Monday, May 31, 2010

More on the church and human sexuality...and Lionel Tiger

We can’t just assume that any effort by religious people to intervene in private sexuality is one of those bad things that we’re now rid of, without acknowledging the complexity of the reproductive urge and its relationship to the future and to social probity, and to taking care of kids. (Lionel Tiger, in an answer to McLean's interview, March 2010)
Tiger's view, then, is more complicated than mere dismissal of any intervention by the church, or by society, in such complex matters.
Sexuality, choosing a partner, the forces unleased by this drive in our natures...these are powerful forces, and humans generally have welcomed some intervention in their thinking, acting and deciding about how to participate in these issues.
However, this writer, still holds the view that the church has gone much too far, beyond a healthy human attitude, ethic and practice, and as a result, has generated much more "sin", shame, worthlessness, loss of confidence, alienation and ostracism, even imprisonment and suicide and murder, than a level that could be considered ethical, just and theologically integrous, as direct and indirect consequence of their ascribing "radioactivity" to human sexuality. The church originally seized upon such a position, partly in an attempt to gain control of its parishoners. And just how unethical is that, in the eyes of God?
So much of the public interpretation of "sexual abuse" comes from the perspective:
that "males want only one thing",
that male testosterone (excessive) is at the root of the problem
that females are the victims in all cases of sexual abuse, including legitimately, rape, incest and the cultural expectation in some antedeluvian societies that women MUST comply with the wishes of the male partner
that males want intercourse exclusively while females want relationship, and holding and nurture and being listened to and not necessarily sexual intercourse, and the stereotypes here are no more accurate than most stereotypes...only a portion of the reality of the situation;
that females are brought up to "please" the man and males are raised, on the other hand, in the absolute "rule" that the woman is the one making the final decision about sexual relations. (Sociopaths need not and are not part of our consideration here. They require special intervention.)
These myths require more detailed parsing and only through intense research will that parsing take place.

Lionel Tiger Trashes Christian Church on Sexuality and Eden

In his book, The Manufacture of Evil, Ethics, Evolution and The Industrial System (1987), Lionel Tiger writes the following:
The core of my argument is that biological evolution produced the real beginning of real ethics, in part because throughout most of our history we lived in small groups of 25 to 200, many of whom around us were near or distant relatives--"familiar." Hence the importance of the genetics of human altruism, and of what people think is good or bad.
This point of departure here may even be a comfort. It implies that the ethical passion and the sexual desire are linked, that the very act of categorization and the process of thinking itself are inevitably rampant on an ethical field. It implies that the very basic fact of human gregariousness is a reflex of some moral knack. So if the circumstances of our time lead many people to doubt the reliability of this capacity, perhaps we must look to the circumstances, not to ourselves. Even if we produced the circumstances, we may with T.S. Eliot's Prufrock lament, "That is not what I meant at all. That is not it at all."
It is possible that we have been systematically misled about our morality from the very beginning. Why should God have interfered with Eden as he did, evidently for the dual offences of sexual awareness (sexual anxiety again!) and empirical scepticism, that forbidden fruit? And why blame poor Adam, whom after all God made? And why was what happened in Eden the "Fall"? And why were Adam and Eve so harshly and disproportionately ridiculed for their sexual frisson? Were not those perplexingly pleasureable nerve endings in their genitalia there for a purpose? Was orgasm an accidental spasm, which happened to be so mightily pleasing that (later on when churches got going) its occurrence or not could be held up as a measure of obedience to God?
This is mad. No wonder practitioners of the morality trades have so enthusiastially separated man from animal, culture from nature, devotion from innocence. If morality is natural, then you don't need priests as much as you're likely to enjoy being informed by scientists. If morality is a biological phenomenon, then it is merely insulting to harass mankind for its current condition because of an historic Fall in the past and a putative Heaven in the future. When spirituality became a special flavour and ceased being fun, when mystical congregation and speculation became instead a matter of bare knees on cold stone and varying renunciations; when involvement with the seasons and the other subtle rhythms of nature became formalized into arbitrary rituals governed by functionaries, then the classical impulse for moral affiliation became translated into something else: into a calculation of ethical profit and loss supervised by an accountant Church and a demanding God. A new tax was born. The tithe. Ten percent for the first agents.
(p.32-33)

Part 2
The subject of sexual morality arises once again with the dismissal (firing and perhaps even court-martial) of the Commander of Canadian Forces in Kandahar, for having a sexual relationship with another soldier, persumably another Canadian soldier, a female. The argument being put forward for the seriousness of the offence, and for the "zero tolerance" approach is that, if the leadership is breaking the rules, then how can those rules be enforced at the lower ranks.
And yet, everyone knows that the rules are being flaunted by all levels of the Canadian military, as they are by all the other western forces, with condoms being in plenty and public supply throughout the encampments.
So why is there such a policy?
Is it because the military believes that women of whatever rank are unable to take care of themselves, when approached by a male in uniform, irrespective of his rank? If that is the case, such a view is exceptionally patronizing of the women in uniform.
Is it because of the abuse of "rank" when the male is of a higher rank than the female? We do know, for example, that in the U.S. military, many incidents of sexual abuse are not reported by females whose rank is lower than the male participant, because they fear reprisals. If "rank" is an issue, is the same policy in effect when the incident involves a female of higher rank than the male participant? And just how much deference should be paid to rank anyway? It is a highly illusive, even delusionary concept, providing authority to keep control, when fair and just treatment would accomplish the same goals, without all the play-acting.
Is it a matter of playing out the same morality as the church has inflicted on the western world, as an act of obedience to God? Is the "terrible Fall" in Genesis, and the interpretation given those events by the Christian church (starting with the Roman Catholic church, and being followed by the "protestant" churches, some with even more vigour and venom than the Romans)the paradigm for the policy of "no fraternizing" between military personnel in combat. The Roman Catholic church continues to insist that its priests in the west at least, remain celibate, as an act of obedience to the church and to God. And look at the trouble that church is in, partly as a result of their misguided policy.
Ask yourself, dear reader, a simple question, "What kind of God worth worshipping and honouring and commanding both respect and discipleship, would reduce human sexuality to a forbidden fruit?" And the only reasonable answer is that S/He would not?
Humans, especially those who "fathered" the church, and its systematic theology, are responsible for this mis-interpretation of scripture, and the fall-out from such an approach will infect our civilization for centuries, mostly negatively. (More about the negative fall-out in another blog! Please stay tuned.)

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Netanyahu interviewed by CBC's Mansbridge...now questions

Interviewed by CBC's Peter Mansbridge, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reminded his host, and CBC audience, that the Palestinians have never publicly acknowledged the right of Israel to exist. He also reminded us that when Israel made concessions in both Gaza and the West Bank, through its proxies, Iran virtually took them over. He vows that concessions must not have a similar result for a third time!
He further reminded us that it was he, when first serving as Prime Minister, in 1996, speaking to a joint session of the U.S. Congress, who told the world that the greatest danger to world peace was a nuclear-armed Iran.While there was great consternation then, now fourteen years later, the world has come to grasp the significance of this potential development.
Seeking to begin unconditional talks directly with the Palestinians, Netanyahu, nevertheless, has a firm position about how those talks must end successfully: with a demilitarized Palestinian state peacefully co-existing with a separate Israeli state.
He dodged Mansbridge's question about whether the world had a right to know the extent of Israel's nuclear capability.
However, he did disclose that Israel is intercepting (he used "interdicting") ships from Iran, loaded with missiles for Hezbollah and Hamas, for use against Israel. One such ship, according to Netanyahu, was carrying some 200 tonnes of missiles which were "interdicted" by the Israel navy on the high seas.
The publicly stated aim, desire, policy and strategy to "wipe Israel from the face of the earth" by the President of Iran and his terrorist henchmen in both Hezbollah and Hamas is a goal "up with which the rest of the world must not put"! No people deserve to be put in the crosshairs of another power declaring extinction of that people to be their goal.
Finding a warm and hospitable reception from Canada, especially from the Harper government, a true friend of Israel, the Prime Minister begins his "make-up" tour in Canada, before heading to Washington to do some heavy lifting to repair U.S.-Israeli relations...something the Americans have already begun.
Can Netanyahu and Abbu Mazzen, leader of the Palestinians, accomplish what no other two leaders of their respective people have achieved...authentic, secure and credible peace between these two warring rivals?
The world hopes and prays they can! And soon!
PART 2
Wednesday June 2, 2010...2:28 p.m.
Now the Israeli PM has returned home, leaving the U.S. portion of his trip
incomplete, following the killing of 9 social activists in a raid on a Turkey ship attempting to break through the Israeli blockade near Gaza.
Words like amateurish, bungled, and incompetent are being used to describe the incident, and the Israeli military is wiping the egg from its face. And to think this is the same military that the world counted on whenever there was a difficult mission to accomplish, like the Entebbe raid in Uganda.
Is the blockade "legal"? Opinions differ greatly.
Is the boarding of a foreign ship, in the middle of a blockade "legal"?
Is there a movement in Israel itself seeking to discredit the Defense Minister, or the Prime Minister?
Is the list of banned goods really public, and does it include legitimate and dangerous items that could be used by terrorists? There seems to be some dispute about this. For example, are concrete and steel bars agreed to be dangerous, in the hands of terrorists?
Is this a prelude to an Israeli attack on Iran, with the accompanying "dredging" of the U.S. into the skirmish? If so, there is real anxiety about such a botched attempt, as the prelude and paradigm.
Will Israel conduct its own investigation, and prohibit an international investigation?
Where is the truth? And more importantly, where is the appropriate leverage, authority and credibility to seek out the truth? Is it in the U.N.?

Iacocca's Prophetic Letters in 1986!

From Lee Iacocca's 1988 berst-seller, Talking Straight:
On November 6, 1986, I got two letters in the mail from the presidents of two universities_Lehigh and M.I.T. When I read them I thought to myself that maybe they'll be historic documents someday, because both presidents had come to an identical conclusion.It had dawned on them that their schools had taught many of this country's professors. M.I.T. alone turns out 11 percent of all the engineering professors in the United States...
Now these schools suddenly realized that those professors have been teaching students the wrong stuff.
Basically, the message they've given our kids is to go out into the world and make a quick buck for themselves. Nobody was stupid enough to advise a kid to go out and get his hands dirty by making something and helping this country become productive. Only uneducated fools would do that. If you've got the business smarts, they say, go to Wall Street and make a killing; if you're a technical whiz, they send you to a Southern California defense contractor to work on black boxes for the military-neither of which has anything to do with productivity....
Just try to recruit a graduate from the Harvard Business School or M.I.T. to come work in a car company. He typically tells us: "Go work for Chrysler as a financial analyst? You mut be out of your mind. I'm going to Wall Street."...
The schools are having the mea culpa of their lives. They're finally coming to the realization that they've created a monster. They've figured out that we have our priorities screwed up: We have to train people to do every job, not just the ones in the financial district. (p.244-246)


We all know what has happened since those letters were written and sent!
Too bad so few were listening, in the land where only money talks!

The Unconscious (Un)Civilization*

So you think the terrorists are not winning, without another "physical attack"?
Let's look at the billions spent on "security" since 9-11. In Canada, there is an outcry about the $1 Billion cost for security for the G-8/G-20 meetings. That, by itself, is a measure of the length we are going to, to state publicly that these leaders will be protected.
And no country, wishing to remain respected among the international community would want to leave any stone unturned, including the deployment of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people and all the latest technology to "cover its ass" should the unthinkable occur.
And yet, every time we hear another announcement about the steps being taken for security, we also hear, "No system is failsafe! Those seeking to do harm could still find a way to execute the most heinous of acts."
The terrorists have created a bonanza for the military/security industry!
The budget of "Homeland Security", while a mere 10% of the cost of wars, represents the filling of another "prescription" to fend off another potential "viral attack" in our increasing addiction to chasing our own tails, the illusion of our own security.
China has already publicly declared that it has decided not to join an arms race with the U.S., preferring the less costly and more effective option of secretly mining such systems as the Pentagon's most sensitive military strategy computers.
So while the public's appetite for dramatic productions of security measures seems infinite, behind the scene, and behind the headlines, our security is being attacked and potentiallly undermined, without our conscious awareness without a single shot (in the traditional military/terrorism arsenal) being fired.
Sounds like the public addiction to prescription and non-prescription drugs for each and every ailment, while also remaining addicted to sugar, guns, booze, porn and joy-sticks.
And we wonder why the "health care" system is going bankrupt!
Enough unconsciousness yet?
* The title is borrowed from John Ralston Saul's remarkable 1995 book, The Unconscious Civilization.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Real Men can relate, show empathy and compassion!

My mother groaned
My father wept
As into the world I lept.
(William Blake)

An ad for a token male family physician to join the teaching team at a North York teaching hospital....remains unfilled!
Some 70% of veterinary students are female in Canada and choose to open and operate their own clinics: more money with fewer hours, and since attending to farm animals like cows is both unpleasant and unpaying (comparatively) there could be a shortage of vets for farm animals.
A Massachusetts therapist says the definition of depression comes from female symptoms, while male symptoms are unstudied, and could conceivably show up in violence against self or others, or at least in acting out.
Females dominate both grad schools and white collar professions in North America, refusing, in large numbers, to enter the rough and tumble corporate executive rat-race.
Females are demonstrating both their preference and their strength in "relating" professions like PR, psychology, medicine and are changing the workplace terms of reference. The female is considered to be more empathic, and more compassionate than the male, and is thereby welcomed into these professions. And yet....
Are men, too, not capable of empathy and compassion?
Are men not just as capable of empathy and compassion as women?
Are we moving to an advanced stage similar to the one, a decade ago when only "gay" or at least effeminate men taught kindergarten?
In one Northern Ontario city, during the decade of the 90's, not a single male teacher was hired in the elementary panel!
In one public school board in Ontario, the secondary school "gifted" program serves 95% female students and only 5% male students.
This pattern may not be as urgent as the Bad Petroleum Oil Slick in the Gulf of Mexico; however,it is a very serious pattern, since males are retreating to their mechanical, electrical, technological, construction, labourer, plumber, electrician, transport driver type jobs...
Are only token men going to enter the healing and relating professions like teaching? And will other men consider these candidates "real men"?
Some women refuse to have a "pap" smear done by a male physician.
Are male patients refusing to have a "prostate" examination by a female physician...because if they are, such examinations are going to become extinct, given the preponderance of female physicians.
Male high school students are living and working in a "female-centred" and a female-dominated culture...and they are not liking it! Nor should they! Their drop-out rate, on both sides of the 49th parallel is growing...and we simply cannot afford to lose their brain power as a national resource...
We have already seen what happens to the mainline protestant churches when they are taken over by the women! The men simply lose their metaphoric spine! To stand up to the women is considered "not politically correct"...or perhaps even (I hate to think this might be the way some think!) "sexist".
Men cannot blame women for the "rise" of women in the professions. We can only congratulate them!
However, whenever a young male demonstrates an interest and a talent in the arts, for example, in the humanities, in the healing professions, that male needs to be identified, mentored and nurtured by male teachers, coaches and role models. He is fast becoming an endangered species.
Both sides of the brains of men and women are needing formation and development; both empathic and executive/mechanical skills are needed by both men and women.
And men need to claim responsibility for their "softer" side, without being denigrated by other men, for being "gay" in a truly "sexist" attitude. Men who find their own "soft" side will be far more likely to advocate that position publicly.
Who is going to speak out for male children?
Who is going to begin to teach teachers about the different needs and capacities of male students?
Who is going to demand some equality for male students?
And don't let me hear, "Oh well, men have had a dominant position for 2000 years, and now it is the females' turn to dominate!"

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Andrew Cohen: Most Blogs are mere stupidity and flatulence....so?

Blogs are often a platform for stupidity and flatulence. Who cares what every jumped-up, self-styled authority thinks about health care or the Middle East?
This from Andrew Cohen's column on Modernity and the plagues of technology.
Read more: http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/plagues+modernity/2767191/story.html#ixzz0pB3ShU7d
Lest this blog be dumped into the trashcan with the word "stupidity" or "flatulence" in graffiti on the outside, let me respond to Mr. Cohen whose mind and writing exemplify elegance, insight and brilliance (no irony!)
It is not that someone so inept as this scribe should or even could presume that someone else might care about what I think about anything!
It is the simple opportunity for me to explore some of these subjects in a way that is ready for someone else to read, even if they choose to dub it stupidity or flatulence.
I am not some undergraduate student in Mr. Cohen's class in either Journalism or International Relations. Nevertheless, I learn something everytime I venture into one of his writings.
Nor am I presuming to be able to out-debate Mr. Cohen whose experience far outshines mine and that of thousands of others.
Each of us is growing, reading, reflecting and for those who choose "to blog" even taking a little more risk than we might if we remained merely authors of a private diary or journal.
And, in the process, we begin to explore the thoughts, insights and observations of others, generalists and amateurs, like us, who are now venturing into the public square, some for the very first time.
I have a deep and profound respect for Mr. Cohen's thoughts, his writing elegance and his insights into many subjects of interest to him, and increasingly to me.
And if this blog is more mere stupidity and flatulence, it is of my making. I take full responsibility, and I hope many others will enter the arena.

Casting Call for All ECCENTRICS

Eccentric (adjective): queer, quizzical, quaint, erratic, outlandish, droll whimsical (unusualness) Roget's Thesaurus.
Those who exhibit these qualities merit the noun "eccentrics" and we all have memories from our youth:
the ex-NHLer/dentist who has fallen on hard times, and whose hair and apparel shout claims of a troubled life for a brilliant mind;
the middle-aged woman who rarely emerges from her house, and then, only in winter garb, even when the temperature reaches 90 degrees (f);
the other more elderly woman who chases all young fry from her single apple tree, only to give the risk more challenge and excitement;
the young man whose accidental head injuries are disclosed in the surgical scar running down the back of his head deep into his neck, yet who serves his customers with honour and distinction in the local men's wear shop;
the pharmacist whose friendly greeting is part of the legend of the town who, we learn, the next morning, went into the basement of his store and ended his life with a single bullet;
the hockey coach who manufactured TNT by day, rebuilt his car by evening and put it all aside on Saturday morning to shepherd his young blades in their next hockey game;
the young, gangly red-headed youth whose gait literally "jerked" along the street, yet when speaking, he was the most gentle, sensitive and hurting and alone kid in the grade 8 class;
the church organist whose reputation can be summed: she played as much withher fists as with her fingers and feet;
another local musician whose fingers barely touched the keys, leaving her listeners wondering if she were truly there;
the trained operatic soprano whose Sunday morning solos were so incongruent with the rest of the service, leaving all wondering if she were in the right town;
the larger-than-life local doctor whose reputation for driving fast on rural house calls, and for hitting stray cows along the way provided prelude for his nude, midnight swim from cottage to summer resort bar;
the local attorney whose plaid shirts and high-cut boots bespoke an iconoclast, and a rumpled "local" while all knew that underneath was a brilliant mind and the largest heart in the county...and we all have our own list....
And these characters cannot be invented...they are far too precious, and far too memorable and far too unique ever to be forgotten....
And yet.
we have become towns and villages of "look-alikes" and "sound-alikes" and "think-alikes" and if someone "sticks out" s/he is banished...especially if they are considered to be not "politically correct"!
Our children and our grandchildren need eccentrics for their nurture. They need individual examples of very different life-styles and philosophies! And when they find them, I hope they will let us know where they are!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Adolescent Lemmings Engaged in Self-sabotage

Have you noticed how important individuals seem immediately following their birth and for the two or three months immediately prior to their death?
And for the rest of the time,...ho hum,... oh well,... we really are pretty busy, and we certainly don't want to interfere in another's life, by calling them up and asking how they are, now do we?
Individuals have become a means to an end, not an end in themselves! We seek them out when we need someone to "do" something like paint, clean, repair the house, the car, the cottage, the office; we seek them out when we need their professional services, when we are transacting a business deal needing legal expertise, or when we suddenly realize that we have a sore ________ (fill in the blank) and need to have a doctor/dentist/nurse practitioner/chiropractor/attend to our discomfort.
We also seek out individuals when we are interested in purchasing their "goods" like a piece of real estate, a car, an appliance, a travel vacation.
And, of course, there are still some who find, perhaps not exactly seek, others in neighbouring pews on Sunday or Saturday or Friday at church/synagogue/mosque.
However, for the most part, Canadians "stick to our own business" at the computer, or at the TV, or at the wheel of our vehicles...and interact when and if we are obliged to do so.
Attendance is generally down in churches; recruitment has virtually spiralled to zero in service clubs leaving perhaps our commitment to our child's athletic/artistic/employment/academic activities, and then we encounter others of a similar "bent" with a few common intersts.
Especially in the smaller villages and towns, there is still a lively interest in the health of our neighbours, especially when it takes a turn up or down. Those signals remind us of our own health and our place on the continuum of years.
And yet, certainly in North America, the eccentric has been either eliminated altogether, or has withdrawn to his/her private place, conscious of his own rejection perhaps most notably even by his family. After all, the families of today, being so driven to perfection and social status and social approval,(you never know when you might need a good reference!) wish no evidence of non-conformity to be associated with their good name. Conformity has reduced both the U.S. and Canada to what could be termed "high school lands," given the propensity for conformity in housing, in apparel, in auto and vacation selections, even in dietary choices...have you noticed the dramatic increase in fibre consumption and the obesity epidemic?
Watching an American evening newscast, one gets the impression that all viewers must be craving some new and more effective chemical injection/pill for some new and plaguing pain, or discomfort.
Like lemmings, we know we are drowning in our own effluent, including personal, corporate, chemical and industrial;
like lemmings, we know that western medicine is worshipping at the feet of the pharmaceutical companies (and in the U.S. the insurance companies)and yet we accept and support the "elevated" professional status of medical practitioners and their recommendations;
like lemmings, we know that war is wrong and yet we let our leaders walk into or up to the very edge of military engagement;
like lemmings we purchase more than we can comfortably afford;
like lemmings, we all wear sports/casual/relaxed and yet "upscale" wardrobes (at least as upscale as we can afford);
like lemmings, we gluttonously gulp/burn/unpackage fossil fuels and throw away more packaging and excess food than any other continent on the globe;
like lemmings, we circulate around the cocktail tables, and the club lounges "on the make" for a relationship, a deal, a piece of gossip, a network "contact" or simply a drink in which to drown our depression.
like lemmings, and led by the lemming media, we instantly point the finger and the tongue at anyone/organization/corporation that screws up, as if we are proud not be the latest target of public contempt without demonstrating a hint of compassion and/or forgiveness!
like lemmings, we are addicted to our own perfection, and sadly also to our own self-sabotage
Will we (Canadians and Americans) grow up before it is too late?
I remember, as a little kid, being asked, and not so rhetorically, "If everyone went down to the town dock and jumped off, and drowned, would you follow and do the same?" To which I answered, obligingly and obediently,"No."
I wonder if anyone else was ever asked that question...seriously.

Groups vs. Individuals...we need both!

Leadership is one of the most critical features of a vibrant, healthy and creative society. And in this country, where we are great at celebrating "social history" about the conditions of life in historical periods, we are not so great about celebrating the virtues, gifts and talents of individuals.
Have we become so jaded about individuals and their importance because of the "star" culture we loath in the U.S.?
Have we developed a "perspective" that places the group ahead of the individual,as part of our "mosaic"? I recall a conversation with a then supervisor/trainer who facilitated a group of adult learners. When he informed me that the purpose of the group was the enhancement of the group itself, I balked, "While the group's effective functioning is important, it exists only to enhance the growth and development of the individuals that comprise the group."
The charter of rights itemizes individual rights, freedoms and liberties. And yet the culture of this country places more emphasis on the group's identity. Our media is focussed on the "Gay Rights" group, or the "immigrant groups" from various ethnicities, or the "unions" or the "doctors" or the "lawyers" or the "politicians"...and it says here:
So long as we continue in the mind-set that the group's identity and needs and aspirations trump those of the individual, we will always be a mediocre, second-class and somewhat dysfunctional society.
There is some value, and the NDP and the United Church and the "social gospel Christians are the embodiment of this position, in making social policy for the whole society. However, visions do not come from groups. Poems, plays, novels, symphonies, portraits, speeches, and even goals in our favourite sport of hockey, come from individuals. To be sure, they are in collaboration with others, their editors, their mentors, their line-mates, but it is the individual who either accomplishes something unique or not.
And, for us to think otherwise, and to elevate the group above the individual, whether that inidividual is a figure from history, or a current political, scientific or artistic leader, is to miss the essence of genius, and the essence of creativity.
Dr. Scott Peck, in his relentless search for someone in the Pentagon to take responsibility for the Mi Lia massacre in Viet Nam, came up empty-handed, because he could only uncover "groups" who had anything to do with the activities in the war.
Groups are a great way to camouflage responsibility; perhaps even to release individuals from responsibility. They are also a great way to cover up organizational conflict, because once the group has made a decision, and its members "fall into line" behind the decision, no one has to take the risk of "being out of line" with the group's decision.
The relationship between individual leaders and their constituents is a critical thread in the fabric of the society; however, let us not forget that it was individuals who, sometimes collectively, sometimes individually, made significant decisions, discoveries, sacrifices, insights and creative masterpieces of composition or of design and of performance.
Orchestras are magnificent and their performances are enhanced by the outstanding contributions of their soloists.
Canada needs to recover an appreciation of those soloists, and soon.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Synthetically produced, self-replicating new cell...now what?

Is a synthetically created, self-replicating e-coli cell the newest frontier in bio-genetics? Probably.
Is this crossed threshold a danger to the global population?
Depends on whose answering the question. One scientific observer says the dangers are manageable. One obvious danger is that of bio-terror. And President Obama is sufficiently concerned to have appointed a commission to investigate the implications of this development.
Another British critic argues against the issuing of Patents on genetic material of any kind, and criticises the research lab for applying for and accepting Patents for genetic material.
Is God no longer necessary for the understanding of the "generation of new life"? The Roman Catholic church argues that all life comes from God while welcoming the new accomplishment guardedly. What, exactly, does the church mean when it says, "All life comes from God?" Is that another euphemism like "God created Adam and Eve" which then came to be considered by some who called themsevles theologians as "this disproves Darwin's evolutionary theory". As one Zoology professor put it many decades ago, "There is no fundamental disagreement between the Creation Story in Genesis and the theory of evolution. I concur.
A synthetic, self-replicating sell, produced from four bottles of chemicals and a software program, using an existing e-coli cell (lab variety, and therefore unable to live outside the lab itself) after removing 14 genes from the cell has the potential to unlock our understanding of how to generate new cells to create water, from cells used to produce oxygen and hydrogen, which in the not-too-distant future could be very useful.
With the world's population possibly growing from 6.8 billion to some 9 billion over the next 30-40 years, there is going to be an exponentially growing need for additional food and water.
Additionally, these new "synthetic" and self-replicating cells might be useful in producing new organisms that could conceivably consume such disasters as the Oil slick in the Gulf of Mexica...but certainly not this one! Not that fast! Many years, perhaps decades into the future.
For additional info. check out Craig Ventner, on onpointradio.org for May 25, 2010

Monday, May 24, 2010

Can Stephen Lewis be recruited to lead in Ottawa?

So we learn that the rumours are true. Jean Chretien and Ed Broadbent, at least, are talking about the need to bridge the flailing Liberal and the fledgling NDP forces in Ottawa. Whether or not such talks would have as their goal the union of the two parties, it would seem logical that union would be a reasonable step.
The Liberal Party appears rudderless, virtually engine-less, map-less and so amorphous as to be, on its own, dysfunctional. The NDP, while somewhat more coherent, struggles to catch the imagination of the country.
In the lifetime of the current generation of political leaders, there is little prospect that either party can or will lead the government.
And, crazily, Harper is not providing much that Canadians can take pride in, by way of a vision of the country. His support for the corporate interests is virulent, constant and unbalanced.
It was in 1991, while speaking to a national reporter, that I asked the question, "When are the NDP and the Liberals going to join forces and become one party?" to which my reporter friend replied, from what I considered an inside perch, "Never! That is not going to happen ever!"
Nineteen years later, it appears that something of that magnitude may be necessary to restore the political balance in the country.
And, winning back support from voters in Quebec would be at the top of a list of priorities for the leadership of such a new political party.
Can Stephen Lewis, or someone of his stature, be recruited to lead such a party?
The country cannot wait much longer to end the vaccuum that exists in the leadership of this country and each of us has a responsibility to speak out for solutions, for action and for leadership. These are hardly simple, and non-challenging times in the world of national and geo-politics.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Obama "only adult" in Washington (James Laxer)

This week, three men named Harper, Layton and Ignatieff have been condemned by the likes of Rex Murphy for "losing their minds" because of their tacit agreement to run for cover on the issue of submitting M.P.'s expense accounts to the Auditor General. Only Gilles Duceppe appears willing to submit to the hot-button word, "transparency" with respect to how members spend the $550 million in expenses.
It is true that all expenses of the Canadian government are examined by the Auditor General, and for some time, this specific function has been in abeyance.
Yet Murphy and others would do well to listen to Chantal Hebert, of the Toronto Star and CBC's At Issue Panel, who advises that the sponsorship scandal blew-up after the auditor general released some specific findings about how money was influencing politics in the Liberal Party in Quebec.
It could be argued that the party has not recovered from that debacle after how many years?
Why would M.P.'s wish to submit to such a muckraking by both the media and the voters? And the media are sitting ready to pounce on the most infinitessimal indiscretion, especially when they know it will feed their sales/ratings for their readers/viewers/listeners to learn some miniscule fact that discredits their already untrustworthy M.P.
Both the politicians and the media have fallen victim to the "gotcha" game of finger-pointing that constitutes the melodrama of North American politics today. It is truly a shameful "show" and that is the only word for it. It is as if the tabloid-type journalism and the "gotcha" finger-pointing of the political opponents have fused into one very juvenile high-school "non-musical".
As James Laxer put it on Allan Gregg's TVO interview, "The only adult in Washington is Barack Obama!"
And there is reasonable doubt that he can carry this "war of attrition" of the political systems alone successfully.
At least one healthy adult male, Obama, is still visible trying to conduct political business from a position of some maturity, decency and credibility, and yet the sharks even in his own party are circling his cage sniffing for blood because of his "tardy" and insufficient response to the BP oil haemorrage in the Gulf of Mexico.

Benefits of Research into Male Issues

The largest proportion of behavioural, cognitive and attitudinal problems in schools are involving male students. Why is that? Is it merely because only males are "bad"? Hardly. Perhaps there are changes to the climate and the culture of schools that are desperately needed, in order to accommodate the truth about male students! And males need not apologize for their true identity!
Perhaps, as has been argued by others, the definitions of some of our major conditions, like depression, have come from female symptoms, while male symptoms are very different, and we have been treating the symptoms and not the causes.
By separating out the males from the females, a looking deeply into male biography (including male biology) we might find that we are also treating the symptoms in the courts, in the social service agencies, and in the health care system.
It says here that it takes more courage and true manliness to resist violence, and to work out whatever difficulties may confront anyone, than to pick up arms, or fists, or weapons of any kind, including those of mass destruction, to attack one's opponent!
Another benefit to researching male issues is that we stop the blame game, that is by finding out the real differences between men and women, we also agree to accept what cannot be changed, and learn to celebrate it, including all of its dangerous elements for both genders.
Additional research will also make it possible for women to learn about their life partners in ways not open to them previously, and to learn how to be in relationship with men, on terms that accommmodate both partners, not just one.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Scary statistics re. adolescent males and females

Seventy-five per cent of girls graduated from publicly funded high schools in Canada in 2006-’07, compared to 68 per cent of boys, according to Statistics Canada.

Nearly 61 per cent of degrees, diplomas and certificates from Canadian universities in 2007 were awarded to women “continuing a long-term trend in which female graduates outnumber their male counterparts and their proportion continues to increase,” says StatsCan
. (These figures are found in Robert Cribb's story, Toronto Star, May 19, 2010)

In one Ontario public school system, according to a trustee on the board of that system, the ratio of female to male students in the "Gifted Student" Program is 95%:5%. In other words, if you are male in the secondary school system in that board, you are statistically "not gifted" since you will not fit the criteria for entry.

In 1996, researcher Diane Ravitch, summed up self-esteem research this way:
If there is a crisis in self-esteem, it is not among young women. Girls are doing very well indeed. Boys, in the meantime, are killing themselves and each other at alarming rates. If either sex is in trouble in our society, it is the males. (from A Fine Young Man, Michael Gurian, Tarcher/Putnam, New York, 1998, p.21)
(Gurian's stories and statistics come from the U.S. Much more research is needed to compile data about Canadian adolescent males. This could be one of the primary purposes and results of one or more Male Studies Programs.)
On page 11 of the same book, Michael Gurian, (who has a foundation in the northwest U.S. dedicated the nurturing boys and men) writes:
Statistics and stories about our homicidal adolescent males are dramatic enough to garner most of the headlines: the fourteen-year-old in Mississippi who killed two children and wounded seven; the fouteen-year-old in Kentucky who shot three dead; the thirteen-year-old in Washington who opened fire in his school and killed three; the elevel-and thirteen-year-olds who killed five in Jonesboro, Arkansas. (Statistics in Canada would not be as high as these.)
Gurian continues: But they don't describe the whole picture. It seems impossible for us to fully comprehend the state of male adolescence in our culture, yet it is essential we do so. There is hardly any social or personal health indicator in which adolescent boys do not show the lion's share of risk today. Decades ago, our females suffered more in more high-risk areas, and now our adolescent males are suffering privation we have not fully understood...
(Here are some statistic Gurian lays out)
Adolescent boys are significantly more likely than adolescent girls to die before the age of eighteen, not just from violent causes but also from accidental death and disease.
Adolescent boys are significantly more likely than adolescent girls to die at the hands of their caregivers. Two out of three juveniles killed at the hands of their parents or stepparents are male.
Adolescent boys are fifteen times as likely as peer females to be victims of violent crime.
One-third of adolescent male student nationwide (U.S.) carry a gun or other weapon to school.
Gunshot wounds are now (1998) the second leading cause of accidental death among ten-to fourteen-year-old males.
Adolescent boys are four times more likely than adolescent girls to be diagnosed as emotionally disturbed.
The majority of juvenile mental patients nationwide are male. Depending on the state, most often between two-thirds and three-fourths of patients at juvenile mental facilities are male.
Most of the deadliest and longest lasting mental problems experienced by children are experienced by adolescent males. For example, there are six male adolescent schizophrenics for every one female. Adolescent autistic males outnumber females two to one.
Adolescent males significantly outnumber females in diagnoses of most conduct disorders, thought disorders and brain disorders.
The majority of adolescent alcoholics and drug addicts are males.
(According to Terrence Real, a Cambridge MA psychotherapist):
Although females are popularly considered to suffer more depression than males, in fact it is "overt depression" that our adolescent females experience two to four times more often than males. "Covert depression" --evidenced in drug and alcohol use, criminal activity, avoidance of intimacy and isolation from others, especially families-brings the male-female depression ratio at least to par. Real makes another important observation: Depression in males has often been overlooked because we don't recognize the male's way of being depressed. We measure depression by the female's model of overt depression. She talks about suicide, expresses feelings of worthlessness, shows her fatigue. Unaware of the male's less expressive, more stoic way of being, we miss the young depressed man, who in a town in Washington, walked into his high-school and opened fire on his classroom, killing his classmates.
More statistics:
Adolescent males are four times more likely than adolescent females to commit suicide. Suicide success statistics (death actually occurs) for adolescent males are rising; for females they are not rising.
One of the most important findings of youth suicide studies is that adolescent males seem to have so much more trouble than their female peers in reaching out for help when they are in deep trouble, except through violence against others, society or self.
ADHD is almost exclusively a male malady. One out of six adolescents iagnosed with ADHD is female.
ADHD is one of the reasons for the high rate of adolescent male vehicle accidents and fatalities.
One in five males has been sexually abused by the age of eighteen.
Most sexual offenders are hetersexual males who have been physically and/or sexually abused as boys themselves. (Adolescent females suffer at a higher rate: at least one in four.) However, male sexual abuse has only recently been studied and some researchers have found that as many as two out of five male children are sexually abused-comparable to the rate of female sexual abuse.
A sexually abused adolescent male is more likely than his female counterpart to act out against someone else, generally someone younger and weaker than himself, through rape, physical violence and sexual molestation.
Adolescent boys are twice as likely as adolescent girls to be diagnosed as learning disabled.
Two-thirds of high school special education and handicapped students are male.
Adolescent male learning disabilities are more intractable, on average, than those of adolescent females.
Adolescent males drop out of high school at four times the rate of adolescent females (including the females who drop out to have babies.)
Adolescent males are significantly more likely than adolescent females to be left back a grade.
Fewer boys than girls now study advanced algebra and geometry, about the same number study trigonometry and calculus, and more girls than boys study chemistry.
Adolescent males are outscored by adolescent females by twelve points in reading and by seventeen points in writing.
Grade eight girls are twice as likely as grade eight boys to aspire to a professional, business or managerial career. (Gurian, p.11-16)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Male Issues...an overview

Men's Issues is a title convering many aspects of the male life:
his biology,
his family history and relationships,
his education or rejection of same,
his work relationships,
his married family relationships,
his spiritual life and belief system,
his psychological development,
his political life,
his exercise of power and authority,
his relationship to the legal and penal systems,
his cultural history and development.
And it really doesn't stop there. There are sociological studies, of men's collective data to be done, and there are psychological/biographical stories of individual men's lives to be told and written. There are men's letters and art, and men's technological inventions, men's organizational patterns and his athletic pursuits.
And then there is the big one: how men talk/relate/support other men, especially if and when they are in crisis.
We have for too long, let the professionals handle too many of our troubles. Ordinary men, working men, lunch-bucket blue-collar men have a wisdom that far exceeds their own estimate of that wisdom. And it is time to mine it! And it is time for their women partners to begin to mine that wisdom also.
This notion of the independent human being is simply a myth.
Men need other men, and we need our women partners, children and grandchildren! And there is no debasement of masculinity in admitting to such need!

What stimulated my interest in Male Issues

My father, in his eighties, once commented, "You were raised by Hitler and Chamberlain; your mother was the former, I was the latter!"
Naming himself as an appeaser, in the classic stereotypical sense, suggested he knew in some deep place that he had not confronted his partner, in healthy and helpful ways, and by his withdrawal, gave away too much of the "playing field" to her wishes, needs, desires, hopes and directives. Both my sister and I were the recipients of our mother's wrath, in both physical and emotional abuse.
I carefully watched the two male teachers I had in public school, in grade seven and another in grade eight. Both were assertive, self-confident, self-respecting male motivators, inspirers, knowing and using their authority with both respect and discretion.
In high school, I watched more male instructors, without even knowing the meaning of the word "gay" or homosexual. Some seemed a little "whipped" in their marriages, others, single, seemed more likely to be having fun, both in their professions and in their lives.
In college, once again, I watched the differences between male and female professors...and they were many and startling. The males were interested in the "big" picture, while some of the females were more interested in the minutiae.
And there have been several supervisors, both male and female, most of whom I have tried to "get along" with, while one or two were just simply "out to lunch".
Covering municipal politics for fifteen years gave me a bird's eye view of how some men and women "wore" their political power. And that was revealing. I must say that women were a far more trustworthy source for a television interview; often the men played games with both their colleagues and the interviewer.
It was a brief stint as an incipient clergy that really opened my eyes to the reality that the institution had been "taken over" by women, with the complete and open complicity of the male leadership. Was this spinelessness, or political correctness?" Was it merely the sign of the times, or had the male preference for avoiding conflict merely fully bloomed?
Men were being accused of many things, while women were riding above the fray, with impunity, immunity and the support of the sisterhood.
Men, on the other hand, abandoned other men who were under seige.
After years of "doing my own inner work" I came to the conclusion that, in a first marriage of twenty-plus years, I was less of a partner than I could have been, believing that men were supposed to "accede" to their spouses wishes, for the most part. I did not stand up for my own point of view, but merely busied myself in extra-curricular activities, (the professional kind) in order not to have to face the reality of my own aloneness.
Now, I will do whatever I can to support other men in their pursuit of their highest potential as husbands, fathers, professionals and as grandfathers. And that does not include "bashing" women, or committing any kind of disrespect towards women.
As a father of three daughters, and the grandfather of three grand-daughters, I am most blessed and grateful to them all.

Brief Bibliography on Male Issues

Here is a brief bibliography on Men's Issues from the Kingston Public Library. No doubt there are many more.
1)Man Overboard (True Adventures with North American Men) by Ian Brown, Macfarlane, Walter & Ross, Toronto, 1993
2)Up from Here, Reclaiming the Male Spirit, by Iyanla Vanzant, Harper Collins, 1996
3)The Masculine Mystique, The politics of Masculinity by Andrew Kimbrell, Ballantyne Books, New York, 1995
4)Spreading Misandry, The Teaching of Contempt for Men in Popular Culture, Paul Nathanson and Katherine K. Young, McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2001
5)Are Men Necessary? When Sexes Collide, Maureen Dowd, Berkley Books, New York, 2006
6)The Other Half of Gender, Men’s Issues in Development, Edited by Ian Bannon and Maria C. Correia, The World Bank, 2006
7)The Decline of Males, Lionel Tiger, Golden Books, New York, 1999
Stiffed, The Betrayal of the American Man, Susan Faludi, William Morrow and Company, Inc. New York, 1999
8)The Wonder of Boys, Michael Gurian, Tarcher/Putnam, New York, 1997
9)A Fine Young Man, Michael Gurian, Tarcher/Putnam, New York,
Real Boys, William Pollack, Owl Books, Henry Holt and Company, Inc. New York, 1998
10)The Soul’s Code, James Hillman
11)Revisioning Psychology, James Hillman
12)The Rag and Bone Shop of the Heart, Poems for Men, Robert Bly, James Hillman, and Michael Meade, Harper Collins, New York, 1992

Male Studies ....NEEDED NOW!

Search the University of Toronto faculty for experts on the study of women and you’ll find more than 40 academics with research interests including “women’s mental health,” “women and religion” and even “women’s fast pitch.”

Conduct the identical search for “men” as a research topic and discover two lonely academics, both of whom specialize in gay men.

Of the genders, it seems feminine distinctions have become overwhelmingly more fascinating to the academe.

Witness the well-entrenched women’s studies departments in universities across Canada and the United States — important academic centres of inquiry that have provided a steady pulse for the feminist movement.

Now have a look for men’s studies programs.

Or, don’t bother.

I looked.

As far as anyone in the field can tell, there’s only one in North America, located at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, N.Y. which offers a minor in the field.

Add to that barren ground an array of individual, off-the-radar courses here and there, usually located in women’s or “gender studies” departments.

It all amounts to male myopia in the ivory tower in which boys and men are studied through a distinctly feminist prism, says a group of North American academics who are taking their grievances public.

“The landscape has essentially been controlled by women’s studies,” says Dr. Lionel Tiger, a Canadian professor of anthropology at Rutgers University in New Jersey. “Men’s studies are a branch plant phenomenon when, and where, they exist.”

The overpowering orthodoxy of men’s studies is that if you’re male, you’re bad or in need of remedy, says Tiger, a native Montrealer who taught at the University of British Columbia for five years.

“The courses are structured in order to try to make boys not boys, that is, to turn them into well socialized non-male creatures.”

The repercussions of all this are troubling and increasingly evident say researchers, citing poor performance of boys in school and higher university graduation rates for women.

Seventy-five per cent of girls graduated from publicly funded high schools in Canada in 2006-’07, compared to 68 per cent of boys, according to Statistics Canada.

Nearly 61 per cent of degrees, diplomas and certificates from Canadian universities in 2007 were awarded to women “continuing a long-term trend in which female graduates outnumber their male counterparts and their proportion continues to increase,” says StatsCan.

In desperate times, some American academics are proposing a schism in the already low-profile men’s studies discipline that would give birth to a bolder, less guilt-inducing approach dubbed “male studies.”

The Foundation for Male Studies proposes a conference and a journal as well as full major university programs that encompass history, sociology, anthropology, psychology and literature among other disciplines.

(Robert Cribb, Toronto Star, May 19, 2010)
This is a major development, among men. And let's not get into a game of blaming what has been going on in Women's Studies for the lack of such a program in Men's Studies.
It is a significant sign of the differences between men and women that women would seek ALL available avenues, including building coalitions, for the purpose of making themselves aware of their fullest potential and its expression.
Men, on the other hand, virtually refuse even to look introspectively at themsevles. And certainly not as a political, social, academic or cultural movement. Consequently, it would have been, and maybe still is, difficult to find men willing to state the obvious: that men are living in the dark about their own "inner lives" while women have taken the lead in their own self-discovery.
Whether that is "getting along" or "not" I find some men who are interested in men's issues falling into the model outlined by women's studies leaders, including an emphasis on therapy, counselling and when one expresses a view, held and advocated by James Hillman, that we have had thirty years of therapy and are no further ahead, those same men are irate.
Frightened men will never develop academic programs to enlighten men!
And it is frightened men, frightened that they are not as emotionally endowed as women, frightened that they are not as psychically and spiritually evolved as women that are blocking this movement from emerging.
This is not a competition for who gets to the end of the race faster.
It is a common goal, with very different perspectives on the goaland very different persepctives on how to get there. And both perspectives are, or ought to be valid.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Seniors still thinking, absorbing new info., still useful...according to Docs.


YouDocs: Worry not seniors. Memory lapses mean your brain is getting wiser
(From Toronto Star, May 17, 2010)

You can’t find your car in the parking lot. Your wallet’s wandered away again. And where’s that tax-return cheque, anyway? Think you’re losing it? Exhale: Everyday memory lapses may mean your brain’s getting older. But it’s also getting wiser.

No, we haven’t lost our minds. Yes, recall gets tougher with age. That’s partly because our brains are taking in more information than ever before.

But it’s also because we get more easily distracted. Brains of people in their 60s, 70s and 80s get distracted within 200 milliseconds of seeing a set of pictures, according to a recent study.

It happens so fast that people can’t prevent it. The upside? In other new research, seniors absorbed more facts during a memory test than people in their teens and 20s. Plus they were 30 per cent better at using the info later to make decisions. Better decisions! Yes!

Bottom line: You can’t battle distraction with willpower. So don’t merge onto a rush-hour highway while your passengers are singing at the top of their lungs. Don’t toss your car keys any old place. Don’t try to multi-task like a 20-year-old. (If you’re returning a phone call and paying bills, guess which one you’ll screw up?) Instead, do significant tasks one at a time and eliminate distractions. (“Pipe down back there!”) Put important belongings in the same spots (“my passport’s filed under travel”) or write down where they are (“the car’s parked on level 5”). Oh, and when you have an opinion, share it. After all, your brain’s wiser than ever.

As one of these sixty-somethings, this is great news.
What isn't so great is the kind of "stereotyping" of our generation by those coming after. We may have little or no hair, and we may have a slightly enlarged waistline, but we can still think, imagine, create and inspire!
And we would all love more opportunities to do all of these things, for cash, or not!
Like members of all other generations, we love to be useful, needed, without imposing either our wills or our opinions, just our wisdom and insight.

High-School memo from Treasury-Board (Stockwell Day)

Stockwell.Day@tbs-sct.gc.ca.
This is the address to which the Honourable Stockwell Day invites his 2700 "friends" in the Treasury Department to send him a note, to inform him of what they are thinking about what the department should be doing, or not.
The verbose invitation, a second attempt, (the first failed utterly!) landed in the Gobe and Mail inbox, whether planned or by accident.
Mr. Day, this is not how you run a government department, especially one as important as Treasury Board. This is what the student council president of the local high school might do to the members of his new council.
And immature, amateurish, naive, and inconsequential is the way those 2700 seasoned civil servants are going to view your invitation. (Not to mention the less civil adjectives like stupid, idiotic, brain-dead, and fruitless!)
Isn't it time the Harper government took its cabinet members out behind the woodshed and gave them a few basic instructions in interactive communications, adult learning, political diplomacy and deep, critical thinking.
Of course, whom would Mr. Harper select to do the training? Surely not himself, he of so little trust, confidence and creativity that he would not know these potential assets if they tripped him on his way into the House of Commons.
When the bottom of the class is in charge, the results will be bottom-rate.
And, as the surly nun from Air Farce reminds us, "We voted for them!"

The "Right" to Dominate Public Opinion

It’s not often we get a chance to glimpse how power really operates in Canada. Last night was one of those rare opportunities.

At 6 p.m., the men who dominate our financial system assembled at the Hilton Hotel in downtown Toronto. Among them were the CEOs of Canada’s five big banks and the top insurance companies. In many ways, this crowd could be regarded as the executive committee of Canada’s ruling elite.

They came for a dinner ($1,250 a ticket) to raise funds for a new monetary policy research centre connected to the C.D. Howe Institute. That may sound innocuous. But Canada’s top bankers were not getting together to figure out how they can make banking more customer-friendly.

Monetary policy may seem dull, but what’s at stake isn’t. It deals with money — how much will be in circulation and how much it will cost to borrow. The answers to those questions affect us all — but in different ways, depending on our financial circumstances. (Linda McQuaig, Toronto Star, May 17, 2010)

Ms McQuaig outlines how monetary policy feeds the interests, either of those seeking and those seeking to sustain employment, with low interest rates versus those seeking to make more money, on their money, with higher interest rates, thereby determining the amount of money in circulation at any given time. She also notes that Mark Carney, the Governor of the Bank of Canada, and himself a 12 or 13 year veteran of Goldman Sachs, was at the dinner last night.
Not only is the C.D. Howe Institute funded by Canada's rich elite, but increasingly, so are Canada's universities, Canada's land-owners and developers, Canada's pharmeceutical industry, and virtually all of Canada's media.
Little wonder, then, that the capacity of the "right" to influence public opinion against workers, the poor, the uneducated and the undereducated, the unemployed and the underemployed is, and likely will continue to be, so dominant.
In fact, there is really no "left" opinion remaining in this country. Even the N.D.P. is reduced to fighting for better ATM rates, a mere pimple on the tumour of the "right's" control of the body politic.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Introduction(s)

The Spring of my winter
started on a cold January day
hitting golf balls in Denver at
a crowded driving range;
out of season, out of country
out of place with a man I
barely knew, the father of my
nine-year spouse
whose octogenarian arms and
shoulders were
more agile and vibrant
than mine, in late sixties,
after an hour he wanted
nothing more than a full
round
and I knew then it could be
a much longer Spring to my
Winter...
and that more sunrises and
sunsets awaited...if only
I could be patient with
myself
and if only I could search
and find more mountains
to climb...
and more time to get to know
this driven male
engineer, surveyor
seeker and mystic...
only two of which names
he would likely accept...

Sunday, May 16, 2010

"The Rocket"...seeds of independence in the 1950's?

Between the Eastern Conference finals and the semi-finals, on a blank Saturday night, CBC Television re-ran the documentary film, "The Rocket" about the hockey career of Maurice "The Rocket" Richard.
In retrospect, there is a case to be made, that, given the unadulteratred prejudice of the league, and the NHL commissioner, toward Les Canadiens, that the seeds for the Quebec independence movement were planted back in 1952-3-4, when "The Rocket" used the Quebec press to lash out against the unfair judgements being made by referees and league officials against him and his hockey team.
Why, for example, had he never won the scoring title?
Why was Hal Laycoe not penalized for hitting Richard first, when Richard was suspended for the balance of the season and the play-offs for his retaliation, including the striking of a referee?
As the documentary portrayed, the ironic result of Richard's return following his suspension led to five consecutive Stanley Cup victories.
There is no doubt that the "Habs" mean more to the culture of Quebec than any other NHL team means to their respective city or region. In Quebec, hockey appears more important that religion, and the faith of the people in the tradition, reputation, honour and dignity of the winningest hockey team in history knows no bounds.
The team's stunning upset of the Pittsburgh Penguins in the second round of the 2010 play-offs, resulting mostly from the epic goal-tending of Jaroslav Halak, evokes memories of both Ken Dryden in 1971 and Patrick Roy in the 1990's.
And when the rest of Canada listens as the fans in the Bell Centre sing O Canada, none of our hearts can be still, given the history both of the team and of the province itself.

Canada's role in untying Af-Pak Gordion Knot

Pakistan has been sliding into chaos for too long to be pulled out quickly.

Jihadism was encouraged and paid for by the U.S. in the 1980s to roll back the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, using the Islamic mujahideen as proxies. In the 1990s, Pakistan created the Taliban as its proxy in Afghanistan. It created other militias as proxies in Kashmir against India. Since 2001, the Taliban and Al Qaeda have spawned offshoots in Pakistan. Now it’s difficult to tell the difference between the Afghan Taliban and the Pakistan Taliban, or their affiliates.

Anti-Americanism runs rampant, which is why the drone attacks are not acknowledged. But being an open secret, the attacks are feeding even more militancy (Faisal Shahzad, the Times Square terrorist, is said to have been seeking revenge for civilian deaths from the drone attacks).

The U.S. wants the Pakistani army to continue its military offensive in the border region. But the army is stretched (having committed 240,000 troops and lost 800 last year alone) and the Pakistani public has other priorities.

The economy is in the doldrums. Power shortages are acute. Corruption is rampant (worse than in Afghanistan). Pakistanis see their government following an American agenda, which they do not regard as being in their interest. The U.S. recasts its request in terms of Pakistan needing to deal with its own internal jihadist cancer. (Haroon Siddiqui, Toronto Star, Sunday May 16, 2010)

The Canadian government cannot wash its hands of the Af-Pak problem simply by withdrawing troops in 2011. However, it must marshall the best minds in foreign policy (remember Lester Pearson, Flora McDonald, Allan MacEachen and others) in order to mount a substantive debate in this country, about our future participation in the region.
If we listen carefully to John Ralston Saul, Canadian governments have not considered Foreign Affairs to be a significant policy department, and have shuffled different suits and faces into the ministry for decades.
This is one Canadian tradition we can no longer afford!
Canadian scholars in International Relations are teaching and writing about these matters every day. The Prime Minister could and should bring a dozen of these thinkers to a table and spend at least a week-end listening to their insights.
This gordion knot will not untie itself. And it's untying could use some Canadian intelligence. And we know there is lots here waiting to be asked!

Clarkson "dead-on" on Northern European trip!

Remember the furor when then Canadian Governor General, Adrienne Clarkson, took a gaggle of Canadian thinkers and leaders to the northern European countries in Scandinavia and, if I recall correctly, even into the then Soviet Union, as part of an awareness campaign, demonstrating that Canada too, is and will always be a Northern Country. It was her valliant attempt to reorient thinking in Canada away from an exclusive North-South fixation.
Just beause there is/was a pot of money, and $2billion in daily cross-border trade between Canada and the U.S., it is also true that we have much more in common with our northern European friends.
We have a similar climate; we love hockey; we are all small to mid-sized countries and populations; we have a social conscience, and we have an inventive brain and an extremely conscientious workforce. We also have our own brands of language accommodation and different cultural integration.
We are respected on the world stage, without being feared; we provide some military, if absolutely needed, but always in a limited size and assignment. There are traces of the monarchy on both sides of the Atlantic.
We are members of NATO, such as it is. We have a relationship with Great Britain, however different that may be for each of our countries.
There was, and remains, a transparent and valid logic for the then G-G to organize such a trip. The fuss was more about the insipid Canadian provincialism, and our fetish about counting pennies, while wasting pounds.

Two Neigbours, with a River Fence

Living on the border between the U.S. and Canada is a unique experience.
Of course, there is the "cross-border" radio station that likes its listeners to welcome weather reports for both sides, one in Celsius the other in Fahrenheit, as if that were bridging the two cultures. The news is read from the Canadian side, leaving no time/space/content for the Upstate N.Y. news, except for the occasional commercial for a campaigning politician.
There are hockey tournaments with young teams from both sides of the 49th.
There are American license plates (tags) roaming through the towns and villages on the north side, and likewise Canadian plates with shoppers on the south side of the border.
There is an international M.B.A. between Queen's and Cornell University in N.Y.state, whose students, mostly having their tuition sponsored by their corporate employers, can boast an "international" education.
Occasionally, one might see a copy of the New York Times being read in a Canadian coffee shop, but not an Upstate paper, and undoubtedly, there is a very small distribution (if any) of a Canadian daily in any of the Upstate towns or cities.
But there is really very little flow of information either way. Rarely are U.S. schools competing, even in exhibition games, with Canadian schools.
Rarely is the U.S. mentioned in the local newscasts, as I am sure is the case in reverse, in N.Y. state.
I always thought, in fact believed, that an enhanced awareness of one's neighbour made one a more tolerant, more integrated and more cosmopolitan neighbour. It seems provincialism, or is it parochialism, defines the non-connectedness between the two neighbours, who once hearlded the great joint accomplishment of the St. Lawrence Seaway, and the International Bridge over the river.
We're certainly not enemies, but we're not getting to know one another in any substantial way either.
Why is Canada'a External Affairs Department not instituting a series of lectures to American audiences, in an effort to stem the tide of mis-apprehensions and outright distortions of our country?

Saturday, May 15, 2010

A Mid-east United States of Islam!.....NO!

TEHRAN, Iran — A radical cleric called Saturday for the creation of a "Greater Iran" that would rule over the entire Middle East and Central Asia, in an event that he said would herald the coming of Islam's expected messiah.

Ayatollah Mohammad Bagher Kharrazi said the creation of what he calls an Islamic United States is a central aim of the political party he leads called Hezbollah, or Party of God, and that he hoped to make it a reality if they win the next presidential election.

Kharrazi's comments reveal the thinking of a growing number of hard-liners in Iran, many of whom have become more radical during the postelection political crisis and the international standoff over the country's nuclear program. Kharrazi, however, is not highly influential in Iran's clerical hierarchy and his views do not represent those of the current government.

Kharrazi's comments were published Saturday in his newspaper, Hezbollah.

He said he envisioned a Greater Iran that would stretch from Afghanistan to Israel, bringing about the destruction of the Jewish state. (From the Huffington Post, Saturday, May 15, 2010)

We have heard these rumblings before. However, the announced spread of an Islamic theocracy throughout the Middle East, with the elimination of the Jewish state is neither acceptable nor even able to be contemplated.
With radical Imams in Great Britain calling publicly for the takeover of Buckingham Palace and turning it into a Muslim mosque, leaving the Queen the option either of converting to Islam or leaving the country, and now with this radicalized vision of the future of the Islamic world, among many other events and rumours of plans of violence, there is no country of the world, and no citizen of the world that can be detached from these pronouncements.
Apocalyptic visions of the return of the messiah have been rejected for centuries in other religions, and we must view this pronouncement with enhanced suspicion and intense watchfulness and rigour.

All of us must speak out against such a vision!

And we must do it with vigour, with reason and with haste!

Listening to a Montreal 'hockey mom," Harvard PhD, Muslim feminist, and columnist for the Globe and Mail, Sheema Khan, on the Allen Gregg interview show on TVO earlier today, one would have to wonder about the capacity of such a compassionate and intelligent and reassuring voice to be "under the same tent" as the radical cleric from Tehran.
Seeking common purpose in human rights, and seeking not to impose a third world vision of Islam in Canada or the West, Ms Khan argued for a Canadian application of her faith.
Yet how can we non-Muslims actually hear her reasonable message, amid the constant drum-beat of such a radical vision as that coming from Hezbollah?

Friday, May 14, 2010

Red Flag! Provincial Autonomy Creeping or Chomping in Canada?

For the past decade, Canada’s provincial landscape has been as stable as the federal scene has been in flux.

That may be about to change.

In Quebec and British Columbia, the governments of the Liberal premiers who have anchored the provincial table are increasingly adrift. And the tectonic plates of Alberta could be on the verge of a historical shift.

The advent of a more autonomist government in Alberta; the return of a sovereignist party to power in Quebec; a resurgence of the populist protest politics that use to make British Columbia the most volatile provincial scene in the country are all on the radar.

At the same time, fundamental federal-provincial arrangements pertaining to Medicare and equalization will soon have to be renegotiated; prospects for a return to federal surpluses are distant and those of a return majority rule in Parliament remain low.

There may be a perfect storm in the making on the federal-provincial horizon and if and when it comes the women who are waiting in the opposition wings of some of Canada’s major provinces could very much be in the thick of the tempest. (Chantal Hebert, Toronto Star, May 10,2010)

(The women Ms Hebert is referring to including the PQ leader Pauline Marois and the Redrose Alliance leader in Alberta.)

Ms Hebert is a highly respected political commentator, whose taking of the pulse of the Canadian political heart beat usually ranks her as one of the more insightful.
However, it is the Canadian electorate, currently languishing in a somnambulant state, since Harper was elected, that must wake up and come to terms with the kind of country they want to see for their grandchildren.
Seeing the federal government as the "parent" to the fledgling "children" provinces was never the intent of those who wrote the Canadian constitution. Specific powers (health, education, interior highways, social services) generally focussing on the lives of their residents were assigned to the provinces while national issues like the post, military, currency and foreign policy were assigned, along with a "residual clause" of items not specifically dedicated to the provinces, to the federal government.
It is the question of the right to tax that may lie at the heart of our future deliberations. Both the province and the federal government have taxing powers, yet the federal income tax, the big revenue-generator, rests with the feds. Negotiations between provinces and Ottawa over how to divide federally collected funds for provincial programs has never been simple, easy or necessarily equitable, in the provinces' view.
However, our's is an extremely complicated governance system, based largely on tradition, custom, the relationships between political leaders and other less than legal and legally defined components.
Assuming a stance whose undercurrent is "the patronizing federal government" by any provinces, singly or collectively must not be the starting point for any future deliberations. Since the PQ really has no other goal than independence, any other aspiring provincial leader would do well to distance him or herself from such a posture.
And the rest of us would do well to hold those other provincial leaders' feet to the fire of a country that refuses to become balkanized further.

Cleaning up the OIL SLICK(S)

Three "suits" sat in front of a Congressional Committee investigating the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexio. Each was the CEO of his respective company: BP, the contracting oil company managing the project, Transocean the owner and operator of the "rig" and Halliburton the service provider to the contractor.
Each made a statement before "submitting" to questions from the politicos.
And, true to form, each assigned responsibility to another of the three parties. Talk about one "oil slick!" These three represented the kind of "oil slick" that has already reached the shores of North America, contaminating the hearts and minds of observers, students, scholars and even shamans.It says, no matter the circumstances, "I did not do it! But I know who did! And the other guy over there is the one you want to hang the "blame" on!"
Sounds very like a situation in a vice-principal's office, after a brawl in the schoolyard. The three combatants, being interviewed publicly, (this time in front of cameras, in a piece of political theatre, certainly not to be termed a "real investigation" thereby making the questioners just as complicit as the three exec's, using bravado, and cover-up to protect the "legal liability" of their firm, pointed their rich fingers at the other guy.
Certianly it was not BP because they neither owned nor operated the rig. And it was not Transocean because they merely operated the rig, and were under contract to BP. And, as for Halliburton, as the mere service providers, they were under contract and following instructions from the principal contractor, BP.
Here we go round the mulberry bush, here we go....only at three o'clock in the AFTERNOON, not the morning.
Who said the world wasn't turned upside down? Lewis Carroll was so prescient!
There is a theory, propounded by Carl Jung about "masks." He postulated, theoretically of course, that when one's ego and one's mask (persona) are undifferentiated, or unable to be separated, a condition known as enantiadromia exists. For maturation, individuation, the separation of the persona from the ego is necessary.
These executives, as voices for their companies, and the culture of America, seem to provide excellent illustration of Jung's theory. And it will take the whole culture to come to its senses, to realize that only together can the mask be differentiated from the ego.
And as the audience to this "greek tragedy" we have to be very vocal in our conscious rejection of our own tendency to let our mask and ego become fused as one!
It will take more than new boxes, and smaller pipes and ocean tankers and clean-up chemicals to separate the cultural persona (profit and minimizing loss) from the cultural ego (honesty, responsibility and integrity).
And we really don't have much time!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Blogging on "blurbs"

..."the Leader of the Loyal Opposition in my country has just been accused of … fudging his blurbs.

The government benches are supposedly in high dudgeon over Michael Ignatieff’s most recent book appearing in paperback with promos and endorsements on the back that aren’t exactly accurate.

“Plenty of scope for a rich story,” the National Post is recorded as saying about his family memoir, True Patriot Love. “Well-written.”

True enough, it turns out, but the Post apparently didn’t think the “rich story” had been delivered. The newspaper also said there is “little that is new,” that the book “offers up clich├ęs” and, in the end, stands as “a well-written disappointment.”

“Dishonest!” came the cries from the government benches. “Deceitful!”

As for the “comments” section of one of the websites that carried the story, some Canadians think he should resign, some are blaming the Tories for a lame attempt to divert attention from their own scandal (remember Helena Guergis?) and one even forgives him, saying you can hardly expect someone who aspires to be Prime Minister of Canada to admit “I wrote a book that sucks.” (Roy MacGregor, Globe and Mail, May 13, 2010)

It would seem, Dear Roy, that blurbs appear not only on book jackets and movie ads, but it must be a "blurb" industry that is actually working for the government, all liberal democratic governments, who apparently have fallen for the notion that, while they believe their own "blurbs," they also believe the rest of us do too!

Government propaganda by blurb is the monetizing of obsequiousness, getting rich by fawning at the feet of the "masters" of the power structure. It is neither honest nor can it hope to build trust in either the people or the process of liberal democracy. And we are drowning in it!

Like you, I had the honour and privilege of sliding a sheef of yellow pages on which I had typed some "poems" across the table in a North Bay coffee shop to the outstreched hand of Margaret Atwood, who had that day been a visitor to the school where I taught. She actually read the stuff and commented, unforgetably, "When are you going to jump off the cliff?"
Like you, I have pondered, jumped into, swam with and delighted in that moment for nearly forty years!...and Atwood is not into "blurbs!" Thank God and Margaret Atwood! Would that her kind were running the country!

Long-term goals determine strategy and tactics for White House

"It's having a long-term strategy and working backwards from that," explained Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer during an interview in his West Wing office.

Success would be premised on building blocks. Moving the health care bill through the complicated committee process would be the equivalent of winning the Iowa caucus (necessary, as both were, for at least keeping Obama's prospects alive). Persuading lawmakers to back the bill throughout 2009 would be like the delicate chase for superdelegates in 2008. The final vote, in turn, was Election Day.

The tactics, likewise, were similar. There were core messages designed to appeal to moderates and activists alike (deficit reduction and expanded coverage). There was a clear invocation of this historical nature of the effort. And when presented with a numerical value for success -- in this case, 60 votes in the Senate -- the president and his team relied more on calculated maneuvering than big sells. Instead of pushing the entire caucus behind health care reform, they worked with individual members based on their relevancy to the process. It was the difference between trying to win every primary election and prioritizing states with strategic delegate yield.

More than any other mindset borrowed from the campaign, however, was the sense that politics is a sport of transactions. Handed a political landscape of broad competing interests, the best way to navigate is to offer a broad but concrete goal and jump hurdles. The only thing not to be compromised is success itself, in part because failure would prove so crippling.

"First and foremost, passing health care defined the ability of us as a country to govern ourselves," said Neera Tanden, a domestic policy adviser for the White House throughout most of the health care battle. "People forgot that when we face an imminent disaster this country actually could act." (Sam Stein, Huffington Post, May 13, 2010... stein@huffingtonpost.com)

Earlier today, (May 13/2010) I listened to one caller to NPR's On Point with Tom Ashbrook. The caller, a Republican, nevertheless rebuked his own party for claiming the ideological approach starting with Reagan, "and it doesn't work," and "I think the Obama administration is doing a magnificient job of creating policy that works in domestic, national security and foreign policy areas."

Perhaps the "long-term goals" outlined in Stein's article, taken to win the presidential campaign in 2008, will actually convince more Republicans and Independents in November 2010, to vote for Democratic candidates. There already is a gigantic struggle between short-term instant gratification of a thoughtless electorate, and a long-term strategic vision for the country. With Wall Street and most businesses focussing on the short term, it is a sizeable mountain for the administration to climb.

But climb it, with a little help from writers like Stein and that Republican listener to On Point who made more sense than most vocal members of his party in the last several months, they must!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

"Look beyond money for life satisfaction"...Bernanke

Chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke, in addressing the graduating class at the University of North Carolina last weekend, counselled the graduates: "look beyond money for your life satisfaction".
In a surprising address from one of the most central figures in the U.S. economy, advising graduates not to focus exclusively on money must have sounded alarm bells on Wall Street, or let's hope it did!
The pursuit of money/profits is the core value in a capitalistic society. And if you are wondering about some of the subtle differences between, for example, the countries in the EU and the U.S., in Europe companies producing new chemicals are required to prove that the new chemical is NOT harmful to the ecology, prior to its being licensed. In the U.S. there is no such requirement, and investigation takes places only AFTER the damages have becomes evident in sick and dying people, or in sick and dying elements of the eco-system.
That is only one of the reasons why, since 1981, during which time some 80,000 new chemicals have been introduced into the North American ecology, only a few hundred of them have been tested to ascertain their impact on the environment and on people's lives. Why would the legislators want to interfere with pharmaceutical companies' pursuit of profits?
It will take an army of Bernanke's speaking at every graduation exercise for the next decade to begin to turn the attitudes of college graduates in the U.S. away from the obsessive pursuit of money, as the prime goal in life!
Bernanke also distinguished between "happiness" a very ephemeral goal and "life satisfaction" which is a much deeper and more authentic goal.
Once again, a thousand Bernanke's repeating this message for thousands of opportunities might begin the process of a very necessary and important turn-about, and the world is waiting, hoping and praying for just such a metanoia.

To Drone or not to Drone?

To drone or not to drone! That is the question facing military, political and diplomatic experts, including President Obama, in light of the recent bomb scare in Time Square.
As one side has it, when we (The U.S.) doesn't have sufficient information and intelligence, it sends in the drones which, according to the latest figures kill one civilian for every three people killed. "Drones do not a foreign policy make!" was the way one expert put it.
On the other side, keeping the pressure on by sending in the drones as a tactic in the over-all strategy is still an effective way to reduce the effectiveness of the enemy since (we) have killed some of their leadership in by ising the drones...is the core of the argument from the other side.
Unfortunately, many of the pundits, including this one, are working from a dearth of information, compared to those actually making the decisions.
And none of us is an "expert," the only qualification for a respected decision-maker these days! (lol)
The trouble is, pushing the limits of our capability with war, including unmanned drones foreshadows more and more weapons and more and more reliance on those weapons growing the importance of the military in our current extremely unstable global economic, political and ecological conditions.
Wouldn't there be a universal welcome for more non-military "solutions" from all quarters, especially given the inordinate cost in dollars and in human lives of the military option?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

A National Financial Regulatory System...not in Canada!

Canada's Finance Minister, appearing on CBC's Power and Politics, seemed smug when asked about a tax on the banking system. After all, there was no financial meltdown in this country, so why should there be a tax on the banks, so that they would pay for such an event, should it ever occur.
Flaherty is advocating a lump sum supplied by the banks, so that the taxpayer will not be responsible should there be a Canadian bank failure.
As the single most fortunate country in the G-20, suffering the least fall-out from the Wall Street meltdown, Canada may have dodged a bullet this time. However, most economic analysts agree that there are loopholes in the regulatory system, which Flaherty says he is going to plug, on a voluntary basis.
Quebec and Alberta, however, are objecting to a national regulatory system for the financial sector. How surprising! With regulatory systems in each province, money seeking to invest in this country is frightened off by our balkanized regulatory system.
And Flaherty is proposing a voluntary, national regulatory system to which each province may join. Note the word "may"...not "must" but "may"!
I must be mistaken, but I thought a country, in order to be a country, might actually like to function more as a common entity, with common health standards, and common and portable pensions, common educational standards, a national currency, a national post office a national military and even a national foreign policy. And that a national regulatory system for financial management might actually enhance the economic prospects of the country in an increasingly "global" economy.
Could Canada then not speak to potential "foreign" investors with one voice, offering the richness of our human and natural resources, with one set of rules for their participation?
What "freedom" would a provincial government give up, to achieve such a state? And what benefits would trump that "loss"?

Monday, May 10, 2010

White House tacking?

Presidential reactions, especially response time, are big business in U.S. politics. Comparing Dubya's total and complete mismanagement of the Katrina disaster to Obama's slow response to the oil spill is like comparing a town house to the Empire State building. They both house people, but one defines the landscape, as did Bush's incompetence. The other, meanwhile, is but a blip on the 24-7 news radar and merits barely a comment.
However, as fits the bullying, fixated and right-wing-nut mentality, there they go again!
What is much more troubling is the announcement, from the Obama adminstration a mere weeks prior to the spill itself, that they were going to ramp up off-shore drilling because "oil drilling is much more technologically safe and sound now than previously."
Is this a sign that the Obama administration is recognizing their contributors, the oil companies, and moving to placate their profit interests?
Is it a sign of an administration seeking middle ground, and attempting the impossible, to build a bridge to nowhere to the Republicans?
Is consideration of Kagan, the current Solicitor General, another move to placate the "other party"?
Refusing to break up the "too big to fail" banks was clearly a sop to big money, when the White House drafted its Wall Street Reform package.
Stay tuned, as will we; watching this president and his team is like watching few others. Complexity and ambiguity and tacking as the sailors do seem to be becoming operative lenses through which to see things unfolding. Perhaps that is a hopeful sign.
Another hopeful sign would be to draw down in Afghanistan and start focussing on Pakistan! Soon!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Is consumption consuming its agents?

Michael Moore's Capitalism, a Love Story, prompts reflections about not only the disproportional distribution of the national/international income, weighted so heavily in favour of the already rich, but also the rather complete commodification of each act and each person in the economy.
As David Suzuki said, many years ago, "The economy should be working for us, not us for the economy. After all, we have created it, and we have to take responsibility for fixing it."
And yet, our media producers insist on including the daily stock numbers in every "significant" news cast, our governments are fixated on the needs of the corporate giants who provide most of the funds for their re-elections, our "model" for all other organizations, including our churches, is the corporation, with its legendary pyramidal structure and its culture of "profit" ahead of human needs and when the corporation betrays its trust, then it is the public/the government/the taxpayers who have to come to the rescue.
We have silently become a world of slaves to the persons at the top of the pyramid, as well as to the culture of their personal ambition, greed and the accumulation of their wealth and our collective voices are or have been silenced in the board and committee rooms where the decisions about products, about prices, about taxes and about social and ethical values are made.
The colour of our skin is not the sign of our slavery; it is the sleep of our mind, and the silence of our larynx and the unconsciousness of our conscience that makes it possible for personal greed and ambition to pass as normal and desireable, as we vainly attempt to climb the most slippery and deceptive "ladder" ever imagined...into the 5000 square foot hollow mansions in the vacuuous suburbs of our urban exec-bedrooms, and our jammed "Beemers" onto the jammed freeways, each Friday and Sunday evening to the "lake," in our headlong pursuit of our image of a successful identity that we have "arrived".
If personal greed trumps the social contract into oblivion, how will we even begin to grapple with the gaping hunger, poverty, disease and pollution...the effluent of the rich that will choke and starve and dispossess us all.
One has to wonder if personal greed is even compatible with a social contract.

Mother's Day, 2010

She came out of the bush,
lived in a box-car from three 'til nine
with her mother, the only females
in the railroad roundhouse encampment;
she trained under the nuns at St. Mike's
and brought their
perfectionism into the
hygiene of our home;
but it was her
adamantine will imposed
at the end of the oak
dowel that scared her
partner into a permanent
stutter and her offspring
into long term suspicion
of others;
if the one who gives
birth is the most feared
who can be trusted?