The Family (Or most of them)

The Family (Or most of them)
The Family

September 11, 2007

Brain Cramps, Writers' Block or...whatever






I need to lighten up and brighten up and go seek out the sun and have some fun.
I have to escape and get in shape and take a break for my own sake.
I'll be around in the background
May visit you, say howdy-doo
Until that time, here's to ALL OF YOU.

September 8, 2007

Veils and Vileness



Which of the following partly or fully masked characters/individuals will be allowed to vote in Canadian elections without removing their face coverings so they can be properly identified?








The answers, according to Elections Canada and a decision it handed down this past week, are Nos. 5, 6 and 7: Muslim women who wear burkas or other veils can vote with those coverings on.

And it's a curious thing that's both funny and ridiculous at the same time, and which has caused quite a stir here in the Great White North, especially in a province that should know better: Quebec.

Canada purports to be a nation that accepts all people, a melting pot that, some would say unlike the U.S., does not insist on total integration and instead encourages its people to openly practise their religions and live their native cultures.

In fact, because of its huge expanse and dwindling Baby Boomer population, Canada seeks out immigrants from other countries such as those in the Muslim world and in nations like India, Pakistan, China, Africa and other places.

Those people come here because we have one of the best standards of living in the world and they know they can meld into our society without giving up their religions and their cultures...or at least that's the ideal.

And because of our Charter of Rights and Freedoms, all are guaranteed those privileges. And in many ways, it's a beautiful thing.

For the most part, they DO prosper here, and with their burkas, turbans, kirpans and other religious garb.

But some argue Canada has become politically correct to the extreme.

In an era where the Muslim world is seen in North America as the heart of the war on terrorism thanks to Dubya Bush's scaremongering, people are up in arms.

There's a sense we're losing our OWN culture -- what little we have, being such a young country -- to the immigrants.

Sikhs who have joined our Royal Canadian Mounted Police are allowed to wear their turbans rather than the traditional stetson hats, for example.
Muslims wearing their traditional garb are a common sight, everywhere.

There's a belief held by many "original Canucks" that the immigrants haven't integrated into Canadian society.
That they've just moved here and are living their Indian or Muslim or whatever cultures and religions north of the 49th.

And that they haven't become one of us, really. And this Elections Canada ruling is just fanning the flames about that.

The basics of the ruling are that if a Muslim woman wearing a veil has proper ID, she doesn't have to show her face at a polling station before she votes.

All of the political parties in Canada have poo-pooed the ruling and asked for it to be overturned, particularly those in Quebec, which has a large Muslim population.

Quebec, of course, is Canada's largely French-speaking province.

A powerful political element there has continuously tried to separate from Canada and consistently maintains how unique it is culturally and linguistically, and it is.

Canada has bent over backwards to recognize Quebec's uniqueness and its French heritage.

It has adopted French as one of Canada's two official languages at an incredible financial cost, even though comparatively few people west of Quebec actually speak French.
Many non-French Canadians consider this absurd.

Some observers have pointed out that separatist Quebec politicians don't like this ruling because immigrants, including Muslims, don't want to vote for a separatist government.
They moved to Canada, after all, not to Quebec. I think that concern rings true.

Muslim women themselves who have been quoted in the debate don't see what all the fuss is about. They don't believe it's a huge issue and say they'd remove their veils to reveal their identity if asked.

Some commenters on blogs and other websites have suggested having a female electoral official on hand to look at the face of a veiled Muslim woman in privacy on voting day if there's any doubt about a Muslim woman's identity.

This seems reasonable to me.
Others have wondered what would happen if they showed up at voting stations wearing Darth Vader masks, and whether that would be equally OK as long as they showed proper identification.

Personally, I think it's a tempest in a teapot. If we're going to invite these people into our country, we can't dictate to them what religion or culture they practise, whether we agree with it or not.

If we grant them Canadian citizenship without condition, without telling them they can't hide their faces in public, then we need to do that completely and to honour their culture, whether we understand it or not.

I don't get why Muslim women need or want to wear burkas or why they would subjugate themselves to men in their culture, or why men would want to subjugate their women.
But it's their culture and I have to think they believe in it.

If their culture/religion dictates they cover their faces in public, and if voting happens in public and they have been granted the right to vote, then they should be able to do so, and that needs to be protected.

If we don't like that, then we shouldn't allow them in.
Or at least not without telling them, in advance, that we're not quite the politically correct and completely religiously- and culturally-permissive place we say we are.

September 3, 2007

Passages, Passages

I really should have done this post last November.

My son and I are both November babies...I'm a Scorpio and he's a Sagittarius, which doesn't mean a whole lot of anything.

The point is, our birthdays are 12 days apart every year. More importantly, they're 36 years and 12 days apart over the true span of time and longevity. Last November, I turned 51. Twelve days later, my son turned 15.

Numerologists might have had a field day, I don't know, about a father and son having numerically opposite ages like that (51 vs. 15) and what, if anything, it means when it happens.
I guess at some juncture, every father and son must cross that point in time.

But I missed the boat on that score last year and, near as I can figure out, that won't happen again for a long time. When I turn 52, he won't be 25. When I turn 53, he won't be 35.

However, if I make it to 62, he will be 26. If I live to 73, he'll be 37. You get my drift.

So here I am, thinking about birthdays and the chronological ages of people and what it all means, if anything. And what significance birthdays have in the overall lifespan of a human been.

Some people consider birthdays milestones to be celebrated. Others consider them to be millstones around their necks, just another step along the way to their inevitable expiration dates.

Like anything else, it seems to me, it's all about your state of mind and what's going on in your life at the time.
And it's partly about your perception about good times and bad times and what's behind you and what's in front of you.

My son is about to turn 16, heading into his first year of high school on Sept. 6. His head is spinning about what he wants to be. His hormones are hallucinating about girls, girls, girls.
His voice is still changing, his body too.

He's as tall as me but he' s physically immature and emotionally, he's a doofus like any other male teen.
Intellectually he has much to learn, but he's got a great heart and a sense of humour and an aliveness.

Everything's ahead of him.
He's super naive but that's one of the wonderful things about him, that he doesn't think he has the answers to everything. Teachers probably scowl about his work ethic and paying attention, but his friends and girls like him.

And as far as I know, he hasn't even dabbled with liquor yet...GASP!
Me, I'm on the "other side."

While my son hasn't yet developed physically into a man -- he's a beanpole but I'm pretty sure he's going to be quite a bit bigger than me -- he's well on his way and that's just around the corner.

At the same time as he's on the precipice of becoming a man, I'm losing my "maleness."

I love how my kids tease me about losing my hair, even if they can't see me cringing inside at the thought of it. They think they know what I am, in my "advanced years," even if I don't know myself.

While my son is about to gain muscle, I'm losing mine. My calf muscles aren't as big and strong as they used to be. My chest is, inevitably, starting to lose its tone. My arms are losing their bulk and strength.

Eek. It's called aging.

I can still do things a lot of 50ish males can't. But I no longer feel this sense of physical invulnerability I used to feel. And my son is, hopefully, just getting into that stage of feeling invincible, although he's not athletic.

He and I are going in opposite directions, in a sense, but the neat thing is the path he's on is a trail I've already treaded before, so he has me to guide him along the way, at least to some extent.

Of course he wants to be the big explorer, the trailblazer, thinking in some goofy way that no one has ever set foot where he's setting foot. But of course he has to feel that way, because it's his adventure, not mine.

Not that I'm not flying along with him and landing on a branch in the tree he's passing by and badgering him about this or that...he seems to accept that I'm going to do that and he listens, if only for a bit...

His 16th birthday will mean a lot of things to him: he can get a vehicle drivers' learners' permit, for one, so he will want to use my car (Yes, I'm cringing). He will want me to take him out driving.

My daughter's 16th birthday wasn't nearly so stressful to me. I don't girls have hormones? They certainly have more common sense at that age. Anyway, I think I've gotten off the topic.

I think my point is, no matter if you're 15 or 51, you're going through some passage into something else. We always are. For my son, it's a major transformation into adulthood he's undertaking.

For me or anyone else my age, especially if they're single, it's about what do I do now and who am I going to be now?

So in a sense, my son and I are going through the same things, but in some quirky reverse polarity time machine thingy.

For me, it's like a been-there, done-that, don't-make-the-same-mistake sort of thing. It's partly that I know what I like and it's hard to break the mould and reinvent. It's tinkering, not building from scratch.

For him, it's all ABOUT trying this on and shedding it, then trying something else.

He doesn't know what the mistakes are until he makes them. And as much as I'd like to prevent him from making those mistakes, I can't. Or at least anything I say probably will fall on deaf ears.

And that's OK.