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Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The role of ordinary people

Joyce Sasse, Comment

   The response of many to recent terrorist activities in France reveals how fragile our spiritual resolve can be. The compassion evoked by a refugee child’s body on a Mediterranean beach becomes chilled by fear, and all our good intentions can become immobilized.

   We call for our Government to declare war against ISIS. We demand instant changes to the Refugee Emergency Response plans. Our fear over the possibility a terrorist might arrive on our shores releases racist anger against Muslims.

   Is that truly what we aspire to be?


   Those who long to do better often feel overwhelmed and silenced because of the negativity of others around them. Better that this be the time we use our cell phones and newspapers and phone-ins to show the positive things we believe, and how we really would like to help.

   Violence begets violence. War begets war, which leads to creating more enemies and causing more suffering. We can encourage each other to look for better ways to move forward. We have a great opportunity for ordinary people to find ways to respond to the threats of our time – not with fear and the need to extract revenge but with positive alternatives. We need to help each other realize that the extremist ISIS group is not equated with Muslim.

   It is good to ask questions about screening, about capacity for handling the numbers of people involved, and about the practicalities of settlement. But we need, also, to listen for the answers given by those in charge of proposed settlement endeavours.

   We need to recognize, too, the many ways these newcomers can be seen to be an asset to our country (and not a threat).

   Might we even think of this as an infrastructure-building endeavour to help our country expand our future tax and pension base?

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