apathy is boring and dangerous

Change can bring in its train impressive possibilities. One of our computer-age innovations, Skype, has become the new normal for me.

Change can bring in its train impressive possibilities. One of our computer-age innovations, Skype, has become the new normal for me. The day before yesterday, I called my wife, Eva, in Montreal via my computer and found that she had my daughter, Ilona, on the phone. A minute later we were all hooked up via Skype and the web of satellites constantly circling our planet.

Being in easy touch with distant family and friends overcomes one of those formidable obstacles that people in previous generations found difficult about living in Canada’s North. The “new communications” also allows us to become linked into larger issues and concerns that have an impact on our lives in ways unimaginable a generation or so ago.

My daughter’s role as the executive director of a small nongovernmental organization, Apathy is Boring, relies on a wide array of communication tools that still elude me.

As its website, www.apathyisboring.com, the group notes: “Apathy is Boring has become a truly national non-partisan project that uses art, and technology to encourage active citizenry, outreaching to a broad demographic of youth about how to be more involved in the democratic process.”

We need the ideas and creativity of today’s youth, harnessing new technologies, to meet the incredible challenges before all of us.

Old accepted truisms and worn standard operating procedures just cannot be expected to get us through any more. We need the extraordinary. At this point in human history, as we face the greatest challenges to survival that humanity has yet to deal with, we must not be apathetic or complacent. We certainly must not be satisfied with deeper immersion into our planet and the soul-destroying mindless quest for “more” that our consumer society tells us is our only way out of the current crises as well as our sole raison d’etre for being here on Earth.

Somehow our governing and guiding institutions have to be pulled, kicking and screaming forward. As we come up to International Women’s Day next week, we can only now imagine what the world today would have been like if the women of proceeding generations had acquiesced to the magisterial strictures of their day.

Toni Morrison, Nobel Prize laureate in literature, has one of her characters in her 2008 novel, A Mercy, set in 17th-century colonial America, reflecting on life. As a woman “without money or the inclination to peddle goods, open a stall or be an apprentice in exchange for food and shelter, with even nunneries for upper classes banned,” she had only three possibilities before her -“servant, prostitute or wife.” This certainly is not the horizon for young women today.

Women from Malaysia have prepared this year’s World Day of Prayer. It will be celebrated at Trinity Lutheran Church in Whitehorse on March 2 and in 165 other countries around the world. The theme the women have chosen is Let Justice Prevail. Malaysia, like Canada, offers a model for the world of multi-racial, multicultural and multi-religious communities, living in harmony with one another.

The justice they urge us to pray for is not static. An apathetic shrug, a turning away from the challenges confronting us, whether on the local front like the Peel watershed question, or globally on issues like climate change, is downright dangerous. Both prayer and action are needed to build the just, environmentally sustainable society longed for.

Michael Dougherty is co-chair of the social justice committee of Sacred Heart Cathedral of Whitehorse. Contact pazypan@yukon.net.