Monday, 19 September 2011

Neo-conservatism (part ii)

Here is what I find so abhorrent about neo-conservatism and its belligerent default intransigence: Their style of argument seems to go, "_______ is __________"; "____________ is not ____________"; and so on according to dogma, with simple blanks to provide the structure to an argument, and sudden flash and flourishes of appropriately flattering/unflattering adjectives gives you extra points. -wink, wink.

Nerds.

Political discourse worthy of its name, with its demands for higher standards in formulating and logically linking ideas together, regards such passivity and vacuity and its unreasonable expectation of same from the populace as a lack of any redeeming grace. Machiavelli rolls in his grave.

Don't get me wrong, an educated man of letters and a politically adroit one (nay, one with a penchant for well-placed flattery) like the venerable rational political theorist is rightfully deserving of being among the great writers/thinkers of history. What I'm saying is that in neo-con-ism Machiavelli would be first aghast and shocked, then his realization of possibilities would literally cause him to rub his hands in glee. But the Master is an entirely different creature. As they say: in the land of the blind the one-eyed man is king.

Jay

Neo-conservativism and the new kind of scepticism

There was a time not so long ago when being a "conservative" meant having political/economic values whose pedigree can be traced to the Tories of the British persuasion: a philosophy that tends to "reforming ills while conserving the good" (Wikipedia entry on "Tory (British political party)"). Here, the good refers to fiscal conservatism in public spending; and, "reforming ills" by way of policy and legislation that emphasize economic rationalization as the main determinant in levels of regulation. Or something to that effect...

This political philosophy is not aversed to, and relies upon, non-partisan evidence, whether scientific, administrative, statistical, financial, historical, etc. while appealing to above economic and political principles.

The new "conservative" movement, which is seen as really a global phenomenon, which has asserted itself in anything and everything but name of Toryism in the West and extreme religious "conservatism" in the East is a degeneration, even in the sense of social conservatism. Its "scepticism" is also rather something of a haphazard affair compared to its precedessors' form of conservatism. It seems that verification of facts (exegeses of the scriptures in religious fundamentalism) is less important than the parochial appeal to populist indulgence.

There was a prime minister of Canada who boasted that Canada has no history of imperialist colonialism; a presidential candidate in the US accepted a claim from a woman who said that the vaccine for human papillomavirus caused mental retardation in her daughter.

It boggles the mind.

The refined art of constructing political arguments for or against issues is lost in the policy discourse; what neo-conservatives do is goad, whine about and demonize their chosen foes while acting as if the few selected facts comprise all of their reality, usually non-negotiable even in the face of overwhelming facts they choose not recognize or acknowledge.

The PM's gaffe was largely attributable to a worldview that Canada is really the sole purview of the privileged elect who are above the "colonies" and the common people they govern and exploit by right. Awkward. But really just a betrayal in a lapse of guardedness, a Freudian slip.

But a tea party President of the US of Bachmann's calibre is down-right scary, a viceral reactionary intent on wholesale social and political (including geo-political) change with publicly-stated plans to repeal existing legislation and regulations to unilaterally set them more favorable towards one class/kind over others:

"The facts of global finance, trade and historical negotiated accords/treaties/understandings between nations and diverse groups be damned: civility be damned: knowledge of 'useless', inconveniently 'needful' things be damned: trust in our exceptionality; we know people; we're on the inside".

Jay

Saturday, 17 September 2011

IQ concept of Pittiarniq and First Principles

In my recent blog and earlier ones on Inuit Education I spoke a little bit about the Inuit Knowledge (IQ) concept of Pittiarniq as having more than one meaning (moral/ethical behaviour and doing something well). I think that both senses should be part of the Nunavut curriculum:

1) in the first sense, the study of ethics (and liberal arts in general) should be grounded upon not only Inuit legends but also that psychologically-insightful classics literature and world history should be translated. I say this because I find contemporary approach to education as largely a one-way communication (from teacher to students, much like from the pulpit to the lay-people). And because Inuit children aren't trained from the start to engage in and discuss ideas (whatever they are) this is carried throughout their academic careers and beyond where they lack self-confidence to really exercise their voice and thoughts (not having been trained in school where most languish in boredom and deep existential angst).

Many of us have been in meetings here in Nunavut Government boardrooms where the discussion of sometimes very important topics and issues are completely dominated by non-Inuit who seem completely oblivious to the consequential power imbalance. Some of the "old hands" and long-time "northerners" naturally begin to assume that they speak for Inuit, especially if they've married into Inuit families.

But the nature of bureaucracy and its need for control of information and jealously guarded gate-keeping function only allows serious exchange and discussion between those at the same level and/or ideological bent which leaves out a great majority of Inuit whose lives are impacted by the decisions they make. This denial of critical information (double-speak calls it "sensitive information") precludes Inuit from inputting when we are already in the margins of real power.

The one instance where I've seen it backfire is in the Mary River iron mine project where the main proponent largely decided on its own to plan for the construction of a deep water port and spent some pretty coin based on that assumption only to face resistence from Inuit. For a government bureaucrat whose projects are publicly-funded the loss of money would be a desired outcome, but for a private concern this is a real set-back (as it should be). Live and learn, fool.

2) in the second sense of Pittiarniq (doing something excellently), the pedagogical approaches should be based on the notion of "first principles". I said something to its effect in my last entry when I spoke about "internal logic systems".

It has been said more than once in the past that Inuit are "born mechanics". The traditional IQ approach naturally produced people who sought out the underlying functions and purposes of what caught their attention and what was important to survival and thriving. Inuit took and take to technology like ducks to water. And this is at a deeper level than most non-Inuit ways who only acquire it but are incapable of fixing it when it breaks - this is throw-away culture if nothing else.

But this pittiarniq is an extremely powerful device for learning and acquiring knowledge. Much of the old world pedagogy once had this same outlook. Knowledge of first principles (whether music, story-telling, oratory, mechanical knowledge, everything really) is what allows original insight, creation and transcendence to happen. IQ assumes at its core that human beings are rational, thinking beings and what is called "a theory of mind" - that what one mind is capable of creating, achieving insight and epiphany, etc. another mind is also capable of feeling, learning and producing.

A "politically correct" outlook - as vacuous and dullardly as it is - is highly suspicious and fearful of what it doesn't understand and cannot control or take credit/ownership for. The imperative of colonialism is the self-same outlook. It is a blunt outlook and utterly incapable of subtlety and originality and compassion for everything is prescribed and memorized from the outset. But so much more that is out of its control is not all necessarily "bad" or "evil". In fact, much of it is really human- and humanity- affirming.

A mind trained to be capable and reasoning is more likely (more than likely) to show and demonstrate compassion, love (of not only people but as a general, generous outlook) and meaningful contribution than a mind dependent upon its overlords for everything. We are not animals to be domesticated. Most of us, really, appreciate and believe in the "greatness of Rome" at our cores of being.

The Spartans of legend were trained as both self-contained, self-sufficient individuals as well as integrated community members capable of great discipline as soldiers in a fighting force. IQ pittiarniq similarly produced highly capable individuals and compassionate community members. I strongly suspect that much of the Turtle Island hunter/gatherer peoples were raised that way. The rotting away of the great soul was achieved through subduing by superior death technologies (of military and church, then by corporatism).

Let us just take off the shackles of sadomasicism and see what happens. I think it will not destroy our great country as the emancipation from the shackles of slavery did not destroy America but added to its greatness and the nobility of its ideals and spirit. Only small minds like the misguided neo-fascist tea party base is capable of and will destroy one of the greatest nations the world has ever seen, not the descendents of slaves themselves.

Jay

Friday, 16 September 2011

The notion of Literacy and Political Justice

Years ago I was sent a book by someone I consider a good friend whose name is Dr. Jarich Oosten, a professor of Anthropology at Leiden University, The Netherlands. The book is called, A History of Reading, by Alberto Manguel.

As with many of my other books, I so savoured the idea of enjoying reading it I only got around to it recently after so many years because - as with my other books - I wanted to give it my full attention. I mean, at the risk of sounding elitist, most of the books I own are nonfiction so as not to just be entertained but to make me think seriously. What fiction I read I tend to choose with much greater care. HA! I guess I'm delicate that way.

Anyhoo, whether I've been subconsciously mulling over the Manguel book and thinking about the whole notion of literacy because of it or whether it's because I've been intructing adult learners, the idea of literacy and political well-being has been somewhat foremost on my mind recently.

As I've said in my earlier blog entries, I consider "literacy" as not just being able to read and write but includes also the ability to understand and contemplate the ideas in a discourse, to paraphrase Northrop Frye: being literate is having the ability to be taken up by the subject. So it follows that, I'd say, the notion of "language competency" is prior to and builds on "literacy" per se because without linguistic competency the idea, the purpose behind literacy is a cheapening of the human spirit.

In one of the chapters of A History of Reading, Manguel talks about ignorance as being the perferred milieu of despots, tyrants and totalitarianism in general to thrive in therefore the whole idea of literacy is both feared and hated by the-powers-that-be, whether its slave-owners or kings or fascists. I'd also include corporatism (ie, business- or government- bureaucracies) because of its nasty tendency to re-present its own reality and selfish needs as a prepackaged absolute "truth", as something of a trust-worthy brand-naming and/or glossing over of inconvenient facts in favour of selected, flattering ones.

Manguel writes:

"Censorship, therefore, in some form or another, is the corollary of all power, and the history of reading is lit by a seemingly endless line of censors' bonfires, from the earliest papyrus scrolls to the books of our times".

The organized religions (and I include here political parties with set constitutions and corporations) seem especially prone to the imperative to censor and control information, facts and ideas. And, as Manguel points out, since the ability to read and write cannot be unlearned, totalitarianism of every sort feels the need to restrict literacy through a canon of acceptable works or an index of forbidden ones. The nazis, following a long line of predecessors (evil is banal and without originality), made book-burning a highly ritualized affair with psuedo-prayers like, "Tonight you do well to throw into the fire these obscenities from the past. This is a powerful, huge and symbolic action that will tell the entire world that the old spirit is dead. From these ashes will rise the phoenix of the new spirit," as Goebbels preambled each collectivized act of evil a lifetime ago in that other place.

Interestingly, the gist of colonialism of aboriginal groups follows the same pattern. Truly, evil is incapable of not only variation in word content but is itself the exact self-same one in every generation in every place. The book-burning may change in explicit form but the intent and consequence is exactly the same in negligence by state in mistrust of the governed "other".

I'm not saying that teachers are privy to and culpable in the "mis-education" of aboriginal children. I think being an educator is a noble and virtuous calling. But that under-resourcing and -funding and remuneration of teachers (who tend to be at the lower end of economic status with one of the highest stress jobs and attrition rates) has a logical consequence of oppression of Fanonian and Freire-ian proportions.

I mean teachers' materials and reliable support go from poor to non-existent (some forced to develop their own teaching materials and resources) while government budgets for education (both at the federal and territorial levels) bloat to the gluttonous for their bureaucracies. The aboriginal services industry is like a state within a state that seems hopelessly addicted to the latest, most expensive methods of control and administration forever in policy and program review of this sort or another that lead nowhere but to a voracious blackhole.

What was once Inuktitut literacy restricted only to the bible under strict control of the church has turned into reams and reams of government documents written in vacuous bureaucratese translated into Inuktitut English that almost no one would ever admit having read. I'm not speaking out against interpreter/translators. But the government propaganda and force-fed "policies" and "programs" which make up the only bulk of work is not "Inuktitut language promotion" as federal-territorial transfers would have us believe. Heaven forbid that the Nunavut Teachers' Education Program should ever access unhindered these types of funds (even a small portion thereof) and actually started producing real Inuktitut language material that actually promotes our language and open up the world for Inuit children...

It is not only the Inuit (or aboriginals for that matter) who are kept unconscious and ignorant of the real world and its possibilities; it is the very people who administer the public funds who are kept "innocent" by the compartmentalized, anonymous, complex machine whose unfounded phobia is "the dangerous, revolutionary ideas" inherent in the very idea of literacy and all that it entails. If they fear "another Quebec" or "another Oka" it only speaks more of their lack of confidence in just government than in the consent of the people they govern and their belief in the idea of Canada.

But who and what exactly is this "evil"? This is like the question: "Who and what is the Jay in my person?"

Jay

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

More points to ponder in Inuit Education

In Nunavut, the urge to simplify text books and use plain language in the classroom is almost unavoidable. It's not just in the classrooms though, rendering technical concepts into plain-language text is often used in research proposals especially but also in glossaries of terms.

The problem that I've perceived in such exercises is that often the text and fundamental concepts in specialized fields tend to be glossed over without much thought to the logic that ties these concepts together into a coherent whole that is the discourse and field of study. Doing this, instead of making the concepts clearer, oftern make them more confusing and convoluted. Add to this, the text when translated will only become even more confusing.

In a classroom setting, the need to obey the internal logic of a particular field of study is key to comprehension so when plain-language text is not done masterfully the students easily get lost and resort to rote memorization as a strategy for studying. This is not education per se but rather a mindless repetitive exercise which discourages students from fully participating in the learning experience. Going by the drop-out rates in Nunavut schools, though not attributable solely to forced rote learning strategies, I'd say that poorly-done plain-language approach is one of the key determinants of poor academic performance.

In my translation work and in teaching I try and go by the dictum that Einstein supposedly said about simplifying: that we should simplify but no more than necessary. What I mean is that I try and let the internal logic dictate how I translate and/or present the text to the audience so as to make the concepts flow in a coherent, productive direction.

As a lover of mathematical ideas and its history, I am fully aware that even the syncopated phase of mathematics (using everyday language to present the ideas) was replete with profound problems of elegance and the sometimes succinct concepts were rendered so dense and convoluted as to make a greater majority of ordinary people hate maths with a passion. The modern symbolic logic presentation (the use of equations and axioms), though a bit intimidating still, is light years ahead of what came before. Logical structures are not language-specific so that makes mathematical ideas not only international but also atemporal (meaning that Euclid's insights are still beautiful even after more than two millenia).

As an instructor I feel that it's my duty to make the learning process as painless as possible, to try and present what I consider beautiful, elegant and coherent, and therefore productive to contemplate. At the beginning I tell my students that things aren't as intimidating and complicated as one assumes; that we are studying structures (ie, Inuit language) that they are intimately familiar with; that I'm just pointing out what they already know but have no developed language as yet and that I'm there to help them develop their conscious awareness.

One thing that I've had to try and overcome as an instructor is the prejudicial nature of plain-language, of how it tends to set bad habits in thinking and talking about ideas. Though this may be desirable in fields that require and demand orthodoxical and dogmatic thought, rote learning has in it many deadends and is ultimately detrimental to producing original insights and feelings of being a contributing member in a discourse so important to continue and building on learning.

The focus on internal logic systems points to many interesting ideas and unintended outcomes where original aha! moments are to be gotten. This is how I learn (largely on my own) and why I do not lack self-confidence in taking on intellectual challenges.

Jay

Monday, 12 September 2011

Let me clarify some points in my last blog entry...

In my last blog entry questioning whether the admonition for uncritical regard for authority is an IQ principle, I said something to the effect that most Inuit hunters kept their techniques secrets accessible only to family and those who could figure them out. I wasn't referring to the "old wives tale" about elder suicide and self-sacrifice and the like (ie, backwardness and stupidity). Whether this was true or not is really none of my concern here. Moving forward...

I know that the moral and ethical discourse in IQ was quite extensive and sophisticated and was less based upon the taboo system than personal examination of values and ethics (and pragmatic considerations). IQ, being as ancient as those labelled as "ancient wisdom", was based upon ethical/moral questions asked in the Hebrew and Christian bible and other wisdom texts: "Am I my brother's keeper?"; "What are my obligations to political vs religious authority?"; "What is my personal and ethical responsibility?"; etc. Only that IQ didn't write things down.

Many of the Inuit legends explore and concern themselves with questions of ever-changing, fickle "winds of fortune", of hubris, kindness, fairness, etc. - especially in light of personal behaviour/values in light of treatment of those less fortunate than oneself. Like the other wisdom texts of the world, IQ left these questions unanswered and up to personal reflection and self-examination; those that which call upon us to rise to the ocassion and circumstance. It has been suggested that the underlying message and appeal to epiphany was often presented as "worms" or maggots put into the ear of the protagonist/listener (as in some of the long versions of the Kiviuq legend), moral/ethical questions that eat their way into the conscience of the flawed hero, if you will. Personal moral/ethical epiphanies and values cannot be imposed but acquired organically when one is ready to receive.

Now, regarding my references to Fanonian social upheaval and displacement in the colonializing process: I'm not playing the blame game. I do not blame anyone or anything for the human condition in which we find ourselves in moments of thoughtfulness and/or mental anguish. But try and imagine an alien invasion and the state and consequences of being conquered by someone or something more powerful and technologically advanced than oneself and own. Someone or something that appeared completely mysterious and arbitrary and unpredictable to you.

One would find oneself and one's society and value systems in a state of collapse, supplanted by something one couldn't make sense of. And one would understand what Kenn Harper talked about in his column in Nunatsiaq News (May 27, 2011 edition of Nunatsiaq News entitled, The Minds of White Men), where he wrote when Knud Rasmussen asked questions of Inuit impressions of the white man.

One of Rasmussen's informants, Kuvdluitsoq, responded:

"Qablunait nutaqqatut isumaqaritauvaktut: It is generally believed that white men have quite the same minds as small children - therefore one should always give way to them. They are easily angered, and when they cannot get their will they are moody and, like children, have the strangest ideas and fancies."

The social upheaval - which happens at a geologic rate and almost imperceptibly and anonymously - resulted in much second-guessing of one's own value systems to the point where anything and everything touched and influenced by non-Inuit - ie, qallunaat - (including one's children and impetuous, angry, socially destructive youth) was treated with great care and deference lest one offend the gods of small things. Where one may reasonably expect resistence there is only silence and acquiescence and passive agression at great cost to one's sense of integrity, self respect, family and social structures.

Imagine further the education and up-bringing of one's children being hijacked under unspecified and suggested threats from the conquerer. The children have not only been taken away from one's influence but left to... what. In the secular, universalistic, individualistic context, moral/ethical guidance is seen as an evil, at the least backward and undesirable. The children who were sent to residential schools (and even up to today with the education system's reluctance to recognise it's own impacts on society) grew up in an environment much like the one the children in Golding's The Lord of the Flies find themselves.

The cruelty, violence and self-destructive behaviour comes from somewhere. We cannot expect Inuit themselves to climb out from the hell-hole of social destruction and razed foundations by themselves. What role does and/or should the system where Inuit children spend most of their time play? So far I've only seen suicide by Inuit treated as a mental health issue; where are the public and social institutions in the discourse? The recent rash of suicide by NHL hockey players seems to have largely come about from debilitating angst over life after hockey: is that something similar for Inuit youth who commit suicide?

The voice of Inuit (especially Inuit youth) must align itself with institutions that impact our society the same way the self-same institutions need to align themselves with the Inuit voice. Suicide, abuse and violence are personal "choices" (Hobson's choices really) only up to a certain point; these choices are also to a certain point determined externally, by a society which Inuit themselves have not had the opportunity to own and influence. Picking oneself by the boot-straps can only happen through liberal education and conscious awareness and recognition of the lessons offered by a trial by fire. Without this education and acquisition of awareness only resentment, anger and degeneration will result.

Jay

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Is "do not question authority" an IQ principle?

I was recently contracted as an instructor to teach basic Inuktitut linguistics to a small group of adult learners. Being somewhat of a pariah in the social development discourse in Nunavut - after years of being critical of what I see as imposed (and unquestioned) social development agenda - I am grateful for the opportunity. I hope I don't make mistakes, including for writing this blog.

One of the Inuit Knowledge (IQ) principles that I've often reflected upon and questioned is the notion that we (the Inuit) should never question or "second-guess" authority and authority figures like our parents, the priests, our political leadership, qallunaat (or white people), etc. In terms of parents, I can accept that; in terms of the "social contract", I think it's dangerous to not question authority and authority figures - dangerous not only to self but also to society, human rights and actualization of human potential.

Now, let me make a qualification here: I'm not critical of certain facts and things (in the Nunavut discourse) just for the sake of hating and wanting things to not work; on the contrary, mostly I'm critical because I love and care about our society, human rights and have a deep regard for human potential as something sacred and a grave matter of trust - a grave matter of trust in the sense that we must rely upon strangers (Inuit and non-Inuit, does not matter) to educate us and our children, to protect us and ensure our safety, and so on. This goes both ways as others rely upon us to respect their trust (implicitly or otherwise).

I'm of the mind that we should respect authority. But to uncritically accept authority as somehow divinely-given and that authority figures are somehow different and superior to us is downright misanthropic and contemptuous of humanity and human dignity and of what is called social progress.

I grew up just after and even during a time of great social upheaval, displacement and degradation. In terms of socialization, this period of social upheaval brought about by sometimes-forced resettlement gave the impression that being cruel and abusive was a sign of strength and respectability - much the same as what Franz Fanon describes in his book, The Wretched of the Earth - of abuse and violence on own kind to deal with self-hatred and hatred of the oppressors and deniers of human dignity. Our culture and language was regarded as having come from the devil himself.

As a child I myself was acculturated into this mindset. One of our own was rejected by the father at birth as not his own (many Inuit children were similarly rejected by either parent (usually the father but sometimes the mother who was unsure who the father was) as was common and attributable to the resettlement and the emotional insecurities brought about by the upheaval). I thought, as a child, that this was an acceptable part of our society, that there were people born "inferior" and worthy of mistreatment and slavery. This is my great source of shame, to have been part of a system of abuse and neglect of the helpless and powerless whether actively or passively.

As I began to develop and learn how to read and take a more critical view of being human, I began to realize the great error of Fanonian self-hatred and self-abuse and my uncritical participation in it. Shame drove me out; awareness of the need for self-improvement made me search in religion then in secular humanism. I no longer believe in the "privileged" state of being but have come to realize that only critical awareness and active vigilance are our only source of decency as individuals and as a society, as a source of progress and transcendence.

I think this "do not question authority" is or once was foreign to IQ: the IQ principle of "pilimmaksarniq" (learning) is based upon the idea that human beings are thinking beings capable of learning through personal experience and reflection, which is fundamentally contrary to arbitrary authority. Inuit child-rearing practices seem downright lax compared to contemporary Western notions in that a child is allowed to explore and learn about the environment through pain and pleasure, through consequence and reward.

Even the pedagogical devices for teaching and learning how to become self-reliant and capable in hunting and taking care of kith and kin assumes that there is no one right way of acquiring knowledge and capacity because wisdom and experience (which is the basis of true knowledge) cannot be taught and only acquired through thought and reflection after trying out and experimentation (under capable moral and practical guidance, mind). Hunting practices and techniques were often kept secret and protected and to be only passed on to one's own because they were acquired through intelligence and hard work. Only those worthy of learning them were worthy of getting and keeping them - not out of contempt but because those not up to the challenges of a hard life were often seen as burdens to survival and well-being of the larger society - in the context of productive tension between pragmatic and moral/ethical considerations that bore down upon all members of that society.

I was caught up and lecturing on the basics and beauty of linguistic concepts and definitions when I inadvertantly used terms and conditions that were apparently not "the same" as the rather dense and convoluted text that appalled and aghast some of my students who thought and mistook memorization of word-for-word text for actual learning. I realized then that they were taught all their academic careers to memorize and not/never question or discuss ideas in textbooks or always take what their non-Inuit superiors told them were the facts at face value (even when they didn't make sense). After all, what is education but edification and exegesis of the bible or canon.

What began as a need for authoritative and uniform interpretation of biblical and legislative text has been translated onto pedagogical approaches imposed upon us. The state of ignorance and deference to authority which the state and church demanded of us at the dawn of our submission to the state of grace is now keeping us from fully and legitimately participating in the political, economic and social discourse: relative poverty, ignorance and subsequent lack of life prospects breed and still perpetuate self- and kind-contempt as reflected in self-murder and the appalling rates of participation in welfare, and the criminal justice and healthcare systems.

We can no longer afford to passively wait for the state to look after our human and social interests; we need an honest self-reflection and critical self-examination to redefine ourselves as a society. Our romantic notions of natural and native state of grace and innocence is propaganda and mental pablum that is bad for our self-preservation and health.

Jay

Monday, 5 September 2011

In support of the protesters against the Keystone XL Pipeline project

One of the people that I admire as a poet/lyricist lives right here in Iqaluit, Nunavut. His name is Michael P Murphy, a long-time Nunavummiut who is originally from Ireland. Now, I don't have permission to share this piece that Murphy wrote so I hope it's ok. I woke up a couple of days ago as my aippaq was playing Michael's CD, The Raven Bird, a northern odyssey, which I thought was a great song to underline what's been happening in Washington, DC, recently regarding the protest against the Keystone xl pipeline project.

The song is called, The Water Song (music and lyrics by Michael P Murphy, 2009):

If you break me down I am of atoms and molecules
All our children know they understand these scientific rules
Still you sit in your ivory tower
Another five year study, clinging onto power
You refuse to face the truth of the dying seas
Ah, industrial man you're murdering me

Well, your body and mind are linked to all of life's other forms
Air and soil, mostly water are our common norm
Still you state that I rant and rave
perhaps it's time to flee and find a hidden cave
You refuse to see the maple forests sicken and die
Ah, industrial man you're murdering me
Hey industrial Giant stop murdering me

Let's make a deal, we're 20 million strong
We're intelligent people you can't string along
We care for our kids and we know what's going wrong
So get up from your seat in your ivory tower
take a permanent look at your land for even one hour
for lack of pollution control you're murdering me
It's a strange contradiction...

Let's make a deal
It's a strange contradiction for the clever creature you are
Permits the usage of water and clay as a common sewer
There while you sit and negotiate
A ton of acid rain has fallen on the state
Beluga whales are so toxic that you must wear gloves
Ah, industrial man your murdering me

If I take legal action to the highest court in the land
Would you call me a radical and label me a new fire brand
The courts believe in justice, they believe in me
There isn't much to lose, some pride and dignity
In the provinces, cities and towns, the people can see
That all your industrial waste, it's murdering me
And the forests and the seas, and the rivers, and the animals,
the flowers, the humans and the birds
Ah, industrial man stop murdering me
Mr industrial man stop murdering me

-Michael once told me that Canada is one of the greatest countries in the world because sectarian violence and other ugly consequences of human pride and prejudice have not infected us as a nation yet. I'm not much of a federalist but I understood his words immediately, and couldn't help but agree. We tend to take for granted what does not give us grief (like clean water and intangible riches of our great country); perhaps we become complacent and jaded and forget that the laurels that hold us up were hard-won by blood and sweat of human decency in the face of great adversity but still remain subject to change - change that, without our vigilance, will not wait for us to put our act together.

Jay