On September 13th, a 25-year old man entered Dawson College in downtown Montreal and went on a shooting spree. Before police shot him, the damage had been done: a young girl in her first semester at the school was dead and several others critically injured.
We've heard this refrain before: disgruntled man, angry at the world, armed to the teeth. Here in Montreal, we know it all too well. Twice before, gunmen have entered schools and killed people. In 1989 a deranged misogynist at L'École Polytechique killed fourteen women. In 1992, an angry professor shot four of his colleagues.
We asked questions then. We asked the same ones after Littleton, Colorado, Taber, Alberta, Erfurt. Maybe now we should be asking different ones.
Instead of discussing installing metal detectors in our colleges and universities, we should be trying to address the root of the problem before the alarms on those metal detectors go off.
In the last few days I've heard people lay the blame on gun control, Goth culture, video games, television, music. And I can understand how frustration, shock and disgust can manifest themselves in a desperate search for answers and, subsequently, a futile blame-game.
But here is what I can't understand: Why are we asking the same questions we have asked before? We can't change what has happened. We might not be able to stop it from happening again. But we can begin to examine our country, our society, ourselves. Let's look at the image we project to youth when we refuse to intervene when people are being ethnically cleansed, when sovereign states are invaded by their neighbors, when we destroy native lands in the name of development, when we neglect human beings in our own cities, our own neighborhoods. even in our own homes.
Let's begin by looking at ourselves; by examining our actions and choices; our treatment of others.
On September 13th, in my desperate search for the person I love, I noticed something. Amid the chaos and disorder, I saw people fleeing the building holding hands, shop owners offering them a place to rest, strangers opening their doors and taking them into their homes, hugging them. In those frantic moments of despair and fear something strangely beautiful emerged. The solidarity of tragedy brought us together in Montreal. And for once --even if only for a few hours or seconds -- we didn't care about language, ethnicity, religion, the way a person dressed or the music they listened to; we just cared. Period.
And so maybe the question we need to be asking is how do we turn that ephemeral experience into something permanent, into something real? And maybe, in asking that question, we can begin to find the answer that seems to have eluded us for way too long.
Paul Di Stefano
Contrary to India's foreign minister, terrorism in India is not caused just by poverty, but also by other aspects of developed world foreign policy, such as arms shipments.
But here in the "civilized" West, we seem to remain in an apathetic (at best) state of mind. All it takes is one extremist to act on this Western apathy to ruin many other lives, usually via an explosive device -- one angry individual over the vast majority that desire true peace and justice -- or worse, a dozen madmen at the controls of heavy jetliners.
Frank G. Sterle, Jr.
White Rock, B.C.
Who was asleep at the wheel when Walter Dorn's propaganda piece on Canadian peacekeeping got accepted? If your readers wanted to wallow in denial-based patriotism, we'd simply read the daily rags.
When Israel bombed Beirut in June, Canada had difficulty in removing thousands of Canadian citizens. At the same time the world almost ignored the tsunami that claimed over 600 lives in Java. Attention was on the Middle East where most of the casualties were civilians.
A UN peace air force could be compared to a local "emergency 911" number. It would be on standby globally to provide instant aid in natural disasters, of which there are about fifty per year.
Let's tell our national politicians that the UN should have its own air force-- mainly transports and helicopters but no bombers.