“Philosophy teaches us to bear with equanimity the misfortunes of others.”  —Oscar Wilde


   “[Former Saskatchewan premier Brad Wall] invites voters in Central Canada to perform this thought experiment:  Imagine if the federal government, in order to meet Canada’s commitment to the Paris targets on global warming, decided to tax and regulate the manufacturing sector out of existence. Ontario’s automotive and auto-parts industry would be restricted and then phased out. The same with aviation in Quebec. Too bad about the hundreds of thousands of jobs and the crippled economy, but don’t you know there’s a climate emergency?

“That’s how Prairie voters feel when progressives in Central Canada blithely talk about “winding down” the oil and gas sector that powers their economy.” [emphasis added] (Globe and Mail, October 17, 2019)


To hear that your neighbor was worse off than yourself was not an altogether unpleasant experience.” …Lizette Woodworth Rees



If I were fierce, and bald, and short of breath
I’d live with scarlet Majors at the Base,
And speed glum heroes up the line to death.
You’d see me with my puffy petulant face,
Guzzling and gulping in the best hotel,
Reading the Roll of Honour. “Poor young chap,”
I’d say — “I used to know his father well;
Yes, we’ve lost heavily in this last scrap.”
And when the war is done and youth stone dead,
I’d toddle safely home and die — in bed.                        (Sigfried Sassoon)


Maximilian Kolbe was a Polish Franciscan priest. During the German occupation of Poland he and a few other friars operated a temporary hospital and ultimately a shelter for refugees from Greater Poland. Among the refugees were some 2,000 Jews whom he kept hidden. In February,1941 the occupying forces shut the operation down and Kolbe with four others were taken by the Gestapo to Auschwitz. While there, he continued to attend to his priestly duties as best he could and as a result suffered beatings.

In July, a prisoner escaped from the death camp and in retaliation the commanding officer ordered that 10 prisoners be starved to death in a bunker. When one of the doomed men begged to be spared for the sake of his wife and children, Kolbe volunteered to take his place.

According to an eye witness, a janitor, Kolbe would encourage the other victims and lead them in prayer. Each time the guards checked, he would be standing or kneeling in the bunker and looking calmly at his executioners. After two weeks of starvation, only Kolbe remained alive and since the authorities wanted the bunker for another purpose, Kolbe was executed by lethal injection. In October, 1982, Pope John Paul II canonized him as confessor and martyr.

(Details from St. Maximilian Kolbe:  Knight of the Immaculata  by Jeremiah J. Smith.)


“Here I am, Lord.  Is it I, Lord? I have heard you calling in the night. I will go, Lord, if you lead me. I will hold your people in my heart.”  (Refrain from Here I Am, Lord by John Michael Talbot)


Johnston Smith is a retired teacher and an active spiritual director in Winnipeg.

  • Josh
    Posted at 07:49h, 19 January Reply

    Wow, really nice stories. thank you!

  • Margaret Manitowabi
    Posted at 09:01h, 19 January Reply


  • Peter Bisson
    Posted at 09:22h, 19 January Reply

    Thank you Johnston!

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