Originally published as a column on CFJC Today Kamloops and Armchair Mayor News on Monday, July 31, 2017.
What makes some people offer their homes to wildfire evacuees, donate money and goods, and even go and spend long nights snuggling terrified pets, while others do the exact opposite; stealing hoses and water pumps, enjoying time on lakes where firefighting aircraft load up, flying drones in hot (literally) areas to the point of aircraft having to land due to added risk. Oh, and there are some individuals engaging in looting, scamming, and basically anything that would transform one’s vulnerability into their monetary gain.
It’s contrary to anything most people would do. It’s deeply upsetting, adding many degrees of aggravation to the issues the province is battling as we speak, as has been for the last weeks. And let’s not forget those who increase the potential for yet another devastating wildfire by carelessly disposing of cigarette butts, or having campfires when the fire prohibition has been with us for many weeks now. It makes everything harder than it should be.
You could liken it to playing Whack-A-Mole with this population group that somehow does not see it the way the rest of us do and they do not only make it harder, but add danger, heartache and push one’s faith in humanity to the lowest point.
Many wonder how to go about that. Harsh punishment such as fines, prison time, etc. I am willing to say, given the very topic of this column, that aside from fines that should cover more than the cost of what was stolen or destroyed, or set on fire by careless actions, community service (compulsory of course, and lengthy that is,) performed by those found guilty might just be what best serves the cause.
I have been amongst those who say that our legal system has it so that often times the punishment does not seem to fit the crime. At the same time, I have been a proponent of obligatory community service (whatever and wherever is needed) that those found guilty should give to their fellow humans.
I dare believe that it might spark thoughts of social consciousness. Perhaps not in all, but truly, hard work does have its merits when it comes to bringing a message through. If regular people can lend themselves to volunteering for good causes, I do not see why perpetrators would not do the same, willingly or not, instead of being given a fine and/or possibly a mild sentence.
There is much to speculate about what makes one go against everything decent and instead engage in contrary behaviour. The various types of crimes against society in times of crisis such as the one we’re now living through in the BC interior, while discouraging and depressing when taken out of context, only reinforce the fact that for every person doing the wrong, unlawful thing, there are hundreds more going above and beyond in trying to help their fellow humans and animals in times of need.
That is heartwarming. Kamloops has become an example of what helpful means when people are in trouble. It would be unrealistic to think that resources can be bottomless, should the same attitude be continued with once the wildfire season is past us (now that’s a happy thought!). But kindness towards each other should, to the same extent and more. As they say, you might not have anything material to give, but a smile, a kind word or helping when you can, that is where it’s at.
I’ve been told repeatedly that social conscience at the level of society is my own kind of illusion I keep hanging onto for no good reason, yet I choose to believe it is possible. Perfect? Not even close. Humans are, as we all know, fallible and imperfect in their actions and intentions, some downright cruel and ill-intended, and there is no point in trying to find out why they do that.
But what if they had to give back in form of work, which means time and effort, the willy-nilly paying back for one’s crimes which will benefit their fellow humans and can yet provide a possible path to reconciling… Fines and prison time, while they can turn some around, or scare them from repeating the crime, might just make many more careful in how they commit the crime.
Should a person be forced to serve the community they wrongfully acted against, it might just help them see things in a different light. Such as ‘this is what your actions led to; this is what you need to do, work-wise, to make it up to your fellow humans.’
What do you think?
Share your thoughts?