My Little Corner of Canada

Goody two shoes



Something quite extraordinary happened in Ottawa during the first week of December. More than 120 countries signed a treaty to ban land mines. Land mines are not an everyday concern of the citizens of Nunavut.

But to ordinary people in places like Angola, Cambodia, Bosnia, Vietnam, and Kuwait, land mines are things you have to be worried about all the time. Around the world, land mines kill or maim hundreds of thousands of civilians every year. It is estimated that there are hundreds of millions of these indiscriminate killers buried in the ground.

Put in place by warring armies, land mines stay long after the fighting is over. They can kill decades after the armies have left. The vast majority of their victims are civilians. Thousands and thousands of farmers cannot go back to their farms and grow food because of land mines. Getting rid of them is a long, time-consuming effort.

Banning land mines, by itself, is not going to stop wars. It will not result in instant peace. But it represents a new frame of mind. It sends a message to world leaders that ordinary people cannot continue to accept the type of madness that wars can conceive. It says that there has to be a better way.

The treaty to ban land mines was a result of a people movement and not as a result of government efforts. It was lead by ordinary people like Jody Williams (Nobel Peace Prize) of the United States. It was given a big boost by Diana, Princess of Wales. The government of Canada became a partner in this people movement and opened many doors for it.

The two most prominent figures in the signing of this treaty were Jody Williams and Canada’s minister of Foreign Affairs, Lloyd Axworthy. Both are a product of the Sixties and the Beatles generation. Giving peace a chance is part of their psyche. The genesis of this treaty probably began when they were young children and decided that they wanted to change the world and make it better.

Today’s young people also need to have that attitude. There is nothing wrong with being idealistic and wanting to make the world a better place. That’s how good things happen.

Canada is sometimes teased and ridiculed by other countries as being Goody Two Shoes. The title fits and we should be proud to wear it. It is better than being a bully, a clown, or someone who doesn’t have all their marbles.

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