We’re in this together

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The breathtaking increase in armed, violent crimes, and of felonies of all kinds in Alexandria in recent weeks has left our city shaken and scared.

Our car might be stolen when we stop for gas – or from in front of our home in broad daylight. We might be shot and killed if we take our child to a playground. We might find ourselves surrounded by robbers in a retail store when we’ve just stopped by to purchase makeup.

Unfortunately, the above scenarios are not hypothetical, but are real crimes that have been committed in Alexandria this year. Violent crime, which has been ticking up in recent years, has exploded in 2023 in Alexandria and elsewhere.

Maybe we are still experiencing residual effects of the COVID-19 shutdowns, though it’s been two years since schools reopened for full-time, in-person learning – and almost three years since most businesses reopened after the initial government-mandated shutdowns. So that explanation is getting a bit stale.

Our page 1 story, “Help!” examines a spate of crimes that have taken place in the past 10 days in Alexandria, ranging from murder to violent carjacking to grand theft auto.

The theme, echoed by a trio of city leaders – Police Chief Don Hayes, City Manager Jim Parajon and Mayor Justin Wilson – is that public safety officers need our help in solving crimes.

There’s a natural instinct to duck when bad things happen. We duck into our shells

when tragedy touches our personal lives. We duck behind a counter when a robber enters a store. We think not getting involved might protect us from the criminals if they caught sight of eyewitnesses. Or we just don’t want to get involved.

But it takes a village to live together as a community, not just to help children flourish.

Our country was founded on the very concept of standing together. E pluribus unum means “out of many, one.”

The notion of responding to calls for help is also deeply rooted in most religious traditions.

Rabbi Hillel famously asked: “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am not for others, what am I? And if not now, when?”

One of the most beautiful Christian hymns of the last half decade describes the response of a believer to a call for help:

“Here I am, Lord
Is it I, Lord?
I have heard You calling in the night

I will go, Lord
If You lead me
I will hold Your people in my heart”

And, of course, help was

a recurring theme in music of The Beatles, arguably the most influential rock band of all time.

So, if you see something, even if you’re not sure, let the police know. Use social media to let fellow residents know about suspicious activity nearby. Share Ring recordings of criminal actions. Do what you can by reporting what you see.

We’re all in this together, and we’re all called to help.

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