A Canadian View: The Times They Are A-Changing

by | Nov 5, 2020 | Formation, Reflections

Opinions expressed are the author’s own views and do not officially represent those of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.

I was a young man in the 1960’s as I watched the civil rights protests in the United States evolve amidst the hope that things would change. One of my favourite Bob Dylan songs was the inspiration for the title of this article. I’d like to quote one verse of the lyrics he wrote in January, 1964.

Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don’t stand in the doorway
Don’t block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
The battle outside ragin’
Will soon shake your windows
And rattle your walls
For the times they are a -changing

When I hear or read the lyrics to this song I recall the words of Frederic Ozanam in Paris of the 1830’s when he warned us about the growing gap between those with so much and those with so little and the need for the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul to stand between these two factions in an effort to mediate and address the gap. There is no doubt that Ozanam saw the need for systemic change in all levels of government, the economy and how the world addressed poverty. There is also an old saying that the more things change the more they stay the same.

Today’s world seems to be one that in which many things change within days and yet how much do the things that really matter ever change? Do we really see our fellow human beings any different than 60-70-80 -200 years ago? Do we truly respect the right of every human being’s dignity and the right to share in the wealth we see in the world today?

There is no doubt humanity has evolved into a more global family in many respects and yet the more we learn and see the more we also see the need of change. This change, this systemic change starts with each one of us. If we cannot see and accept our own lack of knowledge and understanding along with the desire for change we shall not achieve any measurable change. If we allow, as did Vincent, a personal transformation to take place, we can address the needed systemic changes required in the social structures that tend to keep people living in poverty.

About the author:

Jim Paddon lives in London, Ontario, Canada and is a Canadian Vincentian. He is currently chair of the National Social Justice Committee of the Society in Canada. He is married to his dear wife Pat and they have six daughters and eleven grandchildren. Jim has been a member of the Society since the 1970’s.


Tags: Canada