PICTURE – (Sean O’Keefe and his son Fionn, 16 months, bring flowers to a memorial on Yonge Street Tuesday, April 24, 2018, in Toronto, the day after a driver drove a van down sidewalks, striking and killing numerous pedestrians in his path. Image Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Galit Rodan)
This week we are trying to make sense of another copy-cat nightmare after a young single angry man used a rented van as a weapon on a Toronto street to kill 10 and injure 14 strangers who were just going about their day.
Another young single angry man has copied the actions of other young single angry men before him and has left a crowd of broken, disbelieving victims in his wake of hate and revenge seeking. The Canadian public heart aches once again after the national heartbreak of an accident a mere three weeks ago that ended far too many young lives; and living day by day with the news coming from the legal deliberations of how to punish another young single angry man for the senseless murders of six, and the injury of nineteen faithful Muslim worshippers at Friday prayers in Quebec City sixteen months ago.
The two Canadian young single angry men who caused terror and destruction in Quebec City and Toronto are not being called “terrorists” as they were not acting for a larger cause, or an ideological stance other than their own egotistical need to lash out. They were emulating previous “heroes” wanting their own 15 minutes of fame at far too high a cost. In an interview on CBC, (http://www.cbc.ca/player/play/1218434115769/) Sociologist Judith Taylor of the University of Toronto, said that both Canadian men fit a disturbing profile that is growing in on-line communities that allow young single angry men to connect and stew in their collective despair, and sense of rejection. Instead of offering a place where they might find collective strength to take hope and courage to rise beyond their despair and rejection, as a group they tend to blame women and immigrant groups for their suffering. The solution offered by these online groups is to lash out in revenge. (see also http://www.cbc.ca/player/play/1219360835736/ about toxic masculinity)
I know and love a number of single young men, first among them being my 25 year old son. We are living in a time that is particularly challenging for single young men. Job prospects are not guaranteed through university degrees or tech training programs- and finding meaningful relationships is much harder than it used to be. The online dating phenomenon does result in satisfying relationships for some, but my son tells me that for most of the young men on those sites… who make up the majority of profiles, it is a painful exercise in rejection- over and over again. Our young men are a large portion of the even larger group of North Americans under the age of 35, most of whom who are living alone. For the first time since we started keeping track of these sorts of things, more under-35’s are single than partnered. Social isolation is a crisis across all age demographics and gender identity and sexual preference spectrum…. but the mixing young men’s anger with their social isolation is turning toxic and deadly.
Jesus’ ministry, and his resurrection were all about relationships and new life. What is being called into life after this latest copy-cat nightmare?
Let’s start having conversations. Let’s start by reaching out to our sons and nephews and neighbours who we know are isolated and build up those relationships, so they know they are valued and valuable people. Let’s start having conversations in our faith communities about how we might respond to this epidemic of isolation around us. Let’s be the hands and feet of Christ, and his heart and his eyes as we walk our walk of faith: let’s extend the life-saving love of the Divine One to all who are isolated, and in particular, to the single young angry men whoso badly need this life-saving Love.