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Friday, 17 June 2011

What the Vancouver Riots can teach us about ourselves



Even Jesus got angry and threw things around. We all do at one point or another. It seems to be an integral part of the human brain stem. But Jesus did not physically harm anyone, and what he did, he did in His Father's house; furthermore, He had very good reason to clean up the Temple.
The young people in the Vancouver riots who torched cars, smashed store windows and beat up anyone who called them out, were not in their own houses, and they seemed angry at their own lives, more than anything else. Indeed, a closer look at the Vancouver mob may give us all a better comprehension of our own lot in contemporary society.
Our world has become more secular, less spiritual, more cynical, less polite, more aggressive and decidedly more violent, with much less respect for one's neighbour than possibly at any time in history. Along with this lack of consideration has come a tendency towards sneaky behaviour and the use of lying and play acting as if it were perfectly legitimate and acceptable.
Take the Stanley Cup finals for instance. Although they were not the cause of the riots, they certainly can be taken as a metaphor for what ills society, and has made it such a scary place in which to bring up a family.
Professional athletes who are payed huge salaries to play hockey, lowered themselves to the level of biting opponents' fingers, or offering their own up for sacrifice. They also took dives to try to fool the referees, and play acted so well that some may be asked to move to Hollywood to appear on the soap operas.
They teased each other like little kids in a playground, held onto sticks in order to draw hooking penalties, screamed obscenities at the opposing bench, and each other, fired pucks at the opposing goalie during practice, and generally acted like the boys in the novel, The Lord of the Flies. In other words, they broke all the unwritten rules and stepped all over the taboos they should know like the back side of their hand.
The destructive throng which rolled down Vancouver's streets after the Stanley Cup final reflected the immaturity of the Stanley Cup spectacle which had been playing out night after night, before all of North America.
But they took it a lot further. Many of the culprits even wore Canuck jerseys with the names of their favourite players printed in large letters on the back. So when Joe Blow trashed and looted a store, it really seemed as if it were Roberto Luongo, or Daniel Sedin who was sneakily running away with the loot, or punching someone's lights out.
The fact that most of the trouble makers were male makes the whole scenario that much more frightening and worrisome. These were young men in their twenties, many of them university students,
with their whole future beckoning. They seemed angry and lost, as if they had been treated unfairly. They looked like people who had been searching for something to hold onto and had been left holding an empty bag. Their fine homes, sports cars, computers, cell phones and other high tech paraphernalia meant little or nothing. Fogged by the effects of alcohol, they lashed out at anything they could hurt or destroy.
Are these the future fathers of society? How will they cope with the pressures, responsibilities and required unselfishness which family life demands? They seem to be screaming out at us that they have been cheated of something.
What secular society has cheated them out of is an upbringing in which the Ten Commandments form the basis for all actions, and a spiritual approach to life which lessens the importance of material ownership, and stresses the value of human life and concern for one's neighbour.
A senior citizen I met at the gym the other day told me that she was extremely upset at what she had seen on television, and that her husband had slumped in his wheelchair and sobbed when he saw the footage of the riots.
Perhaps all of Canada should be crying over the death of spirituality, and the foothold which secularism has gained over the past decades. What exactly were those thousands of onlookers flashing their cellphones, and cheering at the destruction and violence thinking?
And I wonder how many of them cried when they sat in front of their high definition flat screens the next day, and realized how far society has come.

Rod McDonald

1 comment:

  1. The riots exposed something real and disturbing about our culture. It is easier to just forget about it after the clean up is done, rather than ask those deeper questions about where all the character and virtue in our people has gone.

    Contrasting this with the generation whose memory we honored yesterday on Remembrance Day, I sometimes wish I was born in an earlier age.

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