Cpl. Nathan Cirillo and tourist, Megan, in front of National War Memorial in Ottawa
Yesterday, hate struck at the heart of everyone who believes that the love we give others is far more powerful than hate. We are all filled with anger. The seeds of wanting retribution grow within us like a parasite seeking to suck all the life, all the love, all the joy out of us. We want justice. We want everyone responsible for murdering Cpl. Nathan Cirillo given a punishment that lives with them every single moment of their lives or to die a horrible and agonizing death. We feel a seething outrage that a soldier with no weapon was so viciously killed. It is an act of supreme cowardice.
If we allow ourselves to be consumed by hate all that is dark and evil in this world wins.
This is a time when we need to comfort each other. We need to embrace each other. We are hurt. There are waves of sadness that come. Let them come. Do not say, “I need to be brave. I need to deny the pain I am in.” Feel it. Let the tears come. Allow all you are feeling to have a voice. If you need to yell out at the top of your lungs that this tragedy is unfair that’s okay. Do not push the pain down. Allow yourself time to heal.
Whether you view Christ as a good man, moral teacher or the divine son of God, what cannot be disputed is that when He was crucified in His humanity hate could have won. He could have prayed for all responsible for spitting on Him, beating Him and then nailing Him to the Cross to be meted out a painful death. Instead, He advocated for them saying, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they are doing” (Luke 23:34, NASB).He did not allow his thoughts to be ruled with vengeance. Christ’s heart is filled with compassion for those who are guilty of killing Him.
When Christ gives the sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:4 He says, “Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted” (NASB).The Message says, “You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.”
It is so painful to lose someone you love. I reflect upon losing my mother to a massive heart attack at age 57 three days before Christmas in 1992. I remember her gifts of sacrificial love. She defends me all the times my father in his manic rages with schizophrenia would try to beat me. She often takes the blows that are meant for me. She protects me as much as she can from the darkness in my father that seeks to destroy me, that wants me to be filled with hate, filled with vengeance.
My thoughts go back to the time I am 11.
I come home from school. I call out,”Mom. Mom! Mom!!” Everywhere I look I cannot find her. My heart thumps. A growing nausea comes over me. I hear my mother’s faint cry. “I’m down here.” I race down the stairs each second my heart beating faster and faster. I am terrified of what I will see.
My mother’s call for help grows clearer as I am now in the basement. I open the storage room door. I turn on the light. I discover my mother huddled in a corner. She is trembling. There is blood flowing down her legs mixed with the wood splinters from where my father dragged her down the basement stairs. Darkness, fear and hate fills that room. The call to murder my father rises within me. I make a vow that I will find a way to kill him.
I lay awake at night plotting how I will murder my father. After watching a movie where a man gets stabbed I receive the answer darkness wants me to have. I will get my father so furious with me that he will come at me. I will plunge a knife into his chest giving it a quick upper thrust and twisting it like I have seen in the movie. I will rejoice when this evil Mr. Hyde I no longer know is dead.
I thank God that I do not give hate the opportunity to win. My mother, brother and me escape our perpetual abusive hell. Love wins because I later forgive my father. I renounce the vow I made that I would kill him.
I pray that we all will let love win like I allowed it to by letting all hate in me for my father to die. I am still on the path of healing from my abuse, but I rejoice today that hate lost and love won.
As a Canadian I am deeply sad that a fellow Canadian, husband, father,soldier, a colleague to fellow soldiers and officers, a light in this world, a man whose smile we will forever remember, has been so brutally struck down so young. Cpl. Nathan Cirillo has been taken from us far too early. The sadness we all feel is overwhelming.
What we all need to ask ourselves is how would Cpl. Nathan Cirillo want us to live? As I reflect on that photo of him in uniform as a member of Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders regiment,smiling as a tourist named Megan is next to him, in it we have for us the answer. He would want us not to be consumed by hate. He would tell us to be filled with life, love and laughter as he was. He would be saying that love is stronger than hate; it is more powerful than anger; it is the gift we give to one another; it is in that hug, smile, the sweet caress we give our spouse; it is in the gift of laughter we give to our children. Love is in every heart who cares, who prays for a kinder, a more caring, a more loving world, a world where we are not ruled by our fear.
Do not allow the terrorists to have the victory over you. Defeat them by resolving that you will live a life of purpose filled with an abounding love and joy in your heart for others. Tell them through acts of kindness to those who need your compassion that you are better than the hate and darkness that seeks to consume you.
I am concerned by all the messages filled with hate that are all over the Internet. Some are calling for the annihilation of all Islamic people. They are not the enemy. Let us all be very clear about that fact. Islamic extremists are the enemy. ISIS is the enemy. Those who practice true Islam are a people filled with love..In the Koran they equate the killing of one human-being as equal to the murdering of all humankind.
“In Islam, the right to life is an absolute value: He who kills a soul unless it be (in legal punishment) for murder or for causing disorder and corruption on the earth will be as if he had killed all humankind; and he who saves a life will be as if he had saved the lives of all humankind (Qur’an 5:32).” 1
Those responsible for the cold-blooded murder of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo need to be brought to justice. Sadly, many more soldiers will be sent to Iraq to fight against ISIS.
Let us pray for Prime Minister Stephen Harper, U.S. President, Barack Obama, British Prime Minister, David Cameron, world leaders, N.D.P. Leader, Thomas Mulcair, Liberal Leader, Justin Trudeau, Green Party Leader, Elizabeth May and all members of Canada’s federal and provincial parliaments as they carry out their duties. Pray that their decisions in these coming days will be done with the greatest of care, consultation and wisdom.
Pray for the protection of Sergeant- at- Arms, Kevin Vickers, his security team, members of the Ottawa police, citizens of Ottawa and all who will be involved in protecting us from further acts of terrorism. We salute you for your noble acts of courage under fire. I know none of you likes to be called a hero but you are. You all go into harm’s way to keep us safe. Your swift actions prevented a massacre. We pray for God’s comfort in your hearts as you mourn the death of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo.
I pray all Canadians and all people around the world would be consoled as they mourn. Reach out to each other. Give each other the gift of love hate cannot steal. Allow yourself to grieve. In your liquid prayers call out and ask God to comfort you. Give yourself permission to cry.
Let us all honor Cpl. Nathan Cirillo by living a life of purpose, giving to others as he gave, being a light in an ever-darkening world. Then, love will win and hate will lose.