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28 June, 2010


"Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies."  Statement attributed to Nelson Mandella and Carrie Fisher, among others.
Like most everyone else reading this post, I was deeply disturbed by the wanton acts of anarchy in Toronto last week, unquestionably a reaction to what was interpreted as the sudden imposition of a police state to assure the overall security of G20 Summit proceedings.  In the end, the victims of the unprecedented mayhem were an innocent public and the businesses who will pick up the lion's share of the cost for repair of the damaged and senselessly defaced downtown property, not to mention the loss of business which is unrecoverable.

In hosting a political gathering of this magnitude, the government and police are always between a rock and a hard place when it comes to the degree of security deemed necessary to protect the participating world leaders...How much is too much, or too little?  There are always lessons to be learned and a price to pay.  Likewise, there are questions to be asked in the light of public interest and perception -- questions like 1) how did the security bill run up so high? 2) why was it decided to turn the downtown Toronto core into an armed camp rather than take a more subtle approach to security? and 3) why was the public not advised of the degree of security and the implications well in advance of the Summit?  

To my way of thinking, three factors were at play this past week in Toronto, a failure to properly communicate, a lack of sensitivity and decreasing self-esteem within a fringe of the population.  All of which will have to be addressed by countries staging future summits, including Canada who is sure to be on the short list once again.

The black-attired (Black Bloc) protest vandals responsible for most of the downtown Toronto damage, all have one thing in common -- resentment of authority, be it political, law-enforced or big business induced.  Nothing stirs these underprivileged individuals more than the mere suggestion of security and the demonstration of enforcement by power.  If police failed this past week, it was in underestimating the dangerous potential of  a group that seems to assemble out of nowhere and disappears the same way it came after dispensing its mayhem in targeted areas -- making a statement, as it were.

It is difficult to pinpoint factors contributing to such "conduct disorder" in today's society.  Certainly environments such as school and home play a role as do life stresses in general in the form of poverty, unemployment, ill health and over-crowding of inadequate living conditions.  I, for one, can understand resentment that stems from these types of conditions.

Resentment is simply an expression of envy, the first and deadliest of sins. Adam and Eve envied God's knowledge of good and evil, Cain envied Abel, Ishmael envied Isaac, Esau envied Jacob, Joseph's brothers envied the favorite son, and the Gentiles envied the nation of Israel. Why reject what comes from on high to worship one's own image, unless you resent the higher authority?

It seems there are fairly universal causes of resentment. Most of us are likely to feel resentful when:
- Others try to tell us what to do, how to run our lives, what we need, what they think is best for us.
- Others tell us what they think we should do, how they think we should feel, how they think we should act.
- Others feel and act superior to us.
- Others act in hypocritical ways.
- Others deprive us of our needs.
- We see those in power abusing their power and hurting others who are less powerful.
- We feel falsely accused, judged, prejudged, discriminated against, labelled, ignored, attacked, hunted, persecuted, underestimated, invalidated.
- We feel lied to or lied about.

This by no means justifies the actions of groups like the Black Bloc, but it helps to understand them in preparing effective counter measures.

Politicians and law enforcement officials would do well to constantly remind themselves of the above when creating strategies "in the best interests of the public".

Ultimately, forgiveness is the key for dealing with resentments. But, just because you forgive, it doesn’t mean that you agree with the other person's actions. It merely means that you are freeing YOURSELF from them.  Try telling that today, however, to participants in the most recent Black Bloc demonstration in Toronto.

I didn't sense much forgiveness radiating from the eyes hidden behind those masks and bandannas.

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