Sweeping away fear and hatred (Translated)
Over the past 18 months, the world has changed. The transformations and adaptations in the face of the pandemic have been numerous and have shown us the urgency of talking to each other, of understanding each other. Ironically, while COVID-19 has numerically brought people together, it has also exposed what divides us.
During this time, we have seen more than ever the importance of standing together collectively in the face of such adversity. This ordeal has indirectly united all countries and all continents behind a common cause: the fight against the pandemic. Paradoxically, divisions have appeared. The search for a culprit, for a target to direct our discontent towards. This is where the ravages of misunderstanding have taken their toll. Prejudices in one have taken root in the mind of the other, and especially through the voice of the digital, these resentments have exploded, often with hateful words and pointed at what we do not know. The other, the stranger, the one who is different from us.
It is well known: we are afraid of what we don't know, and this fear affects trust, which is the cement of any society. Trust brings people together, it allows debates to take place without getting out of hand. Without this trust, mistrust takes over and quickly feeds on the worst doubts and prejudices. In the absence of sufficient knowledge, we drink without really knowing, often from false information available. And in this respect, social networks are full of everything, the true and the false, the best and the worst.
Fortunately, societies are built on what unites its citizens. Everyone contributes to the development of society, enriches it with his or her individuality and specificity and adds an extra tint to our culture. And the closer we get to each other, the more we look at each other's concerns and aspirations, the more we find an incalculable amount of common ground and shared values.
Although this observation seems obvious, it must be repeated publicly. As we know, some people sometimes prefer to insist on what differentiates us rather than what brings us together.
We must remember that it is the multiplication of our knowledge, our experiences and our know-how that allows our society to develop and expand. Equity, diversity and inclusion are the backdrop for any open society. And the key to this recipe is communication.
As actors of the economic life, we consider it our duty to add our shoulder to the wheel, and to mark the importance of living together. The economic world does not have only qualities, but it has this virtue which tends to bring people together. The best way to increase our prosperity is by talking to each other, by exchanging, and by decreasing social inequalities and offering equal opportunities to the greatest number.
For example, the labour shortage that is affecting all sectors of activity would be partly alleviated if we finally gave an equal opportunity to all those who are currently excluded from the labour market. This includes members of the LGBTQ+ community, cultural communities, Aboriginal communities, seniors, women, immigrants, people with disabilities, and many others. This is one of the short-term solutions to opening up to the "other".
We must add up the contribution of each and everyone and leave no one behind. By doing so, we multiply our chances to grow, to prosper, and to avoid divisions. This is what living together is all about and we are committed to working even harder to promote it.
Karl Blackburn, Conseil du patronat du Québec (CPQ)
Michel Belval, American Chamber of Commerce in Canada
Thierry Arnaud, Quebec LGBT Chamber of Commerce
Hector Giraldo, Quebec & Latin America Chamber of Commerce
Caroline Codsi, Gouvernance au Féminin
Patrick Desmarais, Fondation Émergence
Jenny Ouellette, BonBoss
Martin Duchaîne, Défi Montréal
Sévrine Labelle, Evol
Winston Chan, Coalition against Anti-Asian Racism and Regroupement des jeunes chambres de commerce du Québec