Readers Write: May 2024

May 10, 2024 | Opinion | Volume 28 Issue 7
Graphic by Betty Avery

Taxing ideas

Thanks to Ernie and Charlotte Wiens for their letter highlighting their resistance to paying war taxes (“Readers Write,” March 8).

The options suggested by Conscience Canada are worthy  of consideration. Option A—a declaration of conscience and an objection to paying for war—has limited consequence. Option B—a declaration of conscience accompanied by withholding/diverting military taxes—can have financial repercussions. I recall the pioneering work in this regard by people like John R. Dyck and Ernie Hildebrand.

Let me suggest a third option: Reducing one’s income or giving enough money to charities that issue receipts can  eliminate the payment of all income taxes. 

This could be considered a quiet protest while at the same  time helping others.

– Rudy Friesen, Winnipeg (Charleswood Mennonite Church)


Meaty thoughts

I am retired and spend much time wondering, thinking, sourcing and growing a small amount of food, and using it to prepare meals. I could identify with what Sandy Yuen said during Canadian Mennonite’s March 20 online event about meat.

I believe there was some agreement that factory farms are not ideal for food or the environment. I think there would be less agreement on defining what constitutes factory farming.

My unqualified definition of a factory farm is the overfeeding of animals with a few types of feed and not allowing animals on the land. Clare Martens and her family know their animals well, and the animals spend time on the pastures. I appreciate that.

My main concern is for the health of the planet in our use of the land. I believe maintaining diversity and balance of species in soil, gut and air microbiomes is ideal.

I am encouraged by what I have heard about regenerative farming with little or no tillage. Therefore, as we strive to protect the earth and maintain diversity of species, I think there is a place for small amounts of animal consumption if one chooses.

Thank you for hosting this event.

– Phyllis Martin, New Hamburg, Ontario, (Mannheim Mennonite Church)


Blessed are the preppers

Many global analysts say we’ll soon enter a long, severe Great Depression. They cite climate change, mainly. Nothing much succeeds without suitable weather, of course. Drought, deluge, storms and so on will increase crop failures, food shortages, economic decline and other problems.

Most people have no strategy for preparing and adapting to such a near-future. On the other hand, some are taking up or increasing gardening and doing other things to improve food security. Building personal, family and group self-reliance makes sense in the face of a back-to-basics era.

Shouldn’t we be talking about all this more? To be of service to others, we must help ourselves. It’s also a matter of faith. God walks with us through thick and thin, but we must use our heads and do our part. We must face certain realities and deal with them as positively as possible.

Mennonite Church Canada and local churches could help facilitate dialogue. There are too many things to discuss and projects to do already, some may say. However, none of them will carry on if we don’t survive, or if we end up huddled in refugee camps ourselves.

I often think of Russia a century ago. Many Mennonites there ignored the gathering storm and were trampled by it. Upheaval is again upon, us and there’s no new country to run to this time.

The storm will be global, and Canada seems like it will be one of the best places to endure it. However, not without planning and effort.

I’d like to hear from others on this and I’d like Canadian Mennonite to embrace it as a vital, timely topic.

– Howard Boldt, Osler, Saskatchewan


Pax Romana and Pax Americana

The “Peace shall destroy many” feature sprang out at me (March 29). My thoughts don’t relate to Rudy Wiebe’s book but rather the peace that the Romans imposed on their subjects 2000-plus years ago.

Jesus lived under the Romans’ imposition of peace, referred to as Pax Romana. A sort of peace was established, but at great expense to the nations conquered. Jesus was one of thousands who died on crosses to maintain this peace.

The concept of nations establishing and maintaining peace through violence has not abated since that time. Today we have what could be called Pax Americana.

With its military and financial resources, the U.S. was left as the greatest and only world power after the collapse of the Soviet Union. America’s political and military leadership has felt its hegemonic position needs to be guarded at all costs to bring about world peace.

Many evangelical Christians agree, believing that America is still a Christian nation that plays an exceptional role in maintaining world peace.

I believe the Christian Church needs to give voice to the realities we experience in the world today. Many U.S. citizens, regardless of their spiritual beliefs, are voicing these concerns. We need to express our solidarity with them.

Peace can indeed destroy many.

– Linden Willms, Pincher Creek, Alberta (Springridge Mennonite Church)


A plea for movement

How can you get a drug dealer to make orderly reductions in sales and profits? In fact, how do you get them to help cure addiction and create new lives?

How can we get the fossil fuel industry, nationally and globally, to cut back production? We need alternatives for heating and transportation.

A two-plus degree Celsius rise in global average temperature would lead to troubles for human societies and for nature. We are 1.44 degrees above pre-industrial tempera[1]tures now, rising 0.18 degrees per decade recently.

There are 425 parts per million (ppm) of carbon in the atmosphere right now—a number that increases by approximately two ppm each year. At 450 ppm, the world will get to two degrees warmer and beyond.

Even if all carbon emissions were totally stopped, it would take decades for the changes to reach a stable condition. Ocean levels would rise for a century or more.

For the Second World War, the war effort required an incredible focus of work and energy across all parts and all levels of Canada and many other countries. Such a focus is needed now.

The prize is a stable future not only for future generations but also for us living in the present.

Get government and business to move. NOW.

– Ray and Marilyn Hamm, Neubergthal, Manitoba (Altona Mennonite Church)

Graphic by Betty Avery

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