Your Letters for December 16

Difference of opinion

I again read with some interest Mr. Jim Sutherland’s fulminations against any changes taking place in our current fossil-fuel based society. As usual Mr. Sutherland is almost desperate to depict non-renewable energy consumption as the only way to go, even as we paint ourselves into a climate change corner by resisting not only alternative energy development, but even considering conservation as a means of reducing depletion of finite resources.

However, as Human Rights Day (was recently observed on Dec. 10) I tend to take the position that this gentleman is certainly entitled to peaceful (if confrontational) expression of his opinions. As are we all.

The thing that really sticks in my craw, when someone rails against those of us who think differently, is the immediate statement that we all must be paid protesters, who favour “part-time employment at the occasional rally,” to paraphrase Mr. Sutherland’s punchline.

I suppose that, having spent about 50 years being involved with groups working on women’s rights, nuclear non-proliferation, First Nations equality, firearms regulation, climate change mitigation, conservation in general, etc. I must by now be considered a “professional” protester. As a high-school dropout, stay-at-home housewife, parent and grandparent, I rather like the idea of being thought of as “professional” at anything!

The problem is, despite Mr. Sutherland’s firm belief that we are all being somehow paid for our actions, we –who are at rallies, protests, who are writing letters and sending emails, who read and learn and discuss what and why we feel strongly enough to “go public” for certain causes, – have never seen anything more than a letter of thanks from the organizations we espouse. No paycheques. No cash. No perks. Just the conviction that we have a cause we believe in, and a hope of better things for our future generations and for our struggling world.

Bonnie Denhaan, Red Deer

No excuse for bullying

On Dec. 10, 2016, my wife and I attended a performance by the Red Deer Symphony Orchestra. Just as the second half was to begin, one of the two ladies who sat next to us entered our row and saw my wife’s fur coat sitting on her seat. She promptly picked this coat up and hurled it, striking my wife and me with it — me being in a seat, one removed from where the coat was laid. While doing this she said to my wife, “Why is this damn bear rug on my seat,” and more that I don’t accurately recall because both of us were in shock.

It didn’t stop there. This woman continued with her harassment and would not stop even after my wife explained why she put it there. Undeterred, her abuse continued. I leaned over and said that she made her point, and then asked her to “leave it.” Disregarding my plea, she continued with her vitriol as Maestro Lapalme began the second half of his performance. After all this, and for a brief time thereafter, we continued to receive verbal abuse. Shortly thereafter, I asked my wife to leave, and we did.

Clearly, the lady who hurled the coat was a mother to one of the Royals, for we heard her say that she could just see her child on the stage.

After relating our humiliation to the usher and house manager, who were we left to appeal to?

Maybe, we should ignore this incident, and let it fade away, as many other victims of bullying have done?

Doing nothing only empowers the bully, and with bullies like this young woman, exposing them is usually the best solution. This woman needs to accept that every individual deserves to be treated with respect and dignity despite their differences. This uncivil, abusive, and ignorant person who is also a mother and role-model to a teenager in the Red Deer Royals should be confronted.

Larry Melnychuk, Red Deer

Chaplain contracts

The provincial Grinch has struck again — and just in time for Christmas!

I was disappointed to learn that Alberta Health Services has recently decided not to extend contacts for any of the 10 Central Zone contact chaplains. (Note: not all chaplains are contract chaplains.) Hospital chaplains provide comfort and care to patients and their families in difficult and distressing circumstances.

What the AHS decision means is that 11 facilities will be forced to provide the same levels of spiritual care for their patients but with fewer chaplains. That works out to 10 chaplain positions being eliminated in the Central Zone.

Closer to home, one chaplain position has been terminated at the Red Deer Regional Hospital. Pastoral care has been a key element of patient care at our hospital for nearly decades. First introduced in 1988 at a modest level, it had grown to a staff of four chaplains plus support staff (before recent downsizing). With patient volumes growing, is reducing spiritual care the prudent thing to do?

I was on Unit 32 the other day — for palliative care patients — visiting a friend nearing the end of his life. There were bed shortages on the unit, so he was staying in a makeshift ‘room’ with little privacy. Under such conditions, I would think the kind of support chaplains give is needed more than ever. I don’t know conditions at other hospitals in the Central Zone, but if similar, it’s not encouraging.

Why, when patient needs are on the rise, is Alberta Health Services eliminating hospital chaplain positions thereby reducing a support needed by so many?

Terry B. Wiebe, Red Deer

Editor’s note: Terry Wiebe is a pastor at Balmoral Bible Chapel. Wiebe has never held a contract with Alberta Health Services.

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