Amid all the frenzy over ebola, terrorism and immigrants, it can start to seem as if fear and loathing are the new normal. They're not -- or not yet, anyway. If you want to regain your faith in human nature (after losing a little more of it first), just compare two small towns: Murrieta, California and Cold Lake, Alberta.
Remember last summer's the wave of unaccompanied children fleeing Central America? Many feared for their lives because of violent gangs back home.
Here's a reminder, from a July 3, 2014 CNN report, of how these scared young refugees were met in Murrieta:
In a faceoff Tuesday with three buses carrying the migrants behind screened-off windows, the demonstrators chanted "Go back home!" and "USA" and successfully forced the coaches to leave Murrieta, CNN affiliate KFMB reported...
The protesters, who shouted "Impeach Obama!" and "Deport! Deport!" confronted the buses a day after the town posted a notice on its website: "Murrieta Opposes Illegal Immigrant Arrival."
Now let's turn our gaze north to Cold Lake. Last Thursday night, someone broke some of the windows of Cold Lake's mosque and sprayed "Go Home!" and other hate messages on its walls. It's not certain there was a relationship, but the incident followed murderous attacks by lone wolf terrorists in Ottawa and near Montreal.
And how did other Cold Lake residents respond? According to the Canadian Press:
By Friday afternoon residents of the city, population 14,000, had posted colourful signs on the front of the mosque saying "You are Home!" and "We stand united as Canadians."
Then people started showing up with ladders and buckets to clean the paint off.
Every cowardly bigot, in the US, Canada or anywhere, is put to shame by the people of Cold Lake. And there are plenty who should be ashamed -- Murrieta isn't a rare example. Think of the hysteria over another mosque, the one built near Ground Zero in New York. Think of Cliven Bundy. Or think of the hatred stoked by Fox News and its ilk every day of the week.
Luckily, that hatred isn't welcome everywhere. As Cold Lake's mayor, Craig Copeland, put it:
"Cold Lake showed its true stripes today... Cold Lakers came out and supported the Muslim community and by 3:30 in the afternoon the windows were replaced and the graffiti was gone. This is what makes Cold Lake a great place to live."
It's what would make the world a great place to live.
The world could use a lot more Cold Lakes.