Just before I was closing up shop today a woman walked in and asked what we were up to, a not untypical hesitant question that’s often something like, “And you are… what, exactly?”
In talking she asked how much time we put into “working with authors.” These conversations, interactions, it’s all new to us. New to me and anyone who walks into the shop alike. All of it looks familiar, and yet, it’s not. I’d argue that’s the point.
To explain what she was getting at she mentioned a 6th grade kid she knows, a neighbor, who has been alarmed by a number of armed robberies in his alley of late. He’s been drawing “monsters,” and they’ve been talking about how the robberies have made him feel afraid. She wanted to know if she and the kid could come down and talk it through. What could kids do to pragmatically and publicly address their fears, while also giving enough space to work through understanding the complexity of what’s at hand, for adults too?
The woman agreed that simply asking for more police wasn’t the answer, in that, while the 9th Ward might have a problem with crime, we equally enough have a problem with police.
Honestly, I don’t know. But I love these sorts of interactions and my real belief of where they can lead if you’re willing to take the time. Someone’s willingness to sit down and look at all sides of something is what turns “criminal” into “neighbor.” That’s not a way to avoid the facts at hand, it’s a process of making light of how all of our actions are interconnected and if you want something to get better it’s your job to help see that process through. And, at least from where I’m at, that doesn’t mean calling the police. It means making sure each of us feels secure in our lives and livelihood.