Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Yes.


I love this idea! It reminds me of an earlier post of my own about city buses... (Electric Bus Plus)

A Fresh Take on New Year's Resolutions...


Ideas to help bring peace, joy, and happiness to us simply and inexpensively are just the best!

Thanks Mr. Rogers...




I always feel like singing! How about you? :)



Maybe our challenge is to make time for singing everyday. 

I'd like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony...

Amazing Musical Swings in Montreal

"Each swing is a set of four and has its own unique sound, but if you are in perfect harmony with the other 3 seats then an actual song is played. The theory is that you communicate and interact with people more if it’s for a specific goal and if you’re having fun."

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Allegiance or Faith?



al·le·giance/əˈlējəns/

Noun:
Loyalty or commitment of a subordinate to a superior or of an individual to a group or cause.


faith/fāTH/

Noun:
  1. Complete trust or confidence in someone or something.
  2. Strong belief in God or in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof.

Can "faith" exist without an object or concept to have faith "in"? 

I've been wondering about this as I read a born again Christian's arguments/explanations for this change in their life. The change being, becoming "born again" and affirming a commitment to a particular belief system.

What I wonder about is: is one's faith dependant upon having a system of belief to have faith in? Can I be a faithful person, trusting in God, god, Jesus, Allah, love, peace, the universe, goddess, Jehovah, or another name for something we cannot define or prove without having an allegiance to a belief system?

And what makes something a "strong" belief versus a "weak" belief? One's level of certainty? Certainty can be form of blindness, and can be dangerous. Humans have been blessed with a questioning mind. And unless the level of my belief is directly correlated to the existence or non-existence of said object of belief (i.e., God), what difference does it make if I question things? Isn't a curious mind a sign of being a fully engaged person, seeking understanding?

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

WTF Saint John? How DO you change the world?

I read a quote once from Mother Teresa when someone asked her how she does what she does: "Help one person at a time, and always start with the person nearest you."

Sage advice.

It applies to many situations.

When you talk about "changing the world", as I have in the title of my blog, one's first response may be to feel overwhelmed by the prospect, and then to give up before you even start.

But then I remember this quote by Oscar Schindler: "Whoever saves one life saves the world entire."

As all wisdom does, these quotes empower through the reminder of simplicity. Focus on what you can do. Start at home.

Which brings me to a heartening development in my own home town. Lisa Hrabluk has begun an inititive called "What's the Future Saint John?" A question many of us have been asking ourselves. I invite you to get more details at her blog post...

And I invite us all (me included) to jump on this bandwagon and be part of the solution to our troubling times.

:)

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Reflecting on Adam and Eve...

I'm watching "Hedwig and the Angry Inch", and the character Tommy Gnosis talks about Adam and Eve at one point, and he made me see something I never thought about before.

When Eve bites the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge, she then knows what is good and evil. And she chooses to share the fruit with Adam.

Many in religious circles have since said that Eve is to blame for Adam's fall (and subsequently the female sex of our species is damnable).

But I want to go back before that.

When Eve ate the fruit, she had the knowledge of good and evil. And then she chose to share the fruit with Adam.

So, the question that intrigues me is... if Eve knew good and evil, was her act of sharing the fruit good or evil? I think most have always interpreted it as evil.

But, what if, once she had the knowledge of good and evil, her act was good?

What if it was good?

What if, with her new knowledge of what was good and evil, she chose to do good?

What does that mean for men and women today? If it means anything.


Thursday, 26 July 2012

Millenial Librarians Speak Out

Even when we do everything right, we don't get jobs. Please don't tell us we are whiny good-for-nothings. We are in a situation that defeats us and has nothing to do with merit. How many intelligent, driven librarians are unemployed? Too many.

See:

Library search strategy: Five things employers can do (better)

Monday, 2 July 2012

Beeban Kidron: The shared wonder of film

http://www.ted.com/talks/beeban_kidron_the_shared_wonder_of_film.html

I love that she talked about communality. The lack of it is something I've noticed is a problem. 

For example, although bringing up children without TV seems like a good thing, as hopefully they do not get lost in technology but become more engaged with the world, they can lose out on the shared experience of stories which has come to be (for me) the thing I treasure most about TV. Talking to someone new suddenly become easier when you find out you both enjoy the same sitcom.

I often compare the role shared appreciation of TV shows can take to learning bible stories as a child. Bible stories were, once, common narratives of western culture. Parables that could unite (though they didn't always). More and more I meet people without knowledge of these stories, and I'm struck in the face with what that lack means: a fundamental means of communication is erased. 

Personally, I understand things in life through metaphor and figurative language... as Kidron said, through narrative. It's probably why I need context, not just information before I can feel confident about acting. Facts and details I lose easily, unless they are embedded in a memorable context.

The idea of film clubs do make sense to me... and at the same time they make me sad. We now have to create the shared experience/story before we can communicate meaningfully to each other. 

Perhaps there really is too much choice in our lives, leading to a disconnected society because we are not exposed to the same stories.

At the library, we think it's important for people to be able to read. Why? Why does it matter? If there are hundreds of thousands of books produced and available to us, how are the stories building community? Does community matter? Aren't books just another part of the isolating excess of our time?

I value community and communication, which doesn't make them absolute goods in and of themselves, though I see them as good.

How, in my storytimes that I run at the library, can I contribute to community? 

Back to the Ted Talk: I was also intrigued with how Kidron talked about Jaws, and how she articulated the value of scary films like this one. I've wanted for some time a justification for scary film. I understand the pleasure of being frightened, yet knowing you are safe. But, if there's not more than base pleasure involved, I don't think that's enough of a reason to argue for scary film. And I want to be able to argue for it, because I value it. I just wasn't able to justify it. I worried that scary films created and amplified fear, and there is enough fear in this world, paralyzing many of us. The last thing we need is more. But in this instance, Kidron related how it helped a child to express something. The scary film demonstrated something real that perhaps before seeing it, the child could not explain. I never looked at it that way before, or saw it as having that possibility.

Just as the films that show us the worst of humanity (Schindler's List, Hotel Rwanda, The Accused) are about more than shaming us. "These films held what was too hurtful to say out loud."

I appreciate this gift that film has given to me. I have had experiences in my life that remain too difficult for me to share with those I love the most. But the human experience is captured in film, and I can see my pain and suffering reflected there. Because of that, I feel comforted. I feel comforted because I know the way that film affects me. I feel that I am understood, though indirectly, because these films exist. 

In academia sometimes we disparage the popular (in books, tv, film etc.), but i think that's because we are not appreciating that the popular becomes a potentially uniting common experience. I, like many others, sometimes resist the popular, but perhaps that ego-response is actually self-destructive, because resisting the popular limits my ability to connect with others because I choose not to participate in the shared experience. Instead of evaluating a book or film or play or whatever, as a thing in itself, as if it were in a vaccuum, perhaps there is some value in evaluating these things from a perspective of their potential to contribute to community by the very fact that they are a shared experience. 

For example, I didn't like the Twilight series, because I found the 'heroine' to be reinforcing poor self-esteem, victimhood, and disempowerment for women, and this frightens me. But because I participated in the phenomenon of reading it, and seeing the films, I can communicate with others about my views when the subject arises. 

I'm elevating communication as a good here, and that's only my personal value system, but of course, I think i'm right about that. lol.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Quebec Student Strike... Anti-Austerity

What is austerity?

I'm a green at heart, and a creative spirit. I know the value of doing with less, and making do with what you have, and the creativity that arises out of limitations. But the way 'austerity' is used it seems to be about quashing creativity. It seems to be about saying that the the 'lovely intagibles' of life, the things that make life worth living, are the things we must do without. Education, the arts, music, health, rest... love? Living more simply appeals to me a great deal. But I think there is another way. A better way. There must be another solution other than forcing us all to cut funding to the things that ultimately matter the most.

Quebec students are striking to demonstrate that some of us understand the value of affordable, accessible education. In fact, education should be free. Education is a right. Thanks to the students in Quebec standing up for all our rights.

Sign the petition.

Monday, 5 March 2012

Questioning Land Ownership

No one can really "own" land. We inhabit the earth, we like to think we dominate it... but one earthquake reminds us that, no, we do not control the land.

Economically we have developed a system of land ownership.

In Canada, land ownership is frequently made possible because of the unethical treatment of aboriginal peoples.

Although we may now be in heading into a time of (hopefully) reconciliation between Canadians and aboriginals, the re-imagining of our concept of land ownership is never considered or addressed.

What if, instead of land being sold to a person or group for development, land was granted to parties to develop by an agreement of neighbouring communities? What if this agreement depended on the developer proving that this development would be good for all Canadians, not just their own profit? What if land use required a certain responsibility to people, animals, and the earth? What if we thought of land as a wonderful gift there for us to use and benefit from, but not to destroy? 

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Questioning Neoliberalism

"Neoliberals argue that making the market the ultimate arbiter of social worthiness will eliminate politics and its accompanying irrationality from our educational and social decisions." (Apple, 2006).

This quote brings several questions to my mind. First, the assumption appearing to underlie this neoliberal view is that pure rationality, or pure logic is the only true means to egalitarianism.

Questions:

Is self-interest rational or irrational?

Wouldn't pure and rational logic, removed of self-interest (if self-interest is considered irrational/emotional), favour the health of the planet over the existence of humans?

Perhaps, to the neoliberal, self-interest is rational, therefore desiring short-term survival strategies over long-term well-being is logical because human life-spans are relatively short?

Is an egalitarian society only possible on the basis of a rational, non-emotional approach?

Is there nothing to be said for compassion? What about the human capacity for anger in the face of injustice? How can we create genuine egalitarianism without emotional intervention? Is there not a reason humans have emotion?

From a Darwinian standpoint, there must have been an advantage to having emotions which allowed our species to survive. How is denial or repression of that advantage a rational approach?

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Apple, M. (2006). Educating the right way: Markets, standards, god and equity. New York: Routledge.