Last week, a single photo changed the nature of the debate in the Canadian federal election putting compassion on the same level as the economy and jobs.
The photo was of three-year-old Alan Kurdi, who died on a Turkish beach along with his brother and mother, while fleeing the crisis in Syria.
Had things gone otherwise, Alan might have eventually made his way to Canada, even to B.C., where his aunt currently resides. Instead, he became one of the thousands who have died in a similar fashion in recent days.
Had Alan and his family members survived, they would have still faced a tough journey making it to Canada, given the limited number of refugees we are accepting from the Syrian crisis.
Could we absorb more refugees, even the 100,000 suggested by Senator Pat Carney? Sure, why should we be taking any refugees? Two reasons: compassion and responsibility.
Compassion, because these are our fellow human beings and need our aid. As simple as that.
And responsibility, because though Canada has joined the fight against ISIS, the Western world helped create the conditions for the fundamentalist, terrorist organization to thrive in the first place, through centuries of ongoing interference in the Middle East and failed attempts to control the region.
Make no mistake, ISIS is an evil the world needs to join together to deal with. But the violence of war, in the long run, is not a solution to the problems plaguing the Middle East. There are no easy answers for that.
But we can ensure that compassion is a part of our efforts to deal with the current crisis. Along with peacekeeping, compassion was once one of Canada’s strengths. But somehow, over the years, we seem to have lost our way.
It’s something to think about as you consider who you will vote for. Whoever we send to Ottawa this October, let’s send someone who values the Canadian dream of creating a truly just society.