When someone smiled at me today...I started smiling too!
I always loved that poem. Makes you wanna smile, and it is so true. Yet I find, in Philadelphia, this does not seem to hold the same truth. The streets are talking and Philadelphia is not the city that loves you back...
The City of Brotherly love has been named one of the most bloodiest cities, with murder rates and job-loss on the rise, no wonder everyone is on edge. I wonder, is or will Philadelphia ever be a great American city? Are our attitudes towards one another keeping us stagnant, and segregated? Or is it the challenges of the preceding economical conditions and we are stuck in a perpetual cycle?
I have heard the talk, Philadelphia is populated by a bunch of haters, backstabbers, gossipers, murderers, and judgmental racist? Isn't this true of everywhere in the world? Being a Philadelphian I understand. Yet, I also understand that these are issues are bigger than the current administration or any other administration. The problem may be the way Philadelphians mindsets are trained to view the world. the root cause of our current social, and economic decay. We can attribute today of the foundation of the post-Mayor Rizzo "off the cuff" era.
There was a lot of conflict with African Americans along with deliberate"block breaking" among the old Italians and Irish Catholic neighborhoods. Philadelphia is a generational city. Police brutality, nothing new. Crimes on police officers, nothing new....remember, people are still talking about Mumia Abu Jamal and Officer Daniel Faulkner. Some people who live on my small south Philadelphia street have remained in the same houses for over the last 20-30 years and have raised their families in the same household, sometimes even raising great grandchildren. Same house, and many times the same mentality for over 20 years. Now in 2009, people still carry those same attitudes.
I remember one 70ish Italian lady on the 47 bus, told me "I hope your not going down 9th and Washington, its like Vietnam down there, not like the good ole days, you never know what you are getting"...Philadelphia is about the tried and true, one thing I love about our city and that is one thing I hate....some things like the negative attitudes we have to let go. For me, I love the Italian Market. Where else can I get a huge bag of Italian rolls for 50 cents?
CHANGE is what Barack Obama and many other great leaders before him spoke of...
Einstein says it best, "You cannot change a problem with the same mind that created it, you must change your way of thinking in order to solve the problem". How do you cease the blatancy of hate among the people and political divides with the elected and the community?
Depends on who you ask? Knowing many people from diverse walks of life, I am very sensitive to others, how they live, how they think, how they learn etc...People are different. God called us all from the boat to be someone, whether it be mother, doctor, or repairman.
Do Philadelphians not understand those differences that make up who we are? Philadelphia residents make up our administrations, political leaders, policy makes, and movers and shakers. From a sociological perspective, an unbalanced government maybe causing our unbalanced minds, as humans we are not immune to our environment.
Like we are what we eat, that also comes from family lives, friends, associations etc... Or are resources so scarce certain classes and groups are excluded or blocked through bureaucratic and systematic barriers, needs go unmet, unaddressed, or undeserved because of the declining conditions and that causes a stressful situation?
Philadelphia's attitude separates more than it integrates us, economically and politically. The stress and embitterment you see in your daily travels could very well stem from the mindset embedded throughout our history, taught in our schools, in our homes, practiced in our courts, and housed within our government.
This is reflected in our consistent economical struggles and historical political play to pay mentality keeping our city in stagnation. Its not just African American nor a Caucasian thing, its a Philadelphia thing. What makes us "hate" one another? My friends who are not from here are the happiest, and then within 2-3 years, if not sooner...they are ready back home or to another city. Are we really that bad! And they are the ones who generally have a better attitude toward life in general.
Even Rizzo's old neighborhood South Philadelphia has transformed to reflect a microcosm of the world, Hispanics, Asians, and African Americans from all walks of life, newly transplanted live alongside those who have been there for a generation. Change is inevitable. The mind reflects reality. Thoughts become actions. Yet, if those same folks you see and label "haters" are the ones controlling a system with a foundation built on conflict, division, racism, hatred...we are still in trouble as a city!!! Solving the problem starts with yourself.
At 31, I have seen it on many different levels. My own experiences, trials and tribulations have taught me a lot...Philadelphia can be very oppressive, with an eccentric overall personality...Philly there is no place like it, and it has its little nuggets of beauty. Philadelphians have so lot in common, cheesesteaks, our love for arts, parks, parades, the Phillies, the Eagles... Philadelphia as a city and those who reside here undeniably test your strength. The key: Never go too deep in shallow situations. Don't be part of the problem, be part of the solution. Maneuver beyond the crab in the barrel, small town-big town mentality by always being your own person. Be the change you wish to see. Spread the sunshine, say hello and smile even when others are not! Be positive when others are negative, and treat others the way you would like to be treated!
Fareeda "TheMaverick" Mabry