In the movie HUD, ranch owner and family patriarch, Homer Bannon, has to put an entire herd of cattle down because of incurable hoof-and-mouth disease. After destroying and burying the herd, he sadly tells his grandson (and I paraphrase), “It takes a long time to create something. It don’t take any time at all to destroy it.”
I spent the better part of two hours this evening stripping spray-painted graffiti off the back of our privacy fence. It seems that a couple of Salemtown’s best and brightest young men took a very short period of time to deface our fence with some of the gang-related graffiti they have previously reserved for less private spaces.
While it took Madison Fence Co. days to build the attractive fence and while it took me hours to clean it up after today’s "mural," vandals did their ugly work in a just a few seconds. What they probably don’t realize is that there is more power in the effort to create or build something and a lot less power in the attempt to tear down, even though the latter is more convenient.
Look at the picture above. This way of spray-painting “Salemtown” is related to a group of neighborhood kids trying to be a part of a gang. Whenever you see it, you’ll know that some kid somewhere is not living to create, but living to tear down. Take a close look, because this kind of graffiti is a dying breed in a neighborhood that’s organizing to improve the quality of life.
I’m committed to a greater power than vandalism. And the vandals don’t get it. Every time they strike, I only grow that much more committed to the constructive power of cleaning up this neighborhood. It may take a while to clean it all up, but it takes a long time to build something.
And I plan to stock up on plenty of graffiti remover for the long haul.