Posts Tagged ‘Humanity’

All to often we let the day to day needs for survival (whether it is actual needs or wants being driven to be filled, and the socio-econimic/psychological discussion around this component of what is colloquially called the “Rat Race” can be explored later). We focus on entitlements in our world designed to keep people out of help, rather than looking at our taxes, and the funds to aid those in need be specifically and easily accessed by those in need when needed (and then leverage our Canada Revenue Service at the other end to deal with the fraud or any income overruns). That has been exposed in c-tine as many have now had to access the system of government entitlements (whether montly stipens, grants or other aides) and realizing what the neo-liberalist conservative world has built. In some sectors, under the faux guise of a cross or crucifix. Yet at each turn, with many left behind, we have celebrated our public servants. Yet, we have believed that what matters more than anything is debit and credit columns on a budget spread sheet, not the person in front of us, regardless of the challenges/barriers/blessings in their life, has intrinsic value.

Intrinsic value, simply because they are human. No matter how you reach that truth- through religion, spirituality, ethics, morality, politics, science or all of the above. Yet, it does leave us a question then what does matter?

Why does this matter?

Think of who you are. How you exist in the world. The world does not have to be the globe (yes, flat earthers, it is a globe/sphere), but can be as small as the communities you live and work in. Think of how you introduce yourself. What are the things that you include in your introduction? Is it labels? Is it roles? Volunteer work? Paid work? Education levels? Family ties? Where you came from? Where you live? What you believe in? What your core values are? Hobbies? Interests? Political leanings? Religious affiliations? Does where you are asked to introduce yourself shift the introduction? What pieces of you does society view as having value to share? Is it true?

Why does this matter?

It speaks, much like how we qualify to access the social safety net, how we place value on one’s life, and our own. Are we simply human capital in the capitalist economic enterprise? Are we simply the good we can do in the world? Or the harm we have or may cause? It becomes harder to understand, especially in moment to moment life where the ground underneath us can feel like it is constantly shifting. It raises the importance of ongoing reflective practice. It is about understanding who we are, and in the still quiet moments, understanding that there is an ideal self we can attain and a journey to become, but also, there is the ideal self we are in the here and now living and being our life based on experience and the professional and personal circles of support around us.

But how to reflect, every so often it is good to think long game. What do we want to be remembered for. Some will point to death markers like tombstones and point to the dash between dates and ask “what does the dash represent?” In other words, what happened in the time on earth? For, I will be honest, with each death I do reflect on my beliefs around death, during c-tine there has been 8 that I know of in my circles. All I know for sure is there is a continuation to our story, but what that looks like. Well, as the old joke goes, I am sure when I reach that new prologue, and meet the greeter, and discover, I will spend the first chapter laughing about what was held to be true in the here and now.

But I digress. See in preparation for ministry or monasticism or life coaching, there is the reflective practice of writing your own obituary. Distilling down what you will be remembered for into less that 100 words (they are expensive to print); in other human services fields in academics as you progress there is the practice of writing one’s own eulogy. Same sort of thing, but the ability to be more verbose, and expose life goals laid out. Maybe this is why my goals have always been so simple, centered on making my own corner of the world a better place, and being a voice for those without…perhaps it is due to the reflective exercise and the conciseness of the nature I was given in the formation of book 1 of my life.

Yet, as I would encourage these exercises for you, they can be a tad morbid during a world wide pandemic with so much death around us. Instead, take time to think, of what it will be like to turn 100 years old. A milestone where the Queen, Governor General, Prime Minister (and if you’re Roman Catholic, Pope) will send you greetings. A time to celebrate all that you have experienced over this life. As I have been blessed to be a part of a few of these momentous occassions, media also comes to interview. Features are written. Short 250 word pieces, with pictures of your school days. Take time to curate this, what picture from your grade school or trade school or post-secondary would be used? Maybe one from your very first work day? Or day as….

Then…what do those 250 words say. Who are you in the life ahead? What is the true core you that will be celerbated? That will inspire others?

Does it resemble anything that is used for our maudlin introductions in the here and now? Or do we completely miss the mark?

My guess, and experience…we miss the mark.

Because our ideal self is now. Our ideal self is becoming.

250 words on who you are at 100 years old?

Who is the true you?

Hugh Segal has had a long career in public service, both at the Federal Political level, Provincially, and in our Senate Chamber. He was called to the Senate much to his shock, by Prime Minister Paul Martin, a Liberal, and offered the ability in 2004 to sit as either a Progressive Conservative, Conservative, Liberal or Independent, much to his surprise, because usually up to that point vacancies in the appointed chamber were filled through partisan politics. Segal decided to adopt the new brand of the recently merged right at the time and sat as a Conservative, though in 2014 when he left, he was seeing it was not the Tory ship he remembered.

The Wynne government was not perfect nor Tory. Few governments in Canada are “Tory” anymore. Today when I use the word, I refer to Disraeli-like belief in “one nation” politics–a politics that sees as unacceptable the vast difference between those living happy, well-funded lives of travel and luxury and a sub-culture in which people are denied enough to eat, indoor plumbing, time for family, or any enjoyment at all. A Tory respects tradition and the rule of law but sees the reduction of the gap between rich and poor as essential to his or her mission. The Disraeli administration made progress around child labour laws, breaks during the working day, a full weekend off, and other amenities for workers that reduced the pain and hopelessness of poverty. This is what I refer to when I use the word “Tory”. (Segal, 2019, p. 159)

Segal’s (2019) Boot Straps Need Boots: One Tory’s Lonely Fight to End Poverty in Canada opens during his childhood in Quebec, where his toy box has gone missing and it is revealed that his father had given it to a neighbour for fire wood, and the long life journey of unpacking the idea of poverty. Of the work of community to support one another to carry one through, and the role of government. His family’s elder generation was CCF/NDP, his parents was Liberal, and through the whistle stop of Prime Minister John Diefenbaker (A Tory), a young Hugh Segal at 12 years old was converted. Why?

Image result for boot straps need bootsDiefenbaker spoke to his family’s circumstance. Even though everyone in his family supported the “natural governing order” or the incumbents in the safe seats, what is Canada’s equivalent to a British rotten burrough is a good reminder to always question the incumbents, the party, and that there is no natural governing body, but rather a coalition of citizens that need to show they are working for Peace, Order and Good Governance for all Canadians, and what that looks like at the core should be able to cast a vision, have a plan, implement and get support across parties–for opposition sometimes is about right out opposing when it is bad legislation, but on the whole, opposition should be about making governance better, more accountable and transparent.

The need to what the quote of Segal’s from the book at the time the Liberal provincial government of Kathleen Wynne had him come to pilot the Guaranteed Income project (a pilot project scraped by the incoming Doug Ford populist, in PC brand only, governance). It was one of the two interests that drove Segal’s public life. Under the PC Leader Stanfield there was a drive for using solid research and application in public policy. Segal’s writing affixes him as a true Red Tory, he stayed true to his party, in 1998 would run for leader with the party now reduced to 5th place due to the fracture of the coalition and rise of the Bloc Quebecois and Reform Party. Yet a platform to espouse the drive for the Guaranteed Basic Income Model.

A Model that lays out a pathway to prosperity for all citizens in an economic efficiency instead of the layers of government entitlements (four for seniors in Alberta, disability payments, and different income supports at a provincial level). It gears to a tax base allows for a universality of a program to ensure livability. It creates a system of hope, and replaces a system based on paranoia, and exclusion to one of inclusion, and opening up new avenues for citizens to fully participate in economic prosperity.

Aside from the memoir journey that shows his path from childhood, where at 12 years old he was encouraged to contact the leader of each party before making a decision, and sharing how it was Diefenbaker’s office that responded not with a form letter, but a letter, and speeches that centered on the questions he asked. Engagement of the youth, asking questions, seeking out the best evidenced based solutions, understanding the need for collaboration across party lines to effectively make change and positive impacts. This was seen at different points when he wrote of work in minority governments, and the shift in majority (as he was a part of Mulroney’s government)…to a return in the Senate, then stepping back and becoming principal of a college, to his work with Wynne’s government.

The echo is also seeing the unfortunate change, as collaboration dies, the ability to question one’s own movement as well as others in the discourse of ideas (the altruistic evil writers like Jonathan Sacks discourse on) to what it actually means to be a public servant. The memoir unpacks the story of a life work yet to be accomplished, and the question to the reader is, should it be? And yes it should for Canadians as a whole.

Segal, using Ontario as a case in point writes of where we are at in decision making:

Cabinet solidarity after reaching a decision is one thing; having no chance to influence the decision before it is reached is another. This goes beyond right, left or centre. This goes directly to process, inclusion,and the right of ministers to have their say. After all, their oath of allegiance is to the Crown, not the premier or his staff. (p.179).

The closing shows how one over a lifetime can have a moment that inspires to change, even in the moment it is frought with a spectrum of emotions of anger, sadness and confusion. Segal’s toy box moment was this. Anger needs to be released, or it will consume and not allow you to see beyond your own anger, for what is actually the true healthy interdependence of our communities:

I am no longer angry at my Dad. The toy box was all that he had to help a neighbour whose economic straits were even more dire than ours.  I have forgiven you, Dad. In your place at the great cab stand in heaven, I hope you will chuckle at how long it took me to admit it. My father did the right thing. We all need to do the right thing now. (Segal, p.173).

What is the right thing you need to do?

Right now…

Diversity is a beautiful thing. Belonging is the normative for diversity. The sadness of our world is that we continue to perpetuate segregation, and myths that place tolerance, accessibility, and inclusion over belonging. In essence, we continue the journey of exclusion.

The first post pointed out that the right of belonging begins by throwing out the meta-narrative society has saddled us with. The burden that we shall grieve because a child does not fit the “mold”. The mold may have changed, but the underlying eugenic concept of what is acceptable has not.

The system may lend itself to the idea of supports for belonging. Yet the goal is accessibility or inclusion in life it falls short. It creates a false patriarchal hierarchy for the disability community…follows a ladder motif. Not what is truly needed for belonging, that of a circle, a round dance if you will that can be drawn wider even still.

Other myths perpetuated by the system to be challenged:
1) Diagnosis as a prognosis for life. It is not. Diagnosis is how one experiences life. The social net provided for in the Just Society contract should, and shall, provide whatever measures are necessary for an individual and their loved ones to belong.

2) that there is a hierarchy in medical complexity. Again see point one. The challenge is by perpetuating the hierarchy it fractures the voice that should speak as one into the world. It fractures that which intersects all other demographics and voices for change. It also creates a false “bogeyman” so silence and stigma remains.

The challenge in celebrating uniqueness is knowing and living into the present moment. Challenging the glass ceilings that have become cement blocks that nothing shall ever be better. Standing in advocacy solidarity with others. And when advocating, being able to step outside one’s own experience to speak to a broader necessary perspective. Just like with everything, there is specific supports necessary, but there is also a broader voice that must be heard.

Society needs to understand that all belong, and as such: delays, bans, crass remarks, open hatred or passive dismissal are no longer tolerated. Society needs to understand we are neighbours, we are all apart of the human family.

Beyond that, no matter what diagnosis is given or not given to a person. The journey of life, the personal, the social and professional supports also shape the identity of the individual and who they become as they grow and thrive.

Are we willing to shatter the glass?

Are we going to destroy the cement?

Are we going to risk belonging for all?

Okay, as noted in yesterday’s post Dollarama has been a gold mine for comic collections cheap. One of these was Dan Jurgens’ Thor: The Spiral (2011) published by Marvel Comics. In the beginning of the “event driven” universe, there is still hidden gems. This story picks up after Thor has become monarch of Asgard due to Odin’s death, has the Odinpower; and has been split asunder from Jake Olson (his human side). So Jake is living as a human paramedic, while Thor is ruling as an omnipresence, omniscience, and almost omnipotent being.

Using the magic, technology of Asgard and Asgardians as his heroes he begins his reshaping for the better of humanity. Crime rates go down, despots are removed, hungry are fed. It creates waves as a new Thorist religion grows up, and faithful of other belief systems begin flocking to the “Santa Claus” with the hammer.

Many questions are raised, first by the Gods of legend who challenge Thor to guide humanity to interdependence, not dependence on the God’s power. It raises conflict-verbal, theological and physical- with the Christian (Catholic) Church that see the vacuum being created as free will is removed and their concept of Saviour is challenged.  What does a multi-faith world actually mean?

It is a familair narrative within comics, what if the hero used their power to solve everything? What would happen? What if an interventionist God wish fulfill-er truly existed?

But it comes down to more within the mind and heart of anyone, for it tracks back to a theological debate that still has resonance today: Is Jesus fully human-Fully divine. You see as the way shower, and the example, this exists within all, and this story lays out what happens when someone is not tempered by human conscious and is left to be all powerful. And as noted by the Bard, absolute power does corrupt absolutely.