Tuesday, September 23, 2008


With the cooler weather, I have been getting up and walking each morning before work. I always walk south on our street, then two blocks east, then a half block north, to a certain point where I can see the traffic coming from both directions before I cross the four-lane street. We are blessed with a walking trail in Audubon Park, just two blocks away.

I love the morning air. I love the sun coming up misty over the green dewy grass of the golf course, and peeking around the trunks of the circa two hundred old oak trees. I love saying "good morning" to the other people out walking the trail in the park.

It's almost an enchanted time, that morning walk.

So imagine my horror several days ago when I saw foul language in red paint. On the east-west street. And a bit further, even more foul languge on the same street.

And then when I was walking back from the park, I saw the same nasty word spray-painted on the trunk of a big oak tree. And an equally disgusting symbol painted on the roof of the house next to the tree.

Our neighborhood just doesn't have graffiti. Given the number of college students in the area, it's no surprise that occasionally somebody will write on a stopsign. But that's it. This house, however, has been empty, for sale, for several months now, and I suppose that just made it an easy target.

Part of me was outraged. It's just so ugly, and so rotten to think that someone out there cares so little about anything that they'd do this.

The tree is the worst part. How to remove paint from a tree without hurting the tree?

And somehow I can more easily imagine some kid being mad at some person, or people, or "the authorities," and taking it out on a street or building....the words would indicate pent-up anger....but a tree? What did a tree ever do to hurt anyone?

Over time, walking by this most days, I have come to feel saddest for whoever did it. My guess is it's one of the teenagers I've seen hanging around that area before. What would cause a kid to be so angry, to have so little respect for others, to have no better way to deal with the anger....

I can't know for sure, but I would imagine it's a boy with no father, with a lack of both love and discipline at home, with no one keeping him involved in healthy activities, with no other entity (school, church...) teaching him better ways to live. Most people don't just wake up one day and hate the world. There's generally a reason, or a host of reasons, for those feelings.

So, I have started praying for this unknown vandal. What else is there to do?

I did call the realtor whose name was on the sign. And yesterday noticed that someone had painted over the bits on the street.

Sigh. Our neighborhood is called "Normal Station Neighborhood." I sure don't want this to become normal.

(I guess you know why I didn't put a picture up for this one. Ugh.)


Lucy said...

Graffiti like that's the kind of thing that seems to insidiously lower the quality of life and morale of everyone, and so becomes self-perpetuating.

You've struck a good balance between reasoned compassion and outrage, but I'm sorry your precious (in the good sense!) time of gentle walking contemplation was spoiled like that.

Trees are tough, it will slough it off eventually, I guess.

Jim said...

We vandals need all the prayers you good folk will say for us.

As long as you pray and are not prey, all is well.