Leslie Regier for Congress
No party. No partisanship.
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We must reverse the destruction of our communities and reconnect with each other if we are to move ahead into a better future. For too long we have been losing our sense of togetherness. When I was a youngster the world was not perfect. Occasional crime occurred (some rather horrible and nearby, such as the Zodiac killings), reports from Viet Nam aired on the evening news, and US Air Force interceptors from Hamilton AFB flew over my home in practice just in case Soviet bombers entered our air space. Nevertheless, I knew most of the people on our street, we watched out for each other, and we were diverse. We did not interact with each other daily, but we had a sense of community.
Nowadays, too many of us no longer know our neighbors. For a variety of reasons we are disconnected and growing further apart. We may know one neighbor or another, but generally we are much more distant than we used to be. How can we maintain a sense of community if we don't know each other? When we lose community, we gain crime, alienation, and other problems. We lose early recognition and response for mental health problems when people are isolated.
Let's turn this around. We see bright spots of community in pockets, such as annual block parties or college & university clubs, but we need to make it widespread. It must be a conscious but organic effort. How do we do it? We start with potlucks. Giggle now, but think about it. Invite a group to your home or make arrangements at a nearby park. Neighbors, your children's friends' parents, your coworkers, or people who share your hobbies and activities are all likely attendees for a get-together. When a few people with an initial connection and their friends & partners get together, we gain a larger sense of community and an understanding of each other. Recognition of our similarities diminishes the effects of our differences. It brings us strength.
By strengthening our sense of community, we can more easily and more effectively confront society's problems and crime. The dissatisfied person who commits crimes or otherwise creates problems today may very well become a productive member of the community when he or she feels valued. That old adage "Healthy mind, healthy body" applies to the community, not just the individual.
For those who have deeper problems and continue to commit crimes, we as a community must stand up and say "Enough is enough." We must watch out for each other and press for legal action against offenders. It starts at home, and it ends in prison where necessary. We have many laws already in place, but too often they go unused. We have seen this with habitual car thieves (state violation) out on the street to steal more, and we have seen it with convicted felons attempting to buy firearms (federal violation) and walking away with no accountability when turned away. Rather than being prosecuted at the local or federal level, they are ignored and left to go on to more or worse crimes.
On the human side, community health follows community connection. On the social problem side, with improvements in community connection (intervention) and changes in our legal system's approach to prosecution (interception), we can make our streets and other areas safer.
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