“We will refuse to fear
Never give hate the chance to rule the day
If we all choose to heal
Love is forever
Darkness won’t win
When we refuse to fear.” Charlie A’Court
A beautiful, strong message, yes? It’s from Canada’s East Coast award-winning singer-songwriter Charlie A’Court, who performed Friday in a Virtual Vigil to honour victims of the horrific, entirely-impossible-to-come-to-grips-with mass shooting in Nova Scotia.
If you’re familiar with the play Come From Away, based on Newfoundland’s hosting of the 38 planes diverted to Gander on 9/11, then you’d no doubt describe people from the East Coast as the exact opposite of angry. East Coasters are open and warm, friendly and kind.
I knew this long ago! My father was from New Brunswick and my mother from Nova Scotia, so I got to spend a month each summer as a kid on the East Coast. Life moved at a slower pace there; we had oodles of time to chat with family, neighbours and strangers alike. Most homes sported unlocked doors that didn’t necessarily expect a knock to gain entry. Even as a kid, I noticed the uptightness of Ontario upon my return. I mean, why were we always in such a dang hurry?
Consequently, people from “down home” (as Mom called it) are appalled, struggling to understand how such extreme violence could mar their beautiful province, Canada’s Ocean Playground. When I reached out by text to a cousin who lives in Dartmouth, her shock was palpable. “He succeeded in putting us on the map for all the wrong reasons. This is foreign to us. These things don’t happen here. I’m so confused, upset and angry!”
Things like that don’t happen there. And yet? Now one person’s sick mind has made it so. All of it so hard to fathom: the number of dead, the number of crime scenes, the fires, the sneaky use of an RCMP uniform and car, and then? The added whammy that due to Covid-19 people can’t even hug one another, can’t hold funerals. “Gobsmacked” is a word I heard used to describe the feeling and it is apt.
When senseless acts of violence happen, hate and darkness are tempting. But we mustn’t succumb. As A’Court sings, “Never give hate the chance” and “Darkness won’t win”. Why? Because “Love is forever”. Love is stronger.
One person. One person! How can one person wreak so much fear, cause so much pain and anguish? But it is just one person. Most people love. Most care. We truly have to go with the odds on these things, don’t we? Otherwise, what would be the point?
You watch what is happening in the aftermath of this horror? Giant heartfelt memorials. People sharing memories, sobbing. And on Friday night for the vigil, dignitaries and musicians representing a stricken province did their best to pull the entire country together with loving words and music.
“We will refuse to fear.” We feel fear. We can’t help but feel it, imagining a neighbour walking in then pulling out a gun, imagining finding your brother dead on the side of the road and hiding in the woods for hours listening to gunshots, imagining being pulled over by the RCMP and then instead of a ticket . . .
Fear, for humans – for any living creature – is natural. Fear enables survival; there are threats everywhere. Like the coronavirus lurking with its unique characteristics that epidemiologists the world over are scrambling to identify and understand. Like the sudden economic downturn, job losses, money woes. And like one person with a devil’s trove of anger, guns and disguises.
It is possible to live an entire life in fear. Lord knows, there’s a leader south of the border that’s been stoking those flames in the minds of his followers for 40-some months now. Fear though, is meant as a short burst, to provide the adrenaline needed to escape danger, like that poor fellow who found his brother dead. Fear is not meant to be a lifelong companion.
Fear left unchecked? According to takingcharge.csh.umn.edu, “Fear weakens our immune system and can cause cardiovascular damage, gastrointestinal problems such as ulcers and irritable bowel syndrome, and decreased fertility. It can lead to accelerated ageing and even premature death.”
Refuse it. Love big, hard, and wide. Work on healing. For those grieving loved ones lost in this tragedy, healing will probably feel undoable. And will be so hard, will take a very long time. But humans are unbelievably resilient. And most humans? Especially those from down home? Filled to the brim with goodness.
Website Photo: Be Well/Rainbow my grandkids made for their front window.