This week we were appalled by the images of violence that took place throughout Britain’s largest cities.

On September 11 we will remember and honor the thousands who died ten years ago in New York City and Washington and in a field in Pennsylvania.

There are times when we cannot avoid being witness to urban violence, because it is too unexpected, in places, with people and in ways we hardly thought possible.  We’d gotten used to the idea that Brits are a more civil bunch than gun loving Americans.  And that the places of power are the least likely places to be visited by terrorism and death.

We’ve also gotten used to the idea that violence is to be expected in places like Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood, East St Louis, Newark, Gary.  Violence is not remarkable in Detroit.  Actually, it is part of the rhythm of the city.  It is a rhythm of someone somewhere experiencing pain by bullet, knife, blunt trauma.

Today the Detroit Free Press reported 15 people shot, 6 dead in the 24 hour period ending 6 AM this morning.

I was in Detroit the morning of 9/11, meeting with contractors when one of our staff came in to tell us that we needed to see the news.  Later that morning at City Hall I was waiting for another meeting when security came in and asked us all to leave the building using the stairs.  Down seven floors we silently stepped.

That afternoon as I drove on the west side of Detroit, van windows open because it was such a gorgeous early fall day, listening to the reports on WJR, I noticed something.  No one else was listening to the news from New York and Washington.  Was it so?  I started paying attention to other drivers in traffic, windows down on this warm sunny Michigan day.  Music.  I heard no news, just hip hop, R&B.

Was the news unremarkable?

We live in 21st century fear and paranoia.  We know better now than to take for granted life in large cities, whether in the financial district or the hood.  If you’re just visiting in an inner city neighborhood, relax.  Your chance of meeting violence is pretty small, compared to young men who live there.  But in this young century, if you work in the Sears/Willis Tower, or at a federal courthouse, or ride the commuter train, or live in one of Europe’s large cities … your chances have increased.

These days none of us are feeling lucky.

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