Most of us think of this community as unique, as special, and we have ample reason to do so. But we have been tested over the last two years. Our complacency has been shattered, our friendships strained, our trust in one another no longer something we take for granted. We know now, without any doubt, that we are not insulated from the world’s problems—and really, we never have been.
Last week’s confirmation that human remains had been found on Lake Marvin Road, and identified as those of missing Canadian High School senior Thomas Brown, left us reeling. We mourned for his death, for his family’s loss, for all who had searched and sacrificed to find him, and for the cruel finality that confronted his friends and classmates and teachers.
We mourned for the uncertainty that now faced us. One mystery had been solved. Tom had come home. But the greater mystery of how he died, and why, and who might have been involved, remained.
Even as we each struggled to come to terms with that news, we learned that a much-beloved educator had died, on a seemingly ordinary day, in a seemingly ordinary place, and at his own hands—something we want desperately to believe is anything but ordinary.
Sorrow and exhaustion have turned to anger and denial. Once again, our community has been broken, our children robbed of innocence, and our parents and educators and ministers and counselors and friends left grasping for some way to make sense of the senseless, and to restore order to our now-disordered lives.
We demand answers. We look for someone—anyone—to blame. The shadow we had hoped would soon lift, has descended.
Over these last two years, the community of Canadian has been thrust into the public spotlight—its harsh and relentless glare exposing us, flaws and all. We cannot deny the toll it has taken on our collective spirit.
But in the midst of our distress, we have also experienced moments of remarkable kindness and grace. We have witnessed the soaring human spirit, transcendent in the face of unimaginable and unspeakable sorrow. And we have a choice.
We can be the light. We can reject darkness and solitude, and reach out to those who are alone, or who feel left behind. We can seek the answers in our own lives, rather than demanding them from others.
We can deploy kindness. We know it is possible. And we know it will make a difference.
We are that unique and special community we thought we were—and where we have faltered, we can accept our failures and mistakes, and set about righting them.
This is no time to judge others. It is time to judge ourselves, to identify the gifts we have, and to give them freely to those most in need.
It is time, now, to begin.