For such a time as we are experiencing after the terror attack in Paris, and those elsewhere, Canadians surely did not ask or seek.
Just about a year ago now, I flew from Cranbrook to Toronto to attend a marvellous party attended by some folks I had not seen since high school days, more than 50 years ago. What a joyous occasion it was for the more than 60 old friends who were there. Thanks to Brigitte and Butch for hosting it.
As I flew across this vast and magnificent land, over the mountains, across the prairies to the forests of Ontario, into Toronto, which. along with Chapleau, have been so much the central places in my life, I recalled the words of Bruce Hutchison in The Unknown Country. Little did I think during my travels that I would be putting Mr. Hutchison's words into the context of our present political situation..
Mr. Hutchison, who has Cranbrook roots, wrote in 1942, that "No one knows my country ...Who can know our loneliness on the immensity of prairie, in the dark forest and on the windy sea rock? A few lights, a faint glow in our largest city on the vast breast of the night and all around blackness and emptiness and silence. We flee to little towns for moments of fellowship."
Indeed, who but us? And given the politics of fear and division being shovelled at us 24/7, Canadians from coast to coast to coast must surely be trying to understand, to make sense of it all.
I won't pretend to have the answers, but I do know one thing for sure: Be not afraid.
As Canadians, let us focus on the positive aspects of living in this still largely unknown country and strive to fulfill our hopes and passions. Let us focus on those things bringing us together, rather than those which may divide us.
I often think of my mother's family, George and Edith Hunt, my mother Muriel and her sister Elsie who arrived in Canada in 1913 from England to make a new life for themselves. They settled in Chapleau.
Not here long before my grandfather was badly burned in a fire but he survived. Then it was World War I, then the Great Depression, then World War II, and my father, Jim Morris, was killed on active service in the RCAF in 1943.
Through it all, my family and I know that yours faced its challenges too, and, never, ever let fear rule their lives. Chapleau was a relatively isolated community, but people cared about and looked after each other, in good times and bad.
Let me leave you with two quotes to think about:
"Fear is the only true enemy, born of ignorance and the parent of anger and hate." Edward Albert
"The enemy is fear. We think it is hate; but, it is fear." Gandhi
As difficult as it may be, let us focus on those things bringing us together rather than dividing us. Let us certainly not be intimidated, but lead the way to the "promised land" where our greatest hopes and passions will be fulfilled -- Canada!
We are all children of the village in Canada and if need be, it is OK, even today to "flee" for a moment to the little towns for fellowship as Mr. Hutchison suggested in 1942. It is part of the Canadian experience.
I just did, three times in the past year: even though the small town was a home in Toronto with more than 60 lifelong friends, and not Chapleau, where we were raised. But I also went to Orlando (one of my favourite villages) to see my friends, and yes, I made a trip to Chapleau too, And most importantly, I do it every day in Cranbrook.
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