Comforting Words: New Meaning to the Trinity

Sunday, November 20, 2005

New Meaning to the Trinity

Leonardo da Vinci is quoted to have said, "There are three classes of people: those who see, those who see when they are shown and those who do not see."

Personally, I would like to believe that I am one of those who can see things on my own and when I am unable to, that I have the wisdom to ask to be shown.

This thought came to my mind as I reflected on the week past and the things revealed to me and hopefully countless others who had the will to see.

Sticking with the number three (which in itself is significant in Christian and Hebrew Scriptures and in various cultures and religious practices) I had my own "three moment" this weekend.

On Friday, in a group of six women (including my daughter) I attended a benefit concert for the Women's Re-Integration Chaplaincy at the Edmonton Institute for Women (EIW). This was the fourth annual concert for this non-profit organization but it was very unusual in that, this year it was actually held "inside," i.e., in the gymnasium of the prison.

This was not my first visit to EIW, so I 'knew' what to expect, however, some of my friends were not so sure what their reactions might be; my daughter, for example, was a bit nervous. It did not take long for those who had doubts about being there, expressed or hidden, to relax, largely because the EIW is not the typical prison but I think more so because of the energy of the guest performer, Faith Nolan.

She was the true life of the party, freely mingling with the women incarcerated at EIW and the guests for the evening. Faith was a livewire in the place and as she sat with us before the first half of the concert, chatting and teasing Juds and I about our apparent lack or disinterest in the aspects of the Jamaican 'culture' that she is most accustomed to seeing, we could not help feeling at ease.

More important, however, was the response of the women of EIW to Faith's presence and performance, the way she easily moved between them and the 'visitors'. It was my sense that this helped to create an atmosphere of oneness, something which the Executive Director of WRC underscored in her brief presentation as she reminded the women that all the people present at the concert (close to 200) are there because they wished to show their support for them.

The second 'moment' of note this weekend, was a documentary on the CTV programme, W-Five, entitled "Broken Promises." It was pure chance that we saw this documentary, as we were waiting for the start of what would be the third 'moment' of weekend, the movie Hotel Rwanda.

I invite those of you who either have not seen the documentary, "Broken Promises" or Hotel Rwanda to watch both. I especially invite persons who might be thinking of migrating to Canada to watch the documentary, which is available on line. No, my intention is not to discourage any one from migrating to Canada, that would be disingenuous of me, as someone who has done so without regret albeit my experience confirms much of what the documentary deals with.

Mention was also made about a web site,, which highlights reasons why Canada should not be a migratory destination of choice, especially if you are a well-educated and professional individual. Watch the documentary and visit the site and share your thoughts with me.

If you have not yet seen Hotel Rwanda or have watched it only once, I beg of you to watch it or watch it again!

Like many, I have read the news reports and seen other television movies about the genocide that occurred in Rwanda but watching this particular movie rocked me to the core of my being. Certainly, I was disgusted by the cruelty of Rwandans against Rwandans, the greed those in authority or places of power displayed. My agony was real when I saw the rape and abuse of women. My sense of indignation matched that of Don Cheadle in his role of Paul Rusesabagina, when he found out that the 'western' world had abandoned the innocent people of Rwanda.

What was more striking for me though, which is the common theme of this weekend, that which connects my trinity of 'moments', was the power of one.

Faith Nolan, the one couple in Edmonton who has decided to say enough to the discriminatory practices skilled and professional class immigrants face in Canada and Paul Rusesabagina, the Rwandan hotel manager who assisted over 1,000 of his fellow country people from certain murder all modelled for me this weekend the power of one.

How often you and I have decided not to take action because we feel that as one person we cannot make a difference? Too often, would be my personal response.

Faith, Paul and that couple in Edmonton it seems had different answers. They must have this thought of Frederick Douglass, the son of a slave and American Abolitionist, firmly in their minds:
"Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe."

This was not the first time this weekend that I heard Mr. Douglass' name. My partner said to me, after watching the W-Five documentary that she wished she felt confident about her writing abilities and could do a follow-up novel to Mr. Douglass', which she would entitle, "The Narrative of the Modern North American Slaves."

I hope that one day she will - as it is a story that must be told - if we ever hope to truly experience oneness among all people and end the physical, economical and spiritual incarceration of people, largely on the basis of the colour of their skin and their gender.


P.S. Watch the documentary and the movie and share your comments!

Photograph courtesy of


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