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Monday, April 4, 2011

Everything Is Connected

  I live in an odd little city on Vancouver Island that's surrounded by the mountains. For a former city-dweller such as myself, the wonderful postcard-image surroundings are a source of amazement and gratitude. However, every so often, something occurs to remind us lucky folks that life isn't always as beautiful as the 800 year old trees.

  Like every city, we have crime, and given the small population we have far more of it than we should. So many people are beaten up on a daily basis that the police don't usually respond. Almost everyone you meet has a criminal record and a full set of teeth are a rare possession indeed. This picturesque retirement town is also a rough blue-collar joint where violence often occurs for little reason at all. And people do sometimes die.

  When people are murdered here, it's generally not from a shot fired from the street, but it's usually up close and personal. Since I've lived here, every person who has been killed has had their life taken absolutely senselessly, and often slowly and painfully. A man named Darrel died this weekend. I've met the guy a couple of times but he had family and friends who did know him well. He was beaten to death by his room mate because his buddy didn't like his cleaning skills. And this wasn't a one-punch knockout- Darrel Andow was absolutely brutalized and left to die for a couple of days before someone cared enough to call an ambulance.  He had several facial fractures and his ribs were shattered, puncturing his lung. Darrel's injuries were so severe that he died from massive haemorraging. His 47 year old flatmate was arrested for murder, which carries a mandatory life sentence in Canada. 2 men have become statistics and 3 young people are fatherless because one man just couldn't let sleeping dogs lie.

  When did we lose respect for other people's right to exist? Until recently, those who took the lives of others were considered to be exceptional examples; murderers were seen as sick individuals and not as the norm. But today we are so self-centred and infantile that almost anyone could hurt someone else. Whether encouraged by media,  drink or drug, or group mentality, humans today seem to care less about their fellow man than a pair of shoes or the imagined impact of some small slight. Childish machismo dictates that if another dude steps on your toe, you're to make him pay a penalty in blood. And there's something fundamentally flawed with this barbaric pattern of thinking.

 We only have one life- once it's done you or the victim of your narcissism is just worm feed. We need to learn to let the small things go and stop viewing nonreaction as a sign of weakness. If we remind ourselves of the humanness of our neighbours and the fragility and finality of life, the world will be a more peaceful one.   Everything is connected- the good deed you do can become the one that makes someone's day and that joy can spread. However, negativity can also become viral inspiring a pattern of revenge that can only be described as mutually ensured destruction.

  Whether you pass around positivity or buy the violent lie is up to you, but there are appropriate consequences to each of our choices. Don't become a casualty of a disease that resides between the ears, one that destroys everything it touches. Stop letting the things that don't matter rot your mind and let go of your anger in a constructive way. Or not and die in a ditch or in prison, leaving your family heartbroken.

Take your pick.


  1. Thank you for sharing this. I knew Darrel, more so his biological daughter who is an amazing young woman in her early 20's. Her father will not walk her down the isle or see her graduate from university one day. He leaves three newly adult children behind, who all deserved to know their father longer.

  2. The murderer had the charges dropped.


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