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Human Conflict - Issue of Radicalization - Oct. 22, 2014 Comment

Many news items today, Wed. Oct. 22, 2014, suggested that today is a turning point of some kind for Canada, since it is the day when a person (unknown if acting alone at this moment) killed a solider guarding the National War Memorial, then entered Canada’s Parliament buildings, gun in hand, where he was eventually killed.   This occurred two days after  someone attacked two soldiers in Quebec.

For the family of the soldier killed on duty or the soldier killed on Monday, it was the worst type of turning point - someone dearly loved is now gone.  Our hearts go out to the families and friends.  

I would like to add a different note of sympathy for the family of Monday’s perpetrator (we don’t yet know the background of today’s killer). While I can’t fathom the grief of having a son innocently killed, what would it feel like to helplessly watch or learn that your child has become radicalized to the extent that you no longer recognize them, having joined a barbaric jihadist group, and having killed on that basis?

Regarding the rest of Canada I hope we will not let events shape the nature of the “turning point.”  Rather I hope we will carefully determine ourselves the significance of these events.  I hope partly that there will be no change, that we will not allow others to define us, but will maintain  a steadfast resolve in our attempts to build a more decent life for all; that we will continue to uphold such values as community, compassion, fairness and freedom.

Some things may need to change, whether the levels of security in highly-sensitive public spaces or the thorny issue of how to reduce the radicalization of youth. May all our political leaders choose wisely.

As a community grounded in love, may we remain steadfast in our belief in the worth of all persons.  May we continue to seek ways to include all people, so no one feels marginalized.  And may we offer vocal and visible support to the Muslim community as it again feels the glare of the media.  Much of this radicalization occurs online, out of the reach of such communities.  May we all stand together as we seek ways to address root causes, strengthen all reasonable voices and help dissolve the hateful distortive voices.

Rod Downing,  Chair, Canadian Peace / Justice Committee