Posted by: joshjasper | July 7, 2014

Be the change.

I stopped by Mandy’s house this afternoon.  She’s taking the lead on collecting donations for the young man who was physically assaulted at Comiskey Park this past Tuesday.   He’s 18, autistic, and was beaten so badly that he can’t eat solid foods because his jaw is wired shut.  The four kids in the family have been sleeping in the same bed while their mom sleeps on the couch.  They were barely getting by before the attack.

Now they don’t know which way is up.

It’s too easy to respond in the wrong way when this happens to someone in our community.  We get outraged.  We fantasize about what we would have done if we were there to protect this young man.  Conversations revolve around blame.  We blame our city, the police, the neighborhood, a lack of resources, parents, and of course, the perpetrators.  In our outrage we try to understand why such behavior exists.  Our anger paralyzes us.  And then it fades away.

We need to follow Mandy’s lead if we are going to change.  While standing on her porch this afternoon, I noticed bags of what looked to be donated goods for the young man who was attacked.  It turns out that most of the bags were from Mandy.  She explained to me that she often times gives things away that she no longer needs and leaves them on her porch for people to take.  After a closer examination, the bags were organized by items for someone who might stop by needing something.


Her daughter stepped outside while we were talking and I wondered what she thought of her mom.  What was she learning from her mom’s generous behavior?  It reminded me of the one thing that I highlight in any one of my violence prevention presentations.  In the beginning of my talk I always share: “if there is one thing that you are going to take from this presentation; one thing that you write down, it’s this: Violence is a learned behavior.  PERIOD.  We are not born to abuse and degrade one another.”

I highlight that point for two reasons.

1.  It’s true.

2.  I’ve learned over the years that focusing on the prevalence of violence; hammering home the point that we live in an incredibly violent and brutal society, changes nothing.  People actually become apathetic from that message.  For example, imagine driving down the highway and seeing a billboard with a battered woman on it, advertising domestic violence services.  It’s a common strategy.  It’s also painfully flawed.  People see that woman and think, “that’s really too bad that happened to her, but what am I supposed to do about that?”

This point is this:  If we know violence is learned, we also know that the opposite is learned as well….

Respect.  Compassion.  Empathy.  Equality.

Mandy shared with me that she is spending every hour of every day trying to support this young man because she hopes someone else would do that for her if she was in need.  And guess what, her daughter, friends and family are watching and learning from her example.

Now is not the time for senseless outrage.  Now is the time for action.  We must model the behavior we want to see from others.

I hope you want to help.  If so, we are collecting very specific items for this family.  They are as follows:

1.  straws

2. canned goods

3.  gift cards for groceries (Hy-Vee, Wal-Mart)

I will come to you and pick things up if you want.  Send me an email (, call me (563-581-2850) or send me a message on Facebook.

Together we can make a substantial difference for this family and send a very strong message to our community.






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