Like many people, I follow a number of forums and blogs as well as Twitter feeds. They are often entertaining and I usually learn some things along the way. In the last few weeks I have been following discourse on some American hot-button issues: gun control, profiling and emergency immigration. I am both enthralled and appalled by the conversations. I equate it to passing the scene of a car accident—you know you shouldn't gawk, but you can't look away.
Politics can be polarizing and it has never been more evident to me than it has been in these online threads. Some folks, when they cannot convince others to concur with their opinions, have resorted to petty statements and personal jabs that fall just shy of getting the boot from moderators. These are folks who are well-spoken, well-rounded and, no doubt, good people. Most of them are Americans banging heads with one another. Now, that's gotta hurt.
As I watch American political candidates grandstanding, listen to the horrific news of mass shootings and police brutality, and then see how it trickles down and plays out on such a personal level in these online venues, I can't help but reflect upon my own country and my own beliefs. And, for the record, I am not looking to present a case or woo the masses. I am merely sharing my thoughts. Feel free to walk away at any time. It's easy. There's a little x in the top corner that works magic at making things disappear. With that out of the way, let me share my immediate thought: I am so fortunate be a Canadian.
Make no mistake, I am not claiming I live in a perfect country. Since it is run, and populated, by humans, I doubt I'll ever be able to make that extraordinary declaration. We too have problems, not the least being our inability to address head on the abuse and murder of indigenous women, our total disregard for mother nature as we continue to support things like the tar sands or grant corporations permission to dump toxic soil near life-sustaining lakes, and the existence of corruption at all levels of government—ranging from Senate scandals down to misuse of funds at the municipal level.
But, there has been a shift. It is small, but a tree grows from a seed; I am filled with hope and optimism for my country. Conversation is once again flowing between our premiers and our prime minister. I don't know if good things will come from this renewed approach, but I know for certain we cannot have cohesion or shared goals when there is no dialogue across our nation.
Much of the dissension, in the social media I follow, stems from the fear ignited by recent terrorist attacks. I acknowledge that fear, for it is substantial and it is real. One cannot un-feel it once it has dug into one's psyche. It is unfortunate that the media encourages it, nourishes it with every news story on refugees. They show images of the flood of people fleeing now, as if they will be the folks who fall over the threshold when we open our doors. This amplifies the anxiety that haunts the best of us: What if there are hidden terrorists seeking an opportunity to wreak more havoc? In truth, the folks who will arrive over the next month or so were vetted long before the terrible events in Paris and elsewhere. It is an incredibly long arduous process and there are much easier ways to get into our country to do harm—if that is someone's agenda. And those desperate souls you see in the news? If they are lucky, they will take our new immigrants' places in the camps and await their turn.
We have slowed the process a wee bit and I think that is wise. It gives Canadians a chance to digest how it is done, to thoroughly understand it so that we don't fear it, and it also allows us a little more time to prepare a warm welcome. For that is what these people need. It is what we all need. A safe place to call home.
I am proud that we are open to new people, that we feel compelled to help out to those who are in need and that we will not demand they shed their heritage at our shoreline. We are a mosaic. A beautiful colourful work of art that glows brightly from sea to sea.