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Thursday, 2 March 2017

The Dark Days of Winter

It is winter here in Toronto, the skies are grey more often than not. And my mood is the same. I don't understand the Trump phenomena across the border. I don't understand the shooting of six men praying at a mosque in Quebec City.
What I do understand is that when times are hard, people look for scapegoats, and settle upon easy targets. I do understand that in today's world the targets are people that look like me and my kids. People with brown skin tones and Jewish and Muslim-sounding names. And I worry, not for myself, but for my children.
The world is large and I thought that my husband and I had found a safe place to raise our family. I, often, visualized my children's futures and the advantages they have growing up here. Now, I wonder if there is any safe place left on our planet and I wonder what happened.
Two years back in Turkey, I saw a Syrian couple with very young children sitting on the street and for as long as I live, I know I will never forget the despair I saw in their eyes.
I saw that look again, in Pakistan, two months back, on the faces of little kids standing on the wayside with their hands stretched out as we drove past.
When some of us have so much and some so little, there will be fear. Fear that the have-nots might arrive at our doorsteps demanding more of us. Better to build walls to keep such folk as far away as possible. I can understand this fear.
On your TV screen, one day, you see a couple of brown men do some terrible things and so now all brown people fill you with fear.
I have seen fear up close. I recognize that smell. It's fear that makes people do awful things. It's fear that turns away ships at the harbour, condemning the people on board to death. We have seen it before; Jews, Chinese, Sikhs, the Irish, all turned away because of fear. It's fear that raises walls, installs concertina fences, and hires guards. Fear that propels people to hide love in their hearts in order to protect themselves from rejection. Fear that stops you from reaching out to hold that hand. Fear that holds you back from expressing geninue emotion. Fear that keeps you from taking that leap. It's fear of the fall that keeps you from flying. And fear of the other that keeps you from making a new friend. We all know fear. We all recognize it in ourselves. But that is not enough. We must all banish our fears. We must step out on that ledge and take that leap. Instead of making the wall higher, tear it down, and try sharing your good fortune instead.