Over the past few months, I’ve felt uneasy and worried when a fear mongering narcissistic demagogue was elected to the highest office in the American political landscape. Those fears and worries only intensified as he was formally sworn into office on January 20th. And in the 10 days since he’s been in office, I’ve been beside myself wondering each morning what new horror, what new wild proclamation, what new attack I’d read about in the news.
On Friday, with news of the executive order purporting to provide security to the American people while banning refugees from entering the States, my stomach and heart sank. I sat in disbelief as I read my news feed with stories of people, fleeing persecution and war, detained and handcuffed because of where they came from and what religion they practiced.
And then last night I returned home from a night at the movies with some friends to learn of the terrorist attack in Quebec, and the senseless loss of life. Six men shot to death and several others wounded during evening prayers simply because they were Muslim.
That the two are related I have no doubt, because our words matter. Because words of hate and anger are insidious and cancerous and pervert the actions of a few as demonstrable examples of entire groups of people. Because words of hate and anger become hate-filled actions and embolden those who would seek to darken this world in the name of some misguided belief that they are somehow better than.
And we must resist this at all cost.
In light of this tragedy, I could have easily understood it if the Muslim Society of Guelph wanted to follow in the footsteps of the executive order that was signed on Friday by closing their doors, claiming that to protect themselves they would need to ensure that everyone that was different remained outside. But instead, they welcomed people from all walks of life to come together in community, to grieve the loss of life, and to process this affront to what I believe as Canadians we hold dear.
I went to tonight’s vigil with a belief that I was doing something to help the Muslim community of Guelph process this horrific attack. But I think instead I came away with an understanding that by opening their doors, they were helping me. They were providing me a place to stand, a place to be counted, a place to join my community to say that we will not allow this here. Not now. Not ever.
So thank you to my Muslim brothers and sisters in Guelph for being the light in the world that I needed today. Thank you for reminding me that instead of cursing the darkness, I should light a candle.
We are stronger together. We are always stronger together.