By Rev. Jim Innes
Child & Family Services of Kettle Point organized a special memorial event. Their children put paint on their hands and touch a particular common wall in memory of the 215 children found dead. One of the organizers stated adamantly, "this is not just a commemoration, but it is a reassurance to our children that this will never happen to them!"
Sometimes all we can do is make sure it doesn't happen again. We can't take away the pain. And for those of us responsible, in some manner, directly and indirectly, or consciously and unconsciously, we must attempt to rebuild trust by helping the affected create a safe container.
Creating a world where fear is limited and peaceful acceptance governs means conquering our limited scope of right and wrong. To that end, it seems apropos that this year (on June 21), the National Indigenous Day of Prayer fell on the same day as our Father's Day. For it is our father's and our father's-father's worlds that contain the seed of narrow-minded oppression.
We must acknowledge that every generation inherits some degree of past horror. And, unfortunately, we also inherited ways of seeing things, ugly ways. Our worlds and our children's worlds will pass on this ugliness (such as oppression and violence) until we shake ourselves free from the unhealthy power and not-so-innocent ignorance that perpetuates it.
We live in a broken world where what we think and do affects everyone else. By the choices we make, we are either participating in its healing or prolonging its catastrophic decline. I hate to say it, but it's true anyway; some, very consciously, thrive (or seem to thrive) in an unhealthy power position. For power means safety, and one can too often mistake this safety for true peace. Such havens become a source of grievance maintained at the cost of others.
It is not always clear if and how we are responsible for such things as the deaths of 215 indigenous children or the murder of four Muslims at a street corner in London, Ontario. Or, for that matter, rampant poverty and unceasing war in various parts of the world. The violence and tyranny alarm us, even greaves us (terribly). We are often left shamed and powerlessly confused by such evils.
The systemic fault lines are almost invisible. Our responsible path of action is buried deeply within cultural biases and intricately entangled economic and political systems. Nonetheless, saying that, we are emotionally prompted to seek answers and practical steps.
I think those answers and actions have much to do with not being an unsafe person to be around. But to live with the ever-increasing awareness of that which plagues us all. And, as such, live congruently within the knowledge that what happens to the other also happens to us. As I see it, we are evolving into a people that will live forward the truth that we are all interlinked, no matter race, religion, politics, colour, or sexual orientation.
As I see it, the increased awareness of life's tragedies (and our participation in them) is a hard pill to swallow. Yet, we are, in all optimistic faith, on a path towards tolerance and compassion. As generations pass, I pray so too will the atrocities that pull us apart.
Rev. Jim Innes is the rector of the Regional Ministry of South Huron.