28 July 2009

of graffiti, white-flight, and the ubiquity of brokenness

I heard a story from a friend recently about a co-worker lamenting the fact that urban crime had caught up to him in his neighborhood on the sprawling edges of the city.

Graffiti and petty vandalism had made it to the exurbs and the wringing of hands had begun. “Pack up the house, Maude, we’re moving to Canada!!”

It occurred to me that perspective is everything. I live in an urban area, where teen pregnancy rates are through the roof, homelessness is rampant, and graffiti is ubiquitous. It is the kind of place that when you move into the neighborhood, your car insurance rates rise. And we love it for its charm and intimacy, for its age and its connectedness.

Do I even notice tagging in our hood? No. Why? Because, when you think about it, a tagged fence is not nearly as threatening as the white-flight crowd makes it out to be. It is a kid with a spray can… Yes, there are underlying issues there concerning gangs, property values and the like, but at the end of the day it is paint on wood.

Society is pocked with brokenness no matter what the zip code. In the city center, it is graffiti and in the gated neighborhoods, it is securities fraud. Forget which one is more obvious. Which one is really more damaging?

At the end of the day, there is no neighborhood, zip code, or lifestyle that trumps any other when it comes to escaping the nature of man. We are all broken…all in need of a savior.


  1. agreed. "There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." Gal 3:28