I feel the need to explain my absence from these hallowed depths of cyber-space this morning. Perhaps not enough to apologize after setting such high expectations for myself to produce something on a regular basis but explain I will in any case.
Simply put, I’ve been busy for the past week, and I’ve had very little time where I’ve been able to put fingers to keyboard and share my ramblings with you.
I was fortunate enough last week to have my nephew Steven Bowers visit my better half and me, and as always, we opened our home to relatives from both sides of the family. Mi casa es vuestra casa has been the motto in our home for the past 39 years, and it remains so even today.
I consider myself a very lucky fellow when it comes to Steve, because I consider him both a family member and a friend. Please don’t take what I’m about to say the wrong way, because all of my nephews and nieces – both blood relations and in-laws – all have a special place in my heart and my life, but with the exception of my two sons and daughter, and the one niece who lives near the National Capital and who will remain nameless in this blog and is more like a daughter than a niece, Steve perhaps has a greater capacity to put up with my BS than do some of the others. That may be his great misfortune, but I consider it my good fortune, and we had some really good chats while he was here.
Steven is a singer-songwriter of some fame who was, of course, born on the great island of Newfoundland. All of us take great pride having been born “On the Rock”, but Steven also has had the Atlantic Canadienne experience of growing up and spending his formative teen years in Labrador and New Glasgow, Nova Scotia – and later moved to the far reaches of Western Canada to practice his art in Alberta and British Columbia.
Steven is a very talented musician. As a singer-songwriter whose contemporaries include the likes of such famous Atlantic Canadian poets and writers as Ron Hynes, Christina Martin, Mary Stewart, Meaghan Smith and George Canyon, to name but a few, Steven has spent a considerable amount of time during his short adult life becoming personally and professionally familiar with Indigenous Canadians on a level that few of us, as immigrants all, ever get to experience. Needless to say, I am extremely proud of Steven for everything he has accomplished. Having spent four days with him last week, we pretty much “talked ourselves out”, and I think we both came away from his visit with new perspectives on a host of issues that will doubtlessly become fodder for future blogs.
In the middle of Steve’s visit, while trying to keep tabs on my blog and my Facebook account, I sort of stumbled into several conversations that really peaked my interest and will no doubt also become the subject of a blog or two.
On Thursday last week, while sitting in a bar waiting for Steve’s performance to begin, I thought I was checking the “comments” section of my blog when in fact I inadvertently found myself in the middle of a conversation with a bunch of siblings from my hometown, and, low and behold, it was a political conversation. Please note from above, I was sitting in a bar, so I may have been influenced by the spirit which was flowing pretty freely at the time. But inject myself into the conversation I did. I didn’t realize you were having a family discussion until after I hit send. If I have caused any offense my old friends, I apologize, but you were discussing something that I have been pondering for a long, long time.
The thesis of the conversation went something like this…..
In public life in general, and in political life in particular, we all assume a role, and 95% of everything we say and do, depending on the position we occupy, is predictable. If political roles are reversed, a person will simply say what the other person was saying or would say before the roles were reversed.
For example, the Prime Minister has a constitutional responsibility to lead the Government of Canada, and that requires that he play a certain role. To play that role, he must say certain things in the promotion and/or defense of the government he leads. The same must be said for the Leader of the Opposition, whose first constitutional responsibility is to oppose the Government of Canada. In his opposition to the Prime Minister and the Government, the Leader of the Opposition is of course predictable in what it is he says, because its his role to oppose. And the same can be said for other politicians, the media, business leaders, social activists, and so on. I’ve always found this to be a fascinating but predictable aspect of the political process, and I will no doubt have a go at this soon.
My third revelation came to light on Sunday afternoon, when I again opened what I thought was the comments section of my blog (I’ll get it right soon, promise) only to find a comment on Facebook from a family member but one who I haven’t seen or spoken to in a number of years offering me a few kind words on my blog. Now, I was suffering the effects of a great St. Patrick’s Day party, so at least to me my confusion is understandable. My friend Keith was commenting specifically on my last published blog regarding “Us vs Them”, and although I won’t quote verbatim, he made the comment American (meaning the United States) democracy was born defective. Instead of achieving the ideal their revolution only succeeded in replacing King George with King Mr. President. Comparing Britain and France, (and even Canada), the US is sort of the runt of the litter. It never did thrive. Today, in addition to being defective, it has become rather ill.
Now, dear readers, some of you know my friend Keith and the one thing I will tell you and the one thing we will all agree on is that Keith is not a stupid man, having reached the highest levels in his chosen academic field. That is not to say, however, that Keith and I agree on everything because he and I have never agreed on most matters political in nature. Never the less, I have the highest regard for his insights, and I must admit, this one set me straight back on my arse as we say back east. He has given me a lot to ponder, and this will without doubt be the subject of a future blog. And bonus! Because of my blog and the comments that were flying back and forth, Keith and Sadie (a member of that hometown family I may have offended during my first stumble) have re-connected for the first time since we graduated from high school in 1969.
Although not a productive week in terms of by blogging, I did have a great week of re-connection and reflection.
Four great days with my buddy Steve, where we talked, debated, laughed and cried and agonized over family, indigenous history, social issues and norms and indigenous government policy, climate change, sustainable resource development, and God only knows what else, because we might have been having a few nips along the way. Thank you, Steve. Your tour will be over tomorrow, and in one more sleep you’ll be back home with Kristen and Sparrow in Victoria where you belong. Let’s not wait another seven years before we do that again. And please folks, check out Steven Bowers and his new album Elk Island Park. I think its his best work to date.
A very productive Sunday (where I spent a goodly part of my day recovering from my self-inflicted wounds suffered while showing my affection for St. Patrick and most things Irish) and a very sober and restful Monday helped me put myself back on the rails.
So here I’ll be going again. Indigenous Canadian issues galore, climate change, sustainable development, our treatment and stewardship of the animals in our care, the predictability of the roles we all play when we enter public life, and of course, the state of political parties in functioning democracies. Oh Lord its hard to be humble.