• activism,  politics

    Does everyone really hate environmentalists and feminists, and if so, what can we do about it?

    There are various articles I’ve been wishing to write commentary about, but never had time to. One of these is an article at Salon.com about a study on people’s attitudes towards feminists and environmentalists. The article is titled: Everyone hates environmentalists and feminists and it claims people’s opinions of the stereotypical feminist and environmentalists makes them less interested in adopting the behaviors promoted by those groups. According to the article: “Unfortunately,” [the researchers] write, “the very nature of activism leads to negative stereotyping. By aggressively promoting change and advocating unconventional practices, activists become associated with hostile militancy and unconventionality or eccentricity.” I can sympathize with the point they are making.…

  • activism,  politics

    deep green resistance, gender, and transgenderism

    I wrote about going to a Deep Green Resistance presentation. Then after a few days I ended up hearing about the controversy around DGR’s position on transgenderism. Basically, they argue that women are an oppressed group and for people born male to attempt to invade female-only spaces they are adding to the oppression. DGR describes it this way: We are not “transphobic.” We do, however, have a disagreement about what gender is. Genderists think that gender is natural, a product of biology. Radical feminists think gender is social, a product of male supremacy. Genderists think gender is an identity, an internal set of feelings people might have.  Radical feminists think…

  • #idlenomore,  activism,  climate change,  environment,  Occupy,  politics

    For a Diversity of Tactics

    I went last night to a presentation by two women from Deep Green Resistance. It was an interesting presentation focusing on the question of how we make change in our world. The two presenters critiqued the myth that if we just bring enough awareness out there we can create a mass movement that will bring about change through solely nonviolent means. The presenters talked about how historians and story-tellers get to choose from a huge variety of details which ones they present, and so by focusing on Gandhi we ignore Bhagat Singh (and, for that matter, the fact that Gandhi called for systematic destruction of British property and considered that…

  • activism,  politics

    three stories about Canada

    In my newsfeed this morning there’s a story about the Royal Bank of Canada hiring temporary foreign workers. Don’t worry, the company says that most of the workers will only be here till 2015, by when they’ll have moved most of the jobs overseas and “only a few foreigners will remain indefinitely.” Alas, if only they understood that the problem was not foreigners coming to Canada, but middle to nearing-retirement Canadians being fired so that foreigners can be brought in to do the job at less pay and no security. The problem is the reality that many foreign workers have to pay recruitment fees that make them start their jobs in…

  • activism,  climate change,  letter writing,  politics

    Social Justice Activism and the pursuit of low-hanging fruit

    An older picture of one of my sons at a political protest. One of the questions that keeps popping up in my life is whether or not we should take the time for the low-hanging fruit or not. This comes up in activist issues. Do we spend time campaigning for something practical and possible like a $14 an hour minimum wage (giving Ontario workers 10% above the poverty line) or do we try to tackle the big problems like reforming capitalism? Do we worry about whether or not people on social assistance can pay their rent or do we try to stop the total transformation of the planet from global…

  • #idlenomore,  activism,  politics

    political protest and the police

    A province wide campaign has been launched to raise Ontario’s minimum wage to $14 an hour. To initiate the campaign blocks of ice containing $10.25, the current minimum wage, were delivered to politicians across the province with the request that we melt the minimum wage freeze. I participated in this going with my local anti-poverty group to visit two MPPs – Rick Bartolucci and France Gelinas. I was the contact person for the media and since we had sent out a media release beforehand I had hoped for phone calls from local reporters. I was not prepared for the phone call, the day before the event, from the local police liaison-officer.…

  • activism,  politics

    Developing the political will to end poverty

    I had the opportunity to attend a meeting hosted by Poverty Free Ontario. There were about a hundred attendants listening to presentations and discussing how we can work to get the messages out that we cannot ignore the situations faced by those living in poverty. It was a long day for me, leaving early in the morning and not returning home until the middle of the night but I’m happily going back over my notes thinking about all the ideas presented. One of the major themes was the lack of political will to really improve things for the poor. It is as though there was a taboo against politicians saying…

  • activism,  the ethical life

    Giving time

    I’ve had some experience both being a recepient of others assistance and of helping others. I’ve also participated in group actions either for causes or for individuals, and I’ve helped to organize events. All of this has given me an appreciation of the gift of time. I don’t mean having lots of time oneself, but being willing to just give time to someone or something else, no strings attached. I think of one incident. A group of us where there to help someone. Things were dull and at some point someone whispered “why did I bother coming?” The comment bit into my mind. I felt a momentary surge of frusturation, worried…