If only life could be as simple as a Western.
You know, where things are black and white, where right and wrong are crystal clear, where might meets up with right and evil cowers in its midst. If only this were true…..
I’m not a huge fan of Westerns, but like anything else they have their place. I must admit there is an exhilaration that comes with watching Good triumph over Evil. The momentary moral sugar rush gives temporary hope. But like all spiritual junk food, there is a serious downside.
Eventually you get pulled into a trench-like thinking where the first causalities are reason and compassion. It is as if the showdown at high-noon goes terribly wrong and our hero’s shiny six shooter misfires, sending stray bullets all over the place.
These days, I repeat the same phrase to whoever is willing to listen. For our Canadian democracy to work for us, our discussions need to be about a clash of ideas, not of people. Our public servants need to rise out of a culture of service, not celebrity. Only then will we stop playing the Blame Game that convinces us that false dichotomies are a legitimate call to wage war on ourselves.
(Here is an example of how I am using the term: A false dichotomy is typically used in an argument to force your opponent into an extreme position — by making the assumption that there are only two positions. (http://wiki.c2.com/?FalseDichotomy)
False dichotomies are everywhere these days. I was listening to talk radio this morning – home of some pretty good analysis about the Canadian social and political landscape. But not today. Instead of discussing policy, listeners were treated to a rant ridiculing one of our nation’s leaders. One side was clearly in the right – the other seemingly deserving no respect. It wasn’t satire. The radio host was passing this off as serious political commentary. I find it sad, frankly. I hope you do too.
If I ingest too much of this, how am I to every contribute to a free and open society where everybody, regardless of political stripes, is bringing their best? It’s actually contagious and before long I will be spreading it without realizing it. And it’s not just in our houses of government. If there is one thing I am sure we can agree on, it’s that this attitude is hitting epidemic proportions.
Jesus used salt as an example of how to combat this. Salt is a preservative. Bacteria cannot live in it’s midst. It enhances flavor. Used in proper measure, it will establish good balance in a recipe. Salt is used to represent a particular form of love that builds mutual understanding and reduces mistrust.
To merge this idea with the image of this BLOG, salt is what allows us to realize the world is not black and white. AND like bringing balance, it is what prevents us from coming apart when we see that black and white is not the only option.
So I invite you to consider your words like grains of salt and measure them. In real everyday terms, I invite everybody to raise the bar on our discussions and actions as we live. No blame…. cooperation based on respect, compassion and forgiveness. For those of you who know me, please help me do the same. Lord knows that more often than not I need it. (I am serious about that, BTW.)
It is true that there are people right here in our own country of Canada, pushing misguided and/or misinformed ideas. They come from across the political spectrum I do not dispute that. But because I know that the answer lies beyond the false dichotomy, I know I should not try to confront this alone.
Instead, I am seeking to confront it in a way that allows me not only to resist, but to become enlightened so as to contribute to building a society that will not be a host to such tension. Let’s reduce the clash of people by helping everybody in Canada embrace diversity rather than divisiveness. Let’s move the conversation to a clash of ideas instead.
Rev. Eric Lukacs
PS – This SUNDAY at Carleton Memorial United Church, we will be taking time to acknowledge the tragedy in Quebec, my home province. And the wake of the many beautiful testimonies, we we talk about real ways to move our society forward – not in the future, but today. Please consider attending, even if “church is not your thing”. Many voices – one love.