Op-Ed Heaven Help Us

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Chuck Hughes

I served 34 years as a first responder in my community. I have been Chairman for Crime Prevention and Public Safety at the national level of the National League of Cities. I have seen every form of disaster possible. I was a member of the Gary City Council and I implemented Stop the Violence Programs, Midnight basketball, No Workshops, No Jump shots, a city disaster plan and I brought the top management of Taser International to Gary which led to every police department in Northwest Indiana using Tasers as an alternative to deadly force.

But if as a community we cannot stem this flow of deadly violence that is occurring, then I would hope that everyone would join me in praying for divine intervention. The question could  be asked, who am I to speak out? Well my story is eerily similar to that of too many families in our community. The last victim of the serial killers Alton Coleman and Debra Brown was a relative, the elderly couple who the mother was murdered in her home and the husband was murdered in the hospital was a relative and on April 17th the young man murdered in the gas station at 49th and Broadway was a relative.

Of course none of that is to be construed as a badge of honor. It simply means that when I tell mothers, fathers and families that I feel their pain, I feel their pain. We must begin to care about each other in every respect.

That leads me to the fantastic World Civility Day event that the Gary Chamber of Commerce hosted here in Gary and Northwest Indiana. We hosted interactive Civility workshops conducted by leading businesses and organizations in Northwest Indiana. We had students attend who also participated actively in the programming.

Later the same evening we had an awards banquet where a special Ambassador to several nations of the world presented awards to individuals and groups representing countries where there is religious violence, human abuses and brutal dictatorships. Many of these people flew long hours to come to Gary, Indiana to find hope in how to improve their human condition.

We truly appreciate those who stepped up, contributed and supported this tremendous initiative. We hope that those who were conspicuous by their absence would also come to embrace the notion that we are all in this together and collectively is the only way that we can make things better.

Imagine the world coming to Gary, Indiana to seek answers as to how their cities, states and nations can become more civil. We can be that shining example to the world. Let’s step up. Let’s lead by example. And by all means, let’s remember that Community Civility Counts.

The comments expressed are those of the writer alone.

Chuck Hughes

Executive Director

Gary Chamber of Commerce

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