Praise Be To You, Francis

images-9Laudato Si’, the Encyclical released on June 18th by Pope Francis, has brought the issue of accelerating climate change back to the front burner of religious, business, and political discussion. And he made it quite clear he doesn’t want bitumen fueling the burner.

Naturally, the encyclical was immediately praised by environmental groups, alternative energy entrepreneurs, and green politicians. And as equally predictable, it was denied by Big Oil, Big Coal, Big Business, Conservatives and Republicans. Jeb Bush, U.S. presidential candidate and a Catholic, quipped about Francis’s encyclical, “I don’t get economic policy from my bishops or my cardinals or my pope.” No, Jeb, but I have a good idea from where you do get your economic policies. And it’s a lot warmer than Florida.

The entire encyclical is available online. To read it is almost like having a conversation with the Pope. And it is a direct and honest conversation. He wastes no time acknowledging humanity’s fingerprints on the acceleration of climate change and the desecration of Our Common Home, the Earth. His main focus is on the ecological crisis, but he spends equal time on social justice issues, recognizing that the poor in both developed and developing countries will pay the greatest price for our consumptive sins.

Most notably, he makes it absolutely clear that the biblical line giving humans dominion over Earth, does not mean we can greedily consume it into extinction. It means we have to live wisely and well for the common good of all creatures, and for the well being of generations to come.

He also holds to account all government leaders who have talked big on the global stage and have done little of significance in policy and practice. He bravely exposed the myth that trading carbon credits, or carbon cap-and-trade deals are solutions to reducing our dependence on fossil fuel extraction and use. All the Canadian political leaders might want to re-examine their policies on that one.

For me, the key point of the encyclical was to make clear that our current Conservative Reform Alliance Party government, and the Canadians who voted for them, could be going straight to Hell if we don’t immediately get back to science-based decision making and come up with some actual policies to deal with and mitigate the impacts of accelerating climate change.

Laudato Si’, Francis!

*****

Skid Crease, Caledon

Job Application

Frame: several ethnically diverse citizens around a desk …

images-8East Indian Citizen: We just got his job application – it came with a picture!

Oriental Citizen: Really, who is this Stephen?

African American Citizen: Well, it’s pretty sketchy – he seems to have made some very bad judgement calls on people he has appointed.

European Citizen: Yeah, the RCMP are investigating them! And what’s with this $90,000 cheque that came out of his office. He claims he didn’t know about it.

Middle Eastern Citizen: Well, that’s unbelievable. Apparently the guy is a micromanager – that’s not good.

Israeli Citizen: Well, he has promised to save us from IS/IS/IL and Palestine and Putin…

Scandanavian Citizen: We lose more people to cancer and car accidents than to wacko extremists – he’s way off base.  How about taking care of our veterans first!

Australasian Citizen: And look at the record – the environment and economy in decline – no climate change policies and tax breaks for the richest. What about the rest of us?

Aboriginal Citizen: Exactly. Remember that he killed the Kelowna Accord. And Kyoto. And National Child Care.

South American Citizen: Well, it’s pretty clear he’s just not up for the job.

Central American Citizen: Yeah, but check out the picture – nice hair.

Youth Citizen: Is that hair?

*****

The hockey and radio ad I’d really like to see and hear… constantly.

Skid Crease, Caledon

Canada’s Cultural Genocide

The Prime Minister is afraid to speak the words: Cultural Genocide. But it is true.

7 generations lost; 150,000 children stolen; 6,000 dead under the care of the Canadian government.

T&RAny apology on the part of “Our Government™”  is too little and far too late.  I entered my teaching profession in 1968,; two years later a wise elder suggested to me that I read “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee” before I began teaching any more history of the Americas.

The book broke my heart. I felt ashamed to be of European origins – the endless betrayals and lies and hypocrisy of treaties broken were shameful in the extreme. When I later taught Grade 7, the novel of the time was “Copper Sunrise” by Paul Buchan,  a Canadian author and teacher, and neither I nor my students could complete a reading without crying.

The first major extinction of a a native species in North America by the English fishermen in Newfoundland was not the Great Auk – it was the deliberate extermination of the Beothuk native peoples. This attitude survived and extended into the British colonial policies that would govern a new nation.

This patriachal attitude is still alive and sickly in our governance to this day, Canada became a nation in 1867. The Indian Act came into effect in 1876. Yet the shame continues with “Our Government™” still unwilling to sign the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

I  now insist that all student teachers read four books before they graduate: “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee” by Dee Brown, “Stolen Continents” by the exceptional Canadian author Ronald Wright, “Germs, Guns, and Steel” by Jared Diamond, and “The Inconvenient Indian” by Thomas King. Their world view, and that of their future students, will never be the same. And hopefully, never will we repeat the shame of the past.

Until then, until full compensation is made, until the Declaration is signed, we are all shamed. I bow my head and ask for your forgiveness.

This Friday, I am going north to Lake Temiskaming to participate in a Pow-Wow and a Social Justice meetiing with the students at a local school – I will pray for full and honest truth and reconciliation. Never again!

Skid Crease, teacher