You are horrible people. I mean that. I am not being facetious or wry. You are not good people.
And by “you” I mean everyone in Ontario who has been griping about the Amber Alert that woke most of the province late last night.
A family in Brampton, Ont., called police Thursday night because their daughter was missing. The police immediately began to search for the girl and sent out an alert to the public. As a result, her father’s car was spotted and he was arrested. Tragically, it was too late for 11-year-old Riya Rajkumar, who was found dead.
This morning, the chattering classes on the radio, Facebook, Reddit, and Twitter, basically all the places where we now talk amongst ourselves, are whining about being startled out of their sleep.
The most common complaint is that they were too far away from the point of the crime to do anything. A woman whose tweet has since been deleted was angry about a second message to say the alert was now cancelled, believing it unnecessary. Others complained bitterly: “We do not work for [the police],” one man wrote. Some even called 911, not to provide tips, but to criticize the alert.
This is a comfortable land. Our cars have heated seats. Our winter coats have Bluetooth. Our hot dinners come right to our door. Life expectancy is higher than it has ever been, and crime is lower than we ever could have hoped.
How did this happen? Mostly because we as a society figured out how to move forward together. Collectively, we agreed to a mostly unspoken social compact: if we look after each other, we will all be looked after. There’s nothing particularly unique about this; it’s a variation of the “Golden Rule” which has been the bedrock of every civilization since Ur.
But we have grown so entitled to our comforts, we’ve forgotten that we have to pay for them, that we bear collective responsibilities. We can’t be bothered to vote. We resent paying taxes for public goods. We volunteer in our community less and less. And now we even begrudge having to help save the life of a child.
That is what citizens are complaining about today. They were asked to help save a child and this irritated them. In small towns, when a child goes missing everyone knocks on doors and wakes each other up and searches all night. Because in a community people look out for each other, they understand the duty we owe our neighbours. They recognize that if you want to live in a town that protects its children, occasionally you have to get up, go outside, and help.
This is a point all the whiners need to understand today: If you want to live in a province that protects its children, occasionally you have to roll over in bed and check your phone. And if that is too much to ask, then you are objectively a horrible person.