Inheriting the Earth: Promise or Threat?

I assumed my first 2022 contribution to the Spectator would be pretty upbeat, especially since New Year’s Eve was spent in a hilarious re-watching of various episodes of Father Ted that included a few I hadn’t seen before. And thanks to YouTube documentary introducing the actors, I got to see “Jack” sans makeup, which was a real eyeopener given how truly ugly he appeared in every episode, waking from some sort of boozy sleep and yelling “Drink” to the room at large. Dougal was his usual naïve, or to put it unkindly, “stupid,” but often hilarious self; the housekeeper, Mrs. Doyle, came across as stranger and funnier than I had remembered; and Father Ted was still attempting to be a comforting shepherd to his flock despite the insanity of his surroundings.

Trucks in Ottawa Freedom Convoy, February 2022

Featured image: Freedom Convoy 2022, Ottawa, Canada, 12 February 2022, by Maksim Sokolov (Maxergon), CC BY-SA, via Wikimedia Commons.

However, an evening of Father Ted reruns did nothing to prepare me for the 2022 news cycle, which brought me back to earth with a bang. I am beginning to think the Beatitude “Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth” is more of a threat than a blessing for those who will eventually have to deal with this world’s problems.

The Freedom Convoy was the most unexpected assault on my notions of what this country usually represents, both to me and to the world. Here we had hundreds of Canadians, yelling and screaming about their rights while doing their utmost to deprive their fellow citizens of theirs. It was a spectacle that shook many of us to our cores but I won’t belabor the point or give the convoy any more publicity.

Housing, or the lack of it, became a huge topic throughout the province in 2021, especially back in September when the Halifax police stepped in to remove a large number of homeless people from encampments in the city.  Responding to the evictions in the Chronicle Herald, a group of “human rights lawyers and advocates” condemned them and quoted the “National Protocol for Homeless Encampments in Canada: a Human Rights Approach,” released by the UN’s Special Rapporteur on the Right to Housing, Leilani Farha (a Canadian) in 2020. The protocol — a “set of rules for governments, including municipalities like Halifax, to follow when addressing the needs of people who are experiencing homelessness,” is based on the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights (which Canada signed in 1976!) and which “creates binding obligations on Canada (and Nova Scotia) in the protection of basic human rights of all.”

People watch as an emergency shelter is loaded onto a truck outside the old library on Spring Garden Road, 18 August 2021 (Photo by Mark Crosby/CBC)

ACORN, an independent organization of low- and moderate-income people fighting for healthy homes, a living wage and better communities across Nova Scotia, is hosting a Virtual Forum on Landlord Licensing on Saturday, March 5 at 11:30 AM. Toronto’s ACORN branch won landlord licensing and part of the discussion will include a look at the impact it had on the city.

Unfortunately, the horror of women being sexually and physically assaulted by their partners or acquaintances seemed to be a constant topic of newspaper stories in 2021, some of which provided more information than I was comfortable reading but which, when I gave it more consideration, certainly made readers aware of the unbelievable violence inflicted on some women by those “who care so much about them.” I noticed that the stress of COVID was sometimes offered as an explanation for the assaults, but I say, “Tell it to the Judge!”


Climate change, which so many continue to deny, showed us its power to create havoc in various places around the world, including Brazil, ravaged where heavy rains created mudslides that killed more than 100 people and Madagascar, characterized by the World Bank as “one of the African countries most severely affected by climate change impacts” and already facing famine, which was hit by four cyclones in the month of February.

Damage to O2 Tent caused by Storm Eunice

Damage to London’s O2 Arena tent caused by Storm Eunice, (Photo by Berrely, CC-BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

The UK was hit by three “named storms” (meaning storms that caused major damage) in one week last month, causing “severe flooding in parts of England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales,” according to the BBC. Franklin came just days after Storms Dudley and Eunice had killed three people and left 1.4 million without power. Nick Reynard, lead for natural hazards at the UK’s Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, wrote:

The UK has become significantly warmer over the last few decades and we know that this is because of emissions from human activities. We also know that a warmer world means more intense rainfall because, put simply, a warmer atmosphere can hold more moisture.

But from there it gets complicated. Increases in the amount of rainfall and its intensity do not always lead to an equivalent increase in flooding. That makes this question extremely difficult to answer because looking back over decades’ worth of data on rainfall and river flow, we can’t neatly correlate increased rainfall with increased flooding. One reason for that is one area may be able to cope better with rainfall increases than another: perhaps because of its soil, its steepness or its size.

We have seen some wild weather ourselves this winter, with high winds, rain, freezing rain and more rain in at least three weekend storms. Power outages have been crippling for many people, with some going days without running water or heat. And the storm-induced flooding of basements in Sydney’s South end has once again underlined the need for berms along the Baile Ard trail. Although many who use the trail have displayed little sympathy for those whose homes have suffered such damage, even though there are many walking areas around the city, including Wentworth Park, the Boardwalk and the Open Heath Park, to name just a few.


The discovery of more Residential School victims in 2021 was a low point in the ongoing saga of how those schools, run by various religious orders and the Canadian Government, continue to haunt the survivors and the parents of children who never came home. They will forever be a stain upon the history of our country.

And now the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which caught us off guard although it had been threatening for months. As I write, more than 300,000 Ukrainians, mostly women and children, have left the country, not even sure where they would find refuge. Neighboring countries have opened their borders to them.

Even in Russia, citizens are on the streets in large numbers, risking arrest to tell Ukrainians they are on their side. The unprovoked Russian attacks have galvanized most of the world into finding ways to assist the Ukrainian people, so many of whom have relatives living in all corners of our world, including Cape Breton.

I assume and hope that 2022 can go nowhere but up from here. And if I may be so bold as to add a 9th Beatitude:

Blessed are those who are actually out there attempting to right some of the wrongs that make life unbearable for so many,  for they shall show the rest of us up!





Dolores Campbell, a lifelong resident of Sydney, is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in The Cape Breton Highlander, the Nova Scotian, Cape Breton Magazine, Catholic New Times and The Cape Breton Post.