2011/365/067: Why Can’t I Be a Catcher?

I’m sitting on my couch right now, taking a rest after running non-stop since Saturday. I feel like I am over-run, fatigued from the three consecutive workouts, and not getting enough sleep. I’ve definitely cut my food intake in half (at the very least), and I think my system is just in a huge transition right now. I’m looking forward to a good night’s sleep.

In English 12 Honors, I’m teaching Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried, and we’ve been talking a lot about the braided essay, the author’s intent in how he constructs the essay, and how accessible he has made the content to the readers. The seniors, for the most part, love the book, and our discussions have been pretty solid.

What stays with me, though (or, as O’Brien would write, “What I carry with me,”), is a strong desire to be that catcher in the rye for anyone and everyone. This is not something new; I’ve been like this all my life, and when I was that 17-year-old kid sitting in Mike DeVita’s English class thinking about Holden Caulfield, I wanted to save others from losing innocence, from initiation, from pain, from heartache.

I’ve taken some steps in my life to be that catcher for some groups. It’s not enough, though. Sometimes I feel like we’re just scratching the surface. You want to know the truth? The real truth? I think it is damn sick that we have to spend so much energy fighting others and trying to get support when we could be directing that energy directly into helping others. It shouldn’t have to be this hard.

The latest concern, though, stems from what I am hearing over the police/fire scanner. I feel so helpless, and yet it seems like there are solutions — easy solutions that we could put into place to help those in need.

For example: This weekend, I followed this developing story of these two girls, ages 12 and 13, who went into a stranger’s car near their school. A friend of theirs decided not to get into the car, and the car pulls away.

The police do their best to search for the car, but they have little to go on. They go up and down the main roads, searching in hotel/motel parking lots for the car. Nothing.

Twenty-four hours later, the girls are found wandering on a nearby street. They have been raped and assaulted and are just trying to find their way home.

Another example: This afternoon, a student from a local college needs a ride home and decides to get a lift from a stranger. She promises her friend that she will stay on the phone until she gets home. Instead, though, the friend hears her say, “Hey–where are you taking me?”

The phone goes dead, and when her friend calls back, the call dumps into voice mail. Every single time.

She’s still missing.

There’s got to be something we can do, isn’t there? Can’t there be a group on call to blanket local communities when things like this happen? If we can do flash mobs and make national news in a matter of minutes, why can’t we descend upon a local neighborhood and smother it so that the molesters and rapists get caught minutes after the abduction is reported?

I’m throwing more energy into my Lines of Love movement and do all I can to catch those kids. Although I know I’ll never be content in not helping some of these other kids, I’ll continue to do my best to let all teens know that they are not alone.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t put on your catcher’s mitt and see what you can do. I know that so many of you already do this, but maybe you have a chance to do something even more.

Do it. Do that something more for those kids who need our help. I just can’t stand the thought of another child facing the horrors of these evil bastards in our world.

 

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4 thoughts on “2011/365/067: Why Can’t I Be a Catcher?

  1. Ok–chills and I smiled and I shed some tears reading this.
    1. you are amazing and the world needs more people with such human compassion to helping others.
    2. I smiled when I thought of Mr. D’s English class– havent read Catcher since then and wondered why since it was one of my favs. So just ordered it to be downloaded on my ereader.
    3. Teared and a wave of saddness came over me thinking of these kids. I just cant imagine- first I was angry wondering if the parents of these girls talked to them about getting in cars with strangers then sad because of the evil people that take advantage of these kids.
    4. smiled cause you have sparked in me to do even more… i do as much as I can for comminuty service but have made the decision to volunteer at our local fire dept ( which is, like all Harford County, all volunteer) that needs admin help. So starting in Sept when I become an empty nester with Austin off to college, I will be taking on a new family of firefighters!

    Thanks for this posting…. you made me make changes in my life… one baby step at a time!

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  2. Thank you, Barbara and Michele…I appreciate your comments and I am thrilled, Michele, that you will be volunteering at the fire station! That’s wonderful! I’m working hard to get in better shape to begin my EMT training in the summer. There’s even a chance that my brother and I might be in the same class. That would be unbelievable…
    Look for some more thoughts on this subject in today’s post, aptly titled, “Catcher, Part II.”
    Love to all, Rus

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  3. A couple of thoughts: to try and initiate the process that would be ideal to deal with this situation, we would need to change the bureaucracy of search and rescue (which has its benefits) to serve in a quicker, decentralized, and more local response mechanism. Essentially, we would need to set up something like localized committees that each tied into their local police officers (probably by county in Maryland), and to altogether tied to the Department of Emergency Management (DEM) for the state. Each of these committee members (about 50-100 ideally for a given county) would then register their cell phone numbers with the county police and the state DEM, who would then issue some sort of text alert as soon as they knew of an event occurring. The problem with that part is that the lag time between when an event occurs and when someone knows about it and when someone deems it worthy of an investigation, all things that currently must happen before any citizen community network is notified, can be anywhere between 24-48 hours. In the stories above, the assaults had already taken place by that time and the girls were no longer missing.

    So how do we combat that part? That comes from a commitment to educate one another about the standard stuff. The common thread between the cases listed is that both girls got into a stranger’s car. So those things that our parents say about not talking to strangers, being aware, walking with a buddy, and always telling someone where you are are eternally true. They’re our parents for a reason, and have a bit of know-how about the world. They love us too, which is a plus. But if we could rehash that lesson and demonstrate its applicability as well as working on the response side, change could start to happen.

    However, the final thing is reflective of the “critical mass” or “tipping point” theory. Both of these tell us that something catalytic must happen for an entire overhaul, or at least comprehensive change, of a system to occur. For critical mass, the incidents would have to reach an unbearable proportion, surrounded by community action, organization, and anger. The tipping point would probably be one event that turned the issue from a community one into a high-profile one (a prominent figure’s family being affected by such things as an example). Ultimately though, the best way I can see to make the change that would serve others well is to work both in a proactive and reactive sense. Anything less will only have achieved half the victory.

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