This fall at the unveiling of the Peace Pole near the Pavilion in St. Vital Park I made the comment that Peace is our most precious possession, but that it is also our most fragile possession. Peace is something most of us have lived with most of our lives, along with the many freedoms we are privileged to have here in Canada. We indeed live in a peaceful country; one which values peace. One of the things contributing to our peaceful nature is our willingness to learn about one another and come to understand our commonalities as well as celebrate our differences.
This is the time of the year that is filled with festive celebrations. In a country like Canada, our inclusive culture exposes us to new seasonal festivities as we welcome people of different cultures to our country. Our willingness to share our good fortune with others, and include them in our society has also made us extremely sensitive to how others feel or react to our customs.
An art display by French artist Clara Halter called Tent of Peace,
which features the word peace written in different languages, in Jerusalem.
It has become the politically correct thing to refrain from expressing our own beliefs and joy in fear of hurting someone’s feelings. There is no time in the year that this is more obvious than in December. People, regardless of their beliefs, share their joy and love as winter begins to take hold in the northern hemisphere and share the chance to socialize. We all look forward to when the days become longer, giving everyone a common and simple thing to celebrate. Too often we look at our differences and forget how much we have in common with our neighbours of all beliefs. Indeed, we have far more in common with others than we have differences.
As Rotarians, we work with people of all faiths and varied cultures. It is our nature to look at what others need and to help to fill that need. In the process we make the world a better place. All of us around our world share common needs – food, shelter, love of family, respect, health, education, and so on. Above all we meet others with respect for one another regardless of race or creed.
Each of us at this time of year share the joy we feel as members of any faith or social group with others. Our family shares the joy of Christmas with our friends of all faiths and welcomes their celebrations of Hanukkah, Kwanza, Eid. There are so many cultures that I cannot even begin to recognize all in this short newsletter. We look at these occasions to learn about one another and the traditions dear to their hearts. From this we come to understand those differences and celebrate our similarities.
So I wish all who are Christian a Merry Christmas. To our friends of the Jewish faith, I wish you Happy Hanukah. To our friends in Islam who recently celebrated Ramadan, a belated Happy Eid. To the many others whose celebrations I am not familiar with – I wish you the very best of your personal celebration.
Above all, I wish you Peace.
** The Peace Pole in the thumbnail shows the word peace in many languages. It is from a park in Gull Lake, SK - Fort Qu'Appelle, SK.