Sacred Fantasies

I love to play dress-up, draw unicorns, make homes for fairies in my garden.  I dream about small unexplored worlds beneath the sea and post-apocalyptic landscapes with me in badass survival getup making the most of the end of the world.  These are magical and special parts of my existence.  And they are not dreamed at the expense of others.
When the pope says homosexuality is a sin and Americans pass laws making it okay for a doctor to let a person die if they suspect a patient of this sin, when people call black skin a punishment from God the Father, cut out a girl’s clitoris because it makes her more pleasing for her husband, when people stay married to their abusers, all because of an evil dream of an evil God who wants to build a hateful world, this is not a fantasy that deserves to be indulged.
I love fantasies, don’t get me wrong.  I value –and even live in– my dreams more than my realities sometimes.  Everyone has the right to dream and dream and cherish their fantasies. But not at the expense of others.

Antisemitism on the Rise in Europe: Some Photos

History repeats itself, but I never thought it would happen so soon.

Last year I was working in Belgium during the European Union elections.  While these were barely reported in Canada, election talk was absolutely everywhere in Brussels, the heart and seat of the EU.  The results were disturbing; far-right parties swept the polls.  I watched in horror as on May 25th, 2014 two seats of the European Parliament were democratically won by neo-Nazis in Germany and Greece.  The day before, a gunman armed with a Kalashnikov rifle and handgun killed four people in the Jewish Museum in Brussels.

Jewish Belgian politician Mischaël Modrikamen said “Sadly, however, the actual attack comes as no surprise to us after years of living in an atmosphere of rampant antisemitism that often leads to violence.” Where then, was the reporting of these events in Canada?  None of my colleagues back home were aware of the anti-Semitic climate in Europe.   While I was visiting Sweden in early May 2014, I saw anti-Jewish graffiti outside stores in the city of Uppsala (see photo).

IMG_5864

This year has gotten progressively worse.  Since last year’s election, over 10 000 Jews have left France alone.  Parents and their children are saying tearful goodbyes to grandparents who vowed never to be displaced by racism again or are too old to move, but are fearful for the safety of their children.

Last week I returned from a quick work trip to Europe.  I was in Brussels for a mere three days, and I did not have to look hard.  Scribbled in white on buildings as the bus I was on flashed by: swastikas.  (See photo).  My own friends told me that Jews and Muslims are the cause of the recession in Europe.  This is exactly the same rhetoric as Hitler’s Nazi Germany.  At Antwerp train station, there are stars of David with GO HOME written beneath.  Go look for yourself.  I don’t know why these things continue to shock me. We all know that history repeats itself.

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On my flight home, I watched the news from a screen at a stopover at the airport in Philadelphia: shooting at a synagogue in Denmark.  Following the Charlie Hebdo shooting at the Jewish supermarket, these are dark times indeed.

I am not really sure what to do with this information and these photos.  I find myself wishing that these things were not, are not, happening, but they are.  What do we, as Canadians, do about this?

70 years after Soviet forces liberated Auschwitz Nazi death camp in January 1945, Ottawa is scheduled to unveil a National Holocaust Monument this year, in 2015. I am afraid that we are all too blissfully unaware of the creeping back of anti-Semitic hatred in Europe.  Unfortunately, it is not only Europe.  Just now, February 26th 2015, Daniel (last name omitted for privacy) walked into his apartment’s parking garage in Montreal to find a large swastika emblazoned in red on his car, along with a death threat note.

During the Second World War, when Jews begged to be let into Canada to flee genocide, our government famously responded that “none is too many” Jews in our country.  What are the steps forward to ensuring that this history of ours does not repeat itself?

CALL TO ACTION: Support Haudenosaunee Treaty Rights

This weekend a group of Haudenosaunee hunters will gather at Short Hills Provincial Park for six days in ceremony on their traditional lands to hunt deer with bows and arrows.  Last year they took home 22 deer.  The hunt is also symbolic; as recognized by the Provincial Ministry of Natural Resources and the Nanfan Treaty / 1701 Albany Deed, for these six days the provincial park, usually a place where white settlers walk their dogs, is closed to the public and the hunt takes place.

Last year a group of about 20 white settlers parked their trailers at the park’s entrance, heckling the hunters, ridiculing their drumming and making racist remarks.  This year, they have blockaded the entrance and they are swarming and intimidating the hunters.  A group of local settlers, as well as Christian Peacemaker Teams who support the treaty and the hunters are trying to call attention to this injustice.  Several of my friends have made signs which read “I support First Nations Treaty rights” and other positive messages of support so that the hunters see that not all settlers are racist liars.

As a settler who realizes that I have benefited from colonialism, I can see that this blockade is only making our already bad relationship with the first peoples of this land even worse.  This hunt is a symbol of settlers actually fulfilling treaty rights, even if only for six short days a year.  These blockaders are destroying the credibility of our government for being fair and just in fulfilling legal promises and obligations.  Canadian police should be upholding First Nations treaty rights, not chatting and joking with blockaders and intimidating hunt supporters.

I greatly admire the settlers who are stepping up and standing between the racist blockaders and the hunters who are simply trying to carry out their traditional hunt.  This is our responsibility as people who have benefited from colonialism, and next year I will be one of them.

If any of my friends have suggestions for other ways to offer support in this situation, please let me know.

Below is the press release for more information about what’s going on.

LOCALS SUPPORT HAUDENOSAUNEE TREATY RIGHT TO HUNT

AT SHORT HILLS PROVINCIAL PARK
Sat. Dec. 6 and Sun. Dec. 7, 2014, Haudenosaunee hunters will be exercising their treaty-guaranteed right to hunt on their traditional lands. In the face of protest by a few hunting, environmental, and animal rights groups, the Haudenosaunee hunters will be accompanied by locals who support this exercise of their treaty right to hunt, with a peaceful demonstration and dialogue.

Short Hills Provincial Park has hosted the hunt for the last few years as arranged by the provincial Ministry of Natural Resources and the Haudenosaunee Confederacy. However, anti-hunt protests and hunt-disruptions marred last year’s hunts.

International human rights observers with Christian Peacemaker Teams will also be present. After reports of sexist and racist verbal violence on the first four days of the 2014 deer hunt (Nov. 23, 23, 27, 28), these observers were invited to accompany treaty rights supporters as well as Haudenosaunee hunters in an effort to de-escalate further aggression and to support a dialogue between community members.

Canada’s constitution includes all treaties and agreements between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples before Confederation, which means that this hunting right (as established through the Nanfan Treaty / 1701 Albany Deed) is constitutionally protected.  Everyone should be able to express their opinions on this matter in a respectful way that builds relationships instead of creating divisions and exacerbating tensions. Hopefully a peaceful show of support for the hunters will build dialogue and foster good relations between First Nations and non-Indigenous communities in the area.

For mobile, contact Christian Peacemaker Teams, 1 647 618 5286
For email, contact jharrison@brocku.ca

The Invitation: Poetry Worth Sharing

The Invitation, by Oriah Mountain Dreamer

De Uitnodiging, art by Oriah Mountain Dreamer

It doesn’t interest me
what you do for a living.
I want to know
what you ache for
and if you dare to dream
of meeting your heart’s longing.

It doesn’t interest me
how old you are.
I want to know
if you will risk
looking like a fool
for love
for your dream
for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn’t interest me
what planets are
squaring your moon…
I want to know
if you have touched
the centre of your own sorrow
if you have been opened
by life’s betrayals
or have become shrivelled and closed
from fear of further pain.

I want to know
if you can sit with pain
mine or your own
without moving to hide it
or fade it
or fix it.

I want to know
if you can be with joy
mine or your own
if you can dance with wildness
and let the ecstasy fill you
to the tips of your fingers and toes
without cautioning us
to be careful
to be realistic
to remember the limitations
of being human.

It doesn’t interest me
if the story you are telling me
is true.
I want to know if you can
disappoint another
to be true to yourself.
If you can bear
the accusation of betrayal
and not betray your own soul.
If you can be faithless
and therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see Beauty
even when it is not pretty
every day.
And if you can source your own life
from its presence.

I want to know
if you can live with failure
yours and mine
and still stand at the edge of the lake
and shout to the silver of the full moon,
“Yes.”

It doesn’t interest me
to know where you live
or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up
after the night of grief and despair
weary and bruised to the bone
and do what needs to be done
to feed the children.

It doesn’t interest me
who you know
or how you came to be here.
I want to know if you will stand
in the centre of the fire
with me
and not shrink back.

It doesn’t interest me
where or what or with whom
you have studied.
I want to know
what sustains you
from the inside
when all else falls away.

I want to know
if you can be alone
with yourself
and if you truly like
the company you keep
in the empty moments.

***

This incredible poem shared with me by Ashliin Miranda.

My 2 Cents on Dating, Consent and Transparency

‘I don’t know’ means no. ‘Maybe’ means no.

Enthusiastic consent should be all you’re going for.  Nothing Less.

An excuse is a polite rejection. Always take it as such. 

consent

This goes for sexual encounters, like meeting a drunk chick at a bar.  This goes for casually dating someone, like that guy you have taken on a few dates and you’re wondering if things are going to go further.  If she’s not responding to your texts, your sneaking suspicion is right– she’s probably not really into you, and you should save yourself the time and heartbreak and move on.  If he is too ‘busy’ this weekend, but doesn’t offer up an alternative date and time when he wants to see you, chances are he doesn’t.  I bet you a pumpkin spiced latte that the next time he contacts you, it’s for a booty call at most.

The consent discussion is especially relevant concerning safe and good sex, but it also carries over into healthy relationship building generally.  If someone is really into you, it shouldn’t be difficult to tell.  When you stop making excuses for their lack of interest then you’ll be free to move onto someone who clearly adores you.  This is regardless of gender.

Don’t spend your time with people who don’t respect and ask for your consent.  Don’t have sex with someone who isn’t super-duper excited to have sex with you.

Finally, go adore and be adored!

consent3consent2

wĭl′fəl: Persists in doing as she pleases, habitually disposed to disobedience and opposition. Headstrong, self-willed- not obeying or complying with commands of those in authority. ˈwāwərd/: Given to perverse deviation from what is desired, expected, or required. Swayed or prompted by caprice; unpredictable.

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