Readers write: June 27, 2022 issue

June 22, 2022 | Opinion | Volume 26 Issue 13
(Graphic by Betty Avery)

Keep on keeping on

After many years of supporting the withholding of military taxes and volunteering with Conscience Canada Peace Tax Trust Fund (CC), I have at last retired from the board.

We have not yet achieved our goal: that it be legal in Canada for conscientious objectors (COs) to war to have their military taxes go towards peace-building purposes.

People with humanitarian values find it unacceptable that their money is used to recruit young people and train them to destroy people and property. Canada fits their soldiers into the war machine and deploys them in military engagements. This results in destitute refugees and soldiers suffering from severe PTSD.

When knowledgeable people say the government will never pass a private member’s bill granting COs the right to not pay military taxes, and when we look back at over forty years of trying and failing to achieve that goal, we ask ourselves if there is any point in Conscience Canada continuing its efforts. Discouragement is setting in.

But I had an epiphany of sorts: those who keep their income below taxable level by donating to charitable organizations are getting exactly what CC has been aiming at. We are not paying for Canada’s military while living an environmentally friendly lifestyle; we help lift up the poor and educate towards peace and justice, not only in Canada but in more troubled places around the world. Our money is doing the “alternative service” which our CO fathers were allowed to do when they rejected military conscription. Peace-minded organizations can issue tax-deductible receipts and grow their capacity to do life-enhancing work. Hooray!

So, go on, Conscience Canada—continue to promote the commitment to the nonviolent resolution of international conflicts. Help people to pare away unnecessary and harmful parts of our western lifestyle and beef up investment in human development. What is there to be discouraged about
—Mary Groh, Kitchener, Ont.


Denying pain relief lacks compassion
My cousin couldn’t manage the pain,” May 16, page 30.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for this article by Amy Rinner Waddell. It touched me deeply for a variety of reasons.

We live with this untrue and unkind myth that all pain can be managed by medication and support. Some pain cannot be. In my humble opinion, to deny a person pain relief, which happens to end their life, lacks compassion and knowledge.

Arun Bhaskar, a consultant in pain medicine and president of the British Pain Society writes in a blogpost in the BMJ medical journal: “The reality we must accept is that there is a significant minority of terminally ill patients whose suffering cannot be controlled by even world-class palliative care. Can we not consider providing those patients with another option that would allow them to determine their limit and decide to shorten their suffering in a dignified, swift, and painless way?”

I feel strongly that when one has a terminal diagnosis, one should be offered palliative care at home and/or at hospice when care needs require it. And one should be given the option of medical assistance in death at any time in the process. I do not want anyone to die by suicide—possibly painfully—alone.

I have appreciated medical assistance in living. I may appreciate medical assistance in dying.
—Jan Carrie Steven, St. Catharines, Ont.


Sacred reciprocity with all life is needed
Lonely without insects” column, May 16, page 11.

This is a lovely and important message, well-crafted and engaging. The statistics are startling enough on their own. To me, the sustainability crisis is so far beyond the usual technical “solutions” that are trotted out. Nothing less than a change of heart in the direction of living in sacred reciprocity with all life is called for.
—Blake Poland (Online comment)


Get over being called a ‘settler’
‘Identity politics’ further ‘societal polarization’” letter, May 30, page 7.

I was born in Canada, and I have never homesteaded, lived in a sod house, broken the land with a plough or trapped beaver. But I’m still a settler because I have benefited from the settler activities that my European immigrant ancestors engaged in.

It’s rather like someone who has inherited a stolen piece of valuable art. They might say, “I didn’t steal it, and my parents didn’t steal it . . . it was my great, great, great grandfather who stole it.” But if that person still possesses the artwork, then they are complicit in the long-ago crime, because they continue to benefit from its theft.

By the same token, someone who moves to Canada in 2022 from Ireland, Pakistan, Poland or Nepal is a “settler” just as I am. They have settled here, and they have settled into one of the highest standards of living on the planet due to prior settlers (going back centuries) having taken land from Indigenous Peoples and prospering under government systems and religious institutions that sought cultural genocide.

So, for people who don’t appreciate being called “settlers,” I would say two things:

  • Ask yourself how you have benefited from colonialism.
  • Aren’t there bigger issues in the world to deal with than getting bothered by someone calling you a “settler”?

—Mark Morton (online comment)


Living by faith means not making decisions in secret
Indigenous relations work revamped, reduced,” May 30, page 14.

I am saddened, feeling more crystallized in my ponderings, that for all the sales talk we muster about our relational theology, spirituality, inclusiveness and reconciliation, decision processes still seem to be too heavily modelled on dispassionate, sometimes heartless, business/accounting reality checks, where affected people are too often excluded from the discernment process.

If we live by faith, ought not our corporate activity clearly reflect it, first and foremost, by open, inclusive contemplations, deliberations and conversations toward decision-making, with an eye toward “justly” living in deed?

It could be argued that having our deliberations and enactment of decisions shared by all, builds more faith in the process, and brings unity, even in shared pain or grief. It also brings a deeper sense of shared responsibility for the outcomes when they hurt. It requires less secrecy.

This pattern of so-called confidentialities, privacies, etc., serves to maintain control and manage liabilities. It rarely reflects our professed confidence in listening to the Holy Spirit, whose precision in discerning powers exceeds even the sharpest scalpel, or in modern terms, surgical lasers.

This worldly model is not limited to national or regional bodies only. It pervades our entire body, such that, at times, when we have difficult topics to discern, we tend to hunker down to “in camera” models, seeking not Christ-likeness so much as limiting liability risks.
—Clare Neufeld (Online comment)


‘Mountain of God’ a special song
Going to the mountain” column, May 30, page 10.

We are singing this song in our church in Harrisonburg, Virginia. I have always loved the wide invitation it offers.
—Chad Miller (Online comment)

(Graphic by Betty Avery)

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Regarding Get over being called a ‘settler’ . . . The "stolen art" analogy is false, I know what the definition of the word "settler" is and the contrived definition for word "settler" is false. As well if you were born in Canada you're a native Canadian not a settler.

It's a simple request: stop referring to me with the false contrive definition of the word "settler."

thank-you mr kennel. i quite agree

I think indignation over the word “settler” is further evidence of the privileges that settlers take for granted. If your land was taken from you, or if historical promises to you were not kept, or if generations of your children were forcibly taken from you, or if the government of Canada had tried to commit actual and cultural genocide against you, or if you experienced racism on a daily basis, you wouldn’t be worried about being called a “settler.” Small concerns about terminology correlate with a large sense of entitlement.

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