Some Brief Thoughts on Playing Politics as a Team-Sport

Politics are often referred to and thought of as a team-sport, and I think that’s actually a pretty good comparison since in both politics and sport you have groups of people working together towards a common goal, and very often there are winners and losers of varying degrees in every outcome. I think that the problem in the current political climate is that a lot of well-intentioned people have forgotten which team they are actually playing for. I am going to use hockey to explain what I mean here, but you can really use any team-sport that you want as this is universal to pretty much all of them that I can think of.

In hockey, you’ve got a group of people who are all playing together with the thought of winning and getting their team higher in the standings so that they’ve got a chance to hoist the Cup at the end of the campaign. On this team you’ve hopefully got one or two superstars upon whom you can count on delivering, but those superstars couldn’t do anything without the rest of the team behind them. The basic structure of this team is divided into two parts – You’ve got the offense who are tasked with scoring goals and getting the points to move the team up the chain, and you’ve got the defense whose job it is to stop the other team from likewise scoring and furthering their own chances. The two halves cannot compete independently of each other – they need to work together in order for the team to succeed. It doesn’t matter how many Gretzky-level players you’ve got on your starting line if you don’t have strong defense and goal-tending to keep the puck out of your own net when the other team gets a shot, and no matter how weak the other team may be, opportunities always arise. That’s what makes sports so exciting. Point is, it doesn’t matter how many goals Matthews scores for the Leafs if Andersen can’t keep our net secure and empty as well.

Now let’s apply this to politics, and for the sake of this mid-term election day we’ll call this team America, although this applies just as easily to Canada, the UK, and every other democracy just as the sports analogy works for basketball, baseball, or football as well as hockey. On this team, you’ve also got an offense who we will dub the Blue as Liberals tend to be more progressive in their leanings, and the Red as conservatives tend to have more defensive or, um, conservative ideas about governance and try to conserve a status-quo more often than champion for social change. Please know that I am stating this without judgment, that’s just the way the two ideologies tend to work. Regardless, if it makes you uncomfortable, feel free to switch the colours around if that makes you happy, but the idea I’m trying to get across here is that we once again have two different parts of the same team who are supposed to be working towards the same goal, which in this case would be seeing America win.

The problem as I see it, however, is that in the current horrendously divisive political climate, the offense and the defense seem to have forgotten that and have started playing as their own teams, and even the most moderately capable coach or leader would tell you that a team divided can never win. I think that a lot of people have gotten so entrenched in their sides, be it offense of defense, that they’ve for whatever reason decided to ignore and neglect the fact that they’re all supposed to be on the same team, and they all have the same goal – For their homelands, the real team, to be both competitive on the world stage and prosperous within their borders. Your line can’t win unless the rest of the team is able to produce, so instead of letting our goalies hate our own wingers to the point where they won’t even pass them the puck, we need to remember that things go better when we all play together with the true common goal in mind. It’s a big world and there are a lot of other teams out there trying to get up the ladder, so if we don’t all start coming together as a team and understanding that the offense and the defense need to start playing in tandem then we’ll have no one to blame when we lose but ourselves.


These Were Supposed To Be Some Brief Thoughts On Socialism But I Clearly Need An Editor

First of all, I don’t want anybody to feel personally attacked over what I’m about to write about. This isn’t pointed towards any one person, nor even a couple or a few, but rather should serve as a blanket to all. These are just my thoughts on the discussion some people are trying to create on my social media, and rather respond to every one individually or call out their names for fear of either embarrassing them or myself, I’m just putting it all down here instead. Also, I felt that since this new meme seems to be so prevalent, it made more sense to put it all down at once rather than as a reply to so many people’s posts as there were quite a few and having a bunch of running debates on Facebook is not how I want to spend my time.

Over the last few days, I guess since the Conservatives started falling behind the NDP in the polls in the Ontario Provincial election, I’ve been seeing a lot of hyped up rhetoric espousing the evils of Socialism, some even going so far as to say that the ideals of Socialism threaten the very fabric of our civilization. These memes haven’t just been coming from one or two people or just the usual right-wing right-fighters who like to share some of the more inflammatory or trolling things, but they’re also coming from people who are either generally usually quiet on social media or at least don’t post things of a political nature on a regular basis, so it really got me thinking. I’ve been trying very hard over the last little while to stay out of political discussions and debates on social media because it really bothers me that people get so offended or hurt over conversations with otherwise good friends or loved ones to the point where they stop talking, but this anti-Socialism thing seems to be starting to take root, and I’m really trying to find a way to say this non-confrontationally, but those of you who are saying and sharing these things either really don’t mind being blatant hypocrites, or maybe you’re just not thinking about what you’re saying before you say it? I don’t know because I’m honestly puzzled and can’t figure it out. I mean, you do understand that without Socialism, we can’t have a functioning society, right? You have to know that, right?

For the sake of knowing that I said it at least once, Socialism in its simplest explanation, means that we pay taxes to the government, and the government provides us with the things we need to make sure we can live and thrive. Pretty much every government and political system works this way to one extent or another – liberal, conservative, capitalist democracy, communist, even some of the more benevolent dictatorships. That’s the framework of society and of the civilization that it’s apparently somehow threatening. Socialism. Society. Kind of go hand-in-hand when you say them out loud together, no? Just like ‘Michelle, my belle,’ these are words that go together well.

Now, just because I’m using this as a bit of a finger-stretching exercise, I’m just going to riff off and list some of the things we all get to enjoy because of socialism, like paved roads bordered by electric lights and traffic signs and signals to keep us from crashing, clean water in my tap and shower so I won’t smell as much as I constantly fear that I do, police and firefighters and emergency workers for those times when I hopefully never need them, postal delivery so that my lazy ass doesn’t have to go to some sort of far-away depot to pick up my packages while getting all sweaty and smelly again using those good old paved roads I mentioned a second ago, public parks so that I can go read a book beneath a tree in a bounteous and beautiful garden or go adventuring and camping up north if the urge ever comes upon me, and oh yeah, a nice healthy military to keep me safe from those bigger threats that give me nightmares and keep me from sleeping well. And, of course I can’t forget, here in Canada, fully funded healthcare for when I get a scratch or worse.  Not bad. Despite some of my personal qualms, I’ve got to say that when my wife got sick a few years ago and then suffered some pretty severe complications, I was sure pretty happy that her seven weeks full of surgeries and seemingly endless tests and procedures cost me a great big ball of nothing, y’know? We’d already paid for it. Thanks taxes!

But the part that really got me thinking about those anti-Socialism memes I was seeing, and I must stress that there were well over a dozen of them which is probably why I started noticing them, was that every single person who posted them have benefited from the social aspects of our society far more than I ever have or will, and that’s what really made me question if they actually considered what it was that they were saying. I don’t have kids. Every single one of the people who posted one of those memes that I saw has at least one child. All of them. That means benefits I’m paying into that they’re receiving include: the zero dollars it cost to give birth to their babies, those lovely baby-bonus government checks they all receive for each of their kids (unless, of course, you donate those to children’s charities because you don’t want the government’s assistance or you believe in giving back or something, in which case, good for you!), their child’s entire healthcare through to adulthood, and for some reason two different school boards so that their kids can get the best education public money can buy.

That’s right – For me, Socialism kind of sucks because I’m paying into so many of the more expensive services that I am never going to be using, and yet, for some ridiculous reason, here I am defending it. Crazy, right? Except for that it isn’t crazy. It’s part of living in a safe and healthy society, so I’m okay with that. I’d rather your kids be in school learning how to be productive people than on the streets all day doing whatever it is that a city full of uneducated children with too much time on their hands would do. Just the same way I’m okay with my tax dollars going to help feed and shelter the less fortunate because, to put it bluntly, if someone is put into the position where they have to steal or commit a criminal act to eat or feed their family, then they become an even bigger burden on society as we’ll need more police, a more robust court system (again, funded by public money), and of course the cost of keeping someone in prison where they’ll end up getting that proverbial loaf of bread anyhow, only now it has to go through many more hands and therefore costs a lot more public money to provide it.

The other thing I’ve been seeing on some of these shares is the fear that Socialism leads to government corruption. Well, I don’t really know how to respond to that except I guess to ask you to show me a political system that doesn’t come with that threat, because as I see it, as long as you have people in power there will always be the potential for them to take advantage of their positions. We just have to pick the candidate we like the best and speaks most to our values and hope that we get it right, and if not then we boot them to the curb and get the next best person into the chair and hope that they’re not as bad. We do have the power to do that, and that’s a good reminder to the corrupt that their power is only as fleeting as our collective electoral whims – Just look at the Ontario Liberal Party’s polling numbers for an example of that. Sorry to her supporters, but it doesn’t look like Kathleen’s winning anything.

Seriously though, I hope I didn’t offend anybody too much, but I just felt it needed to be clarified. Also, I’m not writing this to tell anybody where or how to vote. I’m just trying to say that when you make blanket statements like ‘Socialism Is Evil’, you’re kind of telling me that you either don’t know what you’re talking about, don’t care to know what you’re talking about, or don’t mind if you look kind of foolish in some sort of effort to take a stance against what you perceive to be your opposition, and I know each of you and you’re all better than that. I mean that wholeheartedly. If you’re against the NDP in this election then say you’re against the NDP, but don’t say you’re against Socialism because if you live and enjoy your life in this (or any) society, you’re clearly not. No matter who gets your vote, you are voting for a Socialist system. Understand that. Complain about specific aspects of that system if you want, but to call Socialism evil and to call for its abolishment is clearly against your best interests, so maybe hone your arguments a little better, I guess? I know we’re living in a time of misinformation, fake news, and ‘alternate facts’ or whatever, but come on.

Unless you’re one of those crazy left-wing Antifa Anarchists who want no form of government at all, of course. Those guys and the Fascist Dictators at the other end of the spectrum are really the only ones who are against Socialism.

If you made it this far, thanks for reading. Peace and love. And in this case, Socialism.


Amend

AMEND (verb) –

  1. To make minor changes to (a text, a piece of legislation, etc.) in order to make it fairer or more accurate, or to reflect changing circumstances.
  2. Put right.

Stop telling me that the Second Amendment is sacred, as though written in stone like words on high given with divine providence.  Saying that – believing that! – shows that you either don’t care, don’t want to care, have no ability to critically think, or have just simply given up in defeat.  It can be changed and it must be changed, and that very needed change is implicit in the word itself.  Amend – To change; to put right.  I mean, come on!  Do I really have to spell it out here?  The Second Amendment itself is a change from the original, apparently not so Almighty Constitution, so if you can’t recognize that it’s time to amend again and pass laws that will stop this insanity from recurring, then shame on you and the world is worse from your willful blindness to see what’s right in front of your eyes.  With the current laws, it was illegal for this kid to buy a handgun, but a high-powered assault rifle is no problem?  Are you fucking kidding me?  It’s time to amend the amendment.  It’s well beyond time to make things right.

This is not directed at any one person in particular, but rather in response to far too many comments I’m seeing all over the internet today. I know I have gun enthusiasts and responsible owners amongst my friends, and I’m sorry, but your hobby kills and needs to be taken more seriously by many of your peers.  I have friends and loved ones whose kids go to that school.  I was as terrified yesterday watching the news as I was seeing the plane smash into the second tower on 9/11.  Maybe more, actually, because I had real faces and names of people I know and love to add palpably to my fear.  I still can’t come anywhere near imagining the horror my friends were going through yesterday waiting to hear if their children – THEIR CHILDREN – were going to come home from school alive.  My anxiety was as high as it has ever been, so to even try to imagine theirs?  Impossible.  None of my friends lost their children yesterday.  Some of their friends were not so lucky, and that spilled blood is on many hands.

And please don’t anyone come back at me with the bullshit about the need for an armed militia in case the government goes off the rails. Your government has weaponized drones, heavily armoured tanks, a goddamned air-force, chemical weapons out the wazoo, and the ever-loving atom bomb. Your assault rifle is a stick and a stone in comparison and you know it. And if your argument to that is that you need to be prepared to stand against your government and therefore the laws should be even looser, to put it bluntly, you’re an idiot. A dangerous idiot.  To be on even-ground with the government you’d basically need to allow anyone to own a nuclear bomb.  Anyone.  The dumbest and craziest kid you knew in school.  Your argument is foolish and moot and you know it, and the current gun laws in the United States as they stand today are flat-out insane, and you know that too.

I end this as I often do with the urging to call your representatives, local, state, and federal, and make some noise.  And if turning a whisper into a shout doesn’t work then buy a bloody megaphone.  They can’t ignore you if you don’t let them – it’s their job.  The gun lobby may have more money, but the people have more votes and the smart politicians know which one is really worth more.  Your voices will be heard if enough of us are all wailing the same thing.  Push them to make the change.

Amend.  Put it right.


Remember to Love

There seems to be so much anger in the world right now. So much frustration. So many feeling the need to lash out because so many of the things we believe to be righteous and just are being threatened and pissed upon by so many others. We’re all afraid. The very cornerstones of our society, of how we function as civilized human beings, seem to be under a relentless assault and it feels like the other-side has us all held in the ever-tightening grip of a vise, crushing, smothering, choking, until there’s nothing left to do but try to yell loud enough to be heard over the pain.
And, why? Why are we all always fighting? What do we want?

We want to make the world a better place. We want to make sure our loved ones can walk the streets safely. We want our families to grow and thrive in a world without fear, and we want the children of tomorrow to inherit a planet where they can raise children of their own to hold and endeavour toward the same or hopefully even higher ideals. We want our governments to protect our rights and allow us a chance to achieve our dreams and pursue our picture of happiness. Most simply put, we all want to live as good and nice a life as possible.

I think all of that is fair to say for around 99% of us, no matter which side of any spectrum you may adhere to. We all want a better world, and we’re all fighting for a better world. The only problem is that we don’t all agree on what that better world should look like.

Gun control, religious persecution, gender inequality, racism, global climate change, political ideology, Betty or Veronica. These are all arguments I’ve either participated in or at least kept a keen eye on over the last few days (weeks, months), and over every one of those topics, things quickly devolved away from respectable debate to personal attacks and name-calling. It’s sickening. I guess we’re at a point in our culture where we’d rather insult and attack rather than give credence to the idea that there might actually be a point to what the other person is saying, even when we disagree. Alternative facts and fake news aside, The “Us vs. Them” dichotomy has become so incessant in Western Society that I think we’re all forgetting that before there was ever a “You Against Me”, there was an “Us”.

Community. Human Kindness. Respect. Brotherly and Sisterly Love. We’re all fighting for the same things, remember? We all have the same goal. We may have different opinions on what the perfect world looks like, but how will we ever learn to work together to get there if we neglect to remember the fact that we all have similar visions of the results? We need to keep in mind that there are many more strong and fundamental things that hold us together than there are those attempting to drive us apart, it’s just that those negatives always seem to have a louder voice as we tend to take the good that comes easily for granted.

I’m not saying anybody should stop arguing, and I’m not saying debate should be quelled, and I’m not saying that people shouldn’t stand up for what they believe, nor should they stop speaking out whenever they perceive injustice. I would never say any of those things. I am saying that while we’re doing all of these very important things, we need to remember to love. We need to remember to respect. We need to remember that we’re all a lot more the same than we are different.

I’ve had a few pretty heated conversations over the last few weeks. Specifically a few that really stick out with a couple of my cousins on both sides of my family, and while we disagreed, at rather high volumes at some points, we always ended with a hug and saying “I love you”, because at the end of circular arguing we knew that out of all of the facts we had been spitting at each other, that was the only one that really mattered. Even on Facebook and over social media, the few times I allowed myself to take the bait and sink my teeth into one of these frustratingly endless exchanges of bickering right-fighting, I made sure to conclude each of the conversations with a note of respect and friendship because I recognized that feelings were starting to get hurt (mine included), and the last thing I ever want to do is to purposefully hurt someone I love, no matter how upset or angry I get. Love is supposed to be bigger than a difference of philosophies. I think we all need to keep that in mind.

Defend yourself, defend your opinions, defend your beliefs, but most importantly, defend your love. We all only need to agree on one thing in order to be able to start moving forward together towards learning how to agree about others. So please, as I try and fail not to be all maudlin and sentimental, please remember to love.


How I Think Donald Trump is Going to Make America Great Again (not a satire)

For those who know me, that’s probably a pretty shocking title to see coming out of my pen (or, keyboard, as the case may be). For those who don’t know me and may have found this blog by accident, first let me say hello!  Hi!  My name is Jamie and I am not a fan of Donald Trump.  Like, at all.  I believe that he is a bombastic, bigoted, billionaire boy’s club blowhard and a bully who is only interested in his own self-edification and aggrandizement.  If you’re wondering why I believe these things, it’s because I have eyes.  And ears.  If you’re a supporter of his, that’s fine, and I hope and pray that your man proves me wrong, but in the twenty-five or so years that I’ve been aware of his existence, dating back to when he was nothing more than tabloid fodder set up by his PR team to try to make a celebrity name for himself around his highly publicized divorce from Ivana, he has done nothing to dispel me of the notion that he will.  If anything the last few years have only made him worse, turning himself from a B-rated circus sideshow freak into an A-rated circus sideshow freak in the Oval Office.  If you’re okay with celebrating someone who brags about grabbing your wives or daughters by the genitals, or stereotyping Mexicans as criminals and rapists, or any of the other asinine and insane things he’s said over the last few years that I don’t have time to get into because I’m just quickly spitting this out on a short break from work, but if you’re okay with those things, I suppose that’s between you and whatever compass of morality and common decency you adhere to, but I know that it’s not the same as mine.  Doesn’t mean that we can’t be friends, but we should probably avoid discussing politics, and you’ll understand if I keep my mother, sister, wife, and nieces away from you.  And don’t give me that line about locker-room talk.  I’ve been in plenty of locker-rooms, and while some crude things were thrown around, I never witnessed anything on that level of pure creepiness and narcissistic self-assurance.

So, if I am so diametrically opposed to Donald Trump and just about every single thing he stands for, why the hell am I writing a blog about how I think he’s going to make America great again? That doesn’t make a lot of sense, does it?  Except for that it does.  You see, I’ve spent the last couple of months since the election experiencing a myriad of emotions.  First, just feeling defeated that the election went in the opposite direction of my personal values – I believe in openness and inclusion, I believe in freedom from persecution, and I believe that all are equal before the law, but instead the election, and the reaction to Trump’s ascension, went a little backwards from those values.  It was a sad time, and then it was an angry time, and there may have even been some feelings of metaphysical malaise mixed in there as well.  And neither the news reports about his cabinet picks, nor his reactions to celebrities and comedians making commentary on his actions and opinions only made those feelings worse.  I don’t have kids so I may be off the mark, but he comes across as a petulant toddler throwing a tantrum because he was told that he had to wait until after dinner to have his dessert, but dammit, Donnie wants his ice cream now!  Waa!  Donald Trump is reactionary and dangerous, and as of tomorrow he will be one of the most powerful people on the planet.  Terrifying.

Okay, yeah, I think I’ve established that I really don’t like the guy, so why on Earth am I sitting here on the day before his inauguration finding myself filled with a great amount of optimism? Seems kind of counter to everything I just wrote down, doesn’t it?  But it isn’t.  Because, you see, I have not been alone in these feelings, not by a long-shot!  People are angry, they are scared, they are fed up, or to put it in acceptably geeky pop-culture terms, they’re mad as hell and they’re not going to take it anymore.  In the last two months I have seen people organize, I have seen people get engaged and involved, I have seen people from opposing walks of life come together in protest and I have seen that with my own eyes.  Today on the news, I see people in countries all over the world gathering together in solidarity for women’s rights, getting ready to march against this crude excuse for a man, this snake-oil salesman who somehow scammed his way into the highest office in America.  I see anger and despair being transformed into a fighting spirit, I see apathy melting away and being reborn as passion, and I am filled with the joyful light of hope.

Do I think the next four years are going to be easy? Nope.  Not even a little.  And I expect to be angry a lot, I expect that I’ll be screaming at my television on a fairly regular basis during the six o’clock news, and I expect that things are going to get worse before they get better.  But, my American friends, you’ve got this.  Stay involved, express your outrage when appropriate, engage your local and state representatives and don’t stop engaging with them, stay in communication with each other, and continue to stand up every time they try to shove you back down.  They may be the Right Wing, but that has never meant that they’re right, and you’ve shown me over the last few months that you’re going to do whatever you can in your power to prove them wrong, and that’s amazing!  I honestly never would have expected it after surviving through the Bush II years.  But this guy, your new President, and let’s get this straight, whether you think he’s legitimate or not, he IS going to be sitting in the chair of the President of the United States as of tomorrow, is so divisive that people have just had enough and are finally making their voices heard in tones both loud and proud, and that is how Donald Trump is going to make America great again.  Good job, Donnie!  Go get ‘im, America!