Tuesday, November 17, 2009

How Tough is Your City?

Rough Raleigh


The D

People love to come up with nicknames for their city, and mainly they are speaking to how rough their town is. Let’s face it no one wants someone to think that their town is weak or soft, you want your town to be tough as nails and only a place for the roughest kind of people.

Why is this?

Why do we obsess about how tough the communities we live in are, and more importantly why do we take pride in how rough it is? What really makes a town tough? The number of people murdered? The number of crimes? How many areas you don’t go to for fear of your personal safety? None of those things sound appealing to me at all; in fact they aren’t appealing at all. What you are saying is:

My town is not safe

Lots of people get murdered in my city

My town is where hope goes to die

It does not sound so good anymore does it?

I know why we like to talk about and brag how tough our city is: It makes us look tough. Every good boy knows that being tough is cool, and being cool gets you respect.

But wait, there is a problem, just because where you live may have some tough parts doesn’t make you tough. Toughness does not work by proximity or even osmosis. For instance, The pied piper is a tough guy, but if I stand next to him for an hour I will not become tougher by standing next to him, and the same does not apply for the city you live in. Now if you live in the tough part of the town and you made it out and made something of yourself then you are in fact tough. But if you simply knew that your town has tough parts then don’t try to claim any personal toughness due to proximity.

I bring this up because I am proud of my city. I am proud because Knoxville is a great place to live; East TN is a beautiful part of the world and I am lucky to live in this area. I am proud of the people who live here and I am proud of the culture of the city. Much to my dismay I was recently talking to a friend and found out about a part of town that I didn’t know much about: ‘The Fort’. ‘The Fort’ is apparently your one stop shop for rape, robbery and murder. One of the town’s most gruesome and controversial crimes in recent years has gone down in ‘The Fort’. I always figured that my hometown had rough areas but I never really knew how rough they were. In all honesty I am terribly ashamed of ‘The Fort’ and the fact that there are people who take pride in ‘The Fort’ and how tough it makes Knoxville seem. I never wanted Knoxville to be known as a tough city, I want it to be known as a great city.

At the end of the day, I simply wish that people would take pride in their communities for the good they have to offer. Why do we love to make crime and poverty seem so fashionable?

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