A call for unity in divisive times

Poetry and art help us heal — but we must look collectively at what is ailing our societies.

Credit: Josh Applegate

Love, or hate?

Fear, or acceptance?

There are some people who would like to divide the world into two distinct camps that don’t speak to each other.

The first camp, that of fear, gathers people who are afraid — afraid of losing what little they have, and everything they have worked so hard to build. Afraid of the new, unfamiliar faces coming into the neighbourhoods where they have always lived, where they used to know everybody. And everybody was just like them. Talked like them. Prayed like them. Ate what they ate. We feel safer in what we know. We can’t pretend that’s not the case.

In the other camp, there are people who know that the rich diversity of our country and our cities is a source of great wealth and strength, and not of discord. The majority of my family and loved ones are immigrants and refugees, who fled war-torn or economically depressed parts of the world. I have seen firsthand that they are strong, enduring, resilient, capable, intelligent, warm and caring people. But most importantly, they are people.

In these troubled times, I’m reminded of the the words of the great American poet, Maya Angelou, and the most striking verse of her poem, Human Family: “we are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike”.

This is not the time for despair or silence or hatred. Sit quietly within yourself and search your heart for fear and anger, and let it go. Open yourself to unity and beauty in all its forms. Dare to smile, nod your head and extend an open hand towards your neighbours, known and unknown.

That is how civilizations heal.

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