Growing up in Senegal, I went to school with kids from all over the world. In that environment, surrounded by the poverty of our host country, my parents taught me to value the cultures and traditions of people from all walks of life, to practice compassion for all, and to celebrate the things that made each of us unique. For me, that meant being fiercely proud of my Canadian citizenship.
So it came as no surprise to me when my brother Jesse, ten years my junior, grew up with that same sense of patriotism. While I had thrown myself into social justice work, his Canadian pride manifested in a passion for the history of the World Wars.
When I was home with Jesse, he would sit with me for hours explaining the merits of different 1940s tanks and warships. I once edited an essay from him that I’m sure showed a greater understanding for tactical battles than most army officials (although I am slightly biased).
Still, I didn’t expect his love of history to lead to a military career. When my brother decided to enlist in the armed forces right after high school, I was initially perplexed. How had the same upbringing that led me to work for nonprofits and journalism inspired him to join the forces?
But as I thought about it, I realized that his sense of justice, honour and duty are the same driving force behind my work with World Vision. Our different paths point to the same goal: to make the world a safer, fairer, better place.
Canada, as a country, has always had that dream as well. From our involvement in the World Wars, to the creation of peacekeepers by Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson, to our efforts to build schools in Afghanistan, Canada has always worked to make the world more peaceful for all.
That work has taken immense sacrifice. “Lest we forget” is a reminder most of us get just once a year. My brother remembers it every day, because he has it tattooed on his inner forearm.
With all the pain the world is enduring, today my brother reminds me that hate has always existed in the world, and that it always, always loses. At 11:11, as I observe our moment of silence for the sacrifices of those who came before us, that’s what I’m holding onto. And, in our own ways, that’s what my brother and I will continue to strive for.