Terre de nos aïeux…
Canada is one of the most open and welcoming countries in the world. As an immigrant to Canada in 1963 I know that first-hand. The demons of division and hatred attacked Canada last weekend in the guise of a gunman’s attack on a Quebec City mosque.
Intolerance, religious and ethnic hatred and genocide have become almost daily realities, and they are to be resisted in any and all forms they take. The world’s democracies have been under assault from Islamic extremists for many years now. But Muslims don’t have a monopoly on radical extremists. The Quebec City incident was an attack on Muslims by a white racist nationalist. All forms of attack are despicable, regardless of who is being attacked or who is committing the attack.
For a democracy, however, the key lies in how we as a people and our government responds to such attacks. Will Canada be more guarded, less tolerant because of the Quebec City attack? Early signs say No to that question. According to the New York Times:
The response of Quebec’s premier, Philippe Couillard, is worth noting. “Every society has to deal with demons,” he said. “Our society is not perfect. None is. These demons are named xenophobia, racism, exclusion. They are present here. We need to recognize that and act together to show the direction we want our society to evolve.”
There is a profound Christian teaching about the powers and principalities that work behind the scenes in human affairs: “For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).
Call these “powers and principalities” by any other name that is understandable to you – demons, religious extremists, governments, CEOs – whatever is your preferred source of evil in the world. The question – the challenge to us – is always the same: Do we acquiesce or do we resist? Canada and Quebec choose to resist. Let’s hope their response is contagious to other countries and governments.