Went for a bike ride for the first time in four days. My bike had been at Gooch's Bicycle and Hobby Shop for the third time this season. My bike needed some repairs again, worn out parts needed to be replaced. I guess that happens when you ride more frequently. I immediately noticed that I hadn't ridden in a few days. I was really sucking for air almost as soon as I started. I also have to remember not to wear a black shirt when cycling on a warm and sunny day. It sure adds to the heat.
This summer has been so very enjoyable with all the sunshine and dry, warm weather. I hope it continues for many more weeks. Especially the first two weeks of September when my wife, Heidi, is taking vacation. We'd very much like to spend a lot of time outdoors, exploring our city.
This morning I was drinking my morning mug of coffee (small jug actually) and reading the newspaper. It seems every day I read about more and more violence. Stabbings, shootings, muggings, missing women and children, bodies discovered. So sad and disturbing. When we have our windows open in the evening and at night we hear so many sirens. We also often hear the police helicopter as it patrols our city's sky at night. Why is there so much violence? Why do people reach for weapons so quickly when there is a disagreement? Why are people being knifed for a case of beer? Why are our aboriginal youth killing each other? Are people no longer taught right from wrong? Are they no longer learning to respect life; to respect other people? What kind of community and society will our kids and future grandkids live in? How can we turn things around so the violence decreases? How can we restore some respect for the sanctity of life in our community?
When I read the newspaper articles, editorials and letters to the editor I read about so many people calling for harsher penalties, longer prison sentences. Our federal government wants to build more jails. Some people have been calling for the return of the death penalty. I have difficulty believing that these consequences will change anything at a fundamental moral level. On the one hand I think young offenders need to be held more accountable for their criminal behaviour. I don't believe for a minute the young offenders under the age of 12 (some as young as 8) don't know right from wrong; that they shouldn't face consequences for the choices they make and the criminal acts they participate in. But I wonder where their parents are. Where are their grandparents? Where are the family circles that teach and model a healthy, respectful, just and moral lifestyle?
While our news media sometimes leaves us with the impression that things here in Winnipeg are so much worse than in other cities in our country, I know that is not true. I regularly look at newspapers from across our country and observe the same level of mindless and destructive violence in other major cities in our country. The headlines in Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver and other communities seem eerily similar to the headlines we see here in Winnipeg. Where and when did things go off the track? Whatever happened to 'do unto others as you would have them do unto you?
How do we turn things around? Where do we begin? What is my role in bringing positive change to my community? It's easy to sit in my armchair in our apartment in our secure building protected by video cameras and locked doors and observe the dismaying activities happening in the city and country I live in. Getting involved in making positive change (there's that 'change' word again) happen means I have to get out of my chair and get involved. Am I willing to do that? What am I willing to do? How much am I willing to do?
To be perfectly honest, at this point I don't know.