About sqedmonton

Community Developer, Actor, Director, Father, Husband, Beer Snob, Fisher of Fish, and a creaotr always thinking about the next project.

Day Eleven – Us? Really?

Head in sand

What do you know about Belarus? Until I looked up some history yesterday, I knew very little. I did know that more than one million Belarussians had died during World War 2 and that 209 of its 290 cities had been destroyed. I did not know that it took until 1971 for the population of the country to reach the levels it had previous to World War 2. This is an old country that goes back to ancient times. It has been invaded by the Mongols, The Russians, The Poles, and Germany twice. They were a part of the founding of the United Nations under the hammer and sickle of the old USSR. It wasn’t until 1990 that they declared themselves an independent and sovereign nation. It’s a country with a long, bloody and heartbreaking story which today is again faced with brutality and oppression.

You see there was an election when they declared independence and since then a dictator has been in power. This man has been accused by every major reputable human rights organization of fixed elections, abuse of the population, and in recent days unleashed the apparatus of the states security forces on its people. The people of Belarus rose up in protest when this tinpot dictator declared he won the elections again. The people demanded proof of his win and his response to tell his police and security forces to aim their weapons at the protesters and fire.

Now before you shake your head and say wow that’s terrible and sigh in relief that this could never happen here let me remind you of the fact that we are not that far away from these kinds of actions where you live. If you are blessed enough to live in one of the western democracies, then consider the following. The President of the United States ordered his security forces to arrest and detain protesters in Seattle. The Black population of the United States is detained by security forces and locked in prison at a rate so much higher than the white population that ti is in itself a crime of oppression. Oh, and we can’t forget The Presidents efforts in the last few days to make sure the postal service can no longer treat mailed in ballots as priority mail. You may vote by mail, but it may not get to you and back to be to the ballot counters in time. to make a difference.

Now some of you in Britain my shake your heads and think wow I’m glad we don’t have any of this here, but I need to remind you that you are the most video surveilled nation on the planet. The United Kingdom also has had the interference in your elections that was suppressed until after your current Prime Minister was elected. And lets not forgetting that the ruling party bald-faced lied to you about what would happen if you didn’t vote to leave the European Union. Now in Canada, we often feel pretty smug about how we govern ourselves, but my fellow inhabitors of the Great North let me suggest to you that things are not what they seem.

Of course, you’re aware of the pathetically low turnouts we have for our elections especially given the issues we face, but we must also remind ourselves that we incarcerate our indigenous populations at a shamefully higher rate than our white populations. You may also be aware that our Black communities are stopped by the police twice as often as whites, and have a lower life expectancy than the white population. Also, when it comes to our leaders they, as the current Prime Minister has demonstrated on multiple occasions, lie to us again and again and again. So let’s not feel to smug here in maple leaf world.

Ok, so what’s your point, man. Well my point is is that we, the electorate allowed this to happen. We allow the lower class to become homeless, we incarcerate non-whites, we allow the lies to go unpunished from our leaders, and we allow the rich to get richer and the poor to get poorer. Now for those of you who say there’s nothing I can do about this let me remind you of two vast and powerful tools you have at your disposal. The first is the power of your voice. If you want our society to be more just, more equitable, and for people to have a great chance to succeed in their lives, then speak up and say so. Democracy allows us the freedom to use our voice in criticism on the streets and through the written word. The other powerful tool you have is your vote.

If you show up and vote, then you have moved your words of change to actions that will change the way we are to the way we want to become. It’s not hard, and it’s undoubtedly a clear way to make progress in a world that seems to be moving backwards rather than toward the future we all hoped for.

But, if we continue on our current path, then the future could one day very soon look like that current reality of Belarus. So take the time and join something that leads to change: a political party, a community group, a church. Join them in the conviction that you are using them to change the current trajectory of our democracy rather than let them slide with a whimper into a much more hopeless future.

Day Ten – Salt of the Earth

  • the-salt-of-the-earth

Just got off the phone with my father in law. He’s a salt of the earth kind of guy. He’s so proud of his kids that he can’t sit still when he’s talking to you about them. He has dedicated years of his life to working with his church and community on projects big and small. He’s not the kind of guy to be at the front of the stage on the mic telling you how great he is or giving you some speech on whatever the topic de jour is. He is not the leader, the generalissimo, the grand poobah, the boss, the chief, the numero uno. No, not him.

He is the guy you ask to help you when you need a hand to get that large thing off the truck and into the back yard. He’s the kind of guy who never complains about the chores his wife gives him. Ever. He’s the guy that works diligently in the background, and without whom no project big or small would get done. He’s not flashy and never demanding. He’s just a very decent man who is grateful o God every single day for his life and his families success. He’s a salt of the earth kind of guy without nothing happens.

I love him and deeply respect his commitment to his family, community, and faith. Perhaps it would surprise you, or not, to know I am a non-believer and if I am non-believer why respect this mans faith? Because it is honestly earned over years of prayer, faith, and thought. He doesn’t have a hateful bone in his body and really, really loves his fellow human being as he would be loved by them. Open, honestly, and with a significant depth commitment and faith. Again he’s a salt of the earth guy.

While I have much clear criticism of the Boomer generation one of the things I can not fault them for or the best of them as evidenced in the life and work of my father in law, was their commitment to his family, community, and faith. Often with the courage to question about their views and assumptions. Without these best examples of their generation so much would not have gotten done and so many rights we take for granted would not exist.

So after hearing his voice this morning and taking the time to hear his stories and opinions on the world and its effect on his community. I am forcefully reminded by his decency and compassion. His life has been far from easy, his challenges personal and in work have been at times overwhelming, but through all of that he soldiers on. Not for himself but for those he loves.

If I achieve only a 1/10th of his life work, then I will count myself lucky, and if I can reach the back 20 of my life and be as wise as he is, then I will be blessed indeed.

He’s a slat of the earth kind of guy without home nothing gets done and without him, change for the better never happen.

Day Nine -Apportioned Blame

nofault

ON CBCs Ideas last night I heard Anand Giridharadas (@AnandWrites) brilliantly lay out the argument around the 1%, Charity, and how they have corrupted the process of Government. An amazingly brilliant articulation of a problem I have been thinking hard about for several years. It drove me to buy his book Winner Takes All which I started reading last night. Again brilliantly and cogently written so far. Anands writing feels good for me to read. It reinforces and illuminates much of what I have been thinking for decades. But in his interview on CBC he forgot to include a more critical group than the wealthy and powerful in his criticism. He forgot you and me.

The 1% got rich and kept getting richer, by changing tax laws and infiltrating college and universities. Whose fault is that? If we have believed that Government is a force of good in the world to the now of business is more efficient at solving problems than Government then whose fault is that? If we think that social investment bonds are the way to solve societies, most pressing social issues rather than the spending our taxes whose fault is that?

Wages have not increased significantly for the average Canadian in 2 decades. Whose fault is that? Young people can not afford to buy a first home. Whose fault is that? There is a 20% child poverty rate in my community. Whose fault is that? Rich people fought against more transit locally so that those with our cars couldn’t ride the bus with more ease and reliability. The wealthy won. Whose fault is that? We think that Government is untrustworthy, the system is rigged against us, that we can’t get ahead, our media is corrupt, and that our leaders are not to be believed. WHOSE FAULT IS THIS?

We allowed our social safety nets to be degraded, our infrastructure allowed to crumble, to let the elderly be abandoned in homes during a pandemic, our leaders to act in corrupt ways, allow the rich build their wealth to heretofore unthinkable levels while the lower 50% of us have no longer a clear path to fulfilling the promise of our children having it better than we did. Whose fault is this?

We used to charge the wealth a 90% tax rate. When did we let that change? We used to tax corporation appropriately. When did we make that change? And when did we believe the still unprovable drivel that business was more efficient than Government? We need to stop believing in the hype, like social impact and social enterprise, that I am more important than we, and start remembering that the only power we have to make our world better for our children is through hard work and a fair chance to build our children future. Well, we’re working harder than we ever have before but a fair chance? No, that we don’t have. Because we let those with money and power bamboozle us with ideas that are provably untrue.

It’s time to correct the course we have wandered down these last 40 years and begin a process of self-correction where our children and our neighbours are more important than wall street, corporations, and what the wealthy think. They only way you can do this is with your ballot at the voting booth during an election. You will be amazed how fast those elected folk will change their tune if you forcefully demand it as an electorate.

Take your beliefs by the scruff and drag them into the light of day and give them a good looking over. Then reclaim the franchise of the old and ignored democratic process. Dust it off, give it a shine, and use to it to make the world a more just place with an equal opportunity for all—a better place for you, me, and our children.

After all, we need a better tomorrow, don’t we?

Day Eight – Neither Fair nor Fowl

 

 

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Is my town like yours?

My town, London, Ontario, has a population of about 400,000 people who politically either lean right or left depending on the mood. We have a river that runs through our town. We have a hockey arena downtown and a sort of chic market. Our main branch of the library is pretty cool but resides in a failed mall. We do not have a particularly inspired set of political leaders. They go from the petty and corrupt to the genuinely caring and engaged. Our wealthier neighbourhoods are hotbeds of NIMBYISM where they will drop a few bucks in the Sally Anne kettle at Christmas, but you try building something in, or at the edges, of one of their neighbourhoods to help the neediest in our city and you can expect an avalanche of opposition. Charity and helping people is all well and fine but keep it out of our sight seems to be the message.

Our city has 20% of our children living in poverty and a Food Bank that grows and grows and grows in response to the demand from our citizens. We do not have a very strong local arts scene. We have some amazing visual artists in London, for which we a have a world-class history, but generally, we import our talent, and almost all of our young artists go elsewhere to train and live.

Our transit system was the focus of a 3-year battle that really was a proxy war for two different political tribes in our community—the Progressive and Conservative. The result was one of the most brutal arguments, filled with lies and deception, that resulted in a kind of kludged solution that will ultimately serve no one, especially those that need transit the most. It was likely the most divisive political event to happen in our community in more than a decade that was full of sound and fury ultimately creating nothing.

Our town has a history of serial killing.

No, really it does. London, Ontario was at one time the serial killer capital of Canada. Weird eh?

We have, at times, an incredibly generous response from Londoners to emergencies. Like the time the whole town came together when a drunk driver rammed into a house that caused a fire and almost destroyed an entire neighbourhood. Hundreds of people came together to offer food and comfort and their own homes as a place to stay. We also volunteer almost more than anywhere else in Canada. We are the longtime champs of volunteerism as a matter of fact.

Parts of our town are so pretty they take your breath away. We have some of the most gorgeous neighbourhoods in the whole of our country, and the Thames Valley Pathway System is and treasure that needs to be protected and enhanced. We have these collections of natural parks and sites that are unique, and the neighbourhoods that surround them are stalwart wardens for them. They have driven off many a developer. And our downtown recently went through a transformation that was both inspired and will lead to a more robust downtown.

My town is ultimately directionless when it comes to longterm thinking. Its political seasons are filled with arguments for or against taxes. Candidates and incumbents jostling for position and advantage but rarely talk about big ideas and bold visions that chart a course to economic and community growth. When those people come along and propose a bold vision or clear path, there is inevitable a feeding frenzy on local radio, or from former reporters, that shoot it down. Not a good place to have an idea and stick up your hand, London Ontario, lest it is chopped off and shot down.

In the end, my town is neither fair nor fowl but a directionless beige that doesn’t dare to be something more but can still show flashes of brilliance now and then. It is a place of the middle. A place that is and is not.

Is my town like yours?

Day Seven – Economics you Don’t Know

audience auditorium bleachers chairs

Photo by Tuur Tisseghem on Pexels.com

Many have a sort of bi-polar view of the life of an artist. On the one hand, they think they are starting in foreign garrets, serving tables, doing menial jobs, yet, on the other hand, they believe they live a jet-set glamourous life. People also have a bi-polar view of the arts as a sector. On the one side, we shouldn’t pay for it form tax dollars and on the other that it’s nice to have around. There is then the bi-polar view of those that attend the arts. On the one hand, they’re rich, snobby one-percenters on the other weird druggies dancing to thumping music at 4 in the morning. None of these descriptions is accurate. None of them tells a story of being an artist, being an arts supporter, or the benefits we get as a country when we invest in it.

To be a professional artist, you have had to study with the intensity of an engineering student while allowing yourself and your work to be criticized in class and in public daily. When you’ve finished studying, formally or informally, then you have to be an entrepreneur and sell a commission or land a gig. Landing the gig will often mean surveying a series of predatory, humiliating, and distracting people who know what’s best for your career but will lead you down a path of pain and woe.

In order to make a professional arts organization work, you have to be continually applying for funding, engaging the public, trying not to offend the politicians, competing against the other acts orgs in your own, and keeping the lights with an overhead cost of less than 6%. Not something a so-called “real business”. could do. And then you will always be facing the kinds of questions from funders that many other non-profits don’t have to face. So you’re expected to have answered to a faceless bureaucracy to a level of detail most non-profits never have to.

Then there is the funding itself and the views of the politicians and their woefully uninformed opinions. Using there limited understand they then engage in decisions that have life-changing consequences on individuals and an industry they have not even the remotest understanding of. As opposed to what many politicians say, that the arts are a luxury, The Ontario Arts Council shares that “Ontario’s arts and culture sector represents $26.7 billion or 3.5% of the province’s GDP and almost 300,378 jobs. This “industry perspective” measures all of the culture sector’s output – including both culture and non-culture products (e.g. a theatre company may generate GDP from both ticket sales – a culture activity – and food and beverage services – a non-culture activity).” 

Further, they do us the favour of comparing this to other major industries and, in what will be a surprise to many, the Arts outperforms numerous Ontario economic sectors. For example “Ontario’s culture GDP is larger than that of the accommodation and food services industry ($16.2 billion), the utilities industry ($14.6 billion), the agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting industries combined ($7.4 billion) and mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction ($6.9 billion).”. In my home town, our local Arts Council created a report and shared that culture generates “$540 million per annum”. So lets put to rest the ridiculous notion that the arts are a luxury but is, in fact, an economic engine in Ontario.

Yet during this pandemic where is the support for the Arts and its vital economic and community contribution to Ontario. Our government gave some money to the most significant arts org in our town, one by the way that has its own foundation, but there was not a penny for the small and medium orgs. Not a penny from a Federal Government for the ongoing support of artists who will not qualify for unemployment benefits. Nor supports for all those professional Arts teachers at the post-secondary and community level who do not qualify for EI. No support from any level of government anywhere I can see that steps into the breach and supports the cultural industry during this time of pandemic in the same way other economic sectors are. 

No, there is a double standard for to the arts; be it from politicians or arts funders or you the public. Artists add more than so many other parts of our economy in terms of real dollar for dollar impact, but that doesn’t matter does it?

No. 

After all the Arts is a nice to have not a need to have. 

Isn’t it? 

Day 6 – Saturday Virus Coffee Special

close up photo of coffee on table

Photo by Vova Krasilnikov on Pexels.com

Gotta say I am thrilled my daughter is not in school anymore. The thought of her going into those school hallways and classrooms would have had me feeling very anxious. But I don’t have to make that choice though sadly many of you do. Our governments have made this a lot easier, have they? Across Canada, there is a variety of approaches, none of which particularly install confidence.

Here in my adopted Ontario, Doug Ford has come out with a plan that has been roundly criticized by the Toronto School Board and by Sick Kids Hospital. Not a great signs of a winning strategy. Also, the need to open up the rest of the economy seems to be precipitous. I’m not convinced we’re through the first danger far enough yet to start opening everything back up, and yes I know that our economy has been brutalized. Still, I’d rather see a closed business than a life lost.

Add to all this the misinformation that comes out every day from that trusted news source Facebook friends. It’s no wonder people are confused and feeling uncertain. Yesterday someone who was in high school with me, who you would think would know better, sent me a private message with a news story insisting that the WHO had changed its mind about Carona Virus and it wasn’t contagious at all ! And now the WHO was being muzzled from telling the truth.

REALLY?

REALLY?

What I don’t understand is why so many people buy this kind of deliberate misinformation. With just 5 minutes using the goole, you will find the story debunked, verifiable sources for true information, and a host of stories about how this kind of pernicious mistelling of the truth damages our democracy. Yet there’s an old high school classmate blithely serving up a great big serving of self-delusion and misinformation.

Look the thing is I can be both cynical, in terms of school and business opening, and be for factual and accurate information. I don’t have to go over to crackpot theories to feel vindicated in my thinking. You don’t have to either. We should be able to hold two simultaneous points of view from slightly different perspectives.

In the end, what I say, and really what you say, matters not a wit. The government will do what they feel is best and everyone else will, or will not, obey safe distancing and mask-wearing. There will be decent people believing conspiracies and misinformation. Me? I’m going to enjoy the tomatoes growing in my back yard, wear a mask when in public, and cynically look at the information that comes my way. The only other choice is to listen to the conspiracists, and that does not serve my time or focus.

So onward and outward (inward?) friends. Saturday awaits, and so does my morning coffee. But you know did hear that the coffee plantations are using aliens to……….

Day Five – Hearth and Home

bed bedroom blanket clean

Photo by Burst on Pexels.com

I woke this morning anxious. Many of you may how woken up the same way. Anxious about our children, anxious about our finances, anxious about friends and family, and anxious about the state of the world. I awoke this morning anxious. What I was not anxious about this morning was that tonight I would not have a roof over my head and a bed to sleep in.

But for many in Ontario this week that was not the case. Ontario’s Ford government decided that they no longer needed to use their power to protect people who were economically devastated by the Covid pandemic. Decided that landlord could now evict those people who had no way to pay their rents. Decided that despite the worst economic hit to our country since the great depression, the people in Ontario who couldn’t pay their rent could be kicked out onto the street.

Last night I wondered how do you respond rationally to a leader who allows this to happen? How do you give a party which marches in lockstep with that leader a fair hearing? How do you not see them as indifferent and callous? How do you not see the Ontario Conservative Party, Or the Republican Party in the United States, as a moral threat to Human Decency? I don’t know.

We here in the little berg of London, Ontario, see homelessness every day. We also have our share of indifference to homeless people as evidenced by the crackdowns our city governments have had on homeless camps. We don’t have a solution to housing in our town either. But as much as I disagree with our Major and a number of our Councillors, they did not actively create a law to make it easier to evict people onto the streets. Doug Ford, Premier of Ontario, did just that. And in our town, and your town as well, we will be left to inadequately pick up the pieces of Mr.Ford and The Conservative Party in the desperate form of more homeless people.

In a month or two, you’ll likely forget about this issue, but those people who were evicted will still be without a home. And so we go on. And so this cycle continues; A cycle of politicians, emboldened by the people who elected them, cutting services and protections for the most vulnerable in our community while the rest of shake our heads and wag our fingers for the prescribed amount of virtue signalling before moving on.

I woke up Anxious this morning, but I did not wake up homeless. This week thousands of Ontarian’s will and you and I allowed it to happen.

To say shame on us somehow feels pathetically inadequate, but it is all I have.

Shame on us.

Day Four – What Dreams May Come

Last night two separate things happened. While on the deck, just before I went to bed, I looked up at the stars and thought I don’t think I’d like to go Space. It has no mystery for me, but it does for some, and one day they will get anywhere in Space they want to. The second thing that happened was a series of dreams. I dream very, very vividly. They’re like watching a movie for me. In one of those dreams for some reason, I was on an old 1950’s greyhound bus travelling to Jasper Alberta. But on the way there we had to cross the U.S. Border for 25 mins. So we had 25 mins to hit a 1970’s U.S. shopping mall. After a little while, a group of U.S. marine drill sergeants started screaming at us to get back on the bus. We had 25 seconds. My adult daughter, a slow mover, was nowhere to be seen. I was waiting at the door to our bus, and there she was slowing walking toward me from 50 yards away with three marine Sargents’ screaming at her to hurry up and get on the bus. Then a buzzer went, and I was screaming at her from 50 yards away as they dragged her off.

Why I am I telling you about my thoughts on space travel and my bizarre dreams? Well, in the case of space travel, I realized that the much harder journey was not outward to Space but inward. Gaining the knowledge and skills to understand ourselves and overcome our sometimes violent, selfish, and angry natures. In the case of the dream, I was in that most inward of spaces, a dream, and rather than defend my daughter or rescue her, I was unbelievably furious. I was angry and woke up in the night very angry at her.

This morning as I lay in bed on those precious 3 to 5 minutes when consciousness has just arrived, and you begin to consider the night that past and the day to come, another thought occurred to me. Anything we humans can think of we can eventually create. Someone thought of the need to cross a river, and from that, we have colossal ocean-going vessels both above and below the ocean. Someone once thought of the idea of flying, and sure enough, we fly. We wanted machines to make work for us easier, and we created those, and from there devices to help us think faster, and sure enough, we have them today. Will we have teleportation?. Sure we will. Will we be able to live entirely in virtual environments wholly separated from our bodies? Yep, we will. Will he be able to travel to stars and then sit inside them. Yep. Time travel? Sure. Faster than light travel? Yep. Overcome poverty, the destruction of the environment, end disease? No problem – we could do that today if we wanted to.

How about peace? Understanding? Love for our fellow human? Equality? End Prejudice? Create a harmonious world?

Well…..

And there’s the rub. When I woke up last night, furious with my daughter, I realized the important journey is not one to the stars or toward some brighter technological future, but one toward a more humane human race. Do we have the self-control or self-awareness to travel the universe when we have such indifference toward one another? Can we handle the responsibility of immortality when there are black people in the streets telling the rest of they are not treated with equality or equity? Can we handle the vast potential of artificial intelligence when allowing ourselves to be manipulated into believing monstrous lies on Facebook?

No, I don’t think so.

But what if we ever do harness our own potential for love and compassion and self-awareness? Those would be dreams of which we can’t even begin to conceive.  Wouldn’t it be audacious of us if we started that journey to those stars? That would be a journey of discovery worth making.

Day Three – Left To Our Own Devices

 

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In the town where I live, I am often very lonely. I don’t have a lot of friends here and don’t see the ones I do have very often. There are some very concrete reasons for my absenting myself from friends and why I am often lonely. This town encourages loneliness, and many, many, many people have told me how difficult they find it making friends here. But this loneliness is not only about my town but also about your town ans the fact that loneliness not only happens here but happens everywhere in such massive numbers that I think it will effect our near and long term future.

I am sure you’ve read about the plague of loneliness that has gripped the western world. I am sure you’re aware of how exasperated that is with the arrival of this virus. It further strips people of any connections they have to other people, and the result is more isolation without any hope of connections to other people. I had read somewhere recently that there has been a huge increase over the last 5 years to help lines and that the volunteers who work those lines have regulars who call every day because that is the only connection to the world they have. Did you know that loneliness can lead to an increase of 30% in early death? I didn’t, but it makes sense to me. So those people who are calling helplines as their only source of social connection are more likely to die because of how alone in the world they are. Doesn’t that break your heart?

In Japan, the lonely and self-isolating are called Hikikomori. Japan has an official number of 1.15 million Hikikomori but experts tell us that this number is more likely 10 million. These people purposely withdraw from society. They are so hurt or bewildered by the world around them that they withdraw from all contact. Shutting themselves up in their apartments, never leaving. Many times they only come out when neighbours complain of smells and authorities investigate finding these poor individuals have died. I think I understand some of the reasons people become Hikikomori. The depths of their pain and hurt must be so extreme that they would rather not see anyone. Ever.

Why I am sharing all this with you? Well because I don’t think about this issue very often and am sure many of you never give it much thought either. More importantly, I want you to consider how we got to the point where people have to call helplines in order not to feel lonely. How did it come to pass that there is such an epidemic of loneliness that it is reported in the planets major newspapers as a substantial public health issue..

I believe that this global loneliness is also linked with the rise in bullying, loss of civility, our inability to see past our own point of view, and growing seeming indifference to one another. We humans are changing friends. We seem to be more lonely, less able to see opportunities for understanding and collaboration, and hardened and indifferent to the suffering that is growing around us.

I am not sure we can change the course we are on, and I would like to leave you with a typically hopeful ending to this kind of blog, but I am not sure I can. I know I am lonely, and I know you are likely alone as well. Both of us knowing this, we don’t seem to be able to connect and change the course of that isolation. So will we become a world of Hikikomori? This may be how many people end up. Unable to cope with the shattered world around them. I hope not, but I am unsure if we collectively have a heart big enough to overcome this and the rest of our problems.

I will look out my window, watch, and see what happens.

Day Two – The Activist

 

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I know some people who think that Activist is a derogatory term. That an Activist is someone that cannot be worked with. That an Activist is a person or persons blocking progress to community-wide goals. So are activists really a problem when trying to solve big problems like food, or housing, or addictions? Yes, Activists can be part of the problem but as equally to blame are often the local Governments, Nonprofits, and Funders. But it’s easier to blame those without power than those with.

The Activist in our community is there to make you feel uncomfortable. Is there to make you recognize there is a problem you have been ignoring. Is there to force an issue, long-buried, into the light of public awareness. They are the persistent voice prodding at us again and again. Prodding at those in power and in the public that there is a serious problem that needs addressing. Activists are an inconvenient pressure that something is wrong.

As I said, I know a number of those in power, and with access to power, who find the Activist a roadblock to solving community problems. I have been told that they are unwilling to work collectively. Unwilling to work with institutions and governments. Unwilling to look at any solution but their own.

I think there is a lot of truth to this. I have known activist leaders who will not work with anyone with power or at the very least distrust those with power to do what they say they will do. I have to say though I have been lied to, or been disappointed by, those in power more often than by activists.

Activists or institutions though aren’t the real problem. No, the real problem is power. Those that have it, or have access to it, don’t want to give it up and those without want it. The result is those community problems that could have been fixed end up in disputes and bad feelings that degenerate into no solutions at all.

Someone told me recently that they thought that the Activists should publicly apologize to those with power in order to resolve the rifts of the past and get to the solutions that could help our community. What I found ironic and troubling about that statement is that there was never a mention of those with, and who have access to, power doing the same thing.

I, unlike some, want the activists in our community That have infuriated me at times. Still, they are there, day in and day out, insistently raising their voice and demanding that the decision-makers, influencers, and the public do something about the serious problems we have. After all wasn’t it the insistent voices that created the civil rights movement, women the vote, and freed India from colonial rule?

They may be inconvenient and as intractable as those with power, but I say bless the Activist. Long may they continue to be an irritant to the powerful and the comfortable. Long may they continue in their underappreciated but critical roles to our communities and long may they be recognized for what they are. The persistent voice of our collective conscious.