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Web letter by Dave Bergeron: Morality offered by two-parent home only antidote to ‘thug culture’

I stare numbly at the news app on my phone, which announces “One wounded by apparent gunshots” at 4 a.m., mere hours ago, on Bowser Avenue in the city’s southeast quadrant. This comes on the heels of the two killings that occurred mere days ago in that same part of the city.

This is nothing new. This, sadly and most of all shockingly, has been going on for most of my life. And I write this as someone who lives mere blocks from the killing zone. I live mere blocks because I am not afraid and I am not afraid because I know the causes and conditions of why this particular area is a killing zone. I know it, the people living there know it and, most shamefully, the supposed “leaders” of the people doing the killing and being killed know it. But nobody wants to tell it.

A newspaper headline relays the usual distraction: “Victim’s mom blames thug culture.” Good God. What exactly is this phantom, this fog, this “thug culture” that actually has the power to kill? From where did it come? Why does it exist? I’ll tell you why. This culture comes from the last 50 years of a failed social experiment where we as a society decided that it’s OK for children to not be raised in two-parent families and, specifically, it’s OK for boys to be raised without fathers.

You can laugh, you can scoff all you want at the Ward Cleaver or Dr. Huxtable image of a father, but the fact is that for human beings it’s pretty much the only model that works.

And yes, I hear the instant, knee-jerk screams of “a child can be raised by a loving mother just fine,” blah blah blah. Well, you can shriek that cry all you want, but Exhibit A is eight blocks to the east of where I am sitting right this second and it’s the sound of senseless gunfire and the sound of screaming mothers holding their dead sons.

Now you want to talk to me about how a kid doesn’t need a stable home in which to learn purpose, direction, discipline, the Golden Rule? Now you want to talk to me about how it’s drugs or guns or the “thug culture” that’s killing our boys? And yes, let’s be clear about this: these are our boys, young men dying. This is not about the color of skin or race because I believe that the people dying are my brothers. They are my Fort Wayne fellow Americans who are dying. Were I to just shrug and say, “Oh, that’s just another one of those people in that part of town” I guess I’d be just like one of those Germans who turned their heads and acted like it was just one of those Jews who were suddenly disappearing and I didn’t know why.

This has been going on for too long and been ignored by too many who have the power to speak up, not just in Fort Wayne, but nationally. Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and now even President Obama could be shouting this from the rooftops, using their bully pulpits to say: “Enough! We’re going to launch the same national effort we have used in Afghanistan and in the big stimulus package that saved our economy! If those wars, those fights were important enough to make such an effort, surely saving the lives of our lost children is!”

But no, in 2013 one can have the guts, I suppose, to send men off to war or to spend billions of dollars to save the economy, but when it comes to saying the simple truth that we need to refocus on producing and raising children in an actual family, suddenly we become timid little terrified mice. We shudder in terror at what “someone” – the National Organization of Women? The NAACP? Someone on MSNBC? – might say.

We somehow cannot bring ourselves to say that teenagers of any race, origin or nationality, engaging in intercourse with each other then producing babies they keep and are ill-equipped to raise socially, emotionally, economically and most of all spiritually, is a bad idea. We lost our moral compass. We lost common sense.

It makes no sense to have 16-year-old Mary become pregnant and join the three generations before her, perhaps her only modeling of what parenting should be, lining up to receive all of the government programs it will take to replace the actual support system that is a mother and a father and usually grandparents and aunts and uncles and friends. Somehow we have decided to support this fatherless, family-less model and then we wonder why the result is chaos; literal blood on the streets; two shot dead and one wounded – again – in the southeast part of town. We wonder like fools, because deep inside we know. This is no way to “raise” a kid. We are cheating these kids out of what they really want and need.

Because in the end, it’s easier to shell out the cash, the endless cash that is financially and more importantly morally bankrupting us as a society, than it is to tell the truth: that boys and girls shouldn’t be having sex; that you should have a baby when you are married and when you are ready to support that baby, together, you and the baby’s father, in a home.

We can talk all we want about the exceptions to that, but it’s just a distraction. And in this case, those distractions can kill. But then, we’ve been blathering and babbling and screeching against the “old fashioned morality” thing for 50 years now and I don’t see us coming to our senses any time soon. And the killing continues.


Fort Wayne