By Wayne Litke
Hurray for logic (formerly known as common sense) and congratulations to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for allowing wisdom to prevail. I am referring to his plan to proceed with the immigration of 25,000 Syrian refugees by the end of December 2015. While some politicians may not care about fulfilling their election promises, a prideful or arrogant leader would have pushed forward with such an unrealistic plan and created numerous possible breaches in national security. However, Trudeau listened to public concerns about his plan and extended the importation deadline to a more realistic time frame.
Special thanks also go out to premiers such as Saskatchewan’s Brad Wall who pointed out the hazards associated with rushing a mass migration of people from a war-torn area that is rife with extremists, a brutal dictator, atrocious human rights violations and terrorist activities. Other premiers were quick to criticize Wall’s comments and in doing so argued that we need to show compassion and be accommodating. I totally agree that we need to care (individually and as a nation) and take action, but we can easily go too far and allow humanitarian acts to be replaced with extreme ideas.
For example, I am not a huge proponent of Christmas for a few “logical” reasons, yet I enjoy the season and what it represents. However, those sentiments are not shared by everyone and accommodating the views of visible minorities is creating some heartfelt issues at home and around the world.
Near Milan, a headmaster has been criticized by residents and Italy’s prime minister after he canceled the school’s Christmas concert in the name of multiculturalism. He banned the singing of Christmas carols and postponed the December concert to January when it will be resurrected as a winter show that will not include any religious songs.
That truly was a considerate and accommodating move on behalf of the 63-year-old principal. He said the decision was made after extensive consultation with teachers who support the idea. The move was sparked after an “unhappy experience” occurred at last year’s Christmas concert. Some Muslim children did not sing carols with their classmates when on stage and stood motionless on the stage. Just the thought of it brings back “unhappy” memories of group performances at special school events when I was a child. However, I grew emotionally from the experiences that I disliked and now I cannot be shut up in public – this column is a prime example of that.
Getting back to recent events in Italy, it sounds like last year’s event was handled wrong by both the school and parents which paved the way for the decision to cancel the 2015 Christmas concert. For example, parents had to watch as their children were present with their classmates on stage, but did not participate at all. That would be uncomfortable for everyone, especially the children who did not participate. The fact Muslims were put in such a position demonstrates a blatant communication problem (more so than a cultural issue in my opinion) between educators and parents.
It’s equally bothersome to know that some parents called their children off the stage during the concert. Such an experience would be more than “unhappy,” it would be downright humiliating for any child. However, as parents we sometimes make huge errors in judgment (at least I did).
I think back to the time when our oldest child started school. Being a well-intentioned parent with Christian principles, but lacking experience and wisdom, I (not my wife) decided our child should not learn about God through vane repetitions of the Lord’s Prayer at the start of each school day. His teacher was asked to allow him to stand in the hall while the rest of his friends recited the short verses. I never gave a thought to his classmates’ reaction or my public schooling which started each morning with the Lord’s Prayer. Like the multiplication and division tables, the Lord’s Prayer was learned by repetition. The verses teach basic principles such as respect, thankfulness and forgiveness – so why was I opposed to that idea as a young father? It was likely my inability to look at the matter from a viewpoint other than my own that allowed that silly situation to prevail until it became a moot point when the Lord’s Prayer was banned in public schools.
Jumping forward 2 ½ decades, we find an Italian principal and staff banning a Christmas concert because approximately 20 per cent of the students are from families that do not have Christian beliefs. Due to the paranoia surrounding the elementary school Christmas concert, two mothers who volunteered to teach children carols at lunch time had their request turned down. Since I am now older and hopefully much wiser than when our children attended school, I fail to see the problem with students being offered an opportunity to learn religious songs, provided parents are informed and it is not a mandatory program.
Italy is not the only country where radical ideas about the de-celebration of Christmas is occurring. In the name of cultural acceptance, Christmas traditions and greetings are being quietly eliminated at an increasing rate in most western nations. We fail to realize that we do not have to abandon our religious beliefs and traditions in order to prove we accept and value other cultures.