The problem with generalizing

Social media. Until most recently, that terminology was something relatively obscure. Sure, many people had heard the term, but until the Stanley Cup riots in Vancouver, the term was not part of everyone’s daily lexicon.

Social media. Until most recently, that terminology was something relatively obscure. Sure, many people had heard the term, but until the Stanley Cup riots in Vancouver, the term was not part of everyone’s daily lexicon.

Today, thanks in part to that riot; the terminology is understood by most of those who use Facebook, Twitter or other electronic media to reach small or large audiences worldwide.

Case in point; when the riot started many of those who were present used their cellphones to immortalize that shameful night. They took pictures of the looting, destruction and chaos which ensued when the Canucks lost to the Bruins.

What followed was unprecedented. The police appealed to the public to post pictures and videos and, if possible, identify the hoodlums behind the mayhem.

There are those who discredited the police for seeking the public’s help using social media. Despite this, there are pages upon pages of Facebook users and home-grown vigilantes who, whether right or wrong, are bent on bringing to justice those who gave Vancouver a black eye. Personally, I think anything is fair game when it comes to catching the thugs and following through with legal proceedings. They must be made an example of, and a clear message should be sent that this kind of behaviour is not, and will not be tolerated. Not today, not tomorrow, not ever.

I’m not a hockey fan (heresy, I know!) and anyone who knows me will attest to that. But I admit I was glued to the television as I watched scene after scene of the incomprehensible, mind-boggling, destruction.

One can’t help but wonder if the riot was a byproduct of a game which I consider to be way too aggressive and rough, or if it is a byproduct of a handful of wannabe, quasi-gangsters hell bent on taking their anger out on the world.

It would be nice to think that those who were involved don’t represent or youth or hockey in any way, shape, or form.

While it would be easy to focus on the ruin, shame and sheer idiocy of it all, I think we’d be better off focusing on the other side of the riot — the part where people, at great physical risk, stepped up to do the right thing and tried their hardest to stop those who, without guilt or care, preferred to spend their evening in a drunken rage destroying that which many people have worked for their whole life.

The real story, I think, is of the many heroes who stepped forward, without fanfare, and pitched in to right the devastatingly wrong.

Those are the real heroes of that night and the media-filled days which followed, not the hockey players who won the game and not the cowards who boldly went about not only destroying corporate and personal property, but the very image of Canadians who take great pride in being gentle people.

As a nation, we now have to defend ourselves against those who, for whatever reason, publicly scorn Canadians. We are forced to answer for a handful of criminals, and yes, they are criminals, who as a group not only gave Vancouver a black eye, but Canada as well.

We are forced to defend our national sport, the sport which truly defines Canada.

Which brings me to generalizing. Many of us generalize. It’s human nature, I think. We think all unwed mothers have no moral compasses, we believe old people have little value. We think all teens are troublemakers and that those who are different from us are sometimes lesser.

The lesson we can take from this, I believe, is to judge (if we must judge) each person, each nation, each society, not on the actions of a select few, but on the good of many.

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