December 15, 1995 Halifax Herald
This Christmas, as we did last year, letís take a few moments to reflect upon a God given blessing, being Canadian. To aid in our reflections, lets revisit Bosnia, the Middle East and the other troubled lands which were highlighted in my 1994 Yuletide column.
But first some background. As it has been throughout the history of humanity, greed, language and religion are still among the root causes of a great deal of the conflicts that yet prevail among the peoples of Mother Earth. As a result of these conflicts, numbers are being added daily to the toll of the uncountable millions of people who have perished or been displaced by zealots who envision(ed) themselves as the lone sources of truth.
In promoting their causes, many of these Tyrants have at hand perverted interpretations of the Bible, the Koran, Torah, and so on, to justify the havoc they impose upon those viewed as sinners, racial inferiors, or cultural traitors. They will, without a trace of conscience, unleash war upon their Nation or others, driving millions of people into the depths of poverty and degradation.
These madmen order the people to embrace a new belief structure. The only salvation for those viewed as deviates is that they abandon their own beliefs.
However, in spite of the continued efforts of fanatics, there are some positive things happening around the globe. For instance, the Irish Catholic and Protestant antagonists have continued with their decision to lay down their arms and discuss differences.
In Bosnia, there is hope that the religious wars may be coming to an end. But, the atrocities committed during the conflict by this unfortunate Nation's different religious sects against each other has added to the hatred built up over the past 1,000 years. This will take a mountain of goodwill to overcome.
Perhaps the common Slavic ancestry of the people will somehow unite them in a joint effort to turn their beautiful country away from being a hell-hole of hate to being a place where all citizens can enjoy freedom, justice, peace and prosperity.
Unfortunately, the Indian sub-continent is still deeply divided by the same religious intolerance that has seen it partitioned into different countries. Rival religious factions are still pulling, amid a sea of hatred, in many directions and further partition is a real possibility. Let us hope this push to divide will one day end and that the future will see the people moving to reunite as one Nation.
Now we skip over to the Middle East and revisit the hatred religious intolerance has spawned there. Jews and Muslims going head-to-head, Muslim fundamentalists going against Muslims, and Jewish fundamentalists going against Jews. Thankfully, fanatics and dictators have lost some ground in this area over the past year and peace is now a real possibility.
Now for home.
With everything in the world going for it, our country is on the verge of breaking up because of intolerance. The wrongs that were committed in the past by one ethnic group against another are among the chief causes. During the recent Quebec referendum, I got the distinct impression that the battle of the Plains of Abraham - between two European imperialist powers - was still being fought between some elements of the so-called two founding Nations of Canada.
This is so in spite of the fact that Canada now has a population where 56 percent of people are not of British or French ancestry and don't, along with Canadians in general, give a hoot about the Plains of Abraham!
The referendum itself was one of the most negative, insulting, condescending and paternalistic campaigns ever carried out by Canadian politicians. The federal strategy used against the separatists was mind-boggling.
How in the name of the Great Spirit did the federalists come to the conclusion that threats, instead of preaching the endless benefits of an equal partnership among a diverse population, would save the day for the country?
If we are to preserve a united country for our children, we must change the way we think. First, and foremost, we must become unhyphenated Canadians and give all our loyalty to Canada.
One person told me during the referendum campaign that the turmoil in this country was the fault of the late Prime Minister, Lester Pearson. In his estimation, we would not have a separatist's threat if we still had another country's flag flying over us - the Union Jack.
Its hard to convince people like him that this great country is not a colony nor an appendage of a foreign country's history, but one that has a proud, though in some instances shameful, history of its own.
While enjoying this Christmas season and our blessings, letís make a commitment to fight intolerance whenever it raises its ugly head among us. Imagine, a great country like Canada being driven to the ash-can of history because of egotistical madness and intolerance! Unforgivable and indefensible!
May the Great Spirit give us the wisdom to find a way to keep our Great Country united!
Daniel N. Paul