Sunday, January 10, 2016

Meeting Evil

In my days as a teacher, despite the fact that most of the students I taught were good kids, almost each semester would present me with one or two who, as a former colleague of mine once said, were 'difficult to serve clients.' These were the ones who could be disruptive and confrontational. And these were the ones who invariably stuck in my craw, often dominating my thoughts and pushing their significance way out of any reasonable perspective. It's funny how human nature often fixates on the negative.

One of my favourite authors, James Lee Burke, often writes on themes of good and evil, with situations often pushing his protagonists into contemplating some kind of illegal or unethical response to the dark forces surrounding them. But, as in more than one of his novels, they are often cautioned not to give those dark forces power over them; in other words, to resist the response that evil often elicits - responses of despair, vengeance or other such behaviours. It is advice we should all take to heart.

The despicable, cowardly and evil act perpetrated the other night against Syrian refugees in Vancouver is one such event where we would all be wise to keep a balanced perspective:
Shortly after 10:30 p.m. PT Friday 100 people were gathered outside of the Muslim Association of Canada Centre, located at 2122 Kingsway Avenue, when an unknown man on a bicycle rode up and pepper sprayed a group of men, women and children, which included newly arrived refugees from Syria.

Paramedics and the Vancouver Fire and Rescue Service treated 15 people for exposure to pepper spray.

The words of both the mayor of Vancouver, Gregor Robertson, and Prime Minister Trudeau, set this terrible incident in its proper context:
Last night’s pepper spray incident was a disgusting display of hate - and Vancouver won’t stand for it. #VanWelcomesRefugees and always will.

I condemn the attack on Syrian refugees in Vancouver. This isn't who we are - and doesn't reflect the warm welcome Canadians have offered.

So the best response, in my view, to this deranged act is not to obsess about it but to see it as a crime committed by an unbalanced and evil person. Nothing more. It is an act that has no chance of defining us or diminishing our efforts to bring some relief and comfort to a group of people that has known so much misery these past several years.


  1. What makes the difference, Lorne, is whether or not such people remain isolated or seek power -- like Mr. Trump, for instance.

    1. A very good point, Owen. Our own experience over the past 10 years with darkness shows that constant vigilance against the demagogues in our midst is a prerequisite of a healthy and functioning democracy.

  2. I have the same issue now with just the occasional student, and I watch the papers in hopes that they don't seek - or attain - any power. I just watched Compulsion on the weekend, and I was struck by how closely the notorious students resemble some from my past.

    1. Thanks for the link, Marie,. I have not seen the movie in many years. I'll have to set aside some time to watch it again. I have one past student in particular that resembles the profile.