Do you hate your enemies? Are you sure?
In 1994, I learned I loved an enemy.
In 1989, the Progressive Conservative majority government in Canada appointed Lucien Bouchard Minister of the Environment. But in May 1990, Bouchard resigned abruptly from his Progressive Conservation party. A few months later he and a group of colleagues formed the Bloc Québécois, a political party with the mandate of promoting Québec sovereignty.
To me, and to much of Canada, Bouchard’s actions were a shocking betrayal and an alarming threat to our country. I cherish the rich Francophone culture here, and I love Québec as part of us. Here in the National Capital Region, Québec is just a short canoe ride away. I don’t want to have to take my passport to enjoy Winterlude activities.
I seethed with anger at Bouchard. I wished him all kinds of ills.
Then, in the early morning hours of November 30, 1994, I opened my front door and retrieved my newspaper. The headlined declared the sudden, severe illness of Bouchard, in a Montreal hospital suffering from necrotizing fasciitis, or flesh-eating disease. The disease can kill a person very quickly.
The news shook me. Sure, I was angry at him, but I didn’t want that to happen. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.
The next day, doctors amputated Lucien Bouchard’s leg.
When I read the newspaper headline that day, I found compassion for Bouchard as a fellow human being. I didn’t like his actions (still don’t) and he held opinions different from mine, but we shared common ground as people just trying our best to make it through life following our convictions.
Since then, when I find myself seething with anger at someone’s actions, I try to remember Bouchard. I ask myself, “Would I wish flesh-eating disease on this person?” The answer is always no.
Years later, my husband and I went to an Ottawa Lynx baseball game. We sat in the sun in the high bleachers listening for the crack of the bat. A man with a cane slowly climbed the steps toward us. I smiled and nodded at him. He smiled and nodded at me. Lucien Bouchard sat right across the aisle from me, and we watched the baseball game together.
And, oh yes, we cheered for the same team.