Dear brothers and sisters, I know that what I am about to write will greatly upset some of you. However, I also know that many of you share my concern.
Over the last few days, I have watched with growing unease the growing popularity of the Truckers for Freedom movement. (I should note, I am not opposed to the right of the truckers to air their grievance or to protest. That is a right guaranteed them in our country.) My unease is watching how many of my fellow Hutterites are jumping onto this emotional bandwagon without considering whether such support speaks well of us as pacifist people.
I have heard some Hutterites try and justify their support of the protest by claiming that our forefathers, in writing letters to kings and emperors were also protesting. That is a gross misrepresentation. What our forefathers did in those circumstances was called diplomacy. They engaged in actual conversation with their political leaders. How many of you have penned even one letter to your local MLA expressing your concerns?
To my knowledge, public protesting and marching against the government policies or mandates have never been a part of our church tradition. As a matter of fact, in the early 1990s, many Hutterite leaders spoke out very strongly against the Bruderhof communities, who were at the time Hutterites, for participating in rallies and protest marches. What has happened to these voices of concern?
In the 15th and 16th centuries, when the Ottoman Empire was invading Europe, Hutterite communities found themselves front and centre to all the fighting. They had every reason to fear the Ottoman or Turkish armies sweeping through the areas and to offer at least some support to the European armies who were fighting for their protection. They did not show up with sandwiches, hot soup, and coffee to support or cheer on “their” side. Instead, they recognized it was wrong to support either side in times of war and conflict. As a consequence, they faced unimaginable hardship and abuse and ultimately took up their staff, not their sword, and walked into exile.
Do we not really see what this protest is about? It has very little to do with the actual COVID vaccine mandate but is a manifestation of our fragmented political landscape. It is no great secret that our western provinces have long felt alienated, misrepresented, and abused by the “rest of Canada”. The ‘truckers’ refrain “We will take back our country” sounds very similar to “We will make America great again” slogans chanted at the Capital Hill riots. Is that the language we as pacifist people want to be associated with? Is this being a faithful image of Christ who said, “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse”? Some of the clips being passed around online or banners being displayed by protesters are so profanity-laced that it is shocking!
It is understandable that many of you share the concerns expressed by many of the people organizing this event. Some of their concerns, particularly regarding government overreach of authority are valid. However, participating in such protests is not, in my humble opinion, how we should be addressing these concerns.
A concerned brother,
- Ian Kleinsasser (Crystal Spring Hutterite Community)