Organize, Strategize, Act – Repeat

Organize, Strategize, Act – Repeat

Anger is a vital place to begin.  But we cannot simply point our fingers and aim our profanity-laced Facebook messages at a ‘system’ that has failed us.  We cannot blame ‘the racists’ or ‘the media’ either. If you know what the words ‘by the people, for the people’ are referring to, then you know it’s we-the-people who have failed Trayvon, and we have failed each other.  We can argue about government and corporate power (both merit serious discussion and reform), but it’s our system, we agree to live by it, and for a very long time we have allowed it to exist and deteriorate this way. For a very long time we have rested on the victories of generations that have come before us. We could believe (or at least rationalize) that the hard work was done.  That racism, if not defeated, retreated to a few dark corners of the South while the rest of us – so enlightened and equal-ish – carried on.  Reality, of course, did not bear out that idea at all, but somehow we agreed to continue to pretend.  We were busy.  And so now, jolted from what remained of our willful blindness by a verdict on a gunshot that tore through our denial and our hearts…here we are. Gone now are the days when we can rationalize, however thinly, that the laws that currently govern us, however cold or complicated or corrupted, could produce some semblance of justice. Further diminished, with each such verdict and unpunished hate crime, is the political illusion that we are equal under the law. We are not.  Worse, we...
A New Year’s Toast to You – Whoever and Wherever You are…

A New Year’s Toast to You – Whoever and Wherever You are…

Another year winds down, and I raise my glass and offer you this toast – wherever in the world you may be… Here’s to new friends and old ghosts, reluctant ends and making most. To strangers with things yet to teach And patience for the ones who preach. To tears from which insight is born, And laughter that can mend what’s worn. To love of every kind that’s true And minor chords that cure what’s blue. To once great pain that now seems small, And standing up more than you fall. To good drinks, worthwhile fights, And courage in your darkest nights. May you live what you are meant to do And may this new year be good to you. ~Heather...
No Heroes in Montreal – Why Endless Protest Does Not a Movement Make

No Heroes in Montreal – Why Endless Protest Does Not a Movement Make

Even in this quiet moment between protests and political rhetoric, there remains a good deal of hostility toward “the protesters” in Montreal.  Perhaps by looking back over the last few months we can identify how our city ended up so divided, and how to move forward toward a more inclusive political climate. Because I believe in the right of a people to protest, I’ve been wary in the past few months of criticizing the Montreal protests too strongly.  But it’s not just “protest” in general that I support – and what’s happening here doesn’t make sense to me. So I’m discarding the foolish idea that not supporting the protesters means I’m supporting the government’s actions – because I’m not doing that either.  What I DO believe is that intelligent, well orchestrated tactics of nonviolence (including but not limited to protest) can effect greater and more lasting change than violence. I believe, too, in a peoples right to challenge their government when they feel it does not represent them. But somehow, no matter what you’ve taken to the streets to oppose – no matter how just your cause – your message gets lost when you don’t engage the community, you don’t exercise discipline, or you just start acting like assholes.  In a nutshell, those are my three big issues with this protest-in-progress. Over the past few months, I’ve been pouring through live feeds, mainstream and independent media coverage and the propaganda from both sides. Talking to as many people as I can here in Montreal.  Even with all that information, the whole thing has left me with a feeling of...
Montreal Under Protest – The “Students” vs. The “Grownups”

Montreal Under Protest – The “Students” vs. The “Grownups”

Students have been protesting the scheduled tuition hike since it was announced in March of 2011.  They have organized marches involving hundreds of thousands of people.  So why has Montreal become so hostile to their message?  Are they fighting for something worthwhile, or simply whining about the increase because they’re used to being so spoiled? ****************** In the beginning I was very skeptical.   I attended university in the U.S., saddled with student loans up to my and my parents’ eyeballs, and the idea of Quebec students protesting a relatively small tuition increase to the lowest tuition in North America seemed rather absurd.  After all, I paid far more in one year than any of them will pay for their entire education.  Who were they kidding? And I had statistics on my side – that well-timed press release that Quebec students were only actually paying 12% of the cost of their education.  Only 12%? Seriously? Many of us – parents, job-holders…the ‘grown-ups’ – had a hard time seeing these student protesters as much more than spoiled, self-entitled kids who just didn’t want to go to class. After all, shouldn’t students have to foot some part of the bill? If it’s free – if they have no stake in it – how can we expect they will take it seriously?  We worked for our educations, so who do they think they are complaining about tuition while they march down St. Catherine Street in their $800 Canada Goose jackets? Get a job. Problem solved. Much to the glee of Mr. Charest, the arguments and condemnation continued to pile up.  People I know who hardly...
An Open Letter to the World

An Open Letter to the World

Dear World, I hope this reaches you in all of your corners. You – especially you. Citizens of the world. I feel that it’s urgent that I speak with you directly.  There is something I need you to know.  You see, I am an American.  And while there are a number of things about my community and my country that I am proud of, I know that right now – from the outside – it really does appear that the entire United States has gone batshit crazy.  In some cases, I fear that it has.  But the rest of us are still here. I know that you haven’t seen me on the news.  I don’t own a soapbox – nor do I belong to a church or club that might provide me with one – and I don’t believe in winning an argument by simply yelling the same thing over and over again hoping my opponent will simply get too tired to continue to oppose me.  I don’t think that “because my God said so” is a valid argument in ANY political forum.  I don’t look like a dirty hippy and I often wear suits to work, so the media is unlikely to use me to represent protest or dissent.  I also – perhaps most importantly – don’t hate anyone, which apparently isn’t very newsworthy.  I believe that all people are created equal until they prove themselves to be idiots or assholes. I know it seems that people like myself are vastly outnumbered here, but that isn’t true.  It’s only that being rational and accountable doesn’t make good television.  It doesn’t make anyone richer. Unfortunately, I don’t imagine I’ve been alive...
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