Too often we worry about how crime will affect us. What if crime problems and solutions are sometimes easier to solve than we realize?
The restaurant Diablo’s Southwest Grill in Augusta, Georgia had a break-in at 4 a.m. one morning. It’s definitely the last thing a business needs, particularly with the decreased traffic from a worldwide pandemic.
But Carl Wallace, the owner of Diablo’s decided to turn something bad into something good. Instead of becoming angry, he put himself in the mind of the person who broken into his place.
Wallace took a different tack than most. When it comes to crime problems and solutions, most people stop at the problem. More accurately, they stop at the symptom.
Symptoms vs. Problems
Wallace was able to separate the symptom – a crime committed against him and his business – from the problem – something in that person’s life that is causing them to do these things.
After all, another person in jail won’t fix the problem. The US has the highest incarceration rate in the world and still sees a great deal of crime. We’ve been striving for moral issues in politics, but haven’t even solved the basics.
When we look at crime problems and solutions, we need to go after the symptom. We seem to suffer a decline in empathy, and our approach isn’t helping. Instead of just separating people into groups, like criminal and others, we should look at the opportunities and challenges this highlights.
Just like the study known as Rat Park and the reopening of a once salacious GM plant as detailed in the book Smarter, Better, Faster, we can see that people make bad choices – crime included – when other needs aren’t met. We can focus on the crime they commit without addressing the problem, or we can focus on the problem and lower crime.
Crime Problems and Solutions
We can look at someone like Nicky Cruz, a gang leader who turned his life around and helped hundreds of thousands of people because one man focused on the symptom. We can look at the example of Daryl Davis, a Black man who inspired hundreds of people to leave the KKK simply by befriending them.
If we want to fix crime, we need to focus on the symptom – people who are broken. We need to help build people up instead of just trying to remove them all and pretend they don’t exist. It doesn’t fix the problem; it just allows us to pretend blissful ignorance.
The best way to fix crime is to focus on treating people like people. It’s to believe the best in people and find where we can make a difference. Yes, there needs to be accountability, but it should be in service of helping people, not ignoring them.
If we want to make the world a better place we have to start with making it a better place for everyone.