Canada, Life, Philosophy, Politics

My resolution

A slightly delayed goodbye (and good riddance!) to 2009 and hello (and how are you?) to 2010 post:

I’ve already made two big changes in my life this year. And I’m not one to normally use the secular new year as a way of marking personal resolutions.

So consider this just a quick attempt at improving myself and others at an opportune time.

In 2010, on this blog and in my daily life, I will do my best to kvetch a little bit less about my political opinions. (I may kvetch less, but you can be sure I’ll still be writing…)

I will try to put my dismay to more effective use, and not simply write about the injustices and issues I see. Truly, change only comes when people love something enough or get angry enough. And I’ve been pretty angry lately.

I will find ways to reach out and encourage other like minded people to effect meaningful change. I will maintain a sense of the supremacy of dialogue coupled with action.

And I will do so from a perspective that – while disagreeing with – maintains a respect for those who are politically conservative. The crux of my arguments of late against the Tories has not been one against conservative substance, rather it has been one against the Conservative’s abuse of power, their hypocrisy, their apparent disregard for ethics and law, and their role in diminishing Canada’s place on the world stage and the subsequent tarnishing of our international image.

Some food for thought as I close my commenting on the great political drek-show that was Canada in 2009, courtesy of John Ivison at the National Post of all places:

Stephen Harper is a despot. The decision to “padlock” Parliament is a cover up designed to avoid scrutiny over the Afghan detainee issue. The Conservatives have a very thin legislative agenda and no new ideas to put forward.

And that was that.

Canada, Life, Politics, The Planet Earth

Totally Isolated

Remember when Canada used to be a light to the nations? If that light is even turned on anymore, it's getting its power from some pretty nasty sources.

Last night a coalition of 450 environmental groups awarded Canada a Fossil of the Day award, given to the countries “doing the most to obstruct progress in the global climate change talks.”

It's time to wake up and see the light, Canada. We're not torchbearers anymore...

Food, Life, The Planet Earth

You should do a few things

A few days ago, I wrote about how I’ve been wondering lately when the real environmental paradigm shift will take place. The post was less of a diatribe and more about emptying some stream-of-consciousness thoughts that have been floating through my head lately, and of course, I don’t imagine to be the only one on the planet thinking about this stuff. But it’s nice to know that I’m in good company:

I remember in college, a professor asked our class to consider what our grandchildren would look back on as being backward behavior or thinking in our generation, the way we are shocked by the kind of misogyny, racism, and sexism we know was commonplace in our grandparents’ world. He urged us to use this principle to examine the behaviors in our lives and our societies that we should be a part of changing. Factory farming of animals will be one of the things we look back on as a relic of a less-evolved age.

Thank you, Natalie Portman. She was writing about her reading of Jonathan Safran Foer’s new book, Eating Animals, which I just finished last night. I’m not normally one to tell people what they should or shouldn’t do. But you should read her article. And you should read his book. And you should be prepared to question yourself. And if you’re not prepared, you should question yourself about that.

Life, Music, Philosophy

The backbeat

I love listening to songs I’ve heard thousands of times, songs I’ve listened to for over a decade, and having that moment when I hear a tiny new part in the music that I hadn’t caught before. I’m fortunate that this happens startlingly often for me.

Isn’t that kind of what life should really be like? Slightly cheesy, but totally profound and moving?

Life, Philosophy, Politics

And as things fell apart, nobody paid much attention

A pondering:

In the history of the world’s civilizations, when did the act of murder switch from being just a bad thing that was a nuisance, to something that is wholly agreed on by (sane) people to be both bad and immoral; something that merits the force of government and society at large to prevent, protect against, and punish offenders when necessary?

A corollary:

In the history of the world’s civilizations, when will abuse of the planet’s resources, wanton destruction of natural habitats to satisfy our constant need for stuff, cruelty to animals for the sake of human pleasure, and corporate control of destructive energy production switch from being seen as things that might be bad but are “necessary” to maintain the standard of living most (western) people are accustomed to, to things that merit the force of government and society at large to prevent, protect against, and (truly) punish offenders when necessary?

Put another way: we don’t have world conferences on murder. We may disagree about how to deal with those who commit murder, and the best ways to prevent it, but we’re long past debating whether or not murder is a problem, whether or not it is immoral. When will the plethora of human activities that are destroying of our planet switch from being agenda items that are paid lip service to at world summits to things that we all agree are horrible, wrong, and immoral?

We talk about a greening revolution and the resurgence of environmentalism, but there hasn’t really been a true paradigm shift. Until we look back on our history and find it impossible to believe that we used disposable, toxic, plastic bags to carry our groceries home, we’re still in trouble. Until using plastic bags is viewed as an immoral, unethical act, we’re in deep trouble. And that’s just one example.

Until we look back on our perversion of the Earth as part of our uncivilized, unenlightened past, immoral past, we’re just as bad as the Romans were when they killed humans for sport.

Life, Philosophy

I stopped

Eating meat.
Five months ago, today.
And I feel great.

At first it was entirely a personal decision. But now the ethical judgements are starting. And I truly don’t want to judge people based on their own choices.

But I’m finding that Kant is haunting me and as much as I think a lot more about what I’m eating, I’m also thinking a lot more about what other people are eating.

My body feels great. Now I need my mind to feel the same.

Judaism - General, Life, Philosophy, Politics

Dr. Maimonides would be proud

Judaism + Health Care + Politics = an equation you NEVER have to think about in Canada. Down here in Jesusland, it’s an entirely different story. If you haven’t been engrossed in the raging, virulent debate that’s been taking place the past few weeks, consider yourself lucky.

I’m not really going to weigh in, aside from stating that I generally support Obama’s plan. My only hesitation is that I don’t think it goes far enough. But that’s another post.

On the Judaism front, I’m trying to formulate a cogent argument as to why almost all of Jewish thought lines up in support of a socialized health care. For now, I’ll defer to Rabbi David Saperstein who has made the argument that the Talmud itself calls for universal health care:

“by the time of the Talmud 2,000 years ago, [the moral norms of the Torah] had developed into health care systems and rules and requirements to provide adequate health care for all people. Any community that wanted to be considered a moral community had to provide health care, had to provide health care providers. These are not new ideas.”