love must trump power and greed

Growing up in a racialized society put real limits on all people living in it. As a kid in 1950s Missouri, it seemed natural that my neighbourhood playmates all shared the same basics: pink-skinned, European and English speaking.

Growing up in a racialized society put real limits on all people living in it. As a kid in 1950s Missouri, it seemed natural that my neighbourhood playmates all shared the same basics: pink-skinned, European and English speaking. The contours of the racial divide in this Midwestern state only became clearer to me with age.

No black or Hispanic kids went to my grade school. They lived well away from our neighbourhood in clearly separated areas of the city. By high school one lone Afro-American boy broke the colour bar at my school, along with a handful of other children of hyphenated citizens. The civil rights revolution of the 1960s began stirring the pot.

Constitutional and other legal rights, long ignored when it came to skin colour, were asserted. Invisible lines, drawn by culture and tradition that had circumscribed lives for centuries, also slowly loosened their grip on new generations. For sure this took awhile but seen over the broad sweep of a lifetime these changes occurred remarkably quickly.

When our scout troop organized a swim outing to a popular private lake, the owner wouldn’t let our one Mexican-American member in. Collectively we told him we would all come in or none of us would. He relented. My high school became proactive and sent tutors out to help prepare ghetto kids for the entrance exam. The complexion of my high school changed. Small, simple, individual acts eventually amplified by the millions into massive societal change.

This social change process continues today. Now, however, we are participating, whether we consciously recognize it or not, in the creation of the first truly global ethic. The emerging world-wide value system appears to be drawing its core values from the major religions, age-old philosophical traditions and a novel developing sense of how we must learn to live together on a planet with finite resources and a delicately balanced ecology.

Reaction to the Shafia “honour” killings, repression of the citizenry of Syria, Wall Street greed or disasters, either natural or man-made, point to this emerging common sense of right and wrong. It is now impossible to imagine a world where slavery is an acceptable, even a morally justifiable practice as it was 175 years ago or accept the image of a proper woman as “quiet, servile, industrious” and legally dependent on her husband as it was just a handful of generations ago.

Old lies like “more is better” or “might is right” with rampant consumerism or the resource- and life-wasting militarism these ideas promoted, must also give way to this new global ethic. How long will it take? Hopefully it will not be too long for the sake of coming generations.

Earlier this week I ran across a quote from Dr. Patch Adams reflecting on the military industrial complex in the U.S. He said: “I’ve come to the conclusion that if we don’t change from a value-system based on love of money and power to one based on love of compassion and generosity we will be extinct this century.” The love Dr. Adams refers to places people not things at the centre of his equation. We have to do the same building up from our families and communities to a common global ethic hinged on it.

Happy St. Valentine’s Day and Black History month.

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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Ivan, centre, and Tennette Dechkoff, right, stop to chat with a friend on Main Street in Whitehorse on Nov. 24. Starting Dec. 1 masks will be mandatory in public spaces across the Yukon in order to help curb the spread of COVID-19. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
UPDATED: Masks mandatory in public places starting on Dec. 1

“The safe six has just got a plus one,” Silver said.

Dr. Brendan Hanley, Yukon’s chief medical officer of health, speaks at a press conference in Whitehorse on March 30. Hanley announced three more COVID-19 cases in a release on Nov. 21. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Three more COVID-19 cases, new exposure notice announced

The Yukon’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Brendan Hanley, announced three… Continue reading

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: COVID-19 strikes another blow at high-school students

They don’t show up very often in COVID-19 case statistics, but they… Continue reading

The Cornerstone housing project under construction at the end of Main Street in Whitehorse on Nov. 19. Community Services Minister John Streicker said he will consult with the Yukon Contractors Association after concerns were raised in the legislature about COVID-19 isolation procedures for Outside workers at the site. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Concerns raised about alternate self-isolation plans for construction

Minister Streicker said going forward, official safety plans should be shared across a worksite

Beatrice Lorne was always remembered by gold rush veterans as the ‘Klondike Nightingale’. (Yukon Archives/Maggies Museum Collection)
History Hunter: Beatrice Lorne — The ‘Klondike Nightingale’

In June of 1929, 11 years after the end of the First… Continue reading

Samson Hartland is the executive director of the Yukon Chamber of Mines. The Yukon Chamber of Mines elected a new board of directors during its annual general meeting held virtually on Nov. 17. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Yukon Chamber of Mines elects new board

The Yukon Chamber of Mines elected a new board of directors during… Continue reading

The Yukon Hospital Corporation has released its annual report for 2019-20, and — unsurprisingly — hospital visitations were down. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Annual report says COVID-19 had a large impact visitation numbers at Whitehorse General

The Yukon Hospital Corporation has released its annual report for 2019-20, and… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

City council was closed to public on March 23 due to gathering rules brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. The council is now hoping there will be ways to improve access for residents to directly address council, even if it’s a virtual connection. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Solution sought to allow for more public presentations with council

Teleconference or video may provide opportunities, Roddick says

Megan Waterman, director of the Lastraw Ranch, is using remediated placer mine land in the Dawson area to raise local meat in a new initiative undertaken with the Yukon government’s agriculture branch. (Submitted)
Dawson-area farm using placer miner partnership to raise pigs on leased land

“Who in their right mind is going to do agriculture at a mining claim? But this made sense.”

Riverdale residents can learn more details of the City of Whitehorse’s plan to FireSmart a total of 24 hectares in the area of Chadburn Lake Road and south of the Hidden Lakes trail at a meeting on Nov. 26. (Ian Stewart/Yukon News file)
Meeting will focus on FireSmart plans

Riverdale residents will learn more details of the City of Whitehorse’s FireSmarting… Continue reading

The City of Whitehorse is planning to borrow $10 million to help pay for the construction of the operations building (pictured), a move that has one concillor questioning why they don’t just use reserve funds. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Councillor questions borrowing plan

City of Whitehorse would borrow $10 million for operations building

Most Read