Sunday, July 23, 2006

Sunday musings in July

Well, it's been a mighty interesting couple of weeks. I've vacillated between anger and depression so many times that I feared a self-inflicted case of whiplash.

Not long after I posted my blogs about idealism and the World Peace Forum, the relative calm in the Middle East literally exploded. The irony wasn't lost on me.

I started a number of posts to address the current middle east situation, all of which ended up in my discard/reconsider folder because they made me sound like a ranting lunatic. In effect, they were the equivalent of a hair-ripping, teeth-gnashing, primal scream.

Something along the lines of, "Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaargh!!!!!!"

Just an excerpt from one of the non-published posts:

"I'm sick of the political rhetoric. I'm sick of the ineffective UN. I'm sick of apologists for all sides. I'm sick of any ideology, political system, country, or religion that uses violence and killing of innocent civilians as a means to achieve their goals. I'm mad as hell!"

You get my drift.

As far as the depression; I was ready to retreat to a cabin on a mountaintop somewhere – anywhere – to live out my life in peaceful solitude while the powers-that-be blow up the world. Obviously, I decided against this tactic -– though it is tempting. The optimistic part of me won out and I'm going to 'stay the course' (she says sarcastically). Surely, saner minds will prevail and end this mess.

I won't go into detail about my political leanings, but anyone who knows me, even moderately well, knows that I'm a peace-loving, anti-war, small "l" liberal going back to the '60s. Back in those days, I'd have been what some people called a pinko, left-wing, hippie, peacenik. I didn't care then and I don't care now if that's how I'm perceived because my attitude towards war and violence is as strong, if not stronger, now, than in my youth.

When I'm older, I'll probably be one of those "grannies against war" that you see demonstrating on the news every so often – usually as a "cute" addendum to regular news coverage. It's time people took them seriously. Who else has seen more in terms of the devastation and human suffering caused by wars?

I believe in the saying, "Violence begets more violence". It becomes a never-ending cycle of getting the other guy before he strikes first; paying back the other guy for striking first; teaching the other side a lesson; the other side responding with another "lesson"; and on and on it goes. There must be another way.

I think I'll just end this blog with some Bob Dylan song lyrics:

How many times must a man look up
Before he can see the sky
How many years must one man have
Before he can hear people cry
How many deaths will it take till he knows
That too many people have died
The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind
The answer is blowing in the wind.

(For you, StillILearn)

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

One word . . .

This is a writing prompt from Diana at First Drafts. I think it started out as a meme. It's a bit trickier than it first appears, especially for those of us who suffer from "too-many-words-itis". The challenge is to use only one word to respond to the question/statement. Give it a try and share it with us.

Here are mine.

· Yourself: thoughtful
· Your partner: kind
· Your hair: silver
· Your Mother: unknown
· Your Father: unfulfilled
· Your Favourite Item: cherished
· Your dream last night: curious
· Your Favourite Drink: wine
· Your Dream Home: cozy
· The Room You Are In: cluttered
· Your fear: uselessness
· Where you Want to be in Ten Years? alive
· Who you hung out with last night: family
· What You're Not: simple
· Your Best Friends: understanding
· One of Your Wish List Items: peace
· Your Gender: resilient
· The Last Thing You Did: write
· What You Are Wearing: comfortable
· Your favourite weather: balmy
· Your Favourite Book?: emotional
· Last thing you ate?: salad
· Your Life: convoluted
· Your mood: hopeful
· The last person you talked to on the phone: annoying
· Who are you thinking about right now?: Jason

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Idealism, activism - who needs it?

In the last couple of weeks, you may have noticed that I've posted links to the World Urban Forum and the World Peace Forum in Vancouver. I like to keep in touch with these things in my effort to stay informed and view the world in more of a global sense.

It's too easy to get caught up with the mundanities of our personal lives and forget about the bigger picture. There's nothing wrong in being engaged with our immediate surroundings -- it's a necessity. But I think we need to strike a balance between what's going on here and what's going on out there in the broader world.

I know some people roll their eyes when they read or hear about peace conferences, rallies or anything that smacks of activism and idealism. It seems "activism" and "idealism" has fallen into disfavour. Not exactly bad words, but viewed similarly to feminism – seen as unnecessary, irrelevant, a purview of the radical fringe these days.

Most distressing is that so many people my age, who grew up with the women's movement, anti-segregation rallies and the peace marches of the sixties, would be so disdainful of the similar today. Surely, they all can't have become totally disillusioned and abandoned their ideals for a house in suburbia and an SUV. As a matter of fact, I know those people are still around. They may have gone underground (or to suburbia) for awhile, but they still have those old ideals buried somewhere inside. If we care about the world we want to leave for our children and grandchildren, now would be a good time to come out and re-activate that old idealism.

I guess what I'm saying is that the world has gotten itself into a bit of a pickle and it's time for everyone to look around and see what needs fixing and actually do something about it. Whether it's the environment, world peace, the homeless, a new community centre or just cleaning up the neighbourhood, everyone can act positively for change. Figure out what's important to you and take action.

The action doesn't have to be big or monumental. For those who don't think they can make a big difference, I like the phrase, "think globally, act locally". It's borrowed from environmentalists, but can easily apply to politics (policy-making), peace and almost any other social problem. In effect, it says you CAN make a difference at the local level. So, you can't stop all the child and women's abuse in the world, but you can support your local women's and children's shelters. So, you can't stop wars single-handedly, but you can elect and support politicians who reflect your ideals.

THAT's what activism is about – taking direct action to effect political or social change. A little idealism thrown into the mix doesn't hurt either.

So ends my lecture for the day . . .

Here's a link to a great blog about effecting change (of particular interest to Americans). TCK- the Blog