Listening to the News this Week

I move between CBC and NPR with some fluidity.  I can’t be certain which of these stories came from which station but it’s definitely one of the two.

I heard an old show this week about a man named Leonard P. Matlovich.  He was a Vietnam War Vet who died some years ago. He received a Purple Heart and a Gold Medal of Honor. He was also a homosexual.  His brave public outing cost him a great deal, including a dishonorable discharge from the air force.  On his gravestone it reads: When I was in the military they gave me a medal for killing two men and a discharge for loving one.  That breaks my heart

Same sex marriage is such a hot topic in this US election that there’s lots to fuel the fire.  I listened to a report from deep in Mississippi.  One of the men being interviewed was a minister from a southern Baptist church.  He had been a Civil Rights activist during the 1960s and had fought hard for the rights of his people. He explained how important civil rights are to him and how he would give his life for anyone who was being denied their civil rights.  But…and here’s a big but, civil rights, he believes, apply only to immutable characteristics of being human.  He was born a black man and would die a black man no matter what he did.  His Blackness is immutable.  Homosexuality, he explained, was something that could change, something that was chosen, something you become by choice.  Therefore, instead of being a case for the protection of civil rights, homosexuals are defiling both God and the civil rights battle.  (On a personal note: I don’t agree with either of these stipulations – either that civil rights must only protect things that are not a choice, nor do I agree that homosexuality is a choice in the first place.)  Again it breaks my heart that people are segregated and punished for loving someone. And it breaks my heart even more that this is alive and well in a population who understands intensely what hatred, bigotry, and ignorance can mean for a people. 

Wanna study history in Canada?  Here’s a hint: choose a topic that would excite a teenage boy.  (Ah yes, I’ll take some flack for that from my fellow feminists!) For example, try the history of hockey, missing Arctic explorers, or the old stand-by, War, preferably the War of 1812.  We might be losing funding to Library and Archives Canada, small museums might be teetering on the edge of closing en masse, and student scholarships at an all-time low, but Harper’s favourite topics seem to be faring pretty well. Think how exciting and popular we will be when we finally locate the Franklin expedition!

The CBC is shocked to discover how stressed people are who live in and around Montreal.  Or at least how much we seem to want to talk about how stressed we are. In fact, it was so alarming how much feedback they got from an episode dealing with stress that it stressed them out. So, for the next six weeks, All in a Weekend is going to focus on stress.  Stressful.

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What if?

Here’s a radical idea: what if I started every relationship, every interaction, every new experience with “this is going to be good”?  What if I could shed all the judgements I was imbued with as a child?  What if I could unschool myself in prejudice and social discomfort?  What if I could figure out a way to give every single person the same tabula rasa, the same fair game, the same genuine respect I would want?  What if the perspective of my parents, my culture, my neighbourhood, my religion, my favoured politicians, my own broken background no longer had a hand in the present?  What if there was a way to be open to everyone?  And in that openness, feel okay to be me?  

Wouldn’t that be radical?

Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night

Last week was one of grief. Two funerals to mourn the passing of two inestimable men. They were two men who had battled and lost to cancer.  Two men who weren’t ready to die.  Two men who wanted desperately to keep living.  Two men who fought to their final breath.  Two men who loved life and lived well.

It’s hard to be left behind.  It’s hard to know that death came to those who loved life so fully. It’s hard to realize that death isn’t always a gentle passing in the night. It can be cruel and sudden.  It can be pitiless and slow.  And always in its wake it leaves pain, loss, and sorrow.  A grief that can’t be spoken.

 

Do not go gentle into that good night,

Old age should burn and rage at close of day;

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

 

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,

Because their words had forked no lightning they

Do not go gentle into that good night.

 

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright

Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

 

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,

And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,

Do not go gentle into that good night.

 

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight

Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

 

And you, my father, there on the sad height,

Curse, bless me now with your fierce tears, I pray.

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

 

– Dylan Thomas