The one thing that always bothered me while I was at The Kitchen was to see a man or woman who had been laid off from a job, and they were unable to find another one.
I watched while one person slowly lost everything he had while looking for work. It wasn’t that he needed to sell off all of his possessions to live, but what happened to him when he couldn’t find work.
A slight mental issue made him extremely shy, which prospective employers did not like, so no job. This happened repeatedly, until he became so discouraged, that eventually, he stopped looking.
To save money, he would eat at the soup kitchens, where even against his will, he became influenced by some of the negative folks on the street.
Over a period of time, he began to drown his disappointments until the alcohol finally took control.
After losing everything to pay for the booze, he began to be involved in some petty criminalities that soon escalated into more serious wrongdoings.
Eventually, it caught up with him, and he spent time in the hoosegow.
That is only one story, but a very common one. So as I read the headlines dealing with the increase in crime and victims, my thoughts turn immediately to those suspected to be responsible.
I do so because that is the first thought in most people’s minds: “It must be those street people.”
I know they will be responsible for many of these crimes, but it is also unfair to paint that entire segment of society with the same brush.
Is this not the same attitude sometimes used to judge Indigenous people in this country?
We see one or two natives stumbling down the street, three sheets to the wind, and all of a sudden, a judgment is made that all First Nations people are drunks.
I see and hear these comments all the time, and I find it very disappointing. In my mind, we were all created equal.
Knowing this, and the effect all this judging has on so many people, is it any wonder those so judged would turn to crime or even violence?
Although we do have many of the same scenarios in Canada, the U.S.A. has these overt expressions daily, where these frustrations in people are manifested through crime and shooting sprees.
Before we spend so much time looking at the crimes, should we not be searching for the causes of the criminal mindset?
You see, crime generally is a response to many of the negative issues that life can throw at us.
If only we could learn, as so many organizations are desperately trying to do, to befriend someone who has been wronged or hurt, rather than turning them away because we “don’t want to become involved.”
When we do turn away from someone in need, we are telling them, “You don’t matter.”
If the ones who don’t matter then turn to crime in order to get attention, we respond by slapping them down some more, thereby increasing the crime statistics.
Peter, Paul and Mary’s rendition of Where Have all the Flowers Gone, especially the line saying “When will they ever learn,” came to mind as I was writing this.
Statistics in and of themselves are without meaning if they are not applied to a living entity.
A close friend at The Kitchen always stated we, like the rest of society, have learned really well to “react” to these stats rather than to respond.
Listing growing crime as a statistic means that we have failed to respond and have allowed society to react. Heaven forbid that we should be part of that statistic!
Chris Salomons is a retired Red Deer resident with a concern for the downtrodden.