Monday, July 25, 2011

Post-Riot: Sharing @ Chapters

     Yesterday, I had once again taken a trip downtown after church to share my faith with people once again. This time I was accompanied by my friend Sam, to visit the Chapters store at Robson and Howe streets that had been vandalized during the riots. This was an interesting case in particular, because there were patrons of the store that had formed a barricade in front of the store against rioters and fought them off as they attempted time and again to break in. They had prevented firebombs from being thrown into the store as well. In spite of their best efforts, the rioters had still managed to break a good number of windows by throwing horseshoes that were on display outside the store through them. I had the privilege of hearing these details of that night from two of the store managers who were kind enough to meet us and talk to us for a bit.

     Although the apology boards had been taken down from outside The Bay since I had visited it two weeks ago, the boards outside Chapters were still there. Some of the inscriptions on them were interesting to note, and I've attached photos that I'd taken on Canada Day in the area around London Drugs and Chapters.

Painted fabric apology and sympathy messages outside London Drugs
Apology Board at the front of Chapters
Apology Boards at the side of Chapters Bookstore
Close-up of a section of one of the Apology Boards
     After we had finished at Chapters, we went back to London Drugs where I had visited last week. I was trying to find the salesperson I had met and shared with last week. However, things took quite a surprising and interesting turn as God led us to a different salesperson, whom we had a most interested and lengthy conversation with. He had been in the store during the night of the riots, and described how the staff had been taken to a secure room and waited there while the rioters broke in and systematically looted the cosmetics, photography and computer departments. There was still an iPad and other devices missing and waiting to be replaced. We talked for an extended conversation about his opinion on whether what had been done was evil, and what he thought justice exercised on the perpetrators would look like.

     From London Drugs, we crossed the street and went back to The Bay where I had first started my foray into street evangelism two weeks ago. I was looking for the salesperson that I had first met when I visited there. I wanted to try reconnecting with him, and talk about his ideas on evil, justice and forgiveness, just as I had at London Drugs. I was really happy to see him once again at the same section where I had first encountered him. Although we had to wait for a bit while he finished serving other customers, I was really happy that God allowed us to have a wonderful conversation with him about his thoughts on evil, justice and whether it would be possible for the store management and staff to forgive the people who had vandalized their store.

     I found it really interesting that on both cases (at London Drugs and The Bay), the salespeople in question did not think that what had been done was "evil"; they preferred to describe it as merely "stupid" and "reckless", because of the fallout that the perpetrators were currently experiencing as they had been caught on camera and were being sought by the police. When I asked one of them what the difference between "stupid" and "evil" looked like on that night and where one stopped and the other began, his opinion was that the evil began when the rioters started burning cars and other items of property. However, it was equally interesting that when I raised the question of justice and forgiveness with both people, they were strongly opinionated in favour of teaching those who would be caught the seriousness of what they had done. Both men were firm in their belief that sending the offenders to prison was not the solution; they wanted them to make restitution by returning to the store what they had taken, or compensating it monetarily or through community service. They also felt that they would forgive the offenders only if they made restitution in that kind of form.

     As we walked away, I had much to think about what they had said. There were some thoughts that made sense in what they said, but many other aspects of their worldview and response that I felt were at times self-contradictory. I need to do some more thinking before I post my own thoughts on the matter.

    This last week of July is a very significant and will be a very interesting week for me. I will be writing more about this in the next few days. See you when the next one gets uploaded.

- The Wisdom Seeker