The July 1 editorial to “Be kind, be thoughtful, be Canadian” was quintessentially Canadian: unoriginal, simplistic and very, very safe.
We’ve heard the stories of people who take groceries to sweet old folks or buy some middle-class person (who can afford a car) his/her drive-thru coffee. But how about the neighbours who call the City on a front-line worker to mow her unsightly lawn instead of offering to mow it for her? That’s not kind. Dr. Henry’s edict should be, “Be kind to someone you don’t like or agree with.”
As for “thoughtful,” the simple parroting of these phrases like “We’re in this together” demonstrates a complete abdication of thought. I don’t want these important messages to become catchy slogans that people can chant instead of doing something for the people who are harmed and hurting in our society.
The editor urges us to “speak up and against” the “racists, bigots, and misogynists.” However, it’s difficult to talk about anything important or controversial in Canada today. If you speak about race, you’re labelled a racist. If you don’t agree that there’s inequality between the sexes, you’re a misogynist. If you don’t want to call a transgender person the grammatically incorrect “them,” you’re homophobic. It’s easy to stand on the sidelines of the Fight for Right, yelling, “Don’t say this, Don’t say that” while people are getting clobbered by the system for speaking up.
Words are important. But if we want an equal and just system, we’re going to have to say and hear things that are unpleasant and sometimes even wrong. We have to use words to start a dialogue of understanding, for it’s only by communicating with people with different viewpoints that we can correct our own or others’ misconceptions. That’s the beginning of a true democracy.