I don’t know when I first fell in love with Chicago. I’ve never been. I don’t have family or even any friends from there.
But she has stolen my heart. Maybe it’s because Michael Jordan posters lined my walls and his books filled my shelves. Maybe it’s because I read an article once about Chicago students who were afraid to go to school because of the violence on the streets. I thought of my own students, states away from Chicago but often living in similar unsafe neighborhoods surrounded by preying pimps and the alluring temptation of gangs.
Pro-gun advocates love to talk about Chicago. After all, they can make memes about the fact that Chicago leads the nation in murders per year despite having strict gun laws. Those in favor of gun control rarely mention Chicago because it doesn’t fit their narrative.
But what gets lost in the shuffle of Facebook debates and Twitter hashtags are people. People who are just like us. People who dream the same dreams for their kids that we do. People who worry daily about becoming a victim of gun violence.
468 people were murdered in Chicago last year.
2,900 people were shot. (http://time.com/4165576/chicago-murders-shootings-rise-2015/)
Just stop and think about that a moment. Let that number sink in. Do you even know 468 people? I definitely don’t know 2,900! There are 837 kids at my school. I’m sitting here numb, unable to fathom the idea of over half of them losing their lives in one year.
It’s gut-wrenching. It’s the unimaginable that feeds our fears and inspires horror films. But it’s reality for the city of Chicago.
Every number is a person, an image-bearer of God Himself.
And if things continue, 2016 will be deadlier than 2015. (http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2016/04/01/murders-shootings-soar-chicago-through-first-three-months-2016/82507210/)
So why are the people of Chicago forgotten? Is it because most of the victims are minorities? Because many are poor? Is it because one murder at a time isn’t a mass shooting and therefore not as newsworthy?
Why in the world does the city of Chicago not matter to us? I think about her often, but she’s heavier on my heart every time I see something as gruesome as Orlando. And I want to cry out, “Why don’t we love Chicago? Why aren’t we changing our profile pictures for those we lost? Why aren’t...why aren’t...why aren’t?”
As if their 468 lives weren’t valuable. As if the shattered pieces of 468 families can just be put back together. As if 2,900 lives can just go back to normal after they’ve felt the impact of a bullet and lived to endure the nightmares.
Just this weekend, while we all justly mourned the lives lost in the horrific shooting in Orlando, 7 people in Chicago died. Another 35 were shot, including a five-year-old girl. (http://abc7chicago.com/news/42-people-shot-7-killed-in-chicago-weekend-violence/1383393/)
So, I ask you. When you’re thinking about the devastation in Orlando, please remember Chicago. Post about her. Grieve with her. Pray for her.
In Isaiah 49, God makes a promise to His people.
14 But Zion said, “The Lord has forsaken me; my Lord has forgotten me.” 15 “Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. 16 Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are continually before me.
God has not forgotten the people of Chicago. He loves them. He sees them. He knows them. And if our hearts are beating in one with His, full of love for the lost and compassion for the hurting, then we should remember Chicago too.
If you feel led to help, here is a link to organizations in Chicago working to end violence and to help those who have been affected. http://abc7chicago.com/archive/9009544/ **I have not researched all of these organizations, so check them out carefully.