Kindness, not fear, blame

This year, I contemplate the words “strong and free.”

Strength lies in healing and resilience rather than in force, exploitation and abuse. Strength comes from knowledge, an attempt to understand and from listening.

Emerging from ignorance and gaining insight into history and the consequences of such history can result in discomfort, which is important, necessary and hopefully motivating toward desire for change.

Freedom within a country is an illusion … nothing is free except thoughts, feelings and beliefs. For every individual or group privilege, there has been a cost to someone or something – be it a person, a people, wildlife or the environment.

I consider the term “proud.” Pride is connected with esteem regarding one’s accomplishments.

I attempt to proliferate love, peace, justice and appreciation of diversity … yet the values which are related to this commitment are unrelated to pride. I think they pertain to integrity.

I am honoured to have been born within and to live in a country where I believe many people have such integrity and share similar aspirations. I am fortunate to live in a country where I feel safe and respected, yet I also acknowledge that not every person and group in this country has had this privilege.

I understand the importance of reconciliation and seek to continue to learn how I can support this endeavour.

Whereas it is true that “we” did not cause the atrocities that took place in this nation’s abhorrent history, “we” have a responsibility as privileged citizens to understand how the history is related to current social issues and individual problems.

We must all strive to ensure our words and actions promote kindness rather than fear of and blame toward either those traumatized or those who belong to groups that historically perpetuated victimization.

Contempt does not cultivate appreciation and reconciliation. Let us be thankful for privileges we enjoy in this nation, acknowledge rather than deny history so we can gain empathy and strive to live in such a way that demonstrates compassion.

Joelle Wall, Kelowna

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