KERNELS OF WISDOM: Let's make Canada a greater nation than it is

The Canadian flag flies on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. Blair Gable / REUTERS

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My two sons have always said to me, “Dad, one of the best decisions you ever made was to immigrate to Canada.” I agree one-hundred percent!

When I stepped off the plane on Dec. 4, 1966 as one of Canada’s newest immigrants, I had no idea I was beginning the latest chapter of my life in a country as good as this one.

More than half-a-century later in the year 2020, the Best Countries Report ranks this nation as the second best country in the world. Enshrined in our ‘Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms’ is one of the key reasons why we are a great nation. In Section 15 of the historic Charter, under the heading Equality Rights, are the following words: “Every individual is equal before the law and under the law, and has the right to equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination, and in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, color, religion, sex, age, or mental and physical disability.”

Mark these first four words of that statement under Equality Rights- “Every individual is equal.” With reference to the color of one’s skin, according to the Charter there is no place for racial inequality in our land, and every citizen who call themself a Canadian, is expected to view every other Canadian through the anti-discrimination lens of Section 15.

But let’s be absolutely realistic, there is without doubt, racism in our land. If for one moment any of us has ever questioned that abhorrent cultural reality, the aftermath of the murder of the black American George Floyd and the testimonies of those Canadians who have experienced racism in all its sheer ugliness has left the matter beyond any shadow of a doubt. The question is, “What can one do about it?”

It was William Wilberforce, the renowned British politician and Christian of the 19th century who fought tirelessly for the abolition of the slave trade, who once said, “Let it not be said I was silent when they needed me.” Wilberforce believed as a follower of Jesus Christ that he could not stand idly by in stony silence and ignore the plight of the African slave.

“A private faith,” he would say, “that does not act in the face of oppression, is no faith at all.”

It was Martin Luther King Jr., also a Christian, who voiced similar sentiments. Said the civil rights activist, “He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as they who perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting it, is really co-operating with it.”

For too long we within the Church as well as many within secular society have been noticeably passive and strangely silent in the face of racial injustice. It is imperative that we change! We must speak up!

But together with that there is a further pressing need in our land. Our National Anthem O Canada’ reveals in its lyrics precisely what that need is. “O Canada, our home and native land, true patriot love, in all of us command.”

Momentarily, ponder over these words, “true patriot love in all of us command.” Imagine here in our nation on this Canada Day week, if every person would not only love this great country with ‘true patriot love’ but would love every individual who crosses their path in the course of any given day, whatever that individual’s ethnicity or colour may be.

Surely this is where the Church must lead by example. Let’s love like Jesus loved, let’s walk in His shoes, let’s love men and women of every race and of every color under the sun, with a love that is absolutely genuine. This is without doubt a great nation, but imagine if all of us, if every Canadian, were to love like that, we would make Canada an even greater nation! As we wave the Maple Leaf flag this week and personally thank God for this wonderful country, let’s determine and purpose in our hearts to make it even greater!