Spirit Quest on birthdays

Spirit Quest

Birthdays, and the will to have many more

By The Rev. Dr. Hanns F. Skoutajan
True North Perspective

Eighty-six years ago I stretched and wiggled in the semi dark of my uterine confines.  Only a few more days were left before my emergence into the light. Outside they talked about me. In those days the infant’s gender could only be guessed at unlike today when with x rays and other means the pre-born’s sex and features are revealed.

One day my grandfather placed his hand on my mother’s abdomen to feel the movements underneath. Sadly it would be the closest that he would come to his grandson. He died before my birth. My other grandparent, mother’s father, passed away with tuberculosis decades earlier. Thus I never met any of my grandfathers and therefore am aware of the great privilege I have had in seeing my granddaughter shortly after her birth on 12 February 2007 and then to watch her grow and develop talents, wisdom  and an indomitable sense of curiosity, as well as a beautiful head of red hair. You bet we’ll celebrate.

I was born on 13 March 1929 in a city near the border of Germany in what was then Czechoslovakia, a new and wonderful country. I was born under a form of medicare. I didn’t cost a cent but have gotten more expensive since. My birthday was halfway between the two world wars and my family and I managed to avoid the second one in the safe refuge of my new home in Canada. It is my fervent hope that Sophia Elizabeth Skoutajan, my only grandchild, will be as fortunate as I.

We look out on a much troubled world in which there is no safe haven as Canada afforded me in 1939. Not only are humans in conflict with one another but with the very environment in which we live. We may be so fortunate as to avoid warfare but we share climate change with the rest of the world. We dare not live with the illusion that economics can trump ecology, which our PM seems to think, without serious consequences. We cannot say that we have not been warned by a host of scientists and thinkers about the perils of global warming, rising sea levels, and destruction of nature that has been taking millennia to build. But humankind especially the top .1% of the richest and particularly our industries are energy hungry, or is it greedy(?) and unwilling to leave fossil fuels in the ground, and to develop renewable sources of fuel such as wind and solar energy, or perhaps best to learn to live more frugally.

Jeff Rubin in his prophetic book The End of Growth concludes, “Sustainability isn’t just an abstract notion; it is the governing idea behind the kind of economics we need to foster . . .  We can still shape the future we want, but only if we are willing to relinquish the past that we have known. Our challenge is to learn that doing without is better than always wanting more.”  

For me there is no remote hope, it is all very personal and present. It is so for many others who have been privileged to father/mother new generations on all the continents of this globe. As we regard our progeny develop, do we not sense a tremendous sense of responsibility. We can’t prejudice their lives and the lives of those to come, not just here in this blessed land  but world-wide.

In the daily press we evidence unrest, disease, hunger, thirst, and war. These confrontations cannot be easily contained. The world is so much smaller than it was in 1939 when I boarded a “steam” ship  and spent seven days crossing a mighty ocean that was still very much cleaner than today, and arrive in another continent. The Internet has further shrunk our neighbourhood and shall continue to do so. Our very thoughts are public. There are no secrets any more.

As I approach this month of birthdays, mine, my son and his daughter, I sense an urge to plead for sanity and a will to live in peace. What is needed is the will. We have all the means to do so.