Thursday, January 31, 2008

But Who Raises the Villages?

This has been on my mind for quite a while, so I'd better write something about it and deal with it.

Item: Robert Pickton is convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison. (As of this writing, the Crown is pursuing an appeal, wanting the conviction upped to Murder 1.) Family members rejoiced outside the courthouse, declaring a victory for justice and recompense for their deceased loved ones.

Item: the mother of a little girl, and the mother's live-in boyfriend, demand additional compensation from WestJet because the little girl was left unattended and was helped by a stranger to make her flight connection at Winnipeg and then to meet her father in Montreal. WestJet offered a service, in which a child could travel alone and be taken care of, and something evidently went wrong with that service.

Item: a known mobster is rubbed out in a hit outside a steak house in downtown Vancouver. His grieving mother demands police do something about gang violence.

What's the connection? A really harsh saying, to wit: Where were you when the kids needed you?

The Pickton case is the most egregious. His victims were largely prostitutes, who were addicted to drugs, and whose lives were turned to garbage by the drugs and the society that failed them. Why were those girls on the streets in the first place? Who wasn't there when they needed someone, way back when? Who turned their back? Who offered them that first joint, the first drink, the first hit? And who didn't train them up in the way they should go, so that they would know enough to say, "no"?

The jubilation after the Pickton verdict was so explosive, it was as if the people were saying, "Thank God! Someone else is being held responsible!"

The police are taking a lot of heat for not being faster off the mark to investigate the first of the disappearances, and while there may be something to allegations of racism and giving preferential non-treatment to a certain sector of people, it's too easy to point fingers at The Man. The time to keep a child from following the same fate as the Pickton victims is when they're still alive, and preferably before they fall.

How does this connect with the little girl on the airplane? Because here we have a little girl whose mom and dad were unable to make a go of their relationship, decided to go separate ways, and -- quite frankly -- went about their own lives and tried to make the little girl fit in. So when mommy (with boyfriend) moved to Edmonton and daddy stayed in Montreal, the solution to the question of custody and access was to dump the little girl onto an airplane, pay extra so that total strangers would watch over her, and go about their merry lives without her underfoot for a few days.

Then, when that "system" broke down, don't blame the fact that this little girl has been turned into a piece of cargo for the convenience of the parents: blame the airline.

But more importantly, with a child being treated as a piece of cargo, shuttled between two parents a couple of times a year (and daddy can't be that awful if he's allowed to have her over all by herself when he's living more than 2,000 miles away), what does that do to the child's sense of who she is? Isn't she worth the parents' staying together in the first place? Isn't she worth mommy actually spending the time and the money to travel with her? Who knows the reasons behind breakups (says he, who's gone through two of them, both with children involved), but the victim is the innocent one -- the child.

How many of Pickton's victims were in similar circumstances: treated as the "inconvenience" rather than the precious child?

The inclusion of the "known mobster" is for a similar reason: the time to be concerned about gang violence is before the child gets involved. Where were the parents? Where were the teachers?

In short, where is the sense of right and wrong that should pervade the way our kids are brought up? Oh, I know: that doggone Book, with all its answers ... that big ol' killjoy that says we shouldn't lie to people, or cheat, or steal, or have sex with people we shouldn't ... so judgmental ... so incriminating ... so un-cool, because it tells us we are responsible to one another and we are required to love others and love the One who created everything and that there is only one Way to achieve that. That set of absolutes, that don't take "personal circumstances" into account, as though "personal circumstances" can't be fixed by following that same set of absolutes.

Yeah, that doggone Book.

"It takes a village to raise a child," is the lovely piece of New Age claptrap that comes to mind.

But in these cases, what happened to the village?

This just in: it takes Jesus to raise the village.

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