Protest Wept

Protest woke to the silence of tears dropping on the floor. Unable to move or feel her body. Familiarity steadied her enough to find a point of reference. Breathing slowed as she recognized herself; twisted in drenched bed clothes, her once beautifully sculpted arms lashing at the night beneath muffled cries. Struggles to comprehend the image of herself, immediately overshadowed by a blinding light.

Protest gasped as oppressive heat choked her lungs, acrid stench uncurled as dusty roads gave way to city streets, music filled the air. Songs of hope, freedom and purpose invited her into homes, corner stores and coffee shops. Her steps quickened; swirls of conviction laughed as they placed soft grass beneath her toes. Millions of voices buoyed her passage – she swears she saw a rabbit dance the jig.

Sharp pain stopped Protest in her tracks, blood pooling beneath stubbed toes as she stood on a bed of glass. She hadn’t noticed the ominous skies, stoked by  icy winds, now taunting her with their cackle. The streets were silent, as if under a spell of darkness – opaque voices snickered,  Protest managed a wobbly  defiant walk, peering into cafes and shops once filled with promise. Thousands of mute heads cast downwards at flickering screens,  fingers tapping keyboards assaulted her senses. One brave little puddle of reason wailed a hasty goodbye as it disappeared down a greasy drain.

Protest bolted upright, her dream vibrating taunts, her lobotomy complete. Protest wept; not for herself but for those who had forgotten her.

Quebec Values

The province of Quebec is unique in Canada; many non Canadians know that Canada has two official languages – French and English – how many people know Quebec has it’s own legal system based on French civil law? It’s complicated; for anyone wanting to learn more the link below gives a good overview,

Quebec values is a term given to a bill expected to be introduced in parliament this fall by the Parti Quebecois – aimed at regulating religious symbols. If you worked at a government office, police station, public school or daycare, university or hospital you would be forbidden to wear a burqa, turban, hijab, yarmulke, or cross. Some exceptions would be allowed under the amendment to the Quebec Charter of Rights; a crucifix in the National Assembly would be considered an “icon of cultural heritage”,  as it was a gift from the Catholic Church in 1936. The Marois government is also considering an exemption for staff at institutions such as hospitals, with a clause specifying the exemption be reviewed every 5 years.

Bernard Drainville, Quebec’s Minister of Democratic Values is the driving force behind the bill he originally called the Charter of Secular Values. The debate was sparked in 2007 when the Bouchard-Taylor Commission took a look at “religious accommodation” in Quebec. Last week Charles Taylor spoke in a televised interview saying the bill far exceeds  recommendations of the commission.An excerpt of Taylor’s comments from a CTV news story….

“They are proposing such strict restrictions that it will create problems… People will feel rejected by Quebec,” said Taylor.

He said that widespread bans against religious icons would end up creating ghettos in Quebec.

“It tells a category of citizens ‘you are excluded, we don’t want you here.’ It doesn’t make any sense.”

While conducting their commission, professor Taylor and historian Gerard Bouchard found, early on, that Quebecers were almost paranoid with fear that Muslims were taking over society. Taylor and Bouchard found those fears were not rooted in reality, and said that Quebec should work to integrate all citizens.

“The rules we proposed were very clear: institutions are neutral, individuals are free,” said Taylor.  ridiculous –

I’m still pondering “Quebec Values” –  I believe it’s a step in the right direction, perhaps being taken a little too far. Asking a woman to remove her hijab when entering a government building seems a bit much. Then I remember I live in a country whose federal employees are forbidden to say “bless you” after someone sneezes – I’ll take attempts to extract church from state, however feeble or silly over the Tea Party any day.

What Are We Afraid Of?

As a little girl I remember chanting “eeny meeny miney mo, catch a n****r by the toe”, it was the early sixties, I was 3 or 4 and hadn’t the slightest concept of what it meant. Somewhere along the way the “N” word became “Tiger” – I can’t recall an explanation, all I knew was we had to decide whose turn it was to go first, so tiger it was. There wasn’t a hateful bone in my body; my family – decent hard working people who never spoke ill of anyone. It wasn’t the deep south, this was rural Canada  in 1963 – parents passing along rhymes  they learned as children – nary a thought to meaning.

I believe that “Tiger” was Martin Luther King Jr. Fifty years ago today, close to a quarter of a million people marched on Washington, D.C. Gathered at the Washington Monument, Martin Luther King spoke for nearly 20 minutes, delivering his iconic I Have a Dream speech. Powerful, articulate, compelling – I can’t think of words that do justice to this moment in history.

MLK was a proud American; a man who asked only that people uphold the American constitution, the promise of emancipation, the pursuit of life, liberty and freedom for all citizens. He calls for tolerance, understanding, and peace. He asks that the black community forgive white America and proceed in a spirit of understanding. If you do nothing else today – take 5 minutes out of your life –  click below and listen to the words of Martin Luther King Jr.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

Listen then ask yourself what it is you’re afraid of. Ask yourself what good it does to sabotage every move the Obama administration makes. Ask yourself if a “tiger” is just as capable of settling things as any other animal you could name. Ask yourself why you’re filled with contempt, ask yourself to snap out of the past and think for yourselves. Stop being afraid and ask yourself if America is worth fighting for. One of the greatest Americans in history answered that question 50 years ago today – to think his life was in vain breaks my heart.

Nemrut Dagi

In a desolate region of Turkey ancient ruins stand guard over the landscape. Nemrut Dagi; damaged, falling into disrepair, yet somehow able to proudly stand testament to King Antiochus 1 of the Commagene Empire. Antiochus ruled from 62 – 38 BC; his monument another wonder of the ancient world. A place with more questions than answers – the kind of place that makes me smile.

This little known kingdom was formed by Antiochus’s father, Mithridates 1 in 64 BC.  Antiochus took the throne when his father died, setting to work on this puzzling site. An existing mountain was enhanced and shaped using tons of small limestone rocks to form a perfectly coned peak, 150 metres wide and 50 metres tall. Archaeologists believe this is his burial mound – to date no evidence of his tomb has been found. At the base of the mountain massive courts have been sculpted out of natural rock on three sides. Antiochus morphed Greek and Persian gods into monolithic sculptures above the courtyards. A carved wall shows Antiochus shaking hands with these gods; statues of Antiochus were also placed along side deities, without question he believed himself to be one of them.

Astronomy is evident anywhere you look.  A relief carving of a lion known as the “Lion of Commagene” has 19 stars carved in the background, a crescent moon on the lion’s neck, above his back the planets Mars, Mercury, and Jupiter. Stars carved on the lion represent constellation Leo. Using the Skyglobe computer program these symbols have been interpreted as the date July 6 in 61 or 62 BC. A shaft in one side of the mound is illuminated twice a year – once when in line with the constellation Leo, and again when in line with Orion.

I make no apologies for how wonderful I find places like Nemrut Dagi. A Unesco World Heritage  Site added to my bucket list.

Grocery Smoke and Elevator Clash

I’m old enough to remember when elevator “canned music” first appeared;  I remember hearing it the time I got lost in the Hudson’ s Bay department store in downtown Vancouver. I don’t know how old I was – memories of crying, a woman in a grey skirt, and relentless music. For years afterwards, anytime I heard big band music, or instrumentals my stomach churned without mercy. Instrumental versions of big band classics, middle of the road pop hits from the 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s playing softly in the background of department stores and elevators, had a way of making me want to bolt for the nearest exit.

As with most things background music has evolved over the years; instrumentals giving way to soft pop, top 40 hits, and vocals rather than generic “muzak”. This wasn’t so bad – definitely an improvement – I could shop to Creedence Clearwater or Sheryl Crow. Occasionally a bizarre instrumental version of Elvis Costello’s Watching the Detectives or Talking Head’s Road to Nowhere assaulted me – annoyed that somewhere, somebody thought instrumental covers of these songs was a good idea. I wanted to scream “what focus group told you this would make me buy more avocados “. It had nothing to do with my pre-school trauma, more an indignity to music that had been part of my life.

Today I was in a grocery store where Deep Purple’s Smoke on the Water blared. It struck me as absurd, ridiculous – a holy crap moment. All I could think was that a bunch of “guitar heroes” had left the basement and found jobs. A few hours later I entered an elevator to London Calling by the Clash. This is just plain wrong – a punk anthem about apocalyptic events all the way to the 18th floor. It may be that my reaction stems from middle age – who wants their youth flashing before their eyes as the ride in a box full of sour looking business suits. All I can say for certain is that grocery smoke and elevator clash are a really bad idea.

The Conspiracy Conspiracy

I don’t believe we are alone in the universe; it isn’t reasonable to think in all those millions of galaxies some form of life doesn’t exist. The belief our world is only 6000 years old strikes me as pure lunacy; a sentient being did not create the world in less than a week. The 140 million mile wide black hole at the centre of the milky way galaxy is not the stairway to heaven. Cuttlefish can instantly change; not only the colour, but texture of their skin because evolution is a weird and wonderful thing. Not for one second do I think our historical timeline is accurate; history , civilization lost, whatever you want to call it, existed thousands of years before textbook history class. Governments keep us on a “need to know” basis, and money makes the world go round.

This makes me a conspiracy theorist; a person dismissed as “out there”, someone who dines on ancient aliens and buys into any hair brained argument that comes along. It isn’t about religion, science or politics; the tables have turned, I’ve been branded – open my mouth about Gobekli Tepe. Puma Punku, even solar flares and eyes start to roll. The other night I caught about 5 minutes of a TV show called Conspiracy Theory with Jessie Ventura; the subject was time travel. Jessie and his “team” were getting to the bottom of secret time travel conducted by the U.S. government, a whistle-blower claimed time travellers visited American presidents before they were elected, informing them of their destiny. I’m not able to say the how or why because something dawned on me while scrambling to change channels.

The conspiracy conspiracy seemed the only plausible explanation. Take ex pro wrestler, turned former Governor of Minnesota, Jessie Ventura; throw in Oliver Stone’s son as one of his “investigators”, turn them loose on scripted nonsense, pretty soon the mere mention of something unexplained smacks of crazy. Pure and evil genius.