Archive for apathy

Justin Trudeau and the Continuing Saga of Canadian Apathy

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 2, 2016 by jtoddring

A recent poll shows strong support for the Trudeau government in Canada, and I have to think, once again, that it is surprising to see that Canadians can be so uncritical and unquestioning of their government.

Yes, Harper was defeated, and yes, that was a good thing. But the current government under Trudeau Jr. is deeply flawed, and criminally negligent, at best – and that is the best you can say about them.

Trudeau Jr. is still subsidizing big oil and the fossil fuel industry, still pushing for oil pipelines, still blocking serious action on the environment. And we are still waiting on serious action on the lack of safe drinking water for 120 native communities and 1,600 municipalities across the country – in one of the seven richest countries on earth, with the means to provide all Canadians more than a decent standard of living, and certainly vastly more wealth and resources than is needed to simply provide clean, safe water for all. And further, the Trudeau government has so far refused to cancel or reject a plan by Ontario Power Generation to bury radioactive waste in the Great Lakes basin, even though every radioactive waste facility ever built has leaked, and despite the fact that the Great Lakes provide drinking water to 40 million people. And all of this entails what can only be called criminal negligence in the extreme.

Beyond that, the Trudeau Liberals refuse to raise corporate taxes to reasonable levels, say, where they were in 1960, at roughly 40%: and as a result, must work with a self-inflicted short-fall of revenues, meaning that health care, education, social and environmental programs cannot be properly funded.

What this means is that the Liberal Party is no longer a liberal party, as it was up until the government of Pierre Eliot Trudeau, Justin Trudeau’s father, in the late 1970’s. For more than thirty years, the Liberal Party of Canada has been yet another party of neoliberalism, which is to say, another party run by and for big business. And central to the neoliberal, pro-corporate agenda, is austerity for the people, with giant subsidies, bail-outs, “stimulus” packages and tax breaks for the corporations and the rich. This is why we have inadequate funding for health care, education, social programs and environmental programs in Canada, as in the US and Europe, despite the fact that Canada is one of the richest countries on earth: neoliberalism and a corporate agenda have taken over – and the Trudeau Jr. government is just the latest expression of this criminal posse of neo-feudal corporatists, gouging the people to further line the pockets of the rich.

At the same time, the young Trudeau signed the TPP, which effectively spells the final death blow to Canadian sovereignty, and democracy in Canada. Few actions could express a greater or more utter incompetence, or criminality, depending on how you want to view it.

And while talking about “a principled foreign policy,” Trudeau Jr. approved the arms deal signed by Harper to ship more arms to the Saudis – the most brutal regime in the Middle East, and one of the worst human rights abusers in the world.

Saudi Arabia is also the country which is the primary arms provider and source of funds to ISIS and Al Qaeda. Principled foreign policy? This is not only criminally negligent, at best, to be sending more arms to the Saudi dictatorship; it is also a disastrous and extremely foolish policy which is guaranteed to blow back in our faces, as Saudi Arabia continues to fuel terrorism, even while it proclaims it is fighting it.

And along with arming the Saudis, Trudeau continued the bombing in Iraq and Syria, not only breaking his election promises, but violating international law, and thereby committing what are under international law, nothing less than war crimes. Yes, principled foreign policy indeed. Only now has this criminal and foolish behaviour and disastrous policy been halted – one point for which we can be glad in an otherwise dismal reign to date.

(And yes, it is a reign, when 40% of the popular vote can give you 100% of the power in government, and a four year coronation.)

And finally, Justin Trudeau promised to bring in proportional representation, to fix our quasi-democratic electoral system, and bring it into the 21st century, or even the 20th. So far, we have seen no action on this critical issue of democracy, and another Trudeau promise goes either broken, or simply ignored and abandoned.

Those were just election promises, right? Nobody takes those seriously. Well, clearly they shouldn’t when it is either the Liberal or Conservative Party in question.

Meanwhile, Elizabeth May, the only political leader in the country at the federal level who deserves to be called a leader, or who has any clue as to what is going on, apparently, or any spine, or integrity, or vision to bring to bear on the issues we face, is largely ignored by both the media and the people.

Are Canadians clueless, or are we simply a people that cannot seem to shake off a long tradition of public apathy? I think the latter is the case, and I do not know what will rouse them from their slumber, or bring them to their senses.

During the recent federal election, there was a wave of political passion across the country – which is to say, as passionate as Canadians get about anything other than hockey, beer and Tim Horton’s – as we the people decided to remove a much reviled Conservative government from power. Then we all went back to sleep. Or at least the majority seem to have returned to slumber land. What does it take to get Canadians to shake off their long-standing habit of apathy and complacency? I truly do not know.

March 2, 2016


Word to the bland, blasé and banal – apathy is living death

Posted in activism, consciousness, empowerment, philosophy, political philosophy, political theory, psychology, Thoreau, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 13, 2011 by jtoddring

A song came on the radio today that I have loved all my life – except this time, it was a cover, and it spoke something to me that I would like to share. It was a jazz cover of “Ode to Billy Joe.” That might be fine, and might work well, but the singer was trying to make the song sexy, and it struck me as bizarre as well as unfitting. Ode to Billy Joe is about a man who commits suicide by jumping off the Tallahatchie Bridge, and the woman who clearly loved him, and grieves for him still. It is a very sad and moving song. The jazz artist covering it had no emotion in her voice, other than the delight in her admittedly fine voice, and an air of sultry sexiness in her vocals. I have nothing against sultry, sexy music, especially when done well, by a vocalist with a melodic or soulful or sensuous voice – such as Bessie Smith, Billie Holiday or even Janis Joplin. But you don’t turn a funeral dirge into a sensuous romp. You don’t try to make a funeral dirge sexy, and Ode to Billy Joe is a funeral dirge, a lament. It seemed bizarre, and it was mildly annoying to hear. It’s like trying to make Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata into a hip hop tune. Some things just don’t go together – like ice cream and beer, or ketchup and cheesecake… Bert Bacharach singing Rage Against the Machine’s Take the Power Back, O.J. Simpson in a tutu… or funereal laments with light and fluffy sensuous vocals. But this is not what really annoyed me about the song. What was really striking was its self-contradiction. It is a heart-breaking song, and it was sung with a disturbing indifference.

“Because you are neither hot nor cold, but only luke warm,
I spit you out of my mouth.”
– St. John of Patmos

Listening to the cover artist croon in light, swaying tones, more interested in the sound of her voice than the lyrics and the story they told, she sang, “And Papa said to Mama as he passed around the black-eyed peas….”Well, Billy Joe never had a lick of sense – pass the biscuits, please.” And it struck me – this is why this cover bothers me: the cover artist is showing no feeling for the tragedy that this song speaks of – and the cover artist is as blasé and indifferent as the family members at the table in the song.

And Brother said he recollected when he and Tom and Billie Joe
Put a frog down my back at the Carroll County picture show
And wasn’t I talkin’ to him after church last Sunday night?
“I’ll have another piece of apple pie, you know it don’t seem right”

It made me shudder, in fact, to hear the indifference in the artist’s voice, the lack of feeling and concern; and the contrast in the song – between the family’s largely uncaring reaction to this tragedy, and the heart-break of the young woman who loved Billy Joe and that of the song itself – was drawn out in a clarity that I have never before heard or appreciated. It is a stark and poignant, painful contrast, between love and compassion on the one hand, and unfeeling indifference on the other. Juxtaposed, it makes the song all that much more moving. And to hear the contrast heightened by a cover of the song that was sung with glorious indifference and banal, blasé self-involvement, made me realize that there is a great deal of this in the world: unfeeling apathy and uncaring indifference – as if there is nothing worth getting concerned about other than football, sit-coms and shopping, or what the weather might be like for the barbeque this weekend, and whether or not we have enough relish. Relish becomes significant only when it is a verb, and when we actively engage in the celebration of life and virtue in this world, and not when it is a hot dog topping.

“The world is a dangerous place.
Not because of those who do terrible things.
But because of those who let them do it.”
– Einstein

Apathy is living death. Indifference is cowardice. Let us be real, and truly live. To live is to feel. It is to have a heart, and to let that heart be tender. If we treat the world or others, social issues or environmental issues or human suffering with indifference or apathy, it says a lot about the state of our hearts. It says we are cloistered and closed into a prison cell of our own making. If we wish to truly live, or if we wish to embrace the fullness of our humanity, then we shall have to open our heart to both the joy and pain of life, and allow ourselves to both think and feel – deeply and authentically, with courage and inner strength which allows us to do just that.

When we allow ourselves to both feel and think more freely and deeply, with openness, sensitivity and thoughtfulness, then our lives will be rich, and not before – and then too, will the world be reborn and justice shall rain down in blessings for all. A renaissance of humanity, as with a renaissance or rebirth in our personal lives, requires the courage to think and to feel. If we are not up for that, then we are among the living dead.

Allowing ourselves to think and to feel doesn’t mean that we all have to be extroverts, or start swinging from chandeliers or barking at the moon, or making a big show of emotion or bawling before Opra on a global broadcast. If we are naturally quiet or reserved, that is fine – it is openness of the heart and mind that matter, and not openness of mouth. Everyone has their own distinct style or way, and all of us have depth of mind and heart – it is just a matter of what degree we are open to our own depths. To shun them is to barely live. To open to our depth of heart is to find life’s treasure, and our own true riches and power. With these we will live more fully, and with these, we can heal the world.

Let us be real. Life is too short and too precious for us to live in any other way. Let us think, let us feel, let us truly live: and we and all of humanity, and all living beings, will be the richer for it.

“None are so old as those who have outlived enthusiasm.”
– Henry David Thoreau

If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be part of your revolution.”
– Emma Goldman

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.”
– Helen Keller

September 12, 2011

Bobbie Gentry, Ode to Billie Joe Lyrics

Bobbie Gentry – Ode To Billie Joe (Original Stereo) – YouTube

%d bloggers like this: