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KERNELS OF WISDOM: Where there is hatred....

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Hatred shows its ugly face again and again, day by day, across our world, in our country, and in our communities. Sometimes it is muted but often, driven by venomous intent, it acts and leaves behind it complete and utter devastation.

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I’m writing these words in the aftermath of the tragic mass murder in London, Ont., on Sunday, June 6.

On the evening of that day a 74-year-old woman, a 46-year-old man, a 44-year-old woman, and a 15-year-old girl, all of the Muslim faith, were targeted and mercilessly and intentionally mowed down by some demonically inspired maniac in a pickup truck. The sole survivor of this outrageous act of Islamophobia was a nine-year-old boy, now hospitalized with serious injuries.

London Mayor Ed Holder said, “Words fail on a day as dark as this,” and went on to say, “This was an act of mass murder perpetrated against Muslims … and rooted in unspeakable hatred.”

It only seems like yesterday, but it was actually more than four years ago and on a Sunday too, around eight o’clock, when Alexandre Bissonette, 27, entered an Islamic mosque in Quebec City and with his semi-automatic rifle and handgun, embarked on a devilish killing spree. When the bloodletting was over, six dead bodies lay on the floor of the Islamic mosque, with as many injured.

Nadia Hasan, the chief operating officer of The National Council of Muslims has said in relation to Sunday’s event, that for some time now the Muslim community has been feeling unsafe and this latest atrocity will only serve to intensify these pre-existing inner fears.

It is tragic isn’t it, that such a religious group as Canadian Muslims should have such anxiety and uneasiness about celebrating their faith here in our country, after all, our Canadian Charter of Human Rights And Freedoms guarantees in Part 1, Section 7, that “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person, and the right not to be deprived thereof ….” But let’s be perfectly honest and realistic, there are so many people out there in our society whose attitudes towards others who are different from them ethnically, racially, or religiously, that are fueled by hatred. And those attitudes in our society don’t appear to be on the downturn. In fact from my perception, there’s a visible and significant increase in them. The question is what can be done about it?

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First of all, all of us must speak up and do something about this abominable evil. Neither silence nor inaction is an option. It was Edmund Burke who made the famous oft-quoted statement, “Evil exists when good men (and women) do nothing.” I have Muslim friends that I dearly love. Religiously we differ, but all of them in my sphere of acquaintance are making significant contributions to making Canada a better place. To remain silent at this hour in Canada would be for me a betrayal of their friendship. I, and we, must speak up.

Secondly, it is imperative that I learn not to fight fire with fire. You cannot conquer hate with hate. It is only love that can conquer hate! It was the great Roman Catholic St. Francis of Assisi who once said as a prayer to the Lord, “Make me a channel of your peace.” He went on to pray, “Where there is hatred let me bring your love.” As a Christian I am mandated by my faith and by my Bible to walk in love before all in the generation in which I live. Says the Apostle Paul, “Be imitators of God, and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us ….”(The Bible, Ephesians 5:1) The only thing that can change our world, a world soiled and tarnished with hate, is love.

Dear friend, in the aftermath of the London, Ontario tragedy, can I challenge you to love as you’ve never loved before, and in your daily contact with Canadian men and women, whatever their race, religion or ethnicity … love, love, love!

Richard Clarke of London walked to the front of the London Muslim Mosque on Tuesday, June 8, 2021 to place flowers for the family of Salman Afzaal. “From our family to theirs,” Clarke said. Afzaal, his wife Madiha Salman, mother and daughter Yumna died Sunday after they were struck by pickup truck while walking in what police say was a targeted act because they were Muslims. Afzaal’s son Fayez was injured. (Mike Hensen/The London Free Press)
Richard Clarke of London walked to the front of the London Muslim Mosque on Tuesday, June 8, 2021 to place flowers for the family of Salman Afzaal. “From our family to theirs,” Clarke said. Afzaal, his wife Madiha Salman, mother and daughter Yumna died Sunday after they were struck by pickup truck while walking in what police say was a targeted act because they were Muslims. Afzaal’s son Fayez was injured. (Mike Hensen/The London Free Press)

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