The oil of joy for mourning.



CNN aired a documentary entitled “You were warned”, which outlined in apocalyptic style the energy disasters currently rushing across the globe and threatening to flatten this continent. By 2009, gasoline is predicted to sell at $8/litre at the pumps, with shortages resulting from the ongoing wars and crises in oil-producing countries. Terrorism will continue to jeopardize any remaining oil reserves. All is doom and gloom, with all of the concommitant hand-wringing, finger-pointing, and rhetoric slinging so typical of American sensationalism. Just as I was preparing to jump out of the window, I caught sight of a sign on the television screen with the words “Fort MacMurray” in large, boldly colored letters. “I know that place” I said to myself. “Geoffrey worked there. He put a restaurant back together in that little town”. The television cameras flashed onto a map showing large oil sand deposits located in the central north of Alberta. “Wow. Canada is on the map. Canada is on CNN.” The world is finally looking at us- no longer just beans, plaid shirts, beaverskin hats, maple syrup, and the Queen.
There are several sets of eyes on those oil sands. Canada has all of a sudden become the kid with cold pizza in his lunch box, the envy of the school yard gang. Some may try to woo in hopes of receiving a greased palm. Others may see us as the 98lb weakling undeserving of the beautiful girl at his elbow, and try to wrestle us aside. Wars will still continue. Will a little petroleum oasis really do anything to change the fundamental thirst for power and control in the hearts of the world’s leaders- the leaders who rely so heavily on the profits of black gold? If terrorists can blow up oil rigs in the middle east, they can also do it here. The needs of the average person at the gasoline pump, or of the average household heating are not being considered.
In such a time as this, when our senses are flooded with scenes of violence, destruction, grasping and wrenching depravity, and when all of the decency in humans seems to have been ‘selected against’- in what or whom do we put our trust? It is certainly not petroleum that gives to us the “oil of gladness”. We become like the objects of our focus. If what we see and hear on a daily basis leads us to lose hope and to believe that it is useless to even try to turn the tide, then we will perish isolated from each other by our own obsession with self-preservation and the ‘immediate moment’. But, if at such a time as this we “look up for our redemption is coming”, then perhaps there is a chance that a small flicker of hope and expectation will light our path enough to see the struggling neighbour beside us on the same journey. I have thought for some time that if people could eat together and sing together, healing would be able to burst through to hearts like a breached dam. If there was ever a time that we needed to be Imitatio Dei- to act like we are made in the image of God, and therefore to imitate Him-it is now. God makes his sun to shine on the allies and the axis, those who are friend and those who are stranger.
I pray that Canada will do the right thing with this blessing of a limited natural resource. I pray that we might also be like Brazil- growing our fuels on open fields. May we use our knowledge to beat our swords into plowshares and our spears into pruning hooks. God have mercy.

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