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Archive for April, 2011

Life is almost entirely about deliberation. The choices that we make in each moment affect the choices that we can make in the future; they affect the choices that others make. What I do now is almost inextricably linked to the choices I have made in the past. My choices were put before me not merely by my own accord, but also by the choices and actions of others in this world. I am as much a product of my own deliberation as I am a product of circumstances created outside of my own deliberation; I am a product and a producer. I will revisit these ideas shortly. First, I would like to tell a story about the world and my conscious and unconscious actions within it.

I have a deep appreciation for diversity. Diversity is color. Diversity is plenitude of experience as opposed to one experience. I could constantly see blackness and all that I would experience would be a kind of blind existence. I could constantly see white with similar result. It is only when the kaleidoscope of colors unfolds before me that I can distinguish all of the various shades in between; between the extreme opposites of  black and white.  Diversity is worth fighting for.  Being able to choose a favorite color from the existing colors is in every regard superior to being fated to an existence without free choice.

In this world, East and West are as extreme as the opposition of black to white. Knowing both directions, reveals various shades of existence; it reveals subtle cultural nuances; East and West together reveal the subtleties of human nature; the varying modes of human action; and the otherwise unviewable truths of human potentiality. China and Canada together reveal this East/West divide more than any other two countries I have spent considerable time in. But, we are all still human. The Orient and the Occident really are different; but not so different that we cannot know or understand one another.

There is a whole world of difference between our ways of being. Our ways of governing and our ways of acting and reacting to situations is different. We can line up in neat ques a mile long; or we can fight for our place at the front of the line. We can act as if there is only one mind among many; or we can act as there are many minds directed at individual pursuits. We can eat with chopsticks; or we can eat with a fork and knife.  We can eat off of our own plate; or we can share the same plate with many. Our ways of acting and deliberating are diverse. Our cultures are unique.

Since we share this planet, and since the East and West need to know each other as black knows white and up knows down, my deliberations find me both consciously and unconsciously enamoured with the possibility of having a life in both countries: One life in Canada; and another life in China.

Our countries together will decide the fate of this world that we find ourselves in. It is integral that some people know both worlds in order for us all to recognize the importance of diversity. I do not want to exist in a world of mono-culture. Westernizing or Easternizing the world, or choosing only one shade rather than all the colors between opposite shades, will not do diversity any justice.

Many have asked me recently, why I am so drawn to a country like China. My answer to this is that it is partly by my own choice to choose a color that I like in this world; and it is partly because of the difference in the Chinese way of life, their people, their society, their different way of being and existing that appeals to my innate desire for diversity. I want, more than anything, to be exposed to as many shades as the extremes present between East and West can offer; knowing our similarities and our differences is so valuable to understanding the nature of being human. I would like the freedom to deliberate about my existence from the vastest shades available to me in this world; shades brought to this world by deliberation not of my own but of a culture and a people so different (and yet so similar) from the shade I find beneath the great Canadian Maple.

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When I was younger I liked to write a lot of poetry. I don’t find the time to do this anymore. I am just about to graduate from university and I have decided that one of my options is to move back to China for a couple more years and teach. I’ve been looking through old journals that I wrote when I was living there almost a decade ago. I’ve been trying to remember what it was like to live in a foreign land. The memories flush over me as I sift through the pages of journals full of travel poetry and random ideas that I had almost all but forgotten. This one poem jumped out at me and I would like to share it with you in this blog posting. It is partially a concrete poem; meant to be symbolic of the winding railroad tracks; and the slopes of tea out the window; and the inside of the train car. It is a glimpse into a third class seat aboard a train crossing China. I took the cheap seats to see what it would be like. It took me almost three days to get from northwest China to southwest China. Here is a .pdf copy of what I wrote in my journal:

China Train Car

I also found a video that reminds me of what it is like riding third class on a train in China. Check it out:

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In my view, the answer to the question, “Why should one culture destroy another?” is short and simple: It should not. Why do humans repeatedly destroy the diversity that exists in this world? We kill off entire species of animals. We kill off entire human cultures. We commit genocide and ethnocide. We replace diverse crops with mono-crops. The picture that this creates is nightmarish. Are we really that apathetic that we continue to do these things day in and day out, year after year? What is at the heart of this evil?

In every instance named above, the answer points to power, money, and human greed, lawlessness, and injustice. Species of animals like the buffalo were nearly all killed for their hides–dolphins are killed at incredible rates today in Japan. Native cultures were consciously killed for their lands. Cultures are still vanishing today for land and resources; for instance, indigenous groups in Ecuador are being displaced by oil firms. The Nazi’s killed millions of Jews; the Jews now displace the Palestinians. Monsanto and other agricultural giants make mono-crops replace crop diversity. All these things relate back to a desire for power and money by a relatively small group. Meanwhile, the rest of us allow it to happen. We complain about over taxation; complain about the prices of goods and services; complain about unemployment and poverty; complain that minimum wage is not enough. The whole time, the majority allows the minority to rape the earth in the majority’s name.

We need change. We need to learn to respect. We need just laws and just people to live up to them. The time has come to re-evaluate our collective actions and reorient ourselves. Capitalist globalization threatens world diversity. We cannot have more of the same. The Earth’s diversity is vanishing because we allow it to happen. An alternative to Capitalism and its exploitative methods MUST be peacefully appropriated. The rich must not be allowed the fortune of excess; and the poor must not be allowed to die for our inaction any longer. The time has come for humanity to awaken and evolve. We need to realize who controls mass public opinion and how they do it. We need to learn to ignore what the most powerful responsible for the rape and pillage are saying to us; but we need to stop ignoring what they are doing to our planet and it’s inhabitants. The time for change is now. But how can we do it safely? How can we do it without violence? How can we do it and still remain safe from harms way? What type of system must replace the flawed one that now has hold of the world? These questions need to be answered first or the project is futile; greedy in and of itself; meaningless and dangerous. But to go back to the question that started this blog posting: I answered that we should not allow one culture to kill another. We must find a way to allow capitalism and capitalist culture to exist as well. However, we must not let it destroy everything in its path along the way.

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