The day after the horrific events on Parliament Hill unfolded, a group of people from Knox met with two representatives from the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, known around the world for its motto, “Love for All – Hatred for None.” This encounter had been planned for weeks before the violence in Ottawa had occurred, but it came to us at a critical moment in the history of our country. The very heart of our democracy had been attacked. A young, unarmed soldier named Nathan Cirillo had been shot and mortally wounded. Bloodshed and bullets in Ottawa. Unthinkable. Unnerving. Unbelievable.
As the two Imams sat with us in a circle of openness and shared space, all of us present on that day bore witness to the values we uphold as Canadians; namely, that diversity is our strength; that education is still the strongest weapon against extremism; and that we will not respond to violent acts with hatred and revenge, but with good governance and a renewed commitment to finding peaceful solutions to conflict.
In all the news coverage swirling around the world about this tragic event, our wee little circle of fifteen folks from Knox might not seem like much, but it is, in fact, a microcosm for what we believe in as followers of Jesus—that peace is possible, that our efforts to connect with our fellow human beings will never be abandoned, that love and mutual respect should be our highest striving.
Lost in all the grief and chaos of that day in Ottawa was the fact that, on that very day, the Government of Canada was about to confer Honourary Citizenship on a 17 year old Muslim girl named Malala Yousafzai who was herself shot by a Taliban extremist. A slim and beautiful girl, weighing no more than a hundred pounds stood up to thuggery and violence. In the days ahead, may we duplicate her resiliency and courage.
And also in the days ahead, let all of us offer prayers of love and support for the victims of wanton acts of violence, both in Ottawa and in Quebec, and around the world.
Blessings and Shalom,