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An intimate landscape photograph of a group of trees in the fog at Wascana Trails, Saskatchewan

Community – 2021

Deepening fractures and division are destroying us. In our pursuit of privacy, luxury, and comfort, we’ve become more tribal. However, these values are not historically normal. In the past, before globalization, we needed connection with the community around us. You needed to know your local butcher, farmer, carpenter, whatever. Privacy as a core cultural value meant starvation. Comfort was only attained if you worked hard enough to chop enough wood to keep your home warm during winter. Luxury was walking into a pantry in February that was full of canned goods harvested from your summer garden. Community meant survival. But, it went beyond just survival. Buried beneath these daily transactions, connections were built, relationships with the ‘other’ were established, and hospitality was practiced that turned strangers into friends.

Today, we live, work, and play in areas and with people that think, look, and act like us. Social media intensifies this tribalism. If someone says something that we might not agree with, we cancel, block, or unfollow. We curate our social media feeds, our entire lives in fact, to remove the ‘other’, to get rid of discomfort, and to pursue luxury and progress. We (counting me here) have bought into a cultural narrative of materialism, growth, prosperity, and comfort at the cost of community and human connection.

I don’t advocate some launch into the past. I like innovation; technological, artistic, cultural, scientific, whatever. Growing forward together is exciting. I like central heating in the winter. I advocate for a rediscovery of universal principles of oneness, togetherness, and purpose. A place where a person is not measured by their economic contribution to some corporate balance sheet. A country that measures its success by how it cares for its citizens and natural resources. Somewhere where individuals care more for others and their local environment than Stranger Things 4. A world where our differences don’t define us but instead build a stronger community.

Nothing More sings a song called ‘Do You Really Want It?’ where the chorus goes “Everybody wants to change the world, but one thing’s clear, nobody wants to change themselves”. So yeah, I know nobody cares, I’ve probably lost a dozen followers. But I don’t want to live in a world where friends join the ranks of record-breaking overdose deaths every year anymore. I’m good without a world that allows its youth to live in a pandemic of youth depression, anxiety, and suicide. I’m fed up with putting people into boxes based only on a small part of who they are (political views, race, economic class, vaccination status). Instead, I want to invest in relationships with people who don’t look or think like me, share a meal with the ‘other’ and my neighbour, plant a garden, raise a couple of chickens, reduce my energy consumption and waste, and experience nature instead of consuming it. Try and be a good steward of what God has given me by following Jesus’ example. And, because I know what happened when Jesus did this, in the process, we’ll cultivate a community that cares for each other and the natural world. Sure, you might see just trees, but that’s what this photo is about for me.

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