Readers write: May 11, 2020 issue

May 6, 2020 | Opinion | Volume 24 Issue 10
Various Contributors |
(Graphic by Betty Avery)

Don’t confuse a thrift-store receipt with a charitable receipt
Re:Thrift shopper, peacebuilder,” March 30,
page 11.

This column raises a number of concerns in regards to how some may view donations/tithing, corporations/brands, and the mission of thrift stores:

  • A purchase at a thrift store should not be considered a donation or part of one’s monthly tithing. When you receive something in exchange for money, that’s not making a donation. Thrift store receipts cannot be used as a charitable receipt for a Canada Revenue Agency income-tax deduction. 
  • Thrift stores serve people who cannot afford new off-the-rack clothing, individuals on limited incomes or some who simply wish to save money. If a shopper finds a great coat for an incredible deal, perhaps it was underpriced. If the shopper has the means to pay a bit more, then perhaps making a donation to MCC would be appropriate. However, to take that donation and say it’s part of one’s monthly tithing is a real stretch; they are only paying forward what the coat was perhaps worth.
  • Being non-profit, MCC thrift stores still operate as a business on main street with store fronts. Their profits, or surplus for those that find the word “profit” offensive, are distributed back to MCC as a form of dividend that can then support programs for those less fortunate than we are. But let’s not cringe at shopping at for-profit retailers or criticize those who do. Those businesses pay taxes that support health care, education, pave roads and much more that we all benefit from. 
  • Let’s not rush to judge and condemn corporations for their business practices and motives unless we fully understand the facts, including the good and the changes they bring. It’s easy for us, as consumers, to target corporations, yet we want them to provide low-priced goods, whether it be in a regular retail store or that which is filtered down to thrift stores at some point.

—Paul Tiessen, Saskatoon


Gratitude in this time of pandemic
I am apparently vulnerable. I’m chronologically categorized (senior), and I’m locationally challenged (I live in a seniors community).

But I don’t feel vulnerable. My wife and I are both in excellent health, with robust energy, and are significantly active in meaningful things.

Yet I recognize that I am 75 years old and I accept the definitions thrust upon me by the younger generations. And we are doing our best to align our lives with the multitude of guidelines that come at us from the federal, provincial, municipal and community jurisdictions. 

I stand amazed at the sacrifices made on our behalf:

  • Front-line health-care workers are like the soldiers of other times: willing to sacrifice their well-being, maybe to the point of death, for the welfare of the vulnerable they are serving. I hope when all is over, there will be hundreds of purple hearts for their sacrifice and thousands of medals awarded. 
  • Political leaders are putting everything on the line for us. I’m impressed by how young many of these folks are. 
  • Medical officers are thrust into the limelight and assigned an unprecedented degree of authority as worthy representatives of the best science we can muster. Essential-service employees are risking themselves for us. Groceries and food are still available. Pharmacists continue their patient work. Garbage is still picked up.
  • Businesses and corporations are losing massive amounts of investment, yet entrepreneurs are offering up their own vulnerabilities for the sake of the vulnerable. 
  • And then there are the innumerable “little” things that so many—including family—are contributing. There are notes, video calls, emails, songs, food, services offered, walks and distractions created. 

In a word, all we can say is: Thank you to each one. Latin Americans have a common saying that is very relevant here. It is simple yet profound: “May God repay you” (Que Dios les pague). 
—Robert J. Suderman, New Hamburg, Ont.


War vocabulary is inappropriate for COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic may just be a nudge from our Creator that a gospel of peace and mutuality has redemptive relevance to a world that’s on edge. Where there are leaders who invoke the vocabulary of war to aid us in confronting our anxieties, we who claim to be pacifists might find an opportunity to speak of love, not of confrontation.

For orators to weaponize what is essentially a Good Samaritan moment has brought us Mennonites to a uniquely teachable moment, I believe. 

Certainly, most of humanity “gets it,” but this is the time for the historic peace churches, especially, to echo the words of St. Francis: “Where there is despair, let me sow hope; Where there is darkness, light; And where there is sadness, joy. . . . Grant that I may not so much seek . . . to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive. . . .”

Journalists are constantly looking for “click bait” that will attract readers. Yes, we already have plenty of stories about people who are expressing heartfelt compassion—who are caring for the “other.” But what, in addition to this, does a stance of pacifism require of us under the present circumstances?

Here’s one aspect of the question: Emergency-room physicians are gently reminding us that the mustering of scarce resources to save the lives of pandemic victims is already delaying the treatment of many other patients with equally urgent medical needs. Perhaps the use of battle terms like “heroism” primarily serves a political agenda. Perhaps people of faith could affirm that the prognosis for themselves and their loved ones is in God’s hands, and that extreme medical intervention isn’t required. Why is language like “fought a valiant battle” deemed to be necessary at heaven’s gates?
—Karl Dick, Waterloo, Ont.


Mystery women may have names
Re:A moment from yesterday” photo, March 30, page 9.

I believe these three women are sisters of my paternal grandmother, Emma (Meyer) Burkholder, the wife of L.J. Burkholder. My father was Paul H. Burkholder.

  • The woman on the left may be Eva (Meyer) Williamson (Mrs. Orm Williamson). They farmed in the Pambrun area of Saskatchewan.
  • The woman in the middle: Mary (Meyer) Strong, who lived most of her life in the Gravenhurst area of Ontario. 
  • The woman on the right: Sarah (Meyer) Gamble (Mrs. Glen Gamble). The Gambles were involved with the residential Bible school in Pambrun for many years. 

I speculate that sister Mary from Ontario may have been visiting her sisters in Saskatchewan at the time of the photo.

These sisters were all born in the late 1880s or early 1890s. The children could easily be Eva’s. Sarah may have lived in the Herbert area in the early 1930s.

The photo was likely from the early 1930s, as the Williamsons returned to Ontario during the “Dirty Thirties.”
—Dave Burkholder, Stouffville, Ont.

(Graphic by Betty Avery)

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