Two stories in the news yesterday tugged deeply at my heartstrings and I’m sure the did at the heartstrings of many thousands of other Calgarians.
Not all heart string tugs are equal and these two stories evoked powerful but opposing emotions in me.
The first story left me at first angry, then furious, and then, sadly, resigned to the fact that those whose jobs are to protect the rest of us ought to, but don’t seem to, take those jobs a little bit more seriously.
I know I have always had a powerful pet peeve when it comes to drunk driving and my views on the appropriate punishments to be meted out to those who engage in this practice are considered by many to be rather extreme.
Yesterday’s story did nothing to soften my opinion and everything to strengthen my resolve to speak out loudly and often in my endeavors to hopefully reach the few, if any, politicians, lawmakers and judges who have the gumption (a euphemism for balls) to take these things seriously.
The story was about a man who, in 2012, slammed his vehicle into a 45-year-old father and husband whose only crime was to be out for a ride on his motorcycle.
At the time the driver of the vehicle had a blood alcohol level of more than three times the legal limit.
This upstanding citizen had made driving while drunk a long time habit. He was the proud possessor of two prior convictions for drunk driving as well as two prior convictions for driving while disqualified.
Apparently such a history has no deterrent value.
He finally went to trial in 2014 and was sentenced to six years in jail. It seems he felt this to be a bit harsh for he appealed the sentence to the Court of Appeal whose judges wisely denied his claim.
And yesterday, after serving just 18 months – a mere quarter of his sentence – he was out on the streets, a free man, living in a halfway house while enjoying full freedom during the day.
That story indeed tugged at my heartstrings as I can only imagine the anger and anguish felt by the family of the man this pathetic being so callously killed. Their disappointment in our very broken system must be overwhelming.
Unfortunately, stories of this type are all too common and whenever I become aware of them that old statement about the inmates running the asylum always comes to mind.
It is troubling to me, as it is, I’m sure, to many others, to realize that the consequence for heartlessly snuffing out a life is a mere 18 months in prison and then a return to freedom.
That story played heavily on my mind throughout most of the day until I watched the evening news and another story tugged at my heart in a way I can only describe as wondrous.
With Alberta in the depths of a horrid recession many people are struggling to find joy at this time of year.
Few of those many affected by these times are weaker or more vulnerable than those who are forced to make their homes on the street and turn to the available shelters for help every day.
Many of us have described ourselves as being broke but relatively few of us truly know the meaning of that word. Being truly broke is an everyday part of the lives of so many of these people.
When we talk about having nothing these hapless souls are the living embodiment of that phrase.
And yet despite having nothing, a group of these folks took it upon themselves to reach out and help those who are possibly even more needy and certainly more vulnerable – children.
With enormous effort over a lengthy period of time and by gathering and collecting one bottle at the time these wonderful people, all residents of the Calgary Drop-In and Rehab Center, whose pockets may be empty but whose hearts are full, made a $1,000 donation to the children’s Make-A-Wish foundation.
The same folks using that same one bottle at the time method, raise an additional $1,200 which they gleefully spent on toys for children in need.
Consider this; if one receives five cents for every bottle returned to bottle depot it requires 44,000 bottles – collected one at a time – to raise $2,200.
To these people that money would represent a fortune and yet they willingly gave it all, and by so doing provided us with a lesson that can never be taught in any classroom.
These fine individuals showed us that the Christmas spirit is indeed alive and well and that despite all the horror, cruelty and sadness we so often read about or hear about in the media, our world is filled with people who truly will, and do, give their all.
The lesson I learned is that I can, and must, do better.
How about you?
Till we read again.
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Your opinion truly means a lot to me.