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Recovering backpacker, Cornwallite at heart, political enthusiast, catalyst, writer, husband, father, community volunteer, unabashedly proud Canadian. Every hyperlink connects to something related directly or thematically to that which is highlighted.

Friday, 24 October 2014

New Music on Untangled Strings

Since seeing the Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer for the first (but certainly not last) time this morning, I've had its eerie rendition of Pinocchio's "I Got No Strings" stuck in my head.
It's a brilliantly subversive use of a classic Disney tune for a modern Disney film.  The revamped tune's tone is perfect for the bleak emotional landscape we're seeing as the foundation of Age of Ultron. 

More than that, though, it speaks to one of the core, defining dichotomies of human nature; the urge to be independent and to create, but the fear that our creations may cut their own umbilical cords and maybe not evolve the way we might want them to.
Different is all-too-often equated with evil, or even eerie.  Change is frightening.  Loss of control is frightening.
Of course, fear (and all our other limbic programming, including hate) is the puppet master.  We are none of us free while we play by rules that predate us by millions of years of evolution.  Of course, we can't cut those cords, either - they are a necessary part of our construct.

What we can do, when we consciously work at it, is learn the notes our emotional chords are capable of hitting, then teaching ourselves how to play them.  That's when we can take the old tunes and create something new, but rooted out of them.
When we can write our own music with the notes that are given to us, that's when we're free.
I'm going to play you something beautiful; everyone singing grace.  We want to be part of the world; we know we need to change.  We're all strings on a divine instrument; when we play together with harmony, it's a wondrous thing. 

So, corporate social responsibility is nothing more than an extortion racket?
Engaging with groups that don't, you know, boil down society into a couple of core talking points doesn't provide enough ROI?
Those who question the practices of people like the author of this article through movements are disruptive rabble?
The impression David Weiner gives is that youth don't get it, diversity is bad, people seeking change are rabble, yet the people at the top are all about manipulation for financial gain.
These are his impressions after he's retired from a career of being and reinforcing all the things he finds distasteful.  I'm sure he's financially secure, though, and who knows - he may be pulling the cynicism card just as a marketing ploy.
Either way, though, you have to feel bad for the guy.  He doesn't know what he's missing out. 
It's hard to see the big picture when you're solely focused on what life has to offer you.
There's a better way, a new paradigm emerging right now - hopefully, folk like Weiner aren't so jaded that they're incapable of seeing and being in this reality.  It'd be a shame to leave them behind.

Why There's Always Time to Commit Sociology

Democratic Reform Minister Pierre Poilievre was said to wield a bronze flagpole for most of the day, even clutching it hours later when they were escorted from the building.
You can almost picture it - a white-knuckled Poilievre so shaken by the shooting that he's unable to let go of the bronze flagpole he snatched as a futile safety measure.  All this, while Stephen Harper hid in a closet - a closet!
The picture first painted of our MPs is not an overly heroic one.
But when you big deeper, a different picture emerges:
That's not exactly the same thing as cowering in a closet, is it?
Taking home a wooden spear souvenir is a bit different than being unable to let go of a bronze flagpole, isn't it?
What the truth of the matter is, I don't know.  I wasn't there.  What I do know is that everything we here is based on perspective, assumption or spin - and that you can't get the truth without doing a bit of digging.
Which is pretty much the whole point of sociology, isn't it?

Fear and Freedom: Tangled in Strings

Pinocchio is a cute story about a puppet who becomes a real boy.  It's endearing, empowering, positive.
The use of the "no strings" song in Age of Ultron is none of those things.  It sees freedom of the subservient creature as menacing, frightening.  We've made a monster that we cannot control, and now our survival is at risk.
Intentional or not, that's a very timely theme.  Radicalized youth are to be feared.  The private sector is frustrated with millenials that don't want to play the same employment game they do.  There are a growing number of movements with increasing legitimacy that are questioning and openly challenging the very structure of our social, economic and governance models.
It's a dangerous time.  It's an exciting time.  There is much disruption, much anxiety, but there is also hope.  We don't know what's going to happen next.  It is, truly, up to us.

Why does the gay little dicky bird sing?
What put the "zing" in a butterfly's wing?
What's the reason for the smile of a troubadour?
Why does the breeze have a barrel of fun?
Even the bee who's a son of a gun
It's all because they're free
And stringless the same as me
I've got no strings and I'm so glad
No strings at all to make me sad
I had strings but now I'm free,
There are no strings on me

Social Illness and the Ottawa Shooter

Michael Zehaf-Bibeau has been carved into Canadian history, like a scar.  We'll heal and move on, but our history will record the day shots were fired in Parliament in the way it has the assassination of Thomas D'arcy McGee.
But what of the narrative surrounding Bibeau - as he was first reported, Zehaf-Bibeau being the name that eventually emerged?  The immediate assumption when the attack began was that this was a coordinated terrorist attack, likely perpetuated by ISIS, as was threatened by Canadian Farah Mohamed Shirdon
The on-the-ground reactions were swift - one witness even said they thought they saw a turban, as though turbans are a symbol of ISIS.  Even within Parliament, MPs trapped behind closed doors had visions of a host of terrorists armed with machine guns ready to pump them all full of lead.
Even now, the rhetoric has turned towards ISIS.  It's a convenient narrative, but people want convenient narratives.  That includes politicians, but more because they are human than Machiavellian.  They need to understand what's happening and how to respond, same as everyone else; they just have a larger context to look at.  External threats are easier to objectify than internal ones. 
It's easier to stay away from a person who is sick than it is to admit to sickness within ourselves.
Especially when that sickness is of the mental variety.
Zehaf-Bibeau may turn out to have some recent connection to ISIS, or he may not.  In the context of his life, it doesn't really matter.  Had it not been this incident, it may have been another; there were clear warning signs that he would do something harmful to others.
Big picture, yes, it's a jolt to the nation that a shooter got into the House of Commons and put the lives of our government at risk.  That's one problem - the security of the House and our preparedness to deal with the lone shooter or the grander attack.
Zehaf-Bibeau represents another problem, though, that touches on ISIS, but also on gang activity, poverty, homelessness, suicide - and mental health.
What happened Wednesday could and should have been avoided.  Had Zehaf-Bibeau received proper intervention, support and treatment - whatever that may have looked like - everything could have been different.
It doesn't just go for one man, or one situation.  There are countless other might-be Zehalf-Bibeau's out there right now, crying for help through the means they know how.  If we take a laissez-faire view of the world, it sucks to be them, but it's not society's responsibly to help individuals get their act together, it's like leaving open wounds untreated. 
Jedem das Seine doesn't work.  Full stop.  We die alone, but if we want to live, we have to do it together.
That's not a race to the finish, leaving some behind and others armed an dangerous, with a reliance on increasing security intervention to make us safe.  It's about investing in each other.
Men who cleave scars into the fabric are remembered.  So to are those with the fortitude to heal it.
With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.


Thursday, 23 October 2014

ISIS and the Lioness

The men puff out there chests, go off to fight, come back to plant their seed, be taken care of by their mates.
Meanwhile, the females are responsible for rearing the young, food gathering and preparation, and safety.
Is that what God intended?
If you look at the human genome and then look at some of our primate cousins, it's not hard to fathom that, at some point in the past, that's exactly what our species was like - territorial, predatory males and homebound females.  In fact, there's plenty of that in recorded history.  If anything, the story of civilization and our growth as a species is the movement away from this model to one where women are more empowered and responsibilities are more equally distributed.
ISIS is not a precursor to the apocalypse; it's a step back from social evolution.
Which is fine, because the rules of evolution are quite clear - that which adapts, survives.
That's the thing about apocalyptic ideologies; ultimately, they aren't about the end of the world; they're about extinction.
Something to think about.

I'm Glad #PMSH Stressed This:

I'm very glad the Prime Minister stressed this point. 
We may like to tell ourselves we can "tough our way" through emotional trauma and just "get over it", but such is not the case.  Emotional injury is like physical injury - often it can be treated, but without appropriate response it can get worse.
PTSD is a case in point.  We're losing "tough" people to it, unnecessarily.
It's also worth pointing out that while it's an uncommon thing for such a stressful event to happen in our House of Commons, they do happen periodically in marginalized communities across our country.  The people who live, work or go to school near places where there are periodic shootings are exposed to this stress and often get no treatment, nor even acknowledgement of the impact of this stress on their lives.
I would encourage MPs to read up on the symptoms of PTSD and stress and look for them amongst each other.  I would also strongly encourage them to look closer at the impact of stress on Canadians across the board, but especially in marginalized communities.
A little bit of social emotional literacy/emotional resilience can go a long way.  A pound of prevention, etc...