For Goodness Sake

Kicking at the Darkness ’til it Bleeds Daylight
May 18, 2016

Okay, I’m tired of ranting. And if you’ve been following my blogs then perhaps you’re likewise tired of what might seem to be my relentlessly negative outlook on life. If so, then I guess I haven’t expressed myself clearly enough. Because, you see, I’ve actually been trying to appeal to the goodness, kindness, patience, and gentleness in people to go out and make a difference. I just can’t sit back silently and let those who seek to harness darkness, hatred, and violence shape our world to their will without being opposed.

Whenever I see an individual or group attempt to rally hatred, fear, or anger to their purposes I jump on my Internet soap box and call them out for it. I feel that turning a blind eye to injustice is the very thing that has allowed it to spread like it has. To quote Edmund Burke, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good (people) do nothing.” Not that all self-serving motives are necessarily evil in the biblical sense, but corruption, greed, generating fear, and inciting acts of violence are pretty darn close. And the only way they will be stopped is to draw attention to them and take corrective action.

Like the lyrics in Bruce Cockburn’s song Lovers in a Dangerous Time, “Nothing worth having comes without some kind of fight — Gotta kick at the darkness ’til it bleeds daylight.” I truly believe that. We have to actively and unceasingly work at maintaining decency, fairness, and respect for one another. And sometimes that means we need to kick at the darkness.

If you look back at my rants you’ll see a common thread. I’ve loudly spoken out against those who seek to impose their own questionable agendas on innocent others through the misuse of public office or enforced authority. In the past I’ve spoken out against Stephen Harper and his fascist policies. More recently, I’ve drawn attention to Donald Trump and his right-wing fear mongering. I’ve even ranted against those who would shut down our tobogganing hills and outdoor skating rinks for unwarranted fears of litigation. And several times I’ve raised the red flag concerning the alarming increase in incidents of police brutality, arguing that changes need to be made to the policies that regulate their discretionary use of force against the very people they’ve been charged with protecting. In short, I’ve simply tried to point out injustice wherever I see it, and to raise awareness that something can and should be done to make things better.

But I guess some people don’t like having negative things pointed out to them. They prefer not to see the garbage in the streets, and choose not to think about it. Or, if they do, they merely give it a passing thought then get on with their own lives. They want to be able to shut off the bad news and look away. After all, it doesn’t directly concern them, does it? That was someone else’s child who got roughed up by the police, not mine, so it doesn’t affect me. And Trump is America’s problem, right? His candicacy won’t affect us up here in Canada. Besides, hate-filled right-wing rhetoric is just words, and words don’t affect my life. Well, as one who’s business is words, I can assure you that words wield a great deal of  power.

Sorry folks, but Edmund Burke was right. Ignoring the problem doesn’t make it go away. In fact, I truly believe that turning our backs on it only allows it to get worse. Right now the purveyors of hatred, panic, and violence feel empowered by the sensational news coverage that their views and actions garner, by the numerous copycat acts of heinous violence they incite, by the flaming Internet encouragement they receive, and by the complacency of the average citizen to it all. This is truly a golden age for the forces of violence and hatred.

I say this with sadness and resigned confidence because of what greeted me on this morning’s news. Our Canadian Parliament – the very halls of refined decorum and dignity – have been infiltrated by violence and accusations of willful brutality. If you haven’t seen it yet, this is what happened. What began as a childish attempt by several opposition members to physically block Conservative whip Gordon Brown’s way to his seat in order to delay a vote on assisted death, soon escalated into a melee of pushing and shoving, and charges of physical assault. This is the embarrassing behaviour of our democratic Canadian Parliament, folks… not the roughhousing of unprincipled government hooligans in some backwater nation. By now the world is aware of what has taken place in Ottawa! We should all feel ashamed.

To make matters worse, the opposition is now pointing fingers at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, accusing him of deliberately assaulting NDP MP Ruth Ellen Brosseau who was a willing participant in the blockade. She has implied (although she’s been careful not to actually come out and say it) that Trudeau meant to elbow her in the chest as he attempted to guide Brown by the arm through the crowd that was trying to block his way. It’s an ugly personal accusation made worse by the undignified and childish behaviour of that unruly throng of NDP back benchers. It all reeks of unscrupulous American partisan tactics.

Trudeau has publicly apologized for his part in the kerfuffle, and has acknowledged that, in the heat of the moment, his elbow may have come into contact with Ms. Brosseau. But, if it did, it was only in the context of his attempt to assist Brown through the crowd in order to get on with the vote. Clearly tempers flared, and clearly people got jostled. But no one was deliberately “assaulted”. To imply otherwise is to allow the American confrontational us-vs-them mentality further leeway into the once hallowed and cultured halls of our world-respected Canadian Parliament. We need to rise above that kind of petty politics, people.

You see, while calm, rational heads should have prevailed, the current mood of violence, threats, and accusations has infiltrated one of the most austere institutions in our land. It’s a clear sign that matters are not getting better but are, in fact, getting worse. Of course it’s just opportunistic politicking, but it casts a dark shadow on the hallowed halls of our parliament.

We cannot turn our backs on this nasty trend for a second. We must be ever vigilant and on the lookout for vindictive, negative thinking and corrupt self-serving behaviour. We must assertively uphold our national reputation for decency and kindness by abiding by it at every opportunity. We must be prepared and willing to label an accident an accident, while at the same time stand ready to call out real wickedness and corruption whenever it rears its ugly head. That’s all I’m trying to do.

Sorry if I seemed overly focused on the negative right now. But I feel the need to call for reason and compassion while, at the same time, pointing out injustice & corruption where there should be none, and advocating for change when it’s called for. In a sense, I’m like a grumpy parent pointing out the mess in the house and trying to rally a family effort to clean it up. We all have to do our part in making things better.

It would be easy to dismiss me as just another angry old guy ranting at the system… yelling at the neighbour kids to get off his lawn, so to speak. But if you think that, you’re wrong. You see, despite what you may believe, I’m not filled with rage. In fact, I’m actually filled with optimism and hope. I truly believe that we can all make a difference… that it’s our responsibility. It’s just my approach that you may question. While others may choose to counteract ugliness and despair by painting the world in bright colours and spreading a message of beauty, peace, and love, I choose a different route. While I have nothing against blotting out darkness with lightness, I see that as simply masking the problem… putting lipstick on a pig, as it were. To me, the solution to garbage is not to plant flowers in the trash heap, but to clean it up. That’s all I’m saying. Let’s get organized and do something to eliminate all this negativity, and then take measures to prevent it from ever returning.

If you don’t believe that I possess a positive outlook, read my blogs Make a Joyful Noise, or The Spirit of Sedona, or The Cape Bretoner, or Folk Hero as proof that I do actually have a sunny disposition. You’ll see that I’m not all gloom & doom and negativity.

I’m just sayin’