Thursday, 31 August 2017

The 23 and the 1200

All week we have been bombarded with images of Hurricane Harvey and the devastation of Texas and the floods of Houston. Tales of heroism and tragedy. Tales of compassion, courage and fear.

The destruction is spectacular. Images of flooded roads and homes under water and people stranded on their rooftops makes for sensational viewing. Outrage over churches refusing to open their doors and the reaction of the President and Melania's stilettos fill social media.

Meanwhile the floods in Asia get a bare mention, despite the 41 million people impacted.


I suppose it's only natural that we care more about our neighbours than people far away, but should we care more about people 3,700 kilometers away more than those who live 11,000 kilometers from our home? 

Why do we care more about Texas than India? Is it because we have closer social and economic ties to our southern neighbour? 40,000 people immigrated to Canada from India last year. Shouldn't we feel a closer connection? Is it because we relate more to the way of life in a person in Houston than one in Mumbai? Is it because more Canadians have visited Houston than Kathmandu? Is it because we think Asians are poor and hopeless used to this kind of thing while Americans are more like us? Is there an undercurrent, somewhere, that the people of Asia deserve to suffer more than we do? Or do we just not know what to do or how to help?

Is it because we are not seeing photos of Asia in the news?

Does this

matter more than this?

Do these people

matter more than these?

Why do the deaths of the 23 people in the U.S. matter more than the 1200 in Asia?

Or are we so jaded by the barrage of disasters that our compassion is exhausted?

I don't have any answers. Do you?

Sunday, 20 August 2017


Amber light filters through wildfire smoke.
Paints rock walls ochre and bronze
Glints straw-yellow on the river below
The road ahead a metallic ribbon

Above, mountains shade indigo gunmetal grey powdery silver

A message from Allen

"I define grace as God's unconditional love for us at work in us for the healing of the universe. God mends us so we might work for the good of all. But I think you can also use grace to describe humans; humans act in grace when they act without worry of recompense, doing the right thing because it is right. The word grace comes from the Greek 'charis', or gift."





The brutal blackness of anger and hate
The carnage and the horror and the heartbreak
Far from grace, man's inhumanity to man

How to reconcile the outrage in my heart?
Where to begin the healing of the universe?
I await that gift.
And I find it.

Here, on the road to Golden, God's grace rains down in amber light.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

The Dangers of Self Interest

Yesterday Derek Fildebrandt resigned from the UCP Caucus.

The 31 year old Fildebrandt is known for his fiery outbursts as much as his libertarian values and his criticism of government regulations. The former Alberta Director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation which ironically advocates for greater government accountability, was found to have rented out his taxpayer-subsided accommodations, double dipped on expense accounts, and claimed a housing allowance for an apartment he shared with a co-worker. He is currently charged with a hit and run accident in his condo parking lot.

In a statement ripe with irony Mr. Fildebrandt kinda sorta accepts responsibility for his actions.
I have worked for more than a year to help create the United Conservative Party, because Alberta needs a new government that can fight for the common-sense priorities of regular people.
During the fight for unification I said that we must put Alberta before our party, and before ourselves.
This young party cannot afford to be distracted from the formative period that it is in right now as we come together as conservatives. I owe that to my colleagues, my party members, my constituents, and all Albertans.
Right now, media controversy is distracting from the work that must be done as the UCP is founded. The UCP Leadership race should be focused on issues of leadership and values, and not on personalities.
I have made honest mistakes – always doing what I believed was best at the time – and I accept responsibility, and am truly sorry.
Honest mistakes? 

You can make a mistake once but when you keep making them, it's a pattern of behaviour. Not a mistake.


This is a man whose own website states he has consistently stood for free speech and personal responsibility yet blames the media instead of himself as his reason to quit caucus. The same free press that somehow implies he is a victim by calling him both "embattled" and "beleaguered" instead of a man whose errors are of his own making. 


This is a man who called for a wage freeze for all  government employees and scorned an increase in the minimum wage while earning more than $138,000 a year as an MLA.

This is a man who "led the fight against the abuse of taxpayers’ money" yet has now abused that same taxpayer dollar to line his own pockets.

A man who instead of initially taking  responsibility for his actions, claimed  there was a smear campaign against him- a juvenile response that  indicates he feels "it's only wrong if you get caught." 

Fildebrandt is a self-proclaimed conservative and libertarian. He believes in acting in self interest but his also believes there should be very few regulations governing human behaviour. 

If the ideologies of conservatism and libertarianism are combined, all citizens require a moral compass to guide their actions. If that moral compass does not exist, laws must be in place.  Unfortunately, Mr. Fildebrandt has demonstrated that those laws must be detailed as the "letter of the law" is not enough. Apparently, for people like him, it needs to be spelled out that you cannot claim the same expense twice. It needs to be explained that you cannot receive a housing allowance and then rent out that same accommodation for profit.  You cannot share an apartment with a colleague and then both claim it as an expense.

His actions clearly exemplify the flaws in his ideology. If one is encouraged to act in self-interest, how do we preserve the common good? If we maximize personal autonomy, how do we protect society from those who choose to bend the rules? 

Mr. Fildebrandt may have left the caucus, but the ideology he espouses remains. 

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Barbaric Cultural Practices

Inuit taken to Germany by J. M. Jacobsen. Lived in zoo.L-R: Ulricke, aged 24, holding Maria; Tobias, aged 20; Abraham, aged 35; Sarah, Aged 4.All died of smallpox in Europe. 
I found this photo in the Glenbow Archives while doing research.

It is chilling.

What kind of people capture other human beings, take them across the sea, away from all they know, house them in a zoo and watch them die? 

Jason Kenney says Alberta's new Social Studies curriculum is all about "politically correct" themes such as colonialism. He says the new programme reeks of "social engineering". He thinks 
Alberta's Social Studies teachers should concentrate on Canada's military history.

These people were abused. Their rights were stripped away. Their treatment was nothing short of barbaric. And then they died.

They died because of colonialism and ethnocentrism. They died because of the actions of our forefathers.

Mr. Kenney can wrap himself in the flag if he wants. He can strut around full of jingoistic patriotism and willful ignorance in order to rally his supporters. He can promote Canada's "military history" to the exclusion of other more far reaching Canadian realities.

Nothing he says will negate the truth. Canada was founded on colonialism. It would not exist if not for colonialism. Colonialism is not a "politically correct" theme. It's a sometimes ugly reality that impacts the way of life of every single Canadian today. That's why it is taught.

I am not sure what Mr. Kenney thinks education is for. 

Is it to "socially engineer" a society of ignorant people who blindly support the status quo?

Or is it to help the next generation to understand their world so they can make informed decisions for a better tomorrow?