Today’s column in NewsKamloops, published here

tearsIt’s been a week full of news stories, some more terrible than others. Though last weekend had me decided to write about the five conditions city councilor Denis Walsh proposed for the Ajax mine project, I will leave it on the back burner for now.

The week debuted with a little girl in Calgary missing after her mother, a single parent, was found dead in their apartment. There is something that stirs in a painful way when I come across news like that. Less than a year ago a two-and-a-half-year-old girl was kidnapped and eventually murdered and it was the saddest thing for the longest time.

Her killer will be in court next May and one can wonder if our mildly punitive judicial system will give the sentence his heinous acts deserve. We will be kept guessing until then.

This evening, just a few minutes ago, the news came that the body of the little girl in Calgary was found and a man is in custody. There is so much darkness in this act, as in all murders, it’s hard to even bring it up.

It makes me shudder and tear up to write this. I kept checking the news hoping she will be found alive. It made me think of that one-time incident when my youngest was lost in Vancouver when he was almost three.  To this day, those minutes remain the longest and most painful because the fear was so intense. The memory of it still takes me to a place that has no name because fright like that stomps on your mind like nothing else.

Yes, the minutes were long and terrifying and my mind was frozen on one thought: ‘he cannot be gone.’ I remember people shaking heads and shrugging when I asked if they saw him. I remember the helplessness caused by all the horrible ‘what ifs’.

I cannot imagine going through an hour or more, or a day, of panic like that. My short-lived case left a mark that still scares me, though that was seven years ago.

The news that the body of the little Taliyah was found is heartbreaking. Again, someone will be charged with first degree murder, they will appear in court where hopefully a life sentence without possibility of parole (or something along those terms) will be given because nothing else would make sense or seem just, right? Yet truth is many times we hear of sentences so light they resemble a slap on the hand. And the hand often goes back to commit the same or worse…

No one can be brought back from the dead, which is why we need to learn from these harrowingly sad incidents. We need to push to make our justice system fair and, at a personal level, we each need to hug our children tighter today and on all the days to follow. Hatred has insidious and dark paths it follows and it leaves much pain behind, as the recent shootings in the US proved and today’s attack in France too.

It’s hard to understand hatred when your life does not contain it. Yet keeping our heads into blue-sky permanent positivity is not an option, because bad stuff happens, and it could happen anywhere unfortunately. (For the record, I think the media needs to rethink headlines when the location is Nice because headlines like ‘Nice terror attack: 80 killed by truck…’ (The Telegraph) and that is just not OK.)

Where to from here? Hopefully towards learning that if the justice system is not just, nothing will stop some individual from inflicting terrible pain onto others. Maybe a just system with sentences that match the deed will not deter everyone or not enough.

There is work to do to make the world a better place. It will not happen overnight or anytime soon unfortunately, but we cannot give up on trying harder and better, not when the suffering that some people go through is exceeding what most of us could ever imagine.

One thing that I believe is necessary is keeping informed, asking questions, discussing, debating, and fighting for what’s just and ethical. There are many people in the world, children included, who are subjected to wars, famine, slavery and cruelty. There are children growing so close to drug and alcohol addiction they follow the same path when they grow up, save for the ones that manage to get to change their stars.

There is racism and hatred that racism brings about, and there are people who commit horrible acts and they are freed only to do it again because somehow we allow compassion to be taken for granted.

Every time a child loses his or her life under horrible circumstances and we find out about it, we are reminded that the world still needs a lot of kindness and tomorrow is not too soon to start doing our part.