Readers write

October 10, 2012 | Viewpoints | Number 20

Russian Mennonite survivors had admirable resilience

Re: “Community as counsellor,” Sept. 3, page 13.

I am the son of immigrant Russian Mennonite parents who came to Canada in 1947 as well as a grandson of grandparents who also came to Canada at that time. They survived the Russian revolution, the atrocities of the anarchist Nestor Machno and of Joseph Stalin. This group of people, and their predecessors of the 1920s, encountered unimaginable hardships. My father, uncles, and their friends all served on the front lines of war-torn Europe in a world that had seemingly gone mad. Terms like post-traumatic stress disorder were unheard of. There were no grief counsellors, no government assistance programs to help them get by.

They arrived here due to the benevolence of family and friends who had left the Soviet Union in the 1920s, who took them under their wing and helped them start a new life. They seemed to leave tragedy and horror behind them and appreciated what this new life and freedom had to offer. Hearing my mother tell my aunt that my father had been yelling in his sleep when I was already 14 years old, or the father of a friend telling his friends how he relived the Schlacht Feld (killing fields) of World War Two when he came out of surgery, suggest that the memories, although buried, were still there.

These survivors displayed a resilience that is admirable and through all of this turmoil never lost their faith in God. Dad and my uncle Ben had a Low German saying when things went wrong, “Na jo, so jeit et,” and they would “take one on the chin,” pick up and carry on. It humbles me when I recall my complaints over “hardship,” in light of all they endured and the fact that they never gave up, and I am increasingly grateful for their efforts, because without them I would not have the freedom that I have today.

—Henry Dyck Sr., Kingsville, Ont.

Recently our “Issues Class” at Charleswood Mennonite Church, viewed the sad story of Enbridge, with its oil spills, and its hazard and safety violations. We were appalled and devastated. This company, with its grimy record, wants to build pipelines to the USA and also to the west coast of BC. How can we sit idly by and watch this happen when our own federal government is in favour of this project?

Not only is this company surging ahead with these projects, the stock in this company is also soaring on the stock market.

Here is our sad addendum: We owned stock in this company. In speaking to our RRSP account adviser, he was excited. “Your stock in Enbridge has grown by 102 percent since you purchased it. Isn’t that great?”

My response was to sell immediately. Could we, in all good conscience, hold stock that is tainted with violations and oil spills? Would we care to be associated with such a fund and think of ourselves as responsible investors?

Our investments are tied to our charitable giving. Would I be happy to see Mennonite Foundation connected with money from this source? We are of the opinion that our actions and our words must be witness to what we believe. It does matter how we earn and spend our money, especially in building the Kingdom of God.

Salvation came to the house of Zaccheus when Jesus helped him put things in order. Pray that this Salvation can come to us.

—Len Wiebe, Winnipeg

Rumours about Armstrong never substantiated

I appreciated the message of Phil Wagler’s column, “The Man in the Yellow Jacket” (Sept. 17, page 9). He asks, “Is it okay to cheat, so long as you do something good with it?” However, I am very disappointed that Lance Armstrong is being held up as a person guilty of that ethical faux pas.

Although accused by the United States Anti-Doping Agency, stripped of his victories and perhaps convicted by some in the court of public opinion, he has not been convicted in a court of law, nor have any rumours of his “cheating” been substantiated. Yes, he finally gave up the fight to clear his name, but I suspect many an innocent person has quit the battle long before that kind of pressure ever came his way.

Innuendo is hardly a reason to castigate a person in our church periodical. We tend to adulate some athletes who roll over their competition (the Jamaican sprinter, Bolt, comes to mind) without a thought of how they obtained their phenomenal accomplishments, and others we condemn on the basis of hearsay.

—Les Friesen, Abbotsford, B.C.

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I was grateful that an editorial in the Toronto Star drew attention to the stunningly arrogant and insensitive decision taken (by our Minister of Public Safety, Vic Toews) to cancel the contracts of all part-time non-Christian prison chaplains as a cost-saving measure. All First Nations, Jewish , Sikh and other spiritual guides will no longer have contracts to serve the 43% of Canada's prison population who are non-Christian. What a shocking affront to the dignity of these people, and what an attack on the idea of religious freedom in Canada!
This very dangerous decision needs to be over-turned immediately, and Toew's suitability as Minister of Public Safety should be reconsidered. I do hope that representatives of Christianity will address this patriarchal, and inappropriate action immediately. Quite frankly, any self-respecting Christian chaplain should tender their resignation in solidarity with those who have only termination to look forward to.
Where is the Mennonite voice in all of this?
Daniel Lichti

I agree with your overall point Daniel but as to your last comment about what a 'self-respecting chaplain' should do, that strikes me as just a little arrogant and insensitive. That is something that has to come out of internal and mutual solidarity and not external, by-standing opinion. Unless there is something you want to offer to further outline that comment.

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