As murders mount, here is my prayer for Philadelphia

Philadelphia has always been a place of contradiction. Snatched from indigenous people through lies and violence, this place was still somehow called a city of brotherly love.

And it got its name from a Quaker named William Penn—a man who said he believed in peace, but indulged in the violence of slavery. But William Penn did one thing right. He prayed for Philadelphia. Here’s part of what he said in plain English.

Oh, that you may be kept from the evil that would overwhelm you; that you would be faithful to the God who’s merciful to you, and righteous in the life he’s given you, so you may be preserved to the end.

And yet, here we are, overwhelmed by the evil of murder, with more than 500 people gone in a single year. Trapped in the legacy of racism that William Penn helped to begin. But even in the midst of this mayhem, those who loved two murder victims held vigils yesterday.

For Samir Jefferson, a 14-year-old who was shot while waiting for a bus on Wyoming Avenue, about 200 people with balloons gathered outside Mastery Charter School Harriett Elementary in West Philly.

For Samuel Collington, 21, a senior at Temple University who was killed in a botched carjacking Sunday after returning from spending Thanksgiving with his family, loved ones clutched candles outside Interboro High School in Prospect Park, Delaware County.

For all of us, those vigils represent hope. Because police made arrests in both murders. The media told both stories. And while Samir was Black and Samuel was white, both of them were treated like they mattered.

And that is my prayer for my city. That our lives will matter, that our safety will matter, that our children will matter, so that all of may be preserved to the end.

Photo: Philadelphia By. Peter Miller

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