19 more days until Christmas, barely more than two weeks. I hope your plans are shaping up as you want them to, that your family can get together safely, and most of all I hope that you are safe and well. As I used to say when my kids were little, safety first, then happiness. I hope you will be able to achieve both during these upcoming holidays.
I think an important issue is being overlooked. For the 21 months of the pandemic, I think many of us have been shocked and dazed by the reality of the entire world coming to a dead stop around us. Businesses closed, working from home, masks or not, vax or not, which have become hot political topics in the US, and are only considered safety and health issues elsewhere. We have worried about our families and ourselves, in some cases our jobs and incomes have been impacted by the pandemic, or our businesses have folded. Everything we relied on before seems shaky now, which makes us feel anxious and insecure. And a frightening element has crept in with the basic safety and health issues, and the job issues, an element that has snuck up on us like a thief in the night: violence, and what appears to be the breakdown of our very morality, and an important human element.
According to statistics, violence and crimes have increased in every country in the world during the pandemic. There is an underlying tension. A law passed in California last year that theft (from a store) of under $1,000. will no longer be prosecuted. As a result, people are simply walking out of supermarkets, drug stores, and other stores with whatever they want to take, with no risk of being prosecuted. What is basically theft is now common place, and the shelves in many stores are bare, with items being stolen, and managers afraid to put merchandise on display. People are stealing without a second thought. And it appears that the people stealing are not unemployed parents stealing food for their kids, the door has been opened wide to petty criminals, who are stealing for profit. In theory, these are small crimes which have led to bigger ones.
From the theft of toothpaste, snacks and toilet paper in grocery stores or at Walgreen’s, there has been a huge leap to what is now called “Smash and Grab”. Luxury stores and department stores have now become the victims of looters who smash windows, enter stores, grab whatever expensive merchandise they can and run, in order to sell it later. Sometimes at night, and sometimes in broad daylight. In other stores, armed thieves enter, terrorize the customers, grab what they want and run, expensive things they can sell. When I was in San Francisco for 2 weeks last summer, armed robberies (of Louis Vuitton and Neiman Marcus) were committed across the street from where I was standing. I didn’t go downtown again. Three months later, when I was again in San Francisco, 7 luxury stores were broken into and looted in one night, including 80 looters who attacked a Nordstrom’s, and stole whatever they could lay hands on. Maybe some amateurs, but mostly professional criminals who are stealing to resell, adding theft and violence to our woes while Covid still rages on, and people argue about why they should wear a mask. In the meantime “Smash and Grab” has become an ordinary daily occurrence, which is theft on a massive scale.
And now, the deterioration of our moral fiber has gone a step further. In Northern California, ‘Smash and Grab’ has become a booming business, and the new ‘sport’ has become ‘Home Invasions’ in Southern California, where criminals break into homes, hold everyone at gun point and steal what they can. A horrifying example of that was the invasion of the home of a well known couple, in the music business, and the 81 year old wife, a remarkable woman greatly respected in LA, was shot and killed in cold blood during the event. So wholesale theft has led to armed robbery, and now to murder. In my own peaceful residential neighborhood in San Francisco, three women have recently been beaten to within an inch of their lives by men who stole their purses, another was beaten savagely while walking her dog, and her attackers stole her dog, and two very young children were kidnapped in the course of a car jacking. On the shopping street two blocks from my home in my neighborhood in Paris, where it was fun to walk, and window shop, or buy chocolates or pastries, we are now advised not to walk anymore, because hoodlums and criminals are mugging people, stealing purses, and ripping watches off their victims’ arms, and jewelry off their hands, ears, and necks. What is happening to us? Where will it end? What makes it okay to steal toothpaste in one location, expensive handbags in another, beat up old women, steal people’s dogs, tear a necklace off a woman’s neck, or shoot people in their homes? That’s not a ‘home invasion’, that is murder plain and simple. And a young woman I know took an Uber in a normally safe neighbourhood in Paris a few days ago, and was savagely beaten and raped. How? Why? How did this appalling threat to our physical safety, and mental balance enter our lives unseen, and settle in as some kind of offshoot of the health crisis we are already living through. While those who govern us argue about wearing masks, roving groups of random criminals are looting, shooting innocent people, and stealing whatever they can lay hands on with no regard for human life.
Violence has become a way of life. I was told not to wear a purse if I go out in San Francisco. You can’t walk down a street in any city now, without fearing for your life. Bad enough that we are faced daily with the Russian Roulette of Covid, praying that we and our loved ones wont get sick or wind up in a hospital, and now we get to worry about being caught in a shoot out at the grocery store, or in a store like Neiman Marcus, or we could be beaten to a pulp while walking our dogs. WHAT is happening to our moral fiber, where are our lawmakers while they look the other way, and allow people to steal up to a thousand dollars worth of what doesn’t belong to them. Where is the respect for human life that shooting an 81 year old respectable remarkable woman has now become commonplace. This is not a video game, this is our real life, while civilization as we know it is crumbling around us, and unthinkable, immoral, illegal acts are given clever names like ‘Smash and Grab’ and ‘Home Invasion’.
No!!! A thousand times NO!!! We all need a wake up call, we need to be profoundly shocked, even horrified by the violence happening around us that we seem to take for granted now. The pandemic has been like living through a war, where our lives are on the line every day. I have a hard time believing that during the Blitz in London, where countless people died daily from the bombs—-I can’t imagine other people shooting the survivors in their homes, or looting stores, while bodies were being removed from the rubble, and others were taking refuge in bomb shelters during an air raid.
We need to stand up, we need to wake up, we need to do EVERYTHING we can to stop the violence, end the criminal acts, and take a stand against the violence that impacts us all, and we are beginning to take for granted as a common occurrence. It could be our own homes that are invaded next, for a handful of money, or our loved ones or ourselves are shot randomly. We are fighting for our lives with Covid, there should be no room in our lives or in our world for violence as well. Living through the pandemic is hard enough without being mugged, beaten up, raped or killed as well. Enough. And those in government need to take a strong stand against it. Even the police are afraid of this tidal wave of violence we are facing. It needs to stop, before we have no safety, no moral fiber, and no respect for human life left at all.
Have a great week, and a safe one!!! love, Danielle