What better gift to humankind than to accept the diversity of all, a perfect way to practise our concern, the unique qualities we possess, and to be treated equally.
The colour of our skin, the language we speak, our gender, the way we dress, the choice of the one we love, regardless of sexual orientation and those who practise their faiths, are all part of our existence. We live in a world where wars remain a constant and have caused insufferable damage to our very being. Throughout the centuries the hardships have been phenomenal and we are witness to these horrific acts every day.
We also live in a society where it seems the order of the day to discriminate against others that hurts and separates, and in many cases, causes deaths. We hear of conflicts around the globe, and we have become accustomed to a lack of world peace and discontentment. The media keeps us informed to the world condition, and many witness the mistreatment of others, internationally and locally.
The constant abuse by those who sexually assault others, such as the president of the United States, who has also been accused of these crimes, along with many other entertainers, politicians, has also lashed out at minorities of all sorts. Trump’s rejection of transgender persons in the armed forces, among countless other atrocities, remains constant.
Canada is consistently rated as one of the top ten countries in which to live, and we may be proud of this fact. This does not mean we are free of discrimination, or that we are a nation where poverty, homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, race discrimination and the tragic attitudes towards our Indigenous brothers and sisters does not exist. We should not be complacent.
Prime Minister Trudeau apologized to the Newfoundland and Labrador Indigenous residents who were abused terribly over the years, and also reached out to the LGBTQ community for shamefully dismissing armed forces members and civil servants because of loving those of the same gender.
I suggest this holiday season we begin an outreach, each one of us, to all our family members, friends, those who came to this land to live and work because of wars and oppression in their own countries, and so many others who need a helping hand. Imagine Canada as a country free of all these horrible actions, a place where neighbours in every corner of our great nation are able to live side by side in harmony. We must work to minimize the angst that exists and practise this year after year, and so slowly, but surely, we will experience positive change. The holiday season seems a perfect time to reflect on these issues and we are able to do this, band together to begin the work of making positive change of making our nation, and perhaps across borders, inclusive.
Exclusivity has no place in a world where constant pain and exclusion in all its forms are the norm. We have to be free of inequality and work towards a free and content Canadian society. If we are in the top ten, we must make extra efforts to rid ourselves of discrimination and hatred and then, only then, will we be the envy of the world. Equality for all: a perfect holiday gift.
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Gerard Veldhoven is a longtime activist for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. His column appears Wednesdays in The News.