Another violent weekend in Baltimore – 17 shootings and four lives lost – and a recent editorial in The Sun (“Aerial surveillance is not the answer to city’s crime problem,” 10/15/19), which highlights the irrationality and ineffectiveness of the proposal to put “spy planes” back in the sky over our city, made me think in new ways about the life-saving and life-enhancing work Caroline Center does each and every day.
After a weekend like this past one, it’s not surprising that many of us find ourselves clawing at the air, grasping at straws in a desperate attempt to find something – just one thing – that might help us work our way out of the stubborn pattern of violence and killing that plagues us. Many days, we feel like we are living in a city under siege. The wear on our psyches, souls, and (we must not forget, never forget) our bodies is crushing. But, even in a city under siege, the prospect of surveillance planes and war room tactics would mostly serve to exacerbate our post-traumatic stress and to deplete the positive energy and creative, constructive thinking needed to promote safety and restore respect for life.
As a city, we know that education and employment are solid drivers of community and individual well-being. We also know that the beneficial outcomes of learning at any age are far too numerous to mention. Caroline Center has never been about “quick fixes” for our city’s most pressing issues; but, it is remarkable how quickly positive change can, in fact, take root when there are simply these two things: equal access to an excellent education and equal opportunity to pursue and engage in meaningful work.
Today, we had an informal opportunity to hear from two new Caroline Center trainees about the difference they hope education and meaningful work will make in their lives. As candidates, respectively, for professional certification as a nursing assistant and pharmacy technician, their hopes for achieving positive change in their lives and fulfilling the dreams they have for themselves and their families remain strong and undiminished by the debilitating, almost-daily dose of shootings and violence. Shootings and violence that, more often than we want to say, are more than just the “news” – they are our collective experience, the tragic and unacceptable outcomes of living in Baltimore.
At Caroline Center, we have no doubt that with the education and opportunities we offer women that they will be able to achieve, even exceed, the dreams they have for themselves. They, like so many other women (and men) in our city don’t need to be “tracked” or “surveilled” by anything or anyone, when access to an excellent education and meaningful work is what we really ought to be looking at. We will not win with either “eyes in the sky” or war room tactics. And, though we may feel like a city under siege, we are most definitely not so desperate or devoid of humanity and creativity to be at war.
Each and every day at Caroline Center we see real, tangible evidence of why and how education and meaningful work matter – of why and how education and work create lasting, positive change. Baltimore is worthy of investing in what works. And, Caroline Center works. The solutions we need and the relief from violence we seek are “on the ground,” not in the sky – our solutions are in enlightened, engaged classrooms, not in dark and musty war rooms.
Mother Caroline Friess, SSND, the North American foundress of the congregation of the School Sisters of Notre Dame, urges us on with this positive message – “Above all, let us be generous with good example.” For nearly a quarter century, Caroline Center has been setting a powerful example for how to alleviate violence and promote well-being. We invite you to visit and see firsthand the transformational change we are creating in Baltimore. What you learn may challenge your thinking about the best way to lift the pall of gun violence and crime that blankets us.