By Lawrence Martin, Globe and Mail, October 25, 2010
Like so many, Mr. Dryden, a latecomer to politics, is appalled by the smallness of the enterprise, the daily avalanche of vituperation, the tabloidization of the discourse. Great causes and great ideals are dwarfed by the pettiness. He says his Liberals have long suffered from the absence of conviction and direction. With nothing big on the table, the party has looked inward.
Mr. Martin is, of course, referencing the Ken Dryden book, Becoming Canadian.
And, also of course, both Dryden and Martin are right and the plague is not only infecting the Liberal Party. It is the blight on every school, church, family and corporation and government in the west. We are beset by a capacity to see only fog beyond the next few minutes. Small business failures are demonstrably attached to short-term thinking and acting. Basketball teams without a game plan, and entering the first quarter with a plan for only the first two minutes may win those minutes, but often come adrift for the rest of the game.
Churches and clergy and christian education leaders who focus on the act of conversion are deliberately ignoring the most important possibilities of their charge: to open the hearts and minds and spirits to the awe and wonder of their own selves, all the other "selves" in the community and all the beauty of the universe that is, without doubt, a blessing, a gift and a treasure, as is each individual, in the eyes of God. Casting the satanic pall of "evil" as the focus of the enterprise reduces those casting that pall and all the recipients of it to moronic agents of evil, given the deceptive reduction that accompanies that "pall" ("We have all sinned and come short of the glory of God," as Paul is alleged to have written in his letter to the Philippians?)
It is, one assumes, the position of the christian church that such a teaching renders the adherents humble, as opposed to narcissistic, if the lessons and the discipline focused on the "divine" that is a part of every human being. (We are made in the "image of God" as another Biblical passage reminds us.)
Short sighted pictures come from and generate more FEAR. Fear that we are not good enough for the God who created us. Fear that unless and until we are broken, in an act of full surrender to the will of God, we remain lost, outcast sinners, bound for an eternity of some kind of hell. Who needs it with that kind of sentence?
Combine the psychological, emotional and spiritual destitution that accompanies the "wages of sin is death" and the expulsion from the Garden of Eden for allegedly commiting an act so natural and beautiful that it can only bring health, life and new life to those engaged in its majesty in a spirit of vulnerability, and what is left is a capacity to clutch and grab and see about as far into the horizon as the mountain of fear before our eyes will permit.
Can't is the word the follows each and every potential shift in how we do things, even if the way we do things is not working. We take more preventive acts to avoid, ward off and dodge problems thereby consuming more energy than a trip to the top of Everest, both literally and symbolically, would demand, rendering such a voyage beyond our capacity both to imagine and to execute. We are, as a result, left to wander in the slough of despond (as John Bunyan tells it) confused by our own blindness, fogged in by our own fears, grounded like so many jets after another warning from Al Qaeda, because the terrorist by name and by phantom picture, has frozen our engines on the tarmac, lest we become victim to the external attacks of a bunch of plastic bomb makers willing to kill and be killed for the phoney promise of an eternity with 72 vestal virgins.
Satan, another name for Liar, has taken up residence in our collective unconscious, and until we come face to face with his lies, he will shackle our hopes and dreams, by chaining us to our fears for a very long time.
Have we completely lost our minds?
And nowhere is the question more appropriate and relevant than right here in "our home and native land," Canada.