Circling the Wagons


Here is the oddest thing about the closing of ye olde widda board for me, personally.

When the board closed, the alumni site at Facebook cranked up the invites/adds to its page. A group that was fairly dormant. And I was added.

Okay, the fact that I was added is not odd. I did make friends in my time at the YWBB. Yes, I did. Don’t look so incredulous. A few anyway. So my inclusion in the round-up as Rome fell isn’t all that a weird thing.

The strange part is how nonchalantly I have been included in the conversations and happenings.

As I mentioned in another post, it’s just like a high school reunion where the most popular girl in the class, the one that married the star of the state championship basketball team, was a cheerleader and never gave more than a withering glance of disdain to you, is suddenly all smiles, hugs and

“Oh my gawd! you look GREAT! I am SO glad you are here.”

Alright, not that exactly, but creepily close.

Rob just chuckles.

“Back with your besties from the board, eh?”

I had no besties at the board.

In fact, the few YWBB members who I count among my friends are folks I met at the board but got to know via our widow blogging. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be friends.

Like most of my friendships – virtual and in real life – I grew on them slowly because I am something for which the taste for needs to be acquired and that takes time. Instant friendships have never happened for me. Ever. Except maybe Rob.

And I tend to develop friendships with people that no one would ever suspect me of being friends with.

As I recently told a very conservative political Twitter acquaintance (who follows me only because I confound her definition of a “liberal”),

“I have an open mind, a preferences for people who can pry theirs wide a bit too, and enjoy a healthy give/take debate. And snark is good too.”

Of course, I paraphrased into 140 characters.

Yes, I can be brief, but I don’t enjoy it.

So, where did I begin? Right, wagons circling.

Old board members do nothing well at all if not circle up. The founders should have remembered this if going quietly into the good night was their aim. (And they’d do well to remember it in the future if the rebrand of Soaring Spirits includes YWBB terminology, stories or ideas stolen from threads. Yeah, stolen. Really hope I am wrong about this.)

They posted a terse and uninformative message when they locked all the forums, which effectively threw the lurkers under the bus and sent the newbies, who generally have few contacts inside the board (forget about outside) in grief spins I don’t want to think about.

But if they thought this was going to satisfy the GenNext widdas, who really founded the current incarnation of the board, they’d apparently been away too long.

After the shock and the scramble to contact, add, send out the word and help – as much as possible – support the YWBB survivors as they hastily set up a new forum at Widda, the questions came.

What happened? Why so suddenly? What will happen to the thousands of pages of posts? The history. The stories? The resources? The friendships?

OMG! How will people find each other again!

All good questions and – as per usual – the founders were reluctant to come down off the mountain to deal with any of it.

My history with the founders is slight but contentious.

I took them to task about the cyber-bullying, and their non-to-tepid at best responses on a few occasions, and the few who bothered to reply to me were condescending when they weren’t just dismissive.

So while the others were willing to give a benefit of the doubt, I suspected that the founders probably had motivations that were more about them than the widow board or the members because that’s how it’s mostly been since they stopped actively needing it.

Is that judgmental?

Yes.

But I am just as harsh a critic of widowed folk who spring board their tragedies into careers that milk the vulnerability of grieving folk.

While the YWBB founders may have simply walked away after having picked up their lives, at least they didn’t sell hoodies and mugs with logos and pretend that somehow this was good works. And, thank the goddess, they avoided the Oprahfication of being widowed into a 12 step program where slapping on the stilettos, working out and attending weekend seminars to work that grief will land you in the valley of the happy widow dolls again.

Eventually the idea – a good one – took root among the alumnae of kicking in cash to maintain the board as an archive.

Posting agitation ensued to the point that one of the founders agreed to talk with the others, but the ultimate answer was still “no”. Closing down the YWBB was just a “business decision” that made the most sense.

Nothing personal, ya’ll.

A kind of dismissive, sucks to be you but I’ve moved on and what do you people want from me after fifteen years?

Still, the circling efforts and the fact that I was included (granted that some of the others probably didn’t/still don’t know who the fuck I was on the board) made me reconsider the nature of the board and whether or not I could really participate in the start up of the new one.

I am nine years out. Married again for nearly eight years.

I am not grieving anymore. Even the odd memories don’t knock me off course.

Although, I hate the fact that I cry easily now. I never did pre-dead husband and don’t like that I have lost my ability to be like a stone in the face of manipulating commercials, songs and YouTube videos.

Oh, I blame it on the approach of menopause, but it was widowhood that reduced me to this female cliché.

I have participated in these early days of Widda. I post. I share. I try to let people know that nine years out is a good place. It gets better.

But I haven’t totally hated the reunion. It’s good to see how far I have come in stark terms and how the people behind the aliases have done the same.

The furor is dying down now. The YWBB goes dark this coming Friday and now that the shock has passed and the posts are being archived on hundreds of different hard-drives, most of these people will go back to their lives. Just like people do after high school reunions.

And Here I Am, Widow Blogging Again


widdaI really wanted to step away from all the grief stuff. Widowhood. People who date widows. Widow blogging. As I mentioned to an old friend from the YWBB days (yes, I did make friends when I was there), grief on the web anymore is about selling it. Promoting a website, a convention, a book or whatever niche business you grew out of the depths of your despair. And if you did, good on ya! Do what you love and know. But I never could get past the idea that I was taking advantage of vulnerable people by asking them to pay me for something that they needed – kindness, advice, common ground.

Now that the YWBB is in its final days, I find myself oddly drawn back in to the community. One that I never fit into really and didn’t derive much direct solace from hanging around on its edges. My aforementioned friend found herself added to a Facebook group of YWBB alumnae (and now you know that no one ever leaves high school just as you suspected and probably feared as much as I do). She in turn added me and quite a few others. It was just like a high school reunion. Right down to my not recognizing a single soul because we are all sans aliases and aside from those who really are my Facebook friends, I have never seen a picture of a single one of them. In between shock and venting (oh, some of us were a tad ragey though nothing like I remember from the YWBB’s wilder west days), stories were shared. Some I recall. Many I do not because I don’t harken back to the earliest days of the board’s existence like many of the story-tellers do. And while we reminisced, the current residents of the YWBB were scrambling to find each other off-site and two hardy members were setting up a temporary refugee board. A kind of virtual muster point that an astounding 400+ people registered at one point before a permanent home was established at Widda.

Though I sort of enjoyed the Facebook reunion group, I found myself far more concerned with the new site. The flight. The information that needed to be shared. The reformation of the group that is rather than the group that was. For me, the Internet has always been a world with real places. People dream about outer space. Space travel. My husband does and so does my middle daughter but the real alternative universes and worlds already exist and better still, we have access to them. They’re on the web. YWBB is a real place to me. Just like Babycenter was when I was there fifteen years ago now. The fact that I can’t touch it, and the method of interaction is virtual, has never stopped me from immersing, meeting, sharing and establishing very real connections and relationships with very real people. Some of whom I know now in real life – like my husband for example – and some of whom I have never even had a phone conversation with – like my YWBB and FB friend, Stella. I met Rob at the YWBB and it’s a story I’ve told countless times and in as many places, so I won’t rehash it word by word, so the board has special meaning.

When I told Rob the board was closing, he shrugged. It didn’t matter to him. He has such a profound faith in our connection that he really does believe we’d have met regardless of the board. I love this about him. But the board is still our meeting place and soon it will no longer exist. It feels just the same to me as when I learned that the Science Center in Des Moines – where my late husband and I established the relationship that would lead to marriage, baby and widowhood – had been closed. It was the week before he died and the day after he died, I went there. Parked in the empty lot and walked around to the far side of the building to stand in the spot where we were standing the evening I realized that I loved him. I just stood there and cried. Said goodbye.

I haven’t cried about the YWBB. But it has brought back memories. Sharp. Stinging. Regretful. And, as per usual, when I am faced with emotions that threaten to swamp me, I act. I shuttled information between the new board and the Facebook group. Searched the YWBB archives, took screenshots and found links that I shared. I even posted again. Lord Almighty, save me from becoming “that widow”, who hangs around the board past her “best before” date, trying to “fix” and emoting far too much. Something that I swore to the imaginary gods that I would never do. And I won’t be her. Not for much longer but as the original YWBB founders feel the need to finally drive a stake through a dying board forum (and sadly, it was dying and this new board is just the jump-start it’s been needing), I find I have just enough widow left in me to pass it backward. Give so that a new haven for young widows can become a new place for others. Sure, there are a shit-tonne of venues for the widowed, but as I mentioned, they drip with the stench of self-help conformity and commercial entrepreneurship. The beauty of the YWBB (and with luck Widda) is that it’s a community of just people. No angles. Nothing being sold or promoted. Just people who hurt, sharing and healing – hopefully – with the help of one and other. Even the worst day on the YWBB, and there were plenty of those, someone reached out and someone cared enough to answer. 24/7. 365 days a year. The board never closed and no one was ever (knowingly) turned away.

Jill is right. I should blog more.

The YWBB is No More


For what it is worth, the YWBB has closed up shop. widda

If you are currently a member, you have until March 20th to log in and contact anyone who might be on your personal message list, and you might be able to use the search function to track down any old posts you want to save (just take screen shots – it’s easiest) or contact anyone you haven’t connected with on other social media outlets.

Thanks to some quick thinking by a marvelous widdas named Jezzy (Jess) and Justin, a new board is already up and running and you can access it via this link.

If you are an oldtimer from the board days or someone whose recently been directed to the site and haven’t been able to register – think about signing up. The more the merrier. There are also YWBB groups (think high school reunion type stuff) on Facebook. They are closed groups but I don’t think anyone is being denied entry. They added me after all. And you don’t get more grief heretic than me.

I won’t comment on the decision to shut ye old widda board down without warning beyond saying, I would have handled it differently (but I would have done a lot of things there differently).

And the ye olde widda board founders are directing folks to Soaring Spirits, which while they’ve done good things, is a bit too commercial for my tastes. If you like your grief Life Time for Women movie style or 5 step self-help to happiness again though – it will be right up your alley. It’s very “fix it” oriented and has a plethora of “been there/done that” semi-celebs (yes, there’s a hierarchy in the widow world – that’s life after all) to sell you a book or moderate a conference that will set you right again.

In the meantime, if you are recently (or not so) widowed and just  looking for a place to go to vent, to cry, to share with people who “get it”, check out the new place. It seems like a nice place. You won’t be alone because you are not alone. There are people out here on the wide web who’ve been where you are and can – if nothing else – listen. And being heard is a lot.

#Bill10


ewoks defeat empire tweetIt’s been an interesting week. Unless you happened to be sitting in the Alberta legislature and then it was – to quote Thomas Lukaszuk, MLA for Edmonton Castle Downs, a “week from hell”.

This trip to the hellmouth came courtesy of our new Premier’s attempt to slay a vexing dragon that has menaced conservatives in both his party, the Progressive-Conservatives, and their rivals and opposition, the Wildrose Party.

Both parties have problems with a small religious and socially conservative driven base, continually seeking assurances that Alberta will stay as rooted in the 1960’s on certain social issues as is possible given the fact that it’s now the 21st century.

There are a number of things that send this base into a frenzy but two things in particular give them panic attacks.

The first is the fear that as parents they won’t have control over every aspect of their children’s education. Specifically (though probably not exclusively) anything pertaining to sex.

What passes for sexual education, generally, has me shaking my head most of the time and grateful for the fact that I have been instructing my daughter in the basics since she first noted the concept of gender and the differences between them.

The misinformation and bias I’ve observed in teachers, and in the provincial curriculum, is fodder for another day (and frankly, was something I ran into frequently when I taught in the United States too), but I have countered it with fact and honest, even-handed discussions. I am not too worried that some random teacher’s poor delivery method is going to ruin my child.

But there is a subset of Albertan parents who are determined to keep facts from their children even if they have to keep facts from my child to achieve this end.

And that is where Bill10 enters our story.

But please indulge a little back story.

The province of Alberta has a long history of not being keen about granting rights to LGBTQs in most instances and about same-sex marriage in particular. While the rest of the provinces came to the realization that legally it was simply impossible to deny this basic right, Alberta’s premier, Ralph Klein, pitched a fit.

However, Canada became the fourth country in the world to recognize that access to marriage was a right for all in 2005.

This would be the end of the story but for the fact that Alberta’s socially conservative still grumble (despite the fact that the world hasn’t cracked in half and the four horsemen aren’t roaming the earth in the wake of civil marriage) and not so subtly find ways to make their displeasure known.

One of the ways was to not allow sexual orientation to be named explicitly in the Alberta Bill of Rights Act (which as an aside is the province’s way of reminding Canada that they never did like Pierre Trudeau or his Charter of Rights and Freedoms) and to eventually grant the wish of a minority of parents in Alberta by allowing them to demand notification from teachers every single time that sexual orientation came up in the classroom.

The first thing is just mean-spirited and sore loser-ish. It can’t be explained any other way.

But the second was simple control-freak paranoia based on the outdated idea that people are taught to be lesbian or gay or transgender or bisexual or queer.

Speaking as someone who spent two decades teaching junior and senior high, let me reassure everyone that no one taught your son or daughter his/her sexual orientation. They showed up at the door pre-programmed.

Not once was I ever surprised to learn, years after I taught someone in grade seven, that he or she was gay. Not. Once. Because I knew it even if it took them a few more years to figure it out.

So, Bill10.

The Alberta Liberal Party tried, unsuccessfully, to fix the aforementioned issues. Valiant attempts. But as they had been all but crushed as a viable opposition party in the province, these attempts failed.

Recently though a Liberal MLA named Laurie Blakemen tried again with a private member’s bill, Bill202.

It was simplicity itself. Corrected the injustice and laid to rest the idiocy and could be summed up in three sentences. How can you not love legislation that you don’t need a lawyer to interpret for you to actually understand it?

Blakemen presented her private member’s bill. People liked it. There was much rejoicing!

bill202

And then Premier Prentice decided he wanted to be the one who presented a bill that righted wrongs (’cause that’s how he rolls) because rejoicing isn’t okay unless the PC’s are facilitating it.

Bill 202 went through a first reading. The government responded with “yeah, but we have a bill of our own, which will do all of these things and probably fly and shoot rainbows out its bum too and we will tell you all about it … just as soon as we write it down.”

Premier Prentice then disappeared in a puff of smoke like Cinderella’s godmother because more important work pertaining to pipelines and bitumen was waiting for him in Quebec, and so his faithful front-line minions were left to write and present the new and improved bill to the legislature.

Which they did.

And everyone went “meh?”

Because Bill10 was not really new – it borrowed heavily from Bill202, so much so that if the legislature was a university and MLAs were students words like plagiarism might have been tossed about and people would be failing and possibly even expelled.

So they tried again.

And everyone went “wtf?!”

contrast 202 and 10

Bill 10 had gone from a bad pirating effort to quasi-apartheid aimed squarely at LGBTQ children, who just wanted to be allowed to form GSA’s (gay straight alliance clubs) in their schools so they could cope with the normal transition stuff that teens face in a safe place, free from bullying and full of warmth, understanding, and friendship.

Why, when it’s usually the most tired refrain in the political universe, was no one “thinking of the children?”

But the PC government dug in even as some of their own – brave and eloquent souls like Thomas Lukaszuk and Doug Griffiths – stood up and said, “this isn’t right”.

The tiny undermanned opposition parties (for a welcome change) banded together in an impressive showing of rebuttal and take down and common sense.

And the small but semi-vigilant Alberta media and social media had the opposition’s back. Publishing news articles, op-ed and tweeting like frenzied Shakespearian chorus.

Citizens took to the airwaves. They petitioned. They shared heart-rending personal stories about the isolation and discrimination.

Truly it was the Evil Empire versus the plucky Ewoks. If by “evil” you mean “misguided and misinformed” and by “plucky” you mean “relentlessly mocking”.

And Ewoks, in case anyone has forgotten, are wee, furry fluffballs that chitter like Alvin and the Chipmunks. And they have wicked sharp teeth.

While the rest of Canada – as it usually does unless it is wagging fingers about climate change that their first world lifestyles apparently don’t contribute to at all – ignored Alberta, Albertans stood up and said, “Um, no. We are not a gaggle of inbred hillbillies. Bill10 simply isn’t right. Scrap it and come up with something better. Maybe like Bill202.”

When Canada finally did notice, it was over.

At the height of civilian dissension, Premier Prentice tersely told the media (in Ontario) that “Rights are not absolute.”

Yes, he did.

Not exactly the words most citizens dream of hearing from the mouth of the guy who basically rules over them with virtually no checks on his authority.

But upon returning to the legislature – just in time to fire up the Christmas decor – Prentice had regained his sanity, re-girded his political loins and shelved Bill10.

What’s next? Maybe nothing. Shelved bills have a habit of disappearing into the bowels of government like the Ark of the Covenant in a US military warehouse. But maybe this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship between the socially progressive in the Alberta legislature and Alberta politics in general. Perhaps that day has finally arrived.

Regardless, the real issue is still unresolved. Our kids can’t start GSAs in many of the rural schools or in any of the Catholic ones. There is still bullying and marginalization during a time in their lives when just growing up – physically, emotionally and academically – is hard enough work.

We are failing our kids and by “we”, I mean all of us.

Two weeks have been wasted by adults more interested in political points than in doing their damn jobs. When does this end? Who is going to man up and take the first step towards making things right?

Do You Know Who You Are?


Someone asked me that tonight on Twitter. It’s a fair question if you don’t know me because, while I have a fairly consistent set of core values, I am not easily categorized in everyday terms.

I think he was annoyed that, despite my following Green people and sometimes tweeting green causes and issues, I am not green enough to not question things that don’t make sense or don’t match up.
But I am not any more liberal than I am conservative. I am not green because of my pragmatism or a socialist because I was raised by Depression Era parents. I subscribe to no particular worldview because there is validity to be found everywhere – if you keep an open mind and you can’t do that when you’ve picked a side. I learned that in Catholic school.

Yeah, I know.

I don’t believe in a god or gods, but I don’t discount the probable reality of a purpose driven universe and the immortality of that some of us call a “soul”.

I think religions have done more harm than good but don’t think people who practice a creed are necessarily bad or deluded.

I am a progressive though I don’t belong to the cult of “progress”. Science fiction will not save us.

And  I do believe in being accountable; earning your own way as much as possible is good for you and that a lot more issues than people realize are nothing more than distractions to keep us from paying attention to what is really important.

The economy, for example, is a distraction. Or at least all the hyperbolic rhetoric and mock warfare and shell-game math that gets tossed at us by the main stream (and off the beaten path) media, politicians and activists.

Justin Trudeau (infamously and to his likely dismay now) once said that “the economy/budget will take care of itself” or something close to it.

His opponents far and wide mocked and continue to mock such “naiveté”, but he is really not that wrong.

Budgeting has to be done. By everyone. Households, businesses and governments. But it is a lot less quantum physics than you think.

And for the most part that which is the free market – from which economies and government budgets are birthed – does take care of itself as it is largely outside the influence of even those who try to influence or manipulate it.

It grows, contracts and collapses and staggers back to its feet again. Driven a tiny bit by us but it’s mainly dependent on the fact that humans have needs and those needs are met via consumption.

We consume therefore we must work and have a system for bartering.

It’s kind of simple.

Even if everything imploded tomorrow morning with the bell on Wall Street (as likely a place as any), we’d still need things. We’d still have skills to ply. The economy would just flex to accommodate the new reality.

Whatever. Most talk of the jabbering about the economy and budgets is nonsense. Political parties can’t grow economies anymore than they can save jobs that are naturally migrating to newer, cheaper emerging countries. Politicians are impotent forces in terms of doing much good on a large-scale. They can (and have) managed to muck up a lot of things though. Leafing through any history book can tell you that.

But they’ve done great things, you will argue.

I will grant you that, but mostly by accident or as a by-product of something that was probably self-serving and turned out better than anyone could have dreamed.

So do I know who I am?

Do you know who you are?

You’ll give me a list of things you believe in. Groups you belong to. Things and people you love. Tell me about your causes – passionately, I am sure. Assure me that you aren’t a whole host of things.

The way you dress, wear your hair, your markings and piercings, taste in music, food, books and movies/tv will all scream something that probably isn’t you at all.

And in the end, you still won’t come close to telling me anything about the real you.

People’s natures can only be known through real time experiences. Whether that’s via intense conversation or adventures or just hanging out (and yes, it can be virtual).

But getting to know someone is intentional and time consuming.

Unlike my Twitter or Facebook feed, or even this blog.

If who we really are was so easily divined, people would get along better and the world wouldn’t teeter on so many brinks and we wouldn’t be worrying about economies or climate change to the extent that many of us are at actual or virtual war with so many others.

I just finished Justin Trudeau’s “memoir*” and the only thing I know for sure is that he held back. I still have no idea who the man really is but he probably isn’t the anti-Christ and Canada will survive him just like it’s surviving Harper or would survive Mulcair or May.

Look, just because I find this or that news article worthy of sharing or commenting on and just because in your eyes my thought pattern seems contradictory doesn’t mean I don’t know what I am doing or where I would like to go or have forgotten where I have been.

That which is me has survived more ups, downs, and twisty turns than you know or I could ever blog about.

My favorite Father of Confederation is Thomas D’arcy McGee.

He was born in Ireland. A gifted writer and a silver-tongued little devil who began his career at the tender age of barely 18 when he left Ireland for the United States to preach to the immigrant masses about freeing their homeland from British occupation.

He was an activist who eventually became a full-fledged terrorist and wound up in Canada solely because he needed a job and couldn’t go home to Ireland where an arrest warrant and deportation to Australia awaited him.

He ran the gamut from near apostasy to fundamentalist Catholic.

He was an alcoholic and a born again teetotaler.

An Anglo – Quebecker, he worked with McDonald to birth a united Canada and ended his life dreaming of a multicultural society of Canadians.

He died at the hands of a terrorist organization he once believed in with all his soul. They killed him because he knew their vision threatened his Canada.

Along the way, he changed his mind and rhetoric and ways so many times that his critics’ most consistent argument against him was that he never seemed to know what it was he stood for.

But he always did. In the moment and going forward, he knew who he was. He was, like everyone else, a work in progress.

His progress lead him on quite a journey. Mostly because he had an open mind (though he lacked the interest in ever admitting he’d changed it or had been wrong about anything ever).

I am not who I was thirty, or even ten, years ago. I won’t be of the same mind always as I go forward.

That which is me is always me, and it’s only for the privileged few to know. But who I am in this life changes as I learn and grow, as it should, and when I am in a growth spurt – as I am – is not the best time to try to pin me down.

I am just rambling, you think.

No. I’m thinking. On paper. If you’d been paying attention, you’d have figured that out about me already.

And you should try that sometime. You might learn something.

 

*Memoirs should be saved until one is old enough that one no longer worries about the fall out of being frank and having opinions about one’s one life and experiences. Just my opinion, mind you.

Remembrance Day


Until 9/11 the day known as Veteran’s Day in the United States, where I was born and raised, was just a day. Nothing particularly elaborate or widespread.

You knew it was a federal holiday by the absence of mail and the dutiful coverage by the media of ceremonies here and there.

Politicians, of course, pandered.

But really, it was not a big deal.

The attack on the Twin Towers in NYC changed that a little bit but it was still hit and miss regardless of the impression given by the media down there.

When I came to Canada, I discovered the true origins of this day*, and the fact that in some countries around the world – Canada being one of them – Remembrance Day’s meaning is kinda like the Grinch’s observation about Christmas – “maybe, perhaps, means a little bit more”.

Life doesn’t come to a complete stop for Remembrance Day in Canada. In fact, it’s not even a statutory federal holiday. But it’s important.

Not because – as some people (politicians especially) would like us to believe – the fallen soldiers of our too numerous wars died defending “freedom”.

They didn’t.

Soldiers die because politicians fail.

They fail to negotiate, compromise and find equitable resolutions to vexing problems. They fail to think in terms of years and decades out as opposed to between now and the next election. They fail to understand that war’s human cost is seldom worth whatever short-term solution was gained. And finally, they fail to do what they were actually elected to do, safe-guard our freedoms themselves through their words and deeds.

Every time a soldier dies, somewhere a politician’s karma gets deservedly more muddy.

Remembrance Day is important because we remember how awful war is by recalling the bright futures that never were. The young men and women who didn’t come home to family and friends. The waste. The horror. The destruction. The fact that freedom wasn’t democratically defended and promoted but was used like a blunt instrument on the landscape, lives, hopes and dreams of people we don’t know. Whose strangeness to us made it “okay” to destroy their homes and kill their children.

And we should remember these things. It’s a painful and humbling reminder that we haven’t got it all figured out. That we are works in progress, and at times, our progress hasn’t been for the greater good but for greed, power and the right of the conqueror to force his will on the unwilling.

My father and my uncles fought in World War II and in Korea. It changed them, or so I am told. I only knew the men forged by war not the men they were prior to war. I recognize what a great loss that was to me and for them.

I wear my poppy in the weeks leading up to Remembrance Day like many, many others. I observe the day as do most of the people I know.

But I don’t think the day was ever meant to be about honouring as much as it was meant to be about remembering what was lost. Who was lost. And why we shouldn’t let war be the habit it has become.

 

*It’s amazing what you can learn about history when you leave the United States, where history is told in a way that is good for Americans and shorter on fact than a Texas social studies curriculum guide.

Why Can’t I Quit You?


I watch the doings in the House of Commons. Question Period. Debates. Members addressing green chairs.  Even when I don’t watch, I follow the pundits on Twitter who live tweet the House and the various committees and press conferences. It’s a good way to stay informed. To know what the government and our representatives – and no, they are not one in the same – are up to.House of Commons

Often they are up to nothing. That is to say, they have work to do, but they err on the side of doing as little as humanly possible for as long as possible. Whether this is good or bad depends on your point of view and who the government of the moment is.

The government of the past eight years has been the Conservative Party of Canada. Not to be confused with the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada, which exists now only at provincial levels. The Conservatives lead by Stephen Harper are not progressive and find the whole notion of Canada as progressive and terminally left leaning (which it is) something that should be slowly, carefully and methodically excised. If they could euthanize the idea of the common good, they wouldn’t blink while doing it.

So, naturally, when I decided to get my politics back on, I didn’t go with the sitting government.

At first, I scoped out the Greens. Not because I have any natural affinity for them but simply because I could. They exist here as a real political party. In fact, had I the option of exploring the Bloc Quebecois (which only exists in Quebec), I would have checked them out too because I like to be as contrary to the status quo as I am legally allowed.

But the Greens were a no go, sadly, I  cannot lack enough sense to truly buy in. Greens are not practical enough for me and yes, I do believe that one can be progressive and practical at the same time. Greens, however, don’t. Or at least they appear not to and when you try to point out the contradictions between their first world lifestyles and their politics – well, that’s a conversation that has nowhere to go.

Liberals or the New Democratic Party (NDP) then.

And I watched them both in the lead up to 2011.

The NDP emerged, for the first time, as the Official Opposition and the Liberals faced a catastrophic collapse that left them with a mere 34 seats in the House of Commons.

Neither was a surprise.

The NDP had a very charismatic leader, who has since died, and the Liberals were being lead by a Canadian academic who’d spent the vast majority of his adult life living outside of Canada. In fact, he currently teaches at Harvard. More American than I ever was.

I pondered the NDP for a nano-second following their ascent, but I am an Albertan – and my father’s daughter. I simply cannot embrace in your face socialism, or even take it seriously as a good idea, because it hinges on the misguided notion that people will always, or mostly, default to their better instincts and act accordingly, which just isn’t true.

People can and are usually decent, but not when it comes to the common good. This, I think, is because it is difficult for humans to really work up a “give a fuck” about anyone they don’t know.

You will argue with that that this isn’t so.

Look at all the concern for the Gazans when Israel was bombing the crap out of them.

And Israel is still containing the people of Gaza in their open air prison, systematically knocking down their cell blocks one neighborhood at a time. Children are still in danger. Where are the headlines? The tweets? The outpouring of concern? Outrage? Anything?

It’s no surprise. No matter how immediate the various medias make the disasters and tragedies of others seem, inevitably the pull of the reality around us – filled with the family, friends, neighbors and co-workers who make up our real worlds – will be what matters most to us.

Still don’t believe me?

How’s Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine going? It wasn’t that long ago when Putin – not Hamas or now ISIL – was the Big Bad.

What about those poor Central America children pouring across the US’s southern border?

Ebola ravage West Africa?

All horrors have their moment but the moment passes once we get tired of tweeting and liking and the MSM has found a new story to boost the ratings up again once we’ve tired of the current calamity.

Liberals then.

Their Americanized (the kiss of death in Canadian politics) leader fell on his “sword” and resigned after the party’s implosion on 2011.

Just an interesting aside. Here, losing by a big margin means party leadership will be changing hands. It’s a given. You simply cannot lose big and stay on as the leader of your party. Bad form.

The Liberals had an interim leader and then a short leadership race.

Aside again. Most races are short. Even an election takes weeks as opposed to the marathon of months and years that it takes in the United States.

A new leader emerged. Justin Trudeau.

Trudeau’s father was the late Pierre Trudeau who was also once the leader of the Liberal Party and Prime Minister from 1968 til the early 80’s.

Justin was born while his father was in office, which in Canada doesn’t translate into an inevitable career in politics with dynastic aspirations, but in his case, it has.

Political dynasties, however, make Canadians itchy. After all, we have a Queen and a royal family. We are not keen to crown another or several others.

As I mentioned in my post the other day, I spent some time sizing up Mr. Trudeau. I found him … not blatantly insincere nor idealistically offensive, and he appeared to have some common sense.

He was a teacher. I liked that. Though he didn’t teach very long, which made him a bit suspect and worse, being a Member of Parliament is the only job he’s held for more than a few years. It stunk a bit of Barack Obama, a bad sign.

But he was not Stephen Harper, which is probably the most appealing thing about him. His chief good quality. Followed up with that fact that he seems genuinely committed to staying away from the mud pits of politicking, and since I hate partisan politics and all that goes along with it – I was game.

Canadians are fed up with Harper and Canadians (I love this about them) make it a habit to hand over the keys of 24 Sussex (the Prime Minister’s official residence in Ottawa) to someone new on a regular basis. Prime Minister’s and their parties are like litter boxes in that they should be dumped out regularly to prevent … stinky-ousity.

I joined the Liberal Party a year ago.

I volunteered. I sit/sat on our riding’s executive board for the Liberal Party. I helped with the social media.

Today, I am quitting

It wasn’t one thing. It was a lot of one things.

It was the wishy-washy stance on Gaza over the summer. The lack of detailed policy on just about everything. The infatuation with Barack Obama (and yes, I put up with that from the get go, and you all know me. I loathe Obama and everything he stands for and to hold my nose while his campaign team riff-raff infiltrated and advised Trudeau and his people was difficult. I held me tongue a lot. Yes. Me.)

But this last weekend as the “should we join the new Iraqi war coalition or not” thing began to play out and Trudeau’s tepid performance – and good gawd was it a performance – drove it home for me that I can’t stay a Liberal.

Not officially.

I am still more liberal than not. I absolutely object to the idea that not being socially backward or religiously bent disqualifies me from being practical, fiscally responsible and generally and firmly planted in the realm of common sense. You don’t have to espouse conservatism in order to lay claim to wit.

But, I am simply not a sheep, and I’d have to be a really blind one to stay a member of the party.

Today I followed the debate in the House of Commons on the NDP’s proposed amendment to the Conservative’s Iraq motion.

The Conservatives spouted nonsense mostly, though Laurie Hawn seemed a less ideologically driven yes-man than Pierre Pollivere, who will rot in the lowest level of hell if there turns out to be one.

The NDP, mostly made sense, if moving in a perpetual circular motion in the hopes that others will eventually hop on the merry-go-round with you makes sense.

The Liberals seemed to have left their C team on the floor. I won’t critique them any farther than that.

The vote – on the amendment  – as Canadian participation in the US’s latest mistake in Iraq is a forgone conclusion – will be tomorrow.

The Liberals have withheld their approval, as have the NDP, but I will go out on a limb and say that they will vote with the Conservatives on the overall mission and with the NDP on their amendment, which will probably lose because the Conservatives won’t support it because they don’t have to.They hold the majority of the votes.

And off we will go to Iraq to fight the “war on terror”.

A decade-ish ago when George W. Bush first uttered that mangled bit of English, did you think it would still be hanging about like a stray cat?

Even if Trudeau hangs onto his dignity and votes against the Iraqi action (and I don’t think he will), I am still done.

Because where was our fearless leader today during the debate?

He was attending one of Hillary Clinton’s Canadian book tour stops at Canada 2020.

Seriously. He was.

Took his wife. He gets a point for that.

But much as I loved Clinton back, back in the day. She sold out when she took the job with Obama. She’s tainted and willingly so.

A woman does what a woman has to do to get ahead in a man’s world, but doesn’t mean I have to respect her for it.

Saddens me. Once upon a time, I would have voted for Clinton, but that was when I was an American and younger.

I am a Canadian now. Older. Wiser. And nobody’s sheep.