believing in change

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.

– Margaret Mead

It’s been a very inspiring 2/3 of a working weekend. The message to believe that change is possible and that, by working together, we can reverse the global trends of self-destructive behaviour to create and sustain a just and peaceful world for ourselves and for future generations is a powerful and much-needed one.

I’ve really enjoyed meeting and talking to the various people – both the fascinating Councillors and hardworking staff members from our international offices. Rob, the one-man team of the Peace and Disarmament Working group, has been particularly receptive. We waxed a little nostalgic over The Lion King at dinner today in between a joint deadpanning effort (or perhaps TLK was a joke to him?! Surely not). Everyone else has been A-for-awesome too!

3 days, 6 free meals, continual flow of coffee. I may actually gain weight.

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socialism & atheism

socialism is not only a problem of labour, or the so-called ‘fourth estate’, but is in the first instance a problem of atheism, of the contemporary embodiment of atheism, the problem of the Tower of Babel, constructed expressly without God, not for the attainment of heaven from earth, but for the abasement of heaven to earth

Dostoyevsky – The Brothers Karamazov

on becoming conservative

François Guizot: Not to be a republican at 20 is proof of want of heart; to be one at 30 is proof of want of head.

Or the misquotation you and I may be more familiar with: If you're not a liberal when you're 25, you have no heart. If you're not a conservative by the time you're 35, you have no brain. (Churchill never actually said that.)

I've been thinking about this a lot the past year or two, about the paradigms adopted by the masses and general public and the (retch) media. Why is it that usually, to be young is to be liberal, and to be old is to be conservative?

I think it's simply a matter of throwing in the towel. Not all of us have the strength and will to be a hero. After 35 years of resisting and fighting the conservative destructiveness of the status quo, the business as usual systems of the world, I could understand that one becomes tired. Hell, I'm 23, haven't even done a scrap of genuine activism or campaigning in my sorry life yet, and I'm already tired of fighting. I'm starting to accept hegemony simply because it's easier. I console myself with the thought of other, braver, stronger men and women in the world who are fighting for causes I believe in.

I'm a free rider, essentially!

The other quote that hangs over me: The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. (Edmund Burke)

modernisation of marti niemoller’s famous words

-not my work; don't know who the author is

First they declared corporations were "people," and I didn't complain because I'm already a person.
Then they made unlimited money "speech," and I didn't complain because the American Dream says I'll be rich someday, too.
Then they commandeered the means of production by shipping our greatest strength – manufacturing – overseas, because they don't have bothersome unions over there, and I didn't complain because WalMart has cheap stuff.
Then they bought Congress so they could write the laws, and I didn't complain because I can’t be bothered to vote.
Then they bought the Supreme Court so they could cement their rule, and I didn't complain because I don't have time to pay attention.
Then they bought the news so they could convince everyone it's always been this way, and I didn't complain because it's always been this way.
Then they manhandled an election and I didn't complain because I'm not from Florida.
Then they lied us into wars and I didn't complain because I'm not a soldier, or an Iraqi, or an Afghani.
Then millions died for profit and I didn't complain because the graphics on the news were totally awesome.
Then they started locking people up because they said they could and I didn't complain because nobody locked me up.
Then they started spying on everyone because they said they could and I didn't complain because I'm a real American.
Then they came for the worker, but thanks to supply-side trickle-down economics, I don't have a job.
This truth is self-evident.
They are coming for you, and they are relentless.
Stand up.
For your country, for your family, for yourself.
Stand up.
Be heard.

riots and pipelines

David Cameron speaks on the riots and the need to mend a broken society. He states emphatically that "This is not about poverty, it is about culture." Nicely spun – because poverty would be his fault, while culture isn’t. Neglecting, of course, the fact that "gang culture" is adopted by disaffected youth who live in poverty of spirit and poverty of hope, which, at least partially, are fed by economic poverty. Anyway, I get the feeling that he was looking frantically around for something – some concept, some societal failure – on which to pin the riots, and locked onto gang culture. It could just as easily have been ‘poverty’, ‘failure of multiculturalism’, or any host of ideas.

Mr. Cameron mentions institutions that are indeed relevant to the riots – families, schools – and calls for "more discipline in our schools," not realising that teachers who inspire are so much more effective than teachers who punish. As they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, which means underlying issues need to be addressed. Cuts to social services and programs – schools, community centres, youth programs – are at least partly to blame, I feel. Increasing police presence and power is definitely not the answer, and I can at least support his decision not to reverse police cuts. But civil liberties will continually be chipped away at, "phoney human rights concerns" not withstanding. An increase in police power does not, contrary to popular belief, ease the "culture of fear" on the streets, but rather feeds it. Stop-and-search + racial profiling = recipe for "gang culture."

Slightly OT, but recalling again the Toronto G20 weekend: riot police scare me way more than rioters ever could.

Lastly, there is absolutely no "clear and heavy line between right and wrong." But I’ll humour you for a second and pretend there is: How about those at the top of the food chain – politicians, police, bankers, CEOs – set a good example and toe that line?

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It’s comforting to know Canadians aren’t alone in fighting the proposed Keystone XL pipeline that would run from the Albertan tar sands south to the US border. But even if our neighbouring Americans manage to convince Mr. Obama to block the pipeline, Enbridge would build the Northern Gateway pipeline westward to BC’s coast to feed China.

I hate the tar sands and everything it stands for and relates to so much it makes me slightly ill sometimes. Which is where Stephen Leahy comes in. No, he’s not running for PM; rather, he wants to do some investigative journalism over the question many of us are asking: What the hell is going on in Canada?

careers are a 20th century invention

If "careers are a 20th century invention" (Into the Wild), they are a 21st century obsolescence. The booming ’60s are no more: the world economy is in the dumps and will stay that way for at least the next decade, if not permanently becoming garbage due to our reckless and unsustainable economic systems. The ’90s saw welfare reforms and this is phase two of deep welfare cuts that really cut to the bone. Youth unemployment in Spain is at 40%, seemingly reflecting desperate times for youth all over the world. For my generation – the 20-somethings of today – the future looks bleak and without much hope, job-wise. Stable jobs and building careers by climbing the company ladder are such alien concepts to me. Almost everyone I talk to searches for employment (I mean that in the loosest sense of the word – including unpaid internships) lasting as little as 3 months. More and more people I talk to want to self-employ and kickstart their own ideas. When times are tough, you learn to be flexible and mobile. The concept of a ‘career’ is, in most cases, all but over.