As much as I enjoy the stage of life I am experiencing right now, there are times when I very much miss the simple faith and trust of my childhood days. I remember things like being able to eat an oatmeal cookie from a package, or spread peanut butter over slices of rubbery white bread, or wolfing down a tuna fish sandwich in the school cafeteria without giving a moment’s thought to the nutrient content or possible health repercussions, or environmental consequences of these food choices.
I had no idea that, later in life, I would not be able to eat these foods without being ruefully aware of such things as saturated fats, GMO farming practices, depletion of agricultural lands, factory farming, or potential for mercury contamination.
Likewise, I remember blissful mornings spent in Sunday school, drawing lambs and loaves and fishes on sheets of construction paper. I remember making a thick, white beard for God (who was sitting on top of a cloud in the sky) out of cotton balls. Never once did I have to worry about the checkered legacy of the Church–its witch burnings, inquisitions, residential schools, intolerance, and cultural genocide.
When my daughter’s class has been visited by an RCMP officer, there is a part of me that is proud of the fact that she respects this officer and her uniform. Small-town girl that I am, there is this part of me that desperately wants to believe in the virtues of peace, order, and good government. Unfortunately, I have seen and heard too much in my life to completely buy into this anymore.
I have seen too many reports of police brutality, and of political corruption. I have seen the way that our laws and our government are used by the wealthy and the powerful to ensure the poor and marginalized are kept in the shadows on the edges of society. I have seen way too much in my life to believe that any sort of power can possibly be absolutely benign.
One of my struggles, as a parent, is to ensure that my belief that society needs to be changed, and that voices need to be raised in protest, does not turn into bitterness or cynicism. I still believe, very strongly, in the beauty and wisdom of the people of this country. I believe that, despite the recent political turns to the right, Canadians are caring and sensible people. Above all, I believe that things can be changed for the better when we use our minds and voices.
I no longer have the luxury of naïveté and innocence, but I’m still filled with a childlike sense of hope for the future.