A two-fatality crash involving a high-speed police pursuit, a stolen vehicle and a large tree occurred in Belleville, Ontario in May, 2006.
This horrific event (only the tree survived) triggered yet another debate about attempts to apprehend stolen or speeding vehicles. The consensus seems to be that whenever these efforts endanger the public or suspect drivers, police officers should `back off'.
When this does not happen, the discussion moves to the conduct of officers. Fleeing drivers are elevated to the status of `innocent victims' - especially if they are harmed or killed.
This reversal of apparent responsibility needs to be thought about. More often than not, police officers are being saddled with community and parental failures to socialize and rationalize young peoples' behavior.
To the extent that this scapegoating is successful, communities and families are exonerated and `life as usual' continues. In North America, this means a culture wherein every wish, urge, hankering and appetite is deserving of fulfilment. Rights talk abounds - claims to food, shelter, health care and respect … with nary a word about where these amenities and resources are to come from.
This is where adults, parents, politicians … have been coming up short. We have failed to retain a culture wherein productive activities and notions of personal responsibility are part of daily life.
Instead, the heavy lifting supporting our life styles has been transferred to machineries, resource depletion and the billion or so `dollar a day' people politicians and corporations have enslaved on our behalf.
In this culture, more and more people see nothing wrong with taking whatever they want from parents, friends, stores, gas pumps, and unlocked cars.
On the rare occasion when these adventures are disastrously interrupted, hands start wringing, hearts start fluttering and nonsense abounds. How serious is the problem? Ask yourself: what would your life look like if the police withdrew their services for even a week?
Finally, whenever someone immolates himself or herself during a `consumer runs amok' episode, the event should not be diminished with the ultimate shopping fantasy. There is no Heavenly Mall where we will one day gather and rejoice.
Dead is dead. Dead is forever.
If we ever come to understood this, we might lead more thoughtful lives.