Assholes, and what to do about them

badgeLike many people I’ve been deeply disillusioned by the recent election of Trump, as well as  the concurrent rise of far right parties in Europe. I might need to read and learn more about populism and demagoguery, but until I do, I’m left with the knowledge and understanding I have, and it leaves me struggling.

You see, I’m a lefty. I believe in secular humanism and an ethos of making the world a better place for all, of redistribution and justice. Core to this belief is the inherent value of all human beings and that in a world awash in riches as ours is, that anyone living in want is unacceptable.

I think I’ve fallen into an intellectual trap wherein I’ve come to see the world like many other lefties, as a simplistic duality with wealthy exploitive overloads at the top and an oppressed majority at the bottom. While in very broad strokes aspects of this is true, there are degrees of oppression, based not just on economics but race, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion and others. It’s a hierarchy with different people located at various levels depending o these differences, the one commonality being that the top is more or less universally populated by wealthy older white men.

But this vision is crumbling. I’ve read many analyses of the US election and think I have a general idea of why this is happening there and elsewhere. The greatest crisis for me comes from the fact that those I’ve championed in my life –those majority manipulated abused and controlled by the old white guys at the top, are showing damn good reasons why one should not advocate for them.

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O’ Canada

1942bThis post will not be like the others. I’m struggling right now, and Feel a real need to express myself publicly. I’m despairing because of what I see politically, and what I see so many people choosing in my country. After a summer of hope I see an autumn of despair, and I’m not sure how to respond to it.

No doubt most who read my screed know that among many other things I’m a compassionate progressive, someone who cares deeply about humanity and where history is taking us. I’m extremely well informed and read a great deal about what has happened politically in Canada, and where, I fear, it is headed.

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Fear and loathing

20150705_104224Morning smoke haze over Cadboro Bay

Where does the fear come from? By all measures we in Canada have never been safer, never had so much security and stability, and yet you wouldn’t know it by the behaviour of a lot of people. So many seem to see danger and threat everywhere, and yet in almost all cases they fret about the rare and innocuous.

What I’m thinking about today is the wildfire smoke that has descended on Vancouver Island. It’s unusual, but given the drought conditions not at all unexpected: with the forest this dry, you will get lots of wildfires. In fact, it’s a completely normal, natural process and even our wet coastal forests have evolved to cope with fire, indicating that it’s long been a part of the ecosystem. The suppression of wildfire is the part that’s unnatural, leading up below-canopy buildup of flammable detritus.

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