The symbolism of the events taking place on Wednesday October 22 in Ottawa could not be more cruel. Shots fired below the tower called "peace," a young man gunned down, dressed in military gear but unarmed, protecting the grave of the unknown solider meant to remind us -- "never again."
Yet, the reactions by Canadian leaders, public officials, media and every day citizens is something that I as a Canadian and global citizen can say I am very proud of. Through the turmoil that unraveled on Parliament Hill, matters were handled with both urgency and composure. No one wanted to be called a hero but certainly many displayed strength and composure in critical moments.
The media was standing by, airing footage of the incidents as they unfolded, providing context and framing their sources of information and knowledge. Not jumping to conclusions, instead we would often see reporters intently listening to their ear pieces then announcing that news is developing but will not be announced until there is absolute confirmation that it is a fact. I believe the media can smile today knowing that it handled the situation delicately and in a non partisan way. No radical conclusions were jumped to, instead a sensitive and reasoned explanation of the situation was given to the Canadian public, and those watching all over the world.
Responses by leaders and civil society were no different. Leaders of all the major political parties made statements once they were released from the lockdown that took place after the shooter entered center block. Each leader emphasized the importance or remaining calm, level headed and even emphasized that this was a criminal act (not yet labeled as a terrorist act) until more details are uncovered. Guesses on religious or racial status of the individual never came up. This is a situation that could have easily escalated to accusations and suspicion or finger pointing due to fear. Instead, calm.
This sort of response, I hope, is one which can set an example. Harm happens. That harm defines those who create it. How we respond to the harm however, that is our own karma and defines us for who we are.
Though many more conversations are yet to come around who this shooter was, if he was alone, including speculations on possible motive and how to respond in the long term from a political and safety perspective, I believe the first critical step has been taken in the right direction. I certainly hope that the calm and level-headed nature and non-accusatory approach continues during the full investigation and that the global community might take note of what's transpired here in many ways.
Most importantly, I hope that as a global community we all remain strong and remember this day as a reminder of what strength, kindness and resilience can look like.