I was feeling bad about not getting to last week’s blog post in time and letting it slip, but then caught what this week’s virtue is and realized that together, they pretty much sum up the kinds of feelings I’ve been having lately.
A few days ago, Humbolt experienced tragedy. The province, country, and indeed the entire globe stepped up and offered support. The gofundme page which started at a $30,000 goal is now well of $10,000,000. Hockey sticks are being propped up beside front doors everywhere, and the provincial legislative assembly has had the dome illuminated in the Broncos’ colours.
The day after the tragedy, I lit a candle on my home altar and I dedicated the prayers of the day to the people effected. I watched as people rallied, printed shirts, created hashtags, wore hockey jerseys, flooded the movement to show support. These are local boys, local kids who will be missed and grieved. These were local community members who helped contribute to the team. Home town heros.
I’ve felt uneasy about it all; not the outpouring of sympathy and the need to feel like we as a community have to do something, but rather how easy it is to do this particular thing for these particular people in this particular situation.
Is fraternity true fraternity if it’s difficult to be fraternal? Is generosity true generosity if it’s too easy to be generous?
When the entire society says that this is proper, and everyone simply participates without question because they know that in their heart of hearts, this is the right thing to do given the scope and the pain these families must be feeling, why can’t we as a nation take care of problems like this? Why is it easier to click and donate in this situation, but not in one where people are lacking basic access to clean water in our own back yards?
Are we truly fraternal, are we truly generous, when after we congratulate ourselves for doing the right thing, we continue to ignore/disregard people whos situations and actions might make us feel uncomfortable?
And why do these fundamental questions make so many uncomfortable, some so uncomfortable that they are willing to become angry enough to defend what they value? It’s not about devaluing anyone’s generosity: it’s about asking the question “Why does the generosity that exists so easily in this situation seem to be lacking so much in one which involves a different kind of pain, a pain that has been throbbing for over a hundred years in some cases, one that hasn’t been addressed sufficiently?
Fraternity is about embracing the people who make you the most uncomfortable; generosity is about embracing the possibility of the ideas that make you the most uncomfortable. Hand in hand, courage is the result. Courage to challenge the ideas that shake the boat the most, and in some cases, the biggest boats filled with the most people.
It’s easy to put out a hockey stick. Not so easy to work in a soup kitchen. It’s easy to click a button and donate money you’ve never actually held in your hand. Not so easy to shake the hand of someone who frightens you, to listen to someone who’s angry.