Saturday, December 26, 2015

Why I closed my Amazon Account....

Today I closed my Amazon account.
Here's why.
It is not about inconvenience of undelivered gifts.
It is not about gifts that did not work upon arrival.
It is not about their contract with UPS.
It is not about their mistakes in debiting either debit or credit cards.
It is not about their dominance in the consumer market, globally.
It is not even about their recent ventures into both drone and space travel.
When any company decides that it is in its best interests to market the SWASTIKA emblazoned on shoes, flags and other merchandise, then I know this is not a company with which/whom I wish to participate.
Call it an ethical incompatibility.
Call it a consumer decision to withdraw from activities with any organization whose leadership decisions are so contemptuous of the often failed and nevertheless persistent attempts to reach some kind of healing from the deep and profound wounds of World War II, that they place their own profit ahead of their ethical obligations to the world community.
Call it a voice crying in the wilderness, similar to that voice of John the Baptist, crying in the wilderness, asking Herod to change his ways, asking the people of Judea to change their ways, only on a much more modest scale.
Ordinary people from all countries, from all political ideologies, and from all religious persuasions have to find and deploy their clarion voice when the powers of money and the pursuit of money, under what is normally considered an out-of-control capitalism operate globally without regard to the working conditions of those slaves who manufacture their products, without regard to the carbon emissions of those manufacturing plants, and without concern for the ethical expectations of their consumers.
While the Pope calls for a curbing of a materialistic lifestyle, and the Queen calls for everyone to extend "love" (agape in the Christian community) for others where and whenever possible, such legitimate calls are so massively abstract and without clear definition that ordinary people are most likely to continue to walk the paths they have trod for the majority of their lives, without change.
It is the single voice of a single human being, however insignificant in his or her own circle of influence, speaking against the kind of actions, attitudes, beliefs and philosophies, uttered with all the power of whatever megaphone is accessible, that potentially can and will generate the breadth, depth and volume of decibels that people in positions of responsibility cannot avoid, cannot deny and must not disparage.
Power does not reside exclusively in the bank accounts of the wealthy.
Power does not reside exclusively in the cabinet rooms of the nations.
Power does not reside exclusively in the exchange floors of the world's stock exchanges.
Power doe not reside exclusively in the ballot box of the various degrees of political democracy that we see around the world.
Power does not reside, exclusively either, in the handgun, nor the uzzie, nor the Kalashnikov carried by the terrorists and the armies around the world.
Power does not reside exclusively in the nuclear arsenals stockpiled in the storehouses of the members of the nuclear club.
Power does not reside in the Supreme Courts of the various countries, nor in the Courts Martial of the various military establishments.
Real power resides in the hearts, minds, larynxes, and the journals and diaries of the ordinary people who are not imprisoned by any requirement to defer to their supervising power structure, are not imprisoned by their deference to the conventional wisdom demands of any public acceptance for the purpose of retaining a political office, operating or working for a specific corporation, serving under the command of any military establishment.
It is the power of an extremely insignificant (especially in the eyes of the megacorporation that is Amazon) to withdraw patronage that can impact others to do the same.
And, although this space has never asked readers to engage in any specific activity, has never exercised any direct or indirect political persuasion to get readers to behave in any specific manner, this time is different.
Anyone who is not cognizant of the cancer embedded in the SWASTIKA, and who is not cognizant of the many neo-Nazi individuals and groups that continue to operate both in North America and in Europe, as well as in countries on other continents, and who is not "in touch" with the potential for furthering the advancement even through symbols, of that contemptuous and contemptible vision of the world, should not be operating a world-wide business enterprise that profits from the sale of such symbols.
We have all heard the direct references to the "Christian" roots of the KKK and the racial and ethnic cleansing of the NAZI movement against the Jews in Europe both during the war and also much more recently. These references come in comparison with and often in rebuttal of the Islamic terrorist movement that currently holds much of the world 'by the throat.' Religion is too frequently deployed as underpinning of violent motives, inherent to the minds and the hearts of the most depraved of humans representing all perversions of all faiths.
Freedom of speech is one of the defences from those engage in the sale and marketing of symbols like the SWASTIKA, in a blinded and unalloyed motive for profit. Such motives could and must be alloyed with a wider and more substantive motive of refusing to enhance the hatred to which too many individuals are subjected daily.
And there must be a persistent and penetrating voice of sanction against those whose undisciplined pursuit of their own profit motives makes such sanction necessary.
If you do agree with the position articulated here, consider your own option and freedom to join in putting pressure on Amazon to reconsider their deplorable business decision, a decision which is not, cannot, and will not be contained within the transaction between the consumer and the marketing machine that is Amazon.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Reflections on Emerson's Self-Reliance

To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men, — that is genius. Speak your latent conviction, and it shall be the universal sense; for the inmost in due time becomes the outmost,—— and our first thought is rendered back to us by the trumpets of the Last Judgment. Familiar as the voice of the mind is to each, the highest merit we ascribe to Moses, Plato, and Milton is, that they set at naught books and traditions, and spoke not what men but what they thought. A man should learn to detect and watch that gleam of light which flashes across his mind from within, more than the lustre of the firmament of bards and sages. Yet he dismisses without notice his thought, because it is his. In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts: they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty. Great works of art have no more affecting lesson for us than this. They teach us to abide by our spontaneous impression with good-humored inflexibility then most when the whole cry of voices is on the other side. Else, to-morrow a stranger will say with masterly good sense precisely what we have thought and felt all the time, and we shall be forced to take with shame our own opinion from another.....
A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. (From Essays, First Series, Self Reliance by Ralph Waldo Emerson 1841, from the Ralph Waldo Emerson Texts website)

There is a note of challenge and idealism in Emerson's conviction in his own conviction. "To abide by our spontaneous impression with good-humoured inflexibility when the whole cry of voices is on the other side," is a mantra to which so few adhere. To be willing and able to challenge the conventional 'wisdom' in any social situation, is inevitably to compromise the degree to which one is willing and able to 'fit it'.
Giving voice to our "latent conviction" and anticipating that it shall be "the universal sense" is hardly the core curriculum in most educational institutions in North America. We are the sponges for our parents, teachers, professors and eventually our bosses, especially should we need to acquire their "blessing" and their endorsement and their character references for the next step on our career path. We are taught the "content" of peace treaties, causes of war, logistics of battles, and perhaps, if we are extremely fortunate, exposed to the authentic words of the letters and the diary notes of those whose lives have shaped our nation's history. If our textbooks and our teachers consider a rebel to have been worthy of his death sentence, carried out by the state, then we too are expected to adhere to and to adopt that perspective. If those same sources consider the discoveries of the Madame Currie's of the world, or the Banting's and Best's, or the manuscripts of the Beethoven's and the Bach's to be the steps to civilization on which they and now we walk, then we are so conditioned. And, in the process of our assimilation into the conventional "academic criticism" of the specific discipline, we are shaped as prototypes of the perspectives of those who leaned on the lecterns, and those who circled the laboratories while we conducted the prescribed experiments, (really robotic repetitions of the same tests, and the same dissections in the same laboratories for the past century at least). We are expected to apply the equations of our classrooms to the problems of our examinations, following as closely as feasible the rehearsals of our homework and our studies prior to those examinations.
We learn the definitions of the glossaries of our 'courses' and the meanings of the theories of our intellectual giants, in order to become acquainted with, and disciples of those giants.
When required to write a paper, even in graduate school, about the 'problem of evil in Augustine' and we write that he could have written the twelve step program, for a reader who may have a dependency on alcohol, we are ridiculed as submitting a paper beneath the academic standards of the graduate program in which we have enrolled. "I need quotes!" came the repeated chant of the reader in the evaluation session which demanded a re-write.
Upon exiting her oral defense of her thesis for her doctorate in history, one adult woman commented, "That was more about how and whether I fitted into the parameters of the history department than an inquiry into my thesis, its content, perspective or the standard of proof of my evidence."
We read the writings of  both the original writers, and the critics whose opinions have shaped the opinions of the academic departments built on the reputations of both those writers and their intellectual critics and critiques in a vainglorious pursuit of the kind of academic credentials required to fill an academic position in any of our esteemed universities and colleges. Of course, our work must be "original" in the sense that should another thesis on the same subject or author, or theory complete and defend his or her thesis, with the same perspective as ours, we must begin again, from the beginning.
However, in the social intercourse that comprises our public lives, the working out of our business enterprises, and the conduct of our professional lives in law, medicine, education, social work, and psychology, it is our adherence to both the principles and the established knowledge of the "field" that will first plant seeds of our reputation and sustain the development of that stature, not our thinking and observing and operating outside those parameters.
And yet....
A recent encounter with a registered nurse, some seven years following her graduation, demonstrated the missing ingredients of her formal education, and pointed to her own discernment of a practice which she now includes in each evening/night shift with each patient. "PRN" are initials that signify for nurses, that the patient is given medication as required, and the requirement is expressed by the patient. If the patient does not ask, the medication is not administered. The nurse in questioned learned that such "protocol" (and that is the word ascribed to nursing and medical practice) resulted in confusion and unnecessary pain and discomfort for many patients. Consequently, she asks each patient, prior to their going to sleep for the night, "Do you wish to be wakened for medication, or do you wish to be left sleeping?"
It seems such a simple discernment for the nurse, and an obvious useful practice for her patients, and yet such a question was 'never part of my nursing training' in her words.
Religious institutions, especially, depend on the contrite and disciplined observance of their clergy representatives to the doctrine and the dogma of their faith institution. Church rules against the use of contraception, for example, or the rules against abortion, couched in legal terms like the "right to life", are two prominent examples embedded in both the theologies and the political ideologies of hundreds of politicians in many countries. Searching for potential exceptions, in itself, has been considered worthy of apostasy, as has the administration of the Eucharist for those who have gone through a divorce.
When asked about the teaching of new approaches to the management of business, the assistant dean of one of the more respected business schools in Canada replied, "If you want that, you will have to find it in the training offered by one of the corporations; here we are teaching students to operate a system effectively." And yet, corporations are paying handsomely to "brand" their employees with the insignia of the institution, following completion of the Master of Business Administration (MBA). What they are paying for is effectively "social engineering" in the most unadulterated sense. Albeit, such business training has the status and the power signified in the remuneration that is warranted, for decades....decades of fitting in, complying and operating systems for their corporate employers. Of course, many leave those corporations to try flying their own enterprises, using the training and the experience of their early working years to sustain their new ventures.
And then there is the corporate executive who, after more than a decade of successful business, when asked how he would like to see his company grow, replied, almost with missing a breath: "I want to see everyone in the company "innovating every moment of every day here."
And when I reflected on his clarion call for innovation, especially upon re-reading Emerson's words on self-reliance, I was saddened to think of all the classrooms in all of the towns and cities of this country, and potentially many other countries, where teachers excel at creating an ethos of "control" to the point where even a thought or an opinion offered in satiric rebellion is cause for discipline.
If we are going to help our children and our students, and later our colleagues, to trust their own opinions, and to trust their own truths, especially when the whole world is chanting an opposite opinion and an opposite truth, then we are going to have to begin that process very early, with ourselves.
What questions do we ask ourselves, when faced with a situation with which we feel a deep and profound sense of ill-ease? Do we too often merely bury those thoughts and feelings of discomfort, and continue our usual tape of self-talk, "I must not understand something about this situation so I must repress my thoughts and feelings and go along to get along, once again!" Do we even privately ask another if they are experiencing similar thoughts and feelings about what they know about the situation? Do we summon up the courage, including the political courage to confront the situation, even after giving full consideration to the options available for such a course? Or do we go home, have a glass of wine, throw our discomfort over our shoulder, telling ourselves "that is the way the world works and there is really nothing I can do about it"?
Self-reliance, in Emerson's context, is not merely about making adequate income to support a family. Nor is it merely about not applying for social assistance following a serious accident. Nor is it about the repression of our feelings of inadequacy, when we lose a job, or we lose a family member, or we lose an inheritance, or we lose a valued and cherished reputation through our own weakness. In fact, at such moments of particular "darkness" we are then especially being challenged by Emerson to listen to the inner voice that compels us to reclaim the power of our own truth, even if that truth is in direct odds with the truth of those currently condemning us, excommunicating us, firing us, or leaving us in the ditch.
And when we come to the place where we have the confidence to "tell our story" in all of its warts and all of its embarrassments and all of its complexities, our story will then fill the empty spaces in the universe of others, who, like us, have silenced their truth as not worthy of public exposure.
A story that embodies such a drama has unfolded in Canada recently. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission, to investigate and report on the Residential Schools for Aboriginal Children, after six-plus years of listening to the stories of the survivors and the families of those students who were uprooted from their families and transported sometimes thousands of kilometers from their homes and their parents and siblings and grandparents, and committed to residential schools operated by various church denominations, under the funding of the federal government. Hundreds, if not thousands of those students died while attending those schools, or have died since; hundreds if not thousands have also carried the scars of the brutality of being called savages, of being called uncivilized, of being called heathen, of both physical and emotional abuse by those 'holy' people who were their teachers and their guardians. And, following a national apology by the former Harper government, the Commission of three, chaired by Mr. Justice Sinclair, himself an aboriginal, spent the last six years listening to and compiling both hard copy and digital reports, including some 94 action items, to which the current government has committed to implement.
It is the truth of those children, now mostly septaginarians or octogenarians, that filled the room, and the hearts and the minds of those attending the presentation of the report, including the Prime Minister, himself having teared up while listening to the truth of the survivors. It is the truth, taken from witnessing such a highly charged national catharsis, that emboldens and enlivens the words and the beliefs and the convictions expressed so many years ago by Emerson. It is also such truth that resides in each person, as his or her "sacred gift" of his or her unique expression of truth for which the world is waiting, without perhaps even being aware of its own waiting.
It need not take such a national tragedy, of such monumental proportions, especially after so many decades of denial and repression, both publicly and privately, both individually and collectively, to evoke the truth that lies under the rock of our own pride, under the mask of our own creating, under the fear of our own generating.
"What if 'they knew' my truth?" as Jesuit John Powell reminds us in his spell-binding little book, "Why I don't tell you who I am".....If I tell you who I am, since that is all I have, you might reject me and then what would I have and who would I be?
Emerson counters with, "You would be yourself, the man/woman God created in whom is planted the unique seed of truth for which the universe is waiting."
Can and will we accept Emerson's challenge, and experience the transformation that emerges from such truth-telling, even if we doubt the world's readiness and openness to our truth?

Monday, December 14, 2015

Challenging traditional images of power, for our long-term survival

It was Ted Koppel, formerly the icon associated with the long-running ABC public affairs program, Nightline, appearing yesterday on NBC's Meet the Press with Chuck Todd, who reminded his viewers of the addiction of the news media in the U.S. to a "story" of conflict, any conflict, that generates both ratings and personal career enhancement. The reference was made during discussion of the potential of a "floor fight" at the Republican national convention next summer. Given the wild swings in poll numbers, and the large size of the class of 'candidates' seeking the nomination, there is a chance that, for the first time in decades, a party convention could include a contested nomination process, with all the drama that could emerge from the wheeling and dealing among the candidates and their "camps".
However, it is not only nomination conventions for presidential candidates that serve like polar magnets for the crass, self-serving and narcissistic media. All expressions of difference especially when those differences are personalized by attaching a face and name to the conflicting actors, serve like honey to swarming insects, who then pour their collected morsels of gossip, essentially little more than tweets, through their cameras and screens. Personal conflict, like war between combatants, not only feeds the Everready bunny appetites and ambitions of those who consider themselves journalists.
In Canada, for example, immediately after the October 19 election, the news media talking heads persisted in asking "when" the new government would complete its over 200 commitments. The barrage of both sycophantic and impertinent questions, on all networks, in attempting to expose the unpreparedness of the newly elected government ministers, served primarily to expose the crass and unseemly vacuity of timing and imagination of those asking the questions. At one point, the newly elected and just appointed House Leader of the government, Dominic LeBlanc, became so irritated, legitimately, with the "when" questions, that he responded to Robert Fife, on CTV's Question Period, "I was born at night, but I was not born last night!". He formally, publicly and assertively embarrassed his interviewer. And the retort spoke for the whole government caucus.
The news media, on a different and far more significant front, serves to enhance the recruitment efforts of the hated and despised ISIS. Ted Koppel, in the same television appearance, dubbed "Donald Trump the chief recruitment operative of ISIS" through his pandering to the fear among a segment of the American populace. Announcing his proposal to ban Muslims from entering the United States, Trump obviously fueled public opinion around the world, enhancing the contempt all Muslims have for some parts of the U.S. perspective, and likely generating recruits for the radical terrorists. Furthermore, it is Trump himself, in his Barnun and Bailey hawking and barking for voter support, who is playing the media as his personal trumpet. Wall to wall coverage seems a guarantee for his every hiccup, belch and vomit. So fixated is the media on the 'storm' that Trump generates, through his guile, manipulation and contriving, that no matter the time of day, and no matter the network, his face and voice like talking wall paper, comprise what the news media vacuously calls responsible news coverage.
Koppel slapped the wrist of both Trump and the media, in his caution 'that we listen to what ISIS wants and not give it to them'.
His gentile, reflective and penetrating comment, of course, will wash over the glazed-over eyes and ears of the editors in the news rooms of the United States, like a gentle breeze, rather than the sharp and biting insight it is.
Public policy, coping with existential threats that confront humanity, needs the caution and the reflective perspective that Koppel's comments bring to the decision makers, along with the news audience. And his perspective is at odds with a corporate business model that demands ratings on which to base advertising sales, and on which to base career promotions and demotions of the scribes enmeshed in the corporate net.
When the strength of the combatant's pugilistic manipulation of both the facts and the emotions of the cowering political audiences trumps the truth and the authenticity and the seriousness of the thoughts and the proposals of political candidates, as it seems to do in the current campaign for the presidency (now the longest running soap opera to emerge from a reality-television national sound stage) then the world is being treated to the most profound dose of political cynicism and the most serious form of patronizing insult one expects from the adolescent bullies in fringe gangs.
We are tired of such a co-dependent diet of political candy floss; it endangers the cardiac health of the body politic;  exposes the vacuity of the expectations of the citizenry, and it endangers the transparent, accountable and transcendent leadership that the world so desperately needs.
How can the world expect a climate agreement that includes both "shoulds" and "musts" with penalties, when all negotiators know that the fine print will be read by a minority of less than 1% of the world's people, and an even lower percent of the worlds journalists?
How can the world expect a serious, thoughtful and potentially successful coalition to reduce ISIS to ashes, if both the political leaders and the co-dependent media are addicted to a diet of military violence?
How can the poetry and the insight of all the Malalas in the world, advocating that a book and pen are more powerful than all the guns and all the bombs, like  birdsong, be heard amid the cacophony of all the "hard-power" militants?
We are not only facing a needed transformation of our sources of energy that drive our cars, trains, planes and factories; we are also facing a needed transformation of our conceptions of real power, at both the personal and the political levels, from bully-infested superiority linked to the corporate-political axis that operates as national conventional wisdom in too many countries, to a much more modest, more moderate, more paradoxical and sustainable power of vulnerability.
We cannot sustain either the level of our hubris in our accomplishments and our conventions, nor our dependence on numbers, size, obliteration of our enemies, and our complicity in sustaining a mammoth machine of propaganda that reinforces profit, hard power, bombs and the decimation of the human element in all our endeavours.
We are deeply embedded, all of us, in feeding on a fast-food diet of gossip headlines, vacuous bullies vying for important political power, and a media machine that runs on the energy of corporate buying power. And complicit in our own self-sabotage are our television and movie empires, our political elites, our news media and increasingly our academic institutions.
The call for peace, security and a healthy and safe environment must include our conscious acknowledgement of our dangerous dependence on status, power, money, and superiority as the keys to a happy life. And there are so many faces of these demons: superiority includes, for example, seniority, tradition, and length of life. While we need not disrespect our elderly, we must make way for new people and new ideas that expose the dangers of our complacency and our complicity in what are obviously counter-productive attitudes, beliefs, perceptions and exercises of power over.
We need to develop curricula that exposes our social and political subservience to image of traditional power and status. We have to expose the superficiality of our access to detailed information, information that is needed, for example, to deter the power structure from embedding us all in the deep internet, to deter the power structure from expecting the minimal exposure of their agendas, their attitudes and their beliefs. And those beliefs cannot and must not be reduced to a mere slogan of a religious affiliation. We need to be much more sophisticated in our "reading" of the intentions of our leaders, the connections of their networks, their dependence on traditional sources of power, money and 'conventional wisdom.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Facing the impact of world culture on our kids and grandkids....

There are buckets of memories needing to be dumped from each of our minds.

These are the memories of people shouting at us, punching us, correcting us in condescension and superiority, and even for some of us, beating and violating our bodies.

These memories are so inflammatory that they cannot be forever subsumed in a locked barrel, like the nuclear waste we hope never leaks into the ground. And, on the other hand, like nuclear waste, these memories are themselves radioactive, not in the clinical definition of that word, but rather in the emotional and spiritual and psychological sense.

They have a half-life of many more years than we are given on the planet. They have a pulse that throbs whenever we are faced with the ‘right’ triggers, people, voices, situations that evoke their awakening from unconscious slumber. “Hot buttons” is a phrase that some apply to the activation of these memories and their power to inflict themselves on what would normally be considered situations hardly worth the effort. We learn of teen girls who ‘find’ the ‘hot buttons’ of their mothers, especially, and then push them mercilessly, unless and until those mothers stop reacting, thereby depriving their adolescent offspring of the thrill of instant power and instant gratification.

We hear of people “snapping” at the least likely moments, when, for inexplicable reasons, they find their circumstances so horrible that they resort to extreme steps like suicide, or worse, rampages of violence that too often bring down those once considered their closest family and friends. And then there are similar outbursts from people whose lives and public images would belie such explosions. “It is the quiet ones that are the most dangerous,” is an axiom many have heard for decades, about the most likely to explode of the panoply of characters who live in each and every town and city on the planet.

However, there is something happening that, many agree, has not been so evident for most of the last century. In the United States, for example, there have been 352 mass shootings in 2015, dramatically more than in any year in recorded history. Elsewhere planes are being shot down out of the sky, with clouds of conflicting evidence shrouding the prosecution of such acts; borders are being invaded, (Ukraine, Crimea, for instance) with apparent impunity for their perpetrators, given the capacity of the world community to prosecute so many crimes: instances of violence, terrorism, blatant extortion of public funds (example Nigeria), the recruitment of child soldiers for the purpose of wreaking havoc among innocents, the kidnapping of hundreds of young children for the apparent sole purpose of providing sexual favours for their captors, and possibly the conversion to a perverted form of a religion and its militaristic application as just another route to complete control over their victims by the thugs.

Psychology looks at individual human behaviour; sociology at the larger collective impacts of human behaviour. What we are witnessing, through a daily diet of bad news is not only extremely disconcerting and emotionally destabilizing for individuals, but think for a moment about the cumulative impact of the stories of violence on the millions of young minds and hearts whose lives are being forever twisted in ways we cannot fully appreciate or even imagine, as they attempt to cope with the steady cacophony of bullets, bombs, missiles, improvised explosive devices (IED’s), and all other instruments of death.

Born in 1942, I was effectively shielded from the news of bombs dropped during the Second World War. The kids in our neighbourhood were free from the kind of information that inserts itself into the ears, hearts and minds of kids today. Occasionally, a local man (by far the highest percentage) would take his own life and the story would literally fly through the phone lines and the neighbourhood coffee klatches, along the aisles of the supermarket and up and down the main street. Living in a “tourist town” we would also learn of motor vehicle collisions, especially in summer, along the area highways, as cottagers made their way to and from the “city” in hordes, mostly on two-lane roads. Occasionally, too, a fire would erupt, for example, in a downtown business, and the whole town would rush to do whatever to help rescue things like files, while the volunteer firemen fought the blaze. Infrequently, we would learn of the death from ‘natural causes’ of our elderly, or the occasional drowning in the waters of Georgian Bay. However, for the most part, we were unimpeded by and unimpaired with the burden of the kind of perpetual, ubiquitous and unrelenting drum beat of killings that comprises the “black noise” that invades the conscious and unconscious sensibilities of a whole generation of the world’s young people.

These news reports of violence are themselves buttressed and punctuated by commercial messages of video games that also “engage” their interactive combatants in virtual killings, naturally pitting good guys against bad guys, in a long-running episode of “kill or be killed” that endangers the very stability of the culture of our time.

Of course, there are glimmers of negotiations (on the Iran nuclear development, and even on global warming and climate change); however, the pounding of the ‘heavy-metal’ of world events points in a far different direction, as does the scepticism that undergirds the trust of many in the sustainability of any negotiated treaty. And with the steady drum beat of high level nonchalance that seems to have accompanied most of the previous “high level” meetings on global warming and climate change, linked to the pounding of military hard power, both state operated and terrorist-operated, there is little doubt that little people are growing up in a world of dangers, threats and missed opportunities to lower the dependence on military power.

And we have not even mentioned the millions of refugees, at least half a million children, who are growing up in tents, going to schools in tents, going to markets in tents, (where there even are markets) and living in conditions for which they can only hold their adult “leaders” responsible. And those leaders include every single person on the planet; we are aiding and abetting from our cynicism, from our apathy and our silent “compliance” with the failed attempts to bring the Middle East conflicts to a cease-fire, the failed attempts to reign in carbon dioxide emissions, and with a very slow and lethargic international impulse to confront Islamic extremism.

We are failing our children; we are failing our grandchildren; we are failing even ourselves, in our desperate impotence to bring our political leaders to account. We neglect the United Nations at our peril, and the peril of thousands of powerless, voiceless and innocent children. And we have only ourselves to face when we see so little being done through collaboration and through conscientious political negotiating, of the kind that requires the putting aside all ideologies, and all political differences, in the interest of bringing our demons to heel.

And we are providing frightening memories in the hearts and minds of those children that will reap their own havoc in the lives of their own children, both directly and indirectly. We are not reigning in the production and sale of guns; we are not compelling our political leaders to write and debate and pass laws that would require background checks for gun purchasers, (Quebec has announced it will bring in a gun registry, requiring all non-prohibited guns to be registered, at a cost of some $5 million...but why only in Quebec?)

If we were really serious about the impact our contemporary world culture is having on children, we would have to weep an ocean of tears at our own impotence, and then we would all have to write, text, email and even break into polite conversations over dinner with our circle of influence, in order to make our voices an intimate, integral and impactful part of the national and the international debate.

Our children and our grandchildren deserve far better than we are doing. And they deserve and need it now!