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Understanding, Not Anger, Is What We Need

Discussion in 'Hard Talk' started by satnamr46, Apr 25, 2010.

  1. satnamr46

    satnamr46 Canada
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    May 23, 2009
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    Understanding, not anger, is what we need

    Qualities of hospitality, friendliness have been forgotten in wake of weekend's unpleasantness

    By Michael Smyth, The ProvinceApril 22, 2010Comments (117)

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    Province provincial affairs columnist Michael Smyth

    Photograph by: File photo, The Province

    The friendliest welcome I have ever received while travelling abroad for The Province was when I visited Punjab in 2000.
    At every stop, I was graciously invited into people's homes for meals and cups of sweet tea. They were invariably proud of their village and were anxious to share their stories with a visitor from Canada.
    On the day I visited Amritsar, it was during a festival called Holi -- the festival of colours.
    I didn't realize what it was all about, until a little kid came up to me and asked if he could put some coloured powder on my face.
    After I agreed, that emboldened all his little friends. And, within minutes, I was covered head-to-toe in coloured powder and paint, surrounded by laughing children.
    The Golden Temple was a place of sublime beauty I will never forget.
    Hospitality. Friendliness. Welcoming. These are the qualities that I associate with Punjab and people of the Sikh faith.
    I found myself thinking of these memories the past few days, as controversy erupted over last weekend's Vaisakhi celebration in Surrey, which threatened to rip the scab off wounds that should have long since healed.
    Words spoken without thought. Angry reactions and overreactions. These are the things that run counter to the spirit of Punjab. And now is the time to stop the anger, to talk with each other, and to understand.
    And I mean all sides in the dispute.
    Should one of the Vaisakhi organizers have said that Liberal MP Ujjal Dosanjh and Liberal MLA Dave Hayer were not invited, and would be responsible for their own safety if they showed up? I say no -- everyone should be welcome at Vaisakhi.
    Dosanjh does not strike me as a man who is afraid to walk down the street in his own community. By suggesting he would somehow be in danger at a family-oriented celebration of more than 100,000 people is unnecessarily provocative. As a former premier, he deserves more respect.
    Should Gordon Campbell have boycotted the event? I think the current premier had little choice under the circumstances. But now that Vaisakhi organizers have apologized, I think Campbell should reach out and continue the healing.
    Could Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts have handled things better? I understand her frustration, but angry recriminations can just make the situation worse.
    I don't excuse the media in any of this. Sensational reporting of events can also fan the flames.
    On Wednesday, Watts and her officials met with representatives of the Gudwara Sahib Dasmesh Darbar to discuss the weekend's incidents.
    This is the best news we could have heard after several days of bitterness. Talking, and understanding, are the best ways to prevent a repeat of the unpleasantness, and ensure the peace and joy of Vaisakhi are always celebrated in British Columbia.
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