Talking to Kenny our local ‘fruit and veg’ man in the market, I hear my name, I turn, I look into the face of urban clad young man and I am truly shocked. The baseball cap and hoody can’t disguise a face that has taken a terrible beating. The face of young man whose face is swollen, bruised, battered. Jack used to come regularly to our youth club but I can hardly recognise him.
I hear Jack’s story. A local gang took mob justice against someone who stood up to them. Someone who didn’t what to be pushed around. Now he is waiting for corrective surgery around an eye socket that broke under the tirade of blows and kicks.
I look into a face that reveals more than bruises and cuts – I look into a face intent on revenge. "I know where they live…I’m getting my mates down…they’ll not get away with it". I try to suggest the futility, the senselessness, uselessness, pointlessness of revenge. I try to communicate grace. I try to communicate the value and worth of breaking the cycle of violence.
I try but I am afraid I don’t think I was heard.