The World Is a Dangerous Place
Do you remember the mysterious disappearance of the young American girl from Aruba in May 2005? Her name was Natalee Holloway, and I just finished watching a report on her disappearance, the immediate and unfailing dedication of her mother Beth, and despite video evidence of her killer's confession, an unsolved crime. Her final trip, at the age of 18, ended quickly and violently. Her body has yet to be found, and the ripple effect of the murder will continue to seep into the island of Aruba, and the consciousness of the American people who think about the world outside of their country.
Despite the obvious danger of a young woman getting in a car with 3 strange men, I'm still left with a realization that our media creates the world outside of ours to be a very dangerous place. It is, in many ways, but I want to really look danger in the face. What is danger? The loss of life? Certainly. Emotional pain? Sure. How many thousands of young women get in cars with strange men by themselves every Friday night around the world? These things can happen here too, but what's different is the false sense of security I believe we have here.
Just outside my door is one of the busiest intersections in Vancouver - Broadway and Cambie Streets. Many people walk across these streets everyday, headphones in ears, distracted about the day to come, what to have for dinner, how to pass that test, or survive that boss. Despite our recent outlaw of cellphone usage while driving, who can stop a person deep in thought, commanding a 2,000 pound hunk of metal, from hurtling through a crowded crosswalk? Who can stop that stressed out, overweight, out of touch employee who just had a heated argument with his wife, from having a heart attack and plowing through the crowd of people you haplessly join in your last moments? Not much, and yet as soon as I see that green crossing light, I am off to the races, absent mindedly trusting my safe passage to the other side of the street.
And so it is. I would argue my life in Canada is just as dangerous as one spent on a motorcycle through Central and South America. Not necessarily in the ways you might think. My roommate Sy just informed me that he will be moving out at the end of April. Just over one month away. Despite hardly speaking to each other for almost 3 years, I am surprised. Sy was quite sick with lupus-related symptoms several months ago. When I asked him why he wanted to move, he said that after he was sick, he really started looking at his life seriously. I would have never known. You see, I have let myself fall into such a deep pattern of self absorption, and anti-social behaviour, that I didn't even care about him. I didn't even make an effort to pull him out of his room, to go and do things together, basically to care for someone outside of myself. Heaven forbid I would get too tired, or have to spend money, or take the time for someone else. That's what is so frustrating about how I have been; I wait for someone else to make the effort.
The danger of my life was so insidious I hardly noticed - I have wasted arguably the best years of my life in a haze, afraid to live.
So, despite the tragedy of Natalee Holloway, I was inspired by the story. Life will move on for everyone, except the Holloway family, the people involved in her murder and their families, and the people of Aruba. Natalee's mother has found a purpose in sending her message to young women about personal safety, and has made it her personal mission to be a positive influence for people, somehow, someway. My problems are so small. My issues are so silly. I need some bigger problems, and I will gladly die in pursuit of making my life not only meaningful but contributing to others. The danger is not in dying, but in not living. I am grateful for my roommate and his courage to say he wants a change. By association, my change must happen as well.