Saturday, June 18, 2011

Sealed With A Kiss

Living in downtown Vancouver, mere blocks from the storm of post Stanley Cup violence I have been impacted. I watched with horror as mobs of youth hit the streets unleashing a rage that was an assault to witness let alone be swept up in.  I was worried. I knew my son had gathered with friends at a downtown hotel to watch the game and I didn’t know where he was.  His story, I later learned involved running from tear gas with his shirt over his head and thankfully he was able to duck into an alley. Those in the middle of the stampede were not as lucky. As St Paul’s Hospital set up outdoor areas to wash the victims clean of the noxious spray the rampage in the downtown corridor continued. Police cars burned, looters smashed windows and a crazed mayhem seemed almost other worldly. What city was this? What country were we in?

The next morning armed with brooms and trash bags the shards of glass and litter were swept away by city workers and citizens young and old.  They came from all walks of life united by a common desire to wipe away the stain of shame that had blanketed the city. 
The deafening response to the rioters was a call for retribution, punishment, revenge! They must pay!  The desire to find someone or something to blame was blatantly pervasive. It MUST be someone’s fault, the police, the media, hockey, testosterone, the suburbs, criminal gangs…oh heck… let’s throw in mothers who raised boys like that just cause they tend to be easy scapegoats.  If we don’t find the bad guy and make them pay we will never be safe!
Well, I am going to go against the grain.  Rather than look for blame I am looking for meaning. And when one looks for meaning, choice of perception is the critical element that must be brought to awareness. Honestly it is no different here than in intimate relationship. The same principles apply. Do I believe in accountability...absolutely.                                                                                                                            And those who broke the law should be held responsible for their actions. Yet we as a society, as a city, as individuals, miss the mark if we do not look deeply at the root of this eruption. Just as in personal relationship we miss the mark if we do not look deeply inside ourselves to explain the cause of any upset with another person. We miss our own expansion if we stop at attributing blame.

Most of the rioters were young males. Most were drinking and my theory is that the destruction sprang from an inner core of powerlessness and fear.  Look at bullies. Internally they are insecure and frightened and their need to avoid both that knowledge and the accompanying feelings of helplessness that it evokes often leads to brutal actions. What I saw in the crowd of yahoos was inner fear so painful and unthinkable that the drunken bravado of taking over the city streets gave some kind of respite from their internal pain.  Does this excuse their choices, not at all.  It does however invite some evolutionary thinking around how to best to heal this inner toxicity in our youth so that they can become whole, confident, loving and awake human beings who are a contributing force in our society.

‘To hell with that! Punish them,’ yell the masses.
 I say hold them accountable and TEACH them, work with them.

Imagine if along with every sentence for those found responsible for the destruction came a mandated support group where avoiding oneself was no longer an option.  A group, where waking up to their internal pain, the inner demons that prompted Wednesday’s outburst could actually result in growth and amends rather than retribution. Healthy shame would be encouraged for such inappropriate actions yet toxic shame which infiltrates the psyche and only breeds more reactivity would be released.
The difference is that with healthy shame you are saying, ‘what I did was wrong’ and you take action to make amends.  With toxic shame you say, ‘I AM WRONG ‘and you act it out again, needing the cover of blindness to avoid feeling the agony of this belief. 
I know this is not a popular opinion, especially when people feel victimized but one must ask how does healing occur.  And it is never with more vengeance or revenge or fear based reactivity wanting to lay blame.                                                                                                                                                                                     It starts with a soft heart and desire to understand. This is true in all relationships. If your perception is coming from a fear based reactive mind then that is what you will see. You will lay blame outside yourself and the intensity of that urge is in direct correlation to how much unresolved pain has been activated in you. Whenever we feel victim to someone else and their actions and lay blame as if they are doing something to you, we participating in a cycle of distorted thinking.  If we work on changing our own perceptual filter, softening our hearts and staying in charge of the only place we have any power…inside ourselves …then we become contributors to change and transformation. From that place we are called to gentle action that can ripple out and impact others in a positive way. Action must accompany thought yet deciding which thought one will be driven by is ultimately the difference between issueing an invitation to healing and union or discord and upset.

The morning following the riots as broken windows were boarded up and remnants of chaos still scarred the landscape, two police officers responded to a call. When they returned to their parked squad car it was plastered with sticky notes…notes of love and thanks for the bravery, courage and patience that the police demonstrated on Wednesday night. In many languages, with symbols and flowers, they were all an expression of inspired action.
After the game cars burned with pent up hate…today they are touched by words of gratitude and love.

The cruiser was carefully moved to the Cambie Police Station, sticky notes intact, where it now sits in front of the entrance, a white symbol of service and protection with tiny fragments of emotion fluttering about like wings of butterflies. People gently mill about touched by this essence of loving kindness. It is truly miraculous that we as a species are able to make such shifts in a heartbeat. It made me cry.
I was so inspired to add my voice to this spontaneous tribute of appreciation that I went inside the station to ask for supplies. The gal behind the counter was happy to share paper and tape, nothing officious about her as if a bond already existed between us even through the bullet proof partition.
I poured my emotions into the sticky and smoothed it onto the car.  People smiled in silent understanding. I was walking away my chest expanding with each satisfying breath. I felt good. I felt touched…and then that darned old impulse took hold.
I sprinted back and reapplied my lipstick with the help of my vintage compact. A 40’s pin up girl lounging on a chaise decorates its antique silver cover.  Alas, I wasn’t wearing red that day so the boys in blue got  Coral Blaze.

My heartfelt thanks…sealed with a kiss.

Authentically Yours

No comments:

Post a Comment