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Information will keep us free

['Perspectives with Shirley Hallee']
['Perspectives with Shirley Hallee']

Perspectives with Shirley Hallee

I am an information junkie, and I have been since childhood. I want to know what is going on in the world. I want to understand who exactly is doing their best, or worst, for all within their country. I will confess that over the years...with earning a living, taking care of a family...and now as an older person having a bit less energy, I have not always followed every corner of the earth. I do try.

In the 16 years I have been writing this column I have indicated there have been heroes for me in this world. One hero was, Viktor Frankl, the author of Man's Search For Meaning. He lived through a concentration camp experience and came out with hope for mankind. As a child and young adult I was amazed by the bravery and focus of Martin Luther King. Nelson Mandela caught my attention some years back, being a black man who spent many years in prison, who then went on to lead his country. I also have taken notice of Desmond Tutu.

Each of these men experienced hate and bigotry; and against seemingly impossible odds went on to achieve great things. Others were ultimately the beneficiaries of their achievements. We are now seeing the image of Viola Desmond on our $10 dollar currency. As a young black woman she refused to be treated as a second-class citizen...not accepting the idea that she could only view a movie from the portion of the theatre assigned to black people. She was jailed for asserting her rights.

Then I look at the person who is now leading the country of my birth. He flew in the most luxurious accommodations to the cities where lives were recently taken with assault rifles. In the case of the Walmart shootings at the Walmart in El Paso, Texas...the killer issued a white supremacist manifesto and his targets were primarily Hispanic. In the weeks ahead the public will likely get more information regarding the motive in the Dayton, Ohio tragedy. Then, only days after these killings, a young white man with body armour, an assault rifle and 100 rounds of ammunition was prevented from repeating the same kind of senseless act at a Walmart in Springfield, Missouri.

There is a core issue with these kinds of events. We are seeing racism and bigotry at increasing levels. Blacks, Latinos, Jews, Muslims, the LGBT community, and native citizens are experiencing hate crimes and day-to-day discrimination. Rather than improvement in rights for all people we seem to be sliding backwards...and I believe the current President of the United States is in large part responsible. Emboldened by Donald Trump's behaviour and rhetoric we are seeing a rise in white supremacist activity. This is occurring in Canada, and in Europe, as well as in the U.S.

Being the information junkie that I am, I can't help but note the similarities between Donald Trump and Adolf Hitler. Hitler's goal was to have a pure white, Aryan society; and he wanted to rule Europe. It was all about power and ultimate control. First he spawned gradual distrust, then hate in much of the population against Jews, gypsies, homosexuals, and anyone who was not German....preferably blue eyed blond. By the time those who didn't agree with Hitler actually noticed what was happening, it was too late. There were brave people who saved lives and worked to subvert Hitler's intentions, but a large number died for their efforts.

Unfortunately, many had become indoctrinated to Hitler's way of thinking. In today's world there seem to be some...even in government who have become indoctrinated to Donald Trump's way of thinking. It can be noted that Canada has one or two politicians who appear to be somewhat anti-immigration, even though this country would benefit from a greater population.

An informed population is essential. However; there are some people who choose not to be informed. They purposely do not read, or watch the news...because it is disturbing. There are some who have become desensitized to the horrific events, since they are occurring at a rate which makes bad things seem almost normal. Then there are some who only check out information if they are pretty sure it will agree with their particular bias. Listening to Fox News commentators report that Trump is not a racist – in spite of his telling black congress women to go back home, and accusing those trying to enter at the Mexican border of being rapists, murderers, and kidnappers – sounds just a tad racist to me.

As we become informed, then articulate our concerns based on good information, we have the ability to make positive changes and insure that we will remain a free society...a society of equality.

Shirley Hallee is a freelance writer living in Amherst. Her column appears weekly in the Amherst News.

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