Divisiveness

Everything in life which has been given importance works to divide us.

Capitalism leads to competition, it divides us into competing groups (corporations) or competitive entrepreneurs, who must each compete with each other by increasing service while decreasing cost. It is conflict which drives each market, sector, and industry. We must even compete for our jobs. We must all be better by working more and getting less value for our own time, and all for the greater good of society. Time is, after all, the only thing with which we are all born. Time is the ultimate non-renewable resource. Good is also a relative term. The more time we spend working for the good of our family, the less time we have to spend at home to raise our families properly. Since we cannot do it ourselves, the state must do it for us. Through babysitters, day-care workers, teachers, tutors, coaches, mentors, religious leaders, and nannies do we educate our children by using their morals, values, ethics, and philosophies as proxy to our own. Is this actually good? Does this lead to the betterment of society or simply a ‘lowest common-denominator’ way of looking at education. Does this improve the independance, empowerment, and decision-making ability of our kids or does it hinder their development? Increased competition has led to both parents being away from their children just to maintain the same level of comfort our parents enjoyed. We also have less time for our friends, of which we have more now. Can this be considered inflationary economics vis-a-vis relationships and familial life?

Thanks to the hightened sense of capitalistic values (or the negative view on communistic ones,) committee work is sneered at. A committee is considered to result in the lowest common denominator of the decision process instead of leading to a greater coverage of the areas involved. Ayn Rand had much to say on this subject. Capitalism has always been pitted against communism (democracy and socialism are terms of governance) as if there were no alternatives other than those two, as either can lead to fascism (which is a state solution to competition as it eliminates all forms of conflict through authoritarian rule, much like Monarchy.)

Democracy, which has become synonymous with capitalism in the west, also leads to factions: there’s the right and the left, the red and the blue, the Republicans and the Democrats, all very Jungian. Factions of factions are also present and evolving; centrist (fence-sitting,) center-right, center-left, and all the attendant sub-categories lead to more and more levels upon which to disagree. Whether you’re an elephant or a donkey, it’s always a fight against the other team (or combination of other teams) instead of working together to find common solutions.

Religious sects are a perfect example of this be they Catholics versus Protestants, Sunni versus Shia, Reform and Orthodox Judaism, or Hinduism, which is a veritable cacaphony of conflicting ideologies.

Sports, either individual or team, also bring the dualistic paradigm into sharp focus. Even reality shows are a competition. Sure, the teams must work together at times, but the end result is always the elimination of certain members such that in the end, there can be only one, the so-called winner. Victorious and alone, like the Highlander, confined to a life of solitude. This is better?

Sex is the ultimate competition. Whose genes will be passed on? What is the goal here, to solely populate the earth with one gene pool? This is surely not better. We all compete for the best mate but then lose interest after a decade or so only to start competing again, but this time with lesser resources. This has less to do with progeny than with ego, though. But ego has led to many people bringing competition in this market to the level of changing themselves physically, often with terrible consequences. Is fake ‘perfect’ better than real unique?

Everything, it would seem, is a war now. The war on terror, the war on drugs, the battle for the environment, it would seem as though the competition has been brought to its ultimate level in all aspects of our lives. Advertising displays this violent mentality better still – “We must beat the competition to bring you the best.” Wouldn’t working with the competition bring about a better deal in the end?

A good example of this is the automotive industry. It can be argued that without cars, there would be no pollution, no oil dependancy, no wars, and a lot less stress. This may be stretching things somewhat, but a case could be made. The point is that public transport would be at a far higher level than it is at today because if all those companies that try to build a ‘better’ car would have worked together and pooled their resources from the start, we’d be able to go anywhere in the world in an hour, and for a pittance. The basic structure of our thinking which has produced this economy that glorifies our duality and competitive ‘nature’ is at fault.

Is it in our nature to compete or is it more akin to humanity to work together? Different societies will have differing views on this, but beneath all that, beneath the modern constructs and psychological affectations, have societies and whole civilizations not arisen by working together? Is that not what is meant by community?

The truth of the matter is that we have been influenced, to a great extent, by those who would have us working more such that they may work less. They don’t want us working together, that’s how revolutions happen. They want us focused on bringing each other down so that we cannot climb upon our brothers’ and sisters’ shoulders for a glimpse at our own emancipation. The lazy rise to the top in our society, not the hard-working. It is always through top-down pressure that terms like team-player, overtime, austerity, trickle-down, and company-man find favour. We have been conditioned to think like those we wish to emulate. We have forgotten, it would seem, that it does tend to be lonely at the top. When team-work is given the true status it deserves, it can get to be quite dangerous there, as well.

 

 

 

Harper, the Niqab, and the Concept of Hijab

There has been much talk about the niqab as it relates to the swearing-in portion of citizenship ceremonies. Everyone seems to be missing the point on this subject, especially Stephen Harper.

First, let’s get the facts straight; identification is done through paperwork, not facial recognition. Yes, there is an aspect of facial recognition to the identification process, but ultimately, it comes down to documentation. This is very simply demonstrated with the example of triplets at the border; they don’t all use the same passport simply because they look alike.

Second, the swearing-in ceremony is a chance for people who are new to the country to present themselves as they are. It is an opportunity to introduce themselves to their peers, and if the goal is to be recognizable, then their appearance must reflect who they are even moreso than what they look like. They will not be forced to go through the procedure for a second time should they fall victim to a disfiguring injury, for example. They must, therefore, present their public face. Whether that face is veiled or not, it is their own personal choice and it reflects their own personal identity.

Third, the niqab is not a disguise. Wearing a mask at a protest march is a change in one’s public face in order to hide one’s identity. Wearing a niqab (or a burqa, chador, dupatta, tichel, snood, babushka, or veil) is a celebration of one’s cultural identity, not a duplicitous attempt to conceal it.

Fourth, there are some who would say that because some women are forced to wear such coverings by the males in their social groups, this behaviour should not be encouraged. However, this is not the issue at hand. Surely women who are oppressed by men have avenues available to them in order to help them break free from these bonds. Replacing such bondage by governmental oppression is not an acceptable option.

Fifth, a person should have the right to personal freedom of expression. Furthermore, a person should have the right to adorn one’s body as one sees fit, and to practice the religion of their choice, if this is the case. Be it cultural garb, mandated medical procedures, abortion, prostitution, or euthanasia, a person should have exclusive rights over their bodies and the way these are portrayed, displayed, treated, and cared for. If wearing something cannot be forced upon us, not wearing something should not either.

Sixth, the right to determine one’s own lifestyle should never rest with the state.

A final thought – when a government equates a form of dress with a certain pattern of behaviour, be it overtly or not, that is a form of discrimination and has no place in a modern society. Whether it is stated directly or not, equating the idea of a niqab with a sense of fear from terrorism is no different than identifying a religious group with a special ‘brand’ in the hopes of generating the same feelings of uneasiness. We should all be disgusted that some feel this debate is necessary or even appropriate.

Update – Zunera Ishaq just took the oath of citizenship while displaying her niqab-adorned ‘public face.’ This represents a victory for human rights in Canada, although, the court decision risks being overturned when a new government is elected.

Sex and the Disabled

Should prostitution be legalized? This question has always been met with controversy, but here is an example of the good prostitutes can do for the less fortunate.

Disabled people have always been subject to social stigma and discrimination. Be it for issues of work, mobility, or equal rights, handicapped people have it rough. It is much more difficult for them to hold down good jobs and to participate in society on an equal footing with the rest of the able-bodied population. Does this mean that many of them should die virgins, without ever having experienced what some would describe as the summum bonum of human relations? They have enough hardship as it is; why should they be denied sex given that they must obviously have a very difficult time finding people interested in having a relationship let alone wooing people into their bedrooms?

What a woman (or any consenting non-minor) does with her body is still a topic of debate within several subjects such as: abortion; wearing of the niqab/burqa; euthanasia; mandated medical treatment; and, of course, prostitution. Only religion (despite its good intentions) and government and their historical and cultural significance can be shown to object to this most fundamental human principle. Of course people should have a right to decide their own futures as long as they are not coerced.

The Netherlands considers sex a human right and prostitution legal. This combination has led to legislation which allows for and pays for, in some cases, the services of a prostitute for the disabled of their country. Should this modern attitude towards mercy not be available in more places? It’s only human, after all.

Quagmire [kwaɡˌmī(ə)r] – An Awkward, Complex, or Hazardous Situation

American Imperialism is alive but perhaps not so well in the middle-east. There are many stories about the region and its mind-boggling complexity in the news these days, but there doesn’t seem to be any over-arching analysis of the entire situation which stretches from the Crimea to the Yellow Sea. The big picture is frightening in scope and potential.

Let’s start with some basic facts:

Upon further reflection, the rest of this article will be left to the reader’s imagination. However, the main takeaway should certainly be the fact that this quagmire in Asia has (to a large extent) been engineered to protect the US Dollar. It may not work out that way, in the end.