Look to yourself to heal wounds from terror
With attacks like in Edmonton on Saturday, the best way to move forward is as one, but that has to be more than just inactive words and platitudes. Postmedia Network
If we are still looking to our government leaders for answers to terrorism we are looking in the wrong direction.
If they have proven anything in the last 20 years is that they know how to deter extremism as well as you or I. They may be better prepared to actually stop organized acts — in Canada our police and other security officials do a damn good job considering we have been on a hit list since 9/11 — but in actually changing minds and attitudes I cannot say they have been very successful.
The reality is, the disenfranchised and the lone wolves will never completely go away. With the climate of extreme polarization we have today, no middle ground, and a heightened with-us-or-against-us attitude it will only get worse.
To be clear, what happened in Edmonton on Saturday and what happened in Las Vegas on Sunday night are both blatant examples of terrorism. It matters not what someone’s ethnic background or pure intent was, if they were doing it for religious extremist reasons, because they were pissed off at the government, if they were mentally ill, organized by a cell, or acting on their own. I do not care if the local authorities have called what happened an act of terrorism — as they have in Edmonton — or not — as is the case in Vegas as of Monday night.
We have to look at why these types of things keep happening and at a greater rate than they have before, especially on this side of the 49th parallel.
It’s not to lay blame, but to learn how to heal as a community and to move forward.
We like to talk about unity and rallying around one another, especially when times are tough or in the face of a crisis.
This is absolutely important. But days later, a week later, a month later – eventually those intentions are replaced by whatever it was that caused division in the first place.
We hear the platitudes from just about every politician out there about how we are one, how these lone wolves do not represent us, they will not divide us, and that we must stop this evil.
But then what?
After the candles have been snuffed, after the bodies laid to rest or the survivors have left the hospitals, almost nothing ever happens. Until the next attack.
Rinse and repeat.
To heal does not mean to just go back to the way things were. We are where we are now because of the division in our society that festered below the façade. In our own little bubbles it was easy to believe that if everything wasn’t perfect we at least had it pretty good. And often this was the case. The problem was where the utopia did not exist in a neat little package, and all too often left greatly ignored until the wrong groups crept into the cracks or they lashed out desperately.
I am a Christian, and I promise not to sermonize in here too often or quote scripture. So please grant me this exception. Regardless of what you do or do not believe, this is a good message for everyone. Throughout the gospel Christ tells those who follow him to love their enemies, but he never breaks it down quite like he does in the Sermon on the Mount from Matthew 5:43-48 — the last couple of verses get to the heart of it.
“If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
In other words, get out of your bubble. Do not let the fact that others are different from you or believe different things or love different people stop you from reaching out to them. We all have a different way through life. It is rarely as rosy for your neighbour as it may be for you. And if you’re on a bad trajectory keep in mind your neighbour who is falling harder.
There are things we can do for each other that do not require money, much time, government or religious intervention. And you certainly do not have to go to a foreign country to make an impact when your own community is hurting.
Waiting for others to do something means opportunities will be missed.
And inactive words, thoughts and prayers do not begin to get the job done.