Monday, July 20, 2009

My Broken Town

When I think about where I live, these are the stats that are fun to hear:

  • Fort Worth is the fastest growing large city (pop. 500,000+) in the U.S. with a population increase of 25% between 2000 and 2007.
  • In 2008, Fort Worth’s population passed the 700,000 mark and is projected to reach over one million by 2030.
  • The DFW metroplex is the second fastest growing metropolitan area in the U.S. with a projected population of 10.1 million by 2040 (in 2000, it was only 5.2 million). [Statistics taken from Oneglory.org]

These statistics underscore that I'm not the only one who thinks this is a great place to live. But I also know that this city isn't perfect.

Sad stories headline the news almost every night. I could lull myself into thinking that those stories come only from other parts of the Metroplex, but it simply wouldn't be true. Yet, even hearing individual stories that have taken place in Fort Worth doesn't have the same impact as seeing these statistics:

  • 20,000 refugees from 45 different ethnicities live in Fort Worth.
  • 8,000 people in Fort Worth need nursing home care but are unable to afford it.
  • 4,000-5,000 people are homeless in Tarrant County (61% of those are women and children).
  • At least 17 strip clubs operate in Fort Worth, plus at least one prostitution ring, employing hundreds of women.
  • The Fort Worth Federal Correctional Institution holds 1,815 inmates, plus there are four major jails, one juvenile center, and numerous halfway houses.
  • 1 of every 6 males and 1 of every 4 females in Fort Worth is sexually abused before age 18.
  • 200-300 gangs exist in Fort Worth, which together have 5,000-6,000 members. [Also taken from OneGlory]

When I see the stories tallied up in this format, the brokenness comes to light. And the weight of it is overwhelming. All at once, I want to do something and nothing.

The "something" response is praying and/or giving financially. But then my self-imposed hierarchy of roles kicks in and tells me that these options for helping aren't good enough. Which leads me to the "nothing" response: other people are better equipped to serve and handle this situation, so I can just turn a blind eye to the bad statistics and enjoy the good ones.

But I shouldn't allow my self-imposed hierarchy of roles---that praying or giving financially are not "as good" as other roles like serving---to prevent me from praying and/or giving financially. And I shouldn't allow fear to prevent me from serving if that's the role I feel I'm being led to fill.

The above is easier said than done. So in order to fight the battles outside my front door, I guess I need to begin by conquering the mental battles within.

2 comments:

Krista said...

Sending this to the Tarrant NET staff. I relate to your thoughts. Need to check out the website where you got the stats!

Anonymous said...

I was there this last week at a conference. I miss living in that area because of all the cool stuff to do. I don't miss it because the concentration of humanity there causes all sorts of problems. A good friend of mine has a new girlfriend who picked up a stalker recently, and is having trouble with that.

I have reached the conclusion that the world is broken. While it seems the concentration is more in the D/FW area, it's bad everywhere, and getting worse. So don't feel like it's just that area.