Hidden Dwarven Door, Josh Smyth

Whether we acknowledge it or not, we live in a world full of messages, a world full of stories. I believe that we live in a time where stories have permeated our society to a degree that has been the most explicit in history. Every picture we see on the side of a bus, on a billboard at the side of the highway, or on the television during our favourite TV show tells a story. These stories influence our lives in deep ways.

One of Canada’s most famous media barons, Ted Rogers, recently died, and his story was all over our national media. We all learned of his pioneering days in Toronto FM Radio, and in cable internet. His risk-taking adventurous attitude built a multi-billion dollar company and brought prosperity upon his family. We have heard about Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger who safely landed a plane in New York’s Hudson River, saving 155 lives. We can’t help but admire such stories of bravery and success.

But what about the number of women who go missing annually from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, or the homeless men who are found frozen to death on the streets or under bridges in Canadian cities? Even in our own community we have members who are so excluded from society that they are forced to hide themselves so that they don’t “get in the way” of commerce. If you take a break from your consumerism to visit the homeless memorial at the Church of the Holy Trinity by the Eaton’s Centre in Toronto, you’ll notice that many of the people listed there don’t even have names.

We are at risk of becoming a superficial culture – one that is preoccupied with the accumulation of possessions, with the attainment of success. It’s important for us to dive deeply into the stories of pain and brokenness, the forgotten stories, because it is in these stories that we learn what it means to become human. Thomas King in his book “The Truth about Stories” tells us that stories are all we have, and so the question lies in what we want to do with these stories, which stories do we listen and act on and which stories do we ignore? I encourage you to look for and act upon the stories you hear which give your neighbours—all your neighbours—dignity. After all, isn’t that what you would hope others would do for you?