Self-love next step for City of Brotherly Love

When Philadelphia is down, the kicking begins.

It kills me to see my beloved hometown be the subject of so much negative coverage and ridicule over our high murder rate. I’m betting that New Yorkers are glowing about the fact that their city’s murder rate is lower than ours. When it comes to sports, Philadelphia has had a strong rivalry with New York City for years. So knowing that our most rivaled city has yet again claimed victory over something else leaves us a little bitter.

Whatever New York is doing to keep crime in check, it seems to be working and deserves applause. According to the “Philadelphia Daily News,” as of March 25, the New York Police Department had reported 84 murders.

Compare this number with Philadelphia, a city that is one-sixth the size of New York, that had 129 murders as of last week. While cities like New York, Chicago and Los Angeles seem to be dropping in their murder rates, Philadelphia continues to fall through the cracks.

As the city’s murder rates reaching devastatingly new heights, it’s heartbreaking to watch a city so steeped in rich history and landmarks drown in bad press.

While Mayor John Street tells us to not sound the death toll yet, it’s hard to believe him. After all, crime and corruption sky-rocketed during his tenure.

When the “Allentown Morning Call” reported that District Attorney Lynne Abraham said we need to “do something” about the murder rate during a recent press conference,
she was looking at you, Mr. Mayor.

Maybe there’s more to our city’s problems than simply cracking down on crime and taking guns off the street. It’s quite possible that Philly has simply forgotten how to love.

While we pride ourselves on being a welcoming city, the nickname “Killadelphia” doesn’t reflect that. People need to remember that living here is special. I’ve grown up here my whole life and I was taught to take pride in my hometown.

Yet while we struggle to acknowledge our self worth, the citizens of New York continue to flourish. It’s not just the Big Apple’s strong economy and high-priced real estate that make that city so grand. It’s the self-love that it showcases.

I’ve never been to New York, so my jealousy of anyone who gets to live there might be skewed. But from what I’ve heard people say and from what I’ve seen in old “Sex and the City” episodes, it’s not hard to see the strong ties people have to it. There’s a connection that unites New Yorkers, regardless of their backgrounds.

The greatest example in recent times of course would be the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Though most other cities would have united in a similar fashion, New York seems to stand out in its resilience.

Philadelphia can learn from other typical acts of heroism that have occurred in New York. Last January, Wesley Autrey, a 50-year-old construction worker, jumped onto the subway tracks to rescue a fellow New Yorker who had fallen off the platform when he had a seizure. It’s unfair to say that if that had happened in Philly someone wouldn’t have done the same thing. I’m only saying that despite its tough image, New York still represents itself better than we do.

To change people’s negative perceptions of Philadelphians, we need to show the rest of the country that we truly are “the city of brotherly love.” The murderers don’t speak for all of us Philadelphians. Philly can be reformed to greatness again.

I don’t have the solution to ending the escalating violence that caused a dark cloud to form over Philly. I just think that our great city needs to start setting higher standards for itself. A little self-love can go a long way.

Megan Suermann can be reached at megan.suermann@temple.edu.

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