You ever wonder what subliminal messages are being sent through the airways? You know, the hidden messages supporting the patriotic movements during the world wars, the cultural messages sent through drive in movie screens during the 60’s, even the messages sent through billboards you hardly notice as you navigate your daily grind; everything sends a message whether we acknowledge it or not.
I was thinking about this lately due to the latest issues surrounding law enforcement and communities. What messages are sent that we are unaware of that put the folks who are supposed to protect and serve at odds with their citizens.
The militaristic nature of policing is obvious; armored vests, military style weapons, and vehicles with bars on the front designed make the vehicle a weapon. This makes a bold statement of authority and superiority.
This still doesn’t explain the distance that has developed between the two groups completely. Even soldiers in tanks driving through foreign communities making acquaintances with the” locals”. There are numerous factors of course, but I observed one factor that fascinated me for a minute, architecture, and the fact that soldiers are usually out on the street meeting the locals
I know, you’re like, “What in the $&@? is he talking about?”. Well think about this. Most of these shootings occurred in lower socio economic areas of inner cities. Not just the famous events that have blasted the airways time and again, but the other shootings that may or may not have resulted in the death of a citizen or officer.
These are areas that were built in a time where community was at its height. Every house had a porch, or some form of welcoming structure built on the front of the house. Sidewalks lined each street.
If you look at old photos of these areas you see folks on the front porch, children in the streets, and actively engaged expressions on everyone’s face. Folks didn’t stay in the house.
This has to be odd for those officers patrolling the streets. Many of them come from areas where you drive down the street and see nothing but doorways and shrubbery, sidewalks don’t exist The activity in a neighborhood built in the last 15 or 20 years is in the back yard with decks and patios. The streets are empty, so much so that a car parked on the side of the road must mean trouble.
They don’t build houses to facilitate community anymore. No front porches or stoops to sit on and get to know the neighbors. No cars on the street to know if someone’s home, they’re in the garage with the door down. The layout of streets, distance between homes, and design of the house are private, withdrawn from a public concept, not a sidewalk around to record your childhood adventures in colored chalk.
So how does this architectural encampment approach to planning and construction effect our views of community or security ? Cops don’t walk “beats” anymore, there are no “beats” anymore. No one is “out front” or “on the street” anymore in modern neighborhoods where the street is just a path to isolation. So why would police walk a neighborhood where no one is outside?
Conversely if you grew up in one of these modern neighborhoods and commuted to work as a police officer to a neighborhood where all the activity was on the street or porch, what would your frame of mind be? Your frame of reference is the opposite of your work environment.
Church and school are probably the last bastion of community, and they have been under siege for years. Schools are somewhere between a jail and a psyche ward. Churches have locks and committees to oversee security. In reality our “freedom” has been slowly choked to a point where we no longer trust anyone.
Our rights and freedoms aren’t just attacked in those sessions where detached idiots make rules, laws, and opinions designed to “shape” what they call society, they are attacked in ways that unknowingly put us at odds with anyone outside our tiny circles. The “Stranger” has been created. Funny though, cause when you hear someone talk about a great guy who has passed they don’t say he stayed away from anyone he didn’t know, they say “He never knew a stranger!”
Many ordinary folks benefitted from the building boom. They built millions of homes that would eventually isolate the owners and renters from the rest of the world that used to be called neighbor. In some cases they built their own tombs.
You have to live a very different life today to keep your mind and body free in America. It’s still possible of course, it just ain’t a given anymore. Take a look around you one day and objectively evaluate how free you are.
Start by stepping outside and looking around, then get in your vehicle where you have rules. Look around the streets as you drive to work and objectively look at the messages and the buildings. The buildings are designed to get you inside. At work it’s obvious you’ll have rules, but look at your work space and how it relates to co workers and management.
When you return home and step in the door take a fresh look at your compartmentalized caccoon and identify how you feel, safe or free!!!