Look past the suits and TV images

Forget the rioters. Many young people are doing a great deal to improve our world.

I watched a young man arrive at court the other day. We had all seen endless TV hours of him smashing windows during the Stanley Cup riots, screaming and swearing. On this day he had a fresh haircut, a three-piece suit and some shiny shoes.

His defense was going to be that he was not guilty because he’d had too much to drink and didn’t know what he was doing. Seriously folks, has that argument ever worked for any of you? Has your mother or father or significant other ever said, “Oh well, if you were drunk, then I apologize for being angry. All is forgiven.”

No, in the real world we pay for doing stupid things. We have seen these rioters parade into court, well-dressed, shedding a few tears, accompanied by their lawyers and promising never to do this again. Then we find out that many of them have violated court orders and  thumbed their noses at us.

They may look nice and sound nice on court day, but I am reminded of the line from the country song, “She ain’t pretty, she just looks that way.”

Actions speak louder than words. I was very pleased this past week to attend two award banquets. The Township of Langley held their annual volunteer awards and the Soroptimists of the Langleys presented their community recognition awards as well.

The audiences were introduced to individuals whom many of us never see because they are too busy making a difference in the lives of others. They are working locally and in some cases internationally to bring about change and build rather than destroy.

We met young people not yet out of high school who have worked in orphanages in Thailand or Cambodia working with children at  high risk of slavery or human trafficking. They have built schools in Kenya or raised money for wells in drought-ravaged foreign countries.

We met young people who are speaking out about violence to women and organizing workshops or petitions to send to government and raising awareness of the problems in our own neighbourhoods. Then add to the mix that they maintain grade A marks and excel in sports and coach and mentor young people. They are too busy to riot.

We also met people making a change in our community by providing shelter for women coming out of prison or rehab when their only other choice is to go back to an abusive relationship. We heard from people who have crawled out of deep holes, dusted themselves off and now hold out a hand to pull others up.

We met Velupti Barrineau. an international development consultant who has pioneered new thinking  on working with the poor and abused women of the world. She recently launched a program, “One Million Men, One Million Promises” at the United Nations. The program is designed to get a million men to pledge to work against violence to women. Many of us made pledges after her presentation.

How do we get these extraordinary people on TV and the front page? Do they have to throw a brick through a window? Look past the fancy suits and the tearful words. It’s the actions that make the difference. At least that’s what McGregor says.

 

They have organized fundraisers to provide food for our local food banks and are striving to empower and educate other youth to be ambassadors for change, at home and abroad.

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