Well, we are no longer the safest city in the US—we lost that title ?two years ago. But much like that absurd slogan, “America’s 10th Largest City,” which some lunatic believed would set us up for great international renown, this title too is not worth the banner that it’s printed on. When it comes right down to it: who cares what a few magazine writers and the guy who makes the banner think? High time to set aside childish things and look to what is important in our city.
Our economy is reeling. And this time it is not only a tech meltdown that we must weather, but a total and global meltdown, the parameters of which are impossible to chart. So what if El Paso—that’s right, El Paso, Texas—is ahead of us on some mythical, hyper-subjective list of safeness. The thing that is important is: How does the citizen living in Evergreen, Berryessa or Downtown San Jose feel about their level of security? Do they feel safe in their parks? Do their kids feel OK about their schools and parks? These are the things that make a city safe, decent and livable.
The real measure of a city is surely not an arbitrary ranking. The true measure of a city is how the people who live there feel about their home.
There are neighborhoods where gang activity is at worrying level. There are places where a young Hispanic boy is at risk because of clothing-color choices. That’s not the San Jose that we are all trying to build; that is not our city of hope and opportunity.
We have to build a city, day by day, again and again. We have to work at it with passion and gusto constantly, always, constantly.
Small crimes and obscene events create an environment that leads to a larger breakdown in our society. They must be treated as the precursors to more serious crime. As in all things, we must hang together or hang separately. These are very tough times and we must move in a direct and forceful way to make sure that our city remains as we must have it: safe, sane, and
civilized. It takes an entire city to accomplish this. We’ll leave the ranking to the deluded and the delusional.