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Occupy Calgary’s gift

The tents have come down, but the spirit of kindness remains

By Carolyn Pogue

I remember a moment in time where simple kindness trumped everything. It was at an annual meeting of Alberta and Northwest Conference, in the days when the United Church was still debating whether it would ordain and commission people of all sexual orientations. I recalled that meeting last week when I spoke with some of the Occupy Calgary protesters. I remembered, I think, because of the kindness.

At that meeting in the late 1980s, several information tables were set up around a large room so meeting attendees could learn more various church programs and campaigns, including the debate about sexual orientation. At one table, people who were in favour of full inclusion for everyone greeted attendees with openness and a willingness to dialogue. At another table, people who believed that non-heterosexuals weren’t worthy of the ministry greeted attendees with selected Bible quotes and judgment. As you can imagine, people were attracted to kindness.

Although I remember the harshness of some debaters, I remember the courage and kindness of others. And kindness is what I encountered at Occupy Calgary.

Each time I visited the site where Occupy Calgary activists set up their tents, I was struck by the co-operation, openness to dialogue and gentleness of the people. Critics keep complaining that the protesters are unfocussed. I suppose that means they want a three-point plan, or manifesto of sorts. But I believe the occupiers want us to open our eyes to the realities of our world. They know that the world is askew and want the rest of us to think about that, to imagine another way of being.

In Calgary, the court ordered the occupiers to vacate Olympic Plaza near City Hall by Friday, Dec. 9 at 2 p.m. The tenters packed up and slipped away quietly in the wee hours of Friday morning. When the sun rose over Calgary, its rays reflected off a gift: a beautiful steel sculpture, created by a Calgary artist known only as D.H. The piece is called The Heart of the Beast and stands about three metres high. A sign posted near it declares the sculpture to be a gift “from the people to the people.” I hope our city accepts it in the kind spirit in which it was given.

This is the season to celebrate hope, peace, joy and love. I find it easier to celebrate knowing that a crowd of people faced eviction in the most peaceful and creative way they could.

May your Christmas celebrations also be peaceful and creative, and your life be filled with kindness. Merry Christmas.



Author's photo
Carolyn Pogue is a longtime Observer contributor. New posts of The Pogue Blog will appear on the first and third Thursday of the month. For more information on Carolyn Pogue, visit www.carolynpogue.ca..
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