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Five ways to trump your most politically correct peers

By Pieta Woolley

So you’re at a dinner party surrounded by armchair radicals. You’ve posted an article on Facebook, and the comments below are getting snippy. Who has the most “correct” take on the issue?  

It’s after church, during coffee hour, and you’re mediating a simmering battle between idealistic factions in your congregation. Sometimes, you just need to lay a liberal smackdown — a political trump card that no one can dispute.

It’s the kindest thing, really. Nothing sours the revolution like petty in-fighting. So, I’ve created a handy guide to combat progressive nastiness, using Kairos Canada’s five latest briefing papers. Kairos, always two steps ahead, has earned serious interfaith and multiculti props for knowing what’s what. Try these out the next time your eyes start rolling back in your head.

1. The topic: Climate change

They say: “I was excited about the United Nations 2014 Climate Summit, and the people’s march. It seems like we’re really coming together now.”

You say: “Yes, but the proposals there stopped drastically short of achieving the kind of change we desperately need.”

From the briefing paper: “Even if Canada, the U.S. and all the countries that set emission reduction targets under the voluntary Copenhagen Accord were to meet their goals by 2020, the world would still be on track for an increase in global temperatures of around 4 C — double the 2 C target. Kevin Anderson, former director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, says that 4 C of warming is “incompatible with any reasonable characterization of an organized, equitable and civilized global community.”

2. The topic: Poverty

They say: “I’d really love to see a hike in the minimum wage to at least $15 an hour.”

You say: “That would be great as a short-term solution for some of Canada’s working poor. But the capitalist party is over. For people and the planet, we need total financial transformation, not just incremental changes.”

From the briefing paper: “Ecological economists advocate a steady-state economy with the goal of creating meaningful employment and a just distribution of resources while not exceeding the carrying capacity of the planet. Whereas growth cannot continue indefinitely on a finite planet, an increase in the quality of goods and services provided by a given throughput of natural resources can advance.”

3. The topic: Corporate sustainability

They say: “I’m, like, super impressed with sustainable development initiatives in Alberta’s oil sands. It’s that kind of incremental change that will transform Canada.”

You say: “Transformation — the kind we actually need to make earth habitable in the future — depends on creating a real Green Economy. That means de-growth and wealth-sharing.”

From the briefing paper: “While the global financial casino can only prosper through continued growth, proponents of a genuine green economy question the viability of such rapid growth. . . . Real sustainability implies, in the words of Brazilian economist Marcos Arruda, limits to growth, reorganizing the economy based on sufficiency, wealth that is shared and not concentrated, and conditions conducive to ‘buen vivir’ (that is living well as expressed by Andean Indigenous peoples.)”

4. The topic: Foreign investment

They say: “It’s racist to criticize Chinese investment in Canada.”

You say: “Some people might be critical of it for racist reasons. But our First Nations allies are seriously concerned about the Canada-China Foreign Investment Protection Agreement because it may undermine their ability to care for the land.”

From the briefing paper: “The Hupacasath are concerned that the FIPA would permit Chinese firms to bring investor-state suits against Canada if any level of government were to undertake a measure deemed to restrict the firms’ interests, such as access to natural resources whether oil, natural gas, fish or forest products.”

5. The topic: The progressive church in Canada

They say: “Look at those empty pews. It’s time to let the church die so something new can emerge.”

You say: “Some of the most important, world-changing work is being done by progressive Canadian churches, in partnership with churches around the globe. We have some serious challenges filling the pews on Sunday mornings, but let’s not use that as an excuse to let the extraordinary force we’ve built flounder and die.”

From the briefing paper: “KAIROS regards the São Paulo Statement on International Financial Transformation for the Economy of Life as a sign of hope, especially given the commitment of the sponsoring churches to carry through with actions to educate and mobilize church members for the transformation of the global financial system.”

Pieta Woolley is a freelance writer in Powell River, B.C. Her blog posts will appear on the first and last Friday of the month.

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