Essay by EssaySwap ContributorCollege, Undergraduate February 2008

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Militarism Growing up in society today is difficult for any teenager, regardless of gender, class, or race. Today's teens are confronted with different obstacles and temptations every single day. The question is " How will they deal with the stresses in their lives?" The answer for many teens today is to join a militant gang. Unfortunately, these gangs are destroying society and making life even more difficult than it already is. The goal for many of these gangs is of violence and intimidation. They try to lift their own spirits by destroying the spirits of others and if they have trouble doing this, they will beat or even kill the person to obtain self-satisfaction. Organizations and groups whose power is dependent upon violence and the intimidation of others must be stopped.

One major argument that many teens use when asked about their reasons for joining a gang is that the gang is their family.

They believe that everyone in that gang is their brother or sister. However, this argument could not be farther from the truth. A person is not born into a gang, a person must earn the right to be part of the gang. But in a family a person is born into it and does not have to prove his or her own self-worth to continue to be a part of that family. A gang and a family also differ in that a family's love is unconditional, while a gang's "love" is dependent upon how far a person is willing to go to stay a part of the gang. Families do not test the love of each individual member while gangs test their members over and over again. A decent family life involves one in the culture of life while most gangs dwell in the culture of death.

The need to belong is strong, when these needs are not met by family or church people, especially young people will form their own groups. Some of these groups can be positive, unfortunately many are not. "Gangs" are not new, however, the violent atmosphere that exists in many gangs today is alarming. Acts involving violence, drugs, and sex are often the initiation into the gang. And this destructive and self-abusive lifestyle continues while in the gang. This culture of death to body and soul reaches outside of the gang and creates chaos in society. Financially the costs are too high to measure: Drug addictions, prison costs, permanent disabilities and more. At every turn they steal from society and this must be discouraged if not eliminated.

A much higher cost is emotional and spiritual. A young person who joins a gang looking for security, love, a sense of belonging or safety often finds just the opposite. In the beginning one may feel safe or even loved, but all of it is conditional. Love may mean not much more than sex. Belonging works as long as one does what one is told. If that involves violence, murder, rape or any other criminal activity than that just comes with the territory. Blind acceptance is what is demanded. If children are born into this atmosphere (and many are) than it perpetuates itself growing worse and more damaging to the body and soul of all those involved. This is the price society cannot afford to pay and hope to survive. Fear and hatred will grow where love and compassion should be.

A family should be the place where children feel loved and safe. As the Bible tells us " what father if his child asks for bread would give him a stone."(Matthew 7:9). Yet that is what happens when a child goes to a gang searching for what he should find in a loving home. Yes gangs must be stopped but they exist because our human nature wants to feel a sense of belonging. And they will always exist unless we provide for those needs in a loving family or supportive society that can offer alternatives to the gangs. Places where both the body and soul can be fed.