Can we avoid future riots?

Older people would do well to put themselves in the shoes of these young people and look at the world through their eyes.

Older people would do well to put themselves in the shoes of these young people and look at the world through their eyes.

Editor, The News:

Re: Outraged fans aim to ID Stanley Cup rioters (The News, June 17)

Although I was horrified by the events that followed the final Stanley Cup hockey game in Vancouver, I wasn’t as surprised as some people were by the mindless destruction and violence.

Like most others, I am hoping the perpetrators are caught and appropriate consequences are applied.

But I also ask myself if we can avoid similar situations from occurring in the future.

Most young people do not have the hope for a bright future that my classmates and I had when we graduated in 1975.  Today’s youth are faced with a number of seemingly intractable issues such as government debt, environmental degradation, unemployment and climate change.

In 1975, taking any of the plentiful full-time, minimum wage jobs available allowed you to move out of your parents’ home and borrow money for a car.

These days, minimum wage jobs are a guarantee of poverty.

Some kids adapt by sharing apartments, others live with their parents for years and years and still others work two or three jobs, at the same time hoping to save up for something important to them.

Today, the giant steel mills in my home town of Hamilton run with a fraction of the previous work force, when they run at all.  The latest in a series of foreign owners of Stelco is trying to roll back my father’s pension entitlements – just like all the others did. Hard to imagine they will be generous with new employees, who would probably be lucky to get any sort of pension at all.

A common thread between the three service sector strikes we are watching right now – Extra Foods, Canada Post and Air Canada – is that the employer wants to lower the starting wage and change the contract for recent hires.  Job security, defined pensions and decent benefits will only exist for older workers if the employers get their way.

Whereas good citizenship (ie. caring for others) was inculcated in many of my generation, individualism, with its dog-eat-dog mentality, seems to reign supreme at the moment.

When my daughter was at the G20 Summit protesting for causes she believed in, she was shot down, imprisoned and handed a bogus criminal charge.

Many people applauded the police for their work.

Those trying to express their views are seen as troublemakers, not engaged citizens attempting to participate in this so-called democracy.

As if this weren’t bad enough, all three levels of government involved in this fiasco have looked the other way rather than launch a proper inquiry.

How sad is that?

If I were graduating today, there’s a good chance that I would be living with frustration and anger rather than hope.

Would I participate in overturning a Hummer to blow off some steam if the opportunity presented itself?

Although I would hope not, I can’t completely rule it out.

Older people would do well to put themselves in the shoes of these young people and look at the world through their eyes.

Once we’ve done that, we need to get to work solving some of the problems so that we can give hope back to our youth.

Elizabeth Rosenau

Maple Ridge