In a blink of an eye we all changed.
In a moment our country shifted to a space where things will never be the same.
Usually change is hard, we resist, but there are rare instances when change is thrust upon us and we’re just along for the ride. We cannot chose to ignore this change.
October 22nd, 2014, was one of those rare moments in our history that defines us and will continue to define us in the weeks and years to follow. Fundamentally our identity has been challenged, and we must approach this challenge with a posture that seeks to leave us better off, not worse.
The intent behind that day’s crime will be questioned. At this early stage the primary purpose doesn’t seem to be a direct attack on our national ideals. Nonetheless, whether that was the purpose or not, what identity we hold dear in an age of ‘terror’ is a question we have to ask. Our response needs to be uniquely Canadian.
The same kind of attack on American soil would have been told through the lens of terrorism leveraged to fuel a continued ‘war on terror’. The coverage by American media of October 22nd was a testament to how culturally different we are. Fear and sensationalism are routine in American coverage. Canadians take a more balanced and nuanced approach.
There’s no doubt Canada was never, and is not, immune to the possibility of religious extremism. How we respond to extremism the threat, however, requires a uniquely Canadian response. When the very heart of our country, both symbolically and literally, is attacked, we need to approach a response to highlight how we’re different.
Do we fight fire with fire? An eye for an eye? Do we ‘turn the other cheek’? Do we sacrifice our rights and freedoms at the expense of the perceived benefit of increased safety? There are a myriad of solutions and the predominant ones can be clearly seen when the different political parties make statements. One opts for increased legislation to fight terror, tougher penalties, more policing, militaristic intervention. The other stops short of using the word terrorism, highlights Canadian cultural values like our resolve, our pursuit of peace, and value for diversity.
Who’s right and who’s wrong?
The answer is, ‘yes’.
Yes to both, and people of faith can stand behind both and stand against both (albeit pursuits of diversity, peace, and love, are certainly Christian values.)
The government is the government and will act as such. There will invariably be some kind of response that uses, and perhaps requires, force. Does that contradict how Jesus would respond? Probably. But Jesus also considers the state acts as the state. The body that is held to be a glimpse of something better is the church.
Responding to terrorism abroad through force increases the fracturing of radicalized splinter groups and inevitably leads to even more radicalized groups in the future. We can’t change the ideals of another, but we can change ourselves. We can balance the ebb and flow of our own response, albeit in a new way, for the things we hold dear.
Specifically, the church holds a hope that does not waver. The pursuit for an age of love, justice, and beauty. These are unchanging and worth turning the other cheek for.
The nation also has values: democracy, peace, rights, diversity. These are unchanging and worth fighting for.
The way we fight for them has now, however, changed. What we need to balance with the shock is a resolute approach to say,
“Canada has changed and we need to change too, but that can’t come at great cost of losing the things we hold dear.”
Photo credit to its creator Bruce McKinnon.