Tag: Blog Action Day

Blogging will save the world..

White Butte

I was accidentally put on a ‘panel of experts’ discussing homelessness at a recent documentary release. Politicians mingled with professors and service providers in an eatery that neighbours the dry men’s shelter. Concerned citizens arrived early to bounce pleasantries off one another, nibbling on fine sausage and kalamata olives. I showed up late, downed a whiskey to calm the nerves, and shook with anxious rage throughout the entire documentary.

The panel discussion concluded past its allotted time, and the moderator hurriedly spilt the plan, funding model, and hopes for the upcoming year in the industry of homelessness, with no one really understanding what it all meant. The crowd left restless and confused as to how to help, and the panelists left more disgruntled than before, and a month later, mid-October, there are still people sleeping in the alley in Regina.

As a white male, when I speak, people generally listen. They listen for two or three sentences until they realize that I don’t know what I’m saying, then they rightfully daydream about food and sports and sex. On this year’s Blog Action Day, a day where organizers attempt to unite writers under one socially-driven topic (a day that I use the prompt to get off my ass and write something off-topic), people were asked to consider the title Raise Your Voice. Writers, artists, and journalists have the responsibility to tell the stories of those who are unable to do so. But an important part of this is to give people the platform to tell their own stories. Those whose voices need to be heard—the marginalized, the people of colour, the refugees, the LGBTQ2, the Indigenous, the working class—are denounced because a wealth-driven patriarchal society determines whose voices have worth. For completely unjust reasons, I have a voice. Instead of only ever using my voice to amplify the voices of others, I attempt to use my voice and my actions to create a place where others can be heard without need for amplification. When you create a place where people have inherent value, their voices will inevitably be heard.

To Raise Your Voice in the digital era by blogging, sharing, liking, or ranting is as effective as leaving scraps of paper with motivational slogans blowing in the gutters. Divisive and irritating, the internet only further entrenches beliefs and perpetuates ignorance. While speaking on the panel I kept repeating this idea that we can pressure and lobby government until our heads explode, but that this is only one, arguably ineffective, means to creating change. That the only way homelessness and class-divide will end is through a system-wide change, altering how we treat and relate to one another, and changing the wealth and social inequalities that oppress minorities. I left the event feeling empty and sick, for I sounded like a politician—pushing for an idea while offering no tangible examples of how it might work and while participating in no organizing that may lead realization of the idea.

Appealing to the judicial, legislative, or executive branches of government in the hope of reform is as realistic as accepting the offer made by the March Hare during the Mad Tea-Party in Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland:
“Have some wine,” the March Hare said in an encouraging tone.
Alice looked all round the table, but there was nothing on it but tea.
“I don’t see any wine,” she remarked.
“There isn’t any,” said the March Hare.

-Hedges, Wages of Rebellion, The Post-Constitutional Era, p 61

On Thanksgiving Monday I biked to the advanced polls to participate in the experiment of democracy. My hands numb in the wind, I waffled left and right each time I saw an election sign posted in a front lawn, truly not knowing who’d get my vote upon arrival. I’d rather waffle left. I voted in a way that reflects my values. I voted in a way that is considered a throwaway. This is because I do not believe in the ability for real reform under the current economic system in which the major parties function, but I simultaneously participate in this economic system and rarely make an effort in being a part of breaking it down. When I raise my voice but drink my sorrows, doing nothing to participate in making true change, I am complicit.

Later on Thanksgiving Monday I lost a game of cribbage to a person who I’ve only known for a few months. It definitely wasn’t the first game of crib I’ve ever lost, and sure, I gave away several pairs of sevens to the crib. After he pegged out and we congratulated ourselves on a game well-played, I laid on the floor and watched him paint while we listened to new Northcote and RahRah. My new friend has been housed for three months, homeless for years before that, and still requires regular and extensive assistance to live a healthy life. I am extremely privileged to be employed by one of the few places that actively works to repair the damages caused by the wealth inequality synonymous to the capitalism, however, continually cleaning up the messes left by a system that purposefully destroys the lives of a particular cultural group is ineffective. Working within the current system is necessary to a point, but a total dismantling of this system is required to ensure real, lasting equality.

There is no morality in words. Morals are behavioural, based in how a person acts. A person can raise their voice to the heavens while sitting in their recliner. If you raise your voice without breaking a few walls, no one outside your already-converted group will hear you. Breaking walls means breaking laws, breaking norms, supporting (verbally and physically) oppressed minorities, and thinking outside of the “cult of the self”* in which we find ourselves.

And I can say with certainty that I’ve never broke down a wall in my life…


Coffee is a human right.

Coffee is a human right, we decided at work today. We have a coffee room so that the ultra-marginalized can have access to that steaming, aromatic, bold flavour to start each morning. As a non-coffee-drinker, coffee is far from something I would ever consider an important provision. Treating people as they ought to be treated, whether or not they can afford to purchase the right to be a customer of a Robin’s Donuts, is an important necessity, however. And if some foreign, non-fair trade caffeinated liquid does that, if coffee does that, then I guess I can support it. Treating people as humans even if they cannot participate in a market economy is a human right, thus, coffee is a human right where I work.

Water, actually, is a human right. At work, we have cancelled our water service from Nimbus, one of those brilliant companies that sells necessities to spoiled morons who don’t know that it is essentially free in half of the rooms of their home. We cancelled the Nimbus because of cost, but in my mind, because of the classism that comes with letting only staff drink filtered moron water. I drank tap. Water is a human right, but it can be classed.

Housing is a human right, though most forms of government act as if it weren’t. They watch, coddling the testicles of ‘the market’ in one hand, creating sub-committees out of thin air with the other hand, and let the erect shaft of the market decide. The market, therefore, decides what is a human right. Water and coffee don’t stand a chance.

The topic of this year’s Blog Action Day is human rights. A few hundred or thousand hack writers delusionally pretend that a cob-webbed corner of the internet constitutes a conversation. The internet is a tool of monitorship and distraction with the veil of community and connectivity. Blogging will not save the world. Forms of virtual kudos and sharing will not save the world. Change.org petitions will not save the world. Blog Action Day will not save the world. You will not save the world.

Nor will negativity. But nor will the market. And if we continue, as a human species, to live on hope and the poor writing of laypersons on the internet, if we continue to rely on shit media campaigns to start conversations, then sweet fuck, things are going to take a while.

Blogging for human rights could be equated to smiling to end racism, or clapping to apartheid, or patting yourself on the back to start a revolution.

Coffee is ready. (This coffee was brewed with good intentions and paid for by the market.)

Blog Action Day 2012 – The Power of We

In my career as an eligible voter I have celebrated no victories. Not a single representative I have voted for has been elected, not a single party I have supported has won. On the contrary, they have usually lost quite successfully. I am well aware that my beliefs and values do not reflect those of the majority, Balls of Rice and my voting record reflect that quite well. This has all led me to a familiar cynical place where I have found myself many times before, for many different life issues. The Underdog Syndrome, where whenever I cheer for the underdog, they are doomed to fail. Sports, nerdy gentlemen in a bar, elections. The principle is the same, and my support seems to kill it.

Because of my lack of success in democracy, I have been debating whether it is worth my time to vote at all, not out of apathy or resignation, but as a form of protest. Because the voting system is off, and democracy is nothing more than choosing between egotistic businessmen who are often charismatic beings, but not exceptional people who love people—the wealthy who are already in positions of power, but want greater power to create greater wealth, and yes, I have a hard time not seeing all political leaders in that way. I still do believe that one human being should not and cannot properly represent an entire population, and that it is possible for there to be order and progress with no single person in charge. I’m still stuck on this one, but until I decide, I will continue to vote.

Then I came to understand protest. Dissent. The Occupy Movement, which many see as a futile collection of hippies, bums, and anarchists who decided to join together in several groups around the world to be able to collect welfare and charity more easily. A group of undemocratic urchins who, if they really cared about the system, would pull themselves out of the mire and contribute to society in a pragmatic, businesslike way. And this is likely why it resonated. Groups of likeminded people gathered to express their dissatisfaction with the structure of the system, the inequality and corruption. My ability to relate to such a movement likely came from my upbringing and affinity with the punk scene. Coming together in hundreds of different communities with no clear goal apart from stoking the young flames of revolt. Disapproval shown in groups of people physically gathering together. It felt right.

Despite the overly utopian seeming title of this year’s Blog Action Day, I have grown to understand the power of groups of people that come together with dissent, goals, and hope in common. The more I see the importance of participating in politics, the more I see that this means something greater than simply voting when an election is called. Although I will likely never in my lifetime see someone I voted for in a position of power, I can rest comfortably knowing that other actions can be taken. That groups of people outside of the realm of electoral politics can change policy, and are often necessary to do so. Regardless of whether or not my vote will ever be on the winning side or not, it is evident that the solidarity between groups of people is equally as important as being politically active. A group of people with a common goal may not make an obvious difference, but it always has the power to make a significant one.

When the cops and the courts refuse to confess the sins of the few, what is there left to do? The answer’s there right before your eyes: rise.

Propagandhi, Note to Self, Failed States