Unlike the majority(?) of Canadians, I am unable to share in the outpouring of grief over the death of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo. Many have used the word "hero" to describe his actions, which amounted to being the victim of a coward shooting him in the back. This incident was horrifying, but to call the victim a hero? If he is one, then it is true that the word hero has lost all meaning.
I am struck by how much the symbolism of what happened in Ottawa on October 22, 2014 is growing in importance to the actual physical facts. A national hero was murdered by a terrorist on a mission of Jihad. Thousands of Canadians lined the Highway of Heroes to honour this brave hero on his final journey home.
Sorry. I just can't buy into it.
The grief of Cirillo's family and friends is nothing to laugh at or mock. But I only see that a horrific public murder happened in our capital city. It ended with a shootout in the halls of our government. It was, and always will be shocking at that level.
But just a few days before, Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent was killed in another cowardly attack. And yet he is not being feted as a national hero. He was in uniform, but he wasn't guarding a war memorial in Ottawa. And that makes me wonder, what if it wasn't Cirillo that was shot in Ottawa, what if it was a tourist? Keep everything else the same, would that tourist have been mourned publicly by thousands on the Highway of Heroes?
The public nature of the grief appears to be indelibly tied to Who, When, Where and Why. And there is a publicly accepted, nay expected, level of grief required for different combinations. The more symbolism around the death, the greater the grief required.
All of this would make for only an interesting Anthropology discussion if it weren't for the reaction to this event it is provoking. Laws must be changed, freedoms given up, wars must be fought.
Because symbols have power and that power needs be expressed in every way possible.
Nope. Sorry. Don't buy it for a minute.
And that makes a very bad person.