I've been waffling lately what to write about next. On the one hand, I had a great time at our Taoist Tai Chi workshop this past weekend, and came away from that feeling very energized yet peaceful. On the other hand, I am really ticked off at Prime Minister Stephen Harper again, due to his threats to fire the head of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) after she spoke out against starting up the Chalk River nuclear reactor before it had upgraded its safety features. But then I remembered what I've been reading in my latest Pema Chodron book, which is that life is a dynamic mixture of everything all the time, and I could write about both in the same post.
So, let's start with the Tai Chi workshop. Apart from doing a lot of practice on our tai chi forms, this workshop also included information from our instructor on the roots of Taoist Tai Chi and its founder, Moy Lin Shin. Our instructor was a student of Mr. Moy and gave us some background on him and the health issues he struggled with his entire life. As a child, Mr. Moy's mother brought him to the temple of the the "three traditions" - a temple that was rooted in a combination of the three traditions of Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism. The instructor went on to say that this would be akin to a church in western society today that combined the teachings of, for example, Judaism, Protestantism and Catholicism. We all chuckled a bit at the prospect of such a church, and how unlikely such a place would be.
This idea has stuck with me ever since: can you imagine a world where a place of worship like that would be the norm? Imagine if all the religions decided to look at what they had in common instead of what makes them different. Imagine if the leaders of all faiths and churches decided that since they all only worship one God/Tao/Creator/Allah, it must be the same one, with different names. Imagine the peace!
And during the workshop we got to taste a little bit of what that kind of peace is like, as fifty people of all ages, races and backgrounds did our tai chi together, prepared and ate meals together, and learned from one another.
So now: how do I hold on to this peace even a little bit while hearing on the news yesterday about the Harper government's threat to fire Linda Keen, president of the CNSC. It is difficult. I don't seem to be able to do it. How can I have any confidence in the government of this country when Harper's minister of natural resources, Gary Lunn, is poised to fire the person who did the job she was supposed to do: make sure that the nuclear facility at Chalk River didn't get reopened until the proper safety standards were met. The government overturned her decision however, letting the facility start up again generating medical isotopes. I've got nothing against medical isotopes, but surely there had to be some kind of back up plan to generate the isotopes elsewhere when this particular nuclear facility needed maintenance and upgrading!
I'm no expert but surely it's important for nuclear reactors to be upgraded now and then? You know, to make sure they aren't leaking or anything? And maybe a regular schedule of upgrading and maintenance should be put in place, say like you would do for your car, bicycle, furnace or computer? It's a nuclear reactor after all. Maybe something other than a cavalier attitude would be appropriate, given the potential for environmental catastrophe? And the one person who speaks out about this, whose job it is to speak out about this and take safety concerns seriously, is the person they threaten to fire? By what definition can such action be considered responsible government? By what definition is this any kind of government? If a person's job is threatened because they question the government, what kind of democracy are we living in?
There is a good chance that a federal election will be called this year in Canada. When that time comes, I urge all Canadians to question candidates about their position on nuclear power and other environmental issues. Use your right to free speech while you still have it. Speak out for peace.
Picture of Guan Yin, bodhisattva of compassion, courtesy the International Taoist Tai Chi Association.
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