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Who do we mourn?

Breakfast Culture is about working together to create empathy and new opportunities, even when we’ve been shaken by this terrible couple of weeks. The vicious attacks on Israel from Hamas have been met with a declaration of war and a deadly invasion of Gaza, following decades of brutal occupation. Thousands of children are dead and around the world, both Jewish and Palestinian people are being victimized in hate crimes. National leaders in the west have loudly proclaimed their full support of Israel’s bombing campaign, while millions of citizens — Jewish, Muslim, Christian, atheist, everyone — have taken to the streets to demand an immediate ceasefire. It’s a harrowing time, made worse by too many people treating this conflict like a hockey game, cheering on their “team.” The media’s language is loaded. Why are some people “killed” while others “have died?” Why is one public gathering a “vigil” while another is a “protest?”

Five years ago, a semi-trailer truck collided with a coach bus carrying members of the Humboldt Broncos junior hockey team in Saskatchewan. Sixteen people were killed, thirteen injured. There was a nation-wide outpouring of grief and a GoFundMe campaign raised more than $15 million, setting a national record. But controversy erupted when journalist Nora Loreto correctly noted that thousands of murdered and missing indigenous women in Canada were not getting the same level of attention and financial support. “I'm trying to not get cynical about what is a totally devastating tragedy,” she tweeted, “but the maleness, the youthfulness and the whiteness of the victims are, of course, playing a significant role.” Alberta Premier Jason Kenney called her comments “depravity” and asked, “Why does anyone feel compelled to inject race and gender into mourning over the loss of fifteen innocent lives?”

His question is answered by hers. We inject race and gender into mourning all the time, specifically by who we choose not to mourn. The Black Lives Matter movement began in response to the killings of hundreds of Black Americans and Canadians by police, yet every discussion in the media is about their protest tactics, not the reason for them. Trans women of colour face assaults in greater numbers per capita while their humanity goes unrecognized. “Bleeding-heart liberals” are condescendingly told they can’t mourn everyone, and that’s true, but we all can choose to be less selective about it. White people can’t insist “all lives matter!” and then ignore most of those lives. In all of our organizations, all our people are mourning someone right now and how we respond to that determines our institutional success and our personal character. We take our cue from the late James Baldwin who wrote, “The children are always ours, every single one of them, all over the globe; and I am beginning to suspect that whoever is incapable of recognizing this may be incapable of morality.”

“Hockey is for everyone,” boasts the NHL above a photo of a hockey blade wrapped in rainbow tape

A great many Jewish people are feeling abandoned and frightened this month after 1,400 Israelis were murdered by terrorists and they’re being told it was their own fault because of the occupation. Palestinians have lost entire family trees and are called “Hamas sympathizers.” There are no “sides” here, only fellow human beings in pain and this is on all of us to stop, as Francesca Albanese, Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, explains:

“What the international community had an opportunity to do, for once, was to show support to both the Israeli and Palestinian people. It was horrific what the Israelis have suffered as of the 7th of October, and at the same time, the international community missed the opportunity to act wisely and even-handedly, vis a vis both in a way that could be seen as leading to peace.”

Please join us and millions of others in advocating for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and promoting peace in all of our organizations. It starts with recognizing each other’s essential humanity and together, we can build from there.

PS. We’re witnessing an ugly rise in hate of all kinds -- racism, Islamophobia, antisemitism, ableism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, etc. -- all of it affecting our workplaces and all of it up to every one of us to challenge in our organizations. Breakfast Culture's approach improves workplace cultures, creates empathy in business, and drives new sources of revenue. Our five-part #SafeSpace discussion facilitation can help teams work through difficult conversations. Schedule a talk on Calendly with Jefferson Darrell today to learn more:

Let's Break Some Eggs! – scott dagostino, JEDI Consultant, Breakfast Culture™ Inc.

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