Gangs on the straight and narrow

We are very confused about the word “hero” these days. Once upon a time the word was used to describe ordinary people who did extraordinarily brave or good things.

Now, it seems to apply to the President of the local gang who rules his patch with violence and vigilante justice.

It is the word that seems to be simmering beneath the surface of every story on Tribal Huk President Jamie Pink who recently gave P dealers a day to get out of his town.

After Tribal Huk claimed victory over dealers in the town, some people openly said it. Good on him, they said, for getting rid of drug dealers. If the cops aren’t going to do it, he might as well, commented others. At least he is thinking of the kids, pointed out a few.

The story made headlines in France, the USA, and England, among other countries. Even Prime Minister John Key reckons Pink’s anti-P stance is fantastic.

It is not, by the way, the first time President Pink has garnered international media attention. He got headlines for giving free lunches to school kids. In fact, the gang has been doing it for a few years now, and they even handed out Christmas presents last year.

But none of that makes Pink worthy of the word “hero”, in just the same way that being good while breaking the law doesn’t make you law-abiding.

You see, this is a man who makes himself a hero for handing out food to kids, and smashing up people he doesn’t like at the same time. Here’s a man who says it is all about the little ones, but who makes the law in town all about himself.

It’s as if he honestly can’t see that those little ones will be looking up to him, and thinking the way to deal with a problem is by using your fist and with a gun. It’s like he can’t understand that by refusing to submit to the authority of the law, he is teaching little children that it’s cool to take the law into your own hands.

Talking the talk is not enough when it comes to teaching children about being good – they need to see it by adults who walk the walk.

And that is why the real heros are the gang members who have left behind their life of crime to get real jobs – without any headlines – so that their kids can see a different future. That is why the real heros are the countless Kiwis who fight hunger and poverty by handing out soup each day -without global media attention – instead of handing out beatings to those they don’t like. That is why the real heros are the charities whose members are free to help out because they have kept the law, instead of gangs who have 100 members in prison presumably for drug, assault and other convictions.

No, Jamie Pink is not a hero. He’s just a bloke who thinks he can beat out his own straight and narrow without wrecking the path for the generations who follow behind him. But it doesn’t work like that.

There is one thing he could do that would really be heroic though. There is an action that would speak louder than his words on the importance of kids. There is a very specific choice he could make that would show kids crime doesn’t pay, the law must be respected, and that family comes before a code.

He could lay down his patch, and walk away from gang life.

This article was first published on Stuff.co.nz

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