Friday, February 29, 2008

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall...The Other Beauty

Who's the fairest of all?

While we relentlessly convince North American women to be forever youthful with big breasts, teeny waists, white teeth, clear skin, fatless figures, waxed bodies, and designer jeans...

...many women of colour struggle with being too dark-skinned, squinty-eyed, kinky-haired, flat-faced, big-lipped, wide-nosed...

Judging by these impossible expectations, one can't really win!

In Filipino culture, a light-skinned ideal has been perpetuated by what I like to call, mestiza posturing. Mestiza/mestizo is a term borrowed from Spanish to mean one who has mixed indigenous and European blood, and even if individuals do not have this mixed descent, this look often governs mainstream perceptions of beauty. Just take a look at these major Filipina celebrities:

Vina Morales

K.C. Concepcion

Jennylyn Mercado

Taking this idea even further, mestiza posturing can also be seen as a bi-product of the Philippines' colonial/feudalistic legacy in which a system of white authority and brown inferiority was built upon the appropriated archipelago.

In "Emil's Big Chance Makes Me Feel Uneasy," Tricia Capistrano, reveals how much of her life has been dictated by this mestiza complex. She describes this underlying "white is right" consciousness:

I am a brown-skinned woman from the Philippines, where many people I know have a fascination with the lighter skinned--probably because our islands were invaded so many times by whites who tried to convince us that they were better and more beautiful than us. We were under Spain's rule for nearly 400 years, the United States' for almost 50. As a result, skin-whitening products fly off the pharmacy shelves.

With this notion of light-skinned superiority ingrained deeply into her teenage consciousness, Capistrano admits how she used to "hang out with the mestizas, because I wanted to be popular like them." And the quest for whiteness didn't stop there. While her grandmother cringed at the idea of her already dark skin becoming even darker at a friend's pool party, Capistrano's own mother encouraged her to start pinching the bridge of her nose everyday in hopes of "arching" its imperfectly flat surface.

After giving birth to her son, Emil, Capistrano was suddenly able to see the other side of the equation. Emil was a fair-skinned mestizo of Swedish/Dutch and Filipino descent which automatically made him a member of the most exclusive club. This became even more apparent during a family trip to the Philippines when Capistrano was continually bombarded by a slew of Filipina admirers ogling at her mestizo son. He's so cute! So fair-skinned!--they would exclaim.

Fearing the cost of Emil's future college education, Capistrano even considered moving back to the Philippines permanently, confident that her son could easily land a part doing baby commercials. When she was on the verge of booking an agent, Capistrano suddenly reconsidered her plans: "I realized that I was going to be part of the system that can sometimes make us dark-skinned people believe that we are inferior. I do not want Filipino children who look like me to feel bad about themselves....


So even though I've focused the majority of this discussion on the Philippine perspective of beauty, I would like to turn your attention to another demographic--African American women. A friend of mine recently recommended this documentary featurette, A Girl Like Me, directed by a 17 year-old filmmaker, Kiri Davis. In her film, Davis insightfully explores perceptions of beauty through the eyes of African American girls. Like their Filipina counterparts, these young women reveal how they are often taught to perceive lighter-skin as more beautiful, while sometimes feeling pressured to surrender their traditional curls for the tamed relaxed look.

Without further ado, watch A Girl Like Me right here:

Related Resources

Borderlands/ La Frontera: A New Mestiza--Gloria Anzaldua

Emulated through Images: The Globalization of Misconstructed African American Beauty and Hip-Hop Culture--John Hendrick Clarke

Liminality and mestiza consciousness in Lynda Barry's One Hundred Demons --Melissa de Jesus

Metaphors of a Mestiza Consciousness --Erika Aigner-Varoz

Tagalog Movies and Identity :Portrayals of the Filipino Self --James F. Kenny

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Teeny Weeny Computer

I may be behind the times here, but has anyone else seen these ultra-mini computers? These pen-like PCs are straight out of a 007 flick or an episode of Inspector Gadget. Go-go gadget PC!

**UPDATE: I'm not entirely sure if this technology is urban legend or not, so here are a couple links you can check out to decide for yourself. As far as I know, I believe the photos above are just simulations of virtual keyboards--not actual prototypes.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Lee Thomas: A Black Man Turning White

"Some people act like they don't even see it…Some people stop right in their tracks staring. But there was another time I walked into a room and saw a little girl, about two[years-old], and she looked at my face and screamed. I didn't leave the house for two weeks after that one...The look on her face, she was scared...And you know when a child's in danger or a child is fearful, you want to reach out and help them, right? But if reached out to help her, I was the one scaring her so I felt helpless. And because of that, I didn't know what to do. What do you do?"--Lee Thompson

At 25 years-old, the world has suddenly become your oyster. You are on the brink of getting that first big break in the broadcasting industry--a stint as an entertainment reporter on an ABC affiliate in New York City. Not bad at all...

...well...except for the fact that your barber has found some unusual white patches on your scalp. There's no need to become too alarmed, right? It doesn't seem like that big of a have also found some white spots on your hands...and now these damn spots just won't go away!

Vitiligo. This is the diagnosis Lee Thompson's doctor made upon observing this rapid loss in his skin's pigmentation. A progressive skin disorder in which pigment-producing cells begin to suddenly die, vitiligo sadly has no cure. So in essence, Thompson had just been told that he was an African American-man-turning-white and there was absolutely nothing he could do about it...

What was he going to do?!

He was a successful broadcaster on television, yes television, so his job depended on his appearance. But there was also the more significant implications of his impending whiteness. Previously concrete truths regarding race, identity, and in turn, his own sense of self were now horribly thrown out of whack. Was he still a Black man even though he was becoming white?

So Thompson did what most of us would do--he hid the vitiligo, both figuratively and literally, under a mask of creams and make-up. This was his reasoning:

I wear the make-up because it makes it easier…not just easier for me…but easier for other people to deal with me...News isn't about me, it's about the information.So I put the make-up on so they can hear me.
He kept his condition a secret for four whole years until the vitiligo became impossible to hide, spreading to his arms, hands, and even face. So Thompson knew he had to come clean.

Once he revealed the truth to his colleagues at Fox News Detroit, Thompson decided not just to stop there. He decided to speak about his experiences with vitiligo, ON-AIR, in which he appeared for the first time on camera without any make-up. This was a huge moment for him...

After receiving countless letters of support and encouragement regarding his story, Thompson was especially moved by the responses from children suffering from vitiligo. One little boy wrote a letter asking him to continue telling people about the disease so that the kids at school would stop making fun of him. From that moment on, Thompson became committed to the cause.

Not only has he started the first vitiligo support group in Michigan, Thompson wrote his memoir, Turning White, complete with several candid photos, in order to educate others on his disease. He is also using some of the proceeds from the book to fund his support group. And even though Thompson used to think that vitiligo threatened to take a part of him away, he now sees things very differently:

This thing is kind of like a superhero. If one thing is taken from you, then something else is given to you--some kind of strength. Since my pigment's losing, I must have some other something to make me strong…I didn't get super strength or speed or anything like that…but what I did get…is the power of speech.

What are your thoughts on Thompson's story?

Watch Turning White video documentary HERE.

Watch Lee Thomas interview on The Hour HERE.

Monday, February 25, 2008

The Quest for Cool

We're cool, right? Or as Conan exclaims, "Be cool my babies!"

But wait a minute, what does cool even mean?

OK, so this post was inspired by an Adbusters article I just read--"The Reconquest of Cool", in which Kalle Lasn accuses the culture of corporate "cool" of creating a generation of consuming robots who have been hypnotized into submission by savvy advertising campaigns. In Lasn's words, "We’re finally beginning to understand where this bogus cool has been leading us: not to happiness and prosperity as promised in the ads, but to cynicism, ecocide and a brutal, dog-eat-dog future."

We've heard this diatribe before, right? A familiar apple, which frankly, hasn't fallen far from the tree of Naomi Klein's anti-brand manifesto, No Logo, or Michael Moore's expose' filmmaking. Lasn's ethos also sounds a lot like that of Tommy Corn, Mark Wahlberg's character in I ♥ Huckabees. He's that jaded firefighter-turned-environmentalist whose 9/11 experiences have opened the door to a seemingly endless existential dilemma in which the human cost of that Swoosh and the true price of oil have suddenly become the centre of his universe.

But instead of continuing down this well-worn path, I'm more concerned about discovering the source of the supposed sands of coolness. If corporate cool is referred to as "bogus cool," then what the heck is authentic cool?

Well, according to Lasn's dubious claim, "[C]ool has always been an attitude of resistance to subjugation, an expression of rebellion and a posture of defiance...." She even calls on her loyal readers to, "Start generating authentic cool from the bottom up again."

Is it just me, or have we become completely lost in semantics here?

So in my admittedly trivial quest to find out where cool actually came from, I did make some interesting discoveries. While Lasn agrees that the origin of the word can be traced back to Africa, its meaning has not always been rooted in the kind of countercultural activism she has claimed.

On the contrary, the linguistic equivalent of cool was originally conceived by certain West African tribes to describe the most desirable state of being. According to Robert Farris Thompson's "An Aesthetic of the Cool," the Gola people of Liberia defined the term as, "[The] ability to be nonchalant at the right reveal no emotion...It is particularly admirable to do difficult tasks with an air of ease and silent disdain."

This notion of coolness was also shared by the the Yoruba of Nigeria who sculpted bronze busts of kings and other notable figures in the likeness of this calm and serene aesthetic.

And low and behold, there is also a plethora of other cultural interpretations of cool:

  • sprezzatura: an Italian term with as many ambiguous meanings as its cool counterpart, used to describe an effortless artistic chic most famously personified by da Vinci's Mona Lisa--popular during High Renaissance Europe

  • Dada: an anti-war countercultural Arts movement that turned contemporary art and culture on its head--originated in Zurich, Switzerland during WWI

  • American "cool": made popular during the 1940s in both the Jazz and Beatnik countercultures

Out of all these derivations, I'm assuming the last two reflect Lasn's perceptions of authentic cool the best. But frankly, I'm doubtful if her brand of cool even exists. We can all agree that the expression has become so generic and ambiguous that it now seems, well, meaningless. And during a time when we are all struggling to restore the intrinsic value of community in the world, while trying to heighten the sense of urgency in regards to our significant social and environmental responsibilities, using cool to symbolize this movement somehow just doesn't cut it.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Video Cop-out #4--A Mini B-boy

Check out this kid's mad headspinning skills. He's completely insane (in a good way of course)!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


Don't you love when you catch yourself in one of those moments?

When you're a kid, these instances seem to be endless. Everything is so new and exciting and magical and well...meaningful. Children become engrossed in everything they do, whether it be playing soccer at the park or learning how to play a new instrument, so much so that their passion and enthusiasm becomes beautifully contagious.

Even though I don't have children of my own (yet), I've spent a lot of time mentoring kids in youth groups and working with students within the public school system, so I've been lucky enough to share some memorable experiences with them. One of my favourite moments was when I had the opportunity of teaching a group of grade 2s a Music unit on percussion instruments. And believe me, it was just as fun as it sounds...

I taught the Music class at an inner-city school in Victoria. Since 70% of the demographic consisted of Aboriginal children, the school had a number of cultural revitalization programs such as a Coast Salish Studies class, First Nations' drumming groups, and a number of social supports in place to ensure the well being of these students. With the dark leagacy of Canada's residential school system marring the lives of many of these students' parents, such measures were integral in providing meaningful education for this new generation of Aborginal youth.

So with all of this in mind, it only made sense that I geared my unit plans towards a First Nations theme.

The beautiful thing about Aboriginal music is that there is such a strong spiritual component to many of the songs. Since many of these nations depend on storytelling to carry on their ancestral legacies, family songs are treated like sacred scrolls that are passed down through the generations. I was also in luck because First Nations music just happens to be very percussion-oriented.

Since my students were very young, I planned my lessons with a very simple progression:
  • Lesson 1: The Beat

  • Lesson 2: Introduce Percussion Instruments

  • Lesson 3: Rhythm

  • Lesson 4: Dynamics

  • Lesson 5: Combine the Beat, Rhythm, Dynamics

  • Lesson 6: Performance

Throughout this whole process, I taught my students only one song called "Gitsigakomim" (pron: git-see-ga-ko-meem), a lovely Cree melody which means honour/love thy mother. Again, this was to keep things simple. Over time, they would layer each of the components learned above, using their percussion instruments.

When I first taught the students the song (sans the instruments), I was almost moved to tears. "Gitsigakomim" carries a very simple yet powerful melody consisting of 1 verse and 1 chorus that are repeated throughout the song. So there I was, standing in the middle of this circle of 8 year-olds, as 30 of these little voices joined in unison to fill the classroom with this melodic chant:

"Gitsigakomim/ He-ey Ya/ Gitsigakomim/ He-ey Ya/ Gitsigakomim/ He-ey Ya/ Git-si-ga-ko-mim/Hey ya, he-ey ya/ Hey ya, he-ey ya..."

And once I started introducing the instruments, I knew these kids were naturals. Their impressive skill level actually caught me off guard since I was able to teach Lessons #2-4 in just two lessons. A pretty crazy feat when you consider the logistics--30 students, 30 sets of very noisy percussion instruments, and 8 year-old attention spans--need I say more? But somehow we just plowed on through since the kids loved to sing, and play the instruments, and hear the fruits of their labour. It was so gratifying for me because I could tell they were really very passionate about making music.

During their final lesson, the students combined all of the elements they had learned into a single performance. As their teacher, aides, principal, and vice principal came together as the audience, the students strutted their musical stuff...

>enter triangles: TING///TING///TING///TING

>>enter hand drums: BOOM/ BOOM/ BOOM/ BOOM

>>>enter rhythm sticks: ti-ti/ ti-ti/ ti-ti/ ti-ti

>>>>enter tambourines: TA-ti-ti-ti / TA-ti-ti-ti/ TA-ti-ti-ti/ TA-ti-ti-ti

>>>>>start singing "Gitsigakomim"

Smiling happy faces sang their little hearts out during that performance. Our voices rose together in that room to achieve that same euphoric energy one feels when watching your favourite band play at an outdoor ampitheatre. Except this time, the kids were the band and the venue was the classroom, where we were sharing our special moment together...

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Video Cop-Out: Move Over Guitar Hero!

This little guy is definitely going to be the next guitar virtuoso of our time. He absolutely blew my mind! Apparently, he's only 9 years-old and already playing the crazy signature arpeggios of Mr. Frusciante. Here's his rendition of the Red Hot Chili Peppers' "Snow (Hey Oh)"--not an easy song by any stretch...

Friday, February 15, 2008

Lazy Summer Days and Lo-Fi Indie Rock at its Best

Sometimes all you need is a drum and a bass to carry a tune, and this Canadian indie duo sure did it right. Mike O'Neill's sweet vocals and distorted bass lines, along with David Ullrich's rock steady beats came together to form The Inbreds back in the early-9os. Hailing from Kingston, Ontario, the band then moved to Halifax, soon building a loyal following in the city's thriving indie scene.

Now let's take a trip through memory lane...

It was the summer of '95 and my best girlfriends and I were inseparable. We were 15 and passed these summer lazy days by hackey-sacking at the neighbourhood park, gossiping (about everything that walked), drinking way too many (non-spiked) Slurpees, and going for a refreshing swim at the local pool with "the boys" (which was always a very welcomed event). Oh, summer time and the living's easy.

Whenever we felt the need to switch-up our well-worn routine (usually during a rainy day), we'd head over to my place, where my mom was always trying to feed us copious amounts of food (a definite perk), and we'd take our seats in the living room, tuning into whatever bands VJ Sook-yin Lee was recommending that week on The Wedge, a Much Music indie rock program. Since we were sitting around half-listening to the TV and simultaneously chatting about how a really cute boy was sooo into one of our friends, I remember how we all suddenly became enthralled with a particular song, "Any Sense of Time" by The Inbreds. It was basically two dudes and a mic, singing:
"Don't back down like you always do/ The time to speak out is long overdue/ Why complain but yet brush his name?/ He's a cramp surely you're no tramp..."

So even though The Inbreds are now defunct, I will always listen to their sophomore album, Kombinator, with a special fondness that brings me right back to those lazy ol' summer days...

Watch "Any Sense of Time." It's a goodie!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Running for Their Lives

No one can deny the power of language. As we all know, words can be contorted in ways that toy with our perceptions, prejudices, and sense of reality. The most obvious example of these tactics are apparent in the euphemistic discourse of the military and the strategic jargon used by governments:

  • friendly fire

  • collateral damage

  • neutralize

  • soft targets

  • body count

  • rogue states

In spite of all this questionable terminology, the word that irks me the most would have to be illegal aliens. Seriously...when did it become OK to officially refer to other human beings as aliens?? Sure, we're talking about illegal immigration and the coinciding cost in tax payer dollars, but let's not forget the ridiculous amount of public spending and foreign investments going into the supposed War on Terror.

Worst of all, the term, illegal aliens, conveniently separates the humanity from the real problems--NAFTA ( in the case of Mexico), poverty, war, struggling economies, corrupt governments--so much so that another ugly portrait is painted instead. This us against them mentality conjures up negative imagery involving: a group of foreign parasitic fence-jumpers who have the audacity to free-load off our system. How dare they! --You get the point.

So for just a moment, let's flip this lens.

How far would you go in order to save your family from poverty? Would you break the law? Would you risk your own life? Imagine that you had no other options....

Quique dreams of El Norte, a land of opportunity where the poor become rich, the sick can afford care, and children become educated. Despite this romanticized view of both Canada and America, for Quique, anything seems better than his life in Honduras.

At 20 years-old, Quique lives in an ubiquitous Central American slum, where his wife, young son, and 11 other family members live under the same corrugated tin roof. Since the average wage of a Honduran is a mere $900 CAD/ year, it is impossible to escape this trap of poverty. But for the sake of his family, Quique figures that it's worth a shot...

Him and his travel companions, Chacon, Daniel, and Eber, have only $100 between them but are determined as ever to cross that finish line. But the journey itself is not for the faint of heart. Spanning nearly 5000 km, the trip from Honduras to America is as long as it is dangerous. Not only are the border towns in both Guatemala and Mexico overrun by the most notorious of street gangs, their main mode of transportation will be hopping freight trains, the dangers of which range from getting pulled under a rail car to being brutally robbed by a travelling gang member. The trip to El Norte basically makes Everest look like a walk in the park.

So do Quique and his friends beat these terrible odds and make it to El Norte? Will they ever see their families again? Well, you'll have to watch the CBC documentary, Run For Your Life, to find out.

Watch Run For Your Life online right HERE!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Say what??

Crass but true....

Wait a this a flashback?

Way to kick someone when they're down, eh?

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Oh! Yeah! I wanna riot!--Slam Dancing to Pinoy Punk Rock

Golly gee whiz, Filipino punk rock does exist!

In my very first post, I shared my experiences of frequenting my hometown's local punk/ska scene as seemingly the only Filipina at any of those shows. It was almost comical at times since I would often show up with my buddy, Andy, a big tall Black guy with a heart of gold, who was also an aficionado of Black Flag, Dead Kennedys, Operation Ivy, and the like....Andy and I, along with the rest of our friends, would often arrive at these gigs amidst stares ranging from mere curiousity to sheer puzzlement, which seemed to imply:

Dude, are you in the right place? SNFU is playing tonight not Run DMC....

Okay, so no one ever came out and said that but like I said, their stares often said it all. And the thing was, I also happened to listen to Hip Hop, Trip Hop, Indie, and Classic Rock--Who the f*** cared? But once I got older and started checking out DJ buddies of mine spinning Breaks and Jungle beats at local clubs, I would be one Pinay in a sea of other Filipinos so I was always treated with a special kind of respect--the nod--like I was their long lost brethren.

So what did this all mean?

I wasn't sure. It was something that I was aware of, but couldn't quite put my finger on.

So years whizzed by and this subject fell right off my radar as university, relationships, and careers begin to take centre stage. That is, until recently....

After starting my blog and writing that first post, it seriously got me thinking. Are there actually Filipino punks and rude girls/ boys out there?

A night of unscholarly research via GOOGLE and an entire bag of Clodhoppers turned up the answer I was looking for: YES!

Issues of race, identity, politics, activism, and resistance becamse apparent in the voices of :

ESKAPO--a Filipino American hardcore band outta Vallejo, CA

KADENA--a Filipino American punk band from Brooklyn, NY

T.R.A--a Pinoy punk/ska band from Cainta, Rizal Phillipines

Delubyo--Filipino American hardcore band outta Vallejo, CA

Shuffle Union--Pinoy ska band from Quezon City, Metro Manila

Marcos Cronies--Pinoy Ska band from Angeles, Pampanga Philippines
Put3Ska--two-tone ska outta Manila

I.O.V., G.I. the Idiots, Betrayed and Dead Ends--Filipino hardcore godfathers circa 1980s

What I realize now is that I shouldn't have been surprised. Extreme poverty and the seemingly endless generations of political instability--most recently marked by the corruption of Marcos, Ramos, Estrada, and Arroya--naturally went hand-in-hand with the origins of punk rock ethos. Instead of Joe Strummer and Johnny Rotten expressing their disillusionment in regards to the British monarchy and blatant classism in the UK, Pinoy hardcore trailblazers, Urban Bandits, were screaming their angst about the political assasination of Sen. Ninoy Aquino, a man seen as a symbol of hope in succeeding the notorious Marcos. They were all voices of punk rock resistance, only separated by geography.

And in discovering this rich history of Pinoy punk rock, I couldn't help but feel a sense of personal validation. My identity had been legitimized in much the same way I had suddenly become relavant when I went from being the only Pinay kid in Elementary School, to becoming one of many Filipino Canadians in High School. I wasn't the only one....

As a very fitting end to this post, I'll leave you all with this great documentary made by a group of Filipino American students at the University of San Francisco entitled, Rock and Resistance: Filipino American Identity Beyond Bebot (**"Bebot" is a reference to a Black Eye Peas song of the same name, which translates into 'hot chick' in Tagalog**). The documentary spotlights the contributions made by Filipino American musicians outside of the realm of Hip Hop.

Rock and Resistance: Filipino American Identity Beyond Bebot (Pt. 1)

(Pt. 2)

An Unofficial History of Philippine Punk

Philippines--80s Hardcore

Razorcake zine--"Philippine Hardcore/ Punk Scene Report"

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Can We Really Give Peace a Chance?

A few days ago....

Since my partner, G, has a background in Sino-Candian History, we seem to have a lot of philosophical conversations about war, politics, and random historical facts (I know, we need to get out more). So a few days ago, we're talking about Canada's "role" in Afghanistan, while slowly transitioning into a discussion about John Lennon:

G: You know, we never really did give peace a chance.

M: Ha ha ha! Did you really just say that? You're beginning to sound like John Lennon.

G: Well, he does have a point. Lennon's attitude is all like--Why don't we just try it out and give peace a chance? So you have to wonder what would actually happen if we did.

M: That definitely is an idyllic way of looking at the world, and you of all people know that war is rooted in structurual issues pertaining to religion, borders, poverty, and resources.

G: Obviously. But I don't think warfare is an inherent part of humanity. We just choose war as the means to justify the ends. Believe it or not, there are cultures in the world that have actually coexisted peacefully.

M: True. But remember, when you say we, you're talking about Canada, Britain, the U.S., Israel, etc....These countries' histories are embedded in warfare. It's the way they function on the world stage.

G: I know, the realities are bleak but it's hard not to entertain the notion of peace. I want there to be some hope for the world.

M: Me to....

So can we actually coexist without war?

Theoretically, I would say yes. There are societies that have emerged from non-violent values in which peaceful conflict resolution is favoured over physical aggression. Here are just a few of these warless cultures:

Amish--midwest and mid-atlantic United States
Batek --Malaysia
Birhor--central and eastern India
Buid--Mindoro Island, Philippines
Inuit--Arctic and northeastern Canada, Alaska, Greenland
Ju/'hoansi--deserts of Botswana, Namibia, Angola
Lepchas--northern India, Bhutan, Nepal
Mbuti--Congo, Africa
Yanadi--southern India

While each of these societies are unique and have their own diverse cultures, languages, social organization, and spirituality, there are remarkable similarities in regards to their conflict resolution strategies. Such practices include:

    • egalitarianism--Amish, Birhor, Buid, Ju/'hoansi
    • individual humility--Amish, Inuit,

    • permanent separation of conflicting individuals--Batek, Birhor, Buid, Chewong, Kadar, Tahitians,

    • avoiding conflict (retreating/fleeing from aggressors)--Batek, Lepchas, Mbuti, Tahitians, Yanadi
    • small communities--all of these societies have populations of under 400,000

    Even though physical conflicts may still arise between individuals from these cultures, violence is never seen as a justifiable means of conflict resolution. For this reason, several social guards are in place to keep greed and competition between individuals in-check, thus preventing the outbreak of open warfare due to the perceived moral consequences of such actions.

    But are peaceful relations achievable on a grander scale ?

    Maybe. While we (Canada and the United States) maintain social order in the form of laws, police enforcement, courts, and prisons, we follow this code of conduct fully conscious of the underlying double-standard:

    Killing someone in cold blood outside of combat is a vicious crime, but killing an enemy of war is perfectly acceptable. In fact, it's encouraged. C'mon it's for the freedom of your country or for "peacekeeping"--we'll even pay you for it. And not only do we want you to kill 'em, we'll give you a variety of ways to do it. You have an entire aresenol to choose from! What will it be? A couple of M-16s and RPGs? How about a M-24 to peg them off one by one?

    And as we all know, much of this duplicity leaks right into our politics (ie. "Watergate" and "The Sponsorship Scandal") and economy (ie. Nortel and Enron) as the rich get richer and the poor get prison. It's just the nature of the system.

    But what happens if the Canadian and American powers-that-be had a sudden change of heart: You know what? We're just sick and tired of invading sovereign nations in order to maintain our influence on the world stage and strategize our own personal gain. Attempting to clone their systems into our democratic model was also a really bad idea. Instead, we should focus the onus of our foreign policy energies on an area that actually needs us. Hmmm...I have an idea. Why don't we help Africa? Yeah, that's a great idea it's a continent ridden in famine, warfare, and AIDS--they could really use our help....

    OK, so bear with my little fantasy for just a moment. So what would happen? Canada and the States would now be faced with a quandery: they couldn't expect to withdraw their military forces overseas without any future reprisals, not to mention the enormous infrastructural damages and political instability left in these nations. Factum infectum fieri nequit--what is done cannot be undone.

    And with all fantasies aside, once you start peeling back the layers, it seems like there are several obstacles standing in the way of "world peace"--the desire for oil and other valuable resources, religious border disputes, human rights abuses, corrupt governments, poverty, global structural inequalities, and the list goes on....

    According to the 14th Dalai Lama:

    Peace, in the sense of the absence of war, is of little value to someone who is dying of hunger or cold. It will not remove the pain of torture inflicted on a prisoner of conscience. It does not comfort those who have lost their loved ones in floods caused by senseless deforestation in a neighboring country. Peace can only last where human rights are respected, where people are fed, and where individuals and nations are free.

    Sometime in the late 1980s....

    There I am. All of the harsh fluorescent lights in the gymnasium have been dimmed in favour of a few strategic spotlights that cast their beams on my third grade choir. I’m really nervous because there seems to be thousands of oogling eyes from the audience staring in our direction. They sit over a hush of quiet whispers, eagerly awaiting our performance.

    It’s my first solo—ever—and I anxiously wait for my musical cue. I am only supposed to sing the first verse of our first selection, but at the time, it feels like I have to sing an entire opera. Once I hear the piano intro, I know that the time has come and there’s no turning back now: “Let there be peace on Earth/ and let it begin with me/ Let there be peace on Earth/ the peace that was meant to be….”

    **So let me pass the question onto all of my dear readers: Can our current global system acutally coexist without warfare?

    For Your Interest:

    Conflict Resolution Among Peaceful Societies: The Culture of Peacefulness

    Peaceful Societies

    Warless Societies and the Origins of War

    Monday, February 4, 2008

    Video Cop-Out--George Carlin "Stuff" Routine

    So I'll be back with a brand-spanking new post shortly. In the meantime, enjoy the hilarious George Carlin....

    Powered by WebRing.

    I used to friggin love this game as a kid!! You have to play at least one game!