Viewpoint: Be kind when opposing others’ ideas

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BY KIM HUNTER

This is in response to Paul McElroy’s “Dangerous Arguments” letter in the Sept. 30 paper.

When I expressed my opinion in the Sept. 23 Driftwood, I expected there to be backlash from some members of our community. It is why it took me so long to write a letter; I had to gather courage. I had heard from many people that they were also afraid to write to the Driftwood with their perspectives on COVID-19.

When I was interviewed for a Sept. 9 Driftwood story about COVID-19, I was nervous about being made out to be an extremist or an idiot (I am neither), but decided that I had to speak up.

I come from lineage that has been victimized in living memory, with maternal Jewish roots and paternal German ancestors. My father’s story is interesting as he and his only sibling were both Winnipeg-born to immigrant parents who arrived in Canada around 100 years ago. My grandparents met in Canada. My father, born in 1942, was about 10 when his brother was completing his university degree. He came home one day and, looking at the floor in shame, told his father that he had to change his name or he would never get a job. The story goes that my grandfather, in a quiet voice stifling tears, put his arm around my father’s shoulders guiding him towards my uncle, kept his gaze to the floor and said, “Take Gordie with you.” That day our family name changed from Unterschultz to Hunter. They simply took out the “schultz” and added an “H.” I am the first-born Hunter.

My family was subject so such abuse in Canada, by Canadians, that they changed our name. 

When I look at the history of WWII I wonder if people who stood up to Hitler in the 1930s as he was gaining power were called “conspiracy theorists” or something similar.

Living in a small community provides the opportunity to practise listening to and respecting other’s perspectives, while seeking a fuller truth. 

In my 20 years working with young children, my fundamental rules were that the children could do anything with the materials available to them at school, as long as they were kind, didn’t intentionally hurt themselves or others, and took care of our tools and toys.

The rules in my classroom were not too dissimilar to Bonnie Henry’s words of “Be kind, be calm, be safe.” I like a lot of what Dr. Henry says, but I think she is also not free to speak about things in the way she might if she wasn’t such a public person representing government.

At the end of my original letter to the Driftwood, I had attached a poem, written by William Stafford called “A Ritual to Read to Each Other,” which I feel reflects my concerns about the current world situation. “If you don’t know the kind of person I am and I don’t know the kind of person you are a pattern that others have made may prevail in the world . . . .”

Paul, you judge me harshly without knowing me. We have different perspectives. I can be comfortable with that. It does seem to me that you aren’t fully hearing Dr. Henry’s words of wisdom. She always starts with “Be kind . . .” You were not kind in your assessment of me. 

I hope your heart rests well knowing that I don’t carry judgments about you; I wish you peace and good health.

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