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March Pages 2017

THE ADVOCATE V O L . 7 5 P A R T 2 M A R C H 2 0 1 7 173 downtown on a Saturday night seem to evidence an uncouth and frightening potential quite close to the surface. Those who doubted that untamed human nature was as destructive as Hobbes portrayed were reminded by him of the concerns they themselves commonly had about the individuals around them. Those concerns existed even when they had the benefit of a common government to provide some security; without that government their concerns would necessarily be heightened: Let him therefore consider with himself … when going to sleep, he locks his doors; when even in his house he locks his chests; and this when he knows there be laws and public officers, armed, to revenge all injuries shall be done him; what opinion he has … of his fellow citizens, when he locks his doors; and of his children, and servants, when he locks his chests. Does he not there as much accuse mankind by his actions as I do by my words? In parts of the world it may even be that a Hobbesian state of nature now exists not simply as a philosophical construct, but as a present reality. This is not only in countries gripped by civil war, where a central power has either collapsed or turned on those it was supposed to protect, but geographically closer to home. Hobbes might even recognize as falling into his “state of nature” category the situation in parts of Chicago, a city in which, incredibly, more than 4,300 people were shot in 2016. There were so many shootings that some news organizations have taken to grouping the events by holiday weekend— that is, the number of shootings that happened in windows around Memorial Day, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, New Year’s, etc. Another publishes grim lists tracking victims by sex, age and place of shooting. The individuals killed in these shootings made up a large portion of the city’s more than 760 homicides in 2016. Other shooting victims, often forgotten as their wounds were not fatal, “survive” but with terrible injuries that also irreparably change the lives of victims’ new caretakers. Bystanders and gang members alike have been hit. Stories are told of teaching youngsters to stay inside or dodge bullets when walking on the streets. In the first weeks of 2017, more people were shot and more killed in Chicago than even in the same period in 2016. Chicago has been described as a war zone by politicians, rappers (who have called the city “Chiraq”) and others. The rapper who coined the “Chiraq” label was himself later shot, in late 2015, although he survived. Chicago’s total homicides between 2003 and 2011 were just short of the number of U.S. soldiers who died in Iraq—obviously, the country that inspired the “Chiraq” label—during that time.1


March Pages 2017
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