Dear Pope Francis,
My reading week just wrapped up, and usually it’s an uneventful week, filled with school work and sleep. But not this time.
In the space of three days, Canada experienced the death of two men serving their country in separate attacks, one in Quebec and the other on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario. We’ve also seen a surge of anti-Muslim hate, including a Mosque being vandalised in Alberta. And I really wish that I could say that I’m surprised and shocked. – but I’m not. I am sad and confused, but not shocked. It really was a matter of time until the terror came close to home.
This is not to say that Canadians deserved what happened or to belittle the heroes of the events. But, it is to point out that we have a natural tendency to assume that no one will hurt us. We’re Canadian, everyone loves us; we’re the peacekeepers, the friendly people. This was the basic message everyone gave me after the events of 9/11; those kinds of things happen in America, but no one will come and hurt us.
I’ve spent the days since the attack on Parliament Hill thinking about all the different ways that someone with malicious intent could cripple Toronto, and how that would impact so many millions of people. These thoughts haven’t stopped me from going about my daily life, but it’s sobering to hear announcements on the subway asking passengers to report suspicious activity to the authorities.
Naively, I wish there were simple answers to the hate that fueled these attacks and that moving on was a matter of deciding to do so. Unfortunately, it’s not. It’s a process of accepting the reality that the world of today is different than the world of yesterday. Lives have been lost, horrible things have happened, but the world continues to turn. The challenge of living in the aftermath is how we can continue to live our lives without forgetting the past; how can we honour those events and heroes by the very lives we live?
While, this is true in Canada right now, this is the ongoing challenge issued after every tragedy.