November 18, 2007

The Meaning of Robert Dziekański's Death


The event of Robert Dziekański's death is not about tasers, it is about nervous police, nervous bystanders and bad decision-making. It is about the police's fear of physical violence and the lack of an atmosphere of social responsibility in public. It is also about the administration of an airport that grievously failed to serve and communicate with Dziekański and his mother. It is about nine hours of neglected airport video surveillance. It is about the absence of translators in an international airport. It is about the absence of a telephone connected to any translator in the world, handed casually to Robert. It is about our culture of public space and excessive politeness. It has also become about the offensive self-righteousness of police who did not immediately apologize or explain their actions. It is about cultural difference and the emotionally disorienting experience of immigration. It is about Canada's relationship with Poland. It is about stress and mental health. It is about the eyes of the world on Vancouver, the imminent Olympic Games, and our collective ability to behave pro-actively, cross-culturally, internationally with confidence and openness. It is about the complex realities of security and the importance of realizing that leadership doesn't always come from Members of Parliament, the head of the RCMP or the airport. It is about citizens learning how and when to Do The Right Thing.

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