Sunday January 29, 2017 was a dark day for Canadians. A lone gunmen entered the Centre culturel islamique de Québec and started shooting. His actions took the lives of six Muslim men. Called an act of terrorism, a hate crime and an act of violence it is easy to forget the significance of this act. The significance that this wasn’t some highly orchestrate plan, a group of diabolical terrorists from a far off place, but was a Canadian killing Canadians.
Last monday night I attended a candlelight vigil in front of the town office. The weather was cold (freezing actually) and yet people gathered closely together. There were Muslims, Caucasians, blacks, metis and first nations. But on that night, a night that everyone stopped, we were one people, we were Canadians.
Residents came together to show each other that we are not alone. We demonstrated that together we can try to find understanding, peace, acceptance and healing in a time of great loss. Canada is one of the most socially accepting countries in the world. We promote and endorse multiculturalism throughout the country. Canada’s peace keeping efforts are recognized on an international scale. Many countries throughout the world look up to us.
I believe its what makes this the best country on earth. All that being said we still have a lot of close minded people living here. People who discriminate, stereo type, bully, and spread hateful propaganda.
Whether its fear, ignorance, or stupidity, we all recognize it exists around us in some shape or other. There are some that believe we should “build a wall” as the leader to the south of us suggests. Others say no too refugees and want to get rid of immigration all together. Everyone has their reasons for being in favor or against these ideas. Although its not for me to say who is right or who is wrong, I do recognize that everyone has a right to their own opinion.
The problem is that emotions can turn into thoughts, thoughts can become ideas, ideas become words and those words can translate into action. When this is done in the spirit of goodness great things can happen, but I have no doubt this same process breeds hate and evil as we witnessed a few short days ago. There are many that are looking for answers and as a community leader I feel like I am supposed to have something profound to say.
Unfortunately I don’t. I feel frustrated, sad, appalled, angry and yet my mind and my heart know I need to forgive. That being said I know it will take words and action for things to get better, and for things to change. My fear is that some of the worst things in history were done with best of intentions. The task seems daunting and I wonder what impact I can have if any.
I’ll leave you with a story about a father and son who were walking on the beach along the ocean. They came to around a bluff and the beach stretched out as far as the eye could see. Upon the sand lay thousands of starfish washed up in a recent storm. Many of them dying; clamoring to get back to the safety of the ocean. The father walked by and picked one up and threw back into the ocean and the son was puzzled. “Father why do you bother to throw one back when there are so many. We can’t make a difference, what does it matter?” The father smiled and as he threw another starfish he said “it matters to that one”. There is so much goodness in the world, and usually you don’t have to look very far to see it. But its there because of small gestures of kindness. Its there because people start small trying to make a difference. The easiest thing would be to do nothing, but that doesn’t feel very Canadian at all. That’s not who we are, that’s not who I want my children to be.
So in closing my message to you is simple…” look for a starfish” and make a difference in your life and those around you. Evil flourishes when good people do nothing.