Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Space shuttle

Whoopee, another space shuttle launch.

Pardon the lackadaisical response, but I don't think it's what we need now. I'll admit, when I was a kid, outer space was fascinating. The idea of discovery of new world thrilled me. Star Trek series, particularly TNG, have fed that.

However, my feeling is that we should get our shit together on this planet before worrying about outer space. We've got a long way to go too. Extreme economic inequalities, rampant wars, famines, epidemics and growing environmental crises all demand the undivided attention of our leaders.

Hopefully someday, we will significantly expand our knowledge of the universe. However, let's get our own house in order first.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Chomsky on the Gaza pullout

From now on, posts of other authors' writings will only be posted here if they say something that is not being said by and large, and needs to be said. I'm going to start with this tidbit from Noam Chomsky's blog.

Any sane Israeli government would want to remove Israeli settlements from Gaza, where about 8000 settlers take a large part of the land and resources, and have to be protected by huge army contingents.

Far more rational, now that the occupation has turned Gaza into a hell-hole, is to get out and leave it as a prison in which the population can rot. The “Gaza disengagement plan” is, in fact, a US-Israeli West Bank expansion plan, designed to incorporate valuable land and resources of the West Bank into Israel, and leave Palestinians in a few unviable Bantustans which the US and Israel can call a “state”—rather as South Africa called the Bantustans “independent states.”

There is great agonizing now in Israel about the tragedy of the settlers who were handsomely subsidized to settle illegally in Gaza, where they have tortured and terrorized the population and stolen their land and resources, and now will be handsomely subsidized by the same generous fairy godmother (you and your friends) to settle somewhere else. People are wearing orange, etc. As the better Israeli journalists have eloquently described, it is a shame and disgrace. The same is true of the “trauma” of Jews evicting Jews. If Sharon wants to remove the settlers quietly, nothing is easier. Simply announce that the IDF will be withdrawn on date X, and a few weeks earlier the settlers will be gone.

It’s mostly cynical show to justify the US-Israel West Bank expansion programs.

The Gaza pullout is a rouse by the Israeli government to appear to do something without doing anything, or, as Chomsky suggests, to increase their power.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Welcome to Reality

Number of people in London killed pre-emptively by "the terrorists" in the last 48 hours: 0.
Number of people in London killed pre-emptively by the police in the last 48 hours: 1.

A headline I saw today: "World unites against fear". Yeah right.

The British police has apparently asked for special measure which they can use to investiage and apprehend people. Furthermore, they have adopted a shoot to kill policy when it comes to people they think might be suicide bombers.

This, as well as the shooting today, is making Muslims in London very nervous. And this is how Britain is supposed to be made safe? By antagonizing an already marginalized group?

It's ridiculous. How many people die every year by homicide? Suicide? Car accident? Disease? And how many by terrorist attack? You get my point, I hope. Let's put the paranoia aside and deal with reality.

Let's not turn Canada into a police state. Ever. That is something which I would protest tooth and nail. As has been pointed out many times by conservatives, We can thank for the freedoms we enjoy the soldiers who fought in the "Great Wars." Right. Well, what would they think of suspending our rights due to an unrealistic state of paranoia?

There is a certain level of risk that comes with any aspect of life. I would rather take the remote risk of a terrorist attack and continue to enjoy the rights and freedoms I enjoy as a Canadian, than maintain a perpetual state of fear of attack, be it from terrorists orthe police.

I refuse to live in fear. That means I refuse to live my life in constant paranoia regarding people who might look "suspicious" when the likelihood is 99.9999% likely that it is nothing.

this is my one blog

From now on, I will post all my ramblings, personal or political, on this blog. I will keep my other blog up for the archives and the links

Friday, July 15, 2005

all we have is this very moment

I got my haircut today. Everytime I get my haricut, I seem to spot a few more grey hairs. doesn't really bother me, but I am beginning to accept it as a sign of aging, and that I will never have a fully auburn head of hair again. Thus the march toward middle age continues.

I don't feel middle aged. I believe that youth is a state of mind, and I see myself as a big kid. I hope I'll always see myself that way. I hope I'll always be hip to what's going on -- new social and political ideas, new music that rocks, etc. I just gotta be me, and hopefully this will always be a part of my makeup.

I look back on my younger years with fondness. I look at all the things I did, and also all the things I could have done with the time I had. Still, as Paula Cole sang, all we have is this very moment. I'm still young, and there is still so much I want to do. Motivation is the thing.

Monday, July 11, 2005

RIP Chuck Cadman

Rest in peace, Chuck. I may not have agreed with you on everything, but you had honesty and integrity, a rarity in politics. Condolescences to the Cadman family.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Love and Fear (reprint)

After 9/11, we didn't get it. Now, hopefully we will. We will understand that the cycle of violence must end, and that responding in kind to violence will only get us more of the same in return.

We as a species need to develop a new way of relating to one another, and fast. We need to recognize the humanity in each other, and stop letting the fundamentalists play on our fears. It is vitally important that we stop succumbing to their agenda.

I observed in my previous post that thousands uneccessarily with no attention in Africa everday. It is disturbing that so much attention is paid to tragedies that occur in the West, to the exclusion of likewise attention to the rest of the world.

That said, I believe an opportunity presents itself here for the world to united against violence. Violence is wrong, regardless of whom the target is, and in the immortal words of chief Seattle, we are all connected, and that which hurts one of us hurts us all in some way. Love isn't a choice here folks. Our world continues to become more and more violent, and if we're going to rescue ourselves, we will have to see that in the battle between love and fear, we must let love prevail.

On that note, I am now going to reprint an essay on Love and Fear I wrote over a year ago:

There are two primary motivations, two primary sources for action. One is love, and the other is fear. Mahatma Gandhi was motivated by love. So were Martin Luther King, Jesus, Nelson Mandela, the Dalai Lama, and other great humanitarians. Adolph Hitler was motivated by fear. So was Mussolini, Joe McCarthy, Ernst Zundal, Richard Nixon, and others, as are currently, George W Bush and Osama Bin Laden.

Any solution to the world's problems must be motivated by love. Fear is the source of reaction. We react, lash out wild-eyed and defensively at the Other, without knowing exactly where we are lashing or where it will lead. It is not a productive or efficient use of energy.

Love is the source of proaction. We recognize not only what the Other is doing to us, but also how we are feeling, and the humanity in the Other. Love is purposeful, thoughtful, and compassionate. A response to an injustice based on love holds the Other to account, and presses for a fair resolution of the injustice, but does so nonviolently and while recognizing the humanity in the Other.

An action that lashes out in defensiveness and resorts to lavelling of the Other is based on fear. An action,or lack thereof, to appease or avoid confrontation is also based on fear. An action that nonviolently and humanely challenges an injustice is based on love.

We all should have no air of superiority when it comes to moral quality. We all have within us the capacity for good and evil. Obviously, one of these qualities becomes more manifest that the other in most of us. There are extreme examples at both ends, such as Gandhi and Hitler. In fact, near the end of his life, after gaining independence for India, Gandhi said that the only the only devils we must conquer are those running around in our own hearts. We must always be vigilant to ensure that it is the good in us that triumphs.

I also think that it is humbling to be ever mindful of the duality of out moral nature. This duality belies those, including those currently in power in the US, who would attempt to simplify matters by attaching easy labels, such as "evil", to the Other, as opposed to acknowledging the moral complexity of a situation. If we have this duality in mind, so much easier will it be to see the humanity in those who serve injustice upon us, and to answer injustices with acts motivated by love. The Other says, "I loathe you," or "I want to hurt you." We say, "those feelings are part of the human experience, but there must be a better, more constructive way of relating to me. I know, I have felt those emotions before, as we all have, but we must not let them win. We must not let fear rule our lives. What are you afraid of? Maybe I can help.

The emotion of anger does not itself possess a moral quality. It can come from fear, or it can come from love. The moral quality is contained in the response inspired by the anger, which will be influenced by the motivation i.e. love or fear. Motivated by fear, anger will lash out defensively, indifferent to its effect on the Other. Inspired by love, anger will be constructively channelled into nonviolent opposition to the inustice which is triggering the anger.

I believe that a further word is required about fear. Sometimes, fear is natural and inevitable. If someone points a loaded gun at me, it would be natural to be afraid. Or, if I encounter a mountain lion while hiking in the woods, fear should instigate a flight response. This is related to the avoidant response I mentioned earlier. There are situations, such as interactions with other animal species, where it is the only sensible response. If you are faced with a choice between avoidance and certain death i.e. becoming someone's dinner, choose the former. Nevertheless, anytime there is a hostile encounter with another human, we must overcome the fear in our hearts, and let love triumph.

Another form of fear occurs when faced with harm or death, due to some illness or bodily injuries. It is natual to experience fear, and it is psychologically important to acknowlege that. However, it is also an opportunity to love oneself and others as never before. It is a time to reflect on one's life, and to make the most of its remainder. This is proaction -recognizing the purpose of one's existence, and working to fulfill that purpose - and it is based on love.

It has been said before that the opposite of love is greed, or selfishness. While not a desirable quality, I don't believe that greed is at the core of the problem. I think it goes deeper than that. I have used the phrase "the fear in your heart." In the phrase, substitute "greed" for "fear." The greed in your heart." It doesn't work. What is in your heart is honest, pure, unadulterated. Fear is honest, it is real, it isw what is at the core of reaction. Greed is often dishonest, required to be so by its self-consumed pursuits. Greed is a negative approach to social relations. However, if we strip away the surface, the pretenses, the show, the facades of greed, what do we find, purely there, the basest instinct, without having been given any time to think or scheme. I believe it is fear.

The kind of world we see in the future will depend on which human motivation dominates. Will fear continue to divide us according to race, religion, gender, etc? Or, will love bring us together; will the love we have for our fellow human beings overpower our fear? That is the question of the time.

Thursday, July 07, 2005


This morning London time four bombs, three in the Underground, and one on a tour bus went off, killing at least 37 and injuring over 700. A European offshot of Al Qaeda has claimed responsibility. I was listening to CBC radio during the day as reports came in from eyewitnesses and politicians. Several things went through my mind. The first was shock. Senseless violence (how's that for a redundancy) always shocks me. My heart goes out to all those families and the citizens of London who have been affected by this tragedy.

The people who undertook this endeavour are not heroes of any kind. They are murderers and powermongers, and I very much hope that they will be brought to justice through legal means. They have killed innocent people, and probably only served to aggravate the cycle of violence. They have drawn attention away from the G8 Summit which thanks to Live 8 had the attention of the world focussed on it.

The temptation among some may be to respond in kind. Some would be tempted to do so out of self interest, such as the militaristic regime in the US. However, many will want to out of anger. I would strongly advise against that action. That is exactly what the terrorists want. They don't want us to stop, as Bush and Blair suggest. They want us to respond in kind and bring us one step closer to an all out war. In fact I would speculate that they are counting on it because of the nature of the Bush regime.

What I would like to is for people to stand up and take a stand against violence. Take a stand against extremism, against fundamentalism, against fascism, regardless of it's country of origin, regardless of it's motivation.

I want to quote something my net pal Andrea Valois from Hamilton said about the ethics of violence, a thought which I have been thinking myself for many years:

...to fight violence with violence is to condone the first act of violence because you are playing by the same rules. did that make sense? if someone is violent to you and you respond by being violent back to them, essentially you are confirming that violence is an appropriate course of action and you give the green light for further violence. and in the end, you lose because you end up playing by the same rules as the person who harmed you in the first place. but to engage in the 'moral jiu jitzu' of nonviolence is to change the rules entirely, thereby giving you the upperhand and the advantage in the conflict. violence is undoubtedly a cycle and eventually, someone needs to be the bigger person and put an end to it.

When are we as a species going to learn that violence begets violence, and that it only takes one to stop?

Though the terrorist acts in London today are unustifyable, at the same time I believe it is important to understand root causes. Terrorism doesn't happen in a vacuum. Conservatives may dismiss that viewpoint as coddling terrorists, but I believe it's actually much more realistic than playing global cowboy.

While I'm at it, I would also send my heart out to the thousands who will die of starvation in Africa today, and the estimated 100,000 who have been killed in Iraq, and furthermore to all who die unecesarily due to violence, whether it be physical or economic.