I’m sitting at home manning facebook and twitter on my laptop while the breaking news on TV flashes images of burning cars and a raging riotous mob in the downtown streets of my beautiful city of Vancouver. Echoes of 1994 all over again, only worse. I am disgusted, disheartened and more than slightly worried.
My two sons are “over the bridge” having gone downtown to watch game seven of the Stanley Cup Finals on the big screen in front of the CBC building on Hamilton Street. The last I heard from them was at the end of the first period; a quick phone call telling me they were heading to watch the game at their sister’s place a couple of blocks away. Today is their 22nd birthday, a day meant for celebration, not for roving riots of punk thugs and their accompanying complicit silent observers.
I send a carefully worded mother text asking where they are and telling them to be aware and to be careful. Fifteen minutes later I’m rewarded with a reply, they’re safe in a bar in Yaletown. Inside and safe from the mob. For now. My mother worry won’t settle down until they’re safely back home on this side of the Lion’s Gate Bridge, however.
There is a flurry of facebook updates among my friends as well as in my twitter stream -social media once again leading the pack on the frontline of breaking news. It’s also the platform to share our absolute and complete disgust at what’s happening within our city. I am drawn into the discussion when fear and speculation turn into generalities and judgments. The need to understand the apparent inexplicable is an over-riding human characteristic.
My friend Kristina posts an update, “What happened, what’s going on, that a generation of young men are looting and creating violence? That is all who I see all over downtown tonight. Is this how far we have come? Are these the leaders of tomorrow?”
Within minutes I reply back to her, “We must remember that there are scores more of other young men who did not partake in the disgusting display of narcissistic destruction – who are just as dismayed as their elders…..I applaud each and every one of them. They are the leaders of tomorrow.” I am thinking of my two sons and the thousands more like them who would never deign to act with such selfish disregard for human life and property.
With the bridges now closed by the police, my two boys walk well clear of the thinning downtown drunken mob to the Waterfront station and catch the seabus to the North Shore. Within an hour they are walking in the front door, quiet and subdued, having witnessed first-hand the dark shadow of the bully archetype.
I spend a restless night with interrupted sleep and awake in the morning neither rested nor restful. This morning, more than any other, I head to my yoga class without a clear intention but with a very strong need. A need to find calm through the physical practice of mindful hatha poses.
I think of my sleeping sons as I settle myself onto my yoga mat and as we begin our morning meditation my intention streams through with strong clarity. Compassion. I dedicate this morning’s yoga practice to forgiveness and compassion towards those who have destroyed so much and hurt so many. As my yoga teacher, Chris, says, “It matters where we put our energy.” And I choose to put my energy into cultivating compassion and kindness. I choose to find joy in this world. To shine a light into the darkness that overtook our city last night.
I’m driving home, replenished and relaxed and am listening to the CBC radio as they discuss the whys and wherefores of what will forever be known as the 2011 Vancouver Riot. I smile as the announcer speaks of the hundreds of volunteers who brought brooms and garbage bags in the early morning and joined the city sanitation department in cleaning up and reclaiming our city.
Caroline Myss says in describing the Bully/Thug Archetype that “symbolically, our phsycial bodies can “bully” our spirits…” and that “underneath a bully is a coward trying to keep others from discovering his true identity.” (Which is more than slightly ironic given the mass amount of cell phone documenting going on last night.)
The Shadow attribute of the Bully was shown only too vividly, in all it’s dark thunderous colours last night in the smashing and burning of cars, in the broken storefronts, in the looting and violence. It was shown in a more subtle and perhaps nefarious manner in the “mob mentality” of the onlookers who watched silently and sometimes cheering as the active thugs smashed, crashed and burned. To stand by, cell phone outstretched and do nothing is to act in accord with the Bully. Silence and inaction in the face of wrong doing puts you in the same camp as those doing the wrong. You are complicit in the crime.
I’m contemplating thugs and bullies as I’m driving along the Upper Levels highway, feeling complacent in my existential distance from them. A light blue van speeds by on my left and comes to hug the bumper of the car in front of her. Tailgating so closely that it would be impossible to stop in the event of a sudden braking. “What a bully,” I think to myself.
Suddenly I’m aware of every time the Bully archetype has manifested its shadow side in my behaviour. The times I have acted with impatience while driving. The times when my defensive city driving has boarded on intimidation driving. At once my heart fills with gratitude towards last night’s bullies and thugs for holding the mirror up to myself. Who am I to judge?
My friend Lynn writes on my facebook wall, “how unbelievably sad this morning!! As my lovely daughter said “what’s sad is that people are abusing our freedom”…..this was the evening after we spent dinner with William who is now on his way back to the Sudan to make a difference and to empower people. Many of those people have never experienced freedom…..sigh….my heart is truly heavy!”
I want to say to Lynn to find the gift that last night’s thugs left us. The chance to look at the Bully within each of us; to become conscious of even the most subtle wisp of shadow smoke that filters through our lives.
I want to say to Lynn to cultivate buoyant joy and to be a harbinger of happiness to those around her. It is with joy and lightness of being that the dark shadow that roared through Vancouver and into our souls will be swept away. Fill your heart with light and let that shine through, for we are surely seeing the Light attribute of the Bully archetype glowing with every sweep of every broom held in this morning’s clean-up. Our spirit is stronger than we think.
Caroline Myss says “the archetype of the Bully manifests the core truth that the spirit is always stronger than the body.” That is the core truth. The spirit is stronger than the physical manifestation of the shadow.
As Chris Clancy said in ending our yoga class this morning, “We must be brave enough to allow our light to shine.” And remember, it matters where we put our energy.
And hold on to the truth that these thugs that infiltrated our streets, our hearts and our spirits will be caught and punished. Apparently these Bullies were also without brains as they committed crimes in front of hundreds of facebooking, tweeting and you-tubing cell phone filmmakers. Their faces and actions caught and uploaded for all the world and the Vancouver Police Department to see.