What follows is the first blog post of the RUN Neighborhood Association website. It was written by Scott Gillihan--a RUN resident who lives near West Park.
Sometimes, here in West Nashville, you will see the Lost Boys of Sudan—young men who fled a brutal civil war in East Africa. They are easy to recognize. Tall, black, and think with a certain sad look in their eyes.
But we also have a group of home-grown lost boys. I know you've seen them. They are in their late teens to early twenties. They are black, white, and mixed. They favor bandanas and long shorts that sag off their hips. They listen to rap and hip hop music. They drink 40 oz malt liquor and smoke weed.
I personally know some of these young people. Many have big hearts and are quite likable. While they are not war refugees, they are lost boys all the same. They are often unemployed and sometimes homeless. Prospects seem dim for them becoming productive citizens. Some people complain that the problem lies with the parents. True enough, but what if their mother or father is dead or in prison? Most of these young people have been abandoned by their families.
The early twenties can be a difficult time. When I was their age, I had some reckless tendencies too. We all know classmates like those lost boys…some survived, some didn't.
I saw a nature program on TV once about elephants. In one herd, all the adult elephants were killed for their ivory. The juvenile elephants would fight and rove in gangs and beat up weaker elephants. The announcer on the program pondered if these young animals would learn the survival skills they would need when times got tough.
I think those young elephants are like the lost boys of the Nations. But if they have nowhere to go for guidance, you can't hardly blame them. Where are they to go for examples of the honorable life, when our elected officials are racked with scandals? Can they find them in out athletes or educators or business leaders? Or even in our houses of worship?
All I'm saying is maybe society has failed them as much as they have failed to fit in society. It is in our intent to turn young people into decent taxpaying citizens for the future of our city. It's better than having them end up in prison...or on welfare...or in a hospital...or in a graveyard.
I don't know how we can do it, but let's help these lost boys be found.