Tip From The Old School: Be aware of your child’s friends and acquaintances. Kids & Teens often take their first drink, smoke their first cigarette or blunt, commit their first crime, or get involved with the wrong crowd thanks to those whom they believe to be ‘good friends’. Teach your child the difference between ‘good’ and ‘evil’!
If you have ever spent time in front of your TV watching some of the offerings from shows like “Gangland” or “American Gangster” for any length of time, you soon notice a few things:
1. The tactics of evil seldom change; they are recycled.
2. Many of today’s ‘gang leaders’ were ‘brought in’ by ‘friends’.
3. They are ‘proud’ of the fact that they manipulate many to do their will.
4. They get ‘upset’ when THEIR family members get killed by gang activity.
5. Lastly, the belief that they can not change is firmly planted within them.
Of course, IF the same ‘leadership’ would tell their thousands of their followers to stay in school, graduate, steer clear of criminal activity, work hard at legitimate enterprises AND register to vote, you would not hear from them--or their gang--ever again. IF--in addition--the same gang leadership told their followers to stop breeding OOW children, get married, and become positive forces in the church and community, you would see politicians awarding pardons like confetti.
Modern street gangs are not ‘social clubs’ like their predecessors of the last century. Today, they ARE ‘criminal enterprises’ AND ‘religious worship outlets’ in our post-9/11 world. The reason why law enforcement, elected officials, social workers, and church leaders are not effective against their spread is simple: Many have ‘laughed off’ the spiritual underbelly of modern gang activity. Smatterings of Islam, Santeria, Roman Catholicism, Nazism, Witchcraft, Roman, Egyptian and Greek Mythology, even gangster history from the 1930s and 40s have been found in the modern gang scene with a religious twist.
CANNOT DISREGARD THE SPIRITUAL:
As the ‘informed’ continue to shovel more tax money at the problem, the gangs have been ‘rolling’. THEY believe in the spiritual side of their activities, even though many have dismissed the obvious religious signs.
I include the realities of the spiritual when I do presentations on Modern Street Gangs.
I’m not one to ‘laugh off the spiritual’ like many power brokers, gang experts and churches, because of the risks involved. You see, men, women--and even teenagers--have been created by God to be drawn to the spiritual. Each of us, though, have the right to be drawn to either the light of spiritual matters, or, revel in the darkness of spiritual trappings. To deny the spiritual aspect of gang life and not include such realities in the discussion of solutions is a formula for disaster of immense proportions--as we have already been seeing on the streets of many a city.
Let me bring you up to speed. Modern Street Gangs (MSGs) have their own unique rituals, prayers, bibles, benevolence activity and sacrifices. Gangs have their own ways of ‘witnessing’ with their signs, slogans, codes and graffiti. MSGs even have their own way of ‘canvassing’ or ‘proselytizing’, with VERY effective results. While they may tweak some of the visible portions of their rules, the average gang member views being in a gang a lot like being in a religious denomination. The difference? While ‘real’ religion is supposed to ‘uplift’ the follower and community, gangs don’t adhere to this belief.
If you doubt me, ask some of the former participants of gang life who are now crippled in their bodies and minds; maimed in their economic, educational or relationship choices, or are just plain DEAD from being a member of the ‘church of the Gangbanger’ was a benefit.
Their answers will surprise you--IF they can speak.
THREE DOORWAYS TO THE SOUL--AND RUIN:
Right about now, there are those who may be reading this column and are getting uncomfortable about the discussion of religion. A few in law enforcement, government, even in the church house will clamor about the ‘mythical’ separation of church and state.
Modern gangs don’t have a problem in mixing the two…to their advantage.
A few others among the professional ranks are more interested in getting their checks and fees rather than helping the public to be self-sufficient. Unfortunately, gang members are still going to their ‘churches’, helping to destroy ‘the state’ with their criminal activities, and will take as many willing (or unwilling) followers WITH them to the jailhouse, the church house, and/or the morgue.
The Bible says that there are works of the flesh (Galatians, Chapter 5) and, in addition there are three doorways into the soul that will corrupt even the best of men and women if they are breached. These are: the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life (I John 2:16). These are the three doorways which gangs use to turn many a young person into an unfeeling, underachieving, uneducated killing machine.
Even some of the ‘good’ teens of society who, incidentally, may go to YOUR church.
What? You think that it is an ‘accident’ that many of the colors, signs, and methodology for gangs comes straight from the Bible? Even Satan and his demons can read scripture! They just have a problem with two words: Jesus Christ.
But, I digress.
How then are gangs able to recruit, train and ‘make their own disciples’? Simple. The gang--through their recruiters--systematically break down the ‘three doorways’ of resistance, and unlock the evil already stored in the average teen. All it takes to be ‘successful’ is to breach these doorways alone or in combination. A little ‘peer pressure’ here, a little ‘blunting’ there, a little spending money or some sexual thrills. Mix in some intimidation, immorality, and ignorance, and you have a gang member ready to serve their ‘leadership’.
THE CHURCH ASLEEP--AND GANGS LOVE IT:
Like clockwork, there have been a host of gang tragedies around the country as the weather has gotten warmer. Unfortunately, the one group which should be able to reach out to the gangs (and set the captives free), support the home, and speak out against sins on the streets of many a city are too interested in politics, parties, and entertainment.
Interestingly, there will be FEW churches in our land who will be holding gang conferences this spring and summer to expose local gang activity. However many churches WILL have:
*Political rallies & voter registration drives.
*Fundraisers For HIV/AIDS.
*Lively funeral services for gang slaying victims.
*But NO conferences to inform their congregations about gangs.
Gang activity is like any other vice: It’s ‘out of sight and out of mind’ as it will hurt some feelings and point some fingers at those IN churches who are either involved in MSGs, or, those who ‘support’ such activities from the sidelines. It seems that many churches have been ‘laughing’ off the spiritual side of gangs as well.
Which is EXACTLY what the gangs want to continue to have happen.
MIKE RAMEY is a Street Gang Specialist, consultant, trainer and Lead Instructor of THE GANG LINE, based in Indianapolis, Indiana. RAMEY has presentations and materials for ages 6 to 65 on how to spot/stop or lead those out who want out of gang activity. Questions? Email RameysGangLine@yahoo.com ©2008 Mike Ramey/Barnstorm Communications International.
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