By Al Beeber on July 3, 2021.
Wow, what a world we live in. Two days ago, we theoretically celebrated Canada Day under the heavy cloud of disgust, anger and sadness about the recent discoveries at Canadian residential schools.
I drove out to Raymond to shoot the Rotary Club parade on July 1 as Southern Alberta celebrated a bit of normalcy with the lifting of COVID restrictions. For Raymond, July 1 is basically a huge family reunion, one sadly tempered still by the closure of the Canada-U.S. border to land travel.
In Raymond, I rode around with my camera in a truck with childhood friend Roy Sugai, who is part Japanese and part Indigenous. To me, he is, and always has been, a full brother.
We accidentally ended up leading the parade in the white Ford truck many of you saw and waved at. I’m not sure how that happened but after all these years, it’s a hoot that Roy and I are still creating memories together.
Many in Canada wanted us not to celebrate the national holiday, others said such a request was part of so-called cancel culture. Both sides have a point.
But there are more sides to every issue affecting humanity than just two. It’s not the side on the left or the side on the right as I’ve written before. Every issue has complexities that cannot be solved with one unilateral all-encompassing decision.
Yes, racism exists in this world. We know it, and it’s existed for eons. So has religious intolerance and sexual discrimination. They are not unique to Canada or this period in history. Humanity has a pathetic history of intolerance, discrimination and brutality, much spurred by politics and religion.
But we Canadians at least have the courage to address those issues; we confront them and we are trying – hopefully – to learn from the horrific abuses of power within our religious and political spheres.
We know we have issues and Canadians of all colours, all religions, and all sexualities stand with our brothers and sisters from the Indigenous nations.
We hopefully stand with each other regardless of race, sexuality and religion. Those who don’t are part of a problem that needs to be dealt with, not only in our country but around the world.
As a person who had to bandage a parent’s wrist that was bleeding into a sink when I was nine years old, I can assure everyone that blood is the same colour regardless of the shade of our skin or the god we worship, or the sex of the people we are attracted to. Trauma and PTSD affect all children.
And all of us need to come together in this world – regardless of the language we speak, the religion we belong to or not, our sexuality, our colour and work together to make the world a better place for future generations.
Much of that work needs to start within the institutions of church and government. Religion and politics are about power with the leaders of both needing an enemy to retain power.
If we leave church leaders and political leaders out of the equation, and meet each other in a street with hands outstretched we take away their power because the enemy ceases to exist.
It’s possible to have faith in a god without having to support an institution called a church. As I wrote last fall about a dream I had about Psalm 8, which I’d never heard of before, God will speak to those of us who want to listen. However, it is the right of people to attend a church, believe in their faith and their church doctrine. Our democracy allows that right.
But we don’t need to pay a tithe or believe doctrine which may discriminate simply because it is contained in some scripture written thousands of years ago and reinterpreted and translated multiple times over those years. We can believe in a diety that loves and respects all people.
People who believe all of us are equal need to start making changes from within their religious institutions. Destroying houses of worship will not change the Catholic Church or any other religion.
Religions of all kinds need to be rebuilt by their membership from within the walls of the institution and within their hearts to end discrimination and prejudice. Only through personal change can we expect societal change. We owe it to each other, our neighbours and our world to begin the process of that change if we already haven’t.
We need to realize there are no enemies in this world, only fellow human beings who want to live in peace, dignity and harmony.
We need to empower ourselves and each other and remove the power from those who rely on having an enemy to retain it.
Every single one of us has within us the ability to make that change, to make this world a better place for all. Let’s make it happen. Together.
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