Monday, 23 November 2015

No Room for Hatred

In Lewis Carroll's book Alice's Adventures Through the Looking Glass, the character of the Red Queen says at one point: "It isn't etiquette to cut any one you've been introduced to" after making a point of introducing Alice to a leg of mutton and immediately having it removed before it can be served.  This scene has been interpreted as a being parody of stiff Victorian manners.

However I've always seen it as a metaphor for not judging people you barely know.  "Don't judge a man until you've walked a mile in his shoes" as the saying goes.  A person's situation is unique to them and is the basis for their behaviour, so if you don't know why they're behaving the way they are, don't criticize.

Those people of ISIL in Syria and Iraq?  We don't truly know exactly why they're doing what they're doing.  We can make educated guesses based on the actions we've seen and the videos they post online that show us the posturing and the executions.  But we can't get into their heads.  What's clear is that they hate us for their own reasons.

A few days ago there was a letter published to the media by Antoine Leiris, whose wife was killed by the terrorists in Paris.  In the letter he says "I will not give you the gift of hating you.  Responding to hatred with anger would be to give in to the same ignorance that has made you what you are ... You lost."

Those strong words are what the world needs to hear.  Hating someone only eats away at you and causes more suffering.  Acts of evil must be met and countered, but using anger and hatred to do so does nobody any good in the long run.

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Double Edged Sword

Two friends of mine have differing viewpoints on the refugee crisis, but both are valid.

Friend 1. "Why do people find it so hard to understand that the refugees aren't fleeing their homeland to destroy ours?  They are terrified for their own lives and the lives of their families!  Yes, there's a SMALL chance that there might be terrorists among the families.  There's also a small chance you might be attacked by a shark when you go swimming in the ocean.  In fact, the odds are better for a shark attack than a terrorist attack. ... Would you find yet another excuse to turn them away?  The really sad thing is that the people I see posting [hatred] claim to be Christian!  You CLAIM to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ, yet you are doing the exact OPPOSITE of what He would do! ... Why don't we help them because it's the RIGHT THING TO DO?"

Friend 2. "Do you know how many homeless Canadians are sleeping on the ground out in this cold tonight?  How many Canadian children went to bed without dinner tonight? ... My heart bleeds for others, but we have too many in need in our own yard.  My husband's tax money should be feeding his own children, not someone else's.  He works his ass off every day, and yet we are the working poor, being taxed until we might end up homeless too.  How can [Canadians] take care of others if we are unable to care for ourselves?  Are we not setting ourselves up for failure?  How many immigrants were brought here under promises of a better life only to find themselves, also, in despair?  Doctors, nurses, and engineers who were successful in their countries, told that they'd have a job here, who are now taxi drivers, cashiers, and call center agents.  Despite the political rhetoric, we won't do them any favours."

Like Friend #1 I would open my home to a refugee family if I were able.  Like Friend #2 I find it ludicrous to bring skilled people here only to have them unable to work in their fields because of all the bureaucratic red tape they must navigate.

But let's take a closer look.  The people who come here are highly motivated.  They want a safe place for themselves and their families; they will work hard at whatever they can get, and will do jobs that few others will deign to do, to achieve that security.  Anything is better than living in fear and hoping the next bomb doesn't destroy their home.

As far as "stealing jobs", see the above paragraph.  Many young people now, particularly those in college, believe that piece of paper their degree is printed on is a guarantee for getting a job.  Tell you what, grasshoppers, the world owes you nothing.  You have to work to get what you want, even if it means making sandwiches or delivering papers (I did both to put myself through post-secondary education).

If you have a roof over your head, food to eat, and a few friends to hang out with, that's true security.  Nobody should take that for granted.  Look at what those refugees went through and ask yourself what you would do if you faced the same thing.

Friday, 13 November 2015


"Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering." - Yoda

This evening, several venues in Paris were attacked by what at first appeared to be a cell of Islamic extremists that might or might not have been affiliated with ISIL.  Nobody knows yet.  All that is known is that over 150 people are dead after at least five heavily armed, black-clad men suddenly yelled "Allahu akbar" (God is great) and opened fire.

As the journalists, commentators, and experts discuss what happened and what the reason might be for this senseless tragedy, a great many people on social media are saying that Western countries should reconsider taking in refugees from Syria because of possible ISIL infiltrators.

Just a moment here.  Is it really the proper time to bring up that subject?  And are people really so frightened that they are willing to turn away thousands on the slim chance that a few might cause trouble?  Look, if ISIL really wanted to secretly infiltrate a country, they would have done so already.  Not to mention there are an unknown number of potential "homegrown terrorists" who haven't acted yet.  Being afraid of the mere possibility serves no purpose.  All that does is create more fear and anger toward immigrants, Muslims in particular.

Some people have called me naive for expressing this viewpoint.  Others have said that my response is a typical liberal choice to only discuss lightning rod issues when it serves a liberal narrative.


The Syrian refugees are fleeing war.  They've lost their homes, and in many cases their loved ones, to terrorists.  They want to stay in their country but they simply can't.  Right now the closest place for them to go is Europe, which is rapidly being overwhelmed.  The U.S. and Canada are big places with good opportunities, so it makes sense to invite some of them here.

"But we already have unsustainable immigration!" some people are shouting.  "A few bad apples spoil the bunch!"

You know the 1939 invasion of Poland by Germany and Russia, the one that started World War II?  Something similar happened.  Only many other countries closed their borders to refugees, specifically to those who were Jewish.  Millions of people died.  Do you really want that to happen again?

Don't tell me "This isn't the same thing".  It all boils down to fear.  And unreasonable fear at that.

I have a friend who is Muslim.  She wears a hijab and believes in the Prophet's teachings.  She has been called names, had water thrown at her, and worse.  And yet she's one of the kindest and most soft-spoken people I know; all she wants is to live peacefully.  By all reports so far, the people from Syria simply want the same.

Those other people who put on flak vests and pick up guns in order to kill innocents are not true Muslims.  Period.  Learn to tell the difference.