Skip to main content

Requiem for a Nation (reposted)

This post was first published in May 2011 just after the Federal Election. I re-blog to revisit my thoughts during that time, as the 2015 elections approach and the stakes seem much higher. The world has become even more barbaric and suffering globally and nationally more evident. 

In spite of all the efforts of good people to inform the public, 40 % of voters chose the party that promised to deplete  the programs that make us rich with a quality of life such as good education, health care, social services to help those at risk, programs that promote civic engagement.  

Over the last thirty years we have seen how the natural wealth and beauty of this country have been eroded in the name of the "economy", and we have watched our leaders become vague on policy in exchange for populist slogans. The air waves are filled with entertainments where discourse used to be. And we have seen how nations have scuttled out of environmental stewardship.

Politics has become another new product. It can't be complicated with real issues that will make voters seem uninformed. It musn't make them feel stressed or pressured. It must be easy, make them feel superior, that their prejudices are right and their intuitions on track. The campaign must be shiny and slippery. 

Sure there have been other voices alerting us to the danger ahead, giving us statistics, calling out errors made by the government, and even though they didn't get much in mainstream coverage they got the majority of votes. But not enough for our first past the post system.

Canadians did not win, the military industrial complex did. That vast and resounding voice that comes through hundreds of TV's and most corporate sponsored newspapers, that huge global propaganda machine, that ideology that we must worship profit instead of people, was the great winner tonight. And that isn't hard because sub-consciously we all sense where power is invested and it's much safer to get behind the bully rather than confront him.

Hidden behind the pre-packaged images and formatted perceptions, the real world will continue to unravel. There will be more unemployment, more homelessness, more domestic violence. Beyond the facade of morality, abortions will be illegal, purportedly to save the unborn who will be left to starve once they are born. Our youth will be sent to war in countries they have never heard of for reasons they'll never know. Prisons will be filled with conscientious objectors tortured by the criminals in charge. And the earth with its inhabitants will die a slow death through poisoning.

This may sound too far fetched, but consider the difference thirty years has made in our expectations of what a functioning democracy means. A good standard of living where we thought hard work and education would pay off, where we expected our government and corporations, guided by reason and knowledge, worked for the people. Remember when we thought we lived in a fair and progressive country full of people who had risen above prejudice and racism?

What was it that changed? People or the theatre of  information we are bombarded with?  What instruments and strategies have been at play to make us believe people (and when we say people we mean other) have become stupid? 

Absolute power corrupts absolutely and we are no longer in a friendly beautiful place, but a place that has been co-opted, extracted, re-interpreted by power interests that feed us what they want us to feel.

What has happened is that power has been centralized and life is merely its meat. What has happened is we do not see the ways we are manipulated because we can't see the strategies used against us.

Before we can win back democracy we must examine and interrogate this power that we have enabled, that has become the monster. To believe in our own power to change the world for the better is a good start.


Popular posts from this blog

About Humanity

"A chosen people is the opposite of a master race, first, because it is not a race but a covenant; second because it exists to serve God, not to master others. A master race worships itself, a chosen people worships something beyond itself. A master race believes it has rights; a chosen people knows only that it has responsibilities." Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, Not in God's Name, Schocken, New York. 2015.

As someone who does not identify as a chosen people or part of a master race, I ruminate about how to respond to the world, particularly that part of the world I cannot endorse. So I am comforted by the people who have taken on ministry and who feel responsible enough to care for community.

How do I act on a feeling of responsibility without assuming that I know what other people should do, or what we should do? It's very easy to slip into a political preaching that suggests I know, or that my being a good example means that others should follow it. Or worse yet, create…

Creating Chaos

A very important article in The Guardian analyses the rise of hyper-masculinity and the phenomenon of Angry White Men.  "Sociologist Michael Kimmel is one of the world’s foremost experts on the phenomenon. - His recent research has looked at topics including spree killers (who are overwhelmingly male and white), as well as the relationship between masculinity and political extremism."

In the article there is a report on a study on testosterone where 5 monkeys are observed. The one who rises to the top beats up number 2 and number 2 beats up number 3 - and so it goes down to number 5. 

"So the experiment is: he takes monkey three out of the cage and he shoots him up with testosterone, off the scale, and puts him back in. What do you think happens? When I tell this story my students always guess that he immediately becomes number-one monkey. But that’s not true. What happens is that when he goes back in the cage he still avoids monkeys number one and two – but he beats the …

Albert Camus: Our task