There are other wars taking place involving America today. Iraq may be dominating the political landscape, but it is not the only conflict worth monitoring.
Here at home, there are domestic battles placing civilians in precarious positions — the war on drugs, on poverty, and most daunting, the war to keep kids living in poor areas away from drugs and the related violence.
The casualties are huge and growing. Many kids wind up as victims in this war almost before they are born. And who is fighting this war for these kids? There is no army, certainly nothing as mighty as the one overseas devouring Saddam Hussein's regime. There are people and groups, though, that throw themselves and their energies into this war for the lives of a generation of kids.
Part Drill Sergeant, Part WWE Cartoon
One man, who has the heart of a warrior and the spirit to take on the enemy, is one of those waging a tireless campaign. His name is Tyrone Lamar. He is known on the streets in impoverished areas of Miami as Major Pain. He is a former Marine private who grew weary, working at a funeral home and seeing body after body of victims of the war on the streets; the war for drugs and respect and money and death.
One day at the funeral home, he said he saw a face that would change his life — a young girl, who had been raped and died of AIDS. "I stood in front of that girl's casket and I couldn't stand it. I thought about my 6-year-old daughter and I broke down and I said, "Somebody! Got to do something! To help these children.
He decided to create a character for kids to aspire to — a military man, who would command respect when projecting a street-tough demeanor. Lamar honed this skill during a lifetime of being a street kid himself.
It works like this: Lamar goes to the projects, asking if anyone is having a problem with their kid. Parents and kids pour out of the doors, and Lamar starts yelling. Part drill sergeant, part World Wrestling Entertainment cartoon, Major Pain starts yelling and screaming, poking kids in the chest and commanding push-up drills.
The tactics are as raw as the streets, but sometimes just the attention alone can make a kid a believer.
No, he has no training, no he has no background in therapy; he is a graduate of what he calls Street University, and he wants to help young kids, 10-, 11-, 12-years-olds, before they become part of the criminal justice system, and then on the road to becoming a statistic.
Is Approach Too Simplistic?
He tries not to be too harsh and he says again and again he would never want to hurt a kid. (Lamar says he himself was the victim of physical abuse.) He knows that yelling and scaring kids will make you enemies in the therapeutic community in a hurry. And yes, Lamar has his detractors.
"That serious behavior we talk about has to be analyzed and looked at and worked on over time as opposed to some quick fix Band-Aid type, scare 'em into shape feature. That's just too simple for a very complex problem," psychologist Patricia Jordan said. Jordan said she respects Lamar's efforts, but thinks his approach may be ineffective.
And yet, even though doctors and psychologists denounce some of his ways, few, if any, question his intentions. This is a man who does what he does largely for free and has developed a large grass-roots following with single parents in highly underserved areas. More importantly, he has made a difference for some kids in a relatively short time.
At a time when the world is crazy with violence abroad, and a generation of kids is romanced by the decadent lifestyle and false promise of being a "playa," it is good to know that someone like Major Pain is out there … trying to make a difference.
If you have questions, or would like to talk with "Major Pain," you can contact him at (786) 357-2974, or send him an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.