Friday, December 8, 2017

Christmas Letter 2017

Another year has passed, and to quote one of Scotland’s sons, the late Keith McCoy, I’m still casting a shadow – albeit, perhaps, slightly wider. As a person matures or grows older, maturity is something I’ve never really wanted to lay claim to, one begins to wonder if they’ve contributed. I listen to CBC radio often, a man was being interviewed and he said when people have grandchildren it changes your DNA – as a grandparent, the focus seems to change from replicating DNA to making sure the DNA you’ve left behind has a safe world to live in. The task in 2018 is to attempt to ensure there is something other than blog ramblings and empty Scotch bottles in my wake; one must endeavour to add to these accomplishments a safe and rational world. The world, again this year, offers many ominous elements; it will take all our best efforts to gain an agreed course with the rest of humanity. Until a pan-world consensus is created, however, one must blog to move the needle, and medicate with Scotch to deal the incrementalism of progress.

In 1939, another of Scotland’s sons, Harry Thomson, lined up to join the Royal Canadian Navy – then he noticed the line for the Royal Canadian Airforce was shorter – so he became a pilot. I am grateful that he helped to quell the progress of fascism, I must say, however, I possess a degree of survivors gilt – my life efforts seem to pale in comparison to his. The threats to liberty now are as acute as they were when my father went to war against tyranny, the battleground, however, has changed – the war now is commercial, technological and takes place in cyberspace. There has been no Pearl Harbour or Poland; there has been an insidious progression of anti-freedom initiatives ushered in on the shirttails of one crisis after another. The price for freedom Tomas Jefferson once said, is constant vigilance; it follows then, the threat to liberty is apathy. When one peruses the political landscape, very little attention is given to the preservation and enhancement of choice, in fact, it is my observation there is a lot of effort being made to curtail choice. There is a propensity among some to excite the populous with the creation of an epic problem and then to offer the solution. One would never assert that all problems are created, nor would one ever assert that all solutions are there to manipulate the populous – but some are – the challenge is discerning which is and which is not.  The best way to discern which is and which is not, is in retrospect, once the dust settles who is better off and who is worse off.

Well, that’s politics out of the way, the next taboo – religion. My mother and her family were members of United Church, my father and his family were members of the Anglican Church. I’m a bit of a church nomad, or perhaps a hedonistic spiritualist or maybe one of those dreaded smorgasbord Christians. I have limited credentials as a theologian, perhaps more limited as a historian – be that as it may, one thing I am certain of is; the only thing worse than a world with religion is one without religion.  Neither of my parents were “religious” people or perhaps more accurately, neither were in anyway orthodox – a feature of my upbringing I am grateful for. Orthodoxy is the enemy of reason, to succumb to the directions of a monk who jotted some notes on a page thousands of years ago is like using a sextant to navigate a jumbo jet – it is just silly. It is silly because we have GPS now to get us where we are going. The desired outcome Christ had was to create a loving, joyful and beautiful place for humanity to exist; many of his followers have forsaken him.

Sixteen hundred years ago a bunch of “guys” sat around a table and picked stories about Christ that suited their purposes and called the outcome the “Bible”. Equally valid texts were omitted, texts, which in many cases were more representative of Christ’s intention. I think we should gather somewhere and write a bible 2.0, a revised edition that has greater contemporary significance. A document that can do what the Old Testament and the New Testament attempted to do with the best knowledge of the day, a book that attempts to offer direction, only the new book would be influenced by all the wonder of modernity and subject to constant revision. We are now on Windows 10; we got there via DOS, one iteration at a time. To stagnate around a book that was assembled with as much political motivation as it was spiritual motivation 1600 years past, is causing many very painful societal errors to play on repeat.

At Christmas time, I do reflect on Christ, I’ll say the name and admit an admiration for his teachings – the primary tenant of which is love and tolerance – a message so powerful not even politicking institutions can kill it. I love the Exodus story, the story of David and the story of Joshua, Jewish stories. I like Muhammad and the concept of Jihad, a noun meaning "to strive, to apply oneself, to struggle, to persevere.", a process I’m all too engaged in. Three religions, all children of the same god, all too often at war. Tribalism, hate, and intolerance are the enemy – there must be a way to find common cause. Until we do find common cause, until it is clear there is a peaceful path forward – we must strive to keep the upper hand so that we build a future from a position of strength.

On a personal note, if you want to get up-to-speed on my family you can go to Facebook; if you go to my page and scroll down really quickly you can watch my grandchildren grow – I’m a little prone to overshare.

Barks and Max are very healthy, Barks is 11 and Max 8 – since our association never has a day gone by that they’ve missed contributing joy to my day; there is no collection of words that can capture the beauty in a dog. We call Barks the matriarch of the canines and the mother earth channel, there is truly something magical about the dog, if you put your forehead hers all manner if ill is instantly removed from your being. Max we call, magnanimous Max, friendly to a fault, comical as a creature could be and the most observant dog I’ve ever seem – if he sees a spider on the wall he lets me know – incredible eyesight and he uses it.

Please hear this friends, THANK YOU, for your friendship and kindness – the world can be a harsh place, the only thing that helps to mitigate the trial and tribulations is kindness. May health and happiness be your companions in 2018 and however you choose to make peace for with the universe, I hope peace finds you.

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