The Riot – A Look into the Mirror of our Society

Does this look like virtue to you?

So, I know EVERYONE has been talking about the riots ad nauseam.  It is still in BC the hot topic of conversation and is still garnering attention on the National News.

People have been shocked, saddened, horrified, angry, etc.  Too an extent, rightly so.  It is never good to see what transpired that day.  There is talk about so-called anarchists flying into Vancouver to begin the riots(they are really just 20 somethings who are bored and have nothing better to do.  They aren’t even anarchists because they plan the whole thing…but I digress).  This is true and fine.

But what is disturbing is the way people play “follow the leader” in a moral fashion.  Once someone did something, everyone saw that as permission to enter into the mayhem.  But we know this.  It is part of man’s history, it has always been that way since The Fall and will be that way until Christ comes again.

I believe people are truly angry about the riots because they are a way for our society to look in the mirror and see its true colours.  People are shocked because they thought that we, as a country, a nation, a culture, were much better than that.  We are good and nice people (I hate the word “nice”, but that’s for another day).  The riots demonstrate that the veneer of images we place on our society are not a true representation of our moral valour.  The riots demonstrate, to an extent, where our hearts are really at.  And that is why people are disgusted.  They believed the veneer images and were never willing to go deeper, to think honestly about the moral caliber of our country.

Sadly, I don’t think that will happen.  It demonstrates that most people do not have the moral courage to stand up for what is true and right.  Some did, and I am glad the news agencies have been tracking that.  Those men had courage and bravery to do what was right even at the threat of their own personal security.  The most people would do would be to stand around with their cell phones watching the whole thing, wanting to capture the moment on camera.

Yet those people, I argue, are just as much to blame as those who were looting and causing damage.  It is a sign that our culture has truly fallen into the worse sort of voyeurism in which everything becomes entertainment for us.  Instead of thinking about others and doing what is right to help those in need, we stand around getting pictures and video in order to keep the moment to show “I was there”.  In the end, it’s all about “me”.  That is the same mentality as those who were causing the damage, not having a care for the people’s whose lives they were either disrupting or even possibly ruining because of all this. 

I saw a movie last year called “Kick-Ass”.  Now, I do not recommend it for most people, but it demonstrates where our culture is at.  There is one scene where the character “Kick-Ass” (a high-school boy who thinks he can take on the criminals of the streets of New York by himself) is getting beaten up in a pretty bad way.  Instead of helping him, everyone at the restaurant nearby pulls out their cell phones and records the whole thing, noting the entertainment value of it.  Those people should have gotten out of the restaurant to help him, just like those in the street of Vancouver should have put down their cell phones and stopped the thugs who were causing destruction and mayhem.

Another show I think of is Seinfeld, the last episode of the series.  In it, the four characters are standing around in a street in some small town where they not only are recording a larger man being mugged, but even crack jokes.  They don’t do anything.  Oddly enough, they go to jail for it for what is called a “good samaritan” law: if you see someone in trouble and you can reasonably help the person, you ought to.  Now, I don’t think there should be such a law, but as I think about it, that episode does a lot for speaking to where our culture is at: selfish, concerned only for itself and for its own entertainment.  Care for another is still there, but not to the same degree it once was. 

I blame this, largely, on the loss of Christianity.  And the funny thing is, the outcries, without saying it, were stating the same thing.  They wanted the virtue of the past.  But we don’t have it, it’s not there.  Will our culture do anything to seriously ask the real questions, the tough ones, that force us to look at ourselves and how we relate with others?  Sadly, I don’t think so, but if the riots did end up causing such a moral reflection in our society, then maybe there is still hope there for that virtuous and good society that everyone desperately wants, but only a few are willing to attempt to live.

in Christ




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5 responses to “The Riot – A Look into the Mirror of our Society

  1. Tom

    Was the past really that virtuous?

  2. I think so. Look at how in World War II millions of men got up and sacrificed their lives to protect the world from the menace of Nazism. The world is never perfectly virtuous, but there are much greater generations than others, and I think the one of the 30s and 40s had a moral viguor to it that ours sorely lacks.

    • Tom

      That may be true, but that age had it’s own moral faults; namely massive racial intolerance (using the War Measures Act to ship thousands of Japanese-Canadian citizens to detention camps) and religious intolerance (refusing to admit Jewish refugees into Canada due to their being Jewish).

  3. But that’s different: those are actions of government, not actions of the average person. I am not approving of those actions by any means! What I am saying, though, is that, as a whole, the average citizen I think had a greater moral character than is found today. What you are citing are actions of government which people may not have even known of in order to properly react to such horrible actions.

    • Sara

      The idea of people not intervening is not new in social psychology. It came about, in large part, due to reports of a murder in 1964 where 38 witnesses failed to intervene in any way. Nobody even called the police until at least 30 minutes after the assault, which lasted 20-30 minutes. The research actually suggests that the more people who are present, the LESS the likelihood of anyone helping, a phenomenon called the Bystabder Effect, With people around, responsibility is diffused – people can let themselves assume that someone else has already done or will do something. One of the most important tenets of social psychology is that the situation has a much larger influence on us than we might think. This is not to say that people are not responsible for their actions or inaction, but that we have to pay attention to the social context.

      Plus, I have a hard time blaming people for not wanting to engage with a raging mob. I’d be afraid for my safety. And those pictures are one of the major avenues that the police are using to track down people who ought to be charged. Just because people were taking photos doesn’t necessarily mean it was for entertainment. It may have been to collect evidence or to bear witness to events.

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