Growing old is a natural progression of living. As human beings, we get the chance to be young and carefree, then middle-age where we leave youth behind and focus on being adults, then finally old age where we reflect on our youth and acknowledge that it is a time period wasted on the young.
I am now in the final third of my life. It is a time for both celebration and reflection. I celebrate it because I got to be 60. I lost several close friends who didn’t make it. One was killed over 40 years ago in his teens, his life cut short by another person playing with a gun. Another died in his early 30s, one of the casualties of the AIDS epidemic. Another died in her 50s, the victim of a family history of very few living to see 60.
I recently attended the funeral for a former co-worker’s husband. They had been married 35 years when a stroke and heart attack ended his life. As I sat in the funeral, there was a sadness permeating the room because of his death, but not the sickening and gut-wrenching drama I’ve seen when young people have been murdered and taken from us much too soon.
We have finally begun to experience spring weather and for all the newness it brings, there is one constant oldness that tarnishes the season. We are still experiencing far too many shootings and killings. Those acts of violence are being committed by a variety of age groups with the majority occurring amongst our young people. It is real easy to blame them for the carnage they generate. Yet among the elders, those who should be leading by example, there exists a number of folks within my generation who are just as guilty of acting like a kid and not an adult.
The other night I was standing outside of a BBQ joint on South Pulaski Road. A heavyset man came up and asked to speak with the manager. He then proceeded to lambast the man, claiming that the man had tried to have his car towed. What the arguing man didn’t acknowledge was his contributing factor to the dispute. He had parked his vehicle on a lot that had at least three signs telling people the lot was solely for the BBQ joint. To park in the lot, disregard the sign and then bemoan the consequence is the epitome of childish behavior. All of his fussing and cursing was pure ignorance on display and his city of Chicago badge as an employee didn’t make it any better. The only good outcome of the entire debacle was that, because it involved middle age folks, no gun was pulled and no bullets went flying.
How do we as a society and people begin to do better when we know better? It starts with each of us taking personal responsibility to act our age, grow up, and leave childish ways behind. It starts when we demand that people act like an adult. The long, hot summer is approaching and it can be one of peace and tranquility if we make that behavior our goal.