Every head in the bar turned towards the door, as a thumping stereo caught our attention. We all sat and watched as this bright orange custom vehicle – a Donk – parallel parked. I turned to the young man next to me and asked, “how’s that for an entrance?”. He looked like he’d seen a celebrity, exclaiming, “That’s the Orange Crush!”. Apparently, the car is famous in Oakland, and for good reason. It is quite a creation.
After gazing upon this vehicular wonder, I asked the young man if he’d heard “the good news about Oakland”. He looked totally perplexed and replied, “No, what news?”
Why the good news about the steep drop in violent crime, I replied. According to recent reports, “Shootings have plummeted 35 percent so far this year from last year. Homicides are down 18 percent (to 28 as of May 11).Robberies have also dropped significantly. There have been 1,076 so far this year – 38 percent less than this time last year.” (SF Gate May 19, 20141).
He scoffed at this notion, and said, “it’s probably because everyone has their own gun [for protection]!” Ah, jaded youth. My reply was that it was probably due to the decline in use of hard drugs and the embracing of cannabis culture. He agreed that could be part of it. But, honestly, no one knows for sure. The business people think it’s a quicker response time on the part of police – and that obviously makes a difference – but, being the optimist I am I like to think there are greater forces at work. Small and large forces, that include everything from neighborhood watch groups and community groups pulling together, to the upsurge in prayer and meditation circles. A quick glance at Meetup.com reveals several dozen such groups. Some call themselves “Christian”, some “Zen Buddhist” and at least one refers to themselves as being involved in “Compassion Technology”2. Compassion Technology?! Now that sounds like a group full of nerdy philosophers. Gotta run. Time to sign up for a meetup!
2 Compassion Technology Meetup group http://www.meetup.com/MindfulQS/