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As I heard the news about Derrion Albert, the 16-year-old young scholar who was murdered, my heart wept. It wept because he was murdered by a group of high schoolers-his peers, a senseless death. While countless others stood by and watched, another young life was wasted. So I have to ask myself what’s going on? What’s going on in our society? A society that has morphed into a dark world where too many young lives are ended before truly beginning. An undeserved death sentence, for a very deserving soul, a soul that was taken away before its time. When is enough, enough? Something must change!

Upon reflecting, I’m reminded of the novel, Lord of the Flies. This novel mirrors the story of our inner city and the plight of our youth. Caught in the middle of a war, a plane transporting a group of young men is shot out of the air and crashes onto a deserted island.  This island represents our inner cities- an environment where ALL struggle to survive. Even though the rest of the world knows of the struggle, very few have an understanding of how harsh life can be or how to escape it.

In the book, after the crash, the youth are left to fend for themselves and must find a way to survive. The optimism of being saved quickly fades, along with order and the common sense they once had. The environment inevitably overtakes the young men, they become transformed by the island into heartless savages and senselessly kill anyone or anything opposing them. In a fight for his life the last remaining keeper of peace is hunted down by the mob of youth, and just as he is about to be caught, he falls to the ground and upon looking up he sees a Navel officer and a ship set in the distant waters.  At this sight, the raging mob was instantly transformed back to the gentlemen they once were.

Our kids are lost, and the environment that surrounds them is a powerful force causing them to transform for the worse and not the better.  The children in the story were saved because of hope. Despite the hostile environment, just a glimpse of genuine hope can reset the direction of our communities and save our children’s lives. 

An estimated 130 people have been killed in Chicago this summer. And in the last 14 months more than 36 students have lost their lives.  Where was the hope for Derrion Albert? Where was the hope for Alex Arellano? Itzel Fernandez, where was her Hope?  Ernest Williams, Julian King, Brian Murdock, Quentin Buckner, Devour Robinson, Dushawn Johnson, Isiah Stroud, Andre Stephens, Esteban Martinez, Johnel Ford, Rachael Beauchamp, Johnny Edwards, Kendrick Pitts, Raheem Washington, and the countless others, is there Hope for our youth?

Hope is what we need, it’s ALL we need.  Not a “fly by night” type of hope… we need a Hope Ship that we can board, and that we can trust to sail us in a better direction.

Israel ‘Izzy’ Idonije
#71, Chicago Bears

To learn more about Izzy’s non-profit work, please visit: www.israelidonije.org

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