Murder most foul

By Вen Li

Each of Calgary’s six murders this year could have been prevented if just one of our city’s million people had motivated themselves to look out for a fellow human being.

Three murders, those of Tay Van Dang on Jan. 1, Jeffery Shuckburgh on Jan. 7, and an unidentified 41-year-old Calgary man on Jan. 13 were borne of disputes in front of witnesses who failed to stop the altercations from becoming deadly.

Despite her extensive community involvement, Jean Stauffer’s murder in her home on Jan. 9 went unnoticed by neighbours, along with an unconscious man in a nearby alley, until discovered by her daughter. Suzanne Lee’s murder around Jan. 6, as she was sent unescorted to collect a late rental payment from an "altered" individual, drew condemnation from some members of the community who say her superiors should have known better.

As Calgarians, we don’t need to be heroes, just good neighbours who look after each other as we would in our illusionary biggest small town in Canada. No one is expected to stand between the barrel of a .22 sawed-off rifle and this year’s third murder victim (Shuckburgh) but everyone should try to steer conflicts away from violence, or at least seek help from the proper authorities, if only to protect themselves or loved ones from harm. Clearly, that did not happen in these cases.

Two weeks into January, Calgary is well on its way to its three-year average of 20 murders per year and has taken the lead in Canada for murders in 2004, beating out Vancouver, Toronto and Edmonton. This cannot be allowed to persist.

Calgarians have much to learn from cities that have already made the transition from city to metropolis. As hundreds of thousands of us vacate our mausoleum-workspaces every day, it is easy to forget that one can be alone and unnoticed in a city of a million people. Whatever the size of our city, we can and should concern ourselves with the well-being of others.

Despite our international reputation for hospitality and generosity, the citizens of Toronto often pay much more attention to each other than we do in Calgary. Any one of the Greater Toronto Area’s 4.7 million inhabitants will be the first to cut off another driver on the street but also the last to abandon a complete stranger in a moment of potential danger. And during the recent severe winter storms in the area, everyone showed concern and acted to help the city’s homeless population, regardless of race, ethnicity or gender, because it was the human and civil thing to do.

We often criticize our neighbours, coworkers and others for being nosey and intrusive into the affairs of others. Calgary would be a much better place if we all cared as much about each other’s activities.

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