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“I am a Canadian, free to speak without fear, free to worship in my own way, free to stand for what I think right, free to oppose what I believe wrong, or free to choose those who shall govern my country. This heritage of freedom I pledge to uphold for myself and all mankind.” ~~ John G. Diefenbaker

FELDSTED -- Discrimination fractures us into warring enclaves rather than engaging us collectively to improve our quality of life and standard of living

Britain is not alone confronting a new breed of morally pure zealots determined to erase evidence of history they deem uncomfortable. Their mantra is that they cannot tolerate discrimination, even if it took place decades or even centuries ago and they demand that everyone else change without excuses or procrastination.

Minorities have legitimate reasons to protest discrimination and insist on changes. Layers of secret discrimination underlie the beatings, bullying, hazing and murders that must not be tolerated. Roots of discrimination go well beyond race or colour.

Discrimination is irrational, based on a person being perceived as ‘different’ or ‘defective’ and thus a target for demeaning, disparaging and worse.

Minorities refuse to accept that they are part of the problem.

These moralists are modern versions of Seth Pecksniff, pointing the way to high moral standards without adopting and employing them. They are as useful as directional sign posts and equally intelligent. Every race has a history of slavery and discrimination. Tribes enslaved survivors of wars, captured slaves from other tribes, and owned, bought and sold slaves as chattels.

Solutions require forgiveness, patience, tolerance and respect from all of us.

Solutions will not come from shaming, tearing down statues, renaming buildings and streets, or rioting.

Venting pent-up anger is understandable. Advocating change is reasonable.

Dismantling historical markers, and advocating replacement of order with chaos, is not.

We need to look back at where we once were, how far we have come, and recognize that we have to redouble efforts to make our society inclusive and equal in terms of opportunity for every person.

We do not hear about the tens of thousands of minority members who have succeeded. They have overcome discrimination and could be wise advocates and mentors of those seeking changes from governments and the general population.

They have walked the walk and know the pitfalls and subtleties of discrimination.

They can be invaluable in mapping out a framework for policies that will encourage and foster change.

We cannot eliminate discrimination without the full participation of everyone, including the victims of discrimination. At the start, nothing will satisfy activists. Every race and tribe, and every strata within those bodies, has people undeserving of respect. Their attitudes and behaviours are not acceptable to their peers or anyone else. These “bad apples” are not representative of their group and we must not use them as stereotypes.

We must start with rectifying the most conspicuous examples of discrimination, eliminate those and keep working to eliminate other types of discrimination until we achieve a discrimination free society.

Every person has the right to conduct his or her affairs without fear of being bullied, denied services, or denied equal opportunities of acceptance, employment, earnings and promotions. Equal opportunities do not result in equal outcomes; outcomes vary in accordance with individual effort. We have to level the playing field and ensure that every person has equal opportunities to grow and thrive.

Equality of opportunity, free from discrimination, must be our goal. That will require a concerted effort by everyone.

We cannot choose any group as being responsible for discrimination, or give any group a free pass. That is like putting a patch on a hole in a boat bottom that has been machine gunned. If we want to rebuild a society in danger of civil war, we have to take a more reasoned and effective approach and solicit help from everyone.

We face a common problem. Discrimination is insidious and those least vulnerable today may be tomorrow’s victims.

Our failure to live together peacefully and respectfully is a far greater risk to our future as a nation than any virus or war.

Our society is dying from a thousand acts of discrimination each day. Discrimination fractures us into warring enclaves rather than engaging us collectively to improve our quality of life and standard of living.

People caught in acts of discrimination need education, not censure. Censure creates resentment while education creates enlightenment.

We have failed to address discrimination. It is not a topic of conversation, discussion or debate.

Until it is, we are guilty of avoiding a commitment to creating a truly inclusive and equal society of peers.

John Feldsted ... is a political commentator, consultant, and strategist. He makes his home in Winnipeg, Manitoba.


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