Friday, August 10, 2012

Attacking the Vulnerable

Toronto has been plagued this summer with a series of unfortunate incidents, ranging from shootings to random acts of unnecessary cruelty to its least fortunate citizens. The latest is a video which has been posted online that features young men urinating on a sleeping homeless man. It's not the first time that homeless people have been victims to street assaults by young people and it won't likely be the last; but the very fact that some have considered it acceptable to film these acts and then post them online for entertainment is sickening and shameful.

When did we think it was okay to behave in such a shameless manner towards the least fortunate in our society? When did we think it was okay to immortalize these base acts and post them online for other peoples benefit? When did we suddenly get interested in watching them online?

It is true that society will be judged by how it treats its most vulnerable people. The homeless are easy targets. They have very little recourse to protection and their lives are daily struggles for existence. Many of them have mental health issues which our health care system has been unable or unwilling to effectively treat; others are addicts with no rehabilitative programs to turn to. Society has already failed them once; it continues to do so when they're ill-treated for no good reason in public.

It may be too much to ask for compassion or help from the general public. But surely these people deserve basic respect and civility? Why should others feel entitled to treat them as animals or objects of ridicule in the street? Have we regressed so severely as a society that we need to be taught, once again, how to treat each other humanely?

It's probably no good to suggest that people who witness these acts should help or intervene. They will likely also be made victims by ignorant, vile bullies who enjoy the suffering of others. Hate and fear are strong. Doing the right thing always seems to have consequences that doing the wrong things do not.

There are days that test my faith in humankind. This is one of them.

1 comment:

  1. This kind of behaviour stems from and is accepted by the constant marginalization of people, cultures, groups, etc who are not understood or different from the mainstream population.