Fear. Security. Two words we've been hearing a lot. Two words which convey so much intensity that we do our best to trivialize them. In our best cavalier cloaks, we fend them off as being manipulative. Until something reminds us exactly what those words mean.
Three months ago, I took my eight-year-old son for his first rock-climbing trip. I was suddenly confronted with fear and security issues as I guided his feet to toeholds. Despite being only a metre off the ground, and despite already being a good climber, he was afraid. And he required me to provide security.
About a week later, our second child was born. This little girl came screaming into the world, telling off everyone in sight, desperately seeking security from her parents. Several times a day now, her eyes meet mine, her face screwed up in wails. Something has gone wrong for her. She is demanding security from dad.
During these 12 weeks, dozens of issues emerged which cause fear and require security. I'm an adult, I know how the world works, and I know all about those words fear and security. I know how blasé people are about those words. I know you are reading this now, thinking 'What a wimp!'
So Ms and Mr. Tough-Human...
Bombing. Drowning. Abduction. Disaster. Torture. War.
I bet fear just used your spinal column as a xylophone. I bet part of you is looking for a little security and chanting the mantra 'those are just words'.
Which doesn't change any of the facts. All those things are frightening, even to us adults. So we do our best to prepare for disaster, to secure our homes, to chase away the monsters under the bed. We do a good job too. Until something really does happen. At that point, just like my children, we all start demanding security.
If you are in danger, who do you want charging to the rescue? Probably the Canadian Forces or the RCMP; because those forces offer a special devotion to us all. What sets members of those forces apart from us is that they have gone an extra step. Not only are they providing security to their families -- and us and our families -- they have committed unto death to protect to everyone. When things go very wrong for us, when there is something causing real fear, these Canadians step up to make us secure. Individually, they will protect us or die in the attempt. Collectively, they will save us, period. To the last member, they stand between us and danger.
That is a very special commitment. The it's-ok-I'm-here-now pledge. The I-will-make-everything-better vow. It is the same guarantee a parent gives their child.
Every day, women and men put on uniforms for the RCMP and RCAF, RCN, and the Canadian Army. Every day, those men and women set out to be the wall of flesh between us and harm. Every day, whether a major catastrophe affecting thousands or just one of us lost in the wilds, we know who to look for, who to trust in. When fear-driven wails creep toward our lips, we cry out for those who will put their lives before ours.
Something those very Canadians do not have.
When they took the oath of service, when they committed to sacrifice everything on our behalf, they asked only one thing. All they wanted from us was security. All they wanted is to know that we will pick up their pieces. Repair damaged bodies and minds. Provide comfort for hurts. Care for those they left behind. To face our fears for us, they need that security.
We have denied it to them.
Last year in a B.C. courtroom, Crown lawyers declared that Canada is not obligated to provide for serving members of the Forces or its veterans. The RCMP is repeatedly denied the ability to lobby for benefits for its members. Both forces routinely discharge injured members before they meet pension requirements. Both forces fail to save their walking wounded with PTSD, and blame their suicide victims for dying. Injured veterans of both services have their pain and suffering awards clawed back out of their pensions. And Canadians mostly sit by, ignoring the issues, hoping government will act.
We need to recognize the impact of failing those who stand for us, and we need to act. If not out of fairness, or justice, or decency, then we should do it out of fear. For there will come a time for each of us when we will be afraid, when we will need the security of the RCMP or Forces. If we deny security to those who protect us -- if we cause them to be afraid and insecure about facing danger -- then what do we have?
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