By Wayne Litke
Social media – I dislike it because it is readily misused by people who express their opinions in rude and offensive language. Furthermore, social media junkies feel their opinions are always correct and therefore they have the right to tell the world without fear of reprisal. Consequently, a war of words develops as bitter rivalries develop which in turn promotes intolerance and hatred. Of course I am referring to public reaction to the trial of Gerald Stanley who was found not guilty in the shooting death of Colten Boushie.
Now back to my rant. Isn’t it disgusting how we abuse the Information Highway and social media sites that were meant to connect people and encourage wellbeing and happiness? Now, it’s used as an offensive and hurtful tool and its users and victims are not limited to a particular race or ethnic group. Cyber abuse is found in every country and region around the world and politicians and national leaders such as President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau use it to sympathize with particular factions and thereby promote an image or ideal that people gobble up.
On the opposite end of the spectrum I came across Scott Moe, our new premier, who made the following statement on facebook.
“I know there may be some strong reactions regarding the verdict of the Gerald Stanley trial.
I would urge everyone to be measured in their reaction. Let us all remember our personal responsibility for our thoughts, our actions, and our comments – including those on social media.
The Saskatchewan I am proud to call home is one that is strongest when our communities work together.
Whether Indigenous communities or non-Indigenous communities, all of us are stronger when we stand together, as our provincial motto “Multis e gentibus vires” states – From many peoples, strength.
Let us continue to demonstrate consideration, patience, and understanding for one another as we move forward together in reconciliation.”
I really liked his statement: “Let us all remember our personal responsibility for our thoughts, our actions, and our comments . . .” and want to reflect a little on that point. In that regard, we should all ask if we actually take personal responsibility for our thoughts.
Do I personally take responsibility for my thoughts? I reiterate that because it is of extreme importance. Our thoughts are reflected in our comments (good or bad) and are ultimately brought to life through our actions. Simply put it means that a person with bad, malicious or evil thoughts regarding a certain matter is unable to live a wholesome and healthy life in that area. Instead of demonstrating “consideration, patience and understanding for one another” as our premier encouraged residents to do, we ultimately end up doing the opposite when we fail to take control of our thoughts and it is reflected on the pages of our provincial newspapers and social media sites. It is most apparent in the polarized and brutal comments individuals on both sides of the argument are making regarding the outcome of the Stanley trial.
Weighing in and trying to look like the champion of every social cause is our prime minister who tweeted, “I can’t imagine the grief and sorrow the Boushie family is feeling tonight. Sending love to them from the US.”
Those are beautiful platitudes, but will Trudeau address the underlying issues that led to a young native man being shot by a white farmer? Will he attempt to find solutions and implement them, or will he throw money at it and implement a project that is destined to failure. Real solutions to everyday problems are difficult to find and bring to pass because it involves breaking destructive habits, cycles and lifestyles that are well entrenched. I wish our PM well and hope his efforts are a blessing to the entire country.
Federal Minister of Justice Jody Wilson-Raybould, tweeted: “My thoughts are with the family of Colton Boushie tonight. I truly feel your pain and I hear all of your voices. As a country we can and must do better – I am committed to working everyday to ensure justice for all Canadians.”
Again, she has wonderful words of consolation (and we can do better), and as an Indigenous person and lawyer she knows firsthand the shortcomings of our legal system. It seldom offers real justice since penalties are too lenient, too harsh, or non-existent depending on a person’s perspective.
I venture to guess that neither the minister of justice or our prime minister know all the details of the Saskatchewan shooting and yet they are quick to weigh in on the matter. After all, they are firstly politicians who want to be re-elected and therefore seek to sell themselves at every opportunity. To his credit, that is something Saskatchewan’s new prime minister did not attempt with his media post.
I am not going to repeat the errors both Bouchie and Stanley committed since this is a case where there are no winners – the exception being sly politicians (who exist at all levels of government). I believe there will never be winners in such matters unless we can deal with the real causes that led to Bouchie’s death. We need to address all the underlying issues in this case to avoid similar tragedies, and that may include racism, but it is only one piece of the pie. Let’s hope and pray we can all put aside prejudices and judgmental attitudes and “move forward together in reconciliation” as our premier stated.