Spirit Quest

Spirit Quest

'Oh! There's good news tonight!'

By The Rev. Dr. Hanns F. Skoutajan
True North Perspective
“Oh! There’s good news tonight!”  Where is Gabriel Heatter when we need him? It is with these words that this World War II radio commentator signed on each evening. Few newscasts these days can be prefaced with that remark.

However, there is good news. Not too many of us, according to Roman Catholic dogma, will rot or burn in hell for all eternity. God, it seems, is too kind or just for that. Most, however,  on our way to the realm of the blessed, will make a necessary stopover at a way station called Purgatory. There our nasty natures will be purgated to make us fit for paradise. Those who believe in retributive justice expect suum cuique (to each his own), that there is a punishment to fit each crime. I rather believe in restorative justice, that is the restoration of a right relationship, a transformation. That change is ongoing, semper reformanda.

Ed Finn, in an article in the Monitor, a monthly publication of The Centre For Policy Alternatives, a must read for me as it should be for you, mentions a science fiction story that he recalls from his youth. Although the author and the title have long escaped him the story made a lasting impact.

The story goes: Out in a distant galaxy there is a planet that supports life much like our own except that its inhabitants seem programmed to work together for the common good. There are no wars or pestilence, no super rich and desperatly poor. Life is idyllic. However, the occasional miscreant who breaks this harmony is transported to a distant penal colony for cleansing, like in a bygone age when the British sent criminals to Australia. In the story, the misfit, sinner, or whatever one might call him/her, is transported by UFO to a radically different society. Guess what! The purgatorial planet  was none other than our good old planet Earth.

The new arrival would find life in this here-and-now shocking, to say the least. When they remembered the place they left behind they would immediately see the difference. There was little trust. Security was tight. Avarice was in abundance. Nations were draining their treasuries to acquire arms although they already had enough fire power to destroy the planet several times over. There was violence and the ecology of this planet was severely threatened.

Nevertheless for some of the permanent residents it seemed that this was the best of all worlds that could be improved upon with bigger compensation, but for others, many of the 99% in fact, it was sheer hell. Think of the people of Homs in Syria. or the First Nation people in Canada’s north, or the lower east side of many a modern city. “Crazy” was the word that kept coming to mind of the penal migrant.

Being exposed to this planet Earth the visitor recognized the evil of his ways and in no time was purged and made fit to return home.

Finn comments, “My main reason for hope is that contrary to the aliens’ belief that all humans are crazy, some of us clearly are not. Some of us deplore injustice and conflict and strive to build a better world. Above all, we want to stop our lemming-like rush to the ecological abyss. The problem is that we are not the ones in charge of the political and economic systems that are threatening extinction.”

Jeremy Rifkin in his excellent book The Empathic Civilization, states that homo sapiens are hard-wired for empathy, that we humans basically care for the nest in which we raise our offspring and will defend  each other from attack and share our good fortunes. That isn’t always evident. There is another urge in our DNA that plays against this empathy. Its called greed.

According to the catholic version of Christian dogma, greed is one of the seven deadly sins; in other words, a sin against God that is not humanly forgivable. Only the divinity is able to remove that stain. It will entail a lengthy process of purgation. One would hope that the cleansed could then return to this life as in the sci-fi story to lead in movements for human transformation.

Rifkin believes that humanity is in a race. Will sanity and empathy prevail before the planet Earth is destroyed? A posituve answer is not at all certain.

The wars, famine, the ecological destruction seem at times to have the upper hand. Would that the exploiters could be taken by UFO to another planet for a time to experience what is possible, that harmony and peace can be achieved, that life can be beautiful.

Finn concludes on a note of hope, “I can envisage a future in which the Galactic Federation can no longer use Earth as a place to punish its few malefactors — not because it has become a barren and lifeless cinder, but because it has at last joined all other planets in becoming civilized.”

I like to believe that there is a Spirit alive that is moving us in that direction. As Hamlet says, “There is a divinity that shapes our end rough hew them how we will.”

That divinity, however, dwells within us. The Good News tonight rests in our will, the residents of good old planet Earth.

Hanns F Skoutajan
SQ 27/04/12


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