Angry White Men as the Victims

Remember Archie Bunker? The lovable bigot in All in the Family TV series who was suspicious of blacks, Hispanics, “commies”, gays, hippies, Jews, Catholics, “women’s libbers” and Polish-Americans? Imagine his response if someone told Bunker to “check his privilege”. Even more amusing, imagine if someone tried to cast Bunker as a victim!

Trump promised the forgotten he would restore lost honour. Turning angry white men into victims isn’t restoring their honour or their dignity. Trump has replaced pride with self-pity. He’s turning these Americans upside-down!

Compassion unfolds when your resonance with someone’s distress leads you to actually do something to help. Right now, our capacity for compassion seems blunted by the shrill cries of “victimhood”.  … More Angry White Men as the Victims

Nuclear War: Do we have wiggle room?

Anxiety has a biological purpose. It awakens our senses and makes us alive to imminent threats. In anxious times, people seem to fall victim to either utopias or catastrophe. Jurgen Moltmann, author of Ethics of Hope explains: “In the exuberance of hope, the temptation is utopianism; in fear, the temptation is alarmism.” Neither of these polarized responses work.

Moltmann suggests we figure out how to recognize and advance peace even while conflict exists. He defines reconciliation as “the peace which makes it possible for us, in the midst of strife, to bring the conflict to a just end.”

I’ve been thinking about reconciliation a lot lately, in the context of First Nations in Canada and communities in Yemen. Reconciliation is challenging to define, and even harder to achieve. I’m intrigued by Moltmann’s description. … More Nuclear War: Do we have wiggle room?

Pride & Uncle Arnold

Not everyone may be qualified to walk in a politically-torqued pride parade.

Getting behind friends and family —and even strangers—facing cultural, faith and community barriers in their sexual choices, that’s an everyday action. No need for external accreditation to do this work. No need for a parade. You just do it. … More Pride & Uncle Arnold

Work & Dignity

What does work mean to you? How has work shaped who you are and how you think about yourself?

Business risk-taking is increasingly institutionalized, often via detailed policies, and the discretion of individual workers is constrained. To the outsider, the result can look like rigid, inflexible, intransigent attitudes by employees. To the insider, the tight reins can diminish an employee’s sense of self-worth.

Imagine the potential if the dignity of workers within large companies could be recovered on a system-wide basis. … More Work & Dignity

Chautauqua Revival

In Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Robert Pirsig describes a 17-day journey of father and son across the U.S., on secondary roads where possible, as a sort of Chautauqua:

“Like the traveling tent-show Chautauquas that used to move across America…an old-time series of popular talks intended to edify and entertain, improve the mind and bring culture and enlightenment to the ears and thoughts of the hearer.”

We now live in an uber-plugged in world. Citizens anywhere can access the outside world at will. And yet the idea of a Chautauqua, going on the road to visit these remote and isolated places, is appealing. I’ve been re-reading Wallace Stegner’s Wolf Willow, his story of growing up in the Cypress Hills in pioneer days. And I’m drawn to know more about these wild and difficult places, their all-encompassing sacredness and how people live in their midst. Alberta and Saskatchewan are going through tough times right now, and we’ve been through tough times before. Beyond the highlights in glossy tourist brochures, I want to understand this landscape and learn what it has to share about living in the West and about progress and resiliency.

This is my Chautauqua. … More Chautauqua Revival

Preserving Dignity in Uncertain Times

Understandably, one of the reactions to times of great uncertainty and to any attack – whether real or perceived- is an increased receptivity to top-down direction and powerful leadership, for example, forceful security measures to counter terrorists or even aggressive tweets in the attempt to deter rogue states threatening nuclear war. We want someone to fix the problem! And, yet, in addition to the minor indignities, the hassle of security checks at airports, there are serious implications for personal dignity that we are wise to consider before being seduced into avoiding or succumbing to the turbulent emotions that accompany uncertainty. … More Preserving Dignity in Uncertain Times

Sleeping with an Elephant

We are indoctrinated to believe that relationships are full of drama; in fact we have entire industries built up around soap operas and reality television, and our news and history books reinforce a continual story of good vs bad, stronger and weaker, the conqueror and the vanquished. These opposing forces feed competition and a fear of being left behind, whether you are the bullied or the bully, with someone just waiting to take your spot. A healthy relationship, what I’m calling graceful, is made up of shared power, mutuality and belonging, and inherent value or dignity.

Shared power is fed by free expression, by being whom and what you are, and not by being what you think you should be or a limited version of yourself. Belonging is fueled by connection, by understanding and forgiving ignorance and transcending differences.  Finally, dignity is the simple recognition that despite any differences, there is an unconditional value to human beings as individuals, and collectively, including as citizens of a country. This value is honoured when we allow people and nations to have their own power, when we don’t try to solve all their problems for them, when we mind our own business as well as we do others.

In super-simplified terms, Canadians could potentially benefit from a more explicit sense of self and Americans a more explicit sense of other. By working together we expand the capacity of our citizens to continue the still young legacy of leading in the world. … More Sleeping with an Elephant

Protectionism, Global Trade and Finding Our Dignity in a Bottle of Ketchup!

What I’m wondering about is the effect of “America first” on how we, as Canadians, see our own economy, and choices. We can:

1. Respond in kind, with our Canadian brand of national pride.  “Canada first!”  With honour and pride, it’s our reputation that makes us honourable or proud and we have to respond, aggressively, to aggressors, or risk losing that sense of worth. Revenge, retribution, vendettas, and ‘Tit-for-Tat’ reactions, are expected.

2. Be the victim. Be a David to the American Goliath. Attract global sympathy, not by emphasizing either our own strength or inner worth as Canadians, but by complaining about the America-first trade aggressions. Focus on our powerlessness.

3. Act with dignity. Operate from the belief that all people, and arguably, by extension nations, have dignity, inherent worth that exists independently of what others think. Yes, insults and attacks can try to take away our dignity as Canadians but, we can choose to exercise self-restraint in the game of “Tit-For-Tat” and direct our energy to negotiating agreements that reaffirm the soundness of Canada as a strong and resource-full trading nation. In any circumstance, we can act as masters of our own fate. … More Protectionism, Global Trade and Finding Our Dignity in a Bottle of Ketchup!

Shoulders Squared: Celebrating Gender Equality in Canada

Looking back…How did we get from 1967 to 2017, from young girls to women, in an age that promised gender equality yet didn’t, really, take down the practical barriers?  The answer, for me, lies in a fervent belief that our dignity was innate, that our sense of worth was never in question. …

This is tricky. Power, alone, doesn’t work…power without love is cold and ruthless. It is power ‘over’ others which can easily erode their dignity. And, love, alone, doesn’t work either. Love without power is polite, conflict avoiding and can undermine your own dignity or that of others if you create victims. … More Shoulders Squared: Celebrating Gender Equality in Canada

Making home a much bigger place

Seemingly, we in the ‘land of opportunity’ have the benevolence to give ‘these people’ a home. The truth; and the dignified perspective, is that we are ALL ‘these people’.  People who share more similarities than differences in that home, security and relationship are key to our well-being and similar in that the threat of persecution, if allowed, will cause conflict.  Protectionist and isolationist philosophy is not only no longer feasible as a ‘fix’, it is not, in my opinion, advantageous to the collective.  On the other end of the continuum, it’s also not effective to turn all migrants into powerless victims. … More Making home a much bigger place

When You Can’t Go Home

What moves me, listening to Dr. Al-Guneid tell his story, is his commitment to preserve his own sense of dignity, whatever the circumstances. What is most deeply disturbing, is taking in how this family, or any displaced family, bears the weight of not-knowing. He has lost access to the sovereignty of his home country. Without a sense of this being temporary or permanent, how then do people actually settle? … More When You Can’t Go Home