I’m watching an interview with a leader from the Maritime Forces Atlantic (the Navy) about the Proud Boys “interruption” of an Indigenous ceremony in Nova Scotia on Canada Day.
You can google the footage of the disturbance and the troubling comments made by the Proud Boys. I’m not going to link it here. What I want to comment is the words of the Navy leader being interviewed.
His opening is about how one’s private views and beliefs have to be parked when one joins an establishment like the Royal Canadian Armed Forces or Navy, because of the work that they do and the trust that people have in them. He goes on to say that his hope is that those private views and beliefs that aren’t in line with what it means to be inclusive will shift over time.
He made a powerful statement about how sharing/showing/acting on these beliefs in public ways erodes trust – both on the part of Canadians, people in other countries whom the Armed Forces and Navy serve, and internally among units. He stated that the “effectiveness of our units is at stake if people don’t trust each other.”
Agreed. Regardless of the profile of the work, lack of trust erodes effectiveness in teams. And if that lack of trust is about how you see me, what you think of me, or if I can count on you to protect me, then that erosion is even worse.
But here is my question: if we are asking people to park their private views and beliefs at the door, what does that really mean? When push comes to shove, can I trust you to do the right thing? Or will those beliefs get in the way? Will I be safe? Will you protect me?Will you use “reasonable force” to de-escalate a situation? And if we take it out of the public protection sphere: Will you hire the right person for the job? Will you promote the best candidate? Will you mentor everyone or just some?
I’m not sure if we can risk people parking their personal beliefs and then serving everyone in this country through a lens of inclusion just because they have a job that requires it. Personal beliefs run deep. They, along with bias (conscious and unconscious) inform our actions – whether we realize it or not. And when we are stressed, afraid, or have seconds to make a decision – I wonder which will rule the day? Ask Andrew Loku’s family.
In an ideal world, we wouldn’t hire people for public service positions (especially those of great responsibility like for example health care, teaching, the police, army or navy) if they have merely “parked” their racist, homophobic, ableist, transphobic, faithist, Islamophobic, sexist, etc views.
That may mean we have a much smaller pool to choose from. But we could trust that they would be serving all Canadians well.