There are so many things that gall me about an atrocity like this that I hardly know where to begin. But the one theme that keeps haunting me is that it could have happened anywhere. Even in my own city. My own place of worship. Or school. Or wherever.
We were in synagogue this past Saturday to watch our daughter recite the passage she originally learned for her bat mitzvah. A week earlier, we were on stage to watch her and our youngest son sing in the choir. They're simple moments, really, milestones in the lives of kids and the community that helped raise them. And as we've done since we moved here, we've gone to this extraordinary place filled with extraordinary, caring people because it adds a certain je ne sais quoi to our lives, an element, a spirit, a certain something that makes this place feel that much more like home. I'm not an overtly religious person by any means, but being part of a broader community somehow makes life warmer, sweeter.
It isn't any different no matter what faith you follow - or even if you don't follow a faith at all. I'm guessing the members of the mosque in the suburb of Ste-Foy sought pretty much what we all seek - togetherness, welcoming, reflection, validation, even refuge. And to be gunned down like farm animals because they dared to attend prayer on a Sunday night is an affront to anyone who values the things that make Canada so extraordinarily special. The gunman didn't just attack a group of worshippers in a single mosque. He attacked all of us.
Which is why I was heartened by London's reaction to this tragedy: Hundreds of members of the community - including the mayor and leaders of all major congregations (including mine) as well as their members - attended a rally today in front of the London Muslim Mosque. The event echoed similar gatherings at mosques across the country, a raw, poignant message from Canadians of all stripes and backgrounds that hatred isn't going to win here.
I don't know if there's enough security in the world to categorically reduce the risk of future attacks to zero. I'm guessing such a world wouldn't be all that liveable. But I do know that fomenting mass hysteria and encouraging unfounded stigmatization of identifiable groups isn't the answer. The socio-political quagmire that seemingly deepens by the hour in Trump's America may very well raise the temperature of zealots on both sides of the border - indeed, the government there perversely used the shooting to justify its just-announced immigration ban. But that doesn't mean that we have to sit around and allow any of this to happen.
There's no such thing as an ideal world. But a kinder, gentler one, where my neighbours stand up for good in spite of everything that swirls around us, feels like the kind of place I'd love to call home. Thankfully the light seems to outshine the dark.