A Place of Compassion

Joy Kogawa, poet and novelist: The dream I have for this west-coast city on the edge of the peaceable ocean is the dream I have for the world - a dream of peace. What better time than this to abolish war as we face our common planetary fate?
We have choices - to continue blithely on our way, fighting and devouring one another for the rest of our dwindling days, or we can individually and collectively lay down our weapons and practice the ways of truth and reconciliation, cooperation and peace.
In a city where east-west faces and races meet and mix, where cultures both clash and blend, the ways of peace can be cultivated, watered, nurtured and the seeds of that action can fly to the farthest corners of our hearts and the world.
As a Japanese Canadian, I have welcomed conversations with two granddaughters of Howard Green, the politician whose public words against us during the Second World War were dreaded in our community. If they can seek to make peace with us on behalf of the grandfather they loved, ought we not to walk with them? What an opportunity for peace making and for walking on.
And ought we not, as Canadian descendants from Japan, to stand with those Canadian descendants of China, who seek a fulsome parliamentary acknowledgment from the country of our ancestors for the horrors their ancestors faced in the Rape of Nanking? Or is it our choice to turn aside and say, "These are no concerns of ours." I believe that the morally appropriate action is to respond to those who suffer and who call our names.
But it is not for me to say what is right for anyone else. We are each required to struggle with our own conscience and to respond to the many voices that call us.
As an Anglican Christian, I am glad of the leadership of loving inclusiveness that comes from Vancouver and from Bishop Michael Ingham. The impulse to seek common ground, to lay down the weaponry that wounds and to embrace the "other" arises, I believe, from hearts that are informed by and infused with compassion. And it is in the spirit of that compassionate love that those "other" passionate Anglicans who believe in obedience to the Bible's teachings could come together with these "other" passionate Anglicans who also believe in obedience to the Bible's teachings, to new places of deep listening. I dream that the Anglican Church in Vancouver can lead the country and the rest of the Anglican Communion throughout the world back from the brink of schism.
And I dream that many actions of reconciliation within and between the faiths, between rich and poor, among immigrant groups, in established neighbourhoods, in the Downtown Eastside, among those who are still suffering from unresolved injustices of the near and distant past can come to healing and hope and inner freedom.
I dream that Vancouver will increasingly be a place for the coalescing of the forces of compassion. Eckhart Tolle is here. The Dalai Lama has a presence here. Native spirituality is rooted here. The light of the Power of Now, the light of kindness, shines brightly from this much-blessed city.
As a writer, I have a personal dream that has been miraculously unfolding through the action of some people, primarily Ann-Marie Metten and Todd Wong, who worked to save my childhood home in Marpole from demolition and who are continuing to work to establish it as a writer's residence. I dream that the house, now owned by the wonderful Land Conservancy of BC, will be transformed into a place of truth writing and healing, and that it will become a portal through which messengers of peace may come and go.
As a mother and grandmother and dear friend of my ex-husband, David, I dream that the family will be strong and well and face with equanimity and deep peace, the days ahead, secure in the compassion that surrounds us all.
It is, I believe, as we embrace the injunction to love the enemy, that the mysterious forces of compassion come riding our way and a slow explosion of power, greater than any we can imagine, arises in us.

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