The account of four young boys’ determination to steer their own lives away from the trap of gangs and crime and violence is both an uplifting, inspirational story and another reminder of a grim social reality.
The present circumstances, for these four youths, point decisively toward the former. This story needs a happy ending; too many other such stories don’t have them.
As reported earlier this week by Alva James-Johnson, four LaGrange teenagers — just barely teenagers, the oldest of them still on the short side of a learner’s driving permit — approached an official of their city’ Housing Authority about work.
According to Housing Authority official Zsa Zsa Heard, the teens’ primary motivation for work wasn’t the money; it was to provide them, all residents of public housing, with something useful to do instead of being led down the wrong path.
“I don’t want to be in trouble,” Heard said one of the boys told her. “I want to stay out of trouble, and I don’t want to be in a gang.”
It’s never too early, happily, for young people to exercise good judgment and wise choices. The ugly flip side is that it’s apparently not too soon for the worst elements among us to recruit kids this young and younger into lives of crime. Asked if they had been approached about being in gangs, Heard said, the boys answered, “Yes, ma’am, all the time.”
Not surprisingly, these 13- and 14-year-olds have become something of a social media celebrity phenomenon in the area, and they would seem to deserve the admiration. When they were told the Housing Authority would be asked about jobs for them and that they should come to the offices the next morning, they showed up 45 minutes early.
“Their teachers and the coaches started sending me messages saying that they’re good kids, they’re obedient,” Heard told James-Johnson. “They just need support and resources. That’s all they need and they’ll be fine.”
We can only wonder how many other good kids who need only a little support and encouragement turn out considerably, sometimes tragically, less than fine. Both the triumphs and the tragedies ultimately affect us all.
According to WXIA-TV in Atlanta, one of the most popular Twitter feeds for some time has been that of U.S. Rep. Steven Smith, R-Ga., a Tea Party Patriot, ardent Donald Trump supporter and virulent Hillary Clinton critic with more than 13,000 followers — including, for a time, an admirer in Ann Coulter and a critic in Rosie O’Donnell. Smith, according to his Twitter account, represents Georgia’s 15th Congressional District. Which throws quite a wrench into this year’s Electoral College math, because Georgia has only 14 districts.
A Florida lawyer named Jeffrey Marty has claimed to be Smith’s alter ego, although Marty reportedly insists he’s a true believer in Smith’s political agenda.
Benita Dodd, of the Libertarian-leaning Georgia Public Policy Foundation, observed wryly to WXIA, “He represents the 15th district very well, I think.”