To the Editor,
I feel Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s recent emphatic suggestion that “the next time you see a woman in a hijab or a family out for a stroll, give them a smile,” is actually a very healthy and powerful, yet relatively effortless, response by caring individuals toward all acts of targeted hate.
One might also wear anti-hate symbolism, e.g. a coloured ribbon or shirt. I decided to do just that as my own rebellious response to the (as anticipated) acts of racial/religious intolerance that soon followed Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential election victory.
Anti-Trump demonstrators’ catchy slogan was “Love Trumps Hate.” Not much for the “love” part, I would do the next best thing by offering a smile.
But when offering a smile, one should do so promptly. In my first attempt, with a passing woman wearing a Muslim head scarf, I hesitated long enough (likely for fear of possibly offending her modesty) for her to catch my blank stare and quickly look away. Bitterly ironic, the opposite of my intended friendly gesture was therefor likely perceived by her.
I made sure to not repeat the mistake, however, as I passed a middle-aged Black woman along the sidewalk. To me, she had a lined expression of one who’d endured a hard life. I gave her a smile, and her seemingly tired face lit up with her own smile, as though mine was the last thing she’d expected to receive.
We always greet one another, since then, and converse when awaiting the bus. In today’s climate of bigotry, I feel it’s not enough to just not think or act hateful. We all also need to display kindness, perhaps through a sincere smile.
Frank Sterle Jr.,
White Rock, B.C.