Helping gang members become good citizens is possible. Like anything we do, it takes training and education. We do not believe in activism. We believe in action and in the American dream that all men can succeed.
Teaching citizenship is a lost art. Most of the young men we work with have no idea where their freedom comes from, and they do not appreciate how special it is. As a consequence, they refuse to do their part to advance freedom and liberty. All they know and all they see are protests.
Our citizenship class is making it happen. Last month we decided to strike the phrase “community service” from our vocabulary and instead use the phrase: “Be a good citizen.”
Our first project was to clean our local park. It was a disaster. Over the past year, the area around Hope Now has changed dramatically. Vagrants wander the streets, and the park is a key hangout for them. We made a difference as good citizens, not just picking up trash and cigarette butts, but raking and pulling weeds. Good citizens take care of their surroundings, not because it is a service to the community, but because that is what a good citizen does.
Last week we took a group of multi-ethnic young men to a field that was an eyesore in our downtown area. We formed two teams to compete to see which team could clean up their side of the field the quickest. What happened was, one team got done sooner than the other and began helping the other team, completely unaided by our staff. They caught the vision of what it means to be a good citizen.
In our volatile country, we need to teach men to rise up and be good men and good citizens with the courage to do what is right.