Say my name!

rioonbook

I’m Rio, most of you know that already, but it wasn’t always the case, so I am very happy to see my name listed on this wonderful book. I am sorry that I was unwell and couldn’t attend the launch, but I am so proud to be included with these women, many of whom I met at Sister Writes. They inspired me to push beyond my comfort levels and share a bit of my history. And they continue to inspire me to write with their brilliance.

and of course the cover…

coverbook

I don’t want to say too much when Shakespeare said it so well.

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 Mean to Focus on The Good

Mike SchreinerTheresa May is one member of parliament and yet she makes a lot of noise. (Even when she is asking for less noise in the house). We got a Green in Guelph, Mike Schreiner!

Think of it this way, you can have miles of pavement and one little dandelion can crack it! Here’s hoping he is our Dandelion in the Ontario legislature!

 

My Crazy Ideas for 2018

Call me “Sir”. As Supreme Being I Decree:

  • Every seat in government has to be co-occupied, job shared so they can have a life while being involved in governance. That way, looking after the kids, the pets, the community garden, or community market, is part of their lives; so they can experience things that are about being a human being and not just an ambitious grasping jerk. Does that mean things will take longer to get done? Maybe, but they won’t take as long as fixing fuck ups!  Like war, like bad legislation, like inequity, like sanctioned discrimination, like really bad ideas. I heard they are doing this somewhere, Iceland or Greenland, or Paradise Island…
  • Anyone who is  in a position of authority must be referred to as “Sir” regardless of thier gender.
  • Queen Elizabeth the first (not our Queen Elizabeth, the zoo creature and her litter of baby zoo creatures) made a rule that one tree for every 100 acres every where in England had to be maintained.  (She needed mature trees for building ships to fight Spain…) We can do that! We have surpassed Tudor England with Good Ideas We Can Do THAT.
  • We will always have problems when laws and personal freedoms conflict, but lets face it, people are often jerks.  They gripe about everything.  Even a free lunch.  This planet gives us a free lunch when it comes to air and water but we constantly ruin it!  So these things have to be legislated up the yin yang. Because as I said, jerks.
  • Corporations,  and I heard they are now considered persons,  can be HORRIBLE jerks.  They need rules to govern them, rules up the whazoo.  Corporations don’t need thier own armies. Nope.  They can’t be allowed to go into a country and then build a fort with “private security”.  If they are not benefiting in a direct way the people who live there so that the people there have an investment in their presence, they are breaking international law. Period.  Saying you are building a school for the local population and then teaching them to be domestic servants in the hotel you are putting up (totally bulldozing over the local population and their needs) is NOT  building a school.  Unless a gulag is a school. Time was, people welcomed trade. But when its about flim flam, nobody welcomes them. Bad for business really is about bad for people, OTHERWISE IT’S ABOUT BAD FOR BULLSHIT AND THEFT.
  • And we need gun laws, MORE OF THEM, because, again, people can jerks. Lets face it, many jerks are alive today because there wasn’t a gun handy at the time and  I would like to think that where there is life there is hope. We might shop at “Jerks r us”, but we don’t want to live there. Or die there. I realized the other day that there are so many mass shooting in the United States that now they catagorize them. “Church mass shootings, school mass shootings, Walmart mass shootings…” Sheesh.
  • Taking a life is not a good thing.  It will never stop happening but it should not be a reason for celebration, ever.  It should not be the object of any game.  The enjoyment of violence is not something we want to encourage.  It is not how we navigate towards our objectives as human beings on this planet, and anyone who enjoys causing pain and suffering  is to be considered damaged, possibly ill/sick and should be denied employment where violence and abuse would be likely, i.e. the police force, the army and probably some sports.  I recommend cross stitch for violent people. They can design whatever violent scene or sentiment they like but it has to be rendered in cross stitch. I know you are thinking that these are the jobs where we want violent people because “the enemy” is ruthless, bla bla bla, but I’m Supreme Being in this make-believe scenario remember? Nobody gets to have fun killing. End of discussion. Now go and work on your sampler.*
  • As for sports, I find quilting pretty intense so I am no authority but I think it might change the game if commentors made comments like: “Youre right Jim! And that impressive body check he took will mean he will be ten times more likely to suffer early dementia, depression and suicide!” “Danger pay Rex?” “Well I say, God Bless them, they give us our careers Jim.”  “Hahahahahahaha”. The camera can pick out a child in the bleachers who has seen the results of Repetitive Head Injury Syndrome in a parent. 😦  I would imagine competitive quilting and cross stitch would start to look pretty good. Okay, that’s maybe cruel. Cross stitch is hard to do.

I just realized that all these things are pretty much the things I would have decreed when I was six years old. So, just in case your were wondering, no it’s not likely I will ever succeed in becoming “Supreme Being” so relax. I mean, really, I can’t think of anything more unlikely happening…oh wait, ick, this is awkward…

Finally, it was argued recently that things are changing for the better. I don’t know. Talk is cheap. Only when we meet in the field of our own vulnerability, aware of this vibrant and improbable event that is life, when we are just there, not in an abstraction, but in the terrifing, liberating beauty of it, does anything change.

If not now? When?

Happy New Year!

* It seems there really is a program to teach inmate to quilt.

 

Can Poverty be Re-branded?

“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.

Me too? Piss off!

I have been walking around feeling lousy because I have been remembering times when I did things I didn’t want to do and times when I didn’t say things that I should have and thinking about all the circumstances surrounding those times and just feeling so awful just because I don’t like to think of myself as a victim even when I was. I think I would rather be a whore than a victim. Then I read this:

https://www.brainpickings.org/2016/01/06/martha-nussbaum-agency-victimhood-dignity/
and I started to feel better.
Once I knew a man who wanted to go and harass women who were on a “Women Unite, take back the night” march. He thought because they didn’t want him march with them they were being sexist and therefore he had a reason to yell at them and interfere with their march. (I recently listened to an interview with the woman from Pussy Riot who told of a man who joined the band dressing like a woman who was horribly beaten for it and I thought, cool that he did that but typical he got beaten for it.)
The genius of non-violent demonstration is the inclusiveness of non-violence. This man, (and I said nothing to him at the time because I was in love with him and constantly aware that he was smarter than me, like all men, starting with my father) This Man needed only to respect the value of their message or at least their right to express it. Their message was, “We should be able to dress as women (how we like) and still walk safely home. It is not a privilege. Acts of violence are criminal.  Being female in THIS PLACE at THIS TIME is not something we should need to justify any more than any man has had to.” And then it occurred to me, any man who is not a black youth in a hoodie that is. (If you say things like “all lives matter” in response to Black Lives Matter, you are not getting it. If you say, “that is disrespecting the flag”, you are missing it again.
Bending a knee is a non-violent means of making a point. However uncomfortable it may be for those of you who like quibble about anything that might make it seem to be about something else, citizenship is the right of citizens and that includes non-violent demonstration.)
As for all the recent “news” about moguls who abuse their power and intimidate women (and who knows who else) for sex, well why is it getting so much attention right now? And is it going to change things? Is there a nugget of hope here or is it another tittliating story? SEX SEX SEX
In the tape Harvey says, “come on are you going to ruin a friendship for five minutes?” or something and I thought, if only she could have said “this is not about friendship this is about an exchange for sex” and then put a price on it per minute, a million per minute. (No doubt considering the recent press it would have been a great deal for him). I am being facitious of course but seriously, who would be the criminal if she had? She would have been. How insane is that?
It is time to own up to the fact that it isn’t about sex (or even gender though frequently women are the demographic). Sex is a smoke screen, a diversion. This is about control. This is about culture dominated by a small number of powerful people who want a large contingent of people who will do stuff for nothing or next to nothing. It is about unpaid labour and abuse of an entire populice. Women (and others) doing things to avoid violence, to avoid arrest, to avoid losing a promise of financial security, not even “wealth” often , just doing things to avoid being called a WHORE and being rejected even by other women. Meanwhile the collateral benefit goes to those who just shiphon off the gravy that they had to do nothing to recieve except be powerful or perceived as being powerful.
This is the formula: maintain fear, remove autonomy, encourage desention, work them to death and make them grateful to think they are your friends.