No inevitability to Canada's future

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November 3, 2014

During the Oct. 22 lockdown in Ottawa following the murder of armed forces reservist Cpl. Nathan Cirillo and the subsequent killing of Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, a reporter for a national media outlet wrote that Canada will never again be the same. One can appreciate the fear and anxiety a person would experience in such a situation without granting that our nation is forever altered.

There will, no doubt, be greater security on Parliament Hill, a result of the increasingly dangerous times in which we live. Yet, the strength of a nation will be found not in kneejerk responses to lunatics who – even if they are politically or religiously motivated – cause death and mayhem. Our strength is found in re-emphasizing our commitment to peace and freedom, building more intercultural dialogue and understanding, and renewing Canada's spiritual fabric.

More and perhaps bloodier attacks may occur in the future. The Canadian government has, in fact, put our nation in the path of such violence by pursuing military solutions to political problems halfway around the world. It is naïve to believe that Canada can bomb the Islamic State terrorists without provoking retaliation. Rare is the occasion when military attacks create lasting peace rather than a new spiral of violence.

Canadians are fortunate to have largely avoided terrorism in the past. That good fortune has been due, at least in part, to our nation's reputation of working for global peace and development.

That reputation has been badly eroded by government actions in recent decades, especially in recent years. Not only has Canada eliminated its commitment to UN peacekeeping and engaged in military adventurism, it has also sharply reduced its financial and other aid to developing nations. Further, our disregard for environmental protection is harming poorer nations by contributing to climate change.

Canada has, in short, become a nation more focused on self-interest than on the common good of humanity.

The Christian faith which was at the heart of Canada does not prescribe any particular political program. It has, however, inspired us to look to the needs of others as well as to meeting our own needs. It is not surprising that as the religious faith of our nation has eroded, we have become more self-focused.

If Canada will never be the same, it will be the result more of self-interested secularization than of the insane actions of religious fanatics.

This ship can be turned around; there is no inevitability to the shipwreck of spiritual decline. Canada will have a spiritual rebirth if it chooses to have one. As Ottawa Archbishop Terrence Prendergast wisely commented (Page 14): "Don't be afraid. Open your hearts wide to Christ." Such faith is the true foundation of peace and freedom.