Midtown Murder Prompts Discussion

The horrendous and senseless death of Glenn Cofield on Friday got a lot of people’s attention.

He was, according to the CA, a “prominent financial services executive and charity volunteer,” who was gunned down Friday night around 10:30 in Midtown. He had attended a charity event and parked at the Greater Lewis Church parking lot off Poplar and the Parkway. When he got in his car, someone approached him, put a gun to his head and killed him.

The police are not saying why or if they have a suspect, but for Midtowners it hits home. I learned of it because one of his sons lives a few doors down and several in our block were taking up a collection for flowers, food and to help in any way he and his wife need.

Someone with a lot of gumption put up a thread on Nextdoor under the title “Societal Problems (Mores/Morals) and Political Problems in Memphis.” He wroe “Okay, this is a wide open POST. Due to the recent post of a senseless murder in Midtown(and I know there are many more senseless murders that happen here in Memphis), it seems everyone has an opinion as to the cause and a way to fix it. Please respect ALL of the people who have been senselessly killed or murdered.

“My question is: What is the cause of this problem, who is the blame, and how can this be corrected; socially and/or politically?

“This should be an open discussion but PLEASE be polite and accepting of everyone’s thoughts, ideas and opinions, no matter how much you(individually) agree or disagree with them…”

It didn’t take long before he got responses. You may find them as interesting and reflective of our times as I did.

First was this one:
“A living (minimum) wage would probably be good start. Many crimes occur due to economic desperation, and systemic exclusion of various races and the absurd racial disparities in our educational and transportation systems. Fix what is driving people to act out of economic desperation, and crime will decrease significantly.”

That’s about what you’d expect from a thirty something young person, which this person is.

“OMG, did you just graduate from SJW University?” someone answered.

The next asked, “Thanks for your input. Can you explain a little further?”

Here is the rest of the dialog, names removed:

“EVERYONE: As I asked; PLEASE be polite in your responses. What is needed is communication; an open forum, to discuss the many problems Memphis has and WHY Memphis has these problems….”

“Since you asked, Law, order, and almighty God have been pushed out and rejected. What do you think sowing that seed reaps?”

“What kind of “systemic exclusion of various races” causes a person to put a gun to an innocent man’s head and execute him in front of his wife? And what kind of brainwashing causes a person to make such a pathetic excuse for that kind of unmitigated evil?”

“… great question. The answers are so difficult, complex and multifaceted that it would take many caring and serious responses to approach solution material. I think the path to violence begins primarily with broken families where love and care for children is absent. It’s not long anymore for little boys to find false security and acceptance in gang lifestyles where they can be used by older boys who were themselves lost and rejected. It only gets worse from there as problems of poor self esteem, the affects of misguided goals in our society, the absence of personal responsibility and the very difficult problems of accessing healthy, prosperous opportunities ripple out like a virus affecting everyone around each of these young men. This is only one piece of a problem that I personally believe no human power alone can fix.”

“I wish I had the answer(s), I don’t. Most often, when I do stop and think, when I do question the why, I end up with nothing but more questions.

“Is it in the nature of the killer? Is it nurture? Does society play a role? Does a general lack of morality lead to these horrible acts? Is it a lack of some God or another in the person’s life? Is it as some suggest rooted in racism and/or poverty? Is it the free access to weapons, firearms in particular? Is it drugs? Is it the schools where our children are gathered in pens much like cattle? The questions are endless.

“The studies and reasons posited by so many scholars, people of the cloth and people who know, or claim to know, are endless. Endless answers, yet these horrific killings continue.

“I grew up in a time and place where many causes now attributed to these senseless, horrific acts were present. Yes, there were murders, but few, many less per capita than today. I often reflect back to those times and try to see what the real differences were, to try and see if in those differences I can find answers. Sometimes I’m successful only to read of yet another senseless killing that doesn’t fit in anyway the answer I’ve come up with.

“I reflect back on my life as an adult and them a parent and ask why my children, now adults, have never committed a murder.

“Why did I never commit a murder? Would I, or could I have committed a murder if some number the reasons posited were present in my life? Honestly, no, I don’t think I could or would have committed a murder. Maybe given some strange set of circumstances I could have, I certainly know in war, when faced with kill or be killed, I am capable of taking another’s life; but that is different, or so I tell myself.

“Here is what I think I know… Barring some mental/psychological problem, a child can be raised to not resort to violence, to find the taking of a life horrific and to go into adulthood as a person who values life… all life. A child can be raised to embrace inclusiveness. A child can be raised to shun hate in all its many forms. A child can be raised without fear.

“Simply put, I believe the answer to all of this begins and ends with how a child is raised. It begins at birth and if we get it right throughout that child’s life, we have a chance. No guarantees, but a chance to stem the tide.”

“I think you are imagining that any situation is as simple as cause -> effect, but there are many intermediate stages. What I am talking about are the circumstances that put them in a the situation to begin with. People who have economic opportunities available to them and are not systematically mistreated have far less motivation to steal things from another person. If this was indeed a botched robbery as it was reported to be, there are likely dozens of variables that put the perpetrator in that parking lot to begin with that could have been systematically addressed decades before the crime.”

“There is no way humanity can save themselves from themselves. This is the whole sweeping theme of the Bible. The fall of man and his separation from God our Father has kept us fumbling around in the darkness of our own hearts since the beginning. We can throw every socially philosophical answer mankind can create but it will never deal with the very root of our conundrum. Only our creator can heal His creation. And this is what Jesus Christ came to tell us. We refuse to listen. And we are left asking these questions that were answered on the Cross many years ago.”

“I don’t think anything Jesus ever taught suggests that not making a good faith effort to solve society’s problems is the course of action he expects of us.”

“That’s a cop out. Blaming our fall in american / human society because of our wickedness ..Nothing wrong with having honest,loving faith, but the bottom line being, is Society..You, Me, US, have to take stock, and get an handle on things, and take whatever steps needed to right our society. I have similar friends who think the Jesus mindset, and think that it’s OK to pollute the planet, waste and exhaust our natural resources, etc..as when JESUS returns, he’ll restore the planet. Same mindset with dealing with murdering jackals..Nope, memphians, need to confront and resolve these horrible conditions…and if and when jesus returns, it will be wonderful.”

“So if I murder someone in cold blood in front of his wife it is society’s fault. If I am poor it gives me a license to commit any crime. Next it will be the victim’s fault. When will the murderer be held accountable? At least the murderer got accepted into the gang. Even if he is caught they will just let him out. People are responsible for their own actions.”

“There is another thread wanting to start a book club. If you really want to have an intelligent and meaningful discussion about how this can happen, we should go back and reread “Lord of the Flies” by William Golding. I’ve always thought it provides a more insightful and instructive look at the human condition than any academic or professional text on the subject.”

“The seeds of a liberal society, out of control.”

“Moral responsibility is not the same as societal variables. No one is “blaming” anyone but the perpetrator for their actions, but to find any meaningful way to prevent such things from happening, we can’t ignore what conditions lead to the perpetrator being in that situation to begin with. The point I am making is not that personal culpability is not present in such a situation, but rather that we (as a society) have a responsibility to not increase a persons motivation to commit crime to begin with. I once heard a rabbi say “Cane asked God, ‘am I my brother’s keeper?’ And the rest of the Bible is an answer to that question.”

“Nobody, or mostly nobody arrives at the point of committing murder without having traveled a long road that led them there. Yes, it was their choice at that moment to commit the crime and nobody is suggesting otherwise, nor are they suggesting the person be absolved of personal responsibility. That murder though, did not begin when the person pulled the trigger. It began many years before and that is where we as parents, individuals, members of the community, city, state and nation can make a difference.

“I happen to believe that we must start at birth, as parents and as time goes on others, the neighbors, the community and so on and so forth are part of raising that child. If we start early enough the person has a good chance to never reach that moment when they pull a trigger.

“I also believe that here in Memphis (and other cities), generational poverty and in many cities racism and inequality plays a role in the crime we face. Those are not the only issues, but they are a significant part of the crime and murder rate.”

“When instead of treating people as equals, you treat them like inept members of society that have to be taken care of, you destroy self esteem. If one had to work to eat, they wouldn’t have time to be up to no good.”

“I imagine if the young person who committed this crime had come from a long line of people who had been treated equally and paid a living wage crime might not have been his choice. I imagine that children treated with respect learn to respect others and do not see killing someone as a way to eat.”

“Paying someone a living wage is not a handout, it is a cornerstone of equality. Can you survive on $7.25 an hour?”

There will be lots more added in the coming days I imagine.

I’m not sure a living wage is the answer to all the problems. You have to ask, as Dr. Thomas Sowell always advises, “what next?”

So you provide $20 an hour for a wage. Can businesses afford that? How many will close? New York restaurants have wiped out a lot of staff to pay the “livable” wage. Would the loss of jobs, particularly in an age when automation is around the corner, help?

In Mexico the cartels are awash in money, but that doesn’t stop any of their people from continuing and increasing the crimes they commit. They don’t stop despite the buckets of cash they get.

When does being poor allow someone to be immoral or act illegally? We accommodate too many criminals that way and it feeds the judicial system, resulting in more criminals.

No one on Nextdoor attempted to provide a practical solution. Can we wait for Utopia for 20 or 30 years while the SJW methods are allowed to work? If they work, which I seriously doubt.

The injustice of the murder will be felt more than 20 or 30 years from now for the victim’s family. Does that not matter too?

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