In 2006, when I began writing for The Jerusalem Post, I was radicalized by the thought that folks, here, voiced their disapproval of public policy by destroying public property (see: “Smoldering Dumpsters and Other “Rhetorical Devices,’ ” Old/New World Discourse, Nov. 09, 2006).
During my tenure in this Holy Land, I have since seen many instances of the handiwork of such dissent. Mostly, I have witnessed the destruction of dumpsters, but I have also observed social unrest in the form of graffitied signs and broken street lights. That these events were tied to collective displeasure was clear from mediated statements made by the responsible groups.
I don’t like paying taxes to clean up, to replace, or to otherwise compensate for my cohorts’ restlessness. I don’t like feeling as though I can’t walk on certain street because I fear that the same others who break fixtures might break noggins. I’m not proud to be part of any group that promotes such actions.
Note: before any reader points to certain demographics, please realize that this sort of behavior, in one form or another, has seeped across most demarcations of Israel’s population.
In other words, police reports and other official documents (sadly, journalists’ accounts are unreliable since journalists are often a tad “selective” in their present of truth) reveal that this nonsense is no more a byproduct of the left than it is of the right. We tribes have again failed, horrifically, to get along with each other. At any rate, the flames that kept the local dumpster cats at bay, in the middle of the night, in the parking lot nearest my family’s apartment, doubtfully issued from the instigation of any social movement leader.
I live in a quiet community, far away, b’ayin tova, from targets that seem newsworthy; it takes me a long bus ride to get to the center of town. More likely, someone tossed a cigarette stub into the filled trash receptacle. Such mindlessness, however, is not necessarily less problematic than is the intentional ruin of shared material goods. In some ways, such unwillingness to be accountable for action disturbs me more than does directed destruction; material protest, though unconscionable, is at least logical. Whereas I don’t believe any humans were harmed (mercifully, during the night in question, the parking lot, where the dumpster sits, was not packed, as it ordinarily is, with cars. In fact, for reasons literally only known in Heaven, the spaces to either side of the dumpster were empty) and whereas I think that the currently pregnant dumpster cats that frequent that bin might be able to find food elsewhere, much harm, nonetheless, was done.
Someone living in or visiting my community destroyed a dumpster and endangered man and beast because of his or her lack of accountability. This event drew only one police car, but no “curious neighbors” swarmed to nose out or to otherwise witness the goings on. As long as folks are, accordingly, not made to be unanswerable for their deeds, they will continue to fall away from socially sanctioned behavior toward dangerous instances of social roughness. The more wild members we have in our collective, the more problems we have.
Consider, another, related case. Every year, before Passover, neighborhood folks burn their chametz on the hillside, beyond the fence, past the dumpster. Unfortunately, those same individuals, after igniting their piles, literally turn their backs and walk away. Every year, accordingly, grasses and other forbs go up in smoke. Cats, birds and hedgehogs get displaced. Homes get subjected to fumes. Children, who infrequently are truly adequately minded, become at risk for stepping on coals and for playing with flames.
To boot, one year, a majestic pine tree, the former crown of the area’s hill, caught flame and died. That tree, though, took about two years to fall, meanwhile endangering all of the children that play and all of the critters that live on that little swath of land.
There’s more. Less important, but certainly annoying, last week, someone, judging from the size of the discards, with a medium-sized dog, allowed their pup to empty itself all along the sidewalk in front of my apartment building and in front of an adjoining one. Messy, but not life-threatening. It’s both dangerous and inconvenient to live among others who are so inwardly focused (in an egocentric, not in a G-d-centric, spiritual fashion) as to act out all of their unresolved toddler developmental processes on public holdings.
Whereas I''m sure that you readers could name even worse cases of civil unrest, what remains common to your experiences and mine is that we ought not have to suffer them. Disagreeable behaviors issuing from others’ intentional or accidental heedlessness is wrong and stupid. At least rioters attach meaning to what they are doing.