Posts Tagged ‘Politics’


The bluster of winter trying to interrupt fall (or autumnal weather as some wanker has dubbed it). It is made worse by the deluge of media attempting to create stories from non-stories, and not actually doing their job as journalists and challenging the off setting narrative that oil and profits mean more than the planet and people. Some would say we live in a regressive province, but then they would be right. Melanie Moon, fastened the cincture around her purple and gray academic robe denoting her Master of Social Work. St. Jude’s was in the alternative Anglo-catholic tradition (usually seen as anti-many human rights, St. Jude’s established and flourished by embracing the beautiful Imageo Dei that other traditions refused to), and did like the smells and bells vestments. She pulled the diaconal stole (a diagonal stole, sewed at the bottom, bright red) denoting her ministerial office of education, social work and care.

Retired-Constable Sean James stepped into the Sacristry to check on the associate pastor of St. Jude’s. “Ready, Mel?” Melanie Moon, retired-MLA, last Social Credit of Alberta MLA. She had shared her journey in Alberta, to run and win was the impossible task to then lose the party she served under to become an Anti-Abortion group that could have names on the ballot sickened her. She was a believer, but was not sucked into the fog and entrenchment issues. That being things like anti-LGBTTQ+, passive to active ableism through “healing prayers”; and anti-abortion.

“Ready, Sean. But seriously as a deacon I’m pretty sure I am not supposed to be serving the Eucharist.”

Sean laughed, “what about St. Jude’s screams we follow typical convention? The Eucharist is about hope, about family together, all those that Jesus’ society said were not worthy, or less than, being there and being worthy, and the beloved image that we were created in and called very good and blessed.” Mel stared blankly at Sean. “Lee figured you may want to freeze up on your first solo show he gave me a cue card.” Sean holds up the lined piece of card board.

Mel laughed. Yes, Lee, was a former journalist turned priest. St. Jude’s took the risk to take her on as an associate after she chose not to run again in what was probably the dirtiest and most corrupt Alberta election on record. She spent time discussing with Lee the writings of Nouwen, Day, Fox, Spong, Ragan, Aberhart, Borg, to name but a few and it was through this he asked her to take a risk.

Mel did. The MLA’s in Alberta may not have a platinum pension like other provinces or the Federal or Civic elected, but there was a nice severance package that would float her while St. Jude’s trusted to raise the funds for her role. Sean checked his smart phone and chuckled. “Lee checking in to make sure you’re doing okay.”

Mel laughed, “isn’t he supposed to be chaperoning Beth’s school camp trip?” Ah band camp, they needed parent-guardian volunteers, Sean, Mel and Lee drew straws, long one went. Beth Venus, the most powerful magical hero in the world, The Bionic Knight, was also a fifteen year old high schooler. Since they had issues with the government chronic under-funding of public schools and forcing parents to work Casinos, Bingo’s and rely on the Lotto Fund (which the latest Alberta Budget revoked) for funds… it was preying on vice, and addiction…an addiction that had no outwards signs until complete devastation of the person if they could not get help ala a small T financial trustee, or worst case, suicide after losing all connecting points in society.

The words flowed through Moon from the altar, using a Franciscan Eucharist. Some state that a Eucharist is rote prayers and creeds that have no meaning, these are those that engage out of tradition, and this is just what we do on Sunday mornings, with no ripple effect into the other 6 days and 22 hours of life. But for those that it had the effect on, it was a frame work, like a coat hanger to hang your coat of life on.

Mel opened up her sermon from the opening words of Mark, “the Kingdom is near. It is the thin space our Celtic Ancestors spoke of, that our Indigenous Brothers and Sisters know, and each of us pick up on the moment by moment breaths of miraculous life that is by no ways structured, catechized, or templated for us…” she continued, as the words of wisdom spilled from her lips.

The words of the Gospel, the political statement of personal and communal life change to bring the Kingdom here…not a seeking after political power, or entrenching us versus them mentality that some saw in extremist groups like the dying Dominionist Movement, or other religious extremes…extremes that draw in all shades of Christians James knew, because you just got tired of being unwelcome, bashed, and battered…and these groups provided an ease of welcome and acceptance that centrists, progressives and pragmatists could learn from. Sadly it is easier to stay silent on that which you disagree with to actually belong, see belonging closes the space in the thin space.

“It is up to us if we create belonging in hate, power and love of money… so the Sacred Holy is closed to us for ever…or the thin space is closer and closing because it is found in hope, mystery, joy, peace… and Love…”

“Let us come to the table…”

Lee looked down at the text in with the picture of Mel serving the Eucharist from the altar at St. Jude’s. A smile crept over his lips.

Beth’s rainbow pixie popped out of the cabin. “Hey old man…did you get the text?”

“Of Mel?”

Beth cleared the twenty feet from the cabin to fire pit quickly. “No, from the BBC.” Tsunami in bound to a pacific island.

Lee laughed. “Be quick.”

“Always.” She ducked into the trees, as two words escaped her lips with a flash of white lightning…

“Bionics On!”

A new era launches…


The shortest work in the Hebrew Scriptures, Obadiah is a scant 21 verses of reality checking rant at the people. As probably part of the remanent left behind in Jerusalem between 587-76 BCE, and a symbolic name that means “servant of the Lord”…Obadiah laid it out for the people:

The vision of Obadiah.

Edom Will Be Humbled

Thus says the Lord God concerning Edom:
We have heard a report from the Lord,
    and a messenger has been sent among the nations:
“Rise up! Let us rise against her for battle!”
Behold, I will make you small among the nations;
    you shall be utterly despised.[a]
The pride of your heart has deceived you,
    you who live in the clefts of the rock,[b]
    in your lofty dwelling,
who say in your heart,
    “Who will bring me down to the ground?”
Though you soar aloft like the eagle,
    though your nest is set among the stars,
    from there I will bring you down,
declares the Lord.

If thieves came to you,
    if plunderers came by night—
    how you have been destroyed!—
    would they not steal only enough for themselves?
If grape gatherers came to you,
    would they not leave gleanings?
How Esau has been pillaged,
    his treasures sought out!
All your allies have driven you to your border;
    those at peace with you have deceived you;
they have prevailed against you;
    those who eat your bread[c] have set a trap beneath you—
    you have[d] no understanding.

Will I not on that day, declares the Lord,
    destroy the wise men out of Edom,
    and understanding out of Mount Esau?
And your mighty men shall be dismayed, O Teman,
    so that every man from Mount Esau will be cut off by slaughter.

Edom’s Violence Against Jacob

10 Because of the violence done to your brother Jacob,
    shame shall cover you,
    and you shall be cut off forever.
11 On the day that you stood aloof,
    on the day that strangers carried off his wealth
and foreigners entered his gates
    and cast lots for Jerusalem,
    you were like one of them.
12 But do not gloat over the day of your brother
    in the day of his misfortune;
do not rejoice over the people of Judah
    in the day of their ruin;
do not boast[e]
    in the day of distress.
13 Do not enter the gate of my people
    in the day of their calamity;
do not gloat over his disaster
    in the day of his calamity;
do not loot his wealth
    in the day of his calamity.
14 Do not stand at the crossroads
    to cut off his fugitives;
do not hand over his survivors
    in the day of distress.

The Day of the Lord Is Near

15 For the day of the Lord is near upon all the nations.
As you have done, it shall be done to you;
    your deeds shall return on your own head.
16 For as you have drunk on my holy mountain,
    so all the nations shall drink continually;
they shall drink and swallow,
    and shall be as though they had never been.
17 But in Mount Zion there shall be those who escape,
    and it shall be holy,
and the house of Jacob shall possess their own possessions.
18 The house of Jacob shall be a fire,
    and the house of Joseph a flame,
    and the house of Esau stubble;
they shall burn them and consume them,
    and there shall be no survivor for the house of Esau,
for the Lord has spoken.

The Kingdom of the Lord

19 Those of the Negeb shall possess Mount Esau,
    and those of the Shephelah shall possess the land of the Philistines;
they shall possess the land of Ephraim and the land of Samaria,
    and Benjamin shall possess Gilead.
20 The exiles of this host of the people of Israel
    shall possess the land of the Canaanites as far as Zarephath,
and the exiles of Jerusalem who are in Sepharad
    shall possess the cities of the Negeb.
21 Saviors shall go up to Mount Zion
    to rule Mount Esau,
    and the kingdom shall be the Lord‘s.

Yes the whole kit and kaboodle of the book for you to read. What is Edom? It is where Esau went after being screwed out of his birthright by Jacob, who was Jacob? A patriarch of Israel. Why does this matter in the exile? It is showing the long history to the people, it is showing that Edom is reaping what is has sown in unethical practices, and the cancer it has let take root in its nation.

It is a rant…it is showing the people a stark message for where they are now. It is what the Orthodox Church does in theological conversation with other churches, we are going to discuss the problem we have with you, by discussing with this other party, so you move from survival to the point of view as spectator to see what is actually happening. Edom is the stand in for Esau, but both are the stand in’s for Israel and Jacob at this point in history.

It hits home as Wexit (though love how one British commentator misread it as the west was wankit!- if you know British slang and the term wank, you can see where it went). trends post our Federal Election in Canada. It is not heeding the warning that the SoCons that veil themselves in the cross, God and religion wanting back the hey day’s of yesteryear and are stoking Alberta separation do not want the people to hear. Like Premier Jim Prentice in the 2015 election provincially asked Albertans to look in the mirror, to accept accountability for our role. Instead we continue to pass the buck, let our grieving process in the transition of economy and politics stall in anger and denial instead of moving forward into acceptance, and being able to grow and be better.

Image result for 5 stages of griefWe want to hold onto the fairy tale that a landlocked province can up and leave Confederation. We are letting the angry speak for us, and to show that we do not understand simple things:

  1. The Clarity Act
  2. Constitutional Freedom of Movement in Canada
  3. Global Economics and cross country trade
  4. How our own electoral system works.
  5. Though Oil Field jobs are now scarce, there is a huge shortage in tech/IT and skilled trades— hmmm… perhaps there is a solution?

We continue to want to live out of isolationism, no common ground, no common dialogue, no common core values to move forward on. We want to believe wanna be media outlets that think it is okay to stalk at 16 year old girl to her hotel room, and wish harm upon her and her property. We want to believe a Prime Minister and government that bought our province a pipeline is a traitor (really need to understand Canadian Criminal Law and the statutes around treason). We want to believe the same lying wanna be media that if we separated America would take us as the 51st State, when in reality we would became a territory (and look at how they treat Puerto). And how in a privatized health care insurance system would that work for citizens in a province with a ridiculously (some say global leading) levels of Multiple Sclerosis and cancers that we could even be insured for health care, never mind everything you now have is pre-existing and exempt.

On top of that a separatist movement destabilizes economies, means we if voted to leave, would get our level of Canada’s debt, plus our own debt, and not have the stable interest rate we currently enjoy as an economic power in a stable nation, rather we would be negotiating and borrowing as the equivalent of a banana republic.

We are Israel, we have reaped what we sowed. We did not want to look in the mirror. We did not want to face reality, we did not want to admit that education was key, or that the oil boom everyone warned us about not being constant, was not constant. Norway with similar population and tax base, took the Heritage Trust Fund idea of Lougheed and the Royalty rate of Manning, and now have over a trillion in savings, Albertans have 18 billion, and you are not saying we have been mismanaged for 41 years?

We have gotten the lack of Peace, Order and Good Governance our constitution declares for us do to our disengagement, apathy, and placing a value on the investor dollar over the citizen.

So yes, dear Alberta, we, like Israel, have reaped what we sowed, and like the Nation in the Minor Prophets need to look in the mirror and choose to implode or heal and go forward…

As the prophets (although minor) have shown us over the last 11 installments, look in the mirror…what would Love do?

For further thoughts on the state on conservatism and Wexit (wankit?) see these sources:

Why Alberta Separation is the dumbest movement in Canada today (National Post)

Charles Adler on his move to the centre (or where Progressive Conservatism used to be)

Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister (PC Party): “I have no time for that” -also note what he compares Canada to– sound familiar?

Next: Party 12– the belly of a whale….


Ah Amos a prophet that shows being neighbourly and taking concern and love of neighbour seriously is timeless. His oracles first surfaced during the 750 BCE’s with the threat of the Arameans conquering, but they were taken together 587-539 BCE under Babylonia exile. But where he could have passed the buck to external sources for Israel’s plight, or play the blame game on God… Amos takes it local, local to the heart of the sacred of each person.

Amos, is a good reminder for Canadians-especially Albertans, about what it means to be be human. What happens when you forget that? Well, Babylon was not exactly a happy go lucky place-being slaves, property, and a temple worship where to make sacrifice and confession you had to have sex, or sex performed on you by what or whom was available in the temple of the Babylonian exiles (hence the post-exile Leviticus laws against forcing someone into sexual practices against who they were created to be. Not Anti-LGBTTQ2+ as extremist and conservatives of the faith want you to believe, but pointing out these temple practices dehumanized and took the beautiful gift of sexuality (spectrum) and love of another and destroyed it…commodified it…)…see where this is going?

Amos, hit the heart of what opened up the nation to the susceptibility. That is the shattering that broke the Book of the Covenant (edited into Exodus 21-23; Deuteronomy 4:44-30:20) which laid out the basic principles of loving neighbour, self and God, that is a social justice compact for society.

Thus says the Lord:

“For three transgressions of Israel,
    and for four, I will not revoke the punishment,
because they sell the righteous for silver,
    and the needy for a pair of sandals—
those who trample the head of the poor into the dust of the earth
    and turn aside the way of the afflicted;
a man and his father go in to the same girl,
    so that my holy name is profaned;
they lay themselves down beside every altar
    on garments taken in pledge,
and in the house of their God they drink
    the wine of those who have been fined.

-Amos 2:6-8 (English Standard Version)

Something ring familiar in the beginning of illustrating the destruction of the social contract? The wealthy buying off the rulers, the poor sold out for a song or thrown under the bus to build the royal cophers. And let’s not get into the corruption in courts, where the wealthy were buying and selling the judges… creating huge debt loads to create a larger slave class, and forcing women slaves into incest, and sexual trafficking. The nation had already destroyed itself when Babylon moved in and conquered. The Shema had been rotted from the inside out.

Let that settle in.

A nation that has a strong social contract, is able to see the other, as neighbour, and worthy of life and thriving is healthy and open to be a shining example to the world.

We have quite a few leaders who calima allegiance to a religion, and state that due to that, this fog issue or that is what makes them “holy”. Yet, these are the same leaders that cut schooling, health care, supports for persons with disabilities, cuts services to seniors, and those in need (and yes dear reader, not making increases in rate with inflation, costs of living, or adjusting for population increase and needs are also cuts…the buzz word to look for here is “spending freeze”).

No, as each of the Minor Prophets (short treatises built upon the work of the Major Prophets). What was the heart of faith in God? Care for other. Say that again for the ones in the back- Love of Neighbour.

Not austerity, not fear, not separation, not hate—

Hope & Love.


Haggai was a minor prophet, one of the 12, whose work only lasted 3 months yet had an indelible impact on the people of Israel in his cry for justice. It is a short 2 chapters that packs a punch, but can be summed up rather well within these three verses in chapter 1:

 “Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins? Now, therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways. You have sown much, and harvested little. You eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm. And he who earns wages does so to put them into a bag with holes.

-Haggai 1:4-6 (English Standard Version)

It is the epic look in the mirror moment. The people are back from the exile in Babylon and slacking on the rebuild. Only certain folks are being cared for, not all. Yet all are working hard, but not being heard. It made me reflect on this last little bit in current events around what a newer version of this prophet for the 21st Century would look like. What would be our call to look in the mirror be for us? For Haggai it was calling out the bully-class post exile to get all refocused on what they should be. Change direction, get on track to not be those that were taken to be non-humans in Babylon.

Let’s check out on this and our own bully culture. At the national level, the incumbent Prime Minister, leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, Justin Trudeau at an event in Mississauga had to wear a bullet proof vest and have a security detail with his family taken into protection due to a security risk to his life. This is the outcome of rhetoric around treason, preying on people’s anger and fear as we are in the midst of transition with our economy and are lacking leadership in our province to make the shift, to diversity, and continue to prosper. It is a bully culture where even our leaders make the other person, party, idea an other, a horror, something dehumanized so that this is an outcome…and that those who believe the one entrenched belief do not even blink that now we have to have political leaders wearing bullet proof vests.

Haggai today in Canada…look at the house you are inhabiting?

Greta, is in Alberta, and going to be at the Legislature tomorrow for a climate strike. Our government officials want her to learn about our resource sector, but refuse to meet with her. And a bunch of crotchety old men, are rolling out of Red Deer for a counter-protest. A movement that has been linked to some other less than savory movements. It is funny in the rhetoric of children are our future, our leaders, we do everything we can to suppress, abuse or disavow their voice. In fact we fear it. Much like how Haggai spoke of working hard but harvesting little, we pooched the high times of oil, and now have nothing in its decline, yet instead of getting on track so all can be fed and warm we want to wallow in it.

Yet, the look in the mirror, is strongly reserved for the Calgary Board of Education, and the University of Calgary review of bullying after the suicide of a nine year old student. With the answer after interviewing administrators and teachers, that there is nothing to see here essentially. It is a culture built on toxicity within the administration, where superintendents have directed venom and bullying towards concerned parents, referred to children with disabilities as its. It is an organization, sadly, paying lip service to the Truth and Reconciliation recommendations. It is an organization that for years had the Me to We movement and challenge days in the early 2000’s…yet it has faded from that. To a place where lawnmower and helicopter parents, and educational leaders bully to get their way. Where “parent choice” creates space to out kids in GSA’s. Where segregation rooms are okay, and our boards petition the government to keep this archaic practice alive.

Where when bullying is brought forward, apologetic under the guide of trauma informed practice are brought forward to the bullied. “They are having a bad day” or “it wasn’t fully your fault” or “wasn’t directed your way” or simply ignored. When we had to confront bullying, the only way we got heard was the teacher let slip the student was 12 years old so I pulled out my phone, when asked why, I stated it was now a police matter.

That is a look in the mirror moment for our society that serves families, and our here and now leaders like Greta. It needs to be a historic safe space of discovery and learning to become fully formed citizens. Our Calgary Board of Education with the usual Calgary Ostrich solution (for more on this, read my memoir Soul Ripples) to issues instead of unpacking, and solving them.

Is it going to take a look in the mirror where parents begin phoning police on the students who are age of culpability and the school staff that cover up or gas light to protect the bully?

Is it going to need to be for those who are not age of culpability, to have the police called on the staff for endangering the child?

Will the Calgary Board of Education finally realize that things need to change?

This is the prophetic voice, ancient wisdom, modern times.

 


Homogeneous and Heterogeneous are two scientific terms I remember from the early days of elementary school science class. The first being everything is alike and blends in if you will, the other being like 1000 Island Salad Dressing. The political typology is melting pot versus mosaic. In story telling to get to the former from the later it involves a device known as “Ret Conning” that is retro-fitting continuity to fit the new normal story line. Jettisoning that which does not abide. We see it through the use of terms such as Canon (which I love in Christianity as the Biblical Canon is not as set as many would like to believe, but that is a post for another time or perhaps you can track it down in the archives) of the fandom, which have become more exclusive than inclusive since geek went chic.

Image result for the milk warsY’know what is awesome: Great stories about characters that are awesome, and not sweating the small stuff on how this fits in with a,b, or c of continuity. What happens is then you don’t wind up with constant reboots (soft and hard) and the ability to have creative fun.

Now, having vented on the state of geek, let me get to the point of this post. A great collection out of DC Comics’ Young Animal brand– The Milk Wars. The Young Animal brand is where weird went to live in the DCU, titles like Shade, Mother Panic, Doom Patrol and Cave Carson has a Cybernetic Eye, not sure if they are still publishing, but the titles volumes under the brand are worth the pick up just for the fun. The weirdness connected with DC main though in the Milk Wars crossover which touched on this absurdity of reboot/ret-conn on a meta-narrative breaking the fourth wall kind of event (Wonder Wife, Batman as a Priest if you will)…and the heart of it is the Superman without the morals, but hard Capitalistic Ayn Rand values inputted– Milkman Man.

The crux is simple Lord Manga Khan (from the awesome Bwahahaah era of Justice League International) wants to buy reality, the seller wants to make it pretty and simple, homogenized if you will– the solution— Milk and the Rett-Conn Corporation. Destroy the beautiful creative mosaic that exists on a spectrum, to make it all 1950’s comic codes approved, do not be controversial, cutesies…

Well– no spoilers– but the outcome is more than spilled milk :).

But as I read the collection, and reflected on the Federal election in Canada, I saw a Image result for the milk warsparable that was speaking to more than simply the state of story telling and the comics industry. I saw a parable that spoke to our hyper-fixation on leader and party over local candidate. See we are like Ret-Conn, we are expected to drink the shady milk, and believe that every candidate is 100% their party platform (if anyone has bothered reading it in the era of tabloid gotcha politics) and because in Canada we have given so much power to the PMO that all that matters is the leader.

It leaves us in a cognitive dissonance where we vote for local representation but behave that person is not a piece of the whole, but only a paper vote used by one person. We have drank the milk and stripped our parliamentary system of what makes is so democratic. We have removed the mosaic, to homogenize behind the leader as the be all and end all.

As we set to vote on Oct. 21, 2019, first read Milk Wars, if for nothing else than just the weird fun, but also read it and ask are you voting as a before or after milk drinker?

Do you know the local candidate? If we did the local scandals of hate, misogyny, homophobia, incompetence would not be so shocking because the local members would not have let the person stand, but also they would not be polling on a leader’s coattails in our all or nothing farce of party over people. The local candidate, to borrow an analogy of St. Paul, is but one part of the body, as each member is, each has a function and a role, yet we want all candidates to function as the leader–that is the face– but what is a body if it is all face?

Look at the other pieces, your candidate may be a pinky toe, or an appendix or even a superfillous third nipple, but they are a person…push them to step outside of the “stock face” and show who they are and why the want to represent you. Also know, this outting will reveal warts, scars, halos and all… and in  a pre-milk reality, ya wanna know something?

That’s okay.

Everyone has a past, a present and a future. It is what we have done with our past, is there growth and change? Is it visible in actions not just words? Does this sound daunting? Not really, it is about meeting the candidate as what our parliamentary holds they should be, as neighbour. As a neighbour is this someone you trust to make our country a place of peace, order and good governance… a place where all citizens are taken care of, and given space to be the best they can be in glorious and beautiful interdependence that is the mosaic of our multi-cultural nation we call Canada? Are theyImage result for the milk wars a person that inspires you to dream and vote for something? Not vote to stop or fear?

It is time we stopped ret-conning our politics and politicians. It is time we expected honest conversation and transparency who they were, are and are trying to become. It is who we are when we wake up in the morning, so let’s accept it is the same with those that are called to serve publicly– the challenge is being engaged to weed out the farcical Lex Luthors’ and to have authentic, leadership.

So…

Which side of the milk cup are you voting from?


Interlude:

What are we teaching our Children?

It is something I have pondered throughout my journey. Those younger, the next and now leaders; what are we constantly teaching them? Do we teach them their inherent worth? This is more than simply words spouted towards them; it is the actions of those around us, and what they see. It is not simply do as I say; rather it is they will do as we do. So how do we act? What is the current Meta narrative of our world?

In Calgary, AB 2019 a Nine-year old girl was bullied so badly in her Calgary Board of Education public school she took her own life. 2-0-1-9. The Board’s response, we investigated nothing to see here. Bullocks. There is multiple stories that may not have ended with a taken child’s life, but of the board, principals and teachers turning a blind eye. Nothing to see, don’t rock the boat. It is the anti-thesis of the WE Day movement, World Youth Day and Challenge Days. We LET BULLIES WIN!! And when it is called out, our “managers” (we have a leadership/statesperson deficit) do everything to deflect, and cover up.

But why do our children act this way?

This is a time to quote former Premier Jim Prentice:

“Albertans (and all world citizens-my add) need to take a hard look in the mirror.”

Why? We have created a world where anger and hate (white supremacist, Alt-Right, Fascists, and Extremists of all stripes) are courted by political parties to gain and hold power. When in the world of social media you are censored for hate speech, it is an infringement on your rights of freedom of speech. Nope, sorry, non-starter: hate is hate. I don’t care if the bully has cloaked it in Conservative or Liberal rhetoric, in Sikh, Islam and Christian Theology, it is hate. It needs to be called out and shut down.

In 2019 Alberta on April 16, 2019 we showed our children bullies win and that truly, the ends justify the means. No, this isn’t just heaping on the investigation of voter fraud (Both ongoing with Elections Alberta and the RCMP) with the UCP (United Conservative Party). The caught in picture and/or video of folks who would steal/vandalize opponents signs, the bullying of local citizens at candidate debates, and the attack/smear ads against those who were running against. It is also pointing out that the Government seeking re-election of the New Democratic Party which should have been campaigning on their record and their ideas, launched pre-writ drop on the low road with their own attack ads (yes it was using candidates’ own words and actions, but still negative); on the attack of Jason Kenney, which was a whistle to their own base as those that had issue with these character items of Kenney had already decided not to support him and the UCP based on that.

Both our Governing Party and the Loyal Opposition went low. The conglomerated media and social media allowed and cheered it on. Within the world of algorithms it is infinitely easy to never have to look critically at your own or another’s point of view for your feeds will only ever bring you what you believe. When the other parties attempted to raise policies of vision, and debate they were shut out and belittled (much like the other two were doing with one another). Parties like the Greens, Alberta Liberals and Alberta Party that should have elected MLA’s– the fear and anger machine of entrenched ideology within this historic voter turnout (64% officially, highest turnout since 1982) delivered us the anger machine Legislature.

That is two parties, their roles reversed. Is this peace, order and good governance as our Constitution Act, 1982 promises? Or is it a province within the stages of grieving trapped in the denial and anger phases unwilling to let go of what was, and discover what is to come and live into it, support one another in rebuilding and renewing. A statesperson or leader with a vision would cast it– unfortunately we got angry yelling middle managers quibbling over a budget line and seeing citizens only as a number, not as the person before them. Two parties, unwilling to admit that a province needs to heal; instead they stoke the anger and denial to hold to or win power. They become the bully.

Our children see that bullies win.

It is exacerbated more in the USA under President Trump, and yes I have been around the USA a bit and have seen the divided community. It is one of the things that I am intrigued by Marianne Williamson running for President. Anyone can win in 2020, but someone entering the race to change the tone of discourse is always a good thing. I did pick up her book from our local library, Politics of Love (2019) and once read will post a reflection.

But back to Canada… we also show that there is no need to respect one another, we can belittle. Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition, the Conservative Party of Canada, has shown this in Parliament’s Question Period recently where they refuse to refer to our Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, as Prime Minister; instead it is Liberal Party Leader. Sorry gents and ladies, whether you like the outcome of 2015 or not, he is the office holder and as such deserves respect for that. If anyone had done this to PM Harper when he was in Question Period the media would be all over it. Instead the base swells with pride and cheers, wears shirts and waves signs calling for our Prime Minister to be hung for treason (which shows an understanding of Canadian Law at least, for treason and cattle rustling are the only two offences that can still carry the death penalty). But hyperbolic anger theatre is the norm. Denigrating the other from personhood to hate that leads to a guillotine being brought to an anti-populist Premier Ford rally in Ontario.

If this is free speech, I am glad in our Charter of Rights and Freedoms Canada has Freedom of Expression, and it is time the RCMP and local police started enforcing that differential. It is all used to create this atmosphere that you vote against something, not for something. You choose lesser evils, and if you refuse the dichotomous narrative then you are an “idiot”, and will not be able to stop the other.

Any wonder why voter turn outs are so low. Yes, 64% though historic is bloody low. Any wonder why we have an increase in bullying.

Extremism exists across spectrum and theologies. It is disgusting, and needs to be called out. Not covered up, not excused, or at worse accepted. It needs to be called out, and exorcised like a demon in the Exorcist movie-pea soup and all.

But we have glimmers of hope. Thankfully; in a recent Abacus poll on the upcoming Federal election, 4000 Canadians were interviewed. Yes, I realize I dislike polls and 4000 is a small sample size, but hey you work with what you got for hope. Of those questioned 40% were in support of the fifth place party in our House of Commons, the Green Party of Canada. Why is this sign of Hope? It shows that people are thinking beyond the usual dichotomy in the Canadian mind for Federal governance of Liberal-Conservative. It also shows that the usual protest vote of Bloc Quebecois or conscience vote of New Democrat is not resonating. Could the old parties be being rejected? Could new ones get a kick of the tires and a spin for 4 years in October? Only if conviction is held to vote for what one believes in, not out of fear against stopping something. Nothing has ever been stopped or ended by undermining or selling out one’s own inherent values.

On this too, I have to touch on the Prince Edward Island provincial election. True the projected Green government did not happen. But let’s look at it. In the waning days of the election sadly, a candidate for the Greens and their son lost their lives in a canoeing accident. All the parties ceased campaigning for the remainder of the election. Class. Hope.

On election night, all the leaders were together from what I could see from the media feeds, and hugged after the results (yes older men). It is a minority government, with the Progressive Conservative Party being the government, but the Greens are the official opposition. Hope. Something has changed. Also the PC government not joining the anger train of the mainland populist movements speaking of listening to citizens. Hope.

Listening. Hearing. Acting on behalf of another.

Things that breed hope:

Seeing others, as neighbour, as a person.

And then reflecting, even in opposition life, what matters most in the discourse? What is the end that is truly supposed to be and do the ends really justify any means possible?

The now and future leaders learn behaviours by how their adults (parents, extended family, neighbours, elders) behave, not by what we say.

What do your actions teach?

Are you creating ripples of hate or HOPE?

 

 


There are non-negotiables in anyone’s life. Values, and core beliefs that are immutable. This we know for the species we are as human beings. The challenge is over the past 10 years, we have lost the concept of societal non-negotiables and core values. This is not a “God in public School” thing, this is the concept that as a society we were always working towards something better, for collective care, prosperity, and discovery (yes you can see that Star Trek has influenced my thoughts on the future). One only has to look to the current USA primaries, or the Canadian Federal Election currently underway to see that the concept of a core value for our society is now a moving target, and it is not a discussion about how to make this a reality–care for veterans, seniors, multi-culturalism, public health care, societal infrastructure, etc–the stones of the culture built on the Constitutional cornerstones in Canada of Peace, Order, and Good Governance. What exists in its place is headline grabbing gotcha that would make the National Enquirer blush.

I am also old enough to remember when being a member provincially-federally of a party by de facto was an anomaly that the New Democratic Party held (and the Greens would come into as well).  Rather citizens understood the division of provincial and federal powers and would look at the party that worked best for that level, in essence it would mean some held different memberships and different levels or even, gasp, voting patterns. Now it is expected that you not only hold same memberships and both levels, but that you viciously hold to 100% of the policy book unequivocally or you are a hypocrite (perhaps with more questioning the Green Party of Canada would realize that the feds have no control over Minimum Wage, that is a provincial power). The concept of the thinking candidate, voter, citizen is completely removed for you cannot challenge within your own echo-chamber. And so the silencing not only of critical thought, but our Charter Right of Freedom of Expression.  What it leaves us with is the current state of the Federal election.

I would hazard to put out though that the vast majority do not hold these entrenched views. In fact, I would say the silence they parlay into a false sense of belonging. I state false, because they may be a part of a party, but it is a lonely belonging. For they have created dissonance within themselves to belong, and as a result have taken in the loneliness that makes our society less. It creates a communal level of anxiety and paranoia that can easily be tapped into for fear and hate. That tapping into of fear and hate, leaves the ability for courageous safe spaces off the map. See a safe space is not a place where your views will not be challenged, it is not a space where a feeling may be hurt. It is a safe space because everyone is recognized as a person (Imageo Dei) and not dehumanized, which is a state of either side of the entrenchment.

In 2004, to earn my Bachelor of Arts in Leadership & Ministry we had a capstone project. My professor at the time discredited my proposal around Public Health Care being the Christian response, through using sources released during the term from the Frasier Institute (don’t get me started on understanding bias), but what came out of that discourse was a new idea– how to equip the church in understanding and coming to communal answer on policy questions that they then could use in voting or discussion within their own parties.

Key thing to note, at this time there was no “Christian” party. Yes, I had heard this or that in my time ala if you are a Christian it is Christian Heritage, Canadian Alliance (pre-cursor to the Conservative Party). I had heard the false choices, the C.A. is the Evangelical Church at Prayer, the NDP is the United Church at worship, etc. But my experience through-out the different forms showed that each branch had a mosaic of political beliefs, and these discussions could be divisive, yet the hard conversations needed to happen to be able to get people to a deeper spiritual discipline: Holy Listening for Holy Conversations.

I am working on a new version of this 2004 project I used for many times in discussions. It has led to reading some good resources, that I thought I would share around this idea. Brian Jennings’ 2018’s Dancing in No Man’s Land uses the metaphor of war for where the political discourse is in his home country of the USA currently, but can be seen elsewhere. Jennings’ is a pastor at a Restoration Church in America, and has noted the entrenchment. He tosses out the idea that the Christian is called to be in the No Man’s Land. This is a World War I term, where each side would entrench and not get into the area for fear of machine guns, and that due to this entrenchment then the insidious chemical weapons were developed.

His book is conversational, lays out questions and scriptures. What I like is that it percolates discussion, puts the issue up, and then challenges the reader to seek out the understanding within their faith, scripture, and the FACTS. Going deeper, being able to hold space and a conversation with others. That laying out of ground rules in life that used to be enjoyed where hard topics could be discussed, and dissenting views could be put forward and unpacked. His metaphor extends to the idea of the different sides leaving their bunkers, touching on gifts of gentleness and courage, shrewdness and grace, conviction, and discernment. The goal is moving into the path of peace, knowing that it is going to be rocky, but that it is possible through humbleness to leave bunkers, and put down the implements of war– social media, bullying, gotcha, right fighting, etc. and to truly look to the core.

What does it mean for our community? Society? Country to belong?

Belonging should not be lonely. Brene Brown (2017) Braving the Wilderness takes the reader on an unpacking of belonging. It is an excellent read on its own, but also a powerful compliment to Jennings’ book. See Brown takes one through the ways of belonging in self, and community. Explores what happens through dehumanization and how it allows for a false belonging. Yes, the false belonging many can have politically. So in their bunker that in the group all is great (hence, the huge overlooks of unapologetic moral failures). That the root of true belonging is not feeling alone. One can be alone, and it can and is a powerful spiritual practice, but the lonely feeling even when you are with people is not what belonging is about.

What happens when we extend this out to politics?

Simple, there is good people in all parties. In one to one moments they can admit this or that they may not support. Good conversations can happen, yet they do not want to “lose face” in any other venue and as such will fight tooth and nail even if they do not believe. Just look at Conservative Party Andrew Scheer’s comments about same-sex marriages and dogs, unapologetic. The Liberal Party Leader Justin Trudeau in brown/black face from 19+ more years ago, though multiple times which he was apologetic about. The false dichotomy is that many still look at it as a two party choice in a country that has over 10 registered parties. Perhaps it is time to look in the mirror and ask what happens when we begin to question not only from without (picking the spec in your neighbour’s eye with the lumber in your own if you will), but also from within.

Do we choose from a place of fear and paranoia? Scuttle butt is Scheer was the compromise candidate for his party on the 13th ballot to stop Bernier, who now leads the fascist People Party of Canada, what if it wasn’t about stopping, but the party actually looking at the field and choosing one that could’ve inspired and made their party better?

In regards to Trudeau, lets use it to actually open up the courageous safe space in our nation in regards to racism and prejudice and what it means for our nation today and moving forward. Questioning from outside, but also from within.

Unpacking for ourselves what it means to become comfortable in our own skin. It is never an all or nothing debate as Brown (2017) points out when discussing the gun issue in America. You can enjoy hunting and not think the NRA is right that everyone needs handguns and assault weapons, yet the discourse does not allow for that. Federally in Canada we have put up apologetic blackface to unapologetic LGBTQ2+-hate and created a false choice.

Our politicians only do better, when we demand better. Our politics is only better, when we question from within the bunkers, and are willing to leave the bunkers to create working groups, discussions groups, movie groups, book groups, churches, coffee klatches, that are across ideological lines where people are open to actual discovery and learning. Listening to understand, not zoning to create your response. The scary part of these groups for our world though is not the listening piece. It is the silence piece. If we listen to understand, then there will be silence not filled by something, and what may emerge in that silence is the scariest thought for many.

For in the silence, good happens.

Belonging is authenticated.