I have a blog on Nice that I was going to upload, but somehow that doesn’t seem appropriate today. I hope you’ll read what I have to say below, because it’s far more important than most of the tongue-in-cheek missives I’ve written until now.
Today was a horrible day for Belgium. Two bombs at the Brussels airport and another at a metro station have left at least 30 dead, with scores more injured.
I have a strong connection to Belgium. I lived there for a year after high school and I have people that I think about and worry about who live there.
We are in the south of France, just a stone’s throw away from today’s tragedy. We plan to be in Brussels in June because it’s a beautiful city, and I want my children to visit.
We will also be at the airport where today’s bombs ripped through to drop off the car that we have leased.
What do today’s bombs mean for a democratic society? Everything and nothing.
Everything because if we let terror take over our hearts, the terrorists win.
Nothing because nothing in our day-to-day life really changes. Nothing should change. Nothing must change.
There are those who will point to the heritage of the bombers and cite that as the reason for the blasts. They will say that their heritage is something to fear, and that we should see everyone of the same heritage as some kind of threat.
But does this reaction not suppress our humanity? Does this not usher us into a world of fear where we point fingers and see everyone as a threat?
If heritage is the cause of terrorism, why do we have a white kid from Calgary recruited to fight for ISIS? Why do we have middle class kids of Greek and Asian heritage from Ontario taking part in an attack in Algeria?
The answer lies much deeper than heritage.
Parents have worried throughout the decades about cults like the Moonies in the 70s, drugs in the 80s, and video games in the 21st century. Today parents need to worry about recruitment into groups like ISIS, because it’s another way that disaffected youth can be lead down the wrong path.
A gang is a gang is a gang. It doesn’t matter what language they speak, what colours they wear, what guns they carry, or where in the world they are situated. Gangs speak to youth (regardless of socio economic status, education, or heritage) who are disaffected and don’t feel like they belong.
Our response to the situation? Don’t let the haters use this event to fuel their hatred. Don’t let the haters convince us that we need to give up our liberties. Don’t let the haters destroy our world for their gain, because then the terrorists win.
Our response to the situation should be to reach out. Smile at the woman wearing a hijab so that she knows she is safe. Let that lonely brown kid know that he is welcome. Speak up when friends start making comments that lead down a racist path. Understand that refugees are fleeing the same kinds of people that we are afraid of.
And most important of all, be kind.
Thank you for reading this.