In the aftermath of the Vancouver riot following the Stanley Cup finals there has been an unleashing of emotion from anger to despair – but at the heart of it there is profound confusion as to how to make sense of the senseless. As we gather ourselves and repair our broken city, we are left wondering how to make headway in solving a problem that seems to defy logic and understanding.
The question I ask myself is: what can possibly explain the acts of so many rioters – what is the root of this heartache? We can give these people many labels – anarchists – criminals – the spoiled – but the word I am drawn to over and over again is “immature.” It is as if hundreds of enraged preschoolers in adult-size bodies ran around the city unsupervised with matches and hammers. I am drawn to all that was missing within the rioters: they presented a blatant lack of care about the impact of their actions on others, and lack of consideration about the economic loss they caused and the fear they incited. I am drawn to their lack of concern about, and absence of fear of the consequences of their actions, even in the light of the number of cameras witnessing their acts. I am drawn to the lack of shame among those boasting of their destructive acts on social media sites. What I see is a degree of impulsivity that can only be explained as immaturity, and a striking lack of care that is deeply disturbing.
To be fully human means to care deeply and vulnerably about the things and people we are attached to, such as the Stanley Cup and our Vancouver Canucks. Maturity means we are able to control our impulses even when our frustration overwhelms us – such as when we lose something we wanted so badly. What a dichotomy and juxtaposition the acts of the rioters presented when compared to the Canucks, who demonstrated incredible maturity and sportsmanship in shaking hands and embracing their opponents even while aching for all they had lost. With grace, dignity, and maturity they accepted their defeat – these are the symbols and images that should not be forgotten, and are indeed the balm for this destruction to our city. We were also buoyed by the caring acts of citizens cleaning up, providing the counterbalance to all that was missing the night before.
Some parents have asked me what we should tell our kids in light of the images of broken buildings and cars on fire? I tell my kids about the Canucks, the maturity I saw and how I respect what they have achieved. I tell them that it is human to care and to strive for what is meaningful to you and to set goals like the Stanley Cup. I tell them that in having our hearts so invested we risk being frustrated and hurt when it doesn’t come to pass; this is what life is like, and we were meant to survive this too. In caring, we are human, and in being human we can be hurt – such is the fate of those that choose to live life to the fullest. The way through is to find our tears and sadness about all that is lost, and set chart for another day and new goals. Perhaps the most significant thing I take away from this day is the importance of my role in raising my children to become socially responsible, caring individuals who contribute to their community. In the wake of this destruction I am reminded of what an important gift maturity is – I cannot buy it for my children, I cannot give them a pill to get there, and no amount of telling them to simply ‘grow up’ will make it so. My role as a parent is to nurture the roots and provide the conditions that will give rise to the fruits of maturity beautifully exemplified by the Canucks. For the sake of our communities and for your children – be your children’s best bet today.