Kristy D. Bock

When to think, when to pray, when to plan, when to do

When I was in the corporate world, I was given the role of a leader. It didn’t come naturally to me, and if I’m being honest, I wasn’t very good at it. I understood that if the team failed, I failed. With that in mind, what the team didn’t do, I did. Within a year, I was burned out with employees who could neither grow, nor thrive, because I wasn’t creating an environment for them to do so. I feel like I’m living in a place where the leadership is as effective as I was.

2022 feels like it’s the year of violence for the small southern city I live in. As the world argues about inflation and gas prices, residents of the city of Kinston are being shot. How many deaths does it take before reach a breaking point? Multiple teenagers died because of the unchecked violence in the city. The profound grief felt by residents of the city is a call unanswered by their leaders. I’m sure the weight of these deaths is heavy on their collective minds as they lead the city in prayer.

And prayers…
I stood in front of the leadership of the community at a press conference held a few weeks ago. Leadership spoke of intentional targets and asked the offenders to stop the senseless violence. The police spoke of reclaiming the city. They encouraged the non-violent citizens of Kinston to “fight for it, and take it back.” What does that mean exactly? Is there a citizen initiative where we patrol the streets alongside the police? Was there a neighborhood watch committee that was working with local law enforcement to create a barrier to protect said streets? How many lives are acceptable losses as we “take back” the streets of Kinston? Is this really a solution that will prevent future violence?

After they spoke, a local pastor prayed to end the violence in the city. The direction from our leadership was to understand that the violence was targeted, the citizens need to fight to take back their streets, and a prayer for the city. I’m not knocking any of these statements, but I am calling them out for their abject ineffectiveness to solve the problem of violence. This goes for elected leaders, community leaders, and business leaders who have the potential to effect change, but choose not to do so.

How do you solve the problem of violence in a city? Is it to hire more police and hope that eventually things will calm down? Will police vigilance end the blood in the streets? Is technology like gunshot detection technology the answer to ending the violence?

The time for blame has ended. I no longer care if it’s mental health, poor education, bad parenting, or poverty that strips people of their humanity and allows them to take the lives of others. The time now is for solutions. Solutions from the leaders that directly benefit the safety of our city streets.

I live near where shootings have occurred. My neighbor is in the process of moving out of their home due to the violence. I’ve considered moving on multiple occasions, but I live and work downtown. Why should I have to sacrifice the ease of downtown living because other people feel like it’s okay to shoot other. I don’t know what the right course or action is to save the lives of Kinston citizens, but I’m pretty sure it isn’t thoughts and prayers. The time to act is now, before one more child finds their permanent residence in a coffin. It’s time for the citizens to listen to their leaders and take back their city. Get involved, go to city council meetings, vote, donate time or money to causes that benefit the city. Form community action groups or community watches that guard against encroaching violence. Do something.

And do it now.

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