Sunday, April 28, 2019

Looking for Stateswomen and Statesmen

Statesman -noun, a person who is experienced in the art of government or versed in the administration of government affairs. a person who exhibits great wisdom and ability in directing the affairs of a government or in dealing with important public issues.

I am pretty sure my family always voted Conservative but other than my uncle’s occasional rants about  Bill Davis’ provincial Conservative party (Davis was Premier of Ontario from 1971-1985), I remember little political discourse in our family. My dad once told me that Protestants voted Conservative and Catholics voted Liberal, but he kept his own choices a secret away from the ballot box. 

I have voted for every main party at one time or another in federal and provincial elections and have never identified strongly and consistently with any party. My leaning is “left centrist”, but after careful consideration, I try to vote for who I think would be the best local candidate and who would make the best leader. In the past I expected that my local MP or MPP would present their personal values as well as the concerns of their constituents in the legislature. Today, our representatives must vote along party lines, even if they do not agree with a policy, or be booted out of caucus. In my opinion, that is not how democracy should work.

My grandma always said that if a married couple never had a disagreement that one of them had to be stupid. She observed that intelligent people will have different viewpoints and opinions. How boring life would be if we all agreed on everything and had nothing to debate. We look at things from different personal, generational and cultural points of view. Differences of opinion and conflicts happen in the home, work place, schools, churches, as well as in the political arena. 

A couple of years ago I faced a work place conflict that escalated to the point where management became involved. A meeting was called and while I was confident that there was no wrong-doing on my part, the situation was very stressful. I read the book Crucial Conversations- Tools for Talking when the Stakes are High and took notes on how to approach the problem. I had to put myself in my co-worker’s shoes and step away from any defensive anger to come to a resolution. It was important to present some positive solutions without attacking the character of the other person. The meeting went far better than I could have imagined the issue was resolved. (I highly recommend this book!)

It is disheartening to see the polarization of social, economic and political ideology in many countries today. Angry accusations and personal attacks are the norm and people feel they need to put others down in order to promote themselves. We are bombarded with opinions and rumours online and it takes time to research and contemplate an issue from various angles. I believe most people are moderate and reasonable, but the voices at both ends of the political spectrum can be very, very loud. People will take sides on highly polarized issues, refusing to listen to each other or debate in a civil manner.

Will Durant, historian, philosopher and co-author of The Story of Civilization wrote, 

"A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself within.” 

Observing the turmoil in Great Britain, United States and other western countries, one can see how internal fighting is destructive to a nation’s socio-economic strengths and freedoms. Canada, as a large and diverse nation is not immune from partisan politics. No leader or party is perfect but I have hope that as a nation, in this election year, we can put aside vindictive and hateful rhetoric and negotiate respectful solutions for the present and future. That being said, I will not vote for any person or party, or follow anyone on social media who promotes personal attacks. But I welcome a good debate and love to participate in lively discussions about a variety of issues that we may never agree on completely. 

Sunday, April 21, 2019

The Passage of Time

Six years ago I sat with our mother during her last night on earth. In some ways it seems like yesterday but in other ways the passage of time is very real. Our father is living with significant cognitive and physical challenges and each day in itself is an eternity for him. There are three new great-grandchildren who will never know her but two baby girls carry her name. 

The Queen of England is 93 years old today. Our mother, born six years later, was also named Elizabeth and the Princess was her girlhood role model. Mom carried herself with style and grace, just like the Queen and many others of that generation. She dreamed of living an active, healthy life into her 90’s. 

I roamed around meadows, ponds and streams today thinking about Mom and wondering if she has a window into our world. We humans imagine many things about the after life that bring us solace and comfort but there is no way of knowing the timelines of eternity.

Today is Resurrection Sunday. Our pastor preached from 1 Corinthians 15, the great (mystical) resurrection chapter of the New Testament. 

There are plenty of questions in the chapter and Paul’s answers are riddle-like to me. 

But someone may ask, "How will the dead be raised? What kind of bodies will they have?"

Paul says,
What a foolish question! 
(I don’t think it is a foolish question)

When you put a seed into the ground, it doesn’t grow into a plant unless it dies first. 
And what you put in the ground is not the plant that will grow, 
but only a bare seed of wheat or whatever you are planting. 
Then God gives it the new body he wants it to have. 
A different plant grows from each kind of seed....

It is the same way with the resurrection of the dead. 

Our earthly bodies are planted in the ground when we die, but they will be raised to live forever. 
Our bodies are buried in brokenness, but they will be raised in glory. 
They are buried in weakness, but they will be raised in strength. 
They are buried as natural human bodies, but they will be raised as spiritual bodies.

1 Cor 15:35-39, 42-44a

Well, I understand seeds and I understand spring and when I am outdoors I feel my closest connection to God. Spring time is a yearly object lesson of resurrection from death. We count the passage of time on earth by seasons but we cannot fathom time on the other side of death.

Between the anniversary of Mom’s passing…April 22 (which is also Earth Day)...

to her birthday on May 5th.... 

and Mother’s Day a few days later…

Spring will unfold in extravagant beauty. And that gives me hope for eternity.