Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Living with difference in Vancouver

The thing I love most in Vancouver is that you can actually see and live difference in so many ways. Men holding hands in Stanley Park, women kissing on Davie Street, Asian/Caucasian couples, black/Asian couples, black/white couples, and so on, and so forth. It seems as if difference has been dealt with, accepted and metamorphosed into a way of life. The few who may be upset with it are no longer supported by a mass of followers. And the more one is brought up with accepting difference, the less difference matters.

Or at least that's what I like to believe. The truth is I have no clue what people truly think when they see difference on the streets of Vancouver. And the skeptic in me remembers that maybe people, concerned with their daily lives, do not care too much about difference. But Johan Galtung once said that peace is not only the absence of violence, but the capacity of self-restoration. Difference starts becoming an issue when something is at stake, when a threat needs to be rationalized (and thus controlled) and when when the scapegoats have to be brought to light for the catharsis (and that false sense of security) of the group. I wonder if the difference on the streets of Vancouver has grown to the point of Galtung's peace: would it have the self-restoration capacity if threats and demons would arrive to haunt it?

And then again, the difference I'm depicting here is misleading. It's closer to diversity, but concepts are like labels that grow narrow. I've seen the difference between Robson Street and the area around Chinatown/ Gastown; the difference between the fancy promenade and the scary ghetto. It's still difference, isn't it? And this one does seem to reproduce itself over and over again, irrespective of the time and place...

2 comments:

Eduard said...

Is the car in your photo registered in the WA state? I'm almost sure I've seen several times an identical one parked in Seattle, in the Fremont area...

About me said...

i have no idea. probably it's the same car, since i've seen it in vancouver.

 
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