Here we go again. Our city is in the midst of a drug war. Police say the participants are involved in “low level” gang activity. They are young men, most of them just 20 years old, barely out of high school one assumes. The promise of easy money, fast cars and the dangerous, but oh so seductive and celebrated gangster lifestyle is too hard to resist. When guns are used on busy streets, in broad daylight ( again) there’s nothing low level about it. This is serious business. The soldiers in these spats aren’t concerned about civilians getting hurt. The old ‘honour’ code of conduct is dead. It doesn’t matter that the hits are “targeted”. How accurate can a shot be when it’s fired into a moving vehicle from a moving vehicle? Sheer luck has prevented an innocent bystander from getting hurt. But luck has a way of running out. And if someone, heaven forbid a child gets caught in the crossfire, there will be hell to pay.
As I walk through the valley of the shadow of death
I take a look at my life and realize there’s nothin’ left
Cause I’ve been blasting and laughing so long,
That even my mama thinks that my mind is gone
But I ain’t never crossed a man that didn’t deserve it
Me be treated like a punk you know that’s unheard of
You better watch how you’re talking and where you’re walking
Or you and your homies might be lined in chalk
I really hate to trip but I gotta loc
As they croak, I see myself in the pistol smoke, fool
I’m the kinda G the little homies wanna be like
On my knees in the night saying prayers in the streetlight
And so it goes…
Today is Pink Shirt Day, the annual Anti-Bullying event to raise awareness to the ongoing issue of bullying in our schools. It’s a noble cause that I support. Anything that helps those who are harmed harassed,and humiliated is a good thing.
But… how can we really expect our kids to change their behaviour when adults aren’t changing their own? We ” grownups” are among the worst perpetrators of intimidation and bullying. We see it everywhere. In politics, name calling and just plain in-your-face rudeness is the norm. If you disagree on issues or challenge the status quo, be prepared to be snubbed. It’s grade nine all over again.
The entertainment industry thrives on bullying as a spectator sport. Think of all the reality shows where bitching and putdowns aren’t just tolerated, they’re encouraged. We the viewers salivate and beg for more. We are a society that loves the one-liner gotchas. Just last weekend an Academy Award was bestowed upon actor JK Simmons for his portrayal of a brutal and malicious music teacher in the movie Whiplash. Don’t get me wrong-it was an excellent performance, but it shows that we still love to see the big, bad bullies on our screens.
So why should we be surprised that children are mean to one another, in person and on social media? We have made bullying in all its permutations “normal”. Until we, the ones who should know better take a look in the mirror and become kinder and more accepting of others who have opinions and beliefs that are not our own, all the pink shirts in the world aren’t going to change one single thing.