This blog has been dormant for some time. The why is part of a larger discussion I’ve been trying to engage in and I thought that, as I found the process of thinking through this instructive, it may help others as well. This isn’t entirely like other posts on this page, so read it, or don’t. I’m not your boss.
CW: I’m going to talk a LOT about genocide. Like, a lot. Spoiler alert! I don’t like it. Also, there will be many tangents. And math, but I don’t use numbers, like a pro.
I hate doing topical posts, but this feels important. There have been any number of thinkpieces about Wonder Woman and the movie’s importance to female representation on the silver screen. There have also been thinkpieces about the inadequacy of Wonder Woman in that way (a white, cis-gendred, rail thin, young woman with symettrical features is hardly the Every Woman).
But before I get to Wonder Woman, a little story.
Five years ago, I got a dog for the first time. He was rescued from a puppy mill up up in King City. He was shaved down from his first ever trip to the vet. Friends described his gaze as a thousand mile stare. Among his many medals was an odd gait from a broken leg in puppyhood that didn’t heal properly. Another was a series of scars on his chest. His tail had been cut off.
Over the first three days, he subsisted exclusively on treats and garbage that he stole when we weren’t looking while a bowl full of kibble sat untouched in our kitchen. The first time we turned on the sink in the tub, he created what we lovingly dubbed a poop circle in the living room.
In no particular order, things he’s found frightening are plastic bags, parking meters, a mattress unexpectedly perched on a table, white haired white people, men, smokers, buses, subways, my Mac, brooms, a tree he wasn’t expecting, a five pound puppy, a swing, feet, a loud fart, a squirrel that decided that it wasn’t going to run when given chase.
It’s been a few years. He is a much braver boy now. He doesn’t skitter when we try to step over him when we’re cooking. He loves my mom, who’s a smoker, and my father-in-law, a white man with white hair. He LOVES kibble, even if he prefers shrimp. He loves everything that moves for him, including subways and buses.
But he still can’t walk up on the metal stairs in a playground. He still freaks out at sudden noises and tall white men and has a cautious distrust of the broom. And this trauma didn’t have to happen. It didn’t. But it did, and it continues to happen to animals the planet over. And Ralph, while adorable, is the tip of a much larger problem.
When bill C-246 was being debated, people I spoke to, even those deeply committed to social justice, couldn’t understand why anyone would care about “some animal stuff” when there are “bigger issues” at stake. Some campaigned against it because Parliament shouldn’t debate this until other things were settled. The bill was handily defeated.
This is emblematic of a bigger trend I’ve noticed where there are “correct” things to worry about and the small potatoes that everyone else worries about #firstworldproblems. That sort of ideology is problematic on a number of levels, including the inference that one is only capable of worrying about one thing at a time. I don’t know about you, but I usually worry about 5-10 things minimum at any given time.
The biggest problem with this type of thinking though, is that it divides us. Those in power are united in their goals of retaining their power, increasingly at the cost of our rights and freedoms, at the cost of our already fragile democracies.
Meanwhile, we squabble amongst ourselves because for one person, standing up for animal welfare resonates most strongly, while for another it might be the eradication of a certain disease, upholding civil rights, defeating white supremacy, demanding a more equatable political system, undoing colonialism, protecting the environment, education reform, providing access to sexual health services, demanding gender equality, supporting the sciences, promoting your faith and the good works it requires, and on and on.
The fact is that for the most part, when decent people are exposed to an injustice, any injustice, they’ll probably say – “hey, that’s bullshit. Don’t do that.” There’s just only so much time in the day, and you’re generally most effective when you take on a small corner and keeps nipping at it till the needle moves. I think perhaps this need to create a hierarchy of suffering is a response to this desperate need to make sense of our beautiful, messed up world.
So there are a LOT of things that you might care about that you, for completely legitimate reasons, just don’t have the bandwidth to add to, and that’s okay. There are so many things that need fixing, and we can’t all do everything.
We can hold each other up. We can support each other. We can say, “this isn’t my baby, but it is an important thing nonetheless, and I am happy someone is working on it. When one injustice is addressed, it makes everyone else’s battle that much easier.”
The next few years are going to be difficult, frustrating, and scary. The list of things that need doing is enormous and grows daily, but we can get through it if we help each other out when we can, and get out of the way when we can’t. The sooner we realize that our goals are not in competition but in harmony, the stronger we will be.
There has been a lot written about this protest already, but it seems every article falls neatly into one of two categories – either the author is calling BLM Toronto a bunch of wanton criminals or unquestionable heroes. To be honest, I think most people actually fall somewhere in the middle, and don’t really know what to think.
So I’m here to offer the perspective of a hard core moderate that might help you with your own thoughts on this. Continue reading “A Moderate Perspective of the Black Lives Matter Protest at Pride”
There’s an old saying: You don’t speak ill of the dead.
Of course, people use this phrase as an absolute, but it never is. There were no think pieces about Bin Laden painting him as a man devoted to his cause – even if we disagreed with that cause. There were no think pieces about the men responsible for Brussels and Paris. When a criminal gang shoots up another criminal gang, there is no outcry asking to be civil and speak well of them.
It’s interesting how we judge others so harshly for their personal feelings about the loss of a life based exclusively on our own personal feelings. The worst of it tends to fall on those that don’t abide by the niceties of speaking well of the dead.
We’ve seen this become especially relevant as divisive figures pass on in a time when more and more people have the freedom and ability to share their feelings, whatever they may be. The deaths of people like Rob Ford and Antonin Scalia, who lived their lives zealously supporting a way of life that does not benefit everyone equally, especially trigger enthusiastic and often uncivilized discourse between people saddened by his passing and those that are relieved.
People are not two dimensional, though. They have different facets and they show those facets when and where they choose. There is no one in the world that we know completely, maybe not even ourselves. We see what people want us to see and depending on who we are to that person, we will see a vastly different side of them than someone else.
So invariably we all mourn differently and for different things. We may well be mourning different people entirely without knowing it. Some see no reason to mourn the deaths of people like Ford and Scalia, citing the harmful political and legal decisions as well as rhetoric that has made their lives more difficult. Some know a kinder side, funnier side, or whatever else to the same person and mourn the loss of that. In an equal society, both of these feelings absolutely must be okay. A free society depends on our ability to differentiate between our personal feelings and a matter of public policy.
The thing that connects us more than anything else in this world is the love we feel for the people closest to us, so though I can’t bring myself to mourn the men themselves, I can empathize with those around them that saw a person they loved suffer, who will carry fond memories and what ifs for as long as they live. That is a difficult thing to do, no matter who you’re mourning.
But a free society must allow people to feel what they feel, and share those feelings in however way they see fit (so long as it is legal, of course). You can’t force someone to be sad for your loved ones just as they can’t force you to be sad for theirs. Personal memories of someone do not make the whole of that person. To mandate that people only speak well of the dead is to do a disservice to the complexity of that person, to the people left behind to deal with and understand that person’s legacy, and to history, which must remember things as they truly happened, rather than the sanitized way it is often recorded.
Our future relies on our ability to walk that fine line because our freedoms only matter if they’re present across the board, not just when we like it.
There has been a lot of hate aimed at the republican party lately, even from within. A bulk of this anger has been directed at Donald Drumpf, self-made bankruptaire. Of course, he makes it easy, but that is sort of his plan, isn’t it?
Here’s the thing – Drumpf’s success, as has been pointed out ad nauseum all over the internetz, is based on his ability to appeal to emotion rather than logic. So why are we all trying to reason with people who clearly feel that normal logic has betrayed them. These are folks that have been lied to by politicians for years, and screwed in the process. These are folks that are, in many cases, worse off than their parents – likely in part because their privilege isn’t the black Amex it used to be.
The thing is though, that until we try to see the world from their perspective, until we recognize that the reason Drumpf, Cruz, and Rubio – all nutjobs in their own right, are so popular is because of a fundamental problem with the way we perform democracy, we will continue to polarize.
I often think about Daryl Davis, a African-American man who went out of his way to befriend Klansmen. His wisdom, his courage, his bottomless heart in the face of hate. I think the best way to take away the power of people like Drumpf just to be a bit more like Daryl. So let’s stop mocking Drumpf fans and try to understand them, because hate only breeds hate.
I am an enthusiastic advocate for women’s rights. A part of the discussion around women’s rights, sometimes all the discussion, focuses on women’s bodies. What they can, can’t, should, shouldn’t, etc do/feel about them.
Back in high school, I was very much against abortion except for in the most severe of circumstances.
In fact, it still feels disingenuous to me when we start arguing technicalities about when someone is a person versus a fetus or whatever. What really drove me from the Pro-Life camp had nothing to do with that argument at all.
Surprise, surprise – the election brought me back from the dead.
For me, this election brings back memories of the 2007 provincial election, during which I worked for Elections Ontario. It was also the election that saw Ontario’s sad attempt at election reform and the government’s successful efforts to quash it. Continue reading “Why this election is about withholding information”
A few months ago I read an incredibly depressing editorial on why minorities are so overwhelmingly supportive of a man who has been, more than any other Canadian politician in recent memory, outwardly racist and dismissive of these groups. These are propagators of an ideology that guts social services that support new immigrants, the unemployed, the disabled, single parents, and others that miraculously get their support anyway. Continue reading “Why People Like the Fords Will Keep Winning Elections – and that’s ok”