Sunday, March 22, 2015

March 22: Just a short one today....

..and scattered in topics.

I forgot to mention the Faith Page sermonette in Saturday's paper. It was the usual holy wimp stuff, this time assuring us that St. Patrick was a nice man.

When Jesus spoke, he looked at problems around him in the world of his time. He looked at cruelty, at indifference to human suffering, at greed.... And those were much of what he talked about. We live in a world driven by cruelty, greed, self-interest, indifference to the suffering of others, mass murder.....

And it's not just happening on the "other side". It's happening here and all over the world, and much of it led by nominal Christians.

I don't expect our clergy to take stands against the mass murder we commit or against the greed we call an economic system. Most of the Christian churches in Germany didn't take such a stand against Naziism. And I don't think ours would have the courage or integrity to take such a stand. Nor would I be particularly happy to see a church attempting to move in on political power. But...

.....it would be nice to see our churches encouraging discussion among the congregants, encouraging them to (dare I say it?) think, to see our world, our country, our province in the light of religious teaching - all those things Christians claim to believe in - but which they show no evidence of caring about.

Note - I don't mean churches should tell people what to think. I mean it should encourage them to think; and it should encourage them to publicly discuss what is happening in the light of the scriptures. It would be a nice break from pancake suppers with country and western gospel singers.
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I am always bothered by the sloppy and ignorant use of words by our prime minister, our journalists and, in consequence by a great many of us.

For example, Harper is determined to build a huge monument to victims of communism.
In reality, there are no victims of communism. That is not a defence of communism. It is simply a matter of fact. There have been no victims of communism because there never has been a communist state. The theory of communism has nothing to do with dictatorship, or prison camps, or mass murder. It does not mean the government owns everything.

I know Stalin called himself a communist. He wasn't. After all, George Bush who lied to murder over a million men, women and children to steal Iraqi oil calls himself a Christian. Lying like that happens all the time.

Communist theory comes from, as much as anything, eminently Christian principles - that people should love and care for one another, and should cooperate to create the best possible conditions for everyone. The people should all "own" the industry and resources of a country, and should all cooperate in running them.

No modern state has ever operated on such principles. And no modern state now or ever has shown the slightest sign of being ready to do that. The closest we have ever come to such a form of government was in some of our native societies that we destroyed long ago. (But which worked very well - and without police or prisons.)

Communism became a dirty word because countries that weren't communist but which called themselves communist became an economic threat to capitalism (which is based on no Christian principles whatever). It was especially useful in the McCarthy witch hunt (House UnAmerican Activities Committee) which was used to smear and destroy those perceived as enemies of capitalism. (During World War 2, both Canada and the US adopted government economic controls and social programmes that big business detested. The hunt for communists was used to discredit those programmes and to destroy both the programmes and government controls on big business.)

A similar stand based on "Canadian values" has been exploited by Harper to make villains of Muslim women who wear veils. Nobody knows what "Canadian values" are. But it gets Harper the bigot vote. (Maybe getting the bigot vote is a "Canadian value".)

Another propaganda term that is annoying is "public-private partnerships." This refers to such things as government contracting out its work to private business. Private business loves this because it's usually easy to get highly profitable terms for big business from governments that depend on big business for campaign funding. It's frequently corrupt and it's easy money.

But the word 'partnerships" is the key one. The word partner implies equality. Big business and government work together as equals.

But, in a democracy, business and government are not equals. In a democracy, business of any size is subject to government authority, just as we all are. In a democracy, we elect government to govern everyone including the very richest. In a democracy, all of us are subject to the government that all of us elect. In a democracy, there is no inner and separate society that is equal to government.

Business leaders have been fighting their way loose of democracy for the last 50 years and more. That's what free trade is for - to get big business free of being subjects of a democracy. That's what gave Mr. Irving the arrogance to declare himself a member of of the Alward government so that instead of government governing him, he governs the government.

That's why the key for New Brunswick to become free and to progress and to set policies that benefit us all, we need to elect a government that will put the Irvings of this world where they should be - as voters rather than as rulers.

It's not going to be easy. Big business is quite without scruples or any moral values. And New Brunswickers are not and never have been much in the way of political thinkers. But unless we get control of big business in this province, we aren't ever going anywhere. Big business exists not to give, not to 'create' jobs but to take as much as it can, giving back as little as it can, and storing the profits in offshore banks so they won't even have to pay taxes on them. So long as big business controls this province, there will never be a revival. It will always be poor.

It isn't going to be easy, and it's going to take educational work.

There is not the slightest reason to hope that the Conservatives or the Liberals will do anything. Quite the contrary. They've long since been bought.

The NDP, if it's to be of any use at all, has to shake itself out of its torpor, and out of its vague idea of doing "good things". Until the dominance of corporations as states within a state is tackled, nothing is going to happen. Increasingly, the NDP has come to see elections entirely in terms of games to win. They aren't. Until it convinces people that big money dominance is forever going to leave them and their children poor, until it convinces them that big money must be faced down, the NDP is going nowhere. And the Green party, while intelligent and well-intentioned, is going nowhere for the same reason. The starting point -and it's going to be a tough one - is to convince New Brunswickers that they are being cheated and bullied to make a few people super rich. In consequence, they and their children and their grandchildren will suffer.

In short, New Brunswickers have to be made to wake up. And it's not going to be as easy as when the prince kissed Snow White.

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