My last post was August 26th. What was I thinking in the past 7 weeks? I have been stuck in a negative rant about how bad things are in the world and what can one person do anyway! When I say stuck, I mean going over actions by Donald Trump like pulling U.S. troops out of Syria so fast that they had to bomb their own bases there to prevent others from getting the equipment they had to leave behind. Pulling out so Turkey could bomb their allies. I get so angry when I read news like this that my mind goes on a tirade for days. Where is the sanity when he gets no push back from world leaders?
Then there is the Canadian election. Where is the good thinking? Where is the leadership? Trudeau seems to have lost his edge, my total dislike for Sheer, and living in a riding where a conservative win is a foregone conclusion, pushes me to search for an alternative way to send a message to Ottawa to do some new thinking.
I ruminate about stuff. I want Trudeau to pull the liberal candidate from the riding where Jody Wilson Raybould is running as a sort of apology for the way he treated her. I want someone to speak about issues that matter – which means I want some candidate to treat me as a person who can think and understand big issues. Instead I get a tax break or drivel or name calling. Elizabeth May is one bright light who has a history of intelligent debate and is calling for doing politics differently. I will probably turn Green this election. Jagmeet Singh has shown good leadership but I want radical.
I have been involved with developing the connection between Hillhurst United Church and The Calgary Alliance for the Common Good, organizations which have a common purpose and core values. We just had our founding assembly on Thursday, October 18 with 29 member agencies, over 500 attending and mayor Nenshi giving an inspirational endorsement. This is the way to do politics differently: to enable citizens to get involved in solving society’s problems and to engage politicians as allies. https://www.calgarycommongood.org Check it out to see what the Alliance is doing and how change is possible.
On Saturday October 12 my wife and I went to a one man show at Fire Exit theatre called “Say Yes: Not Giving Up on Yourself”. It was a two-hour performance with audience interaction using questions like: What were your best and worst moments of the past year? Have you had a dream die? What does the voice of “giving up” sound like to you? On this last question I realized that voice in me says, “What can one person do anyway about the big problems in our world: lack of political leadership, the climate crisis, addictions?” …the list goes on. I have been giving up. I lost my faith and I gave up my voice. At this play I realized my responsibility is not to change the world but to stand up for what I believe as a progressive Christian person; to keep believing that every voice counts; to contribute my voice to the higher power that can change the way it is into a more just and compassionate world.
I went to an Elderhood meeting at Hillhurst United on Tuesday evening, October 8, entitled, “Can You Teach an Old Dogmatist New Truth?” We had to write down a belief we had that is a foundation of our life that we would not let go. Is it a dogmatic belief or a passionately held belief? A belief becomes dogmatic (interestingly, the church uses the word “dogma” to describe its belief system) when you hold on to it in spite of all good evidence. The belief I wrote down is, “Truth is what grounds me in reality”. I heard a sermon many years ago that had this statement in it: “A lie will get you far, but it won’t bring you home”. Jesus says, “I am the Way, The Truth and the Life”. The search for truth has been my life process. I remember reading how the church fought hard against the changing knowledge that the Sun is the centre of our solar system, not the Earth. In my lifetime I have been embarrassed when conservative churches fought against the idea/theory of Evolution being the way we have grown up on this planet. This battle is not yet over but the acceptance of evolution as a scientific fact is pretty overwhelmingly established.
And now it’s climate change. A segment of the Christian church and much of society has not yet established a good relationship with climate science, and dogmatically hold on to what they want to be true, denying scientific facts. This is one belief that we don’t want to get wrong. It might mean the end of humanity on this planet. Sometimes the cost of being selfish is too high and the consequences too traumatic. Greta Thunberg was called a Christian prophet by The Christian Century magazine. One line that stood out for me in her speech to the United Nations was: “We are at the beginning of mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth.” I believe she is right. Greed and wishful thinking that we can continue growing our economy forever and all be wealthy and happy in the future are beliefs that are going to do us in.
I believe many people are already experiencing a no growth economy and that is why populism is so rampant now. The conservative party has adopted the motto: ”It’s time for you to get ahead.” To be fair all the parties are saying the same thing in different ways. No one is saying that our biggest problem is trying to figure out how we can live in a no-growth world. We need to shift our understanding of how we can live together on this planet. And that will require sacrifices from those of us in the “first world” who have benefited from technology and exponential growth. We can figure that out. But first we must choose to embrace the reality of a no-growth economy.
So I am posting again. I put up a green sign on my lawn. I have come back to my faith that every person’s voice counts, and that truth will prevail although we will have to all discover it together and work together if salvation is to happen.
My progressive Christian belief surfaces again.
Two poems that inspire me by Mary Oliver: