Happy Canada Day 2022

source: wikipedia

Happy Canada Day! We pause to celebrate Canada Day and to offer gratitude for the gifts we have as a nation. I thought that I would use this occasion to tell you about a book that I just came across. Perhaps you have read it.

Trust – Twenty Ways to Build A Better Country is by David Johnston, the 28th Governor General of Canada (published in 2018 by McClelland and Stewart). Johnston has had a long and distinguished career as a university administrator and governor general of the country.

He draws on his experiences and develops thoughts and reflections on twenty maxims and moral principles (to thine own self be true, know there is more than one way, recognize a present peril, and so on).

In her Foreword, the Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin, former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, points out how Johnston addresses an important challenge in our day – how to maintain trust in ourselves and our institutions. She refers to the erosion of public confidence in individuals and institutions.

I’m sure that few of us are surprised when another here is discovered to have public faults, whether in the world of politics, business, sports, entertainment or religion. As McLachlin points out and Johnston elaborates on, without trust our democracies cannot function effectively.

She sums up the underlying lesson of the book.

We sometimes feel that our individual actions cannot make a meaningful and lasting difference in the complex world we inhabit. This book puts the lie to that feeling. It demonstrates that every one of us, high or humble, can work to increase trust in ourselves, our society, and our country.

The twenty chapters are all short enough to be read in a single sitting and would make a good evening activity (perhaps as an alternative to the nightly news), perhaps even offering a good companion piece to our examen of consciousness of God’s presence in our daily lives. Considering the day just ending for me and the world, how can I be a better person tomorrow?

The chapters are divided into three general categories: make yourself worthy of trust, build trust around you, and create a trustworthy and trusted country. Johnston expands on the notion of trust in his introduction, speaking of three trends that lie behind the collapse of trust (the collapse of the liberal democratic process that was the bedrock after the Second World War, reaction to economic inequality, and the lack of trust engendered by the digital age of instant communication that amplifies anger, stokes fear, and indulges pessimism).

Trust is readable and engaging. Let this hope-filled book be a Canada Day gift to yourself. Shano


Philip Shano, SJ has many years of rich and varied experience working with Ignatian spirituality: teaching, writing and using it in his ministry. He resides in the Jesuit community in Pickering, Ontario.

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