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Kudos to Team Evanston’s boys’ under-14 soccer team, who just won the national championship. We congratulate them for their wins, and we acknowledge the trust, discipline and passion that went into the making of the team and the victories. That’s teamwork. What these boys have learned and what they have accomplished are the seeds of their future. Even if they gave up sports tomorrow, that would not diminish the value of this summer’s accomplishment.
These boys are fortunate in many ways. They have families that support them, coaches who both nurture and push them and a community that takes pride in knowing – or maybe just wishing – that collectively we played some small part in their development.
It is painful to acknowledge that there is a small group of older youth who are living on the edge of violence or in its midst. We do not know their goals or understand their behavior. They have chosen guns, drugs, gangs or other anti-social behavior over positive activities. Maybe they feel their opportunities are limited and there are no better alternatives.
When one of our youth is shot, two suffer directly but the entire community suffers as well. Two families are destroyed, those of the victim and of the shooter, no matter whether he is brought to justice. The community is diminished by violence and loss, by grief and fear.
It is likely, though, that there are ways in which we as a community failed these young men who seem to be putting their futures on the line. It is possible that we as a community could have done more when they were growing up. Now they are no longer kids needing someone to read to them, a good breakfast and sound in-school and after-school structure. They are young adults needing strong guidance and accountability.
On the opposite page, Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl has outlined steps the City and the police department are taking to stem the violence. She asks for help from the entire community to make our City safer.
We echo her plea, even when the initial steps can be wrenching.