Even though violent crime statistics are reported to be heading down, feelings, like fear, often aren’t aligned with the data. Too many of us sense that we are less safe. Of course, various news media (certainly not this one!) feed the fear cycle in order to raise their viewership or readership. But, I try not to engage in either handwringing or mudslinging. Our culture seems too often to play the blame game and to pass the buck.
There is, in fact, something each of us, can do. We are not helpless. A recent article in The New York Times prompted me to think about practical, everyday solutions. It was titled, Does Fear of Crime Fuel More Crime by Neil Gross (Sunday, August 6, 2023).
After reading, I was led to ask myself and to ask my congregation to ask themselves: What activities might fortify the social infrastructure of my community, my block, my apartment complex? Which of my neighbors should I check in on, one who appears vulnerable? Do I dare to greet passersby while dog-walking?
Seemingly small gestures can make a formidable impact. “Studies show that the more ties people have to one another in their communities, the less fearful they are of becoming crime victims, perhaps because they know they can count on others,” according to Gross.
Though my wife, Monique and I, are relatively new to Santa Monica – officially beginning at Pilgrim in October 2022 – we have already been cheered by some the neighbors we’ve met so far who embody this emboldening trait.
We look forward to meeting others because the more collegial we all can be towards one another civically, the more confident we together will become psychologically, irrespective of anything like crime statistics or negative news. An early Jewish follower of Jesus phrased it succinctly: “Perfect love drives out fear” (1 John 4:18).
By Rev. John Arthur Nunes
“Pastor John" aka Rev. John Arthur Nunes, PhD
Pastor, Pilgrim Lutheran Church, 17th Street and Wilshire Boulevard, Santa Monica