Okanagan College ESL instructor Olia Bullen introduces Salmon Arm’s new Syrian residents during a presentation at the Salmon Arm campus for their Multicultural Day celebration on Wednesday, March 15.-Image credit: Jim Elliot/Salmon Arm

Column: What Ben meant to say

The View From Here/Martha Wickett

How did that happen?

Yesterday it was the January 1st Polar Bear Swim, today it’s nearly time to get used to writing 2019 on our cheques. Oh wait, people don’t use cheques anymore.

Time zips by, change is constant.

According to Mr. Google, the jury is out on who first said, “Nothing is certain but death and taxes.” But no matter which of the three old guys listed actually did say it – Ben Franklin being the only name I recognize, it is a tad negative, and intentionally so, I’m sure.

Like many people, including all the sweet children who sent Santa letters to the newspaper this year, Christmas always stirs an extra smattering of hope and optimism in me. Not about getting that Fitbit the corporate giants are telling me I really need. (Although it is tempting.) It’s more about what’s possible.

First, I must admit I believe people are born good. Intrinsically good. (And no, little Santa letter writers, your goodness and worth are not dependent on whether you picked up your toys yesterday. And Santa is not some creepy stalker who judges your every move.) Oops, inside voice.

Related: Mother Orca’s display of grief sends powerful message

So, as is tradition with this newspaper and, as interim editor for the past six months, I have a couple of wishes for you and me and us. My first is about, basically, love… I know, my 1960s roots are showing.

I have noticed time and again what big hearts Salmon Arm citizens have. When a cause comes up, when people are in need, citizens step up and help, really help. I am so proud that people here sponsored several Syrian refugee families. It’s easy to turn a blind eye to people around the world, to claim that somehow ‘helping our own’ cannot co-exist with helping others – and this town did not.

My wish is that this caring continues and grows. That people don’t succumb to the North American version of the ‘yellow vest’ movement, and similar trains of thought circulating, which feature veiled hatred, pitting human being against human being. That we fight racism whenever and wherever. And that we figure out how to sustainably feed and house everyone who lives here. It’s not a matter of resources, we have them.

My other wish is about time. When my partner died, the lesson I took away was about remembering to live life ‘soft’ and ‘slow.’ The soft is the love part. As for slow, which I have not mastered at all, it is to remember what’s important and take time to do it. Our families, our friends, our earth. The planet won’t wait as we relentlessly abuse it; our children, our connections with people won’t wait as we succumb to ‘busy-ness.’

As Ben Franklin – or perhaps his wiser, less concise sister – might have said: “Nothing is certain but the need for people to take time for each other and the planet.”


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