Posts Tagged ‘Choice’


It could be a rant, but truly at this point it is an earnest question. Born, raised and continue living in Alberta seen and read about many social conservatives (out of Christendom and other religions) politicians and governments within my province, and the base rock for Federal. Yet at this time of C-tine, the question is in my mind, how is it possible (even with some rust on the buckle), that Canada’s bible belt equivalent province struggles so much with love thy neigbour?

34 But when the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. 35 Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?”

37 Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

-Gospel of Matthew 22:34-40 (New King James Version)

To love our neighbour as we love ourselves and love God. I have written many times unpacking this passage in different ways, so I am not going to deep on that now. Yet, here we are as a province with pandering to anti-mask/anti-vax/anti-science bases, over-dramatized to downright untrue stories from our governance around issues, and basically a sentiment began from our Premier and shared by many that those who are dying (now 500+) are past their best before date or had co-morbidities so it is all good (those of low human capital, a favourite term of our current provincial government).

Which raises many questions on the humanity of the religious who claim freedoms in our province? For it was not the call to the individual, but to the communal freedom, love and belonging.

Let’s re-humanize our statistics, have the releases signed not to share age, region, gender and they had co-morbidities, but rather, age, region and name. I mean, how many even know what co-morbidity is? They believe it is a death sentence to begin with, no these are two or more occurring chronic (ongoing) conditions? Do you know someone with two conditions? Mental, physical or neurological health? High blood pressure? Depression? Anxiety? Cystic Fibrosis? MS (that we lead Canada in)? Cancer? How about those covid 20 that you can’t shake? Epilepsy? PTSD? OCD? Substance Abuse/use disorder? Carpal Tunnel? The list goes on an on…

The term coupled with age, is used to de-humanize the disease and reduce severity so the base is appeased. It is like the 1991 Star Trek The Next Generation episode, “Half-Life” (S.4,Ep.22) that created an ethical discussion at the time in my school, but also with parents. The crux is Timicin (played wonderfully by David Ogden Stiers), whose species at age 65 end their own lives as “their time is up” or “they are past their best before date”. In the episode this becomes a debate as he develops an intimate relationship with Betazed Ambassador, Lwaxana Troi (mother of Ship Counsellor Deanna Troi), and it ensues about quality of life, purpose and belonging. I encourage you to have a virtual watch party with friends outside your household, and watch within your household to discuss the key points of this with our current situation. As this can create a different lens to look at how we view life and death, and what matters. But this is not the only challenge facing us, in those hard conversations we need to have around the dinner (or communion) table.

The other, with current restrictions announced due to lack of concern for anyone outside your own skin (Alberta’s public health emergency restrictions can be found here) in an attempt to bend the curve back down, find out trackable data (as we have 85%+ cases on traceable) over the next three weeks. Has led to much llama dramas on line. Some throwing shade about religious organizations allowed to stay open at 1/3 capacity, and why on businesses, most being about big box vs small businesses closing open (conflating restrictions of other provinces with our own). Are these restrictions perfect? No, but even though I do not support that the UCP has the moral or ethical right to governance (ongoing criminal investigations), I will follow through for care for my family and neighbour.

What is saddening and maddening is the many religious sharing posts about Alberta being 70 years rat free so don’t become one on your neighbours now, or don’t snitch. Like the stereotypical “snitches get stitches” . Seriously, when did we as grown ass adults begin acting like pre-adolescents enamoured with faux hip hop culture?

Or as I shared on Facebook today:

“It’s not about not “snitching” on your neighbours at the holidays for the social gathering, that is being gaslit like in an abusive relationship. Seriously, it is about our neighbours having enough care and respect to follow the rules so we do not have to call 311 to have a healthy AHS that can respond to our current pandemic, epidemic, emerging epidemic, and outbreak. But hey, let’s continue giving those that can’t follow rules a pass.”

And as one friend pointed out, how easily we compartmentalize and pick and choose what we will call in our neighbour on. Noise complaints? Speeding? Parking? Loud or at large animals? Not shovelling snow? Think about what happens to our society, if we do not hold one another accountable?

This doesn’t even go deep into the neighbourhood watch to prevent crime, which if my neighbours do not have discernment and care with these how can I trust them if my car is being stolen or house being prowled? Starting to see how the “not my problem” begins to flow?

This is not even with jumping on the not mandatory vaccine discussion the Premier opened up to pander to his slipping away base. Which, I am sure my stance on that will lose even more “Facebook friends” but for those able to take the vaccine (any vaccine) it is a care of neighbour, why my kids both got the HPV one.

As I sit, having wrestled with the new restrictions, and lowering our house into more of a shut down (my one kids cohort with her best friend has come to an end, I miss their giggles and joy and it has only been one day), we are here because of a provincial quorums of adults that refused to adult. As I watch the video feed of the 200 person “freedom march” -anti-mask rally in Calgary this morning, I do hope that they are all levied the $1000 fines to send a strong message. Reading in the paper that due to lack of corporate care at CF Chinook yesterday in limiting to 25% capacity city police had to be used to evacuate people and I know these restrictions are supposed to be re-looked at on Dec. 15.

Where I am at now?

Christmas is different this year. Looking like my household, as we find new joys, way to share love, and know we are doing this, because many may not see us as “believers” or “Christian enough”, but I can honestly tell you it is about following through on love of neighbour.

The question for our “Bible Belt” is do you get it?

Because I am tired of your Pharisee ways.


Control + Alt + Delete for many with computers that was how you would escape the screen freeze or blue screen of death. Then have to answer the question if you wanted to restart in safe mode. Alberta thought they were doing that when the United Conservative Party was elected to governance just over a year ago. The traversing of change, the needing to re-invent our economy, and create space for belonging for everyone had stalled many out in the change process in anger and denial.

That was preyed upon by a high centralized bully culture.

Is it the best governance? How many voters have voter remorse as our world class institutions were decimated, the world rebuked our oil and gas sector for the draconian ways we scaled back to, and diversification was cancelled. With announcements of Premier Kenney tomorrow (Monday) around diversifying our economy, one has to simply wonder is it relabeling NDP era policy as UCP to try and win back support, knowing the shenanigans’ of this government I would side on yes.

In the midst of cancel culture though, it raises the question what about governance and politics? Why do we accept shady business and almost zero accountability for actions and behaviours? Have we defaulted to our “colour” must win at all costs in striving for power and be damned the consequences to ourselves and neighbour? Data points to yes.

The ideological lock chain does not help out world, our neighbour or ourselves. It locks us into false dichotomy for solutions with no robust discussion on topics and research. It leads to school yard tattle tale gotcha moments that can deflect from the ongoing ineptitude in governance for all Albertans (insert your context here as I am sure you have examples). The rallying cry for engagement has always been the least you can do is vote.

NO! That’s not the least you can do, showing up and putting an “x” beside the party name, as you say it’s the leader not the local representative doesn’t matter—oh but it does. For when the leader with the centralized power is off base, it is the local members that need to hold them to account, and within the Westminster System have the power to replace.

Knowing the character of the person wanting to represent your party is important. Do they show up for debates and events? Do they live locally and have their kids in the public institutions? Are they a parachute candidate from somewhere else? A paper candidate or flag bearer (just letting their name stand on the ballot)… all these things are important and need to be understood, for if we move beyond gotcha, to the ability to demand better choices we begin to engage. In the last federal election the Greens and Cons played games with voters with the gotcha era pretending to fire candidates, and then election day people were shocked they were still on the ballot, once confirmed you are confirmed. Know our system, the local constituency associations need to take seriously a candidate search and are the main point of vetting for the best to represent… are they doing their job?

What if the ballots were party blind? No parties listed, just names, how would you choose your representative? You’d actually have to get to know them, and the volunteers behaviour would reflect directly on them…those that espouse ableist, rascist, queer hate, misogynistic views would be held to account. Also, knowing they could not fly under the party colours how much more seriously would the local EDA’s take the vetting? Would all parties be fielding full slates? Or would their be times if a candidate had to be of good character and active in the election period to stay on the ballot (i.e. 3 debates planned must make 2 or are deleted)…would we get a better crop (and I do believe a ranked ballot would aid the process even more).

Cancel culture when used well and targeted appropriately can bring about positive change. It needs to hyper focus on our political systems, demand better choices, push media to remove the voice of opinion from policy, and close off the options for populist-extremism on either side to be shuttered away, to create space for robust discussion of the issues, and the big questions on why and how? The voice to strip the centralized power from the First Minister’s office (Prime Minister and Premier), to re-empower the local representative, remove the party whip, and allow the local voices to come together to create consensus policy for the whole.

The least we can do is to open the conversation and share why things matter and are important, to create a space for healthy, robust debate and dialogue so that come election day, it is not an adversarial approach to save our own fragile egos that our team needs to win like some Stanley Cup play off round, but be able to say the local candidate with the best ideas is the one that was voted for and elected.

Ready to do the least for the vote?

If you’re interested in being a part of the reboot of our province, I encourage you to check out https://rebootalberta.com/


“You have an overinflated sense of responsibility for others”

            -Dix, Psychologist (Jesse Stone series)

            I have been journeying through neurologically triggered PTSD. Let me tell you it is not a fun set of events to relive the negative of one’s life. This journey is not about bragging or self-aggrandizement. It is for the 99.9% of times my brain reboots and says you have not made a difference in the little corner of your world, I have a critically laid out path to go maybe I did, maybe I didn’t but damn it brains the heart knows I tried.  Hence the walk through the idea of how many times experts/elites, whom we have defaulted to have told me not to bother, or I am wrong and my stubborn streak has gone in the vernacular of my redneck roots, “hold my beer bud and watch this.”

I point out the default to “elites/experts” because it is the shift society has made to the idea of quantitative data only, and zero-based budgeting which makes every person, every story something that must be quantified by a statistical number and/or cash pay out. Essentially a new way of doing the old pedagogy of worthy poor, worthy citizen for aid or elevation. Which I am sorry, if you enter the trenches, bash the knuckles, bloody the soul, wipe the tears away, hold the hand of the dying, cradle the body in the last gasps of the death rattle, these are things that you will always question.

            Why?

Simple, we as people are not a statistical number, we are not a label. Our worth does not come from what we cost or save the system. Our worth comes from something very simple. Being human. Our worth is inherent because of whom we are, a human being regardless of whether it is a spiritual, religious or scientific path that brings you to that understanding.

How does that change the lens you view things through? Who are your experts/elites? Your gurus? Are they coaches? Clerics? Scientists? Ideologues? Celebrities? Who do you allow to shape your world view? Why do you allow them to shape your world view? The Stanford Experiments tried to prove why the horror of Nazism happened, and the outcome was the default for the human being to believe the man in the white coat. The expert or the elite. The one that has power. Sadly, nothing has changed except whom we give the power in our lives. We forget that behind every “white coat” there is a grass roots movement of support that has bestowed that power on them and can strip it away if we default back to the total truth that worth is inherent and we as a species are in this together interconnected through an eco-system of beautiful mystery.

My words of the struggle for a better world dreamed are throughout this site, with the oldest being found in the archives and through these meanderings you can see how even after decades simple battles for inclusion are still being battled. 31 years of my life have been given to this journey, and looking to enter the second decade of my 2/3 of life, I know the journey will continue. But it is a journey where story of the quest needs to re-emerge, where we as societies need to move beyond balance sheets, labels and metrics to understanding what/who is our neighbour. So what follows is some simple musings of issues facing us as a community:

“Don’t call me a saint, I do not want to be so easily dismissed.”

-Dorothy Day, Founder Catholic Worker’s Movement, Single Mum

 

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I encourage you to buy Warren Kinsella’s first fiction work Recipe for Hate, based around true events in the Neo-Nazi-Punk world, for those more of the non-fiction type his seminal work Web of Hate on Canada’s neo-nazi movement in Canada (it inspired me int he `90’s to fight the good fight, and take stands against elites/experts that yes this was a necessary battle)…and why this hit me is seeing the fact that my own hood actually had to have an anti-racist walk yesterday…thank you for those that turned out (my heart was willing–the body and brain decided it was a no sadly)…we are the northeast, we are the world in a few city blocks, we are better than hate, because we know what it means to love your neighbour and be neighbourly. End sermon

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I also encourage reflection for those ideological entrenched on recent Canadian political history as we prepare to repeat in Alberta. In the early 2000’s the PC Canada party was taken over by the Reform-Alliance in media mirrors of a merger vote that saw Red Tories left politically homeless. Some would say it was successful as the Harper Cons eventually won power with their first minority government in February 2006. But just reflect on that for a moment for a party trying to root out corruption, and build inclusion with our First Nations through the Kelowna Accord, lost to a party that sided with the separatists to shut down parliament and strip Canadians of our Constitutional right of Peace, Order and Good Governance. No one else may realize how it will be written by the historians, but also, I do still firmly believe Minority Parliaments are the healthiest forms of governance for our country for it forces the politicians out of ideological blinders to truly what is best for the citizens.

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The fight over Harm Reduction versus abstinence in addiction treatment is just one of the false dichotomies we attempt to foist upon the public. Each treatment resonates with certain individuals (I can just hear the Twitter-soundbite politicos gasp) for it is about understanding the person in front of you and what works for them to be healthy.

It also moves into the idea that triage/silo health care does not always work. The human being is a holistic microcosm that does need to be treated as such. Yes, some things need to be prioritized within medical treatment, but somethings are interdependent, intertwined, co-dependent or simply co-existing. Ala addiction—the use of substance or behaviour creates the label, what causes it is rooted deeper whether you cease or stop the behaviour the actual cause whether emotional, physiological, neurological, etc (or all of the above) needs to be treated or we are setting the neighbour up for failure.

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Housing. Our nation needs a strategy, I know several federal parties at certain points have had policies (as I have been part of writing groups for these parties). Yet what is missing is the fundamental of Housing First principle 1: Consumer choice. (or better yet, citizen choice). It needs to be a policy and action that looks at affordable spectrums of home ownership (types of homes-house, condo, mobile) to apartments to lodges without age restrictions to group homes to supportive housing to hotels (yes hotels, many of the chronically homeless have come to shelters because they lived in hotels that closed down, where some money could have seen these places brought up to code, and some extra monies to the owners could have curbed settling in of unsavoury elements) to name but a few. Also, the idea of rooming houses ran by seniors is also something to be looked at, or on-site living in convents/monastic communities, or in shops/warehouses, mini houses…secondary suites, laneway housing, converted garages, the list goes on and on.

Yet it takes a citizen will to force politicians to challenge city planning back to a community and citizen focus and away from money politics.

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In the case of Health Care especially in Alberta we tend to forget that we were governed by a party set on Privatization (breaking the Health Act) through the Third Way that essentially created a system for failure, never forget history or we are doomed to repeat it. On an aside stating you never voted PC, or never voted does not remove your complicity from the state of our province now, for we are all citizens that allowed a party to run our province. Whether it is oil, health care, AB works or other social safety nets, are designed for those moments in life when you need them, not for when you do not. What we have done as a society is create a shame based system so those in need avoid and costs sky rocket for the person literally comes to the precipice of disaster before access and then is in a full cycle that is harder to get out of. And yes I was forced out of a job by taking a stance publicly for universal health care.

I still firmly believe active eugenics may have stopped in Alberta, but seeing how easily the Calgary Board of Education can blame special needs students for budget short falls, how hard it is to access AISH or lack of mental health supports, that passive eugenics is still practice.

And let us not forget the closure of the horrid institutions that if proper protocol was followed would have seen transition of those folks to proper home, group home or smaller care home placements in the community…but instead say nothing but shelter beds…because…eliminating the debt.

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Calgary City Hall is looking to cut preventative programs for at risk youth and seniors while continuing the shadowy no firm numbers exploration of an Olympic bid. Makes you wonder where following the money trail would take you? Also makes you wonder in a generation with these policies how our city will be judged by the way we have treated our young and elders?

Yet this is not new practice at City Hall, for when the Child Sex trade exploded in our city in the mid-90’s what the response was—cover up, cutting vice unit budgets… hmmm…. Lip service, not actions. My high school law teacher asking me when presented with the facts about the child sex trade saying the assignment was to show what is controversial about it? My response led me to being kicked from class that day when I simply stated, “the only wanker that can’t see the controversy based on the facts is the one that goes to the pizza parlour back room in our hood and asks for the child.”

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Political party vetting when I ran in 2006 that saw the questioner unable to comprehend how I could be pro-choice on abortion without using the buzzwords. Yes I believe in a woman’s control over their own body, yes I believe in the family, and I believe we need to build a world in which every child conceived should be wanted and until that happens then this needs to be free and open to all who desire, need or want.

I also believe that the government needs to invest in a system or pre- and post- procedure counselling and healing of the holistic person. I believe we need a freer adoption service. I also believe the pre- and post-procedure aid needs to be open to the one that gave the egg, the one that gave the sperm, and those that may be affected by the ripples within the family.

But I will never say I am anti-abortion for. Yes, this is after coming from a position where an ex who was so lost in addiction made the choice to abort and her only rationale was to inflict pain on me who chose to not come second to a chemical.

I also firmly state I am pro-life with dignity. Which is why I so easily can stand and argue that medically assisted death is a necessity within our system so human life is one with dignity, for it I would not let my fur baby suffer in such a way, why would I let my loved one.

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The continual move away from city accessibility. In Calgary our at home garbage/recycle/compost system is designed for new communities with attached garages, and condos. Yet also falls short in understanding challenges of constantly carrying out buckets of compost in established neighbourhoods. The reduction in garbage pick up removing dignity of the person for those with continence challenges as their garbage output is not reduced but now the overflow is on view for the whole of their neighbours to see.

Yet with some thought, and work at a provincial wide level perhaps we could expand the recycle from house program, thus truly reducing garbage so the bi-weekly pick up can work. The expansion could shift as other provinces have done so the monies from recyclables pay for the program, thus  reducing costs to citizens. Then expand to multi-unit dwellings so it becomes cost neutral so this type of bylaw does not increase rents.

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That at the end of World War 2 my Great-Granddad Lewis who was a veteran of both wars battled for the Commonwealth to care for its veterans appropriately, and during my tenure in the world I have fought the same battle in the 21st century. This is a staunch reminder, war needs to be the last resort, and one that we enter into realizing that we need to be prepared to care for those that give some, and those that give all…also this needs to carry through to those we send out to peace keep for they enter the hell mouth as well.

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Look to the Alberta Government looking at removing age restrictions on housing stating it is a human rights issue. The realization is not understanding the complexity of the issue when it comes to congregate (condo/apartment living).

At the very least, if a person or couple have moved to a building believing it is kid free, and they chose to live there because of this a new family that moves in you are setting them up for harassment and complaints. A situation that may only end with one side or the other being evicted. Sadly, an eviction for whatever reason creates an issue on re-housing.

At the worst, you are setting up a place for predators. Sadly, those that abuse children and prey on them do not spend their life in jail. Upon release, they need to be housed, with this new legislation you are removing a housing option that keeps our communities’ safe…yet…

It is also short sighted, in that there are also many folks with the psychological predilection for children (due to trauma or neurology) that choose to work with Alberta Health to keep themselves and others safe. Using pharmaceuticals and other therapies, but also building a life that keeps them away from children as much as possible. Now comes this new bill…and…

Sound bites and twitter politics over critical thought of the best of the whole.

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That over 20 years after I got my knuckles bloody defending my op-ed piece in the Calgary Sun over a person’s right to love and marry whom they choose (and multiple thousand death threats) …both our governing and Loyal Opposition parties still distract by fighting this battle over again thus distracting from more core issues. (yes, for those doing the math, my 18th birthday was when the editorial I wrote in support of marriage equality came out). Why did I write this? I remember sitting with my Nan, when US President Bill Clinton announced he was against it, and her tears and simple statement that maybe if our world were more accepting and Christian as Jesus taught her lovely cousin would not have taken his life. So I took a stand, and took the lumps that came with it.

I am going to be blunt, when it came to clubs I was a part of in public school, the only time my parents needed to be contacted was when we were leaving the school so both sides were creating news and not holding true to the sanctity of learning, growth and discovery of the child. The only time parents were contacted about school behaviours were when they put myself or another at risk.

For those that try to blind with extremism, ideology or religion, let the war bride’s words ring in your ears. If our world was more Christian…love would win, and whom you love would not matter.

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The constant reminder that user fees are a flat tax on the working and poverty classes. A reminder that when political parties speak of the middle class, it is an innocuous term used to gain votes, but pragmatically roles out to households making over 100K a year, thus not the average Canadian.

A reminder that our natural resources do not belong to companies or politicians but to the citizens and need to be leveraged for OUR benefit above all else. That our Constitution Act 1982 does need to be re-opened, a social charter that was originally removed at the behest of Lougheed needs to be reinserted, and the division of powers in Section 91 & 92 needs to be looked at for the reality of Canada in a globalized world and things like Health Care and Education need to be in Federal jurisdiction as we are stabilized at about 30ish million people.

We need to take a serious look at the abolish of the reserve system and either incorporating into the Constitution territories of provinces for First Nations depending on population size (ala Nunavut).

We also need to realize that we only get the representation we are entitle to as Canadians, when we realize the local representative should hold the power of the vote. Party whips and Cult Leader politics are the Americanizing of our democracy to our detriment. As well, for it to work properly the elections acts need to be amended so the candidate needs to live in the electoral district at whichever level it is defined; PACS, union and corporate donations are abolished. Actually, all donations are. Each candidate must attend a set number of debates, public media must carry local candidate ads, interviews and discourses so that the public can be informed. If we really want a throw back perhaps the UFA system should be implemented in which a leader is not elected until all MP’s or MLA’s are elected (like the Constitution dictates) …but let’s take some giant baby steps first. Once the system functions the way it is laid out to, then we can look beyond a first past the post system to other voting systems.

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These thoughts continue to crop in my mind like I said as I look back on a life of work to try and build a new world, then the reboot hits and the brain lies to the heart stating that it has all been for nought.

On the grand scale still seeing the pain that exists within our world, yes it may appear as failure. Yet the failure is in stopping to raise the issue that we are all in this together.

These are musings that rest on my heart and are leading me to another pragmatic spiritual work as I look back on history of the sector I have worked in. If one spends time with the writings of J.S. Woodsworth and how his shelter functioned in Winnipeg at the turn of the 20th century, and then look at our system today you can come to a simple conclusion, all that has changed is our mats are thicker. 100+ years on, what needs to change?

We still haven’t answered the core question of his work, for we still look at the person in need, in pain, in sickness, in jail and in our homes, communities’ and lives.

The central question?

The one I have spent a life attempting to unpack, and will be the focus of my next pragmatic memoir?

Who is My Neighbour?

JS