On Friday evening, in moments of fear that we cannot come close to comprehending, a young Forest Park mom was shot to death on Harlem Avenue as she tried to escape a car driven by her murderer. That man, the driver, then turned the gun on himself and took his fragile life as well.
This is a moment for compassion, for generosity for a family of young boys left behind, for circumspection about what it means to be in community. Moments of stunning, disabling tragedy are when we define ourselves as a village.
So often we rise. How many Forest Park families have been supported in hard times by neighbors raising funds, often in a space donated by a local bar or restaurant. How many families forced out of a two-flat in a fire have seen clothing and kitchenware arrive unbidden?
Those are the golden moments. A neighbor and then a second neighbor, a PTO and then a business, the community center and then the firefighters. This is how we weave ourselves together. Looking forward. Looking out.
But last Friday, 19 days before Christmas, two hours before so many gathered on Madison Street for the Holiday Walk, we reacted on social media — in Facebook groups purporting to be about community — to the sirens, stalled traffic, news helicopters and, as always, incomplete information.
Forest Park didn’t used to be this way, said an early poster in a nod to a Forest Park that never existed. And we snarled on from there with cursing and unkindness. Calling each other out, undermining a fledgling business. We’re no fans of Facebook, most often we’re no fans of the comment board on our own website.
Give a thought. Say a prayer. Look up and beyond that first impulse to judge and belittle. Find ways to connect and to support a Forest Park family with needs we can only hope to touch.
Be generous and inspiring.