More than 14 years after 9/11, the world has united once again with displays of red, white and blue. This time, the colours belong to the flag of France and the support comes in the wake of orchestrated attacks last week in Paris that left at least 129 people dead and more than 350 injured.
Facebook profile photos are being filtered with France’s flag. The hashtag #PrayForParis has been trending for days. Graphic designer Jean Jullien’s Paris peace image (opposite page, bottom right) was shared by many on Instagram. People have been expressing their shock, disbelief, grief, anger and outrage on every social media platform available. Our hearts are with them – broken by so much unspeakable violence in a city that in some ways, feels like our closest European neighbor.
ISIS has claimed responsibility for the massacre, which left at least seven attackers among those dead, and which has added politically and racially charged fuel to an already raging fire.
And with the outrage, comes a desperation to vilify and a panicked need to channel the anger that accompanies coping with tragedy. Shamefully, along with desperation and anger have come despicable displays of racism and intolerance in our country.
This is not the Canada we know, not the country that we are fiercely proud to live in, and certainly not in line with the values of tolerance and acceptance for which we stand.
These have seemed like brash, aggressive and impulsive acts based on intense feelings of anger and fear. From a mosque burned down in Peterborough to a Muslim mother attacked in Brampton and reports of racist graffiti across the country – this is a Canada we do not recognize.
In this country, too many of our neighbors are succumbing to fear mongering and racism, hurling anti-Muslim sentiments and expressing their opposition to accepting refugees. We cannot follow suit in time of worry. We have to stand together as a community and nation.
We do not close our door to our global neighbors in need. We are not the 27th U.S. state now officially opposed to accepting refugees. This is not the Canada we know.
The Canada we know is liberal, welcoming, forgiving, tolerant. These values are at odds with ISIS and are more crucial than ever.
We have faith in our country because we know the good in people far outweighs the bad, like those Canadians who responded to the mosque attack in Peterborough with a crowdfunding effort that’s already surpassed its goal.
The decency of Canadian people is an example that the world needs now more than ever. We must show our trust, faith and love for others now more than ever. We must share these feelings and show people how to come together in a time of such tragedy. We must show why Canada can be looked at for guidance and safety in these awful times.
Violence begets more violence but the same is true of love. It may sound cliché, it may sound naïve, but the world needs more love.
We need to be teaching it, embodying it, preaching it and Canada must lead by example.