The struggle between the Doukhobors, a nonviolent society committed to communal values, and the Canadian Government epitomizes the tension between values of personal rights and independence on the one hand, and social obligation on the other. The immigration of the Doukhobors from Russia to the Canadian prairies in 1899 precipitated a centurylong struggle that brings issues of social justice, moral obligation, political authority, and the rule of law into question. The fundamental core of Western democracies, founded on the sanctity of individual rights and equal opportunity, loses its potency in a community that holds to the primacy of interdependence and an ethic of caring. The transformation of individual identity from an isolated ego to a transpersonal state of interdependence presents profound implications for personal morality, social justice, and ecological awareness. The struggle of the Doukhobors invites us to imagine self-interest and community interest as no longer distinct and work toward a transformed vision of relational interdependence that embraces all of life.
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