So much has been written about the terrors of last week, but I could not let it go by without throwing in my two cents worth. This is my weekly column:
By all rights this is supposed to be my Halloween column, but with the events of last week it seems kind of superficial to complain about the eve of All Saints’ Day. Instead I am going to devote a little space to the following quote, which if true, is heartening. The founder of Craigs List, Craig Newmark said this:
“What surprises me, in a way, is how almost universally people are trustworthy
and good. There are problems, and sometimes people bicker, which is a pain
in the ass, but people are good. No matter what your religious background,
we share pretty much the same values. There are some minor differences
that we disagree on, but the differences are at the 5 percent level. That’s
The differences, he says, are at the 5 per cent level. If so, why do our differences sometimes seem at the 90% level? So much has been written about the loss of two of our most brave, killed because of the proud uniforms they wore. Some have tried to put it in perspective, giving us facts and figures about the number of people who die in a day, and what they die from—but this is not the time to put death into perspective. I think that one life, and in this case two lives, are more than worthy of our united mourning. And what happened tragically to those men and others who were hurt and wounded is worth our time. No death should be a statistic.
We have come together as one people. In no way should we thank the terrorists for bringing us together but if they have done nothing else, they have proven that “they” cannot make us afraid; “they” cannot make us cower; nor can “they” take away our trust. We did pause though to recognize that there is evil in the world. There is no other explanation for some of the things that happen. But we must believe that there is much more good in the world than evil.
I sat in my red chair in the corner of my living room on Wednesday transfixed by the horror of the day. I saw the madman and his gun; I saw brave people trying to revive the soldier he shot in the back with no care about their own safety; I saw the mayhem in the halls of Parliament; I saw the Sergeant at Arms walking down the hallway, carrying the gun that killed the madman; I heard the stories of the people sequestered in lockdown (in fact two of my nieces were in lockdown—one at the Courthouse, one at City Hall) and I could not leave these people. Somehow I felt if I watched I could come to some understanding. That did not happen.
There is no understanding evil.
But if we believe Craig Newmark when he says that “almost universally people are trustworthy and good”, then the madman did not do his job last Wednesday. Nor did the madman of Monday’s premeditated hit and run. These two evil-doers did not take away our faith in people. They did not cancel our belief in goodness. And if you have any doubt of this—remember the unarmed guard in the Parliament building trying to stop the gunmen, putting his own life at risk for others; remember the hugs in the House of Commons; remember the trip down 401 to Hamilton with people lining the road to honour the fallen Corporal, fondly referred to as “Canada’s son”; remember how very seriously we are all affected by this. There have been so many ways that people have expressed their sorrow and honoured the fine men whose lives were taken. They are not a statistic. And we are not treating them as such.
In the 18th century, Irish political philosopher Edmund Burke said it best: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Of course I would make the quote more inclusive by adding women—and if you looked closely at the people who were tending to Cpl. Nathan Cirillo you will see there were men and women. Doing everything they could to save this man’s life and comforting him with the most important knowledge of all—that he was loved. And love is what ultimately conquers evil.
(Thanks again to David for the inspiration)