Monday, September 26, 2005

One Two Three Four! Bring Them Home And End This War!

This past weekend has been an important one for the anti-war activists who want an end to the Iraq war. On September 24th, hundreds of thousands of people demonstrated in Washington D.C. and cities throughout the United States. Similar demonstrations took place in Canada and other parts of the world. Other events have been planned throughout the weekend, but the message to the British and American governments is clear: end the war now.

Americans, by and large, are now opposed to the war, and that isn't going to change any time soon (with the possible exception of them becoming even more opposed). The Sheehan campaign has had an impact on this. She wanted Bush to tell her to her face why her son had to die in Iraq. She's not the only grieving relative, but her campaign has put a human face on the tragedy in a way people can relate to.

Yet despite the support she's receiving, some political advisors think that there's something laughable about a woman who wants to know the truth about why her son was killed. I think the fact that she was arrested shows the fear the Bush Administration has of her. She's clearly struck a chord. Add to that the fact that the pundits who have been criticising her for not supporting the War on Terror. Personally, I question whether or not the pundits are serious about winning the War on Terror, as they could be much more effective by enlisting to go and fight instead of talking into a TV camera.

This weekend, the anti-war movement sent Bush and Blair an important message: we're here to stay.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

25 Years Later, And Still Running

Today many people from across Canada and around the world participated in the Terry Fox Marathon of Hope run for cancer reasearch. This is a run held every year in late September in commemeration of Terry Fox. Fox was diagnosed with bone cancer at the age of 18, and lost his right knee because of it. While in the cancer ward of the hospital, he was struck by the suffering of the children that he witnessed, and decided to run across Canada to collect donations for cancer research. He started his run on April 12, 1980 in St. John's, Newfoundland. Aside from raising the profile of the need for cancer research, he was also an inspiration; someone people could believe in. Unfortunately, he never made it. On September 1st of that year, outside of Thunder Bay, Ontario, he learned that the cancer had spread to his lungs, and despite the treatment, the cancer took his life on June 28 1981, at the age of 22. Yet, every year, in late September, people still take to the streets to raise money for cancer research.

Last Fall, the CBC held the Greatest Canadian contest, in which Terry Fox came in second. Fox, however, was my top choice. He was a man who had big dreams, and many obstacles placed in his path. Yet, he went out to fulfill his dreams, and never allowed the obstacles to stop him. This is especially remarkable because of the obstacles placed in front of him and the numbers of people who allow themselves to be held back. Even though he never completed the run he had hoped, he was a good example of perseverance through adversity, a legacy which still lives on after 25 years.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Four Years Later: Are We Safe?

My answer: no.

Most people reading this can tell you exactly what they were doing when they heard about the planes that slammed the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and a field in Pennsylvania on this date four years ago. We can still remember the shock and the horror of having such an event happen on this side of the Atlantic, and we felt deep sympathy for the attack's victims. People did what they could, including such things as donating blood, giving to charities, and attending rallies in support of the victims.

Naturally, people felt a great sense of confusion, vulnerability, and fear. Yet unfortunately instead of showing leadership, the American government manipulated those emotions in a sick game to increase their power. Linking dissent with sympathy for the terrorists, Bush ploughed forward with his own agenda. This resulted in the American government violating the rights of its citizens (and the citizens of other countries) and starting a war against Iraq, even though Iraq posed no threat and the weapons of mass destruction to this date have not been found Bush promised that this was going to keep everyone safe from the terrorists.

Yet, a few weeks ago the United States was confronted with another disaster. Hurricane Katrina slammed the south coast of the Gulf of Mexico, causing much destruction of property, chaos, and conditions that resemble that of a Third World country. While the hurricane was a natural disaster, the aftermath did not have to happen. The Houston Chronicle in 2001 stated that damage to Nouvelle Orléans after a major hurricane ranked in the top three of catastrophes that could hit the US, the other two being an earthquake in San Fransisco and a terrorist attack in New York City. Yet, the money that was supposed to be used to build up the levees to better prepare the city, and the National Guard whose job it is to respond do such disasters, were sent over to Iraq.

Hurricane Katrina clearly shows where the priority of the Bush Administration isn't: keeping Americans safe. Bush will talk about the importance of capturing those dangerous terrorists, even though the US has gone four years without such an attack, where people in other parts of the world are happy when they can go four days without that happening. Throughout history, rulers have held onto power and justified their abuses of it by claiming that it was necessary to keep the people safe from an enemy. Unfortunately, unlike a terrorist attack, Bush can't try to sound tough by saying he'll round up those responsible. But don't worry, we'll just pray for the victims, and all will be fine. (Has he read James 2:14-24?)

This tragedy and its aftermath speaks for itself to the hollowness of any claims that Bush is looking out for the American people.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Life, Liberty, And The Pursuit Of Leisure: Happy Labour Day

What happened last week in Nouvelle Orléans was a severe tragedy. My sympathies to the victims of the tragedy, and I salute the efforts of the professionals and volunteers who have been working to help those affected. If you wish to help, you can do so here or here. Now, as for this week's entry:

The Labour Day weekend traditionally marks the unofficial end of summer. School starts up, as do many activities that were suspended over the summer. In an odd way, it's as if the Long Weekend is a kind of demarcation point between the time for vacation, and the time for work, which ties into the origins of Labour Day in a roundabout way.

Labour Day is a day to recognise the struggles of the Labour movement, the gains that have been made, and the challenges still ahead, and these are important issues. Despite the crap that comprises the best-selling career advice books, many, if not most people, dislike their jobs. For them, work is necessary in order to eat. Yet, people also have other interests. These interests include such things as family, recreation, hobbies, education, community involvement, and vacations, and they are very important. However, pursuing interests outside of work can be difficult in this day and age. Many people work 2 jobs in order to survive, and we are now working longer. This not only reduces the time for off-work activities, but increases our stress levels.

Much of it indicates a change in mentality. Going back to what I said about Labour Day being a demarcation point, that springs from a mentality that there is a time to work and a time not to. The traditional full-time job leaves you free in the evenings, weekends, and holidays to do as you wish, and our culture once respected that. Today, everything revolves around convenience; the so-what-if-it's-2-am-you-get-that-product-delivered-to-me-by-8-am mentality. We feel we have a divine right to have all of our desires gratified this instant, and get angry when we find that the stores are opened limited hours (if at all) on holidays. What effect does that have on the people who have to work to bring us what we want, not to mention our own health levels? I accept that emergencys creep up at all times of the day and must be dealt with promptly, but why does it seem that nothing can wait until Monday morning after the weekend to be dealt with? Are we that impatient?

We had to fight for such things as weekends and vacations, where we can just relax and enjoy oursleves with the people we love, and it's important not to take that for granted. With that in mind, Happy Labour Day!