Time flies, doesn’t it?
It seems like only yesterday when my family and I drove from Canada’s oil capital, Calgary, to Canada’s eastern seaboard and then back to Alberta through some of America’s great cities.
The year was 1967 and was probably one of most notable years of Canada’s history. Optimism reigned as 100th year birthday celebrations were held throughout the nation, including Expo 67 in Montreal, a fabulously successful world’s fair that brought international praise to the nation. Still, a prime reason for the optimism was the Canadian economy reaching a post-war peak, with prosperity and quality of life at all-time highs. It was like Canada had scaled a great mountain and looking forward from its peak, the road ahead looked immensely positive.
Things didn’t look so bright for America who seemed headed in the opposite direction. The scars of Viet Nam were ravaging the nation, perhaps highlighted by the growing body-bag count, the antiwar rally at the Pentagon and the high profile refusal by Muhammad Ali to be inducted into the U.S. Army, saying “I ain’t got no quarrel with them Viet Congs.” The massive transfer of wealth created through the war was overshadowed at the time because America was being drawn further into costly and dangerous world events. And on the home front, race riots were breaking out with severity. A black power rally was held in Detroit in early July 1967 when H. Rap Brown made the statement that if “Motown” didn’t come around, “we are going to burn you down”. Had I known this I would certainly have changed my travel plans, for two days after I dipped down from Canada across the Windsor/Detroit border, the Detroit riots broke out and deaths, injuries and thousands of arrests took place, 2,000 buildings were destroyed and the army was called out.
So, here we were in 1967, Canada at 100 and America at 191, going in opposite directions. But from our vantage point here in 2007, have we simply arrived at the same point through different routes? While our collective standard of living compared to other industrialized nations keeps us in the top ten, it disguises the fact we have a “widest rich-poor gap” of any high-income nation today, and that gap continues to grow as the middle class shrinks. The rapid cultural changes to both nations may attribute much to the change, as does the decline in Christian values and the re-making of the Christian religion. Certainly, international corporate control of our economies is sapping more and more of our wealth, a quick indicator is the gas prices, approximately $.50 cents a gallon in Canada when I made my 1967 trip to over $5.00 a gallon today here in Vancouver. Yet, it has been the transition from peace of mind to fear that is perhaps so significant. The masses fear for their jobs, as millions are transferred offshore, they fear for their financial futures, from terrorism, for their loss of freedoms, even fear from our own governments, who have squandered our once massive wealth and brought us to a financial bondage that requires more and more tax to service.
I am reminded of something I read in The National Message about noted historian, author and exceptionally wise H.G. Wells. It seems that during the 1930’s he was an eye-witness to the monstrous bush fires in Australia. He anticipated an advancing wall of flame leaving blackness behind, and being held back by natural and artificial clearings, by beating and by water, whereas the reality was not like that at all, He wrote, “A bush fire is not an ordinary invader, but a guerilla. It advances by rushes by little venomous tongues of fire in the grass; it spreads by sparks, burning leaves and bark. Its front is miles deep. It is here, it is there, like a swarm of venomous wasps. It shams dead, and stabs you in the back. It encircles you so that there is no sure line of flight for its threatened victims. It destroys bridges in your rear. It bars the road with blazing trees.”
National Message suggested that the moral of this description consists in the discovery that the only effective method of restraining bush fires is to locate their beginning, and go out to meet them. H. G. Wells draws the conclusion that aggressive prevention is the best defence and the “real and effective protection lies in going to the source of the evil and beating it out there in time.” Of course, Wells’ remarks on the brush fire are simply an analogy as to what faces democracies in times of conflict, like the war that was soon to face them. We can readily understand this from his conclusion:” This principle of an associated aggressive defensive applies to each and every democratic system scattered around the world. Our kindred freedoms cannot wait to be assailed and destroyed in detail, one after another. If criminal belligerence is blazing and spreading we cannot afford to wait under the wind of modern conditions until the ire reaches the political ring fence of our own holdings.”
I will use Mr. Wells’ description of the world scene as an analogy for our two countries. For, long before 1967 but especially since 1967, like thoselittle venomous tongues of fire in the grass or the swarm of venomous wasps, our freedoms have been assailed one little step at a time, our wealth confiscated, one little bite at a time, our democracy savaged, one constitutional piece at a time and our faith remodeled, one little change at a time. And when we look at all that has taken place and where we are today, we realize that time has passed us by, we should have stood up to be counted as the carnage reared its head. Now we are basically powerless, in fact, as we who study the Scriptures know only too well, we have reached that point just before Jesus Christ returns to lift our burden. It is our blessed hope, our only hope.
So, here in July 2007, Canada celebrates its 140th birthday and America its 221st. As in every other year celebrations will be held coast to coast. Still, if we consider all the prophecies that seem to have their terminus this year, there might truly be reason to celebrate. We all know that God will not permit wickedness to flourish indefinitely and this could well be the year He will begin to bring it to an end. I like to think so anyway. Rev. W.F. Campbell described the unfolding of this drama as, “When it shall reach its culmination, all [worthy] intelligence, with concerted voice, shall proclaim the matchless wisdom and glory of the Divine Sovereign who staged this very human drama.” As he said in his poem.
And oft-times cometh
Our wise Lord God,
Master of every trade,
And tells them tales of
His daily toil,
Of Eden newly made,
And they rise to their feet
As He passes by,
His People unafraid.