De­mand­ing bet­ter


The Victoria Standard - - Commentary -

At the same time that this is­sue of the news­pa­per hits news­stands, thou­sands of youth and sup­port­ive adults are sched­uled to walk out of schools across the United States to protest what has been an all too fre­quent spilling of blood in the halls and class­rooms of Amer­ica at the hands of in­di­vid­u­als armed with guns. They are de­mand­ing bet­ter of their rep­re­sen­ta­tives, their ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem and their fel­low cit­i­zens.

Un­for­tu­nately, main­stream me­dia in that coun­try has largely missed the op­por­tu­nity to em­brace this mo­ment of civil dis­obe­di­ence – in­stead, choos­ing to fo­cus on var­i­ous grades of pu­n­ish­ment that stu­dents may en­counter if they choose to join their sis­ters and broth­ers out­side. The ques­tion that they should be ask­ing is, what will the real penalty be if they con­tinue to stay inside?

This is­sue may seem far away from our ex­is­tence here in Cape Bre­ton. Al­though we are not free of vi­o­lence, we are for­tu­nate to live some­where where vi­o­lence is not the norm. One would nat­u­rally hope it will stay that way. How­ever, peace is not some­thing we hope for, it is some­thing we carry out through con­stant effort. It is a social con­tract of sorts, main­tained by the ac­tions of us all that mir­ror the col­lec­tive re­sults we de­sire.

As Cana­di­ans, we have grown ac­cus­tomed to a relative de­gree of peace. And let me be abun­dantly clear, we have not ar­rived here as a nation with­out a his­tory of blood­shed and in­jus­tice to­wards indige­nous and mi­nor­ity peo­ples. That is a dark cloud in our his­tory that we strug­gle with even as we seek truth and rec­on­cil­i­a­tion. And it is a re­al­ity that con­tin­ues to be cast upon mem­bers of our so­ci­ety across this coun­try ev­ery day.

In this is­sue, Mor­gan Duch­es­ney ex­plores two paths to in­de­pen­dence – one of Que­bec that has, at times, been rid­dled with vi­o­lence and ter­ror­ism. The other, here in Cape Bre­ton, would see us join Canada as our own em­pow­ered prov­ince. Re­gard­less of your po­si­tion on Cape Bre­ton province­hood, the mes­sage here is that the path for­ward for this is­land and its peo­ple must be ac­com­plished co­op­er­a­tively, through non-vi­o­lent means. Non-vi­o­lence in this sense em­braces not only a lack of gun­fire, but a broader sense of jus­tice where we lis­ten to one an­other and work to be as in­clu­sive of each other’s needs and wants, as pos­si­ble.

Peace not only re­quires we up­hold our end of the social con­tract, it must also ex­am­ine the con­se­quences of fail­ing to do so. That is why in a small, com­mu­nity news­pa­per, we choose to look be­yond the shores of our great is­land from time to time, to un­der­stand dif­fi­cult is­sues hap­pen­ing else­where in the world. It is also why we keep a watch­ful eye on our gov­ern­ments and our ed­u­ca­tion sys­tems. It is why we re­port on the need for change even as we high­light the many great things hap­pen­ing in our county and the many great peo­ple that are mak­ing them hap­pen.

The strug­gle for jus­tice and a bet­ter life for all does not come neatly wrapped in a to-go con­tainer. It in­volves us de­mand­ing bet­ter ed­u­ca­tion, bet­ter jobs, bet­ter pay, a cleaner en­vi­ron­ment, bet­ter health care and re­li­able child care. For they are the build­ing blocks of our fu­ture. But a pas­sive seat we must not take. This fu­ture in­volves us all. We should con­stantly de­mand bet­ter of our­selves and be will­ing to step out­side, when nec­es­sary.

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