This week, thousands of Canadians lined the Highway of Heros in honour of Nathan Cirillo, Canada’s son, and victim of Wednesday’s shooting. With attention focused on Nathan’s life and sacrifice, we might forget that Canada lost a second son this week – Michael Zahef-Bibeau.
Michael, the shooter, was a child of our own.
As a victim of addiction and isolation, Michael experienced a long, slow mental breakdown. He became reliant on drugs and turned to extremist thoughts. In his greatest time of need he lacked support from his family, friends, community, and government. As a last resort, Michael turned to violence.
Like Michael, there are hundreds of people in Canada that are emotionally distressed and mentally cornered. We may be tempted to pass extraordinary measures to ‘secure’ ourselves from future events like this, but we should be wary. If history can provide any insight, it is that ‘safeguards’ such as these never achieve lasting peace. They placate with a false, temporary sense of security.
Instead, let us reach out to our marginalized and isolated. Let us remind them that they are loved, and let’s give them the tools they need to succeed.
At the end of the day, we Canadians judge ourselves in two ways:
- How we treat our marginalized and our voiceless minorities
- How we overcome our struggles
Let’s show ourselves and the world that positivity and humanity can, and will prevail.