What Do We Love?

I was plastered to my television today, watching history unfold.  The span of Donald Trump leaving and Joe Biden arriving enthralled me.  I loved Lady Gaga blasting out the national anthem.  I loved Amanda Gorman’s passionate poem about America … plus her yellow suit and red hat.  And I loved Joe’s speech.  At one point, he quoted St. Augustine:

A people are a multitude
defined by the common objects of their love

What might these objects be?  I could say I love pizza with anchovies while you salivate over pesto pasta.  Yes, we enjoy food, but those are shallow objects of our love.  I could say I love independence while you favour interdependence, and that therefore we’re unlike each other, but that distinction feels like it lies on the surface of our lives, in the realm of personality differences.

If we go deeper, beyond conscious thought for many, what unites us?  I vote for these things:

We all want to be happy

We all want to be loved

We all want to love

We all want to hear the truth

We all want to tell the truth

We all want to receive a helping hand when we’re down

We all want to extend a hand to those who are suffering

We all want the wild creatures of this world to continue living

We all want to look into the eyes of another with peace in our hearts

We all want to be treated with kindness

We all want to be kind

We all want hard work to be rewarded

We all want our dear planet to remain healthy

We all want widespread illness to be eradicated

We all want to witness inspired performances, whether in sports, music or drama

We all want to be ourselves, not a copy of someone else

***

May we express our loves to each other
We need to speak and we need to listen

Shifting Perspective

In these days of the coronavirus, our TVs still show us messages that purport to make our lives better.  Some commercials have me pause.  Just how important is the suggested improvement?

1.  A grizzly bear has a fish in its mouth.  Suddenly, his eyes go wide and the fish plummets to the ground.  He has seen a shiny new truck go by.

2.  A woman smiles radiantly through a shining face.  She is the happy user of a “rapid wrinkle repair” cream.

3.  A riding mower zips along.  Who knew that I have the power to be a “guardian of the grass”, a “keeper of the green”?  I can “ride faster”, be a “time cruncher”.  Happiness follows.

4.  My hair can be rescued from the ravages of time.  “Rich, radiant colour” is mine for the taking because, after all, “no colour covers greys better.”

5.  All will be well.  This drug will give me clear skin.  Unfortunately, “serious allergic reactions may occur.”

6.  To be a real man, a full head of hair is required.  Thank God that I can “defy hair loss by regrowing more hair” and that “[my] satisfaction is guaranteed.”

***

From whence does my satisfaction arise?
Is there a person, thing or action that will rescue me from the doldrums of life?
Or should I take another look at the values I choose?

Senior

A few days ago, I wrote a post called “The Truth”, about Jody Wilson-Raybould and Justin Trudeau. Yesterday Justin booted Jody out of the Liberal Party of Canada.

On the CBC website last night, there were nearly 10,000 comments on this story, vehement opinions split fairly evenly. The challenge is to state what’s true for me without falling into antagonism. What values are most precious here?

It’s clear to me that government officials put pressure on Jody as Attorney General to intervene in the prosecution of SNC-Lavalin, a corporation that’s accused of bribery and corruption. Before last Friday, however, it was fuzzy – in the realm of “He said, she said.” On that day, Jody recorded a phone conversation between her and a top civil servant. It demonstrated pressure being put on her.

Is it unethical to record someone without them knowing it? Yes. Is it unethical for government officials to interfere with the impartiality and independence of a court of law? Yes. So here we have two competing values. I assert that one of these values is “senior” to the other – more important to uphold. In a perfect world, we should uphold them both but our reality is far from black-and-white.

If Jody had not recorded the conversation, there would have been no clear evidence of meddling in a judicial decision. Just innuendo. I vote for establishing clarity.

I honour Jody Wilson-Raybould. Is she a perfect politician and person? No. Did she speak the truth, knowing what the possible consequences could be? Yes.

We all need to speak the truth, without antagonism and without fudging. In today’s sports section, a soccer player, talking about a different issue, said it for me:

My reason for participating is because
I believe silence allows unacceptable behaviour to continue

Haida Gwaii … Whales

On a wilderness shore sits the remains of a whaling station which operated in the early 1900’s.  Our group landed at Rose Harbour in the Zodiac and explored the beach, including intertidal life.  Perched above us were two rusting boilers, huge sentries of the whaling industry.  I got to poke my head inside and imagine the carcasses dropped into the top hole, the oil that was saved at the side, and the bones which filled the floor.

I thought of the whales, fifty feet and more, who gave their lives to feed man’s desire for lamps and soap.  And I was sad.  But I also thought about the families on Haida Gwaii who depended on these animals for their livelihood.  Scratching out an existence so far from civilization must have been a monumental task.  So little in life seems to be black and white.

I saw the ancient ramp that served as the resting place for these beings, and the spot where their flesh was carved up in preparation for the boilers.  And I felt back in time … to the whales and human beings of a century ago.

Later that same day, Captain Greg told us about a whale who had died last October.  It was washed up on a beach and was decomposing there.  Did we want to go?  There would be a horrible stink to the place …  We all wanted to be there.

As we came ashore and walked towards the big brown shape, the wind at our backs meant the experience was just visual … so far.  But then we were ten feet away and I’ll never forget the smell.  Part of me wanted to run away but the bigger part wanted to be in the presence of death.

My late friend was probably eighty feet long.  Its flesh was falling off its bones and puddling in the hollows.  Huge vertebrae were bleaching in the sun.  And we were transfixed.  I moved closer.  I could have reached out and touched him or her.  It was a communion.

Some of us talked.  Many of us didn’t.  There was really nothing to say in the presence of such grandeur and sadness.

Hundreds of whales near Haida Gwaii remain free, lifting their tails high as they feed on herring.  May it ever be so.  And may we humans continue to receive the nourishment we need.