The riot following Game 7 of the Stanley Cup playoffs between the Canucks and the Bruins a few weeks ago shamed the city of Vancouver. The resulting mess continues to keep its citizens busy cleaning up and the police identifying the instigators.
Had I been there, I likely would have tried to get as far away as possible. And I probably would have been smug about it, too: The police didn’t anticipate the violence? I can hear myself saying incredulously. Come on! NHL hockey is a violent sport. Off the ice, you’d get thrown in jail for the injuries hockey players get away with inflicting. As the fans are fed this diet of violence, how can you not expect them to become violent themselves? They’re imitating what their heroes are modelling! And I’d return to the safety of my home, blaming Vancouverites for their own problems and glad that I wasn’t one of “them.”
Then, while I was in Abbotsford a couple weeks ago, I heard Pastor Sid Couperus from Trinity Christian Reformed Church preach. In his sermon he touched on the Vancouver riots and asked something to the effect of what the city would have been like that evening if there were more courageous Christians in the crowd seeking the wellbeing of the city. What if Christians took the lead in saying, This is evil and I will not turn a blind eye to it ? What if throngs of Christians stood in the way of hooligans trying to break into stores and set cars on fire? What if every Christian refused to tolerate fans refilling their Tim Hortons and 7-Eleven Big Gulp cups with liquor? Could we have been the presence of Christ and made a difference in downtown Vancouver?
In other countries people riot against oppression or for equality while in Canada we don’t do any of that… unless it’s over a hockey game. I still think that’s shameful and that NHL hockey violence needs to be addressed. But now I wonder whether you or I could have made a difference but would have chosen to walk away instead.
Photos from CBC News.