The Way I See it: Peace begins in the home

Gay teens, courage, faith, hope, bullying, teen suicide

  • Oct. 31, 2011 7:00 a.m.

The words hope, faith and courage have been weaving their way through my mind for the last couple of weeks. I think about Remembrance Day coming up,  and this year it is 11,11,11. Is there some higher meaning there perhaps? Could the triple-11 be a day of peace?

A day of peace where no mother worried about her child’s safety as a child playing outside or as a soldier. Where soldiers could rest, where people might join together and have a feast to celebrate the day of peace. And maybe the one day would lead to another day.

I feel safe here in Vernon in a bit of a cocoon, far away from the battlefields.

My mother was in the Air Force and my father’s heart condition prevented him from joining so he worked in a plant in Montreal building airplanes during the Second World War.  My step-father Bert was in the army and was in England during the war, and all of them had many stories of hope, faith and courage.

My oldest brother Dave is a civilian working for the American government in Afghanistan — he says he is safe, I wonder. A cousin of mine went to Vietnam and the Kevan who boarded the plane wasn’t the man who returned. His life was changed forever, the trauma that he experienced was too much for his gentle soul. He wanted to represent his country, but he had no idea of what he was going to experience.

Hope, faith and courage: we see it every day with the Canadian soldiers who go around the world to bring peace, to work towards those goals, to be helpful, to rebuild communities so that children, mothers and fathers are safe.

Faith, hope and courage: we discuss this with our kids, share stories, and ask them to have these. Teens who are gay and are brave enough to tell their peers need courage to walk the school hallways. Like 15-year-old Jamie Hubley from Ottawa who was out there, energetic and wanting to be accepted. He wasn’t accepted and was bullied so badly that he ended his life.

Rick Mercer was discussing this on CBC Thursday because his weekly rant had been about Jamie’s death. He suggested that if we hold kids accountable for vandalizing the cafeteria, we should be holding these kids accountable who bullied Jamie to the brink. Jamie was depressed and their taunts and humiliation led to his death. He had a supportive family for his depression, for his being gay, and as enthusiastic as he seemed, the torture of his peers was too much.

It took courage for Jamie to share with the world who he really was. There is nothing courageous about bullying. This is an increasing problem in our schools with both girls and boys and there are so many ways to be hurtful now with the Internet, Facebook that just fuel a horrible situation. It’s the coward’s way.

There are about 300 teen suicides a year in Canada. I do believe that the more we pay attention to what is going on with bullying, depression, to our youth we will find ways to have less death, less heartache, more acceptance. Our youth need role models and we need to take the time to be one.

Saving the world, working towards world peace, starts with having peace in our homes.

Michele Blais is a longtime columnist for The Morning Star. She writes about a wide variety of topical issues every other Sunday.