I don’t usually pay too much attention to the news but last week like many Canadians I was near my radio.
I felt a wave of something when I learned of a soldier’s death. I don’t see regiments and uniforms when I think of a soldier who has fallen. I see families and communities and now a nation. May mercy reign on those nearest to Cpl. Nathan Cirillo and may resilience rule the rest of us. We are all in some sense left to take over Cpl. Cirillo’s duties; we must stand at attention to the unknown.
Those who we trust to know and those who tell us they do are scrambling like rats on a listing ship. My biggest fear is not that any will drown but that the course they steer will be political more than sensible. Will we purchase police and forms of recognizable security for an invisible foe? How do we wage war on beliefs? Soil itself has been turned red by battles of beliefs.
If we want a sense of what goes through a jihadist’s mind we might consider having bombs falling on our own church of thought. It is dangerous to police thought and affiliation. It is a slippery slope we may never find our way back from. The changes we have induced following 9/11 are with us forever and we must consider the same of future reactions to these events. If changes are war measures we may take comfort but Stephen Harper’s conservatives never really mentioned we were going to war. I heard some trifle about a half dozen aged planes but I missed the address to the nation about a declaration of war.
The threat is presently ISIS but any measures taken will be excuse for any threat, real or imagined. Are we prepared for that? The brush we use for ISIS may wander from the conservative paint by numbers and we need to guard against Muslims and mosques being suspect. We will have precedence and momentum to enact measures against any group. What happens if Jewish people are targeted? Will we monitor and mute any who are anti-Semitic? What will be the threshold of anti-Semitism; pro-Palestinian? Who will decide and who will watch those who watch the rest of us? I would rather not have Stephen Harper and Peter MacKay making maps on thought until they are themselves good at it.
I am saddened and angered by these events. These military deaths almost can’t be compared to those who died in the midst of battle at Vimy, Dieppe or Afghanistan but they must. If we recoil with a reworking of fundamental freedoms, two soldiers killed on home soil will make the very ideals and institutions that thousands have died for mute.