Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Indian Problem

Welcome back to the Den, sit down, I've found some nice herbs to add to the fire, it adds a pleasant aroma to the air. Oh yes, you look a bit harried, I'm sorry, it happens when I think about certain things. The shadows tend to react to my more negative moods, and unfortunately, as of late I've been quite put out. I'd love to share these things with you, but for now, it's best we let the shadows clash about until my own mind is in a better frame. Instead I'll share with you a close reading I did of Dr. Thomas Flanagan's book First Nations, Second Thoughts. In specific the chapter he did called 'The Aboriginal Orthidoxy. If you haven't read the book, it shouldn't deter you from understanding it, but I would recomend reading it. Get it from the library, don't give Dr. Flanagan any money. He's one of the people currently advising the Harper government on First Nations policies, and as you'll read, he's ... well, just read below.

First Nations in Canada still suffer from being a quaint antiquity that the Eurocentric dominant culture can look at and marvel at how these people can still exist. If a close reading is taken of Tom Flanagan’s arguments in First Nations? Second Thoughts we see that these restrictive and harmful attitudes are not just prevalent but accepted as rational points. Instead Mr. Flanagan’s suppositions contradict each other, and still ring of a systemic racism that is inherent in Victorian based sociology. By dissecting his arguments we shine a spotlight into this dark mode of thought, and language, and easily see that his fortress-like school of thought is little more than a sand castle, easily kicked apart.

Flanagan starts his arguments against Aboriginal rights with a false supposition: “Aboriginal peoples were in almost constant motion as they contested with each other for control of land.” (6) He then goes on to support this argument by referring to the Beringia theory of migration, comparing the First Nations to just an earlier immigrant wave than the Europeans. He defends this racist statement by postulating that any system that treats people different just because of their time of arrival is racism. Mr. Flanagan fails to recognize that his own roots in European countries had fluidly moving boarders that changed with troop movements. It has only been within the last 100 years that most European boarders have started to become static and still these lines are changing now. His statement is clear: because Aboriginal culture is different, and thus lesser than European culture, it is not to be judged using the same standards.
The second part of this argument that falls flat is the idea that all Aboriginal tribes were nomadic. Mainly it was the tribes of the Great Plains, most others were a combination of agrarian and hunting, and had firmly placed settlements. This can easily be listed from the European written histories available to us: Stadacona, Hochelaga, and Odanak. He also doesn’t take into account archeological evidence of massive cities such as Technotitlan, Pueblo Bonito, and Cahokia. Each of these examples shows that not only were the majority of Aboriginal people not nomadic but they attained engineering and social feats that Europeans had not achieved at the same time.

By using these statements and then hiding them inside a claim of racism, Flanagan shows his contempt for Aboriginal culture. It is a further degradation of First Nations: the system, set up by Europeans, is racist because it treats a certain group different than the dominant culture, giving them perceived benefits others don’t get. This statement ignores the years of systematic genocide used by the Canadian government, it ignores the soaring suicide rates amongst Aboriginal people, and it ignores the fact that most Aboriginals on reserves live in third world conditions. Flanagan here appears as the selfish child in the playground who is not content with all the toys he has, he must have everyone else’s as well.

Flanagan’s next argument again falls back to the built in racism of Victorian Sociology. “Owing to this tremendous gap in civilization, the European colonization of North America was inevitable and, if we accept the philosophical analysis of John Locke and Emer de Vattel, justifiable.” (6) In his hypothesis we already can point to the flaw of relying on philosophers who died before the 1800s. While these great thinkers helped develop the basis of further philosophy, if you stop at their contributions, over 200 years of advancement and greater ideas are ignored.

The measure of society is radically different now than it was in these thinkers’s time. Not only that but the historical records of that time contradicted Mr. Flanagan’s statement. The pharmacological knowledge the Aboriginal people held was vastly superior to anything known at the time. Their intimate connection to the natural world around them allowed them to make medicine from their natural surroundings. Cartier’s own records show that without the tea and foods given them by the Aboriginals his encampment most likely would not have survived due to the effects of scurvy. Whaling technology used by the Inuit was part of the reason for the explosion in whale oil trade. The combination of the Inuit techniques and the larger boats of the Europeans allowed vastly larger yields of whales.

As a supposition of my own, I doubt the concepts of human freedom and self-determination would have taken hold in North America were it not for the influence of Aboriginal society. These egalitarian ideas, which were central to the Aboriginal life style, would have been so foreign to the visiting Europeans that without this example they may have taken several more centuries to develop to their current conception. Of course, the influences of the past still make these concepts of equal rights somewhat out of reach in our society, as it is still the rich who reap the most benefits. With these two basic arguments fully explored we can now take the rest in groups as they function to support these two basic premises.

When we view the next two arguments in regards to the Nationhood of the First Nations, we see they are not so much arguments but denials. Each call into question the idea of self-governance, and the idea that these groups can be considered Nations: 1) “Sovereignty is an attribute of statehood, and aboriginal peoples in Canada had not arrived at the state level of political organization prior to contact with Europeans.” (6) And 2) “Unless we want to turn Canada into a modern version of the Ottoman Empire, there can be only one political community at the highest level – one nation – in Canada.” (7)

This is a circular argument that doesn’t support the idea; it is more similar to the logic of a child. If I say no often enough then my parents will stop asking me to do something. First Nations cannot be nations because they do not fall into the European definition of a Nation, and since we already have a nation, Canada, First Nations cannot be one. There is no reason to it, unless you again fall back on the first two arguments: Because First Nations culture is different they cannot achieve what Europeans can.

Two of Mr. Flanagan’s arguments are contradictory in how they deal with self-government and economic development on reserves. Both arguments still hold with the first two: “In practice, aboriginal government produces wasteful, destructive, familistic factionalism.” (7) And “Heavy subsidies for reserve economies are producing two extremes in the reserve population – a well-to-do entrepreneurial and professional elite and increasing numbers of welfare-dependent Indians.” (7) If we were to look at our current overall economic and political system, are these two arguments not relevant there as well? If I were to ask the average person if they think our government is wasteful, destructive, and have familistic factionalism, and do they feel our current economy creates the haves and have-nots, I can confidently say the response would be an emphatic yes. The answer might be different if we were talking to someone who is in a position of economic and/or political power, owing to their own self-interest in retaining their position of dominance. Again, the argument seems to state the same thing as our first two; First Nations are not allowed the same rules as the European culture.

The last two arguments further contradict the ones before it, and deal directly with the system itself: that of treaties and government involvement. “Contemporary judicial attempts to redefine aboriginal rights are producing little but uncertainty. Recent Supreme Court of Canada decisions define aboriginal title in a way that will make its use impossible in a modern economy.” (7) Flanagan further states, “The treaties mean what they say. Their reinterpretation […] has the potential to be both expensive and mischievous for the economies of all provinces in which treaties have been signed.” (7) These two statements are at odds with one another, on one hand, if we try to fix the system it will be too expensive, but to redefine or renegotiate the treaties would cost too much. Both arguments state cost as the deciding factor against their suppositions, but each oppose one another.

The contradiction of all these arguments goes further than the surface. The title of the chapter discussed is ‘The Aboriginal Orthodoxy’, yet the ideas he presents as being the accepted reality are the new attempts at correcting the current situation concerning Aboriginal affairs. He then presents his ideas as the ‘new’ ones, hiding them behind claims of racism, which are in fact the same arguments and policies that brought us to our current situation. The paradox is further compounded because the system as we have it is the result of centuries of colonialism and Victorian sociology, set up by Europeans to destroy the Aboriginal culture. Now that Aboriginals are actively working within the system to improve their own future, Flanagan is crying foul, saying the system is racist. Aboriginals had nothing to do with the set up of the system, and surprisingly little input when it comes to improving the system, so how is it that the oppressed group is now being accused of racism? The system is racist, due to the ideas that Flanagan presents.

There is one central message to Mr. Flanagan’s postulates: Aboriginal culture, the First Nations of Canada, is undeserving of the same respect and freedom that European society is allowed. His book was published in 2000, and this individual is one of the main advisors to our current government. Has Aboriginal cultural views and thinking attained any new found respect, has it been given equal footing with European society? The answer is, sadly, no. While court decisions have come down that force the government and lower courts to acknowledge certain aspects of Aboriginal ethos, such as oral history, it is still up to the dominant culture to make the final decision, and those decisions have been sadly lacking in the equality that we as a society should strive for.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

My Field Of Dreams

Welcome back, the sky is dark again, and so I've gone in search of some solace. No no, the company is good, come sit down. I've brought some treats, a few little bits of tortilla chips and some salsa, enjoy. One of the things I love most about this place is how it lets me travel through my own mind and soul, using words and mental images to convey the things that push and haunt me. It's good to take this time to just sit back and think, which is why I want to share this. You see I mentioned this person before, and he's a rather remarkable person, and so I'll share this little bit of writing about something that occured half a lifetime ago.

My Field of Dreams

The smells, the sights, and the sounds, there are so many things that make me think of the old field behind Martin Collegiate. It is the first place I was ever tested, physically and mentally, and the first place I proved I could grow up to be a good man. I have often said that without the experience I had in football while I was in high school I would be dead or in jail now. I can close my eyes and picture it, feel it under my feet, and it is like going home. Ugly and brutal but beautiful in my mind for what I gave and what I got.

Shaped like an ‘L’ the long side holds the slightly raised field. The grass is dying from repeated running and bad drainage, and I’m sure the gophers who call the field home are not helping the growth. The field turns around a fenced in tennis court, and in the far northwest corner is the baseball diamond, but that is another world. On the short southwest side is the soccer field, also raised like the football field, but perhaps better cared for. No gopher holes and the grass is holding up a bit better, but still bare patches outnumber the solid green.

The smell varies, but always carries that loamy bare earth scent. On the hot dry days it carries the aroma of drying and dying grass, like hay but weaker and sad in its impotence. When it rains you can barely catch the scent of new growth, mainly you smell the rain, that wet yet dusty smell that permeates Saskatchewan after one of its flash storms. Gathered amongst this I remember the smell of the equipment, old sweat and hard work captured in the layers; the faint smell of the passing cars, like a strange invasion from some other world that was best ignored.

Oh but the sounds, those things made it what it was to me. Shouted commands, at first from my fellow teammates as we warmed up, replaced by coaches taking their own time to mold us, make us a unit designed to fight a specific type of battle. The thudding of feet, heavy harsh breathing with the occasional grunt was the most regular sounds as the linemen held their conditioning court on the soccer field, running lap after lap. The crash of bodies and equipment when the tests became physical and you matched your skill and strength against another. Most of all the screams stick in my head; they had such range. There were shouts of triumph as one bested another in one on one competition. There were cries of surprise and anguish as a particular test got the better of someone. Grunts of pain as bodies smashed into each other with brutal force. Cadence: Down! Set! HUT HUT HUT! All the sounds would mix after that.

This description gives no justice to the true nature of what happened on that field: the lessons that were felt and learned. I doubt many of my teammates ever were as introspective as I am about it, but I don’t doubt they too were as deeply affected. Strange things happened to me on that field and those are the truly important matters to describe.

The first week was hell. I was a bigger than normal kid who listened to his uncle: ‘Go play football.’ I had no idea what I was getting into. I puked twice that first week, I’d never worked so hard in my life. I was taunted, ridiculed, yelled at. The urge to quit was strong; my stubborn nature to prove them wrong was stronger. I was drilled on the sled over and over, made to do push ups along with my fellow linemen until I got it right. Screamed at by my teammates because they suffered with me when the drill was done wrong. I never fought back. I was new, I was a freshman, I didn’t know anything, I was scared, but I was also determined, and just mean enough to want them to chew on their words. I wanted that chance to make them eat every shouted insult, preferably because I smashed it down their throats.

The first chance I got was that first one on one. I had to block this behemoth of a nose tackle, Steve Uhren. I remember seeing stars, and I remember getting up off my back. Beyond that I was sure I did everything wrong and I knew I was going to quit. I was dusting myself off as the head coach came towards me, and I was sure there was to be some conciliatory remark about how I was the rookie, and he was a vet. Instead a large hard grabbed my face mask, and these words were burned into my brain: ‘Wrong! You fire off the count! You pump your feet! You make contact, you don’t allow contact! Do it again!’ I was tossed back to the monster that had destroyed me and forced to do it again. I lost again, but this time I hit rather than being hit, before Steve used a simple swim technique to dump me on my face. ‘Better,’ was grudgingly grunted at me from the sidelines, and I took my place amongst my fellow linemen.

I didn’t quit, because obviously there was a purpose to this. There was a lesson to be learned. My 14 year old brain didn’t grasp that but something in me burned to learn it just the same. I kept going, and I kept trying and I gave everything I had to get better. I recall my own mother looking at me with concern, pity, and confusion when I came home from practice every day that first year. I was bruised, beaten, and sore. I came home, ate like a horse, did some homework and went to sleep. I guess I’m lucky she saw what I couldn’t, the lesson that needed to be learned.

Four years I spent in the trenches of high school football. Four years I spent every off season working out, playing every other sport I could to stay in shape for football, and every spring and fall I would then turn myself over to that field behind Martin Collegiate, and sacrifice both my body and soul to it. I had caught religion and it saved me, Praise the First Down!

When I graduated from high school, I was an honor roll student, a letterman from the many sports I played in, I was named an all star in my grade 11 year for football, and after the Senior Bowl, named to the top four hundred graduating high school football players. I was even scouted by McGill to play football there.

If the lesson hasn’t been made perfectly clear yet I should explain. I get lost in these thoughts and I don’t know if anyone else understands them like I do because I’m sure some would look at these words and be shocked at the abuses, the physical punishment I put my body through, and think I suffered something akin to Stockholm Syndrome. That’s not it.

I only have one signature in my Grade 12 yearbook. It’s from one of the few Heroes I’ve had in my life. It is simple, and direct, and is one of the tenants of my life. ‘Real Men get back Up. –Coach Saip’ He was my head coach, the one who yelled at me after that first one on one. One of the few people to ever tell me I could do better, and show me how. The lesson I learned on that field was one that guides me today. Nothing is ever over unless you let it be over. Shame doesn’t come from losing, it doesn’t come from failure. It comes from not trying your best, and it comes from not continuing to try. If you don’t learn why you failed then you won’t ever fire off that line.

That field saved my life. I wasn’t much of a person until I laid myself bare on that dying grass and bare dirt. I close my eyes sometimes, when life is hard, and I’m pretty sure getting back up one more time just isn’t worth it, and I picture that field. I picture what it looks like. On the really hard times, when my life has been nothing but pain and failure, I go there still and just lean up against the blocking sled, and listen, smell and look. It comes back, that spirit that filled me there, that religion that made me more than a punk kid heading for jail or an early grave. I get back up.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

One part political plug...

Come and set down by the fire, and bring something with you please. Your political party. Sit down with them there, and look them over really closely. After giving them a real good once over, I want you to answer one very simple question: Does your political party actual represent your beliefs? Political beliefs are a lot like religion, they get handed down through family indoctrination. This includes political antipathy.

The reason I ask is because of my own displeasure with the political process in Canada, both through the parties that are supposed to represent me as a Canadian, and through the actual nuts and bolts that are involved in how our political system works. I consider myself an egalitarian with a socialist agenda. I'm neither left right or center, but someone who feels that each situation much be approached with the overal view of society's well being as well as personal responsiblity. What does this mean you ask? Let me give an example.

I am a Status Indian, but look white. When people find out I am status, their reactions to certain things around me tends to change, and I can see the systemic racism that is inherent in Canadian society. I could even go so far as to say that these situations have caused certain work place stress for me as people must convince themselves they're not racist with comments like 'Indians are good workers as long as they're not drunk.' (Aside: Well fucking DUH!!! Anyone is a good worker no matter their race as long as they're not drunk.) Would I blame my loss of certain jobs on my race? No. I will take personal responsibility for anything that directly happens to me. However this does not mean that I am not aware or see the issues that occur due to societal racism. As well I take it on as a personal mission to make these issues known and do what I can to change them. These same ideals apply to how I view most issues within our society, such as sexism, homophobia, so forth.

There is no party out there that supports these views. Sure everyone of them would like to sell me ideas that might support this point of view, but none of them actually do. And even if there was a party out there that might support these ideals, it's fairly apparent that once any party ascends to provincial or national power, they work on their own agendas and have no accountability to their consituents.

Now here's the part that really pisses me off. When you mention these issues to the vast majority of voters, they respond with 'Well it's the system we have, and it's the best we can do.' Who says?! I think I've mentioned before in the den that you only get out of something what you put in. This applies to politics as much as anything else. If we as the voters are willing to sit around and allow our politicians to essentially cheat us, then who's to blame? We are. So let's do what we can to fix it.

Now the question is how. Well lookie here what I've got in my hands. A pamphlet for The Electoral Partnership of Canada. A new national party dedicated to a rather simple platform that is two fold. One, an informed electorate that is kept as such by their elected officials, and two one that is accountable to those same individuals who they represent. Now of course, if our illustrious leader is lurking about out there and has some additional information to add, please do so, but I know that I am quite happy with the goals of this new party, which is my own attempt to make sure that the system isn't merely a bogged down pit of theft and deception. And if you have any specific questions, such as how you might become a member of this party and help us achieve our goals, feel free to email me and I'll get you the information and forms you desire.

Friday, May 9, 2008

My Moon

Please come in, the fire is quite nice tonight, and tonight we have a special treat. Look up. Yes there, see the den isn't entirely covered over with shadows tonight. Up there you can see Her. The Moon, My Moon, and she's beautiful. You see some of us are called to certain things, and to me, She is paramount. Like the seasons, I change. That change is due to a great many things, but most of all My Moon. As such this post is dedicated to My Moon, it is for Her that I write tonight, and it is Her that I address.

Sometimes we don't properly thank the people around us for the amazing things they do. Their eforts on our behalf, intended or not, often are overlooked, and this needs to be addressed. Especially since some events may have occured that could have you questioning your own worth. And so, I say thank you. Thank you for everything you do for me, and all the things you are to me. And mostly for the way you have inspired me.

I wouldn't have gone back to school without your encouragement and example. Without you I wouldn't have thought it possible that someone my age with my responsibilities could take on the task and succeed, yet you did, so I tried. I have thrown myself back into studies and couldn't be happier. I found my goal and have dedicated myself to seeing it through, and I have you to thank for that. Thank you.

I wouldn't have the compassion I now have if it weren't for you. Yes, I've always felt the need to love the people around me, and I do that I can for them, but it wasn't until I met you that I found my own caring lacking. I didn't know someone could take on so much and give as much until I saw you do it, and so I give as I can and enjoy it for the beauty it brings me. Thank you.

Without you I wouldn't have found my second daughter. Both are like halves I didn't know were missing each other. Together they are two of the most beautiful things I have ever known, and I mean that beyond their cuteness, they represent things I hadn't known before and each teach me something new each day. And it is because of you. Thank you.

I see you as one of the most dedicated parents I have ever met, and watch with joy as we lead our children into each new stage of their lives. You push me to learn more about parenting myself, and have helped me understand the role I play with the Little Bear's biological mom. I have learned more from you than any other source I could name. Thank you.

I didn't know I could love someone like I love you. We support and reinforce each other in so many ways that I am amazed each day at how beautiful you are and just what that means to me. Your smile lights the night around me and your glow is all I ever will need to see me through each one. Thank you.

You left, and while it hurt, it was good. However unintentioned, I am alive because of you. That is not hyperbole. I was sick, and dying, and now I'm not. Until I met you I could think of only one person who I could honestly say kept me alive through bad times, and that was Coach Saip, but you, you are again a reason I still breathe. Thank you.

Whatever comes your way My Moon, remember how much I love you and how important I think you are to this world. You are beautiful, sexy, incredible, funny, intelligent, compassionate, and hold such a terrible wonder for me that I am beyond needing you, I merely need your gaze to remind me that I love you.

Thank you.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Be afraid...

Oh not because of what's in here. Strangely enough, in here, there's nothing that can hurt you. Your own thoughts may be led in frightening directions, but here? No it's safe, and look I've got enough wood for a fire all night. So I'd like to share this with you. Again, this is going back a bit for something I've previously written but it's a rather important bit of work I would say. So read on and then spend some time just pondering, I might even gather some food for a little midnight snack.

Hiding in Plain Sight
Our current conservative Canadian government is attempting to pass a law that will make the killing of a fetus by physical violence to a woman part of the manslaughter charge. The argument behind this law is to make the penalties for domestic violence, and violence against women in general, a more severe crime, handing out stiff punishments for these types of assault. While that might be the public reason, it is easy to see that this is the first step in making abortion illegal, by giving a legal definition to the life of a fetus. Many groups, both supporting and against the law, have publicized as much in their campaign in regards to the law. Rather than deal with the rather murky waters of women’s rights in regards to abortion, I will deal strictly with the reasons presented and the subsequent ramifications outside of the abortion debate that make this law a very dangerous idea.

The first question raised in regards to the law is the underlining policies of the conservative agenda. Domestic abuse, and most violence against women, is a social issue. The causes of it generally are the results of such general societal ills such as poverty, marginalization, and past abuses inflicted upon the abuser. As is the common response from conservatives when it comes to social issues, the answer is more laws and stiffer penalties. This response is evident in the drug policies of conservative governments, the cutting of social funding for family planning which is then funneled into intervention policies which remove children from abusive homes, and the stopping of rehabilitation programs within the justice system. This response has always surprised me as it is in direct conflict with two other policies of conservative thinking: fiscal solvency and non-interference in the publics’ lives.

Government fiscal solvency, less taxes and more revenue, is a keystone of conservative thinking. This is the explanation given when social programs are cut. If people want to pay less tax to their government they need to expect fewer social programs from their government. This thinking leads to more expenditure, particularly in the case of this law. If more people are given longer sentences and placed in the care of the justice system, the costs for detaining them will skyrocket. Rather than addressing the issues that caused the domestic abuse, the response is to create more jail time which places new costs on the government. Countries such as Sweden and Denmark have shown that the cost of rehabilitating various social ills, like the connection between drug abuse and domestic abuse, have drastically reduced their costs associated with these problems. These social program spending initiatives have shown to cost one tenth the amounts for jailing someone for similar offenses in North America. These kind of programs show that true financial prosperity comes from dealing with the root causes of the issues rather than handing out stiffer and more comprehensive jail terms.

This leads to the idea of non-interference. With less social programs the onus is on the community to deal with the issues that may afflict it. When conservative governments gain power neighborhood groups tend to step up to provide the services that the government used to and in some cases it can be amazing to watch how the members of these communities work harder to look after themselves. With that in mind it seems contradictory that the government would then feel the need to address social issues with such overt interference. By repressing the community’s ability to deal with their social issues the government directly interferes with the life of the public by creating an environment of impotence. Taking away a community’s access to solve the problems within a society is left powerless to the governmental influence exerted over it. The social programs that may help the community is met with skepticism or an attitude of indifference is fostered, an idea that the government will clean up the mess left by a lack of social control. This is not non-interference in the public’s life; this is directly changing the possible social structures that create healthy and viable communities.

If the very precepts of a conservative government and the basis for this law are questionable we must determine the actual motivation for these activities. Taking apart the opposition of these ideals with the actions taken shows the agenda of fiscal solvency and non-interference are not universally applied, but instead only reserved for those in power. A law that creates stiffer penalties for social issues that generally are associated with the lower socio-economic class is not an attempt to create less government control and better revenues, but instead is an attempt by the hegemonic group to retain power. Breaking down of community power and destroying the possibility for social and economic advancement through stiff criminal penalties and stigmatized criminal records of individuals is the end result of laws such as these. By consolidating the power of one central group and removing the possibility of actual social advancement creates a subclass of individuals who may be used to continue to chip away at personal and societal freedoms and allows the exertion of greater control by that group.

This law is also the first step to remove one of the few rights women have managed to attain in their own personal freedom. It is hard not to see that this law will infringe on previous decisions in regards to abortion as a legal definition of life is being given to the fetus. Groups on Facebook have surfaced in support of the law claiming that this is the way to finally outlaw abortion, and women’s groups across the nation have decried it for the exact same reasons. While the MPs behind this bill claim that it is for the protection of women, it is instead a subtle way to remove existing rights and further repress women. If the political agenda of the conservative government, that of non-interference and fiscal solvency, were to be universally applied then the law itself is a violation of these ideals. Since those ideas are violated it leads to the conclusion that these goals are not a universal, they are instead part of an agenda that is focused on retaining and gaining more power over Canadian society.

Laws that create stiffer penalties and destroy the fabric of community agency are directly opposed to the publicly stated goals of conservative politics. When the goals of this law are compared to the consequences a much different pattern of reason becomes apparent. This law to protect women is nothing more than a further attempt by the Harper government to create a more centralized power structure in Canada by directing resources towards the creation of a secondary class of citizens, both the poor and women. When the supporters and detractors of a given law both see the same end result that is different from the stated objective it is impossible not to question the intentions of the government attempting to pass it. Passing it would not help women, or our society, it would instead continue to allow a monopolistic leader consolidate more and more power into the hands of a select few.

Something old...

Stick close for a moment, I know the sun is coming up and this little bit of respite from the dark will soon disappear until next time, but I have one other thing I'd like to share. You see, as I've said I've done journals before for classes, but I've never shared them. So I thought I might share this. It was done this year, and not only do I view it as an idea starter for some of you out there, but also it gives some insight into who I am. It's entirely self-indulgent and centered on me, but well, what else is this space but made from and about me. Enjoy!

The Native American ethos of unity without cohesiveness is something that I’ve pondered a lot and it makes me question a lot of the techniques and ideas that we as a society have often used and continue to use in our day to day lives. Constantly I question the directions I go in to determine that right course, that right moment in the motion of all things around me to move.

All of the classes I take I try to make a cohesive choice for them to interact. I tend not to take unrelated courses because they help me learn. I cannot learn without an overall view, and I know this isn’t the standard of how people learn. That’s a reflection of my own view.

Maybe I’m just wrong, or maybe I’m crazy, or maybe I’m a genius, all of those questions keep hounding at me but I never answer them or listen because of something that makes my view of the world slightly different than the norm. I don’t look at things as relation to myself; I look at them from the relation of an overall view of how the whole works. I have many selfish moments, don’t get me wrong. I’m a human being and have been taught through my culture that I am the most important person on the planet because of my uniqueness. It’s one of those strange paradoxes we teach children. You’re special, you’re just you, now be like everyone else.

I’m sure this is coming across as rambling so I’ll try to tighten this up into a point. I like the TV show Scrubs, and there is a scene where the nurses complain to the head of medicine that there is too much sexual harassment, and the response is ‘Let’s all have a big collective unbunching of your panties.’ That seems a rather offensive statement but let’s step back and look at it outside of that context.

The greater movement of society and people in general is a lot more than just any one person can see. Sometimes I catch glimpses, and it always strikes me with wonder and amazement. The one thing I do frequently see though is the strife and frustration that is created when someone tries to control something they can’t. This happens constantly. Do I think people should stop trying to change the world for the better? No, but instead I want them to focus on what they can change rather than the things they can’t.

Case in point: consumer culture. It bleeds into so many other things and is so pervasive that it can be a starting point for just about any social ill. Let’s just look at the case of poverty. We get people to rail against this culture saying we’re taking too much, we’re causing the poverty and ignoring it so we can stay comfortable. Why take this tack? No one wants to be uncomfortable, so rather than decrying them and trying to change something that can’t be changed, why not focus on the things that can be. A speaker, who I can’t remember the name of, here at the U of R said that if we as the wealthy industrial countries were to give up 1% of our wealth we’d virtually obliterate world poverty. He even gave methods to do it. Unfortunately he was virtually ignored by outside media.

I can’t even guess why but perhaps it’s because some people feel it’s not far enough, or they don’t believe something so simple can work. Either way, it brings me back to that elusive point. We need to collectively unbunch our panties. When we see something we don’t like the first response is oppositional. Why? That instantly sets up a fight for control. Let go, don’t force the issue, but instead correct the orbiting ideas that might help improve the situation.

And again back to that first idea. The concept that everything is part of the whole. It’s not as simple of a concept as most people assume it is. It’s not really a circle but that’s just the easiest way to visually represent it. It is the whole. There is no center, there is no place of power, there is no way to control the whole, it merely is. The whole. I guess I might be a bit blessed to be able to step outside of it and see that whole for a brief moment, and maybe that’s because of my own background and place in various different social and societal groups. To end this with a slightly sad and possibly whiney sounding statement: I just wish other people saw it too.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

A part of a complete education.

Ahh good, you found your way back. I know it's dark out and the shadows tend to reach out to caresse you, but don't worry. Dark things live here, but that doesn't make them bad or evil. Just ... hard to focus on. Well get yourself comfortable, I've found some new blankets, and I think I'll even light a fire, that might make some of you more at home. Pull up a bit of earth and find a warm stretch of cloth to wrap yourself in, then lean in and give an ear.

Seeing as how I've always worked in certain types of jobs, I've come to a nifty little idea. No matter what job I've done, even those not directly dealing with the public, it has always had a customer service aspect. Not only that, but with the experiences I've had in the service industry I've got a better knowledge of what those jobs demand, and am somewhat more understanding of certain circumstances. I also have no patience for bad service when it occurs for no reason.

Oh right a point, I had one. Here it is, hiding back in the shadows. I think everyone must complete at least 6 months of a job in the service industry as a part of their education. You cannot be considered a graduate of any diploma or degree without having spent time serving the public in some capacity. And I don't mean some stretched definition. I mean all those lovely jobs that most people consider themselves 'above.' Working at McDonald's, wait staff, call center, any front line service job that makes you work at having a positive attitude while dealing with people. And I don't mean six months total. You gotta do it for six months straight without a complaint or getting your sorry ass fired.

Most folks can see the benefits of this idea, but some will go 'Oh that's not fair, not everyone is suited to those types of jobs.' Well, four words for ya: Suck it up, buttercup. While I will admit that not everyone is capable of maintaining a service job for an extended period of time (these types of jobs tend to lead to burn out, being 'on' all the time is taxing) everyone should be able to complete six good months in this type of work. Why? Because every job, no matter what you do will entail some form of customer service, even if it's dealing with your boss. Not only that but those skills of dealing with people who are generally being demanding of your good will transfer rather well to other places beyond the work place.

Of course, I also think we should all be required to know the basic laws that we will all have to deal wtih like rent, collections, bill payments, so on, without it being an elective, but again, that might happen on another night here in the den.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Now it begins...

So I've been thinking that I would like to start sharing my thoughts and ideas with the wide world across this beautiful web. Mainly because every time I do a journal in one of my English classes I -=LOVE=- doing it. Not to mention the fact that I'm incredibly vain when it comes to the things I write, so what the hell, I figure I should share them. For those that like, this wonderful place will be filled with observations, thoughts, and my own meanderings, as befitting most blogs.

So let's start with some real nasty stuff.

I read a rather interesting article by a local Native columnist here in the city that rhymes with fun about how to stop gang violence, and he suggests two solutions, first that communities have to stop being so insular and start outting these damaging influences, and secondly to attempt to provide means so these gangers can improve their lives and possibly stop the cycle they are stuck in due to their negative and depressed life style. He's kinda right, but while he addresses to solutions, he doesn't get close to what I would view the real problem is.

First let's introduce a couple terms. Original trauma, this is the trauma that we suffer when we are removed from our home. The second is ontological crippling, this being the state we are in when we cannot achieve our full potential, usually the result from having a disconnected lifestyle from the world around us. I'm of the firm belief that all of us suffer from these things to one extent or another.

Let me explain this in a more base way. Each of us as individuals requires a connection to a 'homeland.' This is not nessicarily a physical point, and can be far more nebulous, such as a concept or social group. In any case we require a home. That one place we can point to and say 'This is the base that helps define me, and where I will always be accepted.' At first glance I'm sure everyone who's bothered to read this far will go 'Well of course I have that,' but do you really? Are you completely connected to that home? I know I've attempted to forge that connection myself and even I have my doubts as to the extent of my own connection.

Without that home, without that basis for identity, we are all prevented from truly reaching our full potential. Add to this crippling the fact that most individuals victim to a gang life style are from the lowest social and economic groups then we have some serious issues.

So here's my suggestions, and it goes for everyone. The first step in this is to understand that initial connection and to find the things you love about your home. Start with just your neighbourhood, invest yourself in it's well being and upkeep. Give your time and caring to those around you, with the thought in mind that you only ever get out of something what you put in.

Now this is just the start mind you, I'm sure at some later stage,I'll go into some full blown rants on how the society around us puts up massive roadblocks and while my solution seems simple it actually requires a lot of steps, but for now I think this is a good place to be. Oh and feel free to criticize at will.