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We Need To Speak Out Against Hate Wherever We Find It

The events of Charlottesville have been deeply unsettling, reminding us that hatred and bigotry are closer than we'd like to believe.

08/25/2017 14:29 EDT | Updated 08/25/2017 14:34 EDT

This has been a difficult couple of weeks for many of us. The events of Charlottesville have been deeply unsettling, reminding us that hatred and bigotry are closer than we'd like to believe.

Chris Bolin / Reuters
Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi speaks to the media in Calgary, Alta., Jan. 24, 2017.

For many months now, it seems that the voices of anger and bitterness have been growing louder and louder, that we are seeing a rise in intolerance and racism, and religious bigotry of all kinds. Even here in Calgary, a candidate for school board trustee — someone who just wants to help kids get a better education — received a racist death threat. And you may have seen news reports that show that threats against members of your city council — me in particular — are up sharply.

Every one of us in every corner of our community deserves the chance, right here, right now, to live a great Canadian life.

Obviously, this is unacceptable. It goes against everything we believe in our community, everything that makes us successful, that simple promise that runs in our bloodstream: that here, in this place, it doesn't matter what you look like or where you come from. It doesn't matter how you worship or whom you love; every one of us in every corner of our community deserves the chance, right here, right now, to live a great Canadian life.

So what can we do?

As politicians, we have a particular role to play. We have to stand up for everyone. We have to use the microphones and the lecterns we are blessed to be able to access to stand up for the dignity of every human being. We have to resist the urge to flirt with voices of small-mindedness and intolerance for short-term electoral gain. We have to speak out.

Bloomberg via Getty Images
Demonstrators hold signs during an anti-racism rally in front of the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa on August 23, 2017.

But it's not just about politicians; it's about all of us.

Every one of us — everyday people with our everyday hands and our everyday hearts — need to use our everyday voices. Now more than ever.

We must stand together to defeat intolerance, divisiveness and small mindedness. We need to remember that decent people have to speak out for the rights of ALL of our neighbours. We need to combat hatred wherever we find it, whether online or in line at the grocery store.

The good news is that we can win.

What we have here is special. But it is also fragile.

The good news is that we can win. In a time when it's become fashionable to denigrate those of us calling for kindness and compassion and mercy and love as somehow weak — as "snowflakes" — we need to remember that this is not weakness. It is strength. It is strength beyond the imagining of those who hate.

If we are snowflakes, bring on the blizzard!

Naheed

A version of this blog originally appeared on Facebook.

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