Get our priorities straight

The furor over the right and freedom to display a banner in Nelson is again under attack in Canada.

The furor over the right and freedom to display a banner in Nelson to support your group and organizations’ focus, or to march, write, and express opinions or beliefs, is again under attack in Canada. True pro life is the consistent policy and behaviour to stand up for the rights of weaker, vulnerable or persecuted sectors of society. Whenever one dominant and/or stronger group, tribe, political party, race, gender or individual can exterminate, eradicate, humiliate or terminate the life, dignity, equality and human rights of another, we must consistently stand up for the rights of the weaker, voiceless or oppressed. We have a human responsibility to do it, even if we don’t fully understand or condone their behaviour and activities.

Support for and love of other fellow human beings comes from compassion, which should also extend to respect for the earth and all living things. It includes those known to us as family and neighbours, or people unknown, or on the other side of the world. If we are so lucky as to be in some advantaged group, we have been blessed with the opportunity and responsibility to help others less fortunate.

Often, in 20/20 hindsight, we acknowledge the holocaust of the Jews, yet miss the current oppression of Palestinians, who are refugees in their own homeland for 50 years, with homes bulldozed, civilians killed, Israeli settlements encroaching on their territory, in a David and Goliath role reversal.

We can see and deplore historical war crimes against humanity: Rwandan, Serbian or other ethnic cleansing, yet condone or ignore present genocides, suicides (especially when suicide and drunk driving are the leading killers of youth in North America), and gendersides. Millions of female fetuses are aborted in India, infanticide in other countries, and women are perceived as lesser people and possessions, and are often murdered or raped, with impunity.

Capital punishment in Canada was banned, and many wrongful committals saw people incarcerated for years exonerated by new DNA evidence. Yet, there are new calls to reinstate death sentences, build more jails, versus programs and opportunities to rehabilitate what are already traditionally disadvantaged groups who are incarcerated. (Aboriginals, blacks, abused victims who become abusers, drug and alcohol addicted, mentally ill, etc., which are from those oppressed groups who are overrepresented in jails.)

Then there is not only the massacre of Montreal female engineering students, commemorated last week, but also domestic and sexual assault that we turn a blind eye to; or bar brawls that we’d rather watch or participate in; bullying, racial or sexual slurs and jokes; or violent movies and video games that we gift the young and impressionable with for Christmas.

Our foreign battlegrounds are usually chosen in oil or resource rich areas, often economically strategic to our corporations, like Iraq or Afghanistan.

The US has the military and defence eating up 60 per cent of their budget, while gutting and cutting social programs and health care; subsidizing corporations, yet allowing personal home foreclosures.

Anyways, the advent of the Christmas season is a wake-up call with crises globally, environmentally, and personally, which we all have skills, talents and abilities, enabling us to work on our priorities. We must follow the dictates of our own consciences and beliefs. So our challenge is to do something positive for change in the world, not to criticize those who have joined groups, marched in protests, signed petitions, do “Write for Rights,” donate to charities, etc. Why not join us? Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, etc.

Marion Bergevin