Is Home Where You Live…

“Perhaps home is not a place but simply an irrevocable condition” – James Baldwin

Have you ever had one of those mornings where you wake up and the first thought out of your head is “damn it”.  And you start to question why you had to wake up?  Well that was how my day began and that is generally a sign that I need to purge some thoughts so here goes.

I have started the process of moving.  I have moved many times but each move had its own distinct rhythm.  From Winnipeg to Calgary to Vancouver to Calgary to Vancouver to Montreal to Halifax to Toronto to Calgary to Vancouver Island to Calgary to Kelowna to Nanaimo and now back to Calgary.  The one constant seems to be Calgary however when someone asks me where “home” is I just shrug and tell them in my head.  Home, as James Baldwin so succinctly said, is a condition.

I quoted him because of the impact he had on my young mind.  As an 11 years old, restricted to bed due to surgery for almost four months with limited access to TV I read voraciously.  Comics get old pretty quickly so my reading was very eclectic.  I had just finished an Edgar Cayce book so it was an easy transition to Baldwins “Go Tell It on the Mountain” which I gobbled up.  Another brick in the foundations of my belief system.  So to me it is easy to relate the concept of home as a condition.

The first time I moved myself was from Calgary to Vancouver, I was 16, it took me fifteen minutes to get a backpack together and hit the road.  I was running away from the Alberta Eugenic Board letter that awaited my parents to get home from work.  It took me another sixteen hours to hitchhike to Vancouver but I was on the run so didn’t care.  I was moving and I made many moves in the next ten years.

When I left Toronto in 1976 I made up my mind at midnight and was on the highway by 6am.  I had been driving a taxi in Toronto at the time but had slipped in the bathroom of the SRO I was living in and broke my foot.  Couldn’t very well drive a cab with a cast on my gas pedal foot so it was a good time to head back west.  I had a backpack, a sleeping bag, a suitcase on wheels tied to my belt-loop with a rope and $90 in my pocket.Continue reading “Is Home Where You Live…”

On Being a Victim

“You can slowly ease into being a victim or you can accept being a victim, the only difference is the level of fight” – Terry Wiens (2018)

I had a very hard time falling asleep last night and was plagued with thoughts regarding victimization.  There’s a twisted irony to a week containing the annual celebration of love, Valentine’s day, ending with the level of tragedy we witnessed in Florida.  What kept me awake was realizing how deep into the wastelands of desensitization we are becoming as a society.  There has been over fifty years of that type of tragedy for us, as a society, to speak up and demand change but our collective silence allows it to continue.

A late night discussion on the pitfalls of stepping forward out of fear of repercussions just highlighted how far we have wandered into the forest of denial out of fear of speaking up.  Social media has just enabled even more vitriol to paralyze public reaction and keeps people in fearful silence.

I have spend my life refusing to be a victim which has made me the activist I am today.  I will not be silent on victimization, repercussions be damned, I will not be silenced towards injustice out of fear of losing friends or services.  It is my responsibility to minimize my own level of victimization and if that means being a dick every now and then, so be it.

I am no Colton Boushie but I do recognize the victimization attached to that case.  Being a victim is not a competition, it is not about the degree of victimization, it’s about the state of the groupthink that allows it to happen.  It’s about attitude.

When a court case can dismiss any potential aboriginal jurists under the guise of a “perceived bias” while twelve white jurist are believed to have no racial bias that says something about our society.  When persons of authority in that community can write on social media that the “only mistake was leaving witnesses” one has to question how balanced the system is for victims.

The biggest victims here are the First Nations community themselves.  Granted none of Colton’s peers sounded like angelic kids but then I was never a fully law abiding teenager either.  That didn’t mean you could shoot me and then walk away unscathed.  People need to speak up before this type of victimization becomes a norm.  Every time we remain silent we desensitize ourselves to the harshness of reality.  When we fail to speak out we become part of the problem and not a contributor to a solution.

These seventeen deaths in Florida were more than victims, they were martyrs.  They died in the name of a cause most of them probably weren’t even aware of.  The true victims are those who now now have to live with the void left in their lives because of inactivity to tackle an issue America has turned a blind eye to for generations.  An issue that has been going on for years in America but protected by the financial strength of one organization, the NRA.

These were mainly kids going on innocently with their life’s at school when the unthinkable happened except it is no longer unthinkable in America.  It is becoming a norm and nobody wants to speak out against it except for the victims.  From the Kent State massacre to Sandy Hook, Columbine and now Stoneman High School in Florida.  America has had over fifty years to address this problem but nobody seems to have the guts to speak out.  Politicians talking about “thoughts and prayers” is just crappy code for “hey NRA how about donating to my election campaign” and it has to stop.Continue reading “On Being a Victim”