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Soul Mending

By Yvonne Zarowny



“Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: . . . do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders. . . .”  
— Matthew 23: 1-4
As I write this column, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are the “presumptive” candidates for their respective parties in the U.S. and yet another mass shooting has occurred in that country. 

A Sig Sauer version of an AK 15 assault rifle was again used in this mass killing of Americans by an American.
Did you know between 1968 and 2011, American firearm deaths outnumbered all those killed in their wars from the American Revolution/War of Independence through to the Iraq wars?
According to a Jan. 5, 2016, BBC news report, Guns in the U.S., in that 43-year period 1.4 million Americans were killed due to firearm violence compared to 1.2 million American combat deaths over 240 years.

Why is this not a “pro-life” issue?
Given the American origin of the Knights of Columbus and their involvement in the March for Life, to me this deserves at least a mention.

What do you think?
According to this report, between 2001 and 2011, over 11,000 Americans died annually due to firearms. In this period, only 517 Americans died annually due to “terror-related” incidents.

If 2001 is removed (the year of the American 9/11) that number drops to 31/year.

Yet, trillions of dollars are spent while hundreds of thousands of non-American lives are lost and millions more driven from their homes due to ongoing wars — “to keep Americans safe.”

Even though many more Americans are killed in the U.S. through gun violence, since 1997 the U.S. Congress has restricted spending on research into this phenomenon — but not on waging wars.

This is largely due to intense lobbying by the American National Rifle Association (NRA). They equate gun ownership with “individual liberty” and “democracy.”  

In Canada, the National Firearm Association (NFA) — using rhetoric similar to the NRA — assists those wanting to deregulate gun control including Sig Sauer AR15 assault rifles.

How does this contribute to a culture of life which, as Catholics, we are supposed to be about?

I started thinking about this last March in response to Deborah Gyapong’s report in the March 2 issue of Prairie Messenger on the Cardus presentation to the February Manning Centre Conference.

Michael Gerson, the Cardus presenter, was reported as claiming Trump represents a “hostile takeover” of the Republican Party.

Omitted from the presentation is the hostile “takeover” of the American Republican and Canadian Conservative parties by the anti-government, ideologically rigid libertarians masquerading as conservatives. Both are funded by the network of millionaires and billionaires assembled globally by the Koch brothers.

Jane Mayer’s 2016 book Dark Money is the latest to document how this has been done using “third party” organizations such as “charities” and other “grassroots” organizations.  

Both parties champion “economic liberty” and deregulation, including guns — falsely equating such deregulation of market economies and guns to “free societies” and “democracy.

To me, the American people’s response to Trump and Sanders represent their rejection of the hostile takeover of their political parties by those with very deep pockets wanting to ensure governments serve their interests and not those of the “common good.”
Cardus is yet another in the ever-morphing constellation of “charities” whose function it is to obfuscate public awareness on behalf of these libertarians as outlined by Mayer.

Gyapong reports Gerson as stating what is needed is a “conservatism of the common good.” There is no clear explanation of what that would be. There is “double-speak.”

Assuming Gyapong quoted Gerson correctly, he has all the “politically correct” language to appeal to “conservative” Christians, particularly the Canadian Roman Catholic hierarchy.

Interestingly, he has none of the concepts promoted by our social teachings or Pope Francis.

He talks about “strengthening families and communities,” “human dignity,” . . . and how a “mature, conservative appeal” needs to be “rooted in civil society and ideals.”

However, Gerson gives his “game” away when he talks of “economic liberty.”

“Economic liberty” is new conservative or libertarian-speak for the unregulated market economies promoted by those paid by the likes of the Koch brothers since the 1970s.

The implementation of this ideology has brought us accelerated environmental devastation, unprecedented number of refugees, unemployment, collapsed financial institutions, wars that go on for decades, seriously broken democracies, failed states, cuts in public spending for the common good and an increasingly unequal distribution of wealth and power . . . all in the name of individual “freedom” or “liberty.”

As Mayer and others have documented, “they” work covertly and collectively to achieve their ideological ends. This includes funding “charities” to obfuscate; buying politicians and using debt and trade deals to stop governments using their resources for the common good of all.

Yet Gerson claims for this approach the moral high ground stating unlike “leftist ideologies” a “conservatism of the common good” does not subordinate human beings to “the cause.”

All the families broken because of money stresses; those killed in the U.S. due to gun violence; people whose family members have been slaughtered in unending wars; those driven from their homes due to climate chaos; those unable to access good palliative care or waiting for timely joint replacement surgery may disagree.

As Matthew 23 quotes Jesus saying: “they” do not practice what they preach; “they” tie cumbersome loads on the backs of others.”

An educator, writer and engaged citizen living in Qualicum Beach, B.C., Zarowny is also on the leadership team for her parish’s Justice and Life Ministry.