You gotta give ’em hope – A wish for the holiday

You gotta give ’em hope –  A wish for the holiday
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Gary J. Machan

Gary J. Machan

Gary Machan serves on the Community Advisory Research Committee for the Canadian Index of Wellbeing. Through the course of his career he has received several provincial awards including the 2nd Stage of Medicare, Ontario Tobacco Network Innovation Award for Excellence, and Food Champion Award. In addition, Mr. Machan is an associate with the Centre for Inner Freedom where his work was featured by Tom Harpur in his best selling book ‘Finding the Still Point’.

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Take one look at a newspaper head line and it is easy to see why hope is such a scarce commodity these days.

Constant is the daily barrage of political scandal, corporate shenanigans, international conflict. And these are the good days when we don’t have to read about horrific accidents and grisly murders.

Unseemly as many of these stories are, a strong case could be made that the real tragedy is the extent they divert our attention from the real issues of our time that are worthy of far more attention. Not the least of which is climate change in which most would agree the clock is ticking and we are running out of time.

So too, I cannot help but wonder what the accumulated toxic effect is of this bad news, other than how could it be anything but growing cynicism, mistrust, apathy and despair such as we are seeing now, and most especially amongst our young who have very little hope that the adults will behave – well like adults should. And leave anything behind worth having.

So what gives me hope, you might wonder?

Most certainly, it is not our leaders who seem far more interested in pandering to the prevailing winds of public opinion, rather than provide any coherent vision and direction. Neither is it the major institutions of our time which are largely change adverse despite all the rhetoric which suggests otherwise.

Still the question of hope looms charge.

Truth be known one of the few things that gives me hope is all that our purveyors of ‘me first’ are trying to extinguish; namely, the belief in our inherent goodness and decency as everyday folk. I see it in the eyes of young children who have yet to be tainted, the fierce love of their mothers. I see it in the anger and outrage of youth. Yes, it is there and palpable.

Here I go back to an incident involving major a train that derailed containing toxic chemicals just east of Oakville in Mississauga. Deadly fumes of highly poisonous gases exploded into the atmosphere in close vicinity of residential neighborhoods. Immediate evacuation orders were issued. Thousands upon thousands of families forced to flee in haste.

And what was the response? Complete strangers welcomed into homes across the region. Food shared. It was as though the whole world stood still and we were reminded once again of just who we really are. Human beings capable of great generosity and empathy. Our greatest impulse not to compete but to cooperate such as has been the case since our earliest ancestors.

I can speak of this because our home was one that acted as a temporary refuge for those fleeing their homes. Communal meals were prepared. Discussions ensued well into the night about topics that went far deeper than was the norm. A welcome and rare reprieve from the banality of our otherwise cocooned lives.

Of note, there was no looting, no assaults, no real crime to speak of. On the contrary, this momentary crisis brought out the best in us. Just as it has in countless tragedies since then; be it Hurricane Katrina or the floods in Austin. It is during these times that the human spirit shines, despite our leaders attempts to highjack these ordeals to advance their own agendas.

All of this by way of saying, even though it is highly probable that the cataclysmic events we are seeing on the world stage will only increase and intensify, it is vitally important to recognize the potential this has to precipitate the reawakening of our own innate tendency to basic goodness and goodness.

Knowing that at the end of the day, the only thing standing between us and real mayhem is hope. Mind you not of the false cheery variety, but rather a radical hope anchored in a compelling new narrative brought to life by real sacrifice and action of everyday folk. Trust that human goodness will always trump evil even if by just a narrow margin.

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