Comment: Something good can come from nothing

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  • September 1, 2017

Making something out of nothing. When somebody pulls that off, it tends to evoke wonder and admiration.

The first something out of nothing came from God’s six-day inspiration in creating everything that we see around us and often take for granted. All ensuing somethings out of nothings sprung from that majestic inspiration and creation.

Archbishop Anthony Mancini dropped by our suburban Nova Scotia parish near Halifax for a recent Sunday Mass and to dedicate a park next to the church, something that developed out of nothing over the past year.

The field that measures nearly a hectare has long lay under-utilized between the church and the adjacent fire hall. About a year ago, a retired couple who moved to the area from Switzerland some four years earlier approached the church about building a public park in the community.

The altruistic couple pumped $400,000 into the church property to create the tranquil St. Bernard’s Park. It features 100 different species of flowers and 25 different kinds of trees. There are metal picnic tables and park benches, a custom-made, 400-square-foot gazebo and a giant-size chess set will sit by one of the walkways near the Japanese garden.

All the work was done at no cost to parishioners or taxpayers. The park is all about a retired couple giving back to an adopted community. It is something that literally rose out of nothing.

As the park rounded into shape, another something was being made out of nothing on a more personal, labour front. A labour dispute that had dragged on for nearly 19 months at our provincial newspaper, The Chronicle Herald, was dropped into the hands of an out-of-province mediator.

The mediator succeeded in bringing a swift conclusion to an often-bitter strike and division between newsroom workers and the family-owned newspaper company. The two sides came to somewhat of a compromise, a place that seemed unattainable only a few short days earlier. And 26 newsroom workers finally returned to work.

The return is not easy. Many things were said during the dispute to create ill feelings all around. It’s very difficult to turn off the vitriol and the adversarial attitudes. But that is what people on both sides have been tasked to do.

Lessons of getting along with each other are interspersed throughout the Bible.

The Gospel of Matthew talks about finding fault with others while not recognizing your own shortcomings.

“Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove that splinter from your eye,’ while the wooden beam is in your eye? You hypocrite, remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother’s eye.”

Later, Matthew deals with sin.

“If your brother or sister sins, go out and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that every matter may be established by the testimony or two or three witnesses.”

That sounds a bit like labour relations.

Then there is the parable of the unmerciful servant.

Peter approaches Jesus, asking, “Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus answered, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.”

The gospel of forgiveness may serve us well following a long strike. But it is difficult to live out. The hurts, the real and perceived slights and disparagements will not magically disappear. But the company and its employees must co-operate to regenerate the newspaper.

When livelihoods and the future of a newspaper hang in the balance, every effort must be made to let bygones be bygones.

Making something out of what appeared to be nothing a few weeks ago works in a labour dispute. It sure beats continuing to make more nothings out of nothing.

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