This is what happens after the riots

That’s a picture of me sitting on the front porch of our very modest house on the west side of Detroit in 1964.  This was a typical working class neighborhood of story and a half houses- autoworkers, policemen, construction workers, mechanics- a classic Detroit blue collar neighborhood.  This was a vibrant time for Detroit.  The auto companies were booming and Motown was at its peak.  The streets were filled with kids playing baseball, riding bikes, playing tag and laughter.  I loved our neighborhood.  There was always something fun going on.  It was a safe place and I had a lot of friends.

All of this was disrupted by the riots that occurred in 1967 in Detroit.  I was six years old and I remember the fear that swept through our neighborhood.  Even though the majority of the unrest was in other sections of Detroit, my parents were concerned about letting us out of the house.  The following year, the Detroit Tigers won the World Series and I remember the uneasiness in the car during a trip downtown to celebrate the victory.  We took security for granted and my parents were not prepared to deal with this uncertainty.

Shortly after the riots, my father made the decision to move out of the City.  After a search for a new home, we moved about 25 miles north of Detroit into the suburbs.  This decision was not an easy one.  We loved our neighborhood and the area where we lived.  We were close to much of our family.  We were close to shopping and parks and all the things that we liked.  But the area did not feel safe anymore.  

So my family joined in the exodus to the suburbs along with countless other families and businesses.  After the riots, the political leadership shifted more progressive and what followed was a series of administrations characterized by corruption and mismanagement.  The exodus of people and businesses and poor leadership destroyed the City that I remember.  Detroit is now a shell of what it once was.  Over a hundred years of success and wealth left the City, mostly to the suburbs.  Detroit was once a beacon of prosperity and the fourth largest city in the country.

I worry about the effects of the current unrest, political division and the anarchist groups in our country.  There are already reports in real estate publications of an exodus to the suburbs in New York City fueled by the current unrest and the COVID situation.  If given the choice, security is something most families will not compromise.  When people and businesses leave, the tax base erodes and this starts a financial spiral downward that is nearly impossible to stop.  Additionally, in today’s business environment, most folks are no longer forced to live or work in a particular area.  We are now extremely mobile.  We can pick up and move.  For many of us, we have found that as long as we have an internet signal, we can work.  There are no concrete reasons requiring that you stay in the city.  

This also has ramifications nationally. If the country takes a turn towards socialism and the central government balloons in both size and control (along with taxes), we may see another exodus.  This will be an exodus out of the United States.  This shift would be a result of a lack of financial security and a loss of the personal liberties that have been the trademarks and success story of the U.S.  We have seen this occur in our hemisphere with Cuba and Venezuela as they shifted to communism and socialism. During these changes, countless businesses and families left their homes for security in the U.S.  There are also plenty of U.S. ex-pats all over the world that have made the move to other countries for various reasons, so this option has been proven to be realistic.  In today’s world and global economy, The U.S. is now competing with other countries for the residency of our U.S. citizens and businesses.  Security is not something to mess with.  Families and businesses will not tolerate conditions that are either unsafe or insecure.  

So what happens after the riots?  The exodus.  You can’t expect people to tolerate insecure environments when they can find peace and prosperity somewhere else.  Let’s hope and pray that the current unrest and uncertainty ends so we can avoid the downward spiral that has historically followed these events.  

So what do you think?  Do you think history will repeat itself to see an exodus if security is in question?  Click on “Leave a Comment” and let me know what you think!

Searching for Home

Kathy and I had the privilege to serve in a refugee camp on the Panamanian border. The camp has several hundred Africans and some Pakistanis who are stuck in the camp due to issues with the Nicaraguan government letting them pass through their country. We spent time hearing the stories of their journey through the Amazon rainforest and being robbed by the mafia in Columbia. These were men looking for a safe place for their families. They risked it all to find a place that is safe and secure. Some told us stories of walking through the jungle with a compass simply pointing them north. They spent days walking through swamps with water up to their chests.

Refugee 1

An incredibly dangerous journey.

They shared the struggles back home and the reasons why they left on this journey. Stories of killings and brutality. Corruption and political struggles.

refugee 2

As I sat and listened I realized that the conditions back home were so bad and dangerous that it was actually better for them to risk traveling through the jungle with the hope of finding home. This is not a story about money. This is about safety for their families. Searching for a place where they can live without fear. They were searching for home.

They are risking their lives to help provide a safe place for their families.
There is no guarantee that they will make it.
Yet, they will put it all on the line for a chance to make it to the U.S.

How about you?

The U.S. certainly has its problems, but we have justice and peace. The Pakistanis knew it. They knew that the U.S. was a good place. A place with good and caring people. A safe place with opportunity.

Refugee 3

So as we as a country discuss “walling off” our country in I can’t forget about the faces of these people. They are risking their lives to find something better for their families. They will continue to point their compass north. They will continue to struggle to find safety. Something we take for granted. A place where they can sleep at night without worry. A place of peace and security.

The march will continue.  Heading north. Searching for home.

Wake Up Sleeper!

Last week a friend of mine had a headache and vision problems, so he went to the emergency room. A little more than a day latter, he passed away. A stroke they say. He was in good health. No signs of any problems. He left an amazing family and a beautiful wife behind and alone. You just can’t make sense of this stuff.

"The best way to make dreams come true is...

This is the third friend that I have lost recently. All around my age and all very sudden. I think we all get the fact that we don’t get to choose when we will die. And many of us will die suddenly. The thing we can control is how we will live.

Wake up sleeper…the days are evil!

On Sunday, our pastor shared a message about this choice. We must learn to live our lives with a sense of urgency. Our plan for greatness usually goes something like this: I plan on starting my dream once I get finished with… Leaders are great planners. We think through the details and methodically move each piece in place. We are convinced that this is the best way, but really, its just the safe way. To reach greatness takes risk. To accelerate the process you probably will need to jump early. Waiting until everything is perfect just chews up time- you may never find just the right time.

Fear is a great motivator.
Fear is a clarifier.
Fear is an accelerator.

Safe and Sound

We are programmed to prepare for the impending disaster. We are convinced that no one will be there for you. American individualism. We must store up and save. Seek safety and all it brings. But are we really ever safe? There are countless events that could occur that will make all of your wealth and comfort useless. Safety is really an illusion. You can store your entire life and loose it all in an instant.  Struggle your whole life for nothing instead of enjoying the ride! Are you seeking security or seeking life to the full?

Check the Box

In the midst of trying to get to where we want to go we spend our time trying to check off the items we have completed. Trying to get done. Happy that something is over. I just need to get through this. What is that? We live as though the goal is to be done. Just survival. Is this all there is? Don’t you want to live, not just survive?

The Megaphone

The thing we try hardest to avoid is actually the thing that can wake us up. CS Lewis said that pain is a megaphone.  It wakes us up and brings us back to reality. When everything is going smoothly, we live in a kind of slumber of ease and security and we loose touch…

With what is really important.
With how fragile our lives really are.
With our dreams and what we were uniquely created to do.

Pain is the wake up call. It’s a way to bring you back. I hate it, yet it is like a slap on the face. You remember why you are here. What is really important. What you are doing now and what you want to get done.

Loosing these friends has awakened me. The world seems different. My priorities have changed.

Wake up sleeper-there is much to do!

Can you relate to this?  Why do we dwell on safety and security?  Do you find yourself living just to “get done”?  Click on comments and let me know what you think!