Yesterday a shooter opened fire in Ottawa, Canada, killing Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, a soldier guarding the Ottawa War Memorial. Despite the efforts of a few local good Samaritans, Cpl. Cirillo died from his wounds, and left a city in a panicked lock-down. The suspect is thought to be a member of an extremist Islamic group, possibly acting on the urges of ISIS for “lone wolf attacks” on the U.S. and Canada. Others claim that the shooter suffered from a mental illness, and may have spiraled into the world of extremism as his own mental health deteriorated. The truth is, like so many attacks, it will be hard to ever uncover the truest version. The one truth that is here, is that a solider is now dead, and a nation must mourn one of its own.
I want to focus, not on the shooter, but on Cpl. Cirillo, and the legacy he leaves behind. From all accounts, it was one of honor, loyalty, and service to his nation. He was more recently known for his advocacy efforts to allow Sikhs to wear their ceremonial daggers while presenting to Canada’s House of Commons. Cpl. Cirillo seemed to be a man who stood for the rights of others, regardless of the current political or media trends of the time.
Individuals like Cpl. Cirillo are special, but they are not the minority. Within all of us resides a person who is able to stand and defend the rights of those around us, no matter how dire it might first appear. Regardless of where one turns, the media and the stories you may hear will focus on the negative, the fear. To do so, is to further perpetuate the fear, the hate, the differences. Instead focus on what Cpl. Cirillo stood for. Focus on the good, the kind, and the helpful, and make hate and fear the minority.
Canada is a long standing ally of the United States, and many consider this loss as a part of our own. We recognize the death of Cpl. Cirillo as a tragedy, and our condolences to his family, friends, and fellow soldiers during this time. Honor the fallen, remember them.
Courtney Kidd, LMSW
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