One of the things about Canada which makes me most proud is our peaceful history. Certainly, we have been involved in wars and, when necessary (such as in World War II), Canadian soldiers made a major difference. But the Canadian mentality is oriented towards peace. Our troops are peace-keepers, not aggressors. Our instincts are to resolve our problems through negotiations, not bloodshed. Both in our relationships with other countries and in our internal problems, we tend to avoid violence. Even in our most difficult divisions --around the treatment of native peoples and in the QuÃÂ©bec separatist questions --violence is rare. It does happen; there are always people who will be extreme. But we have never had any all-out wars, and I doubt that we ever will.
However, the diversity that really gets my heart racing is that of the South African people. It used to be our curse but under the leadership of people like Nelson Mandela, it has come to be our blessing. Like so many of my countrymen, I had to learn to embrace difference but now I never want to live in a place where everyone looks the same, speaks the same language and holds the same beliefs. How, for instance, can I fear Islam when I’ve walked around a predominantly Muslim neighbourhood during Eid al Futr and felt the palpable sense of excitement and community in the air?