Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Shocked and Saddened

Today's shootings in our nation's capital were shocking.  I first heard about it just before noon when one of my co-workers came into my office to tell me our colleagues in our Ottawa office were in lockdown as a result of the unfolding events. I immediately went online to see what was going on and watched enthralled as the footage was shown on the CBC's website.

I was saddened to hear that the soldier that was shot did not survive.  The news was even more tragic and frightening given that it was only two days ago that another Canadian soldier was killed after a man purposely struck him and another soldier with a car.  My heart goes out to the families of Corporal Nathan Cirillo and Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent.  (If you don't know what I'm talking about, please take a moment to Google those name and familiarize yourself with their stories.)

I was even more upset to realize that not everyone thought this was an important event worthy of attention.  I went into our office kitchen to watch the coverage on the bigger screen and discovered those having lunch there were doing what they do every day while they eat, watching their favourite soap opera, The Young and the Restless.  When I suggested that they might want to switch to the news, at the very least during the commercials, one of them responded, "But why? We're not in Ottawa."

As if it didn't matter that someone had been shot and killed because it wasn't happening in our own city but four hours away in our nation's capital. That members of our government and possibly even our Prime Minister were being threatened in our House of Parliament.  That the victim had been a member of our Armed Forces, standing guard over our National War Memorial honouring those unknown soldiers who had died in wars that ensured us the freedoms we have today.  That our colleagues were locked in their office, fearing for their own safety and those on the streets below.

I believe it is this very mentality that contributes to much of the division and misunderstanding that is a factor in so many of the sad, tragic and devastating events taking place seemingly everywhere these days, the feeling that what happens in the world at large has little or no bearing on how we live our daily lives. It's easy to ignore what's happening on the news if you can just turn the dial to another channel, tune out, switch off.  Who cares if people are poisoning honey bees, shooting each other, setting off bombs, catching a disease, as long as it doesn't change how I spend my lunch hour.  So very sad.

I have to believe not everyone feels this way, that there are those who believe, as I do, that we need each other to survive, that what happens to others matters to me, whether it happens next door or on the other side of the planet. Because it does matter.  It's important to know that the men and women who don a uniform every day to protect those of us who do not, whether they are members of the armed forces, police, emergency services or security guards, deserve our thanks and respect. They do not deserve to be gunned down or run down, although I recognize that many of them accept that what they do puts them at risk as they undertake the duties of their job.

I, for one, am very grateful that they do and I won't forget the risks they take every day and the sacrifices they make to keep the rest of us safe at home, watching our televisions, going about our everyday lives.

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