In this blog post, Ryan Dueck reflects on the words used by Canadians and others as they have sought to console and stand with those affected by the shooting at a Quebec City mosque last Sunday. Dueck notes that in times of tragedy we often try to communicate our solidarity with the victims. In doing so, though, we might be glossing over the very real differences between us and them — differences that we should not try to minimize.
“We often resort to ‘we are all’ language around high profile public tragedies like these. We are all Paris… Brussels… Je suis Charlie Hebdo… Orlando… Charleston… Muslim. Again, I understand the sentiment behind these statements. … But on a technical level, ‘we are’ or ‘I am’ or ‘je suis’ language isn’t true.”
Rather, Dueck says he tries to acknowledge the differences between himself and others, while also expressing a love and concern that bridges those differences.
“When an act of violence is committed against Muslims, I do not say, ‘I am Muslim’ with you but ‘I love, support, and stand with you, my Muslim neighbours.’ … But our differences are not thereby obliterated. They are real and they matter, even if I am convinced we must always be seeking to bridge them in pursuit of political stability and human friendship.”