Probably one of the hardest things for humans to do sometimes is to forgive.
I was thinking about this since the fire on May 21 which destroyed the Integris Recycling Centre Greening Up Fort St. James (GUF) had built.
There are a lot of people who worked very hard, and put a lot of volunteer time as well as investing their hopes to create a better community in order to make the recycling centre happen.
It was nearly one month to the day after the grand opening when someone carelessly destroyed years of work in a senseless act.The sheer stupidity of such an act is so heartbreaking for those who have invested so much.
I stood and watched as tears were shed by a dear friend as she looked over the charred remains of twisted metal as the firefighters packed up the last of their hoses.
It was heartbreaking.
Many people are still going through a grieving process, which may seem a bit extreme to some for a building, but the recycling centre truly represented more for the community, because it showed just how much could be accomplished, and how far Fort had come, and what a lot of dedication and hard work could accomplish.
Now a senseless act has taken the community right back, to even worse off than it was before, to where it has to clean up a huge mess to rebuild a facility and to where the momentum of a group has been set back on its heals.
It will be rebuilt, the community is behind GUF and will help to make sure it will be back, I’m confident in this, but there is still a large obstacle to overcome financially to make that happen.
Then I think of the persons who may have committed this ridiculous act.
There is a lot of anger in the community towards them, and the act could potentially have serious life-altering consequences for these people.
While anger and frustration at the senseless act they may have committed is only natural, I have reservations when the frustration leads to hostility towards what might be termed wayward youth.
Yes, if these people did perpetrate this awful act, they must be taught a lesson, and made to understand the true depth of what they did. Hopefully they can be taught this important lesson before it is too late.
In my mind, this might call for a more traditional community form of justice, one which could hopefully teach vandals to value community and hard work.
But also one which could help to allow for forgiveness from the entire community they have wronged. The people who burned the facility truly betrayed their community, taking away jobs and a huge asset for the area.
Ideally, perhaps their punishment could be something which may also help the rest of the community to see them again as positive members of the community.
There were a lot of people who put in a lot of their evenings and weekends for the past four years to make that recycling centre a reality.
Perhaps it might make sense for those who destroyed it to give up their evenings and weekends for the next four to five years for community service.
Their contribution back to the community might just help teach them the importance of volunteer work, the huge amount of work needed to actually provide many of the facilities in a small community, and it might help the rest of the community to respect them again.
Perhaps a number of years compacting cardboard and mixed paper for the community could help GUF to get back off the ground again, and perhaps there would be some investment into something important to Fort St. James by those who were so tempted to recklessly destroy it.
But there is still a lot of work to be done, of course before anythign like that can happen, investigation and hopefully the justice system can provide some satisfaction. Perhaps then the community can find forgiveness and we can all move forward.