RICHARDSON: The only real solution

June 22, 2014 

I can hear his voice rise as he says, in a lamenting tone, “Those sorry preachers.” To protect the guilty, he will remain anonymous, but he has every right to his opinion. After all, he’s one of them and should know.

In 2008, after a particularly violent crime spree in Macon, the pastor of New Fellowship Baptist Church, the Rev. Ronald Terry, not the author of the quote, said, “We have raised a generation of young people that is lawless, godless and fearless.”

Mayor Robert Reichert and the Rev. Terry brought in Jerry McAfee, a pastor from Minneapolis, who conducted workshops and seminars for leaders in the community, particularly faith-based leaders. McAfee had experienced success in fighting street crime in his city. But on his departure, while appearing on a radio/TV program with me and Kenny B, he expressed a sentiment that he didn’t share with the group.

Basically, he said the clergy in Macon were not going to do anything but talk. He could see it in their eyes and body language. He said they weren’t willing to work at fighting the crime problem.

Fast forward six years and Sheriff David Davis added a new descriptor to Terry’s lament during this latest spree of murders that has hit the area. He called a group of five men in their 20s and 30s “thieving hoodlums.” Now we can unfortunately say we have a large group of lawless, godless and fearless thieving hoodlums.

It’s important to note that Macon is not the Lone Ranger community when it comes to dealing with crime and criminals. Recent events that have occurred in all parts of the country have me shaking my head. But like most residents, here and in other places, I’m more concerned about home.

It is daunting to know that we have individuals in this city who would take a life at the drop of a hat; who would borrow their mother’s car to do their deadly deed and who would take their injured colleague, not to the hospital with a gunshot wound, but miles away from where he was shot in the heist gone bad, to die alone.

The accused didn’t just turn bad. They have been on this track for years. It was just a matter of time before the “No. 1 Rule of the Street” would kick in. On their path there are only two escapes: prison, death or both.

William Shakespeare, among others, said, “The eyes are the window to your soul.” When I looked at the five faces on my newspaper’s front page on Tuesday, June 10 -- one dead, three arrested, and one, at the time, at large -- I looked in their eyes. If they had a soul, I couldn’t see it. But I did see something else: stupidity.

These folks got their ya-yas from committing crimes. Sheriff Davis said they considered lawlessness a job. How is that a long-term strategy for life? It’s not, but in the words of that old philosopher, Forrest Gump, “Stupid is as stupid does,” and we have an ever-increasing number of young people who don’t have the brain power to push a paper clip.

Stupidity should rank right up there with other mental ailments, except there are drugs that can be used to control those. As far as I’m aware, there are no anti-stupidity medications, no TV commercials showing the benefits, in the midst of all the side-effects, of a drug to combat it. Boy, I wish there were. Pop a pill and goodbye stupid.

There is only one solution, and it’s found in 2 Chronicles 7:14: “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

We need healing. We need it now. I implore our religious leaders to push away from the trough of aggrandizement and join their brethren who are all about the work that needs to be done. How long will it take? The last effort was six years ago. What happened?

Unfortunately, as pastor McAfee predicted, nothing.

Charles E. Richardson is The Telegraph’s editorial page editor. He can be reached at 744-4342 or via email at crichardson@macon.com. Tweet @crichard1020.

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