Well, as one might expect, recent criminal activity here in Chilliwack has resulted in numerous calls for more police and more jail time. Many of us are feeling less safe these days and I’m not sure this feeling can be fully attributed to an increase in Chilliwack’s criminal activity. In my view we currently live in a fear-driven society. Fear has become a valuable tool for our politicians, and elected leaders. Frightened citizens are far less likely to support progressive change but instead more likely to prefer the safety and security of the status quo. This translates into incumbent politicians keeping their jobs, more police, more jails and more criminals.
In addition, I think we can all acknowledge that fear-based news sells. Social and mainstream media these days are full of things we should be afraid of: various foods, diseases, terrorists, wars, products and now even our public services like welfare, health care and education. Yes we have lots to be afraid of and not much to be happy or optimistic about. At least that’s what our society would have us believe. It has become a challenge to stay positive about ourselves and our neighbours in these predominantly negative times with so many bad things happening here, there and everywhere.
Is there a fair and justifiable correlation between our current fear and crime in Chilliwack? Just wondering. However, I’m convinced we do have a problem. Yes we have a problem, not city council and not our RCMP. This is our problem and it’s up to us to solve it with help from our police and our city council.
First, can we arrest and jail our way to a solution? Personally I doubt it. This brings to my mind the “Whack-a-Mole” game. You hammer one and another pops up somewhere else. What about finding and addressing the root causes of these crimes. I suspect we would find, poverty, lack of education, addiction, alienation, mental illness and helplessness heading the list. Until such time as we address these issues in meaningful ways we will continue to treat the symptoms and not the causes of crime.
A great start might be some serious efforts to create a strong sense of community in our respective neighbourhoods. Block Watch might be a good place to start. Let’s focus on building relationships. Get to know your neighbours. When individuals connect, unite and build community together many of the typical urban problems like property crime will disappear. People start looking out for each other and helping those in need.
Come on Chilliwack, let’s not look to others, lets start working on this together. We can and should do this.