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The Tsunami Absolution

Empathy To Human Fate,
Apathy Toward<br>Human Hate

Beryl P. Wajsman 15 January 2005

“Much truth is spoken, that more may be concealed.” ~ Charles Darling

“Hypocrisy, that evil that neither man nor angel can discern, Invisible, except to God alone.” ~ John Milton

G.K. Chesterton once observed that “Charity, when manifested only as a defense against the incomprehensible, provides nothing more than a form of absolution without confession.” As commendable as the current outpouring of sympathy for the Tsunami victims may be, it reeks of a race to absolution. Absolution for the sins of silence we have committed so spectacularly and so often. The silence of voices always mute when faced with the evils that men do rather than the harm that nature inflicts.

Wrapping ourselves in cloaks of charity will not absolve us of our complicity in impotent acquiescence to the daily torrent of state-sponsored deceptions and institutional betrayals. It’s too easy. And it’s too transparent.

Too many of us empathize with the victims of human fate, but not enough with the victims of human hate.  We react only when it costs us nothing in terms of confronting governments, international organizations and corporations. When there is no threat to our personal “bottom lines”.

We retreat from reason in the face of the onslaught of media Tsunamis. Whatever images and opinions flood us from television and magazines we readily accept as reality. Whatever sound bites we are fed by politicians we digest as quickly as any fast food. It is nothing less than a failure of faith in the possibilities of our own capacities and a betrayal of the conscience of our character.

Where are our voices pleading for the devastated of Darfur when our own government still refuses to call their slaughter genocide? Why are we so ambivalent about selling our national honour to “reformed” killers like Khaddafi for a few pieces of silver? What will it take for people to press governments to stop the scourge of AIDS in Africa that claims as many victims as the Tsunami every week? When do we put an end to “business as usual” with regimes that oppress hundreds of millions around the world?

Just several years Canada helped sponsor the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS). That Commission recommended the enforcement of a new doctrine in the international order. What it called the “responsibility to protect”. Canada endorsed it. Two Prime Ministers embraced it. Yet we have yet to act on it.

The reason is that despite ample and obvious opportunities it’s too tough. It involves more than just mouthing platitudes, holding multicultural love-ins and writing cheques. It means assuming our own share of a burden we are urging on others. And that is just not the “Canadian Way”.

We’ve become a nation of patsies falling for any manipulation. As we did when the Kahdr family, admitted accomplices of bin-Ladin, returned here to claim their “right” to free medical care. Or when then Finance Minister Paul Martin ignored security advice and attended a Toronto dinner put on by a front for the Tamil Tigers of Sri Lanka a terrorist group so vicious that, according to Stewart Bell, it has carried out some 200 suicide bombings of its own.

A former director of CSIS has said there are more than 50 active international terrorist groups operating in Canada. More than in any other country with the possible exception of the United States. We never miss an opportunity to tell the world how caring and wonderful we are. In reality all we have done is build up what Churchill called a “…bodyguard of lies…” to protect our self-satisfied complacency.

We like to think of ourselves as global humanitarians. Always claiming convincing moral authority yet never acting with authentic moral legitimacy. The reason we can’t recognize our lethargic apathy is that we’re sitting on it.

It’s time we walked the walk and not just talked the talk. It’s time to put some steel into our sentiment and confront the failures of man as passionately as we react to the frights of nature. If we fail – if we continue to succumb to the cringing prudery of political correctness – this Dominion will surely be savaged by Tsunamis of redemptive rage incomparably more destructive of whatever intrinsic integrity we have left than anything we have witnessed in the past ten days.



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