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By Rev. Jim Innes

The Canadian Charter of Rights states, "Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, belief, opinion, and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication." The purpose is "to promote the search for and attainment of truth, participation in social and political decision-making, and the opportunity for individual self-fulfillment through expression" (Charterpedia).

One of the fundamental facets within this chartered right is the anticipation of a healthy systemic connection. More concretely, the chartered right promotes our seeking to uplift one another. By doing so, we will attain truth, political health, and the satisfaction of our deepest hopes. And conversely, ideas or expressions that violate or defame will lead to a breakdown… in various ways.

As I look back on the last year, I've seen pervasive expressions of defamation and violence. Here it is, 2024, generations of progress. And still, people choose all manner of self-invested behavior to manage their space, which may have its boundaries fearfully drawn all too tightly.

Best described, the inescapable hostility in our world is scary. It's one thing to react to threats aggressively, ignorantly, or from "bad" habits. It's natural, forgivable, and somewhat correctible (though never reversible). But, when we justify our aggressions and narrow-mindedness without seeing the harm caused, we pass along a bomb set to explode repeatedly!

Nonetheless, despite the damage, confusion, and pain, we are not destined to continue destroying. I do not accept any notion that we are doomed. It's not all a never-ending cycle of tragedy. I believe that we are evolving.

As I see it, we are in a progressive transformation, a process in which we have increasingly accepted the wrongs committed. Though we are slow on the uptake and guarded on the amendment, people are increasingly trying. It is not easy to stop passing along the 'sins' of our parents and grandparents and cultural norms.

At the very core of our being is a desire to be connected to one another peacefully, regardless of race, religion, color, creed, or sexual orientation. Hence, part of our evolutionary process has been learning, however, gradually, to let go of the things that separate us. And becoming aware of the behaviours that rope us into lonely corners.

I'd like to believe that my children have stepped beyond my limited and faulty worldview (and habitual reactions). And, in so doing, pass on a more beneficial way of being to my grandchildren (and, in turn, their children). Each generation is moving forward in benefit of the next, albeit having to wade through the murky water as they let go and adjust.

My New Year's wish is that we accept that part of us that still needs to come to light. I hope that we grow in wisdom in those matters of reconciliation and ongoing peaceable living. It is my belief that whether we do this with skinned knees and bruised egos or we do it through heart-driven reflection, it will happen. The world will evolve into the people God has meant us to be. The question is, how much are we currently part of the solution?

Rev. Jim Innes is the rector of St. John's, Grand Bend with St. Anne's, Port Franks.