Over the past several years, New York City has become a significantly unsafe place. Crime is on the rise; ethnic violence is on the rise; shootings are on the rise; and yes, hate crimes, including those against the Catholic faith, are on the rise.
Several factors are to blame for this troubling trend that many argue is returning New York to the bad old days of the 70s and 80s.
Citizens and visitors have a right to feel safe as they go about their days in our neighborhoods and public transportation. Surveillance video repeatedly shows that’s just not the case. In the most recent example, an Asian woman was sucker-punched in the face while walking down the street in Chinatown — a hideous and unprovoked attack.
To make matters worse, historically, violent crime tends to rise during the summer, so we should remain vigilant and be prepared for more of what we are seeing.
Crime’s impact is far-reaching. New York’s economy is in part based on tourism. If visitors feel unsafe, they’ll stop coming, which translates to job losses for New Yorkers — many of whom are counting on economic recovery as the pandemic fades away.
Living in fear is no way to live, and New Yorkers deserve better. They must hold their elected leaders accountable by letting their voices be heard and exercising their right to vote.
As crime pushes its way into our city, it leads us to wonder if pushing faith out of our society is contributing to lawlessness. What drives people to commit these senseless crimes?
Perhaps we can turn to the Book of Genesis for an answer. The Lord God created the human being in his image and likeness, and, for that reason, man and woman are fundamentally good. The highest of God’s creations are intended to be the reflection of God himself. Then it all changed.
Into the world came sin — original sin — that first fall of man and woman, our parents, Adam and Eve. Not content to live in peace and charity, in harmony with each other and with all creation — due to pride, due to hubris — they chose immorality in lieu of immortality. And when sin enters into the world, so too does death — that inevitable specter who haunts mortal men and women every day and whom we will all one day encounter.
Yes, sin is very prevalent in the world, but original sin is washed away in the great sacrament of Baptism, that portal into the Christian life. We are left with the mark of concupiscence on our souls, that inclination to sin. And then, the fact is that actual sin — of omission and commission — can be forgiven through that great sacrament of healing that is penance or confession.
We need to see each person as created in the image and likeness of God and possessing great dignity as a child of God Most High. No race, no creed, no gender, no ethnicity — all are loved and equal in the eyes of God Most High.
Increased policing, effective community programs, and prosecuting criminals is important to curb violence, but one solution that is often overlooked is supernatural. Society must turn to a concentrated reorientation of the Lord.