In case you didn’t know, November 25th was the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and it marks the first of 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence. The last of these 16 days is December 10th – International Human Rights Day.
In commemoration, a group at my university came up with a brilliant, but simple, idea. They posted black and white photos (like those you’d find on lamp posts declaring that a certain loved one was MISSING) of Canadian women who were either murdered, kidnapped, or who’s whereabouts are currently unknown. Beneath each photo is a brief description of the person and a short blurb about their specific case. I’ve marched down that hallway numerous times since they started the campaign.
The hallway itself is underground and narrow, cold – even with all the superfluous banners posted by various student societies vying for the attention of glucose-starved bodies rushing to the caf. There is no rushing these days. People actually stop, and read. You can’t help it. They’re staring at you with hopeful eyes: hopeful for a bright future, or for a peaceful end.
But they had neither.
I can no longer eat in that hallway surrounded by smiling ghosts caught in limbo between the torture of life and the freedom of eternity. How does a soul live with the memories of it’s own slaughter?
Today, I took the time to read, and I found something that really bothered me. In fact, it’s the whole reason I decided to write this post. The term “honour killing” was used as a justification for murder in most of those cases (I’m sure it was more than half). What bothered me wasn’t merely the thought of how someone could do such a thing for the sake of “honour.” What bothered me was how words, of great significance and value, are being defiled. Words that represent profound values that motivate us to be noble in our thoughts and actions. Words that I want to teach my children so that they have the opportunity to be principled servants of humanity.
Words like, HONOUR:
The consciousness of one’s privilege to be living, and adhering to what will raise the standards of life for everything that grows.
Words like, TRADITION:
The passing down of customs and beliefs, which encourage values that we all need such as compassion, unity, forgiveness, mutual love and respect, fellowship, and joy.
Words like, MARTYRDOM:
Sacrificing one’s self, in life, for a cause that seeks justice without prejudice, malice, or avarice.
Words like, JUSTICE:
An environment where every person has the opportunity to independently investigate truth and meaning for themselves, where unique skills and abilities are valued, and everyone can contribute in a meaningful way.
Words like, SACRED:
That which inspires us to find some type of connection, and to breathe peace.
Words like, REVERENCE:
The deepest form of respect and acknowledgement.
There is no “honour” in killing and violence.
There is no need of a “tradition” that promotes killing and violence.
There is no “martyrdom” when it promotes violence.
There is no “justice” in killing and violence.
There is nothing “sacred” about killing and violence.
There is no “reverence” in killing and violence.