The rain of bullets that poured down inside a Mosque in Quebec City did their deadly job with ruthless precision.
They ended six vibrant lives, wounded nineteen others and removed forever the sacred feelings of calm, peace and sanctuary that Canadian houses of worship have always offered their congregants.
Bullets caused the carnage, beliefs pulled the trigger.
We have witnessed a huge outpouring of support and sympathy for Muslim communities across the country, memorial services for the slain were filed to capacity and political leaders were front and center saying all the right things.
Mosques around the country brilliantly opened their doors to all and invited us to visit and get to know them better.
And sadly, nothing will change. It is not if, but when, this happens again.
The next target may be another mosque, or a synagogue or a church or shopping mall and, just like this past Sunday, it will be a thought, not a finger that will pull the trigger.
Whether or not we label these events as acts of terror, they are indisputably driven by hate and until we understand how hate is born and how it grows, we will continue to combat it with the same futile means we are presently employing.
Hate is not formed by facts, it is the result of lies believed; hate is what we believe to be true and is not even slightly influenced by facts.
And a lie believed is no longer a lie, it becomes a fact to those who choose to believe it so.
Joseph Goebbels, Nazi Germany’s Reich Minister of Propaganda, repeatedly said “if you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes the truth.” History has born sad witness t the tragic truth of this statement.
Our leaders will continue to repeat that such acts will not be tolerated, that the full force of the law will be deployed against those who wish us harm and that the guilty will be brought to justice.
They will repeat what we already know: we function on rule of law; religious freedom is enshrined in our constitution; we are a tolerant and caring society.
And their rhetoric will cause absolutely nothing to change.
Their intention is pure but their method is all talk.
The facts they present will do nothing to melt the hate that lives in the heart of the haters.
They will continue to believe what they believe.
Belief is based on emotion and emotion eats logic for lunch every day.
Acts, not facts, will change beliefs and if you wish to end these ever-increasing incidents of senseless, hate-born slaughter then you – yes, you – must get involved.
We collectively, all of us, must stop shaking our heads and continue to say that somebody needs to do something about this.
You and I are that somebody and we each have a role to play.
We need to start by examining our own hearts and look for signs of bias. Would we welcome, with open arms, anyone of any race, religion, colour, creed or culture into our homes and treat, respect and honour them as we do our closest friends and relatives?
If the answer is a resounding NO, and we honestly acknowledge the “facts” as to why we feel that way, we will quickly realize that our facts have, in fact, no basis in fact.
They are beliefs based on emotion.
And it takes acts (action), not facts to change emotion (beliefs).
What is our role? It is to accept, as equals, everyone we encounter. It is to engage with authentic interest all with whom we meet.
It is to seek similarities and respect differences. It is to invite “them” into our homes and to visit them in theirs.
It is not to “treat others as we would want to be treated,” but rather, to treat others as they want to be treated.
It is to suspend our willingness to judge others based on assumption, not knowledge.
And, perhaps, above all, it is to heed the wisdom of Abraham Lincoln who boldly stated, “I do not like that man, I must get to know him better.”
And what better time to start than right now, today.
Remember, everything we believe to be true, is true (for us), until it isn’t.
Till we read again.