Thursday, June 16, 2011

What a riot!

Last night’s nonsense in Vancouver caused many of us to re-think some of our loyalties. Not so proud to be a Canadian male right about now. Of course, those few hundred testosterone and alcohol filled, brain cell emptied specimens are in no way representative of the majority, but they do raise a few questions.

Some I direct towards my 20- and 30-something friends. These fine upstanding citizens are from your generation. What can you tell the rest of us that will help us understand their psyche? I mean this question honestly—how do you read the general tone of your peers? What do you think last night’s shenanigans tell us is important to your demographic? Every generation likely has its own sense of what is important, and what isn’t. My generation needs to have a better understanding of yours, so help me out here.

My generation reacted to life around it with the hippy movement—a strong statement that the values of our parents weren’t necessarily our values. And each generation since is probably responding against what it sees are the errors of the previous ones.

So, does the apparent lack of valuing personal property say something about how your generation perceives the values of previous generations? How about the apparent lack of value for human life? What else do you see in last night’s actions--what motivated them? What about the apparent need to be part of the crowd, to be part of something bigger than oneself?

And how about the value being put on getting your face splashed across social media. That seems to be part of the goal—‘Look at me, I’m breaking a store window! I’m going inside and ripping stuff off of the shelves! And I’m proud of myself!!’ Or, ‘Look at me! I can tip a car over! I can light it on fire! Aren’t you impressed!!’ What does that say is important to your fellow humanoids? Let me repeat—I’m not saying everyone 20 or 30 years old is likely to cause a riot, but that generation has values that I am trying to understand.

To all of us I ask: What are we doing about it? If we see a negative shift in the things we feel are important, what are we doing to promote and revitalize what we see as valuable? If some of us are part of the generations that potentially gave rise to this shift, how are we making amends? If others are part of the generation that now is wreaking havoc, how are you influencing your peers in a positive way?

And what can we learn from this generation? Maybe we need to learn that there are more important things in life than possessions, and big corporations. Maybe we need to learn to live more in the moment, and less for the $$$.

What do you think? I’d really like some feedback.


jstainer said...

Post WWII you have an entire culture of people who see the immense value of life, and how ugly the world truly can be. Things were cared for and at times, even hoarded, because many folks lived through the Depression and food shortages.

Fast forward a couple generations and you have an entire generation of people who have experienced nothing other than wealth, luxury, and in general, peace (particularly compared to previous generations, obviously many people experience pain in their lives, and there are many who suffer through poverty as well).

Look at the young man who is supposed to be attending U of C on a scholarship, hoping to become an Olympic athlete and hails from Maple Ridge and attends a private school.

His reality is so different from that of the young people that came before him that it's no wonder that he places little value on trivial things like property and treating others with dignity.

I don't believe that anything will change unless we experience the sort of suffering and pain as a nation that was like what we (not me, I'm too young) went through in the first half of the 1900s.

You NEVER want to wish that on people, but suffering and hurt is such a sifter priorities and values, and there really is no substitute for it.

jstainer said...

The young man I referenced is pictured online stuffing a police car with a rag and preparing to set it on fire. Forgot to put that part in there...

Al said...

Thanks for your comments. No, we don't really want pain to teach us to be thankful, but it probably is necessary.
I just read another article on the riot that hits a few timely nails on the head.


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