John Lennon wrote an iconic song, “Imagine” in 1971. “Imagine” was the best-selling single of his solo career, and has since been recorded by dozens of performers making it one of the most performed songs of the 20th century. Its lyrics encourage the listener to imagine a world without the barriers of borders or the divisions of religion and nationality, and to consider the possibility that the whole of humanity could live unattached to material possessions, and just live in total peace with one another. For a young teenager, going through a turbulent coming-of-age time, I hung on to the sentiments of that song and dreamed of the utopia that could be obtained if everyone embraced its message.
As an adult, I will admit I have become less of a dreamer and more of a pragmatist. The world is more divided than I’ve ever seen it in my lifetime. Hatred abounds. There is no “freedom” of speech. If someone has an opinion of any kind, for or against or neutral, social media bullies come out in force and hide behind their faceless, online personas and attack. Far-left, far-right, progressives, conservatives, moderates, liberals, supremacists, or anti-anythings divide communities and nations. Doctrine preached in the post-modern era is less and less about relationship with the God of the universe, and more about teaching congregants to conform to the world around them. Acceptance and tolerance, have become the catch words of this millennia. You are immediately labeled a bigot if you speak out against anything that counters Biblical truth. Opinion, for or against, is met with hate-filled retribution.
It’s been a tough week.
Out of control forest fires continue to rage in Western Canada. Thousands of people have been evacuated. The smoke hangs heavy in the air, here on the “Ponderosa” (what we call our acreage and homestead near Cochrane). We’ve had drought-like conditions now for months. When it does rain, lightning strikes in the mountains ignite more fires. Firefighters and evacuees are weary and want to go home, but the reality is that for many there are no homes to go back to.
Hurricane Harvey has lashed out its fury on the State of Texas and other communities along the U.S. Gulf coast. The devastation is unfathomable. The fourth largest city in the U.S., Houston, took the brunt of the storm. I’ve seen what damage a flood can cause, having witnessed it firsthand in Calgary in 2013. It will take years for Houston, and the other communities to recover and rebuild. That said, a natural disaster always seems to bring out the very best in humanity. There are stories of heroic rescues by ordinary people coming to the aid of people trapped in their homes. It is especially interesting to note that the rescuers did not put labels on the people they rescued. It didn’t matter what colour, race, religion, gender, age, size, ability or disability labeled you before in society…if you were a victim of the flood and needed help, you got it. I quoted someone on Facebook:
The hate-filled rioting that led to the subsequent tearing down of historical monuments in Charlottesville, should not define a nation. Helping someone in need, caring for another, showing compassion, mercy, and love, that’s what makes a nation great! It would be wonderful if all the nations of the world remembered that without ever experiencing a devastating hurricane, flood, fire or war firsthand. For a few days this week, the great city of Houston actually lived out the sentiments in John Lennon’s song. In crisis, all the barriers that divide people are forgotten, all that matters is love for fellow-man.