Archive for the ‘relationships’ Tag

Return to “Normal” (7)   Leave a comment

Is anyone still counting the number of days of “COVID Confinement”? Or, have you moved on to counting the number of weeks, or months?

With our attention currently focused on the pandemic, and systemic racism, the media and others seem to have forgotten that the Earth is concurrently in a climate crisis. Toronto author Tom Rand prefers to label this situation as a time of “climate disruption”[1].

Some aspects of our natural environment have improved while “the economy” has been operating in slow motion. Air quality has improved in many cities because people are driving and flying less; carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere have not risen as much this year as in the past years; we hear the birds in the morning rather than traffic, and so on.

Many people are now looking forward to a “return to “normal”. Do you remember what “normal” was doing to the Earth’s environment?

  • A world of species extinction and hyper-consumerism

  • A world of an ever increasing disparity of wealth / equity / and racism

  • A world of the car culture and the combustion engine belching polluting gasses

  • A world of homelessness and lengthy lines at foodbanks

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BUT, we don’t have to return to that “normal”. We can work together to make a better world on three levels: personal, community, and as a society. Now is the opportunity to make a difference because change is in the air, and many people don’t want to return to the “old normal”. As Dr. Kwame McKenzie said in his blog, “Normal was the problem.”[2]

What would the “New Normal” look like? Some examples, for our consideration, are:

  • A society that puts people – and inclusion – first, recognizing our inter-relatedness with all people, and all of creation

  • A society that does not pay $40 Billion in annual subsidies to the fossil fuel industry

  • A society that retro-fits housing and other buildings to reduce their carbon footprint

  • A society that uses public street space for additional forms of transportation, such as buses, bicycles and pedestrians

  • A society with a progressive income tax system that includes meaningful taxes on wealth and the elimination of tax loopholes

As Gandhi said, “ Be the change you want to see in the world.”

My question is about how I make this “new normal” happen?

  • How do I want to live as a person of the Christian faith in the “New Normal” – both individually and as a part of my faith community?

  • How can I be effective in advocating for an economy that puts people before profit, and includes people of all cultures and skin colours?

  • How will I live with respect for other people, and the Earth, in the “New Normal”?

  • How will I seek justice for the Earth and its people, love kindness, and walk humbly with the Creator?

“The next few months are precious. Things have changed quickly.

We can imagine the “New Normal”. Naomi Klein

[1]Tom Rand, The Case for Climate Capitalism, ECW Press, 2020

[2]https://www.wellesleyinstitute.com/healthy-communities/the-new-normal-moving-from-surviving-to-thriving/

A Return to “Normal”? (3)   1 comment

IMG_1262During COVID-10 Confinement:    by Allan Baker

In this time of COVID confinement

when we are all in this together

as children of a loving God;

we are showing each other

 that the power of love

is everywhere on Planet Earth.

Love is pervasive, and invasive.

Love is strong, patient, and kind;

not insisting on its own way

but accepting that there are many pathways through life.

So, as we long to return to “normal”

we are learning to give, and to receive;

sharing love and kindness; friendship and connection,

and learning to use these life-giving gifts

to affirm the goodness of people, and of creation.

May it continue to be so.

Posted April 29, 2020 by allanbaker in Canadian society, Inspiration

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A Return to “Normal”?(3)   Leave a comment

 

Toward a More Caring Society: Practicing Empathy During a Pandemic

by: Amanda Harvey-Sánchez

In a society plagued by the logic of neoliberalism, which encourages a turn towards individual interests and an “every person for themselves” mentality, acts of empathy and collective action may seem rare. But mutual aid also demonstrates how collective interests and a capacity for empathy have not entirely disappeared, and we may still have an opportunity to build upon these promising actions.

More on empathy at: https://canadiandimension.com/articles/view/toward-a-more-caring-society-practicing-empathy-during-a-pandemic

 

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A Return to “Normal”?   Leave a comment

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Photo: Allan Baker – Lake Ontario beach at Morningside Creek

Do we really want to return to “normal” as the COVID-19 pandemic subsides? Is a return to “normal” in the best interest of humanity, or Planet Earth?

Yes, there’s plenty about this time of COVID confinement that I do not enjoy, and in my heart I wish that “social distancing” were over with, for example. However, what was “normal” before this time? Was it all-good? What would we have changed about life to make it richer and more meaning-full for ourselves and people in our communities?

Thanks to Prof. Dennis Bartels, I have set up a small chart of SOME of the differences that we are currently (April 2020) experiencing:

Before COVID -19                                             During COVID-19

Concern for gov’t DEBT                              No limits on gov’t spending

Opposition to carbon tax                           Environmental issues fade

Housing the homeless is an                      People without homes are being housed in hotels,

Intractable problem, cannot                    new shelters set up.

be solved, just tolerated                           Concern that “they” may infect “the rest of us”

Underfunding of daycare                         Gov’t establishes FREE daycare

                                                                          for children of “Essential” folks

As André Picard, the health reporter for Toronto’s Globe & Mail says: The big unknown question is, are we going to learn lessons from this? Or are we just going to go back to what we did before? ….I think there’s some real opportunities here to do things differently. I hope the bright side of this is that we really do take advantage of this crisis to do bold things and not just go back to the safe, not very effective way of doing health and social services.”

 What we are seeing during this pandemic are acts of kindness, and love for other people who are all part of our human family.

I’ll conclude with a quote from Bill McKibben, who wrote this in the May, 2020 edition of Sojourners Magazine: The day will come when we can easily return to church, to the store, to the hairdresser – for that we will be able to thank the scientists, and the brave doctors and nurses, who did what they had to do during this emergency. But their courage will have been wasted if nothing deeper changes in how we treat one another and the planet.”

Let’s not “waste” this opportunity.

What Really Matters These Days ?   Leave a comment

David Suzuki asks:

When you pause to reflect on what’s truly essential and meaningful for you to thrive, what comes to mind?

One possible response comes from Bill Mckibbin. In Sojourner’s Magazine ( www.sojo.net) Bill wrote:

“The day will come when we can easily return to church, to the store, to the hairdresser – for that we will be able to thank the scientists, and the brave doctors and nurses, who did what they have to do during this emergency. But their courage will have been wasted if nothing deeper changes in how we treat one another and the planet.”

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Suzuki’s thoughtful column concludes with this statement:

“Now, many politicians are ascribing war language to the pandemic response. But what will we do when this “war” is over? Will we allow an old equation to continue to guide us, or could we choose to come together to define a new purpose?”

To read the whole column go to:

https://davidsuzuki.org/story/economics-should-reflect-what-really-matters/

Posted April 17, 2020 by allanbaker in Canadian society, Environment, Spirituality

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Lenten Quote #2, 2019   Leave a comment

“Refugees are reasonable people in desperate circumstances.”

The Economist, February, 2016

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Symbolic gestures can make a difference   Leave a comment

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Take Responsibility

By Jim Taylor, published March 2, 2019

I wore a pink shirt last Wednesday. Pink is not my colour. It makes me look like cotton candy with a beard.

But Wednesday was anti-bullying day, so I wore pink.

It feels like a futile gesture. After all, what difference will it make if one old man wears a pink shirt for one day? School yard bullies won’t see it at all. Neither will patriarchal males in India and Africa who think of women as something inferior, to do with as they please. Nor will my pink shirt influence the behaviour of egocentric rulers in Riyadh or Moscow, Washington or Damascus.

Short answer — no difference at all.

Someone else’s problem

 So why bother?

 I hear that response often, when I get into discussions about the state of the world. Everyone agrees — okay, most people in my circles agree — that something needs to be done about wealth inequity, where the three richest Americans have more wealth than the 160 million citizens, 50 per cent of the country’s population, at the bottom of the economic pyramid.

And about climate change and melting glaciers before very valuable real estate in Florida disappears under the seas. And about court processes that turn chronic offenders loose because an overworked cop got the date wrong on a traffic ticket. The answer always seems to be, it’s too big for me to tackle. There’s nothing I can do.

Therefore, that’s what I’ll do. Nothing.

Guaranteed failure

Let’s turn the question around — what will doing nothing accomplish? The answer is also obvious. Nothing.

What you do may not make a difference. But what you don’t do definitely will make a difference.

You may not be able to rescue a child trapped in a burning house. But if you don’t try, you guarantee that child’s death.

Driving safely won’t eliminate accidents; there are other drivers on the road too. But not driving safely will surely increase accidents.

Treating people with respect will not eliminate conflict. But not treating people with respect will certainly increase conflict.

You may remember the oft-told story of a little girl going down the beach throwing stranded starfish into the sea. An observer told her she was wasting her effort. There were far too many starfish for her to throw into the ocean — they’d all die.

“This one won’t,” she replied, flinging another starfish into the waves.

“Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it,” Mahatma Gandhi advised the world.

Insignificant beginnings

The pink shirt movement itself is evidence that doing something is better than doing nothing.

Anti-bullying day started in Canada. With less than one per cent of the world’s population, Canada’s efforts can’t possibly be significant — the argument currently used by opponents of a carbon tax. After all, bullying is universal. Even chickens do it.

Yet 180 countries around the world now mark anti-bullying day in February.

Even more insignificantly, anti-bullying day started with just two high-school students in Nova Scotia. David Shepherd and Travis Price saw older kids bullying a younger student who wore a pink shirt at the opening day of school. So, on their own, they bought 50 pink T-shirts, and handed them out.

“I learned that two people can come up with an idea, run with it, and it can do wonders,” Price, then 17, told the Globe and Mail. “Finally, someone stood up for a weaker kid.”

The spread of anti-bullying day confirms that symbolic acts can have a positive effect.

The worst result

 The U.S. calculates that one out of every four children will be bullied during adolescence. Bullying rarely stops after a single incident; 71 percent of bullied students continue to be bullied, with a strong correspondence between being bullied and suicide.

Again, Canada brought this reality to international attention.

Amanda Todd, a 15-year-old Canadian victim of cyberbullying, committed suicide in October 2012 at her home in Port Coquitlam, B.C. Shortly before her death, Todd posted a YouTube video that used hand-lettered flash cards to describe her experience.

The video went viral. More than 12 million people have seen it.

Just six months later, 17-year-old Rehtaeh Parsons attempted suicide in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. Her parents switched off her life supportmachine in April 2013.

The two women’s suicides pushed cyberbullying into prominence. In 2012, Todd was the third-most Googled person in the world, surpassing even Hollywood stars. In 2013, 38 countries held vigils in her memory.

So wearing pink on anti-bullying day may seem like a futile gesture. But it affirms that doing something is better than doing nothing.

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Copyright © 2019 by Jim Taylor. Non-profit use in congregations and study groups encouraged; links from other blogs welcomed; all other rights reserved. To send comments, to subscribe, or to unsubscribe, write jimt@quixotic.ca

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Dealing With Poverty   Leave a comment

Nelson Mandella said that poverty is not an accident.

Living in poverty also not a deliberate decision that people make.

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To tolerate the existence of poverty in affluent nations like Canada is a deliberate decision that has been made by those who have the power to make, or influence, governmental decisions. Although the House of Commons voted to eliminate child poverty by the year 2000, a report demonstrates that child poverty has actually increased in Canada. The report gathered Statistics Canada tax-filer data and found that child and family poverty has increased to 1,331,530 children in 2012 from 1,066,150 children in 1989. https://globalnews.ca/news/1685376/25-years-since-canada-vowed-to-end-child-poverty-where-are-we-now/

One means of moving toward the elimination of poverty is to implement a Basic Annual Income for all people. Here in Canada there was a trial of this idea that took place in Manitoba, and in Ontario. Unfortunately, the research in Ontario was cancelled by Doug Ford shortly after the Progressive Conservative Party won the provincial election on June 7, 2018. For more information on Ontario’s situation, check out:

http://rabble.ca/blogs/bloggers/change-gonna-come/2019/01/re-instating-basic-income-ontario-would-help-raise-children

Ontario’s cancellation of the research on Basic Income has adversely affected the hopes and dreams of many. One tragic story was reported in the Toronto Star:

https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2018/12/27/hamilton-couple-with-newborn-prepares-for-wind-down-of-basic-income.html

How we care for each other is a statement of our love for each other, and our commitment to a healthy community. Basic Annual Incomes are one way that we can, collectively,  help our neighbours who are less fortunate, and who are human beings just as I am a human being. Poverty is not an accident! We can, together, make a better world for all by sharing; collectively.

An unintentional parable   Leave a comment

This is a personal reflection written By Jim Taylor:

IMG_1896_2I was driving north, up the main highway. As I came down the hill into town, traffic slowed to a standstill. The truck ahead of me turned on its four-way flashers.

Something was happening, but I couldn’t see what. I peered through the gap between the vehicles ahead of me. And I saw a woman, walking backwards across the four lanes of traffic, beckoning to something or someone with her hands, encouraging them to come on.

Then I saw what she was encouraging. A pair of geese. Canada geese. Big birds. When they spread their wings and hiss, they can be terrifying. But these two waddled along following the woman. And right behind them came a pair of goslings, balls of fluff on toothpick legs. And finally, behind them all, came a man pushing a bicycle, making sure no one got left behind.

Or run over.

The whole cortege reached the far sidewalk. The geese vanished into the park. The man and woman gave each other high-fives, and went their separate ways. Traffic rolled again.

As I too drove on, it occurred to me that I had just seen a parable enacted, a parable of the way the world could be, and should be.

Jesus didn’t have Canada Geese or four-lane highways to talk about in his parables. But I think he would have described that scene as a sample of the kingdom of God.

The goslings trusted their parents enough to follow them into a totally foreign environment. The geese trusted the woman enough to follow her across the highway. The woman trusted the drivers enough to believe that no impatient driver would run her down.

 And it worked.

For that couple of minutes, no one roared over the sidewalk to save a few seconds. No one honked angrily. No one brandished middle-finger salutes. Everyone got where they were going, at most a couple of minutes late.

It’s a parable of the “kingdom” because all our relationships depend on trust. Every day, we commit hundreds of little acts of trust. So many, in fact, that we don’t even think of them as acts of trust — we take them for granted.

I trust that my breakfast cereal is safe to eat. That an oncoming driver will not suddenly swerve into my lane. That the radio news is not fabricated fiction. That the cash register at the grocery store will add my bill accurately. That the tree will stay upright, the bridge will hold, the sky will not fall.

At least, not today.

If I couldn’t trust these incidents, I’d be paralyzed. Afraid of everything. A nervous wreck, a human Chicken Little.

Trust keeps our society, our civilization, even our world, running smoothly.

We exist in a vast, universal, web of relationships. We are, in a sense, the sum of our relationships. When we can no longer trust those relationships, we lose a huge part of what we are. We are reduced to being an individual playing solitaire.

 That’s why breaches of trust are so serious. And that’s why little incidents that remind us how much trust matters, matter. Even if they bring traffic to a standstill.

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Copyright © 2017 by Jim Taylor. Non-profit use in congregations and study groups, and links from other blogs, welcomed; all other rights reserved.

To comment on this column, write jimt@quixotic.ca

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