in place. I needed to be there when he was taken into custody. Complicating the situation, I also needed to be in church in two hours to conduct a church service. Because SWAT events are volatile and unpredictable, I had some heavy-duty praying to do.
While driving to the suspect’s location, I prayed that God’s wisdom and care were present with the Team AND with the suspect. I prayed to know that I was led by God to the position I was in with these tremendous responsibilities, both in law enforcement and church, because Spirit wanted me there, to serve my community in both capacities. I was put there to give. I prayed to be willing to receive divine direction and control, to listen and follow God’s direction guidance even if I was tempted to feel stressed or unable to fulfill my responsibilities.
I did not allow myself to take in anything but God’s calm and loving presence. As we approached the location, we rounded a curve in a rural road. Under standard procedures, we would quickly exit our vehicles, take cover, and assault the building with noise from explosive diversionary devices and shouting. But instead, sitting on the split rail fence enjoying the sunshine, was our suspect. With no resistance, he allowed himself to be taken into custody.
You can imagine my heartfelt gratitude for God’s grace and control. I couldn’t have planned this any better. I feel that God’s timing and wisdom guided us, allowing this to unfold the way it did. And, yes, I was at my post in church that night, continuing to give in God’s appointed way.
So, to renew my question, could many prayers specifically for safety make this kind of outcome more common and even prevent what causes violence? I believe it is time we address violence in a new, more universal and effective way. And prayer is my starting point.