Thursday, March 16, 2017

Come from Away

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau touches his heart while speaking to the audience before a performance of the Broadway musical Come From Away in New York City on Wednesday. In his remarks, Trudeau praised the people of Gander, N.L., for their efforts to help stranded passengers after the Sept. 11 attacks.

We were living in Halifax, Nova Scotia, when the terrible events of what is now called 9/11 unfolded. We offered St. Andrew's church building for Americans grounded when their planes could not return home. It turned out that armed forces base in Greenwood and the churches in Dartmouth could accommodate everyone who landed at Halifax Airport.

Gander, Newfoundland, where our son was born, received by far the greatest number of stranded passengers, roughly 7,000 in a town of under 10,000 population. Other communities including Lewisporte received these displaced and bewildered persons, but Gander had the biggest logistical challenges. The locals responded with the sort of hospitality and kindness for which Newfoundlanders are renowned.

Now, improbably, there is a Broadway musical about this response called Come From Away which instead of being an earnest flop has taken New York City by storm. It opened to excellent reviews and standing ovations.

Last evening Prime Minister Trudeau was in attendance and even spoke to the audience before the curtain rose. It was interesting that Ivanka Trump was there as well, because of one scene. An Egyptian man offers to help with meal preparation but it viewed with suspicion because of his ethnicity. When it's revealed that he is a chef attitudes change. Ivanka watched this on the day that her father, President Donald Trump, was rebuffed again, this time by a judge in Hawaii, after reintroducing a travel ban which is widely described as a Muslim ban.

My prayer is that the Trump administration experiences relentless resistance from the judiciary, and from city and state legislatures. Will he prevail? It's hard to say, because we know he is persistent. But it's worth the fight. And what is happening in the United States is contrary to values of freedom and the message of Jesus, to which many of Trump's followers pay lip-service, a message which affirms that we all have a place in God's reign.

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