The world feels broken this week. Stories of ISIS have filtered in through my consciousness over the last few years, but have been starkly focused this week. While some have noted the growing attacks and bloodshed that ISIS and its members have wrought, when Paris was attacked in a concerted and organized fashion last Friday, the world was galvanized. Everywhere people cloaked themselves, and our national monuments, in the blue, white and red of the French flag. Collectively the Western world spoke.
Something needs to be done.
As I listened to reports of the horrific attacks on civilians in the City of Lights, I was horrified, but reading more about it this week leaves me chilled. This didn’t just start on Friday night. And it involves so much more than the French people. The militants who attacked Paris were part of a concerted effort to strike against democracy, but in part we in the West have trained them, armed them and created the chaos which now threatens our very ideals and way of life.
I do not claim to fully understand all that is going on. Syria is a country torn apart by bloodshed, conflict and fighting on a scale that breathes World War III in its magnitude. Refugees have been fleeing their homeland for months and nations around the world have struggled to find a home for them. Here in Canada, many have landed and more are set to arrive before the year is out. Despite (or maybe even more so because of) the events of November 13th, Justin Trudeau is adamant that we will open our borders to another 25,000 souls by January 1st.
While I know that scares some (for fear of letting terrorists into our midst), I also know a family in my own community who has found shelter here. With five young children in tow, a man and his wife arrived in our community in March. The children had little to no english language skills. Previous schooling for the children was again limited or non-existent. And yet these children are some of the happiest individuals I have had the privilege of meeting. They have smiles for everyone, even when they don’t always necessarily understand what is going on around them. Perhaps they are happy that they are away from the constant and imminent threat of violence which fills their homeland. And that they are given opportunities to learn and better themselves, with access to clean water, food and shelter.
I cannot imagine living like that. I am thankful and proud to live in Canada and have the freedom of education, religion and rights. I love that as a nation we can open our doors to those who have none and give them a helping hand to get back on their feet again. There may be some less desirable individuals whom it would be better not to let into our borders, but I pray that we can be fair in the process and diligent in our security. It terrifies me for those who choose to kill in the name of ideals or take their own lives to harm others, but ultimately, living in a state of fear is not the answer. If that is what these acts are meant to convey, then they have won that battle, but I hope that a sense of strength and decency prevails.
Today, I pray for Syria, France, and the world, that we may stop the bloodshed and find the will to live again. Our differences should not tear us apart, but rather make us stronger as a world united.