What if our mission statement was "Take care of yourself. Take care of each other. Take care of this place." - Meg Wheatley
These questions and their answers must be the heart of our communities. If we don't ask these questions and live the answers we have no basic understanding and agreement of what we are doing here, no agreements about why we belong together.
This remembrance day I stood, as I do every year, with some of my neighbours near the cenotaph in Chemainus, honouring those who have died in war.
Listening to Chemainus High School band (including my daughter and her friends) playing for the event, remembering an uncle who I never had the pleasure to meet, the tears flowed.
I always feel emotional at the remembrance day ceremony, in part because my uncle -- Cpl. Roy Ovington -- who grew up in Youbou, died in battle at the tender age of 19. Partly for the 10's of millions of people who have died at the hands of other people. Partly because humanity is still at war, though I've now lived through 54 remembrance days and heard the same pleas for peace.
Today I felt especially emotional, looking around the crowd. Perhaps because my only son is about to turn 20, and has his whole life ahead of him, and my uncle didn't get his. Perhaps because the better world we were supposedly creating by fighting those wars hasn't materialized for the majority of humanity.
I looked around and saw the familiar faces of the neighbours I see day to day or month to month, year after year -- and as I saw them, I remembered their back stories. The pain they have felt, the challenges they have faced. What they have endured.
Being human involves suffering. Things don't always go smoothly, in the life of an individual, a family, a community, a nation. We humans are always struggling to make our world -- no matter how big that is to us -- a better place. When we are really in the thick of some of what life hands us, a terminal illness, a loss by death or divorce, loss of employment or a long cherished dream, our world can feel pretty small. At other times, when life seems to be growing and flowing for us, our world feels more expansive. We ebb and flow with the tides of life. That is the human journey.
It struck me standing there with tears in my eyes, that really at the heart of it, we're more the same than we think. That we all want the same things, though we have different ideas about how to get them.
What do we all want?
I think we all want to live in a place where healthy, happy people of all ages live together peaceably and productively, in communities that cooperate ... with each other, and with the land we live on.
To really remember and honour those who died in battle, both soldiers and civilians -- we ought to become that kind of community.
Together, we can.