Idle No More: An essay

A Tibetan monk burns himself to death in public protest. An Arab street merchant sets himself alight and touches off a series of despot-toppling revolutions.

In Canada, a native kid hangs himself. Another taunts commuters, drunk out of his mind. Many languish in prisons for stupid, sometimes vicious crimes. A chief starves herself in public protest.

I see comparisons. Self destructive behaviours motivated by social injustices. I don’t see fixes, and I don’t know that fixes could work, anyway. Attempts at assimilation only led to broken families, lost cultures, abused children and despairing adults. “Handouts” have delivered chronic poverty, marginalized workers, ignorance, bad health and corruption.

Fixes have not only been destructive of those who were supposed to be fixed, they have turned a depressing number of non-aboriginal Canadians into unashamed racists. The hatred expressed in online forums… scum of the earth… lazy, drunken, druggies… thieving band councils… It’s simply hate speech, supposedly illegal in Canada, but we kid ourselves.

So racists accuse the hunger-striking chief of secret snacking. The federal government sends in a civil service bean counter, making accusations of incompetence and theft. The Chinese appoint soldiers to douse burning monks. Assad hurls slurs at the scum opposing his regime.

None of it very helpful.

Down in the mean streets of Canada’s poverty zones, I can understand why lower class non-aboriginals are hateful and hostile toward First Nations people. They are competing with each other for scarce resources, banding together against one another, stealing from each other, fighting with each other. I think, in a way, they understand one another, too.

Middle and upper class Canadians are harder to figure. Why do so many winners see blame as the proper response to poverty, addiction and despair? Perhaps it’s fear… probably is, a bit. Perhaps it’s smugness and feelings of superiority. A bit of righteousness, too. “I suffered to get mine. You get out there and suffer for your own.”

There’s plenty of blame to go around. Lawbreakers, treaty breakers. Parasitic service professionals, welfare bums. Perverted schoolmasters, criminal gangs.

Where does that get us?

This would be a nice place to write The Answer, but there isn’t one. Maybe if we just stop doing wrong things, the situation will improve.

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