All County, All the Time Since 2010 MAKE THIS YOUR PRINCE EDWARD COUNTY HOME...PAGE!  Tuesday, May 21st, 2024

Stop complaining … fix it

Steve Campbell

Like most of us, I am still fixated on Where We Go From Here. Our world has shattered, and in more ways than we anticipated. George Floyd, on top of COVID-19, on top of finding out how Long Term care facilities failed the grade, and a sudden focus on long term abuse of native Canadians and Asians throughout our history.
I stand by the concept that this is The Great Realization, and I can only hope that this leads us to a greater Canada.

I’m going to say some things that will be upsetting, but may shine a light on where we are now, and where we are going.
To start, I’ll quote late night host John Oliver: “It’s a good chance to reflect about our history, and where we are.” To move ahead, he says, “The key now is for outrage to turn into action.”
There are a number of leaders emerging on every front, so the battle, this time, seems to have a little more heat. The mobs, this time, are not dismissible hippie-dippy flower children, they are focussed change-makers.
But the machine itself – the system – here and in the U.S. is resistant to change. It was designed that way. A late friend of mine, who was an accountant by trade, a staunch Conservative, a fiscal conservative and a general pain in the butt to argue with, once told me that I was under the mistaken impression that government was meant to make things happen. Instead, he said, the government was designed to slow things down so that nothing happened too quickly, so they could control change.
In retrospect, he sure got that right. Anyone who has had direct dealings with any government knows that a turtle could get a speeding ticket before you can get what you want.

The Change is coming from the people, all people. It’s not a matter of beating ourselves with a nine-o-cat whip for our past transgressions, which were many. It’s a matter of how we move forward.
Here is what Governor General Michaëlle Jean said at an address to the Indian Residential Schools Truth and Reconciliation Commission ‘Witnessing the Future’ Ceremony 2009:
“Let us rebuild our history together, for we have a responsibility to acknowledge its every aspect. … (we) must seek to rebuild relationships rooted in trust to better bring people together.
“To all those who survived this contempt, or those who took part, and will have the courage to speak up, I thank you for stepping across that difficult but essential threshold…
“Each of you will help to break down the wall of indifference, to break down solitudes, to imagine how we hope to live together. This is not just a dream. It is a collective responsibility.
“This is how we will come to achieve all that is possible between us… For what is possible is the guarantee of a brighter future for us and for future generations.
“Today, let us make a pact. A pact of solidarity.”

That’s a pretty kick-ass statement, but one I’m not sure we all see. In Canada, people of all backgrounds are looking ahead to a future in which we can beat down the barriers – real or imagined.
That was more than 10 years ago. Now, all the sides to set things right are in place. Oliver was right. We’ve lived with outrageous moments all our lives. Violent response does nothing, except change the focus of the news media.
Jean painted a way to the future, when many of us are digging around to finger-point at our past. We can’t dig up 100-year-old bodies and slap them around. (“Hah! Take that you mummified corpse! How do you like that?!) Perhaps we should look – not to our flagellated outraged oh-so-sorry white selves, suffering the pain of past grievances that none of us actually suffered, but to the very people who suffered the indignities of previous failures.

On a personal front, when we were assembling Prince Edward County: An Illustrated History, Jan and Ian and I were assembling a whole pile of information, chronologically. From our extensive files, we had very little information on the Mohawks, and earlier indigenous people who travelled through our area before settlement by the UELs.

Long story short: This chapter took me six months to write. The first month was spent gaining trust because a long-haired white guy with a load of questions doesn’t exactly make people burst forth with information. That was my first glimpse into being the race that can’t really be trusted.
It took some time, but I got some contacts. And more. Soon I was totally immersed in Indian culture and spirituality, and their world opened up to me. I hit the point where I cried to see such a brilliant society ignored, and instead put under the thumb of a Canadian government which had no understanding of how traditional British ways were totally foreign to those who believed in love of land, nature and community. After six months, it took me a while to get back into the ‘proper’ order and control I was born to.

Racism is a funny thing. If we dig deep enough, we’ve all got our own. A friend of mine, who lives in a Toronto suburb and drives downtown every day, once said: “Asian people are terrible drivers.” Is this racist? When I was driving down the 427, I was eyeballing a driver who was all over the road, nearly crashing into cars in other lanes.
I saw an opportunity to pass, when she was leaning to hit someone in the right hand lane, and took a quick glance, and it was an Asian girl, applying eyeliner on a high speed highway, in her visor mirror.
So, class – is this racist? I’m afraid so. This girl was a jerk, and a dangerous jerk at that. But you can’t apply the behaviour of a jerk to a entire race. In our information society, I’m sure we could get a computer analysis of which Asian drivers are jerks, and thereby determine a cultural connection between Asian:Jerk vs. Regular White Guy: Jerk.
The point is: We tend to generalize. That lady who jumped ahead of you in the line at Giant Tiger? Do you go: “Damn, I hate white people”? No. You go: “What a ##$$ and a &*#@,” but only in your head. Unless you’re me, then you say it out loud which, as it turns out, is not advisable. Apparently GT has some kind of ‘vocal obscenity’ rule.

So here’s where I reveal my personal racism: White people on the 401 with teeny genitals in brightly-coloured, high-powered sports cars capable of more than 200 kph, who weave in and out of slow-moving traffic all the way to the left-hand lane and then power down across two lanes to make the ramp at Thickson Road – should be shot on their way by.
I don’t care who does it. You can be any race, sex, religion or colour. Just take him out. He’s an embarrassment to rich white people everywhere. And .005% of rich white people are pretty decent, I hear. So they will back you, what with all their white privilege and stuff.

  • Steve Campbell is editor and publisher of County Magazine, and the author of several books, including The County Handbook: How to Survive in Prince Edward County.

Filed Under: News from Everywhere ElseSteve Campbell

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