Was there a storm?” The shards of glass sparkled like diamonds in the sunlight, but the damaged bus stop shelters that the glass came from were a clear indication of the mayhem that had erupted in the area the night before.
My son knew that there had been an important football match played the night before at the nearby stadium. However, because we are not avid football fans, he did not watch the game or the coverage of the violence that erupted in the stands, on the pitch and then continued on the streets as the game came to a close. I explained to him that some of the fans attending the game had become incensed that their team had lost the match. Instead of exhibiting good sportsmanship and congratulating the winning team and its fans, they opted instead to be angry that the team they supported had not won. As he looked around at the broken glass and rubbish still on the ground from the night before, he asked: “Don’t they understand that it is only a game that they were watching? Someone wins and someone loses. How can someone get so upset about a game that doesn’t really have anything to do with their real life?”
Unfortunately, I had no explanations to offer to my son. Personally, I cannot understand the mindset of someone who feels that violence is justified simply because their favorite team lost a game or because life has not worked out for them the way they had hoped. I do not see the reasoning behind the destruction caused by a relatively small number of fans. In addition to the property damage incurred, a few fans of the winning team were attacked for no reason except that the team they supported had happened to win. To be quite honest, this type of reaction seems rather idiotic to me.
This type of crowd reaction following a football match is by no means found only in Turkey. It seems to be a growing phenomenon all around the world. Watching the news and seeing mindless violence erupt, particularly after an event as insignificant as a football game, I wonder about the mentality of the individuals in a crowd who make the conscious decision to vandalize property, ransack businesses and attack others. Do they feel that their actions are justified? How were they raised? Surely, their parents, school or society taught them to distinguish right from wrong, legal from illegal. When did they make the decision to throw all common decency out the window?
I would love to have the chance to speak with these individuals just one time to find out how they think, how they view the world and what they expect and hope their futures will hold. How, I would ask, would they feel if the situation were reversed? What if it was their property that was stolen or vandalized? What if they were the one attacked and hospitalized on their way home simply because another person felt they supported the “wrong” team or because they were wearing the “wrong” colored scarf? Would they think that the attackers were correct in their actions? If it were their business that was destroyed, would they shrug it off and start all over again?
I assume that those who engage in mindless acts of violence were raised knowing right from wrong. Any decent parent will try to instill these basic qualities in their children. I doubt if anyone grows up dreaming of becoming a thief, vandal or murderer. Yet, where and how does that change occur that allows someone to act in such a way? Do they take pride in their actions and do they brag about their deeds to their friends and families? Or, do they continue their lives the next day as if nothing out of the ordinary has happened? Have they ever thought about the effect their actions have on their own children, and on society? Do they give a thought at all to anyone they hurt financially, physically or emotionally?
As a parent, I am trying to instill a strong sense of right and wrong in my son. He knows that life does not always seem fair, and that we each must decide how we will cope with the hardships and injustices that we encounter. While we may not always be happy with changes in our lives, we must learn to deal with issues and find ways to peacefully resolve conflicts and remain true to our beliefs. When he has been faced with a difficult problem or a conflict, I remind him that he should always be able to take pride in his actions. I think that is an important lesson that we all struggle with each day.
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