We are coming to the close of yet another difficult year, another gong show that has us wondering sometimes (or often) about what the bleep is wrong with us as a human species. Yet another war of conquest, initiated by a bully in the name of past glories, is directly impacting the lives of millions and creating economic chaos everywhere. Horrible weather events all year long and everywhere, and too many stories of disrupted travel are telling us – to our faces – that climate change, big changes to our climate are real and dangerous.

“Freedom convoys” have uncovered a profound ignorance of the differences between freedom and liberty, and blasting horns have demonstrated real disrespect for our neighbours – that I am allowed to scream my opinions into your face whether you are interested or not. Mass shootings and acts of violence and language (and legislation) of hate are crossing borders everywhere. And again, too many difficult stories in and around our indigenous communities are bringing to the fore the horrific impacts of British and French colonialism that Canada readily adopted when it became our turn.

But there is a thing about human nature. We always operate with a glimmer of hope. It brought us out of the Dark Ages and hope is seemingly hardwired somewhere inside us. And there are glimmers as a new year beckons.

Russia’s aggression has triggered a surprising reaction, as the western world coalesces across borders around almost-forgotten common positive values. The recent US mid-terms showed a silent majority slowly starting to stand up against “great again” where maybe outright lies are no longer accepted as a politically viable currency.

In Canada, there are changes as well. Our indigenous community is speaking loudly, reminiscent of that line in the 1976 film Network, I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!” And we are actually listening and responding in meaningful ways. Projects like Naawi-Oodena will create Canada’s largest urban reserve on the former Kapyong Barracks site. And that icon of colonialism, the downtown Hudson’s Bay store will be redeveloped as an indigenous beacon under the guidance of the Southern Chiefs Organization. And maybe, just maybe, too many headlines of tragedies within our indigenous and marginalized communities will lead to concerted and integrated actions going forward.

It starts with these glimmers of hope. While we seem inclined to implode as a human species, we also are inclined to survive somehow, even if the path ahead is not clear. Let’s all wish ourselves the courage and capacity to seek that better path into the year ahead.

Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Allan