Facing painful truths about the dishonorable and dark actions that have occurred not only in the personal sphere but under sanction of public, societal life seems like a good idea, so that we can reflect, remember and make a commitment to choose differently in the days to come.
In Canada, September 30, 2021 was the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation which "honours the lost children and survivors of residential schools, their families and communities". On that day, many Canadians wore orange as symbol of their solidarity with the Inuit, Métis and First Nations peoples.
In 1894, it was made law by the Government in Canada via the Indian Act (put into effect in 1876), that Indigenous children in Canada had to attend schools run by the establishment which were justified by a self-righteous mission to turn them against their innate creation. Adult survivor's recount the trauma of violence put upon their entire beings; physically, emotionally as well as the heartbreak of being forcibly separated from their families and community. Legalized hatred is a goliath of a monster to defeat.
Standing over the bones of children whose individual stories will never be known to us, descendants and allies memorialized and prayed that these injustices never reoccur, however they have been repeated in other cultures around the world, most consistently during times of war.
Yet, rather than learn from past actions are we and future generations doomed to keep having to remember innocent lives cut short after the fact and cry, "Why?"
Hopefully, we can use these days of bringing light to truth however glaring, to consider our own values and conscience. What would we do if pushed far enough out of our feeling of safety, where fears of "the other" and a perception of the looming threats of death are stronger than our commitment to upholding the values of honouring every human life and finding a way to love our neighbours in society and around the world?
The genocide of the Indigenous peoples of Canada led by the federal government but agreed upon by the constituents who supported them at that time, suggests that no one is really guiltless when these things happen. We don't have to look far to find the repeated history of enforced hatred against our human brothers and sisters. When we look back through the lens of Truth and Reconciliation Day, we may utilize this as an opportunity to remove the veil of denial on how quickly any democratic society that purports to uphold the values of individual human rights can fall from grace.
During a conversation recently with a family member of a former hospice patient, I shared my experience that even when there is the blessing of time to prepare for death, the majority of people go through deep anticipatory grief because they recognize the profound gift of having a human life. They are not ready to leave their bodies, even after having lived nine decades.
How much more tragic is it when those who are just beginning their journey are mistreated and made to leave their lives prematurely through violence at the hands of adults?
We can do better. We will do better.