“The enemy is fear. We think it is hate; but it is really fear.” – Mahatma Gandhi
On Tuesday, February 21, we had the honour of attending the Multi-Faith Welcoming Committee at the Ottawa Airport that Rabbi Bulka organizes each year during Kindness Week. We were joined by Imam Samy Metwally, Archbishop Terrance Prendergast, Reverand Anthony Bailey, and Cindy Smith and Megan O’Meara from Kind Ottawa.
The kids made signs to hold up to welcome people to Ottawa and the adults handed out chocolate toonies and loonies to those arriving at the bottom of the escalator. It definitely brought a smile to the faces of the weary air travelers!
One lovely woman was so touched that she asked to be in a photo with the whole group!
Then, on the way back to the parking garage, we ran into a fantastic Police Officer, Ed Barry, who does magic tricks. So of course the kids needed to see a magic trick! We hope that Ed will join us at future World-Changing Kids events to wow the kids with his magic.
This is how you teach peace — by exposing children to people of all different religions, cultures, languages and skin colours. Having our World-Changing Kids spend an hour with these religious leaders, welcoming a group of diverse people to Ottawa, will have lasting impacts on their beliefs about community, inclusion and equality.
Expanding a child’s worldview by teaching them about people who are different will reduce thoughts of “us vs. them” or “us and others”. It will teach the children that we are all more the same than we are different. Regularly interacting with a diverse group of people, and seeing diversity in the media, will result in children being comfortable with people who look, speak and dress differently than their own family members and close friends. Because we attended this event with the kids, they will know that the adults in their lives thought that this was an important event, and that these religious leaders are a welcomed part of our community.
If children learn all this from a young age, they will be comfortable with diversity – they will not fear people who are different. And it is fear of the unknown, fear of what seems different, that leads to hate and racism. Understanding and acceptance of different cultures and religions will lead to peace.