Mature love

Diana and I drove from Chemainus up to Cape Scott, leaving Friday last, returning Monday. It was the inaugural voyage in our newly acquired Euro van, and the first holiday we’ve taken in quite a while. Of course, we weren’t only testing the camper van, we were figuring out how we would get along in its close quarters over a four-day trip. We’re used to having space

I came away from the experience with a new appreciation for the meaning of love in a mature partnership. After we returned, I imagined what it would have been like, going on that holiday alone – the hikes, miles of driving, café breaks, forest discoveries, sunrises… without my partner? Pointless is a word that comes to mind. Lonely.

Which brought me to that deeper understanding of what it means to be in a loving ‘partnership’. Out of context the word has practical, business-like connotations. In fact, that’s why I prefer it to ‘relationship’ to describe couples who are married – either legally, or defacto. Committed couples do have to negotiate and come to terms almost daily with a lot of practicalities, if their relationships are going to last.

But the heart of a loving partnership is sharing: experiencing your world from overlapping perspectives, in greater depth than you can with anyone else; dealing with life-events from a place of mutual care and concern; fulfilling needs in a matrix of support and trust.

No-one else can expand the dimensions and boundaries of my experiences like the partner whom I love, Diana. Mature love is the deepest unfolding of friendship we can achieve.

Three minute tour of a working sawmill

Ever followed a log through the workings of a modern sawmill. This three minute tour of the Western Forest Products mill in Chemainus, B.C., will immerse you in the sights and sounds of a modern mill, and introduce you to the people who make it happen. For more, pick up a copy of Cowichan Valley’s Arbutus Magazine, which has run a full feature on the Chemainus mill.

McMono kimonos to go

Diana Durand’s McMono Show, at Duncan’s Excellent Frameworks August 2 to 31 – with the official opening Saturday, August 5 from 1 to 3 p.m. – was inspired by a discarded McDonald’s french fry box, which she found one evening, while walking her dog.

A ringside perspective on Donald Trump’s ‘new presidential’

Here’s what US Homeland Security Adviser Thomas Bossert had to say about Donald Trump’s retweet (on his official Twitter account) of the President of the United States pummelling a digital effigy of a journalist: “…there’s a lot of cable news shows that reach directly into hundreds of thousands of viewers, and they’re really not always very fair to the president.”

Let’s pause for a second and think about this. Let’s forget we’ve got footage of the President of the United States beating up on some guy at a WWF wrestling event. Sure, it was before his rise to power; yeah, it was fake; but still, is this really the person you want leading the world’s most powerful nation, the man who can launch a nuclear war?

Then there’s this thing of the CNN logo blocking out the victim’s face. That doesn’t target Trump’s violence at one media outlet; that makes the object of the President’s rage the media in general. The man behind the logo is anonymous, he could be anyone, any reporter doing his job in any setting. In other words, the symbolic statement being made here is: this is what I want to do to the media.

When you’re the President of the United States (especially this president) the distinction between ‘want to do’ and ‘will do’ can be pretty fuzzy. When you are a president whose base includes people who might easily be incited to acts of right-wing terrorism, sending a message like that is not only irresponsible, it’s reprehensible and potentially dangerous.

Then there’s the repeated attempts by this president to distract people from he and his associate’s real agendas with these staged controversies. Read Naomi Klein’s book No is not enough to get an idea of how this political sleight of hand works. Daily we are exposed to media reports of Trump’s outrageous behaviour; daily, he dominates the news, building and solidifying his base by poking his opponents in the eye. Worse, he’s using these episodes to redefine what is truth? What is news?

How do we understand Trump’s apparently accurate conviction that there’s no outrage, no lie, no despicable act the President of the United States of America might commit that won’t be applauded by his more rabid supporters, ignored by law enforcement agencies and explained away with facile excuses by spineless Republican sycophants? How should the media respond to his ‘big lie’ tactics?

The people of the USA better figure that out soon. Truth is, if the citizens of a nation don’t want freedom, if they choose to support an obvious fascist in his drive to consolidate power in his kleptocratic hands, then he and his partners will gladly take their freedoms away by pitting one segment of the population against another and controlling the ensuing brawl with necessary and incremental ‘state-of-emergency’ interventions.

For those of us who are not citizens of the United States, we better get into this debate, because the threat goes beyond the borders of the USA. It’s global. Trump is a symptom, not the disease.

[From Huffington Post: Journalist Who Exposed The Racist Creator Of Trump’s CNN Tweet Gets Death Threats]

Dear President Trump, Thank You

Mr. President,

As Canada Day approaches, and Independence Day south of the boarder, I want to thank you for rousing new hopes and goals for me, and many people like me, not only on this continent, but throughout the world. You have given us a vision to respond to, and remind us daily that the kind of world we want can only be achieved through constant belief and effort. Millions the world over are rallying to your resurrection in virulent form of an image we hoped never to see again scowling at humanity like a lizard hungry for its prey – you sir, are the ugliest of ugly Americans.

I won’t darken inspiration with a long winded recital of your lies, racism, misogyny, swindling, bullying, hatred, repression and stupidity. They are things you take pride in, and to lament your pathetic shortcomings as a human being would only serve to stoke the furnace of insatiable narcissism that powers you and your ilk.

Instead, I am writing this message to remind myself of the decency, camaraderie, patience, generosity and understanding that true leaders show as they work toward a better world – and effective leadership, I should remind you, is not the preserve of the Oval Office. When people like you concentrate leadership into one room, filled with greed-inspired men, what we get is dictatorship (or kleptocracy, to be more precise), a groaning, top-heavy structure doomed to collapse at incalculable human and planetary cost. True leadership inspires, it shares, it asks; your pompous brand of leadership is sustained by fear, greed and executive dictums, delivered as if by the hand of royalty.

There are millions of leaders in the world, Mr. Trump, who are drawn to visions of inspiring leadership; you attract followers, the needy, greedy, disenchanted and hoodwinked, who either want a share of your plunder, or seek vengeance for a world that has been stripped from them by… guess who?

You often boast what ‘beautiful things’ you will achieve through your policies; at the same time, you have been known to brag about how good it feels to ‘crush’ anyone who is opposed to you. Those sentiments are incompatible in the mind-space of a sane society. We do not get to beautiful by crushing people, instead your legacy can only be a world order where the homeless and destitute confront us at every corner; where families cannot afford housing, food, medical care; where indigenous populations are denied justice; where nations bristle and threaten and eventually engage in the cataclysms of modern war; where species are driven to extinction and vast swaths of the planet submerged.

Perhaps the top one-percent will be able to avoid the worst, inevitable consequences of their continuing greed and cruelty by retreating into their ridiculously lavish, cocooned havens; the rest of us will be left to swelter, fight and die on a planet whose natural integrity has been thoroughly degraded.

Your deplorable, shocking example has reminded me to continue believing and supporting, however I can, a world that is inclusive, honest and humane – that is, a world that outgrows the stimulus to rapacious consumerism, and learns to celebrate the plenty there is to share through private and social enterprise. Canada and the USA have more to celebrate from that perspective than most nations in the world; on July 1 and 4 I’m hopeful forward-looking citizens will recommit to a better world then you are determined to achieve.

 

The Rights Restricting Ratchet

A report titled National security vs individual freedoms, posted on CBC reminds me of the factors that are gnawing away at our rights and freedoms, and how lackadaisical we are – especially we Canadians – when it comes to guarding our rights. Threats to our freedoms include:

  • Powers granted to government agencies, especially security agencies, will be abused;
  • When governments avoid leadership, resorting to town hall decision-making as an excuse to evade tough choices rather than a process for examining options, our freedoms are likely to be eroded by inflated perceptions of risk created by opposed, usually conservative, interests;
  • A ‘ratchet effect’ takes hold as new technologies that limit our freedoms, and the drive to invent them, play off one another. In the hands of autocrats and plutocrats these technologies and the control they confer, tend to entrench anti-democratic interests in positions of power;
  • The erosion of our freedoms is incremental and progresses unnoticed for the most part, except for periodic convulsions when would-be autocrats launch a coup or alarmed citizens react to a perceived threat. When there is a confrontation, entrenched powers almost always win;
  • For the most part, citizens of established democracies take their freedoms for granted, forgetting that ‘freedom’ as we define it is a phenomenon which only emerged in the late 18th Century. We assume that our freedoms exist so we can get on living our lives the way we want, without having to devote time and will to preserving and protecting them. In nations like Canada, noted for an easy-going disposition, this is a particularly serious blind spot;
  • Huge amounts of money are spent by corporate interests on marketing campaigns that tell us to be dissatisfied with the things we have, and to focus on acquiring more things that we should have. The consumerist mode emphasizes and confuses self-interest with the selfless collective interest that sustains and upholds freedom as we know it.

In short, freedom isn’t something conferred or sustained by a birth certificate or passport. If we don’t value our freedom, or engage consciously in the democratic processes that redefine and renew them, we will be herded back into some form of serfdom.

Chances

As well as being a place many people go to take a spin on the slot machines, or bet on the horses, or to play Blackjack Fusion, Chances is a Community Gaming Centre. That means some of the money earned goes to a long list of community organizations in the Cowichan Valley. If you’re a player, a recipient of community funding, or anyone with something to share, I’d like to hear from you.

I’m a freelance writer with a focus on the Mid-Island and Cowichan Valley. My services include: web content, videos, memoir, event coverage and magazine articles.

Inhumanity at its worst

Image from the Gallus Domestics show by Diana Durrand

There are no words to adequately describe the inhumane behaviour of a group of men whose job it was to round up for slaughter a flock of ‘free run’ chickens in a Fraser Valley barn this week. Heartless, cruel and stupid will have to do.

But after we’ve tried to make ourselves feel a little better about being homo sapiens by expressing our outrage, we have to ask the same question SPCA animal welfare specialist Geoff Urton posed: “Why are these people abusing these animals in the first place? … There’s a fundamental disrespect for animals,” he said. “These workers need to see that these are living things that are capable of suffering.”

Of course, the abuse of some chickens bound for slaughter can’t compare to the atrocities humans perpetrate daily against one another. Still, as an example of innocent creatures being maimed and killed for no apparent reason – other than to generate a few laughs – the footage is truly appalling, and symbolic of a psychopathic streak in human nature.

So rather than letting the ghastly moment slip by in the jumbled stream of TV and digital consciousness, we should pause, reflect and look for answers. We should remember that the men who did this share our genetic code, that they might have significant others they love, dogs they shower with affection, children whom they look out for. They aren’t monsters all the time; only when they think no-one who cares is watching, and nobody they care about is being hurt.

That gives them opportunity, but what’s their motive?

Could it be that these men are so low in the social pecking order, so frustrated at having to scratch out a living and suffer the indignities of a menial job, that they find in Gallus Domestics the perfect lightening rod for their inarticulate rage – a creature they can pay back with savagery and abuse, knowing their sacrificial victims will never be able to complain?

Have they become so desensitized in the agricultural gulags where they work that they can no longer distinguish the line between hilarity and horror, and have to prove to themselves that there is no horror, that the creatures they are in charge of are not worth a moment’s mercy, because a moment’s mercy can open up an eternity of painful soul-searching?

The perpetrators of this carnage have been fired. They’ve paid a price for their reprehensible acts. But responsibility doesn’t end there. We have to continue asking ‘why?’ until we find answers that will help us prevent these kinds of gruesome episodes. We have to humanize people who have become cruel because inhumanity at its worst is a reflection on all of us.

Does secular humanism have anything positive to say?

I joined a secular humanist society here in B.C. hoping to find some kindred spirits; got tired of all the ranting and railing against Christianity and let the connection lapse.

But the experience reminded me of a couple of things. First, praying still has its place in our world. I pray all the time… to my fellow humans, hoping they will embrace more humane ways and learn to enjoy the beauty of this planet we share; to flowers for growing, and bees for pollinating, and seeds for germinating; to dogs for being dogs; to those closest to me and all around me to fulfill themselves in loving, meaningful ways.

Second, humanity has gone through many stages as consciousness unfolding in this universe, belief in gods of one form or another among them. Without those previous stages – including Christianity, paganism, Islam, the fabulous cave art of Altamira – our current belief in science would never have manifested. We’d still be sleeping in trees at night praying not to become the prey of the magnificent saber toothed tigers lurking down there on the forest floor.

NOTE: This item was first published as a reply to a Facebook post, comparing the medical achievements of science to those of religion. The following graphic taken from the Progressive Secular Humanist Examiner was included in the original post…

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360 Goaltending


I took some shots at my son Daniel’s 360 Goaltending mini-camp May 13 in Orillia, ON. Had a great time getting in peoples’ way, watching the players get into the game. Young and old – that’s five years and up (to 60 something in my case) were inspired and focused… serious fun.