Danger, like anything else, is a relative matter

OK, numbers don’t lie. But they can be deceiving. And I’m not talking about fuzzy math.According to the figures that Morgan Quino Press compiled in listing the nation’s most dangerous cities, Reading now has toppled to its worst ranking.Yep, our town was the 21st most dangerous city in the country in 2005. We ranked 29th in 2004, which was an improvement over the 25th rankings in 2000 and 2002. By the way, Reading is the most dangerous town in Pennsylvania, too.No denying that our city backslid in 2005. However, this rather ugly denouement needs to be put in context. After all, navigating through reams of stats and data can be more treacherous and time-consuming than wrestling your way through a Keats poem.Indeed, there is a little patch of blue sky amidst all the storm clouds in this latest report simply because it’s dated.Reading had 24 homicides in 2005, which was a dramatic increase from the 14 slayings in 2004. But Mayor Tom McMahon feels that our town has turned the corner, thanks to several initiatives such as the formation of the police VIPER squad and more cops on street patrol.In fact, there have been just seven murders so far this year.Of course, that simply could mean the bad guys pulling the triggers this year have poorer marksmanship. Since we already are infested with so many gangs, having The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight around might not be a bad thing. Perhaps all the drugs they’re taking is blurring their vision and turning them into lousy shots. We can only hope so. Anyway, the deal is not to get too hung up on numbers. As McMahon correctly points out, Harrisburg and York are not included in the rankings because their populations are shy of the 75,000 threshold. Harrisburg and York, as you well know, aren’t exactly Mayberry. Which brings me to another point: We are too hung up on crime around here.Crime happens in cities. Always has, always will. Cities always will have some segment of the populace who are economic bottom-feeders. Those are the people who turn to crime. Cities always will house some individuals walking around without moral compasses. Shoehorn any number of people into an urban core and it always will generate cages of friction.I’m not saying we shouldn’t fight crime. But I think all of us around here make way too much of it.I realize people love to read and hear about crime. But they also love to rubberneck at accident scenes, too.We all need to focus more on all the wonderful revitalization going on these days in our town and realize that human nature being what it is, there always will be some bad guys in town.