By Rev. Jim Innes
As we move through the Covid crisis, something has been born within us individually and globally. My best summation is an increased awareness of how we are interconnected.
Our hearts have grown in compassion. We have become more consciously aware of how our behaviour, both past, and present (and those to come), affects the collective sense of safety and peace.
Some have said that this is a naïve take on our current situation. Yet my hopes have been encouraged by news that speaks to correcting wrongs, and plotting fair and equitable futures. Our new Governor-General, Mary Simon, said this to each of us, "As members of our large and diverse Canadian family, we have to replace the hurt with hope and find the grace and humility to stand together and move towards a more just and equitable future."
The entirety of the Governor General's first public speech lifted reconciliation on many fronts. She painted the picture using broad strokes. As an example, she stated, "As Governor-General, I am committed to using this moment in our country's history to build on the work of de-stigmatizing mental health, so it is viewed through the same lens as physical ailments, and receives the same attention, compassion and understanding."
I suspect that I was drawn to these possibilities around mental health because there is a direct correlation between community health and personal health. As a process, increased emotional health is a matter of looking to our past, healing our wounds, and gradually living with mended hearts more capable of compassion. This increased compassion is the foundation for community health. And, in a reciprocal, upward spiral of wellbeing, as our community grows healthier, personal health prospers.
On an attractive sidebar, Simon shared her words about the destigmatizing of mental health just weeks before U.S. Olympic gymnast Simone Biles withdrew from the women's team final to look after her emotional wellbeing. And not just for herself, but so she didn't pull the team down. For me, this is another hopeful sign that we are developing behaviours grounded by compassion and that what affects one of us affects us all.
The other day I was driving into London, and like usual, managing construction. Side-lined to an unfamiliar road, I was captivated by a signboard erected at the corner of a still cornfield; "May Love Always Be Stronger Than Hate. It felt boldly and warmly intimate. Thank you to whoever constructed it!
As I see it, "Love not hate" is a simple yet powerful statement that elevates our neighbour to a place of respect. It is not judgmental, nor righteous, nor moralistic. It does not create rules and punishments. "Love not hate" is a message similar to rain on a dry field. And that is all that it is, no more and no less!
Every generation is born to correct the wrongs of the past. We move forward, as God intended, towards brighter days where all feel safely connected and cared for fairly. We know deep inside this is the true direction because we wish our children to be a part of that world to come.
I believe it is coming. And that we are playing a role in it. We are successfully and courageously living through the crisis in our lives. And we are increasingly uplifting our personal and communal life to a stage lit by a brighter spiritual awareness.
Rev. Jim Innes is the rector of the Regional Ministry of South Huron.
(Photo: Andraz Lazic/Unsplash)