I was in McDonalds, trying to mind my own business with my chocolate sundae, and accidentally I once again overheard the conversation I hate to hear. One person asking another about the community of Ocean View, and saying, "Aren't you SCARED to go there?" I honestly stopped listening right there, because I am personally tired of creating my own response. But in these days, even I have to admit it's a valid question.
We witnessed another tragedy recently in Ocean View, another death among many, but this one was different and it has shaken our community to its core. This was a young girl who was sweet and loved by many and never deserved to be mistreated at the hands of such darkness. There are unfortunately many deaths we hear about, but most of the are people involved in gangsterism and drugs, and so sadly death is sometimes a part of the lifestyle they have chosen to be in. But not Cameron. Cameron wasn't a gangster, although she did associate herself with some people who were not good characters. Cameron wasn't involved in the gansterism and darkness of Ocean View herself, and her death has shocked and scared everyone in our community. We all find ourselves asking if we are scared to be in Ocean View...
So what do we do in this time, and in the face of this darkness. What is our response?
There have been many already. People have left, or have pulled out their associations with Ocean View. People are angry and fed up with gangsterism and those affected. People are terrified at who or what could be next. People are judgmental about the 'others' who these things happen to and separate themselves from it completely. But to me, all those responses are separation. They are separating ourselves from those affected and those hurting, assuming we are going to figure out how to be the safe and secure ones in the face of darkness.
Unfortunately I just don't know HOW to do that.
I don't know how to seperate myself from Ocean View because it's my home and it's my people. Maybe with other darkness, other pain, other heartache I could stay away from it, but this heartache is in the middle of my own heart and I can't shake it. I can't just walk away.
I am SO GRATEFUL that I can't seperate from this pain.
As the weeks have gone on and people have moved on from the pain of Cameron's death, I have thought about how thankful I am to not be able to seperate. I am thankful that this is my home and these people are my family. I know how this entire community has rallied around Cameron's mom and brothers to love and support them. I know how the community of Ocean View has risen up to speak against the darkness and violence and try to bring it to an end in unity. I know how people have woken up day after day, and even when they are afraid, they have still entered into this community and lifted on another up, because that is what you do with family. The values that are expressed in this community, as dark and violent as it can be, are beyond anything I have experienced before.
So many others look at Ocean View and only see the terrifying darkness. My response is different because I look at Ocean View and see the overcoming LIGHT.