History, racism and wealth

All have a common thread.


History, racism and wealth

A recent letter to the editor took our MP to task for paying attention to where the Canada Pension Plan earns money. Another pointed out that the drive to earn money without paying attention to where it comes from is at the root of most of our social ills. Many others spoke of the social evil that is racism. All have a common thread.

I was taught that racism is a relatively recent phenomenon. Beginning in the 15th Century when Europeans were looking for a way to justify raping, pillaging and enslaving the rest of the world. Following naturally, perhaps, in the footsteps of the Crusades, Christian Princes of Church and State told subjects and parishioners that the rest of the world didn’t have souls. Therefore one could slaughter, enslave and conquer their lands with impunity.

Lots of Christians disagreed with their rulers and church establishments. Many lost their lives in Inquisitions and sedition trials. Eventually successful in defeating slavery and (mostly) giving lie to the teaching that other humans didn’t matter as much as white Europeans, they/we continue to struggle with the idea that the accumulation of wealth is the only thing that matters in this life.

Some people remain stuck in the idea that others are worth less because we live in a system that gauges worth in wealth. In our system if you aren’t wealthy, you aren’t working, you aren’t worthy. Even though we know that’s a lie, we continue to carry that part of racism around with us. These days we extend it to folk living without housing and living with addiction. Doubly damned if they aren’t European descended.

Racism might also be said to be grounded in subconscious, collective, fear. Fear that folk who’ve been plundered will rise up and plunder back, or seek just and fitting retribution for the harms meted out to them. Many of our movies seem to reflect that subconscious theme. When we’re not thinking of ourselves as a zombie plague, vampires or a virus.

Some philosophers, writers and poets suggest there is a way out of this. Out of the scarcity model that drove conquest and pillage. That continues to enslave while promoting, encouraging and thriving on racism and fear. An abundance model pointing to ancient ways of living in a gift economy, where all relations are valued and upheld. For Christians, that model lives in the Gospels and the book of Acts.

Another, more recent offering can be found in Robin Wall Kimmerer’s book, Braiding Sweetgrass. Check out the bookstore or the library. I’d encourage listening to her narrate the book. I found her a great companion while walking the trails. Our church is going to host a study during Lent. She points a way back in. Out of consumerism, consumption, capitalism and religion formed out of shame. Back into the heart of Love.

Where we belong.

Keith Simmonds



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