Sunday, March 29, 2015

March 29: Just a short one...

First, there's very good news from Montreal.

Some European-based groups were planning to march through a largely Muslim district of the city with a message of bigotry and hatred, making it a point to announce they intended to make the mosque a target.

Now, Montreal has historically been a city of bigotries and hatreds aimed at anyone different. And both English and French have been guilty - including the most prominent families (in fact, especially the most prominent families.) And immigrants commonly have settled into distinct districts in the city, partly for access to their own houses of worship and their own foods, sometimes because, like Blacks and Chinese, they were forbidden to live anywhere else. That's why I started elementary school with students were all white and had anglo names. I did grades 5-9 in schools that were largely Syrian and Italian. Grades ten and eleven were in Montreal High which had a large Jewish population.Blacks and Chinese were very rare. Quebec was not two solitudes. It was twenty.

Today, many Muslims live in a district popularly called Little Maghreb. And it was the target for the hate march yesterday. Montrealers showed up in their hundreds to block the march and to defend Little Maghreb. The hate marchers wisely decided to back off.

If we keep this up, maybe we can reduce the racial and religious hatreds that are coming here from the US and Europe, and that are encouraged by Harper and much of our news media.
On the "Faith Page", alas, it's the usual pancake breakfasts and the "Jesus wants me for a sunbeam" sermonette. The writers still, with only one exception I have seen, come from a branch of Christianity which preaches concern only for yourself.

The picture at the top of the page is of a church of that type. I pass it often, and always note the zany sayings on its billboards. "Life is short. Pray hard." What can that possibly mean? If life were longer, could we pray soft?

Then there was a gem of several years ago. "Pray hard for OUR soldiers in Afghanistan." Oh? We're asking God to be on our side? And the other side, one presumes, will all go to hell. "Praise him. Praise him. All ye little children. He is love. He is love."

This is a brand of Christianity for people who are self-obsessed, whose only concern is to get themselves into heaven. And to do that, ya gotta believe. Once you believe (and keep yourself in good by praying - real hard) - you're in. And, oh, they rejoice for the day they will rise into heaven - and you and me will descend into the eternal flames of hell. See ya there.

There are other brands of Christianity which pay attention to our responsibilities as well as to the holiday in heaven deals. Admittedly, they have had little impact on our society which admires and submits to wealth, and which has little idea of loving one's neighbour if that neighbour looks different or lives more than two streets away.

Anyway, we have to cut all this thinking about others. No. First, we have to balance the budget by cutting services to those who need them. It's all part of God's great plan.

And as well as those other, Christian churches, there are other religions in this city. There's a Jewish population. There's a Muslim population. There are probably others, all of whom we should know better, and all of whom have something to teach us - especially to teach those of us who think that praying hard is the whole bag.

I have, many hundreds of times, met with groups of Christians and with groups of other religions. It has always been a learning experience - especially as I see how many other religious groups have more Christian values than most Christians do.

I note that Living Waters Church in Lakeville will have guest speakers who have worked with children in Haiti. These are among the poorest and hungriest and most hopeless children in the world. That is no exaggeration.

I wonder if the speakers with tell WHY they are among the poorest and hungriest and most hopeless in the world. We in Canada helped to do that to them.

The western world, especially its God-fearing banks, have exploited Haiti and held its people in deep poverty for two hundred years. In 1917, American capitalists got a a stranglehold as the US army took over, and the descendants of missionary families - like the Doles - moved in to make the people virtual slave labour for factory farms. Then the army pulled out to be replaced by American-backed dictators who were among the most brutal in history.

Haitians got their first elected president in 1900. He was a former priest. He was honest. He was capable, and he made lives of his people better. That did not please American and Canadian capitalists - sorry, I meant entrepreneurs. In fact, American presidents frequently warned Haiti they did not approve of its president.

The US financed an invasion by thugs from the old dictatorship, then sent troops to establish "peace". Their first act was to arrest President Aristide, and deport him. Then they set up phony elections to put in puppets. Canada was invited to send  "peacekeepers" - not to stop the thugs. In fact, the thugs were never touched. Our "peacekeepers" were there because Harper is a patsy for the US, and because Canadian capita....sorry...entrepreneurs were in this up to their ears. Some of them are in mining. You might even know some of the names.

When the terrible earthquake came, much of the promised American aid was never given. And most of that which was given went to "entrepreneurs" who promptly stole most of it by conducting wildly overpriced and useless studies.

That's why Haiti lives in misery and suffering. You can find pictures of very nice houses there. But those are for white folks and good friends of the US. Living costs - housing, food, clothing - are generally comparable to, say, New York.The average salary is $2 a day. No benefits. Everybody has to work, including young children who, of course, get less money. What can you live in for that price? Maybe a tin, one-room shanty with no plumbing, all crushed in with thousands of others like it.  And, as  you will note, no electricity.

Will the guest speakers at Lakeville Living Waters mention that? I doubt it very much. If they did, there's a good chance they wouldn't be allowed to go back. In 200 years of unspeakable cruelty, we have heard very, very little from our churches on this. I hope I'm wrong, but I expect Lakeville Living Waters will just bubble, bubble, bubble.

As well,  monoculture is destroying the land; mining is heavily polluting it And Canadian entrepreneurs who invest in Haiti would be quite as happy to do this to us.

But, hey, we gotta develop resources. They'll make us rich. And we have to balance the budget. What those houses above really need is an events centre.

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