July 6, 2012: National Night Out allows everyone to take action, by Patrick Sieben

July 6, 2012 by

“Am I my brother’s keeper?”  This profound question is found first in the book of Genesis referencing the most unsavory event of Cain murdering Abel. It has been asked countless times since as humans continue our quest for understanding of how we might better treat one another.

Today it seems obvious that the answer is affirmative without further qualification, until one looks at the state of affairs that finds us at war in the world, contentiously divided in our nation and often afraid in our homes.

Seem hopeless? Not by a long shot. Quoting President John F. Kennedy, “One person can make a difference and everyone should try.” Absolutely true, and the most important word here is EVERYONE. All persons have both the right and the obligation to seek to improve the world and there is no better place to start than right here at home.

Being a responsible citizen requires we be “our brother’s keeper” so to speak, in that we must not only look for each other (“I got your back!”), but we must also accept the challenge to better our collective social environment.

In my career as a teacher I have heard many time the mantra, “You are either part of the problem or part of the solution.” At first glance, this statement might seem a bit flippant or even arrogant, but consider the choice. If something is bad, one can choose to a) Make it worse, b) Do nothing (which allows continued “badness”) or c) Take action to make it better. Now the choice looks a bit more obvious.

We have an opportunity to take action toward being a part of the solution on Tuesday, Aug. 7.

That evening the Concordia Year of Peace committee in conjunction with the Concordia Police Department will be asking the community to participate in Concordia’s second annual National Night Out, an event designed to encourage neighborhoods to join in fellowship with the goal of promoting neighborhood safety and security.

Former First Lady Hillary Clinton in her 1996 book, “It Takes a Village,” notes that “… cities are deploying officers differently, getting them out from behind desks and putting them back on the sidewalks, where they can get to know the people who live and work on the streets they patrol. They will be doing what is called ‘community policing.’  The other half of community policing, of course, is the community’s role.”

That’s why the community has such an important role on Aug. 7.

The intent of National Night Out is not to enroll citizens as an extension of law enforcement, but rather to encourage neighbors to spend time together and get to know each other as well as the police officers in their communities.

We would like to invite all members of the community to take part. Organize or attend a block party or cookout (and let the Year of Peace Committee know about it — call or email Beth Weddle at 243-2113, ext. 1223, or eweddle@csjkansas.org to be listed as a National Night Out community organizer). And tell your neighbors about it.

Police officers will be out and about visiting these informal get-togethers and meeting residents of the neighborhoods.

And even if you are not the “joining” type, you can still be a part of NNO by simply turning on your front port lamp on Aug. 7.

— Patrick Sieben is the Director of Bands at Cloud County Community College and a member of the Concordia Year of Peace Committee.



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