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As terror strikes at home, Canadians must respond with love, not hate

It is a tragic day for Canada. Today, Corporal Nathan Cirillo was killed while standing guard at the Canadian War Memorial in Ottawa. The gunman, Canadian Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, was later killed in a firefight in the Canadian parliament. He has been identified as a radicalised Muslim convert.

On Monday, two Canadian soldiers were struck by a car in Quebec; one of them later died from his injuries. The driver, who appeared to have targeted them, was Martin Rouleau, another radicalised Muslim convert.

It looks like Canada has become a battleground for terrorist attacks, potentially in response to deploying planes and personnel for air strikes against the Islamic State in Iraq.

Terrorists aim to achieve their goals through violence, fear, and force. To respond with violence, fear and force is to say that these tactics are justified as long as they are used against the "bad guys." Terrorists also believe that they are fighting a just war against the "bad guys." Let's not prove them right.

Don't misunderstand me. I condemn terrorists like the Islamic State for oppressing people, killing innocent victims, and attacking sovereign countries. I believe it's our moral duty to fight against terrorism, oppression, violence, and fear in Canada, and around the world. But to be morally justified and consistent with our reasons for doing so, the ends cannot justify the means. Our means must be consistent with our values, or we've lost moral ground, if not sovereign territory.

As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, "Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that."

Today, when it appears that terrorism is now striking close to home, and we fear it may strike again, perhaps even closer, we must respond with love, peace, and courage - not hate, violence, and fear.

In the parliamentary discussions that were ironically delayed today because of today's attack, I hope that limits on surveillance and protection of Canadians' freedoms will be upheld. I hope that peaceful Canadians will remain free to visit our parliament buildings, albeit with greater scrutiny for weapons to protect us all. I hope that we will send aid to the victims and refugees from the Islamic State conflict, and deploy diplomatic, rather than military, force to stop their oppression of religious minorities and objectors to their tactics.

Can peaceful resistance against gross human rights abuses succeed? I've been thinking about that lately. I believe that millions of lives could have been saved in World War II if all of the citizens, soldiers, and conscientious resisters said "over my dead body" before SS officers could deport Jews from the ghettos of Europe. 19 million civilians died directly from the war, and an estimated 19 million more from war-related famine and disease, plus 23 million soldiers. In total, 50 to 80 million people perished.

If instead of taking up arms, we lay them down - with our lives if necessary - I am convinced millions of lives would have been saved. It takes a miraculous amount of courage and sacrifice to resist evil unarmed; to stand up for one's moral beliefs and the lives of strangers, at the cost of your own (plus the repercussions on your family). Undoubtedly, thousands of resisters would have lost their lives, but how many less than 80 million? 40 million? 20 million? 1 million? How long could Hitler himself have stomached the slaughter of unarmed innocents, if they were Aryan and German and "valued" innocents, rather than the devalued innocent lives of the Holocaust victims?

As Canada responds to attacks on its citizens on its own soil, where we are at peace (yet bombing ISIS in Iraq), let's look honestly and deeply at whether a violent response is either moral, or effective.

Where is our Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., today? At least we know what he would say:

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that."

Let's remember what he achieved nonviolently (and was even willing to die for), and live up to his example.

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