Writer shat­tered, an­gered by theft from grand­mother’s grave

The Compass - - OPINION -

There are le­gal wrongs that have be­come com­mon­place, and per­haps we have be­come de­sen­si­tized to many of them. Many peo­ple don’t even bother to re­port ve­hi­cle break-ins any­more, and per­haps it isn’t even worth the phone call to your lo­cal law en­force­ment de­tach­ment to re­port that some­one made off with the lawn­mower you left out­side for a night.

The anger and frus­tra­tion, and per­haps even hurt, that we feel over what has come to be known as petty crime are com­pletely war­ranted and jus­ti­fied, but we are al­ways be­ing en­cour­aged to take the po­si­tion of, “Oh, well, that’s the day and age we live in.”

To a lo­cal res­i­dent who had his out­board mo­tor stolen three times in a sin­gle sum­mer it is no petty thing. To the car­pen­ter who uses his tool­box to make a liv­ing and has had his power tools lifted from his truck more than once, it isn’t ir­rel­e­vant. For any one of us to pur­chase some­thing, with money we work to earn, and then to turn our backs and see that it went out the drive­way the night be­fore in the hands of a thief isn’t in­con­se­quen­tial.

In fact, it’s ap­palling, re­gard­less of the mag­ni­tude or value of the thing taken. In the dark Is any crime against a fel­low hu­man be­ing petty or in­signif­i­cant? What about when there is an emo­tional com­po­nent to it? What about when the dirt hasn’t set­tled on your grand­mother’s grave and van­dals tres­pass on it and swipe from it?

Imag­ine vow­ing to your dy­ing grand­mother, be­cause of her ad­verse feel­ing to­ward to­tal dark­ness, that you would nev-

I won’t ac­cept the mind­less, re­proach­able theft of grave­side com­forts as petty, and I won’t ac­cept the no­tion that there

isn’t much I can do.

er leave her gravesite com­pletely dark. Now imag­ine tak­ing the time to find the per­fect so­lar lights that will charge by day and il­lu­mi­nate the oth­er­wise black­ness by night. Now imag­ine go­ing back to visit your grand­mother’s grave in or­der to feel close to her, and find­ing that the lights you had promised her were ripped from their bases.

This is a crime of heart-wrench­ing pro­por­tions and it is hap­pen­ing every­where. There is a bla­tant dis­re­gard for the sanc­tity of life and death. Those of us with a con­science can’t fathom walk­ing over the grave of some­one’s mom, some­one’s brother or sis­ter or their child in or­der to van­dal­ize it.

Re­sponses such as, “It hap­pens every­where,” “No­body is ex­empt from steal­ing,” and “Not much you can do about it,” should no longer hold wa­ter with those of us who be­lieve that if you want some­thing or need some­thing, you should work for it.

A prom­ise to a loved one

Is it time for law en­force­ment and the courts to rec­og­nize the hu­man el­e­ment in all of this? I know the laws are set to be ob­jec­tive, but in re­al­ity it isn’t a $50 so­lar light — it’s a prom­ise to a loved one. A bas­ket of flow­ers hang­ing on a wrought iron post at a grave­side isn’t for dec­o­ra­tion; it’s a tes­ta­ment of what some­one means to you.

As a so­ci­ety we need to rekin­dle our dili­gence in mak­ing known our de­sire to pro­tect what is close to us. I’m not sug­gest­ing any kind of vig­i­lance — there’s no room in a car­ing, mu­tu­ally re­spect­ful com­mu­nity for that. But I am say­ing that we need to fol­low up with the po­lice, even and our MHAs. We need to write let­ters to the pa­pers dis­cussing our opin­ions re­gard­ing crime that isn’t petty, we need to raise aware­ness of what is go­ing on in our towns, and we need to be ever more watch­ful over our prop­erty and the prop­erty of our neigh­bours.

I’ll put the so­lar light back on my grand­mother’s grave, and I’ll con­tinue to do so for as long as I am able, but I won’t ac­cept the mind­less, re­proach­able theft of grave­side com­forts as petty, and I won’t ac­cept the no­tion that there isn’t much I can do.

As like-minded, de­cent-liv­ing hu­man be­ings, there is al­ways some­thing we can do.

— Dana Bragg wrote this let­ter in the days af­ter dis­cov­er­ing that lights

placed on her grand­mother’s grave were stolen. Her grand­mother, the late Eva Ash, passed away May 3 and is rest­ing at the United Church ceme­tery in Vic­to­ria. Bragg writes from St. John’s.

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