According to a recent survey taken by a community action group, Warren should be placed on ''suicide watch.'' The mindset of people's attitudes toward the city was measured, indicating a collective mood reflecting that of someone ''in despair, with no reason to live.''
Such a conclusion is no surprise when viewing rundown neighborhoods and the ever-increasing menace of criminal activity. We can only pray for Doug Franklin, our new mayor, that he will use his office to ''tighten the screws'' of law enforcement.
Criminals need their day in court, but so do victims and their families. The justice system needs to hold firm and move swiftly. The rest of us in the city also need a reassurance of safety and protection. Those who do the crime must know unquestionably that they will ''do the time.''
Unfortunately, the crackdown of law is only peripheral, at best. Prisons get criminals off the street, but they are not able to change their hearts. That's an issue relating to the home, where root problems hopefully are addressed, before they bear evil ''fruit.''
This remedy must begin with young families, where the parents are committed to lovingly training their children. This might take another generation to accomplish, but it's time to get started.
Wasn't it a thrill to witness the recent, extraordinary performance of Mario Manningham in the Super Bowl? This Warren native who plays for the New York Giants made one spectacular catch that changed the game's momentum.
Behind that one catch, however, was years of determination and discipline. While not knowing his family, I have to believe that he was encouraged and mentored by those around him, including his church.
I'm sure he had to work through personal struggle and failure; but, in the long run, he made some life-changing decisions, which were not thwarted by a ''hopeless, mentally distraught'' city environment.
While marriages are crumbling, it cannot be denied that strong families are basic in developing young people. Communities are composed of individuals, and apart from upright, stalwart, compassionate people, there's no positive impact on society.
Remember when parents and school teachers were on the same team? Love and respect were taught at home and then carried into the classroom. Most discipline problems were solved effectively and quickly through one phone call. The teacher was always right. Parents actually lined up with ''junior's'' teacher, then dealt with the little culprit accordingly. In fact, to get in trouble at school, meant getting in trouble at home. The legal term is ''double jeopardy,'' and that ''ain't fair!'' Nevertheless, this was an intricate part of the educational process.
The great need today is not ''sex education'' in the classroom but ''love education'' at home. Parents must set the example for unconditional, self-sacrificing love for each other. But this is a challenge, in light of the illicit sexual assault on our homes by the media, which confuses lust with love. This has taken a toll on our society.
Lust is self-centered, saying, ''I can't wait to get.'' On the other hand, love is selfless, saying, ''I can wait to give.'' Sex is a sacred gift for marriage and procreation. To mistake lust for love can only lead to untold grief and hardship.
Money can buy a house, but can never buy a home. As parents, we need to exemplify selfless love to our children, regardless where we are financially or geographically. I have a plaque in my office that says, ''The greatest gift a father can give to his children is to love their mother.'' Well said.
Our home is our castle, where we decide our own destiny. We must determine that the surrounding environment will not dictate our future; rather let us build bridges for others who are close behind us.
Finnigan is a Howland resident. Email him at email@example.com