When did we become so hateful?
This is a tough question to answer, particularly given where we are on the calendar. Christ’s Mass, or Christmas, is just around the corner and goodwill in Cochrane is flowing like water from an open tap. Despite challenging economic times creeping into our region, people are opening their hearts and wallets to those less fortunate. Yet there is a dark, disturbing undercurrent rippling through our lives that not even the brightest festive season can hide.
Close to home, death threats are reported to have been received by Alberta Premier Rachel Notley as her provincial government processed its contentious Bill 6 in the legislature. The intention of the legislation is to safeguard workers in Alberta’s farm/agriculture industry, with an eye to our province joining the rest of Canada in offering Workers’ Compensation and Occupational Health & Safety provisions for people earning a paycheque in our province’s diverse farming sector.
Some of the more robust, recent protests of this legislation included farm equipment being driven to Bill 6 consultation meetings at various locations across the province. In Okotoks, several upset farmers protested on horseback. Creative, spirited and upbeat ways of expressing displeasure with the government and its proposed policies are fair game.
But death threats?
The comments percolating on the Internet would make the Daesh wince – “Someone’s gotta man up and kill her,” a posted comment suggested on CTV Lethbridge’s Facebook page, a subsequent post added to “put a pitchfork through [Notley’s] neck.”
Just down Highway 1A at Calgary Transit’s Tuscany Station, vandals abandoned their usual unsightly tagging, choosing instead to deface the area with spray-painted hateful racial epithets directed at Syrian refugees and Muslims.
Farther out, the serial human tragedy unfolding in the Middle East continues to ripple around the globe. The effects of an extended armed conflict in Syria and Iraq, and the hate migrating to Western centres like Paris where 130 people were killed last month in a terrorist attack, are poisoning the well in Cochrane.
Last Friday (Dec. 11), citing safety concerns, Rocky View Schools cancelled all school trips to Europe this spring. Cochrane High School is not sending students on the popular European junket aimed at broadening their horizons. In the name of safety for our youth, hate, and its partner in crime, fear, won that one.
In Strathmore, a group originally called “Strathmore for Syria” changed its name to “Hope for Syria” after viewing incendiary, profanity-laced online comments about the initiative that not everyone in Strathmore supports.
Yes, we have our “own” people in need. Yes, some of the resources which may have helped Canadians are being diverted to help refugees settle here, but have you seen the “living” conditions in the places people are fleeing? Images of the charred horror they are dying to escape beggar the imagination. That anyone could work up any level of hate for a fellow human being so in need of our most basic humanitarian assistance is both stupefying and distressing.
The silver lining in this pool of hate, thankfully, is that it’s contained to a vocal minority. But, from our open and free Canadian perspective, we need to be wary. We can’t be shackled by the chains of hate, even from the fringes. Ignorance is a choice, not a condition.
If our way of life includes threatening elected officials with death for offering help to farm labourers – and promoting hate against those fleeing staggering inhumanity – why would we ever want to preserve that way of life?