The trees along the banks of the Yukon River at Whitehorse have begun to show the strain of the deep cold that has settled across the territory. The accumulated hoar frost has bent branches low. They are not at the snapping point yet but some seem very close to it.
Casual workplace or shopping aisle comments carry a certain heaviness as well lately. Maybe it is the north wind but heads also seem bent a little lower as we collectively face into it. Living in the Yukon we should be used to the what winter annually has in store for us.
However, something is different this year. An added gloom has psychologically darkened already short boreal days. The outbreak of fighting again in Palestine and Israel, continued bloodshed in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Sudan and in other forgotten regions like the Congo certainly contribute to it.
But the announcement of an anticipated $1.2 trillion budget deficit in the United States earlier this week adding to the already staggering $10.7 trillion federal deficit may have been the tipping point. Projected unemployment rates of nine per cent, according to a January 7 New York Times article, will amplify concern.
Canadian economists forecast we are headed for one of the roughest economic periods in decades. Obviously with our trade dependency on the United States the proverbial cold there means pneumonia here. What then does it mean for the people of, say, Sierra Leone? The waves of economic crisis in rich countries become a tsunami of consequences amongst the poorest in our interconnected world.
Members of the Social Justice Club at FH Collins Secondary met on Wednesday during their lunch hour to decide how to spend the money they fund-raised through the weekly sale of Alpine Bakery cheese sticks and cinnamon buns and from their 25-hour fast. They previously sent $1,000 to support the soon-to-open Whitehorse Food Bank. From what I heard they will now be sending $1,500 to support a village development project in Sierra Leone. It will purchase cows, pigs, goats and sewing machines for a community there.
Then they planned how to share and celebrate this information with fellow students. After end-of-term exams in a couple of weeks, the Social Justice Club members will focus on their next round of speakers and fundraising activities. Through their dedicated enthusiasm and concrete actions they hope to engage more of the FH Collins school community in their efforts.
Planning has been underway for some time now for the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. An ecumenical service at Whitehorse United Church on Sunday, January 18 at 4 p.m. will locally launch this global event.
This year’s service, based on Ezekiel 37:17 “ that they be one in your hand,” has been prepared by Korean churches. A program note states that the authors found “compelling parallels to their own situation within a divided country and for a divided Christendom” in this year’s theme.
Seeking to overcome our differences and focussing on positive actions to address basic problems both seem to be ways to dispel the pervasive gloom darkening our winter. These and other similar acts constitute the foundation of the making of the much needed transformative miracles our world craves.
As Martin Luther King Jr., whose birthday we remember next week, once said, “Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable… Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.”
Find out who the individuals and groups working for change are in your community; support them and brighten all our days.
Michael Dougherty is co-chair of the social justice committee of Sacred Heart Cathedral of Whitehorse. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sunday, January 11 — Baptism of Jesus. The suggested reading is Mark: 1: 7-11.
Sunday, January 11 — In Mahayana Buddhist countries a three day celebration of the New Year begins.
Tuesday, January 13 — On Maghi Sikhs commemorate the sacrifice of the lives of the Forty Liberated Ones in defence of Guru Gobindh Singh Ji.
Thursday, January 15 — Martin Luther King Jr., assassinated civil rights leader and Nobel Peace Prize recepient, 80th birthday.