Out of our isolation grows a disregard for nature, community


Lasha Morningstar

July 2, 2012

The wild hare hurtled across the winter street, just missing being hit by the car. It was 6 a.m. in city centre Inglewood. The driver was a woman, the car flashy and new. She made no attempt to stop.

My dog and I stood in stark terror, worried the creature would be killed.

Then a realization flashed through my mind. "She does not realize that we are all one."

I credit the angels for giving me that profound instant insight. Usually, I would be full of Irish rage and blame.

The woman's total disregard for anything not part of her immediate world is all part of our disposable, fragmented society. Kittens are left at the side of a country road in a box. Dogs are driven to the remote backcountry, dropped off and they sit and wait for their "owners" to return. Ultrasounds are done on pregnant women so they can decide to abort if the unborn child is a girl.


River valley parkland by the zoo is up for grabs; but who is going to speak for the wild animals who use it as a natural corridor or for their home, or for the weary soul who retreats to the pathways with their dog at the end of the day seeking peace, sanctuary. If no one stands up for the natural sanctity of this part of the city's river valley, it will be as Joni Mitchell says, "They paved paradise and put up a parking lot."


The only way we are going to create a sustainable society is to realize life is a mosaic, an interlocking tapestry, with each thread essential. Pull out one thread, no matter how thin, and life is not the creation we need and want it to be.

Each of us is a thread. For me, this is when the haunting begins and I recall the story of Jesus, his gift of talents to several men and his rage at the man who buried his talent. Each of us was given talents, strengths to use in our lives.

So are they buried? Did I study as long and as hard as I could? Do I fight for my health? Do I see beauty in the moment of the day?

Do I remember that each thread is woven with others, that I am part of a community, part of a country, a global citizen?

It's usually when I am doing this sort of rumbling in my weary conscience that I hunker down and lose myself in Masterpiece Theatre's Downtown Abby. Everything seemed so easy then. Everyone knew their place, what was expected of them. They had community.


Reality kicks in and the ugly confines of class, no modern medicine pushes me back to today.

Still the fear of getting up to heaven – on the heady assumption that I shall make it there – and having St. Peter rail at me, showing me precious talents that had been given to me and how and when I wasted them haunts me.

There is also the responsibility of being part of the global community. My solitary self stumbles over that one.

But yes we can send a donation – no matter how small – to help relief efforts in the starvation rampaging through the Horn of Africa. Monitor the news and write one's MP, I tell myself, demanding Canada act.

Community comes in all levels and perhaps locally is the hardest.


One can start with baby steps. Buy at the local open air markets. Get to know the producers, how they grow or make what they have for sale.

The 124th Street Market opened a few weeks ago at 108th Avenue. It runs from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursdays. So I went and it was like stepping back in time when life was mellow – gentle souls wearing sandals, babies peeking out of slings, dogs on leashes, fiddles in background, home-grown food, eggs fresh from the hens' nests, service-friendly food trucks.

Vendors chat knowledgeably and companionably about their wares. So peaceful. So pleasant.

It's a good first start towards enjoying the community. (But beware. The parking police were scribbling like mad so make sure your car is in a legal spot.)

And about that valley, parkland or even a tree that you care passionately about. Stand up and speak at meetings. Call your councillor when civic planners make moves towards commercializing the river valley, tearing up parkland, ripping down trees. It is our valley, our parkland, our tree – not theirs.'

(Lasha Morningstar lasha@wcr.ab.ca)