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By Nikki O'Rielly, Prince of Wales Collegiate, St. John's, NL

We live in Canada. Our neighbors are American. We do not have to worry about a thing. We are safe. Almost like a caterpillar in a cocoon, we are surrounded by ocean, completely protected from that other world across the Atlantic. Nevertheless, one day, September 11th, 2001 that other world damaged our cocoon. Early on that morning two planes crashed into the World Trade Center, in New York, USA. "How could this have happened?" Everyone was in awe and disbelief. "We were so safe." "Nothing could hurt our mighty country." Moreover, to Canadians, this was our protector being brought down. This was so foreign; these types of things did not happen in our world. We watched these things on TV, in a 5-minute segment that did not really mean much to us. However, after this day, terrorism became something very important to everyone.

President George W. Bush began to attack the country to blame – Afghanistan. Al Qaida was blamed. A group so full of hate who only wanted to kill other people. This immoral act cannot be alowed here in North America, right? Wrong.

It is happening all over the United States and more and more every day in Canada. At any time, you can turn on your television and find an episode of "Cops" or a TLC special on emergency medicine, where 90% of the injuries are from gang fights. A gang is defined as a group of three or more people with criminal intent. Doesn't this sound a lot like a terrorist group? Terrorism is outlawed in Canada and the USA, though gangs are not seen as a concern. How is this possible? Is it acceptable because it is our own people killing each other? Well no, in some parts of the United States the death penalty still exists for murderers. In the United States over 11,000 people are killed by guns every year, 60 a year in Canada. Nowhere else in the world is the number of deaths by guns as high as it is in the USA. Many Americans when questioned simply state it is because of the violent past of the country. Then why aren't Germans killing each other? Let us not forget World War II.

Why is this type of hate being allowed in our country and the United States? George Bush is sending soldiers half way across the world to battle hate against others, but why is Bush letting these horrible, hateful people walk his streets. These gangs prey on each other because they are of a different race or wear a different color or ride a different motorbike. There are numerous attempts at the lives of rival gangs, but in many of these cases the victims are innocent people who just happen to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. These people lurk the streets and school hallways of our cities. An example of this violence was the shooting of a prominent crime reporter in Montreal. Michel Auger was shot 5 times as he exited his car. It was later discovered that the shots came from a member of the biker gang "The Outlaws" This man was not asking for trouble but because of the hate and violent nature that runs through these peoples blood, these types of acts occur everyday.

How can we solve this problem? Gangs are mainly composed of people who feel unloved and are looking for some kind of family unit. Many others feel that the only way to command respect is through violence. In addition, once in a gang, many are victims of fear. Most of the time the only way out of a gang is death. I think that in order to solve these problems, we need to single out the characteristics of the people who become involved in gangs. With this kind of information, we can put in place different programs to show people that there are other ways to achieve the feeling of a family and to receive respect.

Let's start at the core and help stop hate. If our government is not going to put laws in place to stop this type of interior terrorism, then we have to try to help the situation. Let us stop denying what is happening here and stop focusing so much on others. Let us begin to fix ourselves in order to help others better. As Gandhi said, "Be the change you want to see in the world." We do not yet have the cure for cancer but there are medicines that help. And like cancer, we will one day find the cure for hate and violence. It is just a matter of time.


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