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WYPR's Senior News Analyst opines on recent Maryland news.

Smith: Resolve To Find Justice

Passion and commitment can fade as we all know. So striking while the iron – and riot embers – are hot really matters.

Many in the city acted immediately to deal with the fires. Many wonder what they can do now.

I say "many" because I’ve heard people talking.

A young woman – a teacher -- interrupted a conversation Tuesday in a Hamden coffee shop.

"Do you think anything can be done to make things better in the schools?" she asked.  She got two answers:  Something comprehensive is needed said one of three people drawn into the brainstorm session.

Comprehensive , yes, but we can’t be waiting for the major thrust.  We have to be the major thrust.

An acquaintance stopped me at the 33rd Street YMCA twice over the last week.  He said his church group wants to get involved. Last week, I suggested on the air that some positive imagery might be needed while city leaders come up with a plan – a long-term as well as immediate plan. Why can’t we address the demonstrators’ galvanizing chant: No justice/No peace.  It’s not threat.  It’s a moral imperative.

We have to seek justice in a broad sense: from health care, to nutrition, to schools, to school buildings, to community involvement.

People have to buy-in to the plans short and long-term. We’ve allowed community action to fade – along with the federal money and programs.

Tom Riley, an engineer who emailed me after last week’s essay, says the most important dynamic is the buy-in.

"You have to have people envisioning themselves succeeding," he says. If we get that right, he says, we’ll be more likely to get the rest of it right.