Whether it’s acts of terrorism, hate crimes and racism, this violence that’s been all over the media lately, that has been consuming innocent lives is absolutely horrible – it’s a waste of beauty and potential to our society. I would have thought that today we would be living in a world where violence would be happening less and less, not more and more.

Shouldn’t we have learned by now, based on history, what recent generations have lived through, or even the simple lessons that we pass down to our children, that violence doesn’t stop violence? People shooting people never solved anything, and it’s not going to start making a difference now. I understand that there are times when one has to defend themselves and the safety of those around them, but there have been numerous cases where defence wasn’t the case.

Remember what happened to 18-year-old Sammy Yatim on the Dundas Streetcar in Toronto, back in 2013? The streetcar was empty, he was armed with a knife. Maybe the police officer’s life was in danger, perhaps the first round of shots were in self-defence. But when Const. James Forcillo, who shot and killed Yatim, got Yatim down after the initial round of shots, why did he have to shoot him another six times only to then be Tasered by another officer afterwards?

Unfortunately, all it takes are a handful of bad cops to give everyone else a bad name, which can also be said for many other careers too. Yes, sometimes the police make mistakes, no one is perfect, and until you’re in that situation where your life is on the line you can’t comprehend what’s going through that officer’s mind. In that kind of job, you never know what situation you’ll be faced with next or what the outcome will be.

In the last several weeks, all anyone has been talking about is the massacre of the 49 innocent people in Orlando, the tragedy in Dallas where a man shot dead five police officers and wounded seven more, the shooting of Philando Castile in St. Paul, Minnesota who was killed by police, the fatal shooting of Alton Sterling also shot by police, and the list just keeps growing. Every time I turn on the radio or the TV, it’s always tragic news that’s being reported. And sometimes, these are deaths that could have been avoided if things were handled a little differently.

All of these tragedies have sparked an outrage across the nation, especially in the black community and the LGBTQ community, and with reason. It’s really saddening, that in 2016, these forms of hatred still exist. Racism shouldn’t exist anymore, homophobia shouldn’t exist anymore, but unfortunately it does. After all the persecution and human suffering we’ve seen throughout history, we as a society should be more accepting of all those around us. What are we showing our children? What are we teaching them? What kind of world are they growing up in?

Instead of judging others so quickly, why don’t we as a people, regardless of our colour, our race, our gender, our sexual orientation, why can’t we put our weapons down, stop the violence, shelve the jealously, as well as, our opinions and try to make a change in other ways. Why can’t we live our lives without criticizing everyone around us? I hear many people say they are raising their children differently, raising them to know better, to be more accepting of others, of their lifestyles and of their choices, and yet, we are still seeing all of this violence. Bullying in our schools has also gotten worse, and sadly it’s happening younger and younger. How are we to protect our children? Why can’t we teach them that it’s ok to be different, to be unique?

At the end of the day, no matter how we raise our kids, we have to keep in mind that as parents there is only so much we can do once they are old enough to go out into the world on their own. At that point, they will be making their own life choices, choices that will shape their lives and the lives of those around them. We can only pray that they will do what’s right, that we have taught them well enough that they may be the start of a change in the way this world is growing – a change for the better.

But until that day, we must do our best to instil good values in our children, teach them that it’s ok to be different, to be unique, to be accepting of others regardless of who they are or what the colour of their skin is. It starts at home first, and it’s not easy when your child comes home from school or the park or just being out and starts mimicking what they’ve heard or have seen others do. We need to be strong and honest with them, keep the lines of communication open at all times.

Life is not easy. It really isn’t. Especially when everyone has their own opinion. Just because someone has their own opinion, whether or not it’s different from your own, it doesn’t make them any less than you, it doesn’t make them wrong and you right, or vice versa. We need to be able to accept it and move on.

People need to learn to let things go, to learn from history and move forward. We need to enjoy life, to respect the life we have been given and all those lives around us, because it’s precious and fragile. We can be here one moment and in the blink of an eye, gone the next. There’s no time for all of this inequality, for all of this hatred, for all of this waste of life. What we need is strength and guidance, and hope for the best.

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