When I first heard Angela Cassie’s presentation to TEDxWinnipeg (previously TEDxManitoba), I remember being struck by the reflective quality of her voice and mannerism. The invitational cadence of her own story and sharing about her own experience of racism with which she began and the mounting passion, which arises in a flourish near the end, was emboldening. As I have revisited it, I have only been further drawn into the manner in which she introduced the Canadian Museum for Human Rights and its mandate approximately 100 days prior to its opening in Winnipeg.
As with each of the TEDx episodes of A Deacon’s Musing, there is so much richness, challenge and potential to explore that only one blog is admittedly cursory at best. As such, I though I would share two particular items that have drawn my attention during this revisiting of that 2014 experience.
While The United Church of Canada (and Winnipeg Presbytery specifically) endeavours to embrace and live into being an Intercultural Church, underlying this intention is human rights. Furthermore, the place where and how faith communities and the secular meet in celebrating and – just as importantly – protecting diversity and dignity arises. As Angela reminds us, this is not an easy or simple task. It is, however, central to what we (as Christians) call the Good News.
As a Christian community, we have wrestled with such difficult (and at times polarising) issues that range from gender equality, dignity regardless of sexual identity or orientation to acknowledging the reality of racism, privilege. In these noble – and sometimes horribly faulty attempts – pursuits, we long to help all people shine. In such intention, we are reminded by Angela that not only do we all have a human rights story from our own lives, but that this inter-connexion translates into each of us having a responsibility to ensure that the world is a place open to hearing stories of those who are too often silenced!
The second point that resonates – upon this revisiting – is that when people are allowed to share their story, the power of human resilience and passion in our vulnerability, which arises from stories shadow filled and tear laden, the only response is often humbled silence. In this place of humility, compassion and listening, such a dream (that is this Canadian museum) connects people of faith and the secular in recognising that dignity is embraced not in the wrongs, but in the rights this institution endeavours to highlight.
As with all human institutions, they reflect our intention. At times, our species’ intention has been less than humane – often occurring when we are frightened. But when we choose to highlight the best we have been, in order to aspire to that which we believe might be our best, such collections of stories help us begin to imagine ways to not only avoid such wrongs, but begin to fashion a city, society, culture and world in which we might begin to recognise that the rights are the foundational blocks of a brave new world, which we (as Christians) sometimes understand as the Social Gospel where our collective common good embraces not just everyone, but all of Creation … and that feels like Good News indeed!