Monthly Archives: April 2018

Sometimes the view from the front row is…meh

Empty Seats

You can give me front row seats for an Elton John show, a performance at the Stratford Festival and a seat in the first rows along the 1stor 3rdbaselines at a Toronto Blue Jays game.

I have a front row seat, not to be confused with a front bench seat, every day for Parliament in Ottawa.  For most of my two years on Parliament Hill the words, the shouting and innuendos from the benches have meant nothing to me, but just part of the theatrics of question period.  Recently something changed, and not in a good way – the tone has changed from the government side.

Up until MPs returned from a two week break in April what happened in the house was pretty predictable.  For the last two weeks the government has been particularly spiteful when answering a question from the Opposition Conservatives. It reached a new low on Wednesday (the 25th) on the occasion of Prime Minister’s day in Question period.  I don’t know what got into the Prime Minister; maybe he was still fired up from the Liberal convention the previous weekend.  You might have seen this video produced by the Conservative Party and posted on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/cpcpcc/videos/10156311860774204/, it has a few clips from the Liberal where Justin Trudeau thinks he is still campaigning against Stephen Harper.

TrudeauIt is more than that, on that particular day, the TV in my office almost flew out the window (with a little bit of help) because of Trudeau’s angry and spiteful answers during question period.  Most of the controversy revolved around the discovery that the Canada Summer Jobs was funding jobs to protest and disrupt the Trans mountain pipeline.  This is controversial because the Liberals prevented many good organizations from receiving jobs funding because they don’t agree with the Liberal values attestation.

Back to question period, of the 22 questions asked to the Prime Minister, Trudeau responded 11 times using the phrase “Harper Conservatives” or named Stephen Harper.  If I think back to that recent Liberal convention I would have to imagine that Trudeau thought he was still talking to his Liberal base only this time in the House of Commons.  He probably was, why else would be invoked the name of Harper if Trudeau had to use the trump card he thinks has with Canadians.  It worked in the 2015 election when Canadians were looking for someone else that Stephen Harper.

In 2018, he could only be naming Harper as much as he had in the House because he needs a distraction from pipelines, the cost of a carbon tax on Canadians and the fallout of the Canada Summer Jobs program. He is daring everyone to remember Harper and have them forget his shortcomings. Watching Trudeau that day, it wasn’t what Trudeau said, but the how he said it.  I cannot put into words the anger and spite in how the Prime Minister’s the words came out.  It was not like anything I have heard before, even worse than I heard Kathleen Wynne resurrect the history of Mike Harris in Queens Park.  I cannot put into words that do justice to describe the smugness of the Trudeau grin, the extreme spite of his words and daggers in Trudeau’s eyes in his efforts to deflect from his government’s problems to a Prime Minister he hopes Canadians still like less than him. I will not forget it.

It was during Question Period on that day that Trudeau showed his true self, most Canadians won’t see it, most Canadians will not even know it happened because it is just 50 minutes out of a day of 24 hours. As Trudeau and his team are forced to defend their inactions, lack of success and poor judgement expect to hear more of Stephen Harper after all the 2019 election is only 541 days away.  Trudeau has learned well that it’s easier to campaign using the name of a person who is not running (Harper) than it is to face your true opponent (Scheer).

So call this a promise kept, doing politics differently, because I do not remember any other Prime Minister acting out like a spoiled little boy as Trudeau did this week and blaming it on someone else. For that, this is one front row I prefer to watch from afar, or on mute.

Thank you for reading #RedHeartBlueSign, to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawaand on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97.  If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net

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Ancient Wisdom and Knowledge, is it forever lost?

The Wayfinders

 

There is a saying, ‘a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing’, it is derived from English poet Alexander Pope’s poem “A Little Learning”.  The earliest known printing of the poem is 1709. For the full poem click here: https://www.poetsgraves.co.uk/Classic%20Poems/Pope/a_little_learning.htm.  I think of this after reading the CBC Massey Lectures, a collection of five lectures entitled “The Wayfinders” by Canadian Anthropologist and explorer-in-residence of National Geographic Wade Davis.

I am reminded of this while reading the Wayfinder lectures because Davis seems to acknowledge that the knowledge of the “new world” is at the heart of the demise of many of the earths longest known peoples. The Africans – where the migration of people started and spread across the earth, Australian Aboriginals, the tribes of the rain forests, the Polynesian sea navigators and the First Nations of the Sacred Headwaters of BC and others have been walking this earth ten’s of thousands of years before the Europeans of the new world spread their ‘knowledge’ and ‘truth’ across lands and waters.

Does, as Davis alludes to, learned knowledge undermine intuitive knowledge?  The knowledge of our souls is like a family history, it can only be learned through the telling of stories and family experiences.  The terms of an oral history and generational transmission of knowledge is used to describe how generations of the earth’s first inhabitants shared knowledge.  Davis provides a great example of learned through intuitive knowledge describing the different experiences of Spanish sailors compared to the navigation of the Polynesians. The Polynesians, told through the life training of a modern day sea navigator, learned about tides, the sea movements under the boats, winds and using the stars without the tools that the new world explorers had at their disposal.  It is a fascinating experience of learning of an old world craft in a modern time.

As much we marvel at the tools and innovation that new knowledge bring, we must acknowledge that there is prejudice that learned knowledge is greater than that which is transmitted generationally.  In the fourth lecture “Sacred Geography” Davis not only talks about the lands of British Columbia, but also how 50,000 years of living by Australian Aboriginals is almost wiped out within a generation because of their only way of living a ‘savage lifestyle’ was noticed by the civil people that arrived in Australia hundreds of generations after some of the Africans walked to Australia.  The newbies in the land considered themselves better.  Through laws and actions of the newcomers, about only 500 Australian Aboriginals now speak in 18 languages; Before the invasion, there were over 270 languages and more than 500 dialects spoken.  Today one language is lost each year.  It is a theme that is visited in greater detail in the book – the newcomers impose new world values over generations of native inhabitants.

There are peoples and ways of life that have existed since the beginning of time that never reach our consciousness unless we purposely put it there.   I’ll end with something from the initial lecture that really left an impression on me that demonstrates the loss of the richness of our world; today there are 7000 languages spoken today around the world.  Half of them are not being taught to children, the effect is that every two weeks a tribal elder dies and takes with them an ancient language.  Since the expansion of the new world over a recent few hundred years, the English language has become the major language spoken. The science and tools of a new world has erased the practice of intuition and a connectedness the earth for movement and sustainable living.

Have we reached an impasse? Is there a hope we can regain some of that connection to the earth? Can we utilize modern innovation and technology to record, save and revive lost and soon to be lost languages? Can we better marry the use of technology and intuition to live on this earth and live more sustainably both personally and commercially?

For tens of thousands of years people migrated, navigated and lived in a natural harmony with each other, animals, vegetation on the earth and its spirits. While we have learned many things and been able to innovate at a speed that in a hundred years can erase what took thousands of years to understand why can’t we look back and connect to each other and the past and become a modern Wayfinder?

Thank you for reading #RedHeartBlueSign, to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawaand on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97. If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net

3 Books 3 Reviews

I recently took a week to relax and catch up on some books that had been awaiting my attention.  In this edition of #RedHeartBlueSign I present three short reviews of those books.  The books reviewed are Saving Capitalism by Robert B. Reich; The Darkest Hour written by Anthony McCarten and The Wayfinders by Wade Davis.

Saving Capitalism (for the many, not the few) by Robert B. Reich

Saving Capitalism is a follow up to several books that Reich has written about the economy and how government deals with it, most notably Aftershock.  Reich has divided the book into three sections, The Free Market, Money and Worth and The Countervailing Power.  This book took a while to read, economics and the economy is something I can get a gripe in at the surface – but diving deep into the topic is what I would leave to others. But being relentless I delved into this book on the advice of a friend.  I am glad I did because there are several topics that struck me as being prevalent to economic success of the country and individual economic security.

Reich brings to the discussion ideas we talk about to today including a basic minimum income, but reveals 18thcentury publications that support 21stcentury ideas.  In the Countervailing Power Reich brings a 1797 essay by Thomas Paine that introduces the idea of a basic minimum income at 15 pounds a month to American men and women at the age of 21.

To read Reich is to understand world economic cycles and government responses both good and bad.  The three segments could be subjected as how our economy works, why we’re in the state we’re in and lastly how to share economic wealth of the top 10% with the 90% who don’t hold it.  While directed straight at America, there are lessons for Canadians.

The Darkest Hour by Anthony McCarten

McCarten not only wrote this book but also wrote the screenplay for the movie of the same name.  If you loved the movie, read the book as it provides the political background to the actions shown in the movie.  To film the background the book provides would’ve meant that the movie would have been much longer.

The Darkest Hour revolves around the ascension of Winston Churchill to the seat of Prime Minister and his actions during May 1940, the period known as England’s darkest moment of WW2 when Europe was falling to the Germans and everyone thought it would only be a matter of time before the UK would be next.

If you have not seen the movie yet, read the book first then see the movie.  If you’ve seen the movie, read the book and then see the move again, that’s what I’m going to do.

The Wayfinders by Wade Davis

I was reluctant to write about this book in this post as the ideas the Wade Davis presents deserve a full individual post. Here I will present a bit of what this book represents.  The Wayfinders is not so much a book, but five essays presented in 2009 in the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation radio series entitled the Massey Lectures. It’s a format I have read before, more specifically the Massey Lectures by Stephen Lewis (humanitarian and AIDS activist) and Margaret MacMillan (Canadian Historian, Author of the excellent WW1 books ‘Paris 1919’ and ‘The War that ended Peace’)

I have written previously about Davis in my post “The Best of 2017:Books”, I wrote that his book “Into the Silence” was one of the best I read last year.  That book chronicled the race to climb to the top of Everest after WW1.

In The Wayfinders lecture series, Davis, an anthropologist, the examines how worlds of the past navigated the seas, land, newcomers and language before the Europeans brought their tools and knowledge. The series describes how knowledge of the skies and knowledge on the movement of the sun and how the tides of the water predict sea travel.

The book, as mentioned earlier, are the five lectures presented in a five-day span.  You might be tempted to read the 200 pages in a one or two sittings – but take in the lectures as they were presented over a five-day period on the radio, let the message of each lecture sink in before moving onto the next day and the next lecture.

Thank you for reading #RedHeartBlueSign, to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawaand on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97.  If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net