Don’t let the forces of hatred pull our nation apart

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These past few weeks have seen a well-organized and passionate group of people descend on our nation’s capital to protest all things COVID—and many who support that message have provided money and logistical support to the efforts of the Freedom Convoy. Most Canadians can sympathize with the frustration being expressed by those who occupied Ottawa over the past three weeks, but the vast majority also contend that the occupiers have taken things too far.

Some far-right and extremist groups have tacked onto the protest movement since it began as a reaction to the removal of the exemption from pandemic restrictions on truckers crossing the border into the US and are seeking to hitch their respective wagons to the cause. That has left those with legitimate concerns about the pandemic health mandates scrambling to distance themselves from those odious elements—and rightly so. Sadly, most of the main organizers of the Freedom Convoy have engaged in racist and hateful expressions in the past that have made any denials ring hollow in too many ears.

We are a nation founded upon the concepts of peace, order and good government. A nation that arose in the shadow of the events of the American Civil War and whose design was crafted by our founding fathers with an eye to preventing such horror from arising within our own borders.

Since then we have been largely successful in maintaining that founding vision, despite the incredible centrifugal forces of geography, culture and economics pulling us apart. Canada is truly a miracle of human endeavour, despite our many failings—particularly when it comes to our relationship with the First Nations.

The events of the recent past, and those most likely to continue well onto the future, have held a mirror up to some of our less desirable traits. The Black Lives Matter movement has sought to illuminate systemic racism lingering in our society; the #MeToo movement has ripped the cover off of the male-privilege that has allowed exploitation and abuse of women at all levels of society by those with power; the Idle No More movement has highlighted many of the inequities and injustices perpetrated upon the Indigenous original inhabitants of the lands upon which our nation stands; the Every Child Matters movement has brought home many of the horrors of an attempted genocide too many of us continue to try and deny—the list goes on.

But what sets our nation apart, what makes Canada different, is that the majority of Canadians are trying to come to terms with those atrocities. We are trying to make amends for the injustices of the past and to remove the injustices of the present. 

It isn’t an easy job—but it is one well worth doing, both for our own sakes, the sake of future generations, and yes, the future of the world. Those founding principles—peace order and good government—are the building blocks of a just and civil society and critical to all of us.

The white supremacists are right about one thing. The days of supremacy and privilege of the white race are coming to an end. For many generations, white Europeans (and yes that includes the Irish, the Italians and the eastern Europeans who have all been discriminated against in their turns in this country) have been in the majority. But that world is changing, our nation is changing—and that is where the white supremacists and Nazi sympathizers are dead wrong, because that change will be a good thing for our nation.

In order for our future to be one of peace, order and good government, a true just and civil society, we must strive to remove the levers of privilege that the white majority have benefited (consciously or unconsciously) from—that systemic racism to which white eyes are so blind they cannot see. Further, we must reach out to each other to build bridges of reconciliation and to find common ground upon which to stand and build our nation into something that humanity can be proud of, a nation humanity can look to as an example of what can and should be. To do that we must shake off the shackles of empire that still bind us to the injustices of the past and forge our own destiny.

We have seen the alternatives in two global conflicts and the inhumanity to our fellow human beings in the holocaust. Six million Jews were killed in that attempt to create a white privileged world, along with Christians, Romany, LGBTQ+, disabled and Slavs. Let us not walk down such a path again.

A just and civil society destiny does not require communism, capitalism or fascism, but it does require humanism.

So, no matter where you stand on recent events that have rocked our nations, reach out to your neighbour, your family, your enemy and start building those bridges. Do it like your world depends on it—because in the end it does.