Hatred is a disease, a virus that when we believe an antidote has been found we sadly discover a new strain has developed. This past week in Orlando, Florida the world once again was confronted with the face of evil and hatred. And make no mistake, this was first and foremost a hate motivated attack. Yes, the relationship to ISIL must be factored into this tragedy. After all, not unlike any extremist cause that uses faith as a backdrop, people who identify as LGBTQ2S are viewed as anathema.
Many over the past few days have tried to universalize the Orlando attack as one of terrorism targeting “humanity.” This attempt to generalize the mass shooting both denies and dehumanizes the LGBTQ2S community and we must stand strongly with our LGBTQ2S brothers and sisters against such unconsidered language.
In many ways the targeting of diverse communities by hatemongers puts into focus the work of the Mosaic Institute. The need to build platforms in which communities in conflict can engage in civil dialogue helps foster understanding. Our differences become our solution.
It was only 34 years ago that Toronto Police raided the city’s gay bathhouses, arresting more than 300 innocent men. It was an obvious attempt by government and police to send a message to the gay and lesbian community that they were unwanted. It was a bleak homophobic targeting of an entire community and too many of us remained silent.
We have come a long way in Canada since that time but this past weekend’s tragic mass shootings at the Pulse Nightclub should act very much as the canary in the mine. Hate is not easily squelched. Robust, hatred seems to find ways to pick itself out of the dustbin, brush itself off, and find other methods to spread its poison.
“It is for this reason that when tragedy like this strikes we must all find ways to stand in solidarity with the victimized community. Doing so not only brings comfort to the bereaved it also gives us strength to move forward and sends an undeniable message that our métier is to reject hatred and embrace civility.”
Intolerance and bigotry is not the Canadian way. While we still struggle with those in our society who continue to reflect racist attitudes we are all working hard to educate for change.
This month is devoted to the LGBTQ2S community as “Pride Month.” It is very much a time to consider where we were and where we are today. Fifteen years ago same-sex marriage was a distant dream; today it is becoming understood, legal and even common place. In the past we would hardly consider or even want to come to grips with trans-gender people; today we pass laws protecting them.
There will always remain hills to climb and the Orlando tragedy pointed that out in a burst of gunfire. For our part my wife Karyn and I intend to march with our LGBTQ2S friends, relatives and neighbours on July 3rd at the Pride Parade. We intend to stand shoulder to shoulder with them in a spirit of camaraderie and love. I hope to see many of you there to express your own support as well.
Bernie M. Farber is Executive Director of The Mosaic Institute. He is a native of Ottawa and a graduate of Carleton University. His long-spanning career in the not-for-profit sector includes the role of CEO of the Canadian Jewish Congress (2005-2011) where he spearheaded multiple inter-faith initiatives and dialogues among diaspora groups in Canada including Rwandan genocide survivors and support for the Roma community. Most recently, Bernie has served as Senior Vice President of Gemini Power Corporation where he has been working in partnership with First Nations peoples towards economic development and community self-reliance in a way that respects both the environment and First Nations’ traditional values. Bernie is a recipient of the 125th Anniversary of the Confederation of Canada Medal, the Zaionz Award for Jewish Communal Service, the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal, and the St John Provincial Commendation.
“Bernie’s View” is Bernie’s regular contribution to the Mosaic Institute blog. We hope you are stimulated and challenged; and we look forward to your comments in the Mosaic manner.