(RonovanWrites Haiku Challenge prompt is hero / coward.)
(RonovanWrites Haiku Challenge prompt is hero / coward.)
Attending awards ceremonies
calls for muzzled comportment,
fail to appreciate the adulation
of one over many, tend to believe
these things are tainted, overblown
but this is just the ramblings of
a self-defacing personality, opinions
unacceptable in most circles, and
certainly amongst those whose scoff
at such remarks, view me as common
those who sniff at the asses of the noted
and noteworthy, as if proximity equates
with greatness, ignoring the fact that
success is achieved through hard work
and cooperation, trampling the ‘littles’
in their scramble for accolades –
it’s disparaging – am I alone in feeling
as if I’m watching an out of control
train, headed for derailment, an event
sure to elicit fame – at such a cost?
(The Daily Post prompt is tend. ))
Following political tides –
mesmerized by neglect
of actual issues – playing
to an audience of moaners
plights) – glossing over
exploitation of women,
verbal slaughter of race,
religion and social values.
Wondering about media –
who commandeer bias,
swallowing atrocities and
spewing contrived truths,
absent sound voice, or will,
jeopardizing the security
of so many trampled in
the race for what? Surely
not responsibility – what
lapse of conscience has
allowed hateful rhetoric
to bloody progress, no
consequences? Who will
bear the burden when in
the absence of morality
or respect for humanity,
the margins will increase?
The world quakes at the
failure to acknowledge
this broken path, see only
a devaluation of assets,
perceive a race that did
no more than increase
the monarchy of a king,
grant power to absolve
sins – a sleight-of-hand
trick – nothing to do with
the common habitants –
have so many questions
about how they’ll proceed.
Politicians are a breed of characters that I fail to understand – they have to be willing, on one hand, to ward off nonstop critical attack, and on the other, to subject themselves to constant pandering for favour. If they are not driven by ideals, or even if they are, they will undoubtedly fall prey to persuasion by one power or another. I am cynical to say the least, and disillusioned by the process for many reasons which I won’t discuss here. In fact, politics is not usually a topic about which I am inclined to write.
Until my husband received an envelope in the mail bearing this quotation in place of the return address:
“Violent jihadism is not just a danger somewhere else. It seeks to harm us here in Canada…. through horrific acts. It is an act of war, and our government’s new legislation fully understands that difference.”
– Prime Minister Stephen Harper
January 30, 2015
“What is this?”
“The Conservative Party is looking for funding.” Thor shrugged dismissively.
“Did you read this? This is blatant fear-mongering!”
He took the envelope from me and perused it. “Yes, it is,” he replied dismissively as if to say: And you’re surprised how?
I am more than surprised; I am gobsmacked! The government’s tactic for raising money is to send out a war-tinged message? Forgive me, but I always thought I lived in a peace based society, not a shoot-first-ask-questions-later regime. This approach to fundraising is recklessly irresponsible on many levels, and as I am writing this while my mind and emotions are reeling, I fear I will not do them all justice.
First of all, there are a number of issues that plague Canadians today which deserve government attention: justice for the missing (Aboriginal) women, under-serviced and impoverished communities, human trafficking, unemployment, aging population, threats to education, and so on, and so on. Terrorism is one among many problems that need addressing.
Secondly, as I alluded to earlier, when did we become a warring country? Historically, we have proven ourselves to be worthy allies and participants in war when called for, but I was raised to believe that peaceful resolution and humanitarian involvement was the Canadian way. Has this changed? Is the government hoping to sway opinion and spur war? What possible positive motive can underlie the delivery of such a message? Is this creating precedent for a new influx of money into our military resources?
Terrorism is not a new problem, by any means, and certainly a threat, but I do not think it is an issue that has been thoroughly examined and responsibly considered. We just do not understands its mechanics. Evidently, it is the product of hate and fanatical obsessions, and if viewed from that perspective, is not just the property of jihadism – it lurks beneath every so-called civilization. Just yesterday, a young man sat amongst a group of parishioners in communal worship before turning his weapons on them. This was an act of terrorism.
My eldest sister always told me I was naive, and perhaps I am, but I thought that we as a society were smarter than tactics like these. Receiving this letter has just furthered my disappointment with a system that is severely flawed.
So, what might the Conservatives have offered instead? How about something that demonstrates virtue, instead of appealing to our dark sides? What about a message that reminds us how great our country is, and how important it is for us to continue to pursue avenues that support and build on our valued legacy? Appeal to my sense of pride and my interest might be peaked, but threaten my intelligence and I am only incensed.
Having just read this to Thor, who is no longer affiliated with the Party, he asked if I read the letter enclosed. I had not. As expected, it includes more of the same propaganda, and a “Pledge of Commitment” asking a signed personal agreement, along with the requested $200 to help the Conservatives win the war on terrorism (my words).
Rant over, my conclusion is very clear – the mission has been successful. I am now very afraid – not of ISIS and their “real threat to Canada” (quoted from the Pledge of Commitment). I cannot even think about them at the moment. No, this newly blossomed terror is for a menace much closer to home – the CPC (The Conservative Party of Canada). If I doubted them before, I really fear them now!
“It’s not rape if the girl is a prostitute, is it?” one of my students asked me recently.
“It is without consent,” I answered sternly, but the question left me unsettled. As a high school teacher, I am immersed in the attitudes of the young, and it is worrisome.
The prevalence of sexual assault and the reluctance to report these crimes is a conflict that currently plagues Canadian society, and one that hits me at my core. When I was abducted and assaulted in the early 1970’s, the police informed me that reporting it would be futile, as “I had asked for it”given what I was wearing that night, so, I let it drop, and have been haunted ever since. The authorities knew all about the man who’d done this to me, and maybe the girls after me weren’t lucky enough to escape with their lives. Every woman who doesn’t tell carries that burden of guilt.
“I was told that it was my fault,” my mother told me referring to the multiple times she was assaulted by male relatives starting at the age of six. “Boys will be boys,” her mother told her.
I had thought that our society had progressed, but apparently that is not true. In a recent court case, the victim – who had awaken in the night with her assailant on top of her – was dragged through three days on the witness stand, and questioned about all of her lifestyle habits, even though there was DNA evidence clearly convicting the accused. “She asked for it” remains to be a viable legal argument.
Yes, there are cases in which men are wrongly accused – it happened to someone I know. The “victim” came forward to confess her lies just prior to the trial, but when told she would be charged with contempt, she backed down sticking with her initial story.
The countless arguments that have appeared in the media recently look to our legal system as the culprit of this ongoing imbalance of justice. Yet, as a woman and a schoolteacher, I cannot help but feel that there is a larger problem here not being addressed.
I think of my student’s question. He asked it in all honesty, and was surprised by my response. This is a young man that associates with the criminal element; his role models are drug dealers and gang members. Having grown up in a household where domestic violence was the norm, he is conflicted about male/female relations. He is not alone.
When I taught in a rural school, many of the families had “shacks” on their farms, which the children converted for their own purposes. The parties they hosted included under-age drinking and a disturbing number of sexual activities. A female student (grade 10) reported to me that there was a stripper pole installed in one of the cabins. Visions of music videos flashed through my mind. Were these children emulating their celebrity idols?
Another student of mine, female, was recently assaulted at one of these parties. Her assailant grabbed her by the hair and forced her into a sex act. She was hesitant to report the incident for fear of backlash from her peers. Suicide seemed a better option. Fortunately, she was not successful, but she continues to be tormented.
“If you were male, and he used physical force on you, that would be assault and there would be no question of a charge,” I tried to reason with her. So why do gender differences cloud the issue?
I do not know the answer to this conflict, but I do believe that we all have an obligation to find a solution. Educators, parents, law enforcers, and the media all play a part in how we view issues relating to sexuality. Someone needs to counter the messages of inequality with a reverence for human rights and humanity itself.
Personal responsibility and accountability should never be overshadowed by “She asked for it” bullshit!
The call came just as I was falling into a deep sleep, which didn’t help my mood. Neither my husband nor I recognized the number. After the usual formalities, Thor handed me the phone. It was a man who had tracked me down earlier in the year, looking for psychic counselling. Although I don’t practice anymore, I had made an exception for him.
“I need your advice,” he started. “I feel like things are shifting, and I have a new woman in my life. I think she is my soulmate.”
“You are not going to like what I have to say,” I interrupted. “I don’t believe in ‘soul mates’.”
“You don’t believe in reincarnation?”
“Yes, but not that there is only one person for us.” I really didn’t want to get into this right now.
“I think I have been downloaded several times.”
“Are you still there?”
“I don’t know what that means.” The conversation was becoming very irritating. ‘Downloaded’ was a new one to me, but I had heard lots – ‘walk-ins’, ‘star children’, among others.
“I am very pragmatic.” I warned. “If the idea or information is not practical, I avoid it.”
I cut the conversation short.
I understand the drive to find answers to life’s mysteries. I myself spent many years exploring different philosophies and theories, looking for one that would help me understand and feel in control. Truth is, none exist. No matter what we believe, or think we know, life is full of uncertainty, and yes, risk.
This caller, like many before him, wants to know that the choices he is making will lead to happiness and a better life. He wants to avoid pain and heartache, and above all, loneliness. He wants to believe in magic over common sense.
Whatever answers we seek, we need to be able to weigh them against some practical form of measurement. We need guidance for living a good life, not a promise that we will meet a ‘soul mate’ who will fulfill us, nor a foolproof plan for ensuring eternal bliss. Sound advice for slogging through the hard stuff, simplifying our lives, and being true to ourselves are the answers we should be seeking.