After Friday's events in Paris, there have been loud and sustained calls for vengeance. While the impulse is understandable, Robin Sears writes, we must not let terrorists turn us into beasts. Sears cites Charles Taylor, the Canadian philosopher with a world-wide reputation:
Canada’s priceless contribution to the world’s understanding of the essential role of tolerance or mutual accommodation in every successful community is the philosopher Charles Taylor. Taylor puts his case starkly. None of us, he cautions, is capable of resisting the seduction of prejudice, exclusion, or even collective punishment if we are sufficiently terrified by propaganda about “the other.”
Equally, each of us is willing to walk the path of inclusion, tolerance and openness to religious, ethnic and racial diversity with sufficient reassurance about its wisdom and safety. He cites France’s painful passage from being one of the world’s most inclusive societies post-revolution, to its more shameful treatment of its Muslim citizens since they landed on its shores post-Algerian war.
The roots of what happened in Paris go back along way -- just as the causes of the cauldron in the Middle East go back at least a century. And so, Sears writes, Canada stands at a crossroads:
So Canada and the world stand once again at this crossroad — do we build walls or bridges? Do we cede victory to these sub-humans who revel in their ability to shed massive amounts of human blood purely to instill terror — and refuse sanctuary to their fleeing victims? Or do we teach our children well, about the dead end that such cowardice necessarily delivers?
Do we again commit the sin of rejecting refugee ships like the St. Louis in Halifax or the Komagata Maru in Vancouver. Will a future Pier 21 curator mount a photo of a dead Syrian family, next to the courageous but rejected Polish family?
Because there is another lesson from Paris, and all the horrors like it, that we will no doubt yet have to endure.
We need not repeat the mistakes of the past.