I went to the market in Blairmore. First, I wore a mask. I could see that no other people wear a mask, but the guy who sells birdhouses had one on a birdhouse that looks like an old man. A few teenage girls made eye contact with me and one smiled like she felt sorry for me. I took the mask off. We have no cases, right?
The “market” is such a community event here, and I like to take part. I always buy something, mostly things that I don’t need. When I came the full circle of venders I saw tacked away out of the shopper’s traffic the familiar Hutterite stand. They are not strangers, they have been coming here for years. I often bought from them and always enjoyed the experience. Their stock is good and they treat us with respect. Now they looked shunned. Stories are circulating about them being responsible for spreading the dreaded COVID since many colonies participated in a funeral for three teenaged girls who drowned in a boating incident.
I see flashbacks of all the young people partying without exercising social distancing. I see parks full of people and beaches with thousands acting as if we have nothing to worry about, and airlines reopening without social distancing, but the Hutterites are taking the brunt. Well, it will take some pressure away from the Chinese who are being blamed by the US president. Around me now there are some seniors wearing masks and I put mine back on. Social pressure has a way with people.
Hutterite people originated in the Tyrol, a mountainous area in Austria. My grandparents on my father’s side were from there. Occasionally, some people said that I look like a Hutterite. I put myself in their shoes. They are as Canadian as you can be, but now in this mess of people who aren’t careful about spreading the pandemic, they are being singled out for discrimination. I feel bad. They don’t watch TV and may not be aware of the news.
I just heard a story from Claresholm of a Hutterite being chased out of a drugstore trying to get his medication. In my drugstore, in Blairmore, hardly anyone is wearing a mask. Well, you can tell who is Hutterite by their clothes. They don’t wear $200 jeans with built-in holes in them. The bread they sell is homemade, the produce is not produced by abused foreigners and their woman sew the modest clothes that they wear.
At the beginning of Alberta, the government made a great effort to settle the West. Religious groups like the Mennonites, Hutterites, and Mormons were invited to come in. They were mostly simple, honest, hard-working people, and their community-oriented social system greatly increased their rate of success. The Anabaptist groups, of Germanic origins, were ideal settlers and didn’t make much effort to evangelize others. By economically acting like corporations, they increased their value and contributed. They were also self-sufficient.
In the nineteen fifties to the seventies, we witnessed resentment building against the Hutterites in Alberta. Land was no longer free or cheap and industrial farming was decimating the small family farms. Who is easier to blame but the pacifist communes who weathered the storm better than most? I found headlines in the Lethbridge and Calgary newspapers condemning Hutterites.
The prime reason the Anabaptists were chased out of Europe and later harassed in America, including Canada, is the fact that they will not join the Army or fight. They keep their old german language since they preach old historical sermons in the original tongue. This is true for many religions. Catholics used to say mass in Latin even when I was young. Right or wrong, they are not trying to be unpatriotic, only to be true Christians.
I visited some Colonies and was impressed by the simplicity, and sparsity displayed in the way of life. Here are people who refuse to compete to be better than others and wish to show care for all the community. They take care of each other from cradle to the grave, I can’t help thinking, we could be much better off if we believed as they do that all humans matter.
I know some people around who have Hutterite neighbours. They always talk about the Hutterite being helpful and efficient, hard-working, and simple. I did some research and often when there are floods, fires, and other natural disasters the Hutterites show up in force to help.
In my studies, I learned that the difference between Canada and the US is our ways of treating minorities. We even have a safety mechanism built into our political system to make sure that there is no tyranny of the minority groups by the majority. America is the melting pot and Canada is the mosaic. Our strength, which is so obvious on the international stage, is our ability to benefit from our differences. Every now and then it is threatened by some, but the Canadian advantage prevails. There are always more of us who remember why we are Canadians, and we are proud of it.
Our “reality” is built around an invented system called Capitalism, which propels us towards overproduction and environmental abuse. The basic Christian communities and more primitive cultures are leaning towards less affluence and more community-oriented systems. Both have advantages and disadvantages, and both treat a pandemic less seriously than what they should.
For years we have been championing “safety” and “saving lives” as the most important virtues. Now when it is costing money or making us change our ways, we are faltering and looking for scapegoats.
I think we should take a deep breath, evaluate our real motives and beliefs, and wash our hands for twenty seconds or more.
Here is a link to my blog: https://thesimpleravenspost.blogspot.ca/ Feel free to check other articles and comment.