Apocalypse Rising

When a storm is coming, there are usually warning signs. A drop in temperature,  a shift in the wind, a greenish tinge to the sky, and a feeling in the backs of our necks that something big and nasty is coming. If we are aware, we will have been watching the warning signs building, have prepared ourselves for the storm, stocked up on supplies, and taken shelter.

There are equally warning signs when the collapse of civil society is about to happen. In Syria over the past decade, it occurred when thousands of  people moved from the drought stricken countryside  into the cities and exploded in a civil war. In Europe it happened with the rise of the far right and their fear of “the others” as expressed in their anti-immigration rantings.

In Venezuela it happened in an instant with the sudden rise of a brutal dictatorship. In North Korea, it built slowly over fifty years from narcissistic bombast to nuclear bombs. But the signs are all there: a big storm is coming.

In the United States of America, it is more than obvious in the tragi-comedy playing out daily on The Trump Show. But the irrational tweets and rally rants from a misogynistic, megalomaniac, white supremacist President are only the tip of the iceberg. More frightening are the cheers of support and chants of fanaticism coming from flag waving crowds of “the base”, the deplorables who enable this emperor who wears no clothes to rule over what was becoming one of the greatest democracies in the world.

When 96% of practicing climate change scientists say we’ve accelerated the natural process to catastrophic levels, and the President of the United States appoints climate change deniers to head up the Environmental Protection Agency and NASA, a really big storm is coming.

When crowds of chanting Nazis are given a free pass, and opponents of racial inequality are ridiculed and insulted in public, and the mothers of every NFL player who took a knee are called a bitch by the President of the United States, a storm is coming.

When a Stanley Cup winning hockey team thinks it is an honour to accept an invitation to the Trump White House, not only is it confirmation of how serious brain damage concussions are in the NHL, it is proof positive that a storm is coming. That’s right, Sid the Kid, not a lot of white hockey stars getting swept up and shot by police in Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia. Wake up boys, a storm is coming.

When Ball Boy and Rocket Man start trading insults about how they are going to destroy each other’s countries with nuclear bombs, you had better believe that a storm is coming and the rest of us are all downwind and downstream of the chaos that will follow. So, just like Winston Churchill read the warning signs and tried to warn England and Europe about the rise of the Third Reich, take it from an old storyteller. You might want to get  ready for a reallly, big nasty storm.

****

Skid Crease, Caledon

 

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Nobody’s Perfect

I’ll admit it. I am prejudiced, judgemental, and tend to sarcasm when I’m waiting for the rest of the world to catch up to speed. I was reminded of this when an article I recently wrote (Caledon Councillors Get Crackin) got widely circulated, causing some audiences to wet themselves with laughter, and others not to appreciate the evicerating humour.

My Dad had a great expression: “Let the person who has not screwed up cast the first snide remark,” … his down-to-earth take on the glass house and stone throwers lesson. My Mom, on the other hand, always went for the jugular, with a lighting speed judgment of good or evil.

I suppose this dichotomy lives in most of us, the constant strain between the light and dark of our characters, For example, when a speeding driver cuts me off, my first reaction is to pursue and get the licence; my wife, on the other hand always counters my sword of justice balloon by saying something like, “Gee, Skid maybe he’s rushing to the hospital to help his sick child.” Deflated, I slow down and take a breath.

However, for some things, I have drawn my line in the sand and picked my hill upon which to die. I am allergic to stupidity and will fight it at every appearance of its “Burn The Witch”  cattle call whenever I hear it. To be perfectly clear, there is a distinct difference between ignorance and stupidity. An ignorant person is simply unaware of the background to a situation and can be taught. A stupid person has been given the opportunity to learn and chooses to ignore that opportunity: the don’t confuse me with facts, my mind is made up mentality.

I also admit that I am prejudiced against misogynistic race supremacists and nationalists, the KKK, Nazis, and totalitarian dictators. Sorry, but the “good people on all sides” argument  doesn’t fly with the Khmer Rouge, or the Roman Catholic Spanish Inquisitors, or the architects of Canada’s residential school system, or the racists that marched through the streets of Charlottesville. Or the rat packs of stupid white men who daily pontificate their love of the alt-right perspective in coffee shops across this country.

Yes, I will be judgemental here. Your opinion is only valid if formed from valid information – otherwise garbage in, garbage out. Climate Change is real, there is no link between vaccines and autism, there is more danger of radiation from cell phones than cell towers, and Evolution is NOT a theory. The problem in getting to these valid conclusions is that there is a plethora of fake news sites and fake degreed professors who will try to panic you into believing otherwise.

So, I continue to teach and to write and to try my best to bring light into the darkness. Be warned, if I find someone beating up on a woman or child, violating the norms of social justice, denying civil rights, or generally being an inconsiderate, disrespectful, antisocial jerk, the sword of justice will be in my right hand and I won’t bother to ask if you might really, deep down inside, be like one of those good people from Charlottesville who marched proudly chanting ” Blood and Soil” and “Jews will not replace us!”

Sorry, if it chants like a Nazi, and it marches like a Nazi, it’s a Nazi. It may look like a whining old man in a restaurant, or a skinhead with a swastike tattoo, or a well-dressed politician but the mentality is still the same and deserves no place in our civil society. Silence in this case, is not golden – it is consent.

They drew a line in the sand at Vimy Ridge, they drew a line on the beaches of Normandy, Time to draw a line in the communities of Canada.

***

Skid Crease,

Caledon

 

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Caledon Councillors Get Cracking

To paraphrase Shakespeare and with apologies to Hamlet, I call upon Caledon Town Council to “Avenge this fowl and most unnatural by-law!”

Or perhaps. “To lay eggs, or not to lay eggs? That is the question.”

Alright, I may have been cooped up over my keyboard for too long, but this ongoing debate seems to be “full of sound and feathers, signifying nothing.”

Well, the chickens are coming home to roost, so to speak. On Tuesday, August 28, 2017, Caledon Councillors held a lengthy, confusing, and, at times, heated debate on the pressing issue of the right to lay eggs. Specifically, why does Caledon, a boastfully glorious rural area, not permit its citizens to have backyard chickens?

It is absolutely unnatural indeed for a rural municipality like Caledon to be dithering about whether residents should be allowed to keep backyard chickens. There are plenty of successful case studies elsewhere in Ontario. Kingston, Kitchener, Niagara Falls, Newmarket, and Guelph have all allowed backyard hens, although each municipality has slightly different rules. Urbane Brampton seems to be dealing with backyard chickens, and Toronto is wisely running a pilot project to see if it flies. So, why not Caledon?

The debate on Tuesday was very revealing. Most Councillors were trying to find a reasonable middle ground, looking to the Town staff for more details. However, there was also some disturbing misinformation and incomplete information coming from two councillors.

To save them total embarrassment I will refer to the two councillors in question only as Chicken Little and Henny Penny. Chicken Little is of course famous for “The sky is falling!” false alarm that threw the entire barnyard into a tizzy. In this case it is the threat of avian flu spreading from tiny backyard coops into the large factory chicken farms of Caledon. And, Foghorn Leghorn forbid, what if families started producing their own healthy egg supply. Why, all those huge factory chicken farms could go out of business!

Henny Penny had earlier clucked about her fears of death by salmonella poisoning. Oh, the horror! The Horror! And to the astonishment of every intelligent hen in the flock, Henny Penny added that it seemed a lot of fuss to go through this by-law process because the hens would only lay eggs for two years anyway. Hold the hollandaise!

When I started at the Mono Cliffs Outdoor Education Centre in 1986, we had a small agricultural program with a herd of Highland Cattle, and a coop of chickens. My favourite job was to gather the eggs in the morning. Some went to our kitchen, some to staff, some to friends. I got to know those Bantams and Rhode Island Reds and Guinea Fowl very well, and those girls laid eggs steadily from 1986 until I left in 1995. Sure, they slowed down in winter, and as they got older, but they had clean nesting boxes, a big run, the best of feed and lots of love from the over 20,000 students and teachers who visited our Centre over my tenure. And not a single case of avian flu or salmonella poisoning.

Of course, we washed our hands and cleaned our boots after every visit. That is exactly what the Centre for Disease Control recommends, along with not kissing your chickens on the beak, or rolling in their feces, and other common sense tips like that. So, both Chicken Little’s falling sky and Henny Penny’s egg production news were not eggsactly accurate.

When Foghorn Leghorn, the rooster responsible for the flock, asked for the names of the chickens in the flock who had been giving Henny Penny her information, she squawked, “No.” That really ruffled my feathers. So much for transparency.

I am going now to get my own protest flock from Frey Nurseries in St. Jacobs. I am naming my Golden Comets (also known as Golden Buffs, or red sex-links) after three women from Canada’s Famous Five: Nellie McCluck, Henrietta Eggwards, and Irene Plucky. The by-law officers will have to pry that organic free-range produce from my cold, dead fingers! I will not surrender their right to bear eggs.

The cluck stops here!

***

Skid Crease, Caledon

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