For the past week Canadians and especially Torontonians have been publicly lamenting the senseless death of Jane Creba, a beautiful young girl of only 15. For a little more than 7 days, passersby have lain wreath after wreath and bouquet after bouquet of flowers in her memory.
As a society, we are also solemnly marking the day that, as some put it, we lost our innocence. I don’t know if that has only happened now or not, but for some reason, the cup of patience and apathy that most Canadians hold has finally run over, or so some would have us believe.
Now I don’t for a minute have any doubts as to whether all of the emotion that many have publicly borne is real or not. It is obvious that this violent act has touched many of us very profoundly. While I don’t mean any disrespect to Jane or her friends and family, I have to come out and ask a couple of questions of you, the reader. What was so special about Jane that she would be the turning point, and why did we let it happen?
I ask what was so special about Jane because her demise has touched so many and has given people pause. We had 52 gun deaths last year. Most were thugs being offed by other thugs, but there were some innocents murdered along the way. Was it because it was Boxing Day, or because the entire years worth of misery seemed to pile up at the end of the calendar? What exactly has caused us to mourn so openly for a stranger and again, why did we let it happen?
I have asked that question twice now, and I think that some of you still don’t understand what I am talking about. Here’s the explanation. We have had a gang problem for more than a year, but never a year as violent as 2005. Most of us read the paper or watch the news and shake our heads. We talk with co-workers and discuss the factors that are involved, such as broken homes, lax immigration laws, failure by the government to remove the offenders from our land, inability to remove the offenders from our land because they have rights that their victims no longer have, an absolute joke of a justice system, and the list goes on.
So there we are, in our cars, at the office, or just sitting on the couch. We shake our heads and banter back and forth but as for doing any more than that, it just doesn’t fit into our daily schedule. How many of you have the internet? Do you know how easy it is to be informed with that? It takes less than one minute to find almost any phone number online. For those who don’t have a computer, how about a phone book?
Perhaps that we, as a society, as a country, should get off of our duffs and start trying to make our country a better place. We Canadians have that “nothingdoing” clause written in our own personal constitutions, where we feel that we can’t do anything about anything, so that justifies in our minds how little effort we actually exert to change things. Time and again I hear people say that they don’t know what to do.
Here are a few tips you may want to try in the future. Pick up the phone and call your local newspaper, or perhaps even the big dailies. Ask for the news editor and be frank. Tell them that you want to see more coverage on trials and sentencing. Perhaps if the papers fill up with accounts of gun toting thugs walking out with bail, people will be incensed enough to act. Tell the editor that if you, as a Canadian citizen, do not see more coverage of these things, you will simply stop buying their paper. It is simple and effective, if you actually do it.
Look up your MP and your MPP. Call them and tell them that you are sick and tired of watching our laws be laughed at. You as a voter have a voice but most Canadians don’t want to raise it. Ask any MP or MPP and they will tell you that they are frustrated at the lack of input that they get from the average Canadian. We love to whine, but don’t exert any effort to affect change. Professional lobbyists sometimes use mailing lists to get their members to flood the offices of government officials to get there point across. Voices mean nothing unless there are a flurry of them. Your voice could be part of a flurry if you would take the time.
Start to shun the politicians that seize upon tragedies such as the one that we had last week. Call them and tell them straight out that they have lost your vote. Tragedies are no time for political posturing and grandstanding. Also, find out what each person running for office in your local, provincial, and federal riding stands for. What does their party truly stand for? What is their record on law and order, crime and punishment?
Instead of lamenting future losses or just sitting back and waiting for them to happen, we can do something now to prevent them, if we are truly outraged that is. All we need do is elect those who will affect legitimate and reasonable change.
For all of those above suggestions you could very well state that one person can’t make a difference. Of course they can’t, not alone. But every soldier in an army is but one person, and as long as they do what they know they ought to, then they will be victorious in their battle. If every person who was frustrated at the inaction of our government officials actually did something about it, what a change we would witness.
It is not enough to sit back and expect the government to take care of these important issues. It is the duty of each and every one of us who claim to lament Jane to do all that we can, lest she died in vain, because momentary outrage just won’t cut it.
Look around at all of the youths in your neighbourhood. Know any good ones? Do you have any close to your heart? Then maybe you should start to be pro-active instead of reactive. Canadians have sat back in complacency for years while people like myself have been sounding the alarm. I am not trying to sound noble, as I was once like you, only now I call out for change. I do it everyday on this website because I don’t want to see anymore Jane Creba’s. I didn’t even want to see the first one.