Monday, October 11, 2021

This time of year

 Here we are again. Thanksgiving. A holiday freighted with a lot of expectations and traditions. Another summer gone, winds of passage and all that. Still, STILL!! dealing with COVID.

One of the things that inevitably happens as you get older is that the older people you know start dying off. The ones who die young have lots of people show up in shock, saying, "so young!" My father was one of those, dying in his mid 50's. Cancer.

The opposite is my mom's mom, she died a few years ago at almost 99. Not many people live that long, and it's a pretty safe bet she outlived all her contemporary friends. She was what you might call a polarizing figure, and I'm not sure how many actual friends she had. She is one of the reasons my financial planners have encouraged me to be cautious. It's a terrible thing to out live your money.

Then there's long expected deaths. There was one of those in my family recently. My step-father has been in fragile health for years now, and the long anticipated event happened a couple weeks ago at age 93. He was an enormously popular man, with friends of all ages, everywhere. Without COVID restrictions the funeral and memorial services would have been huge.

Then there's the surprises. The cautionary tales. Linda's older brother had a massive heart attack and dropped dead on the job site. He's only 5 years older than Linda. She is in Ontario visiting her sisters and assisting with the various things that need to get done. I'm holding down the fort here. And you wonder why she is so careful with her diet and exercise. 

One of my dearest friends has come out. Nothing will change about our relationship. It wasn't a shock or a surprise for me, more a "and that explains that" sort of thing. I was in high school in Ontario when Toronto police were raiding bathhouses, and the people found inside were demonized and persecuted. One of my high school teachers said the people 'found in' should be shot in the street as an example. Read about what happened to Alan Turing, of of the direct fathers of our digital computing age.

This isn't a thing of the distant past. Not that long ago I was teaching plant operators how to use a particular database program in a certain small Alberta town. A prominent gay person from that town happened to come up in conversation, and I was astonished that the politest comment was "that cross-wired bitch".

Now think about someone growing up in that community, or ones like it, or with people who might as well be in that community, young people who are brought up in a binary cisgender world, yet know that's not them. Or isn't sure but wonders. Who do they dare talk to? They carry their secret around in shame that they aren't meeting expectations, a shame that festers in the dark. Afraid they'll say or do something that will expose their secret, and potentially ruin their lives.

No wonder it's hard to come out, even now. No wonder such people seek the support of others like them. Seek out people like themselves, where they can be themselves. The decision to come out costs some people their families, their career, their marriages. I've never had to do something so brave. All I can do is push back when someone spouts homophobic or racist comments. 

There's a saying that scientific progress happens one death at a time, meaning that when an old scientist who held establishment views died, younger scientists with newer data could take the stage. In a similar way, racism was held to be a Black (or Indigenous, or Asian, and many other non-white) person's problem. Homophobia was a gay person's problem. They're not. They are white people's problem, a straight person's problem, and until we own it, and do something about it, not much is going to change. Push back. Teach your children, especially your male children, to be better. 

More examples? A female student shamed and sent home because what she is wearing is deemed too provocative for the boys to handle. Or maybe even the male teachers. That is the exact same thinking of the Taliban in Afghanistan. 

Why doesn't every Canadian community have safe drinking water? Why do women earn less than men doing the same jobs? Why aren't half of our elected politicians female? Why is the so-called C-Suite still an old boy's club? Why are drug use, gangs, homelessness, poverty, and other social problems still so prevalent?

Why? Follow the money. There is no monetary profit in solving those problems so it doesn't get done. The corporate world likes things the way they are, and is fighting to keep it that way. They have successfully convinced many people that they are millionaires down on their luck and therefore policies that affect only millionaires and billionaires are presented as if they affect ordinary people, who thus don't support the policy change, even against their own direct interest. Talk about brainwashing.

So yeah, I've done well out of the current world, but I realize that it wasn't purely my doing. I was the unconscious beneficiary of a society that rewards people who were born in the right place, with (what has been perceived as) the right colour skin, the right genitals and associated urges, along with a few other rewarded characteristics like being tall, reasonably well-spoken and well educated, and pretty good at what I do. Yes, I periodically had my difficulties looking for work, but it was nothing compared to what immigrants, or Indigenous, or other minorities go through. There's been a couple times I got second chances that might have got another person fired.

While I'm grateful for what I have I find myself wondering why everyone doesn't get the same opportunities and chances to prove themselves? Why  doesn't our society work for everyone? People on the outside of society were called misfits and shunned. Except now, as we are discovering, there is a huge number of people on the outs in one way or another. Are we going to let an increasingly small number of people drive who is in or out for what are essentially trivial reasons, or are we going to define and run society for everybody?

In other news, yesterday a bobcat family came to visit. Some of you may have seen the photos on Facebook already, but that's ok. You probably don't mind seeing them again. The mom wasn't too worried about people, till one of my neighbours got within about 15 feet. Then she started grumbling and lashing her tail. 

I liked that it crossed at the crosswalk and looked for traffic.

On our neighbour's lawn.

One of the cubs was being harassed by magpies.

It knew I was there.

Such a pretty kitty, sitting on our neighbour's fence.

The other cub, trying get it's own back on the magpies. They scattered.

Of the Day







  1. What a very nice pussycat! You pose good questions, but I have no good answers. I hope that one day we as a people actually decide that looking after each other is not only a good thing, but a thing worth acting on. Cheers, Sean

  2. Great post, Keith. Not sure how I missed it! I guess I was on the road at the time. Anyway, really appreciated the rant, though I was very sorry to read about your step-father and brother-in-law. Sincere condolences.

    I think bobcats are cool but am surprised to see them wandering around your neighbourhood like that. Or maybe not. A moose visited my sister's house not long ago and you know where she lives. I guess our animal friends don't have much choice but to spend some of their time in cities these days.


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