“The changes that we need to make in this industry are not huge, they’re not impossible, and they can be embraced by all developers, all builders and all cities,” says Douglas Gilliland. He is the President of Taurus of Texas, and I interviewed him recently in a new subdivision in Austin in which the homes…
The Stranger’s Case, is a speech written by Shakespeare, Sir Tomas Moore’s response to mobs attacking refugees. “Sit as kings in your desires” brings to mind a particular orange individual, but also the silence of those who put him there and who intend to profit from “a strong hand” in response to strangers.
“This Your Mountainish Inhumanity.”
The Book of Sir Thomas More, Act 2, Scene 4
Grant them removed, and grant that this your noise
Hath chid down all the majesty of England;
Imagine that you see the wretched strangers,
Their babies at their backs and their poor luggage,
Plodding to the ports and coasts for transportation,
And that you sit as kings in your desires,
Authority quite silent by your brawl,
And you in ruff of your opinions clothed;
What had you got? I’ll tell you: you had taught
How insolence and strong hand should prevail,
How order should be quelled; and by this pattern
Not one of you should live an aged man,
For other ruffians, as their fancies wrought,
With self same hand, self reasons, and self right,
Would shark on you, and men like ravenous fishes
Would feed on one another….
Say now the king
Should so much come too short of your great trespass
As but to banish you, whither would you go?
What country, by the nature of your error,
Should give you harbour? go you to France or Flanders,
To any German province, to Spain or Portugal,
Nay, any where that not adheres to England,
Why, you must needs be strangers: would you be pleased
To find a nation of such barbarous temper,
That, breaking out in hideous violence,
Would not afford you an abode on earth,
Whet their detested knives against your throats,
Spurn you like dogs, and like as if that God
Owed not nor made not you, nor that the claimants
Were not all appropriate to your comforts,
But chartered unto them, what would you think
To be thus used? this is the strangers case;
And this your mountainish inhumanity.
I have always hated Christmas. I prefer Xmas only because it is easier to read and faster to spell. I do like Winter Solstice but it gets drowned out by all the Christmas hoo-hah though I admit, if I actually lived in the land where Winter Solstice was generally celebrated I might hate that too.
Typically I would get super depressed every Christmas. As a kid I was always sick with the flu or tonsillitis. “Way to ruin Christmas, again!” has been the most popular refrain of those around me most of my life.
As a young adult I spent a few Christmas’ entirely on my own. They were okay because often though I was sick at least I was alone and not ruining everyone else’s Christmas.
As soon as those songs start to fill the stores I feel myself turning into the Grinch’s poor little dog, weighed down by fake antlers and the burden of stealing all the joy from Whoville. I think there are several things I am allergic to or maybe just sensitive to and the combination of these things just becomes too much for my body and mind: Stuff, Guilt, Actual Allergies, People in Close Quarters, The Cult of Santa.
At a time when we are supposed to think of the poor we are expected, even if we are poor ourselves, to spend money like the lunatic super rich, buying crap that is only meant for Christmas, stuff that will need to be stored somewhere for eleven months (I guess if you are super rich somebody else worries about that).
And then the gifts:
- The funny, stupid Christmas gifts, ironic sweaters and apparel that will made the recipient look like an idiot that you bought because you were overheated, overstimulated and totally exhausted in a mall, therefore NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR USE OF A CREDIT CARD.
- The designer/decorator’s fetishes, really useless, mass produced and guaranteed to be a faux paus next year: CRAP.
- the GIFT that condemns you to the horrible, sinking bog of eternal Christmas failure, the “what were you thinking when you knew I really wanted fill in the blank.” Even if they don’t say it, you can tell. You have offended, disappointed, or finally proven you couldn’t possibly love, them.
The hypocrisy is, like nutmeg, almost imperceptible and yet a fundamental ingredient at Christmastime. The people who beg are just as revived up as you and I are about Xmas, but unlike us they need money so they can escape the reality of maybe DIEING. They need our money but we know it’s not really our money. It’s the banks money. The bank likes us for now because they think we can continue to pay the interest on what we owe them. That’s the big difference: “There but by the grace of Master Card go I”. Yes I know there are other differences; people who beg might know people who know where to buy opioids on the street but they might have good reason to know this and we might still have friends and family who still have reasonable lives who will take us in on Christmas.
Third: Actual Allergies
I think I have actual allergies to the stuff I eat over the holidays that I would never eat any other time of the year at least not in those quantities. If I do not have hives at least once over the holidays it is a Christmas miracle.
The Christmas hives started as a small babe with beautiful angora hats and mittens lovingly knitted by my mother and placed on my cherub head and hands. The continuous rubbing of angora into my red annoyed skin, especially my nose and eyes, ruined every photo of me at Christmas as a babe. I am quite sure they have all been destroyed. *guilty*
- Fruit cake with the supernatural bright green and red cherries.
- Cigarette smoke from visitors who drank lots of alcohol and sometimes gave me a sip
- Antibiotics that were, to my parents relief, readily prescribed without question by any doctor if I had the slightest temperature.
As a young adult I consumed many things that were not good for me. I started smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol. When Christmas came each year I added eggnog and pot to the mix, oh and boyfriends. I don’t know which gave me the hives.
Fourth: People in Close Quarters
People are stressed and they drink too much or not enough and they say and do things they shouldn’t and the best that you can hope for is nobody remembers too much about it come the next seasonal get-together.
Lastly: The Cult of Santa
My dad used to say, “Santa, what an old fooler!” Children know. Oh yeah, they may buy into it for the presents at first, but they don’t really commit, not most of them. Every year a few get caught. Santa knows it’s a numbers game and he has to get out there and try to pull in as many as he can but like all pyramid organizations it is a select few who really get what they want for Christmas, the rest just keep flogging the Santa message, hoping beyond hope, all the while staying hopped up on sugary treats. I know this. I was one of them.
“Sometimes when it feels like things are falling apart it’s just things falling into place”.
This inspirational saying brought to mind the Monty Python skit of “Catch that prize!” where if a contestant could catch, say a refrigerator, dropped from a fourth story window he could keep it. It is annoying how many pithy sayings there are for things falling apart.
I went to a lecture titled, “Is poverty a disease? Could treating poverty work like medicine?” Dr. Gary Bloch, a nice young doctor who works out of a hospital in T.O. in an area with a lot of homeless people using the ER. *
I am biased, three times around the big C has introduced me to lots of doctors, I have found many doctors, young white males in particular but not exclusively, to possess large egos if not pugnacious attitudes of entitlement. I have read a bit about what internships are like, so I add exhaustion as an excuse for some of them, and then there are the ones who really want to do good… and this guy is one of them. But he is still coming from a culture (medical professionals) that looks at everyone as a set of symptoms. It is also a culture that is very difficult to enter because of the costs of medical school. Why money should be allowed to be a deciding factor in who might want to be, or might be able to be, a doctor is another question. Most doctors tell me that I can discuss only two things per visit. However, if one of them is about O.H.I.P. the clock seems to fly out the window. Sorry I am griping. 😛
At the very end of the lecture I got to say my two cents worth. My heart was pounding so hard once I decided to try to speak that I might have not heard all of his lecture. I brought up the Harris government, 25 years ago in Ontario targeting single mothers, reducing their family benefits by 1/3 OVER NIGHT and then standing back to watch the fallout. All the tax payers who could accept the cost of constant road repairs before they accepted the cost of social repairs? Well, if driving over the bodies of welfare mom’s had caused a bumpy ride to work they still might have supported this bludeoning of Family Benefits. I’m not sure but the effects were not as immediate as a bitter cold winter on ashphalt so they weren’t too bothersome. But a large number of women and children fell through the cracks. “Falling through the cracks” meant they went missing in the minds and hearts of the society that they belonged to. And many ended up in peril.
Harris’ cuts weren’t even cost effective, they shifted the expenses to totally ineffective services and removed large numbers from the data for political purposes only. Add mismanagement of support payments, often those coming after a forced combative situation, a stipulation of receiving benefits was legal action against the absent partner, and voila, many families found themselves unable to pay rent. Their next step was into homelessness. There were piles of cheques for support that were months late and yet they sat unprocessed. Miscommunication, hostility and ineptitude turned up the heat on fathers who were labeled and threatened for being “dead-beat dads” which did not help moms and kids either. Many of my peers who didn’t have any other support network to help them were lost as the stress of jumping through hoops and sorting through requirements turned them back either to abusive situations or bad choices or emotional collapse and mental breakdown. The resulting years have led to the cost to taxpayers in law enforcement, incarceration, emergency services and health costs all skyrocketing and all caused by the repercussions of what were applauded as reforms twenty-five years ago.
I ended my diatribe with “Poverty is not a disease, it is a crime.” and I got applause. (That was a bit frightening actually).
However quietly, fearfully we do it, we need to speak up about the things that maintain poverty so we can talk about the things that can alleviate it. Poverty is a crime being committed against the most vulnerable, and it is global. It is endorsed by the most wealthy and most priviledged. Poverty makes possible all sorts of abuses of human rights and so often leads to violence and even war. But I worry about calling it a disease. People living with poverty are already in isolation.
*I wrote this draft perhaps five years ago never publishing it. If you go to the link for Dr. Gary Bloch you will see he is doing many positive and constructive things and lecturing other doctors. Maybe he is changing the culture from within? As I said, he is one of the good ones.
MUSING BUT NOT AMUSING?
I have been imagining all the things that I could do now that I am no longer responsible for anyone else.
I still have my crossing guard job and within the three hours a day I am occasionally responsible for getting people (I wish more children walked to school) safely across the street.
Some adults think it is hilarious that I am crossing them. “I feel like a kid again!” Some think it’s annoying. I scold them when they are too impatient for the light to change and head out ahead of me on the red. I don’t tell them I have years of looking after people who were either looking forward to being independent, or looking back on the loss of it and so no stink eye of the type one might expect from a teenage is going to thwart me…
I didn’t look after kids or my mother for the approval I would gain. That was good too because being a caregiver is really hard and often criticized by those who have never been one but know a lot about it from watching television. Although it was nice when appreciation was expressed, it came, less often than it would in a television sitcom but more often than I probably remember. (And I am sorry for this, truly.)
I just like knowing what needs to be done and then doing it. It feels good. There, I said it. I am not a self sacrificing saint or anything like it. I am just a person lacking in imagination. Maybe. Maybe that is it.
So while I would like to sell everything and go and stand on the front lines of some injustice, other than getting hurt I don’t think I can contribute much; Or finish the two books I started to write when I was younger and smarter and able to drink more than one cup of coffee a day without a gastro-disaster; or finally finish that enormous painting I started (what was I thinking?) that is facing the wall as if the painting was ashamed and not me, it kills my back to stand and paint; Or try to learn to speak French, something that I found easier when I was still drinking wine, *sigh*. None of these things will likely happen.
The anniversary of my mother’s death is rapidly approaching and I promised myself I would give myself a year before making any major decisions.
I am no longer responsible for anyone else. I come home exhausted and eat one of the frozen meals I made on the weekend and then do some hand sewing while some really violent Netflix show plays. It is the only way I can watch some of these programs. If I actually look at the screen too often, OMG, PTSD.
So I bake cookies when I am unsure, maybe I’ll manage a trip to see my Old Teacher over the holidays, bounce my grandson on my knee. And follow my favourite blogs, those that make the world still seem a place full hope and beauty and adventure, and good will for all.
I had a diagnosis of stage four Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 2002. I got in a panic about several areas of my life that needed addressing. So as soon as I well enough after the chemo rounds were done I started painting. I joined the Scarborough Artist’s Group. I also took probationary monks vows in the Soto Zen lineage.
this was one. “Opening to Openness, the four great vows”.
I don’t know where it is now. I am still practicing just about everything there is to practice about being a human being.
Walking Woman’s post about Doris McCarthy brought back this reminiscence at: https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/1450339/posts/1210833758
…meanwhile I am so dizzy and this is my day: sit down, think of something I need, get up to get it, start something else forget what I got up for, sit down and remember what it was, get up and get distracted…spin and repeat. After years of looking after my mother while she was in a similar state I am now in that state myself! I feel like I am fighting through mashed potatoes.
finding myself waiting for a bus in the heat and the sun (the bus shack is like a solar cooker, what is the point of a clear roof?) A nice young woman said she would let me know when the bus came so I could stand in the door of the Egg Smart restaurant. By that time my head was throbbing and I thought I’d throw up…the medication I am taking is not really helping, I feel like I am reduced to waiting for the moment the yogurt will expire
I don’t see the neurologist again for two months. The thing about seeing a neurologist is, how do you really know what she has said if you are brain impaired? A friend cut out an article for me about post concussion syndrome. I feel like I should just carry it around with me as my saying, “I have a concussion” gets no real response other than “Yeah eh, but you look good, your nose is really healing…” I cut my bangs so you can’t see the lump that is still on my forehead.
This concussion, like with migraine, makes it so I can’t gage my affect. Am I too loud, too urgent too hysterical or have I over compensated too much until I am whispering, calm to the point of coma, and sitting in a burning house?
Avoid parties, bureaucrats, people with agendas, opinions, and or grievances, real or imagined, sunlight, heat and humidity, the urge to buy dresses…
Is it an affront that I am asked to get my photo ID for OHIP and told if I don’t my doctor’s assistant won’t book an appointment for me? How useful will the photo be when I won’t have bandages on my broken nose forever? Am a reasonable to not want to listen to my doctor talk about how difficult OHIP is making it for her and then tell me that despite the fact that I am crying she has a lot of other people to see and there is no time to discuss what I am upset about? Or is it my brain?
Is it my brain?
I want to spend all my time with my grandson and his dog. They seem to be the only people who do not confound me. 😛