Has the light gone out?

David Flower

Do not go gently into that good night
Old age should burn and rave at close of day
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

—Dylan Thomas

On a number of occasions, it's been brought to my attention that my light bulb has "burned out." This sounds a bit odd, so bear with me while I tell you about three incidents that indicate I've lost it or I'm old and out-of-date or I'm stupid.

The first incident occurred on a plane to Calgary. My wife and I were taking a Bible study course; our priest recommended a book on the origins of the Old Testament. Once I was seated on the plane, I pulled out the book and began to read. Suddenly, the individual in the aisle seat looked over, saw the book and asked me in a loud voice, "Are you a Christian?" I informed him I was. "What church?" he asked. "Anglican," I replied. "Have you been re-born?" he asked next. In my rather cavalier manner, I informed him I had not died. Obviously, that wasn't the right thing to say.

During the entire flight I was harangued about the virtues of being a born-again evangelical Christian. The lecture was conducted loudly enough that everyone could hear every word. I pointed out that my wife, our two daughters and I are traditional, old- fashioned Anglicans. He wasn't interested. All he cared about was lighting his light in my head so I would see his way—the only way—to salvation.

The second incident occurred because I failed to understand the truth about full funding for private schools. Obviously, I'm so dim or old that I don't understand, if I did, the light in my head would work and I'd know, as everyone else does, that not fully funding private schools in Alberta is discriminatory. I'm sorry, but I can't accept that view. Maybe I'm outdated, but I believe public money is for public education, not for subsidizing those who, for whatever reason, choose private education.

My final anecdote concerns the light that will come on in my head so I'll understand the true nature of charter schools. Call me stupid or stubborn or a reactionary thinker for not recognizing that charter schools will be the salvation of the public education system. The light won't go on because I understand how divisive they can be. I've lived long enough to recognize the social stratification that resulted from such an education system in Britain. I have contemplated the idea of charter communities in our society where certain groups live and others, for whatever reasons, cannot. I don't accept that charter schools are a panacea; they are a turning back of the clock.

I'm sure there are many who believe I'm in the dark on these issues, that indeed my bulb has "burned out" and it's time to pass gracefully into the ranks of the has-beens. I'm not prepared to slide silently into the night. None of these stories has sold me on the value of these products.

I have seen the light; it burns brightly in my head and is a more caring and Christian light than the ones I see being lit by some whose mandate is to divide and destroy the compassionate society we have created.