published Monday, January 27th, 2014

Smith: Shooting must stop: Hope and change, Chattanooga style

By Robin Smith

Keep reading, please. This is not about partisan politics.

Chattanooga is at a crossroads.

The recent slaying of an innocent teenaged boy -- ironically on the national holiday honoring the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. -- in an alleged gang-related shooting has stirred most to say, "Enough!"

While a new anti-crime effort is underway here, the resistance among many who would benefit most from eradicating the actual problem is stunning.

The hard truth is that citizens who find themselves disproportionately influenced by the infestation of criminals must take a bold stand to reject, expose and reclaim their homes, neighborhoods and families.

We've all heard that hope is not a strategy. However, hope, in Biblical terms, is an ability to operate in the most turbulent storms knowing an unseen anchor holds the ship.

Most seem to apply hope as wishful thinking, a distant utopian goal.

Chattanooga has always had a sense of community that helps us weather a storm. We all know the anchor of hope still holds in Chattanooga if we'll endure and work together.

Change, in our minds, is more commonly an act of discarding or removing one item, thought or belief for another. Changing a jacket for another. Substituting one attitude for another. Changing your mind by entertaining one belief instead of another.

Transformational change, however, alters and completely modifies the situation.

Imagine the Monarch caterpillar that crawls around, taking in nutrients as it approaches adulthood. It then forms a chrysalis, or hull, hanging in a place of safety for a period of weeks. During this window of time, the "worm" breaks down into a basic cellular structure that is reformed and transformed into a completely new creature that, as research has shown, has a few instincts that linger from its previous caterpillar existence.

Our city has realized a transformational change over the decades that has birthed an atmosphere of commerce, creativity and community that will continue. The only limits our city will ever face will be self-imposed by its citizens.

Having participated directly in efforts and initiatives through the faith community to cultivate a sense of hope, I'm not delusional that making statements or offering soaring rhetoric and verbal pixie dust will achieve authentic hope and change in our city's violent subculture.

Yet I do know after standing in a Westside housing unit a few weeks ago with a group of others praying with a single mom with one child -- who had adopted two other children whose mom was dead and dad was incarcerated -- it's now time for transformation in our city based on an absolute rejection of the drug activity that funds the gangs who have created their own economy of evil.

My pastor recently shared a truth about the majestic redwood trees that are God's skyscrapers, reaching upwards of 370 feet tall and weighing almost 3 million pounds. The root systems of these giants of nature are very shallow, but grow laterally to interlock with other redwoods as people would lock arms to stand against the battering forces of nature.

Chattanoogans, lock arms. We're in this storm together and we have the ability to stand and grow.

Robin Smith served as chairwoman of the Tennessee Republican Party, 2007 to 2009. She is a partner at the SmithWaterhouse Strategies business development and strategic planning firm and serves on Tennessee's Economic Council on Women.

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Facts said...

This is long overdue. A writing that criticizes no one, encourages all to engage and is written by someone actually involved in correcting a problem.

Applause.

January 27, 2014 at 12:53 p.m.
Rickaroo said...

I would like nothing more than to offer up praise to Ms. Smith for a constructive, thought-provoking, non-ideological article that serves as a motivator or guide to making positive change. But this is not that article. True enough, she has not said anything that is particularly divisive, but neither has she provided anything of substance to wrap our minds around. "Chattanoogans, lock arms." Well, that makes for a catchy little motivating phrase, maybe, but what exactly does that even mean? In the end, it is going to take specific steps and measures, socially, politically, and economically to bring about the needed changes. Lukewarm pabulum such as this is meaningless.

Facts, you are obviously one of Robin Smith's biggest cheer leaders but your cheers - and this entire article - ring hollow.

January 27, 2014 at 1:45 p.m.
Facts said...

Just curious, Rickaroo, what Westside housing project have you been in lately? I've never met Mrs. Smith and actually, and embarrassingly, voted against her. I'd like a redo and would be a vocal supporter if she did run.

Stay on your crazy wagon loaded down with angry teaparty folks. Solving problems is not on your list of priorities.

January 27, 2014 at 3:50 p.m.
Rickaroo said...

Her going to the project in person is all well and good, and if I thought that my going there personally as anything other than a concerned citizen or interested observer might accomplish anything, well, maybe I would do it, even though I live in Monteagle, not Chattanooga. But please point out to me ONE specific thing that Ms. Smith mentions in her article that is going to bring about this "transformational change" she is talking about. When she speaks of "changing a jacket for another" and "substituting one attitude for another," I seriously doubt that it is she and her conservative cronies who are the ones she intends to do the changing. Given her rigid right-wing stance on all issues, I'm pretty sure that the "transformational change" that she has in mind is for us libs to experience. I know how Republicans view bi-partisanship - they hold stubbornly to their own and expect Democrats to just agree with them 100%. I will try not to be so jaded. I always entertain the hope, no matter how slight, that real change could be possible from all concerned, but I'm not going to hold my breath.

As for my "crazy wagon loaded down with angry teaparty folks"...what in tarnation are you talking about?? You ought to know by now, I'm about as liberal as they come. Ain't no teaparty turkeys on my wagon!

January 27, 2014 at 4:41 p.m.
schizka said...

Just curious, but what's brought about all this change of heart? Who came along and said it's time to be nice? With god watching even it didn't deter the meaness. Now, they're preaching love? hmmmmm__Somethin's up.

January 28, 2014 at 6:53 p.m.
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