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Editorial Rant: Volunteers or Vandals? Community Builders or Destructive Jerks?

Volunteers posing outside the Rossland Legion in 2018. Photo by Jean-Marie Lussier

Volunteers – please take a bow.  We honour you, and we’re grateful for all your help.  Collectively, you do such a huge amount of good for people in your communities.   

Our communities rely heavily on volunteers for so much that makes our hometowns great places to live.  Service clubs, Fall Fair, Winter Carnival, our arts organizations, and so much more -- volunteering is a huge demonstration of community spirit, and we’re lucky  to have so much of that in the West Kootenay.  Volunteers have built and given so much over the years, and so many have benefitted from their efforts, and they just keep on giving their time and expertise. The list of volunteer organizations in any one community alone is very long, and the list of people who have contributed to them is much, much longer. Again – thank you, to all of you.  When we bother to think about it, we know who you are: you are the community-builders.

Now, what about those others mentioned in the headline?  The destructive jerks – what do they do?  

Those are the people who engage in stupid acts of vandalism, such as the damage that has been done at the Rossland branch of the Legion in recent months. 

Last Remembrance Day, someone cut the flag-pole line.  During Winter Carnival, someone kicked in the vent in the women’s washroom door.  Later, someone kicked in the office door.  Someone also threw the Legion’s picture of the Queen down the stairs, shattering the glass and frame.   

These are just instances that have come to my attention; there are probably others that have cost other volunteer organizations time, money and energy, too – not to mention the discouragement of being a target for someone’s rage or stupidity.  Why have those events at the Legion come to my attention?  -- because I'm one of the volunteers, in a tiny way, for the Joe Hill Coffeehouse, and the Legion has been kind and generous enough to host that volunteer community event for a very modest fee, just to cover the janitorial and energy costs.

The Legion also provides space for the Lions Club and the Girl Guides to meet, and provides five scholarships for local youth.  In other words, the Legion and its people are among our many community-builders. 

I don’t know why the Legion was targeted by destructive vandals, or how many other service organizations have suffered similar damage.  Is it just completely thoughtless jerk-ishness, sort of like dropping trash in our streets,  but more violent?  Unfocused rage?  Resentment against something that someone thinks the Legion represents?  Who knows?

In any case, bad cess to anyone’s urge to commit vandalism anywhere. May the vandals recall what they’ve done with shame, and determine to wreck no more.  Our economic system alone is wrecking enough lives, without vandalism adding to the general damage, dismay and depression. 

Want to fight?  Try fighting bigotry and injustice.  Do some research and find out how best to combat the evils in our society.  Kicking in doors  and trashing pictures of the Queen doesn’t help at all.  There’s nothing wrong with thinking the monarchy is useless – but it’s wrong to destroy someone else’s property to express that opinion.   

No one is just one quality – we all carry some anger, and all do stupid things at times. Most of us do good things, and sometimes we do other things with unfortunate results.  

Here’s a wish:  may all those who have committed vandalism and spite in the past be stricken with an urge to redeem themselves by committing good deeds instead, and earn the community’s good opinion and gratitude instead of our condemnation.  Why not?  After all, doing good stuff feels  so much better than wrecking things.

Maybe that’s why we have so many volunteers – it feels good.  Kudos to all of you who help.

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