What is your take on the old country? After all, you are a writer, and don’t writers always have opinions? About almost everything?
I do have a take – and that is that I left the old country to begin a new life in Canada. I brought with me my thwarted dreams to realize them here. I left behind the resentment, disappointment and alienation of being marginalized. Does that answer your question?
Not quite. The dead rebel leader, whose body was paraded on TV like a prized kill from a hunt, was similar in age to you. You lived about 200 miles from each other: him in the north, you in the south. He came from a minority group while you belonged to another minority. You were both discriminated against in your own ways. He chose to take up arms to fight for a piece of land to call his own, you left to find yours in a cold but warm•hearted country called Canada. His legacy leaves a country divided and devastated, while you were able to give a few people some hope in this new land. Is that a fair description, Mr. Writer?
Yes. I also think that home is a place in time, not a piece of land, for I have had many homes.
So what’s your opinion? You still haven’t said it. Instead you skirt around the issue like a good politician. Are you afraid that you will be another name added to PEN’s growing list?
Well, since you persist, I think now that the military in the old country has done such an efficient job of ending the war, its government should step aside and let the peacemakers take over. Build statues and immortalize the victorious President if you must, but let him take his place in history, not in infamy. Even Churchill knew when it was time to go. I think that blocking highways and creating civil inconveniences in the streets of Toronto and other world•class cities does not show world•class strategy. I think that statements such as “there will be no more minorities” needs further clarification as it is a loaded one to make. I think that opening doors to all the war•damaged refugees to come to Canada and other western countries sends a wrong signal to ruthless politicians around the world: that they can shoot the shit out of their countrymen and send them abroad for R&R (Rest & Resettlement) at these generous neighbours’ cost.
Good! You are doing fine. You have vented. But you have still not offered a solution.
I think that the young, educated people in Canada—descendants of those who came grabbing what little possessions they could during their hurried and often forced exit from the old country—and who have been daubed with the paintbrush of Canadian values, must assume the leadership for the persecuted minorities. They should mobilize public opinion in a positive way, for they have a good story to tell and less baggage to carry. And if a piece of land in the old country is important, they should negotiate with the home turf majority, being open to making concessions as much as they win some. And that message goes to the smug majority back home too – you may have won the arms war, but you have not won the battle for the hearts of your fellow countrymen until you say “I am sorry. Forgive me. Let’s start again. And, let’s share.”