Posts Tagged ‘Trump’


It could be my 335th edition of ecclectica in all its itirations in life, but truly, it is reflecting more of the 335th day of the current exisence. Some days to bring together thoughts, and things of life in the here and now. Before we shift into what life should be through some reflections I just want to share something cool from a friend, and a former colleague, a dreamer living life building community. During c-tine many have been discovering Star Trek Deep Space Nine on streaming services and being astounded they did not know about the complexity, characters, and discussions that leap from every episode, and so compelling and applicable to our curent world. Bruce Callow, as part of his work in Costa Rica and science/space education was able to sit down and interview Nana Visitor (Kiera Nerys) from the show, read the Costa Rican Times article here.

Our road map as a photo collage, we have touched on living dreams to make the world better, and understanding how life experiences shape a person with our interview with Ms. Visitor. Now we move into the ecclecitca, which includes touching on different topics. The highest streaming in North America is of course, that a President whose words, actions and machinations that incited an insurrection where 5 citizens died could be acquitted at his second impeachment trial. It is some what of a commentary on our world, where accountability is only for some, and not reserved for those who scream “persecution” the loudest.

It has become a staple within the Right to Al-Right to Fascist to Neo-Nazi end of the political spectrum. As the right moves further along the spectrum (which when I was a public school student, was taught in school, but currently is not taught as teachers fear being labelled ideologues and lose their job. The result: a less critical thinking electorate and citizenry). The left which goes from Left to Socialist to Communist to Dictatorship to Stalinist is pulled further into the right end of the spectrum, for nature abhors a vacuum, and so does our political ideological entrenching, the chasm being created is one where many are left politically homeless. Where those left politically uninspired either become apathetically complicit for not voting, or do to the rage on one side or the other enter into a highly dualistic co-dependent relationship with an extremist ideology, that has to be completely good as the other side has created that it is evil, and then we are in the shouting match that with a simple match, the tinders can incite violence.

This was a chance in history, for the supposed leader of the Free World, to re-assert the need for healthy dialogue, for holding to account hate and extremism. Instead, they collapsed under the pursuit of power, and shoring up territorial biases and bases. It was a commentary touched upon recently in Canadian politcs by the Rt. Hon. Joe Clark (read article and link to podcast here), where some key points to be extrapolated is that our political leaders of all stripes have become more social media performers, than thought leaders. We as a nation need to demand better, we need to move beyond territorial entrenchment, and party-colour belonging, to push all our national parties to actually be pan-Canadian, to look at what is needed for our nation as a whole. To vision cast, to move beyond the tweet-byte, lay out a vision/dream. To take seriously the character of the local representatives that are running and serving, do they serve all Canadians and their constituents? If it is only serving the party line, then it is a systematic failure. It creates group think, that makes accountability only faux-shows, where parachutes are aligned after the smoke and mirrors. Or accountability is non-existent as we see in Alberta with MLA Barnes & Pitt joiing the Anti-Lockdown Caucus propagated by the People’s Party Maxine Bernier, a party known to overtly affiliate with the Neo-Nazi’s of Canada, and to be blunt the politicians that affiliate are creating streams of disinformation, and wreaking havoc on governments (many they are in the governing caucus’ of) to get traction on a pandemic (and we shall touch on the epidemics of opioids, meth and homelessness in a second).

Which the silent complicity of party leaders not kicking these members from caucus, leads to non-accountability as we saw on display this past Saturday Feb. 13 at CF Chinook Mall with anti-maskers marching through the mall hoping to spread covid, and comparing restrictions as making them the “new Jews” which opens up a whole lot of “WTF” in my mind that we have allowed once again mainstreaming of anti-semitism and the hate that perpetuated a holocaust only 80 years ago (the lifespan of many that are losing their lives in our pandemic currently). Yet, no ticketing, no arrests. Why?

We have created a world, where the smoke and mirrors of personal rights and performance creation of victimhood/persecution lead to 0 accountability. We have stripped the interdependence, as we make each side the other, and the villain. Instead of entering into dialogue. Having said that, I do state clearly when it comes to where the spectrum connects on Facism/Naziisms-Dictatorship/Stalinism, that needs to be called out. Though, we truly need to understand what that is when it is called out, so that the authentic is placed in the cell of silence it belongs in, and the impact of those terms are not destroyed by screaming it at every point we do not agree upon.

Which brings me into the reading of Irshad Manji’s (2019) Don’t Label Me, as a queer-Muslim writer, she has a dialogue with her beloved pup, Lil, about the state of the world. The challenge being revealed, is that we lose ourselves in labels which perpetuate stereotypes, and do not allow us to meet the person to see who they actually are. It is within her words she shares about moderate Republicans she has met who do not hold to the MAGA/Q Cult. She also shares about her own journey in faith, and the push back from other progressive quarters of atheism that do not want to hear the word faith even on things as innocuous as Facebook, taking offense that someone should not share that for fear of offense. It really is a call to keep ourselves safe, but also to get to know our neighbour and understand the anti-fascist, anti-rascist movements in the light of the impact on the other they have. There is a great story she shared of two friends in Missisipi and the move to change the flag, one a hip-hop artist, who speaks their truth to the symbology and the pain it brings, another, a man in the Confederate lineage that does not see a problem with the flag on their part. But then astutely shares, the hip-hop artist is their friend, and it causes pain, so “I have a choice, to take action to remedy, or not be a part of the change conversation and play the victim afterwards”. A proactive entering into discussion.

As a writer, I appreciate labels and stereotypes. When working a work of fiction they allow for a quick visual or quick reference words to create a word image for the viewer, yet we are living in this world where everyone is defined by the labels and no one wants to move beyond the label to meet the person underneath. Would we be able to shift our world to a better place if the more moderate on the spectrum connected and found the common ground once more? Built the bridge across the chasm that has been created by the extremists?

For it is the fear induced by the extremists that continues to perpetuate the hate and systematic racisms/injustices in our society. For the purity test on the other extreme just leaves them to default to where they are okay with the norm, instead of creating space to accept in the journey of life a person learns and grows and changes.

This is the message that resounds in the closing chapters of DC Comics’ New 52 Superman. In his final days, where a perfect tri-fecta has left him dying, he sets out to live the hope of his symbol until his last days. To try to lay the groundwork for it to continue. My question though, is do we have to wait until we are in a dire circumstance? Until the match has been lit again and people are dying? Until we are in the last days of life, to understand what it takes to create a legacy? Or can we simply leave each day knowing we have a story, and others we meet will have a story…

This is the challenge when individuals look to government policy as the silver bullet or cure solution. The challenge being in our current world of entrenchment, and each side needing to be able to claim the “holy and good” side, or to the spoils go the victor, much is missed. Framing the idea of ending homelessness. It is a broad and hard topic that hits the grieving of change vectors of individuals and communities. The first challenge is one has to understand how we have done as a society, has been okay, but in the first part of the 21st century decisions made have left many in poverty and homelessness and this is not okay. It is okay to admit we have made a societal mistake and want to move on. It is about being able to bring fresh eyes/heart to something like UBI, where many trip up thinking it is another layer of government entitlements added to the system and this is what trips up on costs of– it is a replacment for the piecemeal approach to support, it is stripping away the money wasted on disproving claims and the appeals process, it leverages technology to simply be. It removes space for individual grants if one has a dream for a small business, and gives space to let that happen, for artisans to flourish, and create new dynamic spaces for meeting, discussion, critical thought, it provides the top up for minimum wage jobs so they become living wage, as the pandemic has shown, each role is necessary for our society to function. The fist step though, is allowing permission to admit the bias and misunderstanding, and accepting that all can change. To shift the discussion from yes-no, to how. But first we have to allow the ability to acknowledge mistakes and change at the individual, the instittutional and the system level.

Permission to acknowledge mistakes is one of the things missing from public discourse. It is what leads to the unaccountability for actions. See, mistakes happen, some big, some minor, and we have to accept the accountability for those actions whether they were intentional or unintentional. I teach my students, each time I pushed the boundaries of the rules or broke them, I fully and rationally understoon what I was doing, and knew that worst case scenario it could lead to unemployment, and I was okay with that. Each person needs to be. Unfortuantely this quest for profit and power over people, has created a world where we do not expect accountability (good or ill) for our actions. We also have created a world where we cannot openly admit mistakes, or when we struggle.

That ties into a blessing I received for a Christmas gift. The complete CBS series of Elementary on DVD. I am a Sherlockian (I belive that is the right term), as I was introduced to the stories first through the ol’ Basil Rathbone movies on PBS, then reading Doyle’s stories, and the comics, enjoyed RDJ’s Sherlock Holmes movies, and Cumberbatch’s Sherlock. But there was something about this imaginging of Holmes in the modern world, with his sober companion Dr. Joan Watson into America. Holmes as we meet him is a recovering addict (the usage is part of the original stories, but was always on the fence for the reader if it went from simple Subtance Use/Social Use to Misuse/Substance Abuse). There is a beautiful scene opening up the first episode of Season 2, with Holmes in a meeting, and he openly talks about his usage, and that he feels he was born 100 to 200 years late, as the world would have been so much quieter, and perhaps then he would not have been an addict. This is also the episode where we meet his brother, Mycroft, and begin to understand the interplay of family in recovery, and what happens for both sides to see the other in their new reality, with new hearts. This is the beauty of Elementary it’s authentic portrayal of addiction, recovery and reconnection. The use of not only purpose in the process of being a part of community, but authentic belonging.

As the life and discography of Johnny Cash would illustrate, purpose is about what resonates deep within us. Belonging is those authentic folks who we connect with. For Cash it was about the music, his faith, and more, the story of his wife, and how that connection turned his life.

This is where we miss the mark in society on our march to end homelessness. We hold it is about upper-middle class developer housing- a house or a condo or an apartment. It goes deeper than that. It is about belonging. The government monies and policies speak to capacity and stock in the system to allow one (or family to be housed), same goes for the donations to non-profits. Decades ago I helped in writing policy for the now non-existant Federal PC Party, that spoke of all types of housing stock to have 10% put on an affordable sliding scale to aid in the stock on affordable housing, which very few took up as it was seen as to out there as what would your neighbour think finding out they are paying this and you are paying that (what does it matter what each of us pays, as long as we are all in community in a healthy way). By providing safe housing, that is designed for the needs of community members, we remove external stressors on their determinants of health, by providing a UBI, which allows for housing and food security, we remove layers of stressors/traumas on one’s healthy that actually burden more expensive systems of care on the emergency response end. As one ages in place, the costs on the system align with other neighbours.

Then it becomes more complex, as it is about moving beyond labels, for what to do with neighbours that may be provocateurs? Disruptors? If they are breaking by-laws/laws, it does not matter if they have lived next door for 20 years, moved in from another community or exited homelessness. This is where accountability for actions matter. What is needed in community is free options for neighbours to connect and get to know one another, so we are able to know what is typical behaviour, and when they need us to be present. This is why public libraries are so amazing, it is the one space left in our Western World where you can exist without having your bank account value checked. It is why I love seeing religious groups opening their doors for community meals, space for neighbours to meet together. A universal approach where there is no means test to access, simply saying come and break bread together. What if community associations created the same space? Are there volunteers out there that would share their skills for knitting circles? Meals? Book clubs? A space for those that live in community to use to connect based on hobbies and interests?

What if this allowed for funding from municipalities so that the halls were not constantly driven for rental incomes, and become spaces to cultivate getting to know one another beyond labels?

Think as we head into our civic elections in Alberta this October, what dream is there for a healthy and robust community beyond NIMBYISM, beyond labels…what does it look like for authentic belonging for all? For connecting? For purpose that is not tied to simply work?

I bring this up because it is one of the quick arguments of some, as to why we have a means test and work so hard to keep people from accessing Alberta Works and direct to day jobs in construction (which devalues the actual skill set it takes for what is classed as unskilled casual day labour, trust me, if my Dad, a general contractor and Master Electrician is aiding me on a DIY in house, it works, to my own skill set not so much). I am an Albertan and do not believe this ludicrousness. The entitlement is there for those in need. Not once they have cashed out all their savings and retirements then help. It is there for help. Say what we will on the back end of sorting out CERB and the possibility of taxation for those that made too much, at least those who needed it got it. See what shifts when we look at supporting one another in need? Not simply, trying to root out a fraudster?

See the source image

Same in our systems of housing, of care– why so much added trauma and stress to access the supports needed for physical, developmental or mental health?

Why not a robust system to allow for thriving, where we trust the family doctors and specialists that what is being asked for is needed?

Imagine how different our world would be?

See, Johnny Cash, found his belonging in his faith…

Others find their belonging through hobbies, interests, politics, philosophies, their faith. As we have moved into more commuter communities we have lost the local connection. We scream shop local currently, but miss a deeper point for health on the other side of c-tine:

Live Local.

For when we live local. When we connect, and know one another’s stories and journeys. It becomes truly hard to stigmatize, or live in fear. We can move through the grieving of change together. For it is in moving forward in understanding root causes we can truly make a difference.

It is in being present, that we live out the evidence.

For in that prescence with one another, we have to see the intrinsic value of our neighbour. The instrinsic value in human life, no matter what path brought you to that shared point of view with so many. Which shifts the discussion then from either or in solving our substance abuse epidemics of opioids and meth, to focus on the person behind the substance and their story. It leads us to understand for some the path is abstinence, for some it is harm reduction in the healing. It is a necesary spectrum, for as each person has intrinsic value, and are the protagontists of their own story, so too does each have a path of healing that touches on the tools of systems, theories and practices we try to create our own silos and chasms with. Instead of understanding, oh so simply, regardless of the theoretical label placed on the tool, it can be adapted for the person before us. The neighbour only finding away to numb the pain or silence the chaos.

Connecting.

Belonging.

Purpose.

Ideals that overlay so many things in our lives. That when truly sought, we can begin to accept the different paths to the same community. When sought healthily so many underlying causes can have truth spoken into them, space held, and reconciliation lived into.

Yet, it begins with you and me, not as an I, but as a We.. Your decision. Your choice. Your voice.

Become…

Our reconciliation. Our dialogue. Our decision, Our choice. Our voice.

See the source image

Celtic spirituality speaks of their being 300 feet between physical life and spiritual life, that there is a thin space between where they can intersect. This is where love/belonging truly happens. Within the Belonging Pyramid, this is the heart that supports the inverted pyramid shape- Agape.

The thin liminal space. Are we ready to exist there as communities? I will take you through an exercise of Orthodox theology (those who like Tolstoy and Dostoevsky, or are familiar with the marriage equality discussion documents from the Orthodox to the Anglican Communion, they were written to the Roman Catholics). It becomes a parabolic discourse to a third party so the other can look in.

For the Canadian Church (and communities) this can be the Trump-Southern Baptist conversation (great article here ). Where even Pastor Crum began resonating within the Thin Space, and knew something needed to be said, yet as many, Not time yet.

It is the same argument within dying congregations around the belonging pyramid and drive not to be open as it was with these dying congregations of the Southern Baptist convention that rallied around Trump. Creating the closed huddle, allowed for a theology of survival and rallying to something.

If we cannot afford a pastor, and our fear is the cost to retro-fit the building to be accessible for all members, renters and welcome to the community, then perhaps we should give up the building and partner with a community centre so we can ensure at the least accessibility and inclusion.

-Me, as an associate pastor at a congregation meeting, tenure did not last

The song of survival is often heard. It is a common one. Regardless of how much money is coming in, there is never enough, nothing can change, must maintain donations or we will not survive. There is always another project that crops up to fundraise for that takes over any (if there even was) thought for basic accessibility. See churches get away with even the top portion of the pyramid for the simple fact their buildings fly under the radar the most. They come up to the letter of accessibility code when renovations are undertaken but rarely will go beyond because of “cost” they say.

What is hidden in that statement at the accessibility level is: your need (not want, NEED) does not override our privilege to preserve our bottom line.

Like the pastor in the article struggling with delivering a true message knowing it would cost, the church does not want to hear the truth of those in their congregation. This is not just about persons with disabilities– oh wait it is. For elders, youth, okay across the lifespan are using mobility devices and need accessibility.

Yet, we may make noises at national levels, but trickle down to the congregational and very little change happens. Due to one fact, tradition of reading. The Bible stories are all read as very black and white. Jesus healed the (insert descriptor of differently-abled here) and then they were included in the community. Full stop, medical model, something is wrong with the person so it is okay, because they must earn belonging, inclusion, even prove the case for accessibility beyond an archaic ramp at a side with a door not even grown to allow ease of entry.

I fall back to John 9:1-12 a lot, because it is so clear on this issue in showing the pyramid:

Verse 1 identifies the “disability” (blind). Which is what accessibility is about. What is wrong, how do we remove some barriers.

Verse 2 identifies the question- what is wrong with them? (Inclusion) it is trying to understand how to keep someone out. Yes, inclusion has become that kind of word in our 21st century. What are grounds for exclusion? How can we look like we have drawn the circle wider, but in fact are strategically shrinking it so the bottom line, old guards belief system is not challenge. This is the type of question that allowed the person to be “included” in the wider community as a beggar, seen as a burden, and allowed to hear teachings, but not fully participate within Temple life.

Verse 3 is about belonging. Jesus gobsmacks his followers and the people. The glory of God. That is belonging. The cosmic dust, life spark within each of us. The spirit that connects us with everything and everything with us within the Holy (that really is a puzzle created through and with the Thin Space tapestry of all creation). That is right, Jesus is showing that part of that tapestry is diversity within all its forms (other times he showed it through acts of kindness to Samaritans (traitors); and Romans (occupiers)).

Ahh but then the challenge for the listener where this might resonate. For Jesus does do a healing. This collapses the theory one would say.

NO!

It strengthens the theory. Look at the journey/ritual this man went through. Publicly to show the whole community that there was no turning him away any more. It was not only about vague inclusion. Jesus realized people could not understand belonging and agape. He short circuited it, much like his own transfiguration story. Jesus gave this man a ritual of transfiguration to reveal the living cosmic dust within to all.

Love illuminated.

2,000 years on (in some cases over 4,000 years) from the stories within the Hebrew Bible and the Christian Testament. Meaning and understanding has shifted and changed throughout time EXCEPT for those around healing. Why? Simple, we do not want to understand what is a disease and how someone is specifically created. Anything that is outside what we want to see as “typical” we want to demonize.

I can’t wait until I am in heaven with your son so I can hear him speak and see him run and dance. -“Well meaning” congregant.

That needs to end. At the current General Council 43 of the United Church of Canada there is a gent with disabilities up for moderator. I would love to see him elected. Yet I know the church is not ready for it. It would cause each and every congregation to confront authentic accessibility, inclusion, and belonging sourced through agape and not lip service. Much like a small Southern Baptist congregation of Trump supporters in their pews on a warm Sunday morning as the pastor opens to preach about the 7th Commandment (thou shalt not commit adultery) and backs down because they are not ready yet for the full implications of faith.

So is spiritual life that does not see the beauty in the diversity. The belonging of the person in full person-hood, or as Brother Jesus said, “Glory of God”.

It is trite, but it is true. We are all created in love just the way we are.

But are we ready to hear the full implications of our beliefs?

Are we willing to step out of the physical, and into the Thin Space of resonance?

To live, unreservedly out of love for OUR NEIGHBOUR?

 


Time is not linear. Yes, that is how we track it, but truly we tend to circle back to our regressive roots as cultures more often than not. Almost make that break through on belonging and then BANG! door is closed. The BANG! is usually caused by a slow but steady marketing technique- foot in door. It literally started with door to door salesmen that would use the tip of their shoe to block a closing door so they could use a cold read on the customer to give an in roads to a sale.

We see it today. It is still used within group circles (religious, political and social justice jump to mind the most). In good case scenarios one can look at this technique used for things such as Universal Health Care; human rights; to name but a few.

Unfortunately it has become more familiar in the not so good realms of our societies. A United conservative party candidate recently tweeted of using the technique if they formed government to limit funding, and access to abortion.

In Trump’s America, the resurgence of Fascism started within the Christian Right Circles. First they forgave his philandering ways; Republicans made excuses for his racism and misogyny in allowing him to continue to run; then he mocked a reporter (person) with Cerebral Palsy, and it was still okay. Open and active racism had become acceptable. Apologetic of evangelical Christian faith went into full defense mode, and now there is kids in cages and people scratch their heads as to why.

It reminds me of a great Star Trek story. In the original series was an episode, “Space Seed” that had Kirk & co rescue the Botany Bay. Khan and his crew were survivors of the Eugenics Wars. Yup. Eugenics, genetically engineering to the superior species- perfection- what the Nazi & Stalinist holocausts were all about (extermination of Jews, persons with disabilities, political dissidents, multiple births (i.e twins), LGBTQ2). In the lore of ST it was a war, and Khan and his people were the outcome finally overthrown as Earth realized the horror of their ways. In good Star Trek fashion their lives are spared even after they try to capture the ship, and are left on Ceti Alpha VI to make a new way for themselves.

The sequel was probably one of the best Star Trek movies ever made: Wrath of Khan. Which brought a great quote into the universe of Trekkies:

The needs of the many, outweigh the needs of the few or the one.

-Captain Spock

An older Admiral Kirk with his original lead team, on a ship of young cadets are on a mission to save the Genesis experiment (literally life from lifelessness, or reversed not so kind). The lead scientists are an old flame of Kirk’s (of course) and a son, David, he never knew of. (watch the movie, get Space Seed on Netflix, it makes for a good conversation night). The battle against regression, anger, and hatred is the battle of the Enterprise against Khan. One that costs the next generation (Scotty’s nephew is amongst the causalities). And a friendship ends.

Trekkies were rocked, as Spock died to save the ship, the crew, and be able to get the win. The inevitable hatred and belief of superiority, supremacy of one species over the other, destroyed Khan and his followers.

And you can see the idea that lefties have clung to this idea of the needs of the many can outweigh the needs of the few. So has the right. Civics 101 is simple, the political continuum is not linear, it is spherical, and extremism on both ends comes out to the same hatred filled conclusions. It begins with a simple foot in the door.

For progressives the foot in the door currently in in environmentalism. The great End Plastic Straw Ban Challenge. It is precipitated on the idea that plastic straws are evil and need to end (as well as single use plastics). It started from a horrific picture of what humans using Mother Earth as our toilet, and gutter, has done in regards to straws and turtles.

Yet it is the Khan superiority play. There is a multitude of variances or different types of straws that can be used. Many involve a higher cost (socio-economic challenges). BUT, and this is a big but…

It misses that there is a percentage of those with mental health that need single use plastic straws to overcome germ phobia when drinking.

AND

More, there is a percentage of persons with disabilities in that the only viable straw they can safely use to drink, have some type of independence, is a single use plastic straw.

(and on the socio-economic front, there is a higher percentage of persons with disabilities in the lower socio-economic spectrum)

Want to see hate outside of the Trump feeds? Check out the feeds on the straw bans.

A foot in door. Straws make up 1/10 of 1% of plastics, yet we will target it because it inconveniences the majority the least. Who cares that it actually is a life issue for some. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few or the one. It is so much truth even Star Trek taught it.

WRONG!

The Eugenics story line was a trilogy. In Star Trek III: The Search for Spock Kirk and company literally had a chance to possibly save Spock. To allow life. There careers, and status were on the line. But if there was a chance all could move forward in life, then it was worth taking. It was not classed as rational, or logical as Spock’s decision was. It was made out of the decision of being family. Of belonging. Simply put it was the outcome that sometimes:

The needs of the few or the one, outweigh the needs of the many.

As we move the door open by foot. Let’s look at the way it was used for good. Let’s ensure we are not using it to push an agenda of passive or assertive hatred.

Let us step outside our own concern, as Star Trek showed us. Step outside our own concern, and be able to understand experience from another perspective. Be able to comprehend that even if this makes no sense to me that perhaps, simply perhaps, we need to do better as humanity.

When you hear people saying to save the world we need to ban plastic straws and celebrate as the bans roll in. As persons with disabilities go, hey but that means “me” or “my bud” can’t— BELIEVE THEM!

Stand up to the extremes that harm life.

In each of the stories of Eugenics the crew of the Enterprise had a choice to make.

They chose life.

Will you step outside of yourself, empathize, set aside your regimented ideologies and do the same?

Are you able to choose life?

Or does belonging in hate mean more no matter how pretty they make it?

 


Ah I love to reflect on some of the greatest things Canada has ever done. And it was repatriated away from Britain to us in 1982. The Constitution Act 1982 (an update on the British North America Act 1867 which made us a nation), and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

This is not a digression in the loss of the social charter that was spear headed by then Alberta PC Premier Lougheed. No, it is a reflection on what was accomplished, and for those who are more fluent in the American Bill of Rights, for Canadians what is the key differences. I also always encourage one to read both documents that are the foundation of Canada’s systems.

The act opens:

Whereas Canada is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law:

Guarantee of Rights and Freedoms

One little word, God. But it is not a Judeo-Christian God, it is an anglicized affirmation of the creative force no matter how it is defined. For the charter this leads into, when one dives into the archives had all sectors of society speaking into it including and not limited to: First Nations, Churches, other religions, politicians, and justice.

It opens up the fundamental freedoms section:

Fundamental freedoms

 Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:

  • (a) freedom of conscience and religion;

  • (b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;

  • (c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and

  • (d) freedom of association.

There are freedoms spoken of, but notice that under (b) it is not speech, but rather expression. Each fundamental freedom flows into the other, and ties not into just simply an individual’s rights, but rights as they exist in the collective communities, the villages that make up Canada. The nations as well, as you go through the other rights you will note we are not about independent singular lives knowing that actions do not have ripple effects in the pond.

Much like how the nation grew, interdependence in spite of labels. Unity within our diversity (a mosaic) is what this reflects. The charter in 1982 was the culmination of work that began in Red River rebellion under the leadership of Louis Riel in 1869 displayed the first human rights bill, which was built upon under Douglas’ Saskatchewan Government, and also federally with Diefenbaker in 1960. But all these bills came out of a sense of community solidarity.

Not just the words on the paper, but the context, the intent…and sadly that is what has been missing a lot in public discourse in my nation. We gravitated to a simpler black and white system without realizing our nation has never been black and white. First Nations, English, and Francophone. Later saw Scottish and Irish fleeing English colonialism coming to Canada; loyalists from the US. Nordic country settlers into the prairies… to the 20th century and 21st century with refugees and new Canadians of all stripes.

Our identity has been forged in our differences. BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY the unity of one nation, under one law of collective rights, for the collective good. Essentially our rights exist up to the point they cause harm to the other, and then we work to welcome the differences of the other into our national fabric to make us better.

For the story of Canada is not one of revolution. It is not a story of religious battles. There are gruesome histories that need to be spoken about in truth, and in reconciliation to move forward from. But as a nation, we have always been driven by answering two questions, since the Skralings rescued the Vikings in Newfoundland…

Who is My neighbour?

And what does it mean to build a community together?

2017 we vote for City Councils and village/town leaderships in Alberta.

2019 is a federal election that currently has two parties searching for identity and leadership.

2020 in Alberta is another election where change can happen for the better.

But it is time as citizens to learn from our neighbours to the south, and what happens when you forget what made you as a people. Not the labels that divide, but what ties you together. No more into a mirror darkly.

2015 the best part of Justin Trudeau was he raised political discourse out of muck racking to a positive spin. Now though is our time to demand better. It is our time to demand political leaders running cast more than management cycles, budget sheets and sprockets–the things the bureaucracy is designed to handle.

Now is the time to demand actual leadership from each riding, from each person running, on their personal level, what is their vision for their village in the collection of villages? We want electoral reform, let’s send visionaries to Ottawa, Edmonton and City councils…not managers. Let’s elect those with heart and passion. Those that understand our national foundation within the Constitution and Charter of Rights & Freedoms.

For these beautiful documents speak to a guarantee the engaged citizens of Canada can hold to, and that is quite beautiful and simple:

Peace, Order and Good Governance.

Let’s dream no little dream. Let’s dream what is possible, and hold ourselves and our leaders to what we said we deserved.

-30-


A non-Western-centric view of the spread of Christianity shows the tree branching out from the roots in the Middle East (Judaism), into a trunk that is Orthodox, to branches of many different flavours (i.e. Coptic, Mormon, Jehovah Witness to name but a few), from the Roman Catholic branch breaks out Protestantism, and then subdivides from there (Anglican, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Baptist, and on we go, then those break down more into the more esoteric-metaphysics movements such as New Thought, Christian Science to the spiritual-aesthetic ala Unitarian-Universalist).

As well off R.C.’s comes the religious life.

That is the beginning of the tree of Christendom. Yet there is two prevalent branches that happened in the Western World that is a thrown into the mix as overarching branches, especially in the microcosm that is North America, and more specifically the Untied States of America and Canada, that has back benched some shaping of national identity: Prosperity and Social gospels.

Now these may look at first blush as new movements starting late 19th-early 20th century.  BUT they are not, they actually can be found in the very root system of the tree. A cursory contextual-anthropological reading of the Hebrew Bible books of Judges-Prophets shows both systems at play.

  • Prosperity Gospel- Those who are in tune with God, and are blessed will thrive and grow in riches.
  • Social Gospel- A community centered movement to care for all of God’s children (widow, orphans, aliens, etc.) in a just world.

What would usually happen is that the blessed nation would get off track in the social gospel end, embracing the prosperity above all, thus creating the cycle of deserving/undeserving of blessing, and a judge or prophet would interject to get them back on track. The wisdom books tried to show the cycles of life detached from this ideal of prosperity being blessed, with the best example being the use of the Satan character to challenge the devout Job to show that bad things happen to good people, and it is what happens in the midst and how the community responds that matters. Are we a Job or his friends that scatter?

It is this dichotomy that can be seen within the religious movements that have shaped social policy in both Canada and the USA.  The official writing of the social gospel came from a writer in New York named Rauschenbush.  In later 20th century in America the movement would latch onto the idea of Red Letter Christians, in Latin America it would become Liberation Theology, still other dubbed theology of the margins would also crop up that would fall into the broad category of Social Gospel.

The Religious Right though would take the strong road of prosperity, and one just needs to look at how the social system of the U.S.A. has been developed, and barriers created to see that outcome. Especially in the battle for something as simple as universal health care, and acceptance of refugees. It underlies the drive of the meta-story of America of coming in to independently achieve the American dream.

In Canada, the Social Gospel really took root in church basements sprouting out labour movements, suffragists, and tied strongly into socialism which brought about politically Progressive Party, Labour Party, eventually convalescing into the CCF federally whose ideas so shook the status quo that it forced the two major parties to shift their focus onto just society, and yes labour rights, women’s rights, indigenous rights and universal health care.  It underlies the Canadian story of working together in a mosaic to create a home for the world.  Highlighted by such stalwarts as J.S. Woodsworth, Tommy Douglas, William Aberhart, Pierre Trudeau, the Famous Five and many others who should be named openly…and I would say continues with many most notably, Elizabeth May.

An aside of experience, is during the rise of the social gospel movement, the movement created a “Christian Flag” to rally behind in protests showing the lie the oppressive forces of the day chasing prosperity no matter the human cost stating it was “Christian” and “ordained by God”. The movement shook the establishment and walked with all to craft a different story.

Years ago in Arizona I was witness to a very fundamentalist church saying a pledge to the Christian flag. It was driven as a pledge with the underlying beliefs that they were to out breed the other religions. It was said as a pledge to support shooting the illegals crossing the boarder as the Gospel of Christ proclaimed. The rallying cry was used for exclusion to ensure their own prosperity would continue. I almost did not get out alive pointing out the history of this artifact and what it was meant for, the fact I was an “ill-informed” Canadian in their mind is probably what saved my life.

That is a small story that shows what happens in the extremes of forgetting who our neighbour is and what it means to love our neighbour and ourselves as we love our God. A very linked triangle that shows all pieces need to be in place for healthy self and society from a faith perspective.

The question in the dichotomous and dogmatic world we live in is one right or wrong? That is dependent upon one’s point of view. Yet is it worth being prosperous, if it means leaving behind many in poverty and pain where they need to decide on simple matters like food/heat or rent? Setting a broken limb of a child or homelessness?

There is shift’s happening, and yes, the prosperity mind set is taking root in the world, but should it? What is the counter? What changes if all move forward healthy and prosperous? What if, as has become a movement in our schools we move from ME to WE not just locally, but hold to our roots and truly live it?

You see, this is the underlying narratives within our nations, though not founded on “Christian principles” as many want us to believe, the stories crafted the narratives of expectations of the people. Now we are in a time when the narratives have allowed hate in some circles to over shadow love in the pursuit of money…

So, what choice will you make for yourself, your family, your community?

If you state you are of faith, what will you choose, prosperity or social gospel?

Individualism or community good?

To end, it is a question asked by Rev. James Shaver Woodsworth, when he was the superintendent of the Winnipeg Mission that was the open doors for the immigrants and refugees to populate the prairies. It shaped his view, his founding of the labour church, his stance against the money-making war machine, and eventually to surrendering his vocation. It is a simple question for you to answer:

Who is my Neighbour?


WTF? Okay, as I watched the US election results roll in this colloquialism went through my mind, and we all know what it stands for. For me though it would’ve happened with Hillary winning as well, for I was rooting for a change-shift in the USA mindset around body politic and looking at the mainstream ticket disaster a choice of 3rd party or right in.

That did not happen, and the waves of fear and hate have become revealed in the North American continent.

But as I have learned short had at the Calgary Centre for Spiritual Living (Thanks Dr. Pat), it gave new terms for probing questions used in spiritual direction, and that is What’s the Fear? (WTF)…the fear is seeing the old world reasserting itself, the fear is seeing how someone can use the fear that exists within the starving masses used to go back in time, the fear is realizing that a party that brought their country the emancipation proclamation; Abraham Lincoln, in just over 100 years had moved to this.

But then the question needs to be asked, why do the voters that do not show up, allow for this? Their is responsibility around. Yet with this vote, there is shift happening as the Republicans that control the Senate and Congress are speaking up for their constituents and not stating they will blindly follow their technical party leader, so is their something deeper in the law of cause and effect at play?

Which brings us to “Where’s the Faith?”. Now as a Canadian I have to admit a reality, even our most conservative movements fall just left of the USA’s Democratic Party, so yes the political spectrum down south does not even touch our spectrum, but within that over the last 25 years we have experienced provincially and federally overly fanatical leadership in Klein-Harris “Common Sense Revolutions” (Alberta and Ontario in the `90’s) and most recently Stephen Harper’s Conservative Government.

Yet, the out come short and long is citizens choosing hope, whoever thought Conservative Alberta would send Liberals to Ottawa Federally, but also…elect an NDP government.

I stand here as a pragmatist, but in the Canadian context being on the spectrum between Red Tory/Red Grit to Communist, and yes I have ridden through these waves of attempted regression, and can say to our neighbours to the south, it is survivable, but as a democracy you must choose to move forward in Hope, and hold those who have been elected out of the shadow accountable. It is time to be active participants in your life.

So where is the faith? (WTF) for me it is in the promise out of the story of Genesis 3 from the ancient Jewish tradition. Yahweh lets Adam and Eve leave home, promising that the earth is theirs to now care for, they have entered adolescents and young adult hood. The story that progresses from that moment of Blessing is one filled with pain, mistakes and hurt, but what emerges from that is the Christ-Love that transforms the story.

So we are a world in the midst of change, in the midst of our young adult hood…are we going to hold it together and live out of the love. Hold to the simple truth of life, that no matter what, when a core group of good people comes together, Love Wins.

WTF.