May 30, 2012
These are some impressions that came to mind as I watched A Tour of Detroit's Ghetto:
Horror. Casualty. Neglect. Mortality. Danger. Poison. Fear. Abandonment. Failure. Death.
Not long ago, I spent two years as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Togo, West Africa. I was stricken by the scenes in the ATDG video and by the fact that Detroit is truly uglier and more terrible than anything I experienced in that third-world country.
Although Detroit is surely dying, it was not killed in the active sense of the word. Detroit's demise is due to neglect and abandonment. Like Togo, Detroit is a place of few and no resources. Detroit is a dinosaur. It has outlived its era. There is no place for it in the world today. It is a Twilight-Zone destination that no longer possesses anything the world wants.
When people die, we lay them to rest with a proper burial. The question is, what are we supposed to do with a dead city? Should we bury it like we would a person? Should we stand by and do nothing, allowing it to continue its decay of its own volition? After all, most of us are fortunate we don't have to live there. It's not our back yard, so why should we care? I think this is an important question we must ask, as more and more cities will go the way of Detroit before long.
Our way of life–our "American Dream"–has been fun while it has lasted. But it is clear we cannot sustain a society where rampant consumerism with no concern for consequences is the national religion. I fear we are standing on the edge of an abyss, much as ancient Rome did, and we are likely to follow in their footsteps if we are not prudent enough to learn from their mistakes and heed the warning signs.
But nothing is carved in stone. Each of us has the power within us to be a catalyst for positive change. But we must care enough to do something positive, we must not waste time and effort standing around name-calling, pointing fingers of blame and waiting for someone else to do the dirty work.
I do not have any magic answers for the monumentally serious, sad problems of Detroit. One very important thing I learned by being a Peace Corps Volunteer is that even the weakest of us, even the poorest and the least educated of us, is capable of caring and doing miraculous good deeds. If we believe it is possible, if we work together instead of against one another, if we make the effort, we can surely be catalysts for positive change.
Great post, Pegasus1. I've heard many others say that Detroit is a sadder scene than that they've experienced traveling across the globe, including war-torn areas like Iraq. West Africa must have been a crazy place to visit. Their poverty is a different kind than our though, would you agree? They never had much to begin with, while Detroit was one of the greatest cities in the world in it's day, and now lies in near ruins. Incredible.
I agree with you though, we cannot continue to live the way we do for much longer. People don't think about all of the other things we'll lose when we run out of oil, like plastics and 6,000 other every day products. Personally, I think the greatest threat to our planet has got to be the rapidly rising population. The world can barely feed itself now, let alone when the population hits 9 billion in 2050. Everything that is bad now is going to be so much worse in the future, simply because of all the damn people. Really, do you need 9 kids? Come on, people!
Anyways, Detroit needs to consolidate it's population into one area of the city as much a possible. That way they can afford to provide proper services to it's citizens. They are about to shut of half their street lights in the entire city of Detroit, because they just can't afford to light a neighborhood that is only 15% occupied. The population is just too spread out right now. Then, over time, they can start rebuilding the abandoned areas that are left.
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