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You may wonder why I put “racism” inside quotation marks. That’s because most of what is called racism actually isn’t. Let me give you an example. A Jewish mother wants her son to marry “a nice Jewish girl.” For one thing, “Jewish” is not a race; it’s a religion. And even Semitic Jews are essentially the same race as their Arab Muslim neighbours. Every once in a while, some politician from Quebec calls criticism of its draconian language laws from English Canadians “racist”, which is even sillier because French is simply a language.

Actual racism is the idea that one race is superior or inferior to another based solely on their respective skin colours. Now THAT’s racist. Also, it’s ugly, and it’s evil, but I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about what activists and others have done to expand the definition.

Down at the Toronto District School Board (for which I used to teach), they define racism as “racial prejudice plus power”. The mischief in their definition is in those seemingly innocuous last too words: plus power. You see, because white people have all the power, they are the only one capable of racism – which is ridiculous, and itself a glaring example of racism. That, too, is ugly and evil. Let me explain:

Whole generations are being raised with the implicit, and sometimes explicit notion that only white people are (or even can be) racist. This is drummed into them in both the curriculum and themed assemblies – I’ve seen them. In one assembly, an outside group presented a series of seventeen skits – yes, I kept track – were presented that illustrated racism, sexism, homophobia, and other forms of intolerance. I sought to keep track of the perpetrators, but really there was no need. In the end, I saw that the composite evil doer was the straight, white, able-bodied, English-speaking male – without a single exception. How’s THAT for stereotyping.

And so, a new stereotype of supposed evil is being created and pushed by the schools.

In only a few decades, whites will be in the minority in Toronto. How will that non-white majority look at, and treat, the white minority after being brainwashed into seeing them as the enemy?

Not well – obviously.

And just as obviously, this is not a reality that white people would have chosen for themselves back when Trudeau the Elder changed our pro-European immigration policy to favour non-whites.

So would it, now, be racist to revisit that decision? To go back to favouring English-speaking Europeans?

My opinion?

No!

And let’s dismantle all forms of hate-producing political correctness while we’re at it.

A few years ago. I went to the British Show, and I was amazed at the attendees. I was used to getting jostled on the TTC and other places where there are crowds, but not there. Not one person bumped into me the whole time I was there. Not one. Why? I think it was for two reasons. Firstly, the British tend to be a very polite people (lager louts aside) who put considerable stock in things like personal space. Secondly, I think we were all conscious that we shared something – a common identity – and that produced more polite behaviour.

So why not do that for a whole society? A homogenous, unicultural society. (By the way, the concept of “uniculturalsim” is so foreign to our society these days that even the spellchecker choked on it.)

Why not? Because some people would consider it racist.

People get along better when they have things in common, the more so the better. Diversity is NOT our strength; it creates barriers of non-understanding – a cultural Tower of Babel. And we can see it playing out in our society. If you’re old even (like me) to remember what things were like in the 50s, and you’re intellectually honest enough to admit it, you know that it’s true.

Racism, actual racism, is evil.

Preferring to have something in common with your neighbours is not.

 

What Do We Want?

Sometimes, it’s hard to resist temptation. Satisfying that addiction, taking a bite of that cake, giving into anger . . . We know it’s not a good idea, but we want it . . . or do we?

On some level, we obviously do, but we humans are complex, multi-layered beings, and not all of our parts exist in harmony – that’s what it means to be conflicted, and it happens all the time.

When faced with  such a conflict, when different parts of the glorious creature that is me, in all its conflicted glory, I try to go deep. I try to sit down, take a deep breath, and think, “What does my heart want? What does my soul want? What does the deepest part of Lon Palmer want?”

Or as the Spice Girls sang, “Tell me what you want, what you really, really want . . .”

Yes, that piece of chocolate cake would give me some profound tongue-entertainment, but what would it do for my my waistline? For my health? For my wish to live a natural life, which helps ground me and feel physically, emotionally and spiritually in balance?

Yes, that’s assigning profound significance to a piece of chocolate cake, enough little things can add up to something big. As my mother once told me, “Watch the pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves.”

So that’s what I try to do. When I want something that I feel won’t be such a good idea, I try to think, “I know that, at level, I want this, but what does the deepest part of me want?” In other words, “That do want?”

Sometimes, it works . . .

 

And not just Toronto, but Canada, and the whole of Western civilization, but let’s start small . . .

Toronto is becoming more and more crowded. “Affordable housing” is becoming the oxymoron of the 21st century, not only here but in other major urban centres in Canada. I have a house, but I couldn’t buy one now – I would be priced out of the market. And traffic . . .? It takes longer to get everywhere, and it will only get worse.

And why is all this happening?

Immigration.

And yes, it’s THAT simple. It’s all supply and demand. Too many people are coming to Canada, and they all want to come to Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal. From those cities, people move to the suburbs in search of housing, and the problem spreads like metastases. People have to either a) make or inherit a LOT of money, b) move out (i.e. be driven out of their own birthplace), or c) become perpetual renters, forever forgoing the dream of home ownership. Meanwhile, the roads become increasingly clogged.

We’re told that we NEED immigrants to “grow the economy”, but what use is that when you can’t afford to own your own home? Isn’t that a gigantic DECREASE in our standard of living? And why, exactly, do we need the economy to grow at all, especially with these devastating side effects? Edward Abby said, “Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell.”

And how is Toronto handling it? Very, very badly.

First of all, we have become a “sanctuary city” for refugees, where even phoney refugees are receiving full social services with no questions asked and no reporting to federal authorities. That’s aiding and abetting criminals, if you think about it. And it’s attracting them in record numbers, growing our population even more.

The city is also badly mishandling the transportation file, dithering about building subways and waging a disastrous “war on the car”. The resulting increasing gridlock is costing billions.

But there are things we can do about it. These problems can still be fixed – IF there is the will to embrace the obvious solutions:

1 – Decrease immigration. Ask the Feds to slash the number of people allowed to enter the country. And the Feds will do it, seeing as Toronto votes almost solidly Liberal.  Supply and demand will take care of the rest. Housing prices will fall, streets will unclog, and the city will become liveable again.

2 – Incentivize remaining immigrants to spread out through grants and services.

3 – Make the TTC work. Lengthen subway platforms to accommodate longer trains. Put more busses on the road, including British-style double deckers – enough so that people could sit down rather than stand like cattle going to slaughter. Build more subways, including the Downtown Relief Line. Slash TTC fares. Taken together, these measures would make public transit irresistible for many people and get a lot of cars off the road. Yes, it would cost a fortune, but not as much as the lost money to the economy due to increasing gridlock.

Are these solutions rather obvious?

But politicians are stupid, including Mayor John Tory.

At least Rob Ford wanted to build subways . . .

What’s This?

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Does anyone recognize this?

It’s a telephone table, a relic of a bygone age. I inherited it from my parents. A telephone (of course) sat on top, and that little shelf right underneath that is where those big, fat yellow and white pages sat – the telephone books.

I can’t remember the last time I got a telephone directory, but it was several years ago. Does anyone still get them?  They came to the house once a year, but I haven’t gotten one in ages.

My ten-year-old god-daughter looks at me strangely when I tell her about the telephones back when I was her age: big black clunky things with rotary dials – but they never broke. Once, I forgot to hang up the phone after talking with a friend – long story – and when I got to his house, I had to turn around and walk home to hang it up because they could not make or take any calls until I did: a call was not over until the person who initiated it hung up.

By the way, this is me at “about her age”:

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We only had black and white TVs and received only six channels clearly, which bewilders her completely. And again . . . that look. I’m sure that my father, from whom that telephone table came, knew it well.

He was born in 1908 – over a century ago – and the world was a much different place.

By the way, this was him when he was probably about a year old:

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They had no television in those days; they used an icebox! There was no air conditioning: when it got insufferably hot one summer, tens of thousands of people camped out on the shores of Lake Ontario because that was the only place where it got cool enough to sleep. When his father got a car, he taught the old man how to drive because Bampa couldn’t figure it out. My father was underage, according to todays standards, but you didn’t even need a drivers’ licence in those days because there simply weren’t enough cars on the road to be bothered with them.

His father, my grandfather, was born in 1880! Nearly a century and a half in the glorious past. That’s in the closing days of the Wild West, about a generation after the Civil War. No radio, and certainly no cars.

This is one of my few pictures of Bampa:

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And this is me, probably about the same age as he was in the above picture, in a “selfie” (emblematic of our age), taken with an iPhone 6, which he would probably not have been able to conceive of and my god-daughter could not conceive of being without:

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As far as that goes, I don’t remember reading of anything like it in Jules Verne (who wrote From the Earth to the Moon fifteen years before Bampa’s arrival on the planet, so I can’t even call it “the stuff of science fiction” because it would have gone beyond that.

Admittedly, my parents had me a little on the late side, but even so, we are living in times when the pace of change has literally outstripped the imagination of writers of science fiction.

Look what’s happened in just three generations!

Equality

I don’t look down on anyone anymore.

Oh, I used to. It was easy. Being tall made it easy. I kid, although being 6′ 2″ in my youth made it easy to watch parades.

On a superficial level, some are taller, and some are shorter; more or less handsome, endowed in one fashion or another . . .

My own flavour of vanity consisted of feeling smarter and more creative than most.

Mea culpa.

But those criteria and most others by which we may feel superior are superficial. At a deeper level, there are no such distinctions. We are immortal beings with a bit of God or a bit of something that is very like God at our centres. “Made in the image of God” is the expression used in my own religion.

So how is anyone to feel superior? Or inferior, for that matter.

Some Eastern cultures practice greeting others with hands in the prayer pose over the heart chakra (the seat of the soul), saying, “Namaste,” literally meaning, “Bow to you,” or more loosely, the god in me greets the god in you.

Is there any room for superiority or inferiority in that way of looking at things?

I am a minister of communion at my church. I hand out the consecrated wafers to the line of congregants with the priest and two other ministers of communion to the lines of congregants. I see the look in their faces: the longing for God, for peace, for acceptance, for love that they feel or hope will come to them with communion. I see their vulnerability. And it is humbling because it is the same vulnerability that I feel.

They are like me, and I am like them, irrespective of their superficial individual strengths or weakness.

I have met all sorts of people, high and low in their circumstances, from the crown princess of Rumania to a street alcoholic, and honestly, they’re all just people, people with a bit of God at their centres.

And so, feeling above or below anyone feels ridiculous to me.

And it’s not humility on my part. I am not a self-effacing man.

Maybe I just don’t want to feel ridiculous . . .

Are You Me?

When I was a child, I had what felt like a huge epiphany, but I had nowhere to fit it into my philosophy/worldview/self-understanding/etc. Until, perhaps, now.

I was in kindergarten – funny how we can remember such things – probably six years old, and now I am sixty-six – old! (As a side-note, I have no patience for anyone who responds, “Oh, you’re not old . . . Yes, I am. You can’t exactly call me young. And I’m not middle-aged because that would imply that I am only halfway through this earthly life, which is, mathematically, unlikely – 122?)

Any, somehow, at that very young age, I suddenly became aware of myself as the centre of my own universe, and then made the quantum leap of realizing that that was how everyone else saw themselves. Maybe that sounds pretty obvious, but I took it one step further: I could imagine, almost literally feel myself as being them.

It blew me away but, as I said, I had no larger framework into which I could fit that new awareness, so it just sat there – waiting, I suppose, for a time like this.

Many mystics (and old hippies) have asserted that we are all one, that below our superficial differences, we are united at a deeper level, whether literally a single entity or possessing the commonality of all being made in the image of God or possessing a collective unconscious mind as Jung supposed, or any one of dozens of other ways of looking at it . . . there is a deep connection between us all.

A friend of mine told me of a drug-infused party he went to back int eh 60’s where someone approached him, wild-eyed, saying, “Are you me?”

Well, yes, in a way . . .

And with that truth in mind, however it might be glimpsed, many things become possible.

The first is forgiveness.

Jesus said to love your enemies, and to forgive those who hurt you. That’s not always easy because, well, it hurts. Why did they have to do this to you, you ask? Especially if they did it purposefully and knowingly. Why the hell should you forgive them?

With my new awareness – or should I say, with my newfound place to put it – I understand this when I look at people who I most disapprove of: if I were in their skin, if I had their makeup and exerienced their circumstances, I would probably feel, think and behave as they do.

And I would want to be understood.

So who am I to withhold my understanding?

Have you ever done something that you are really ashamed of? Something for which you were not forgiven when you really want to be? Might you have thought something like, “I am so sorry; I didn’t ‘get it’. I might have known that what I was doing was wrong, but somehow, I felt justified, and now it’s just killing me because I ‘get it’. Wouldn’t it feel good to receive that forgiveness? Wouldn’t you think highly of such a person who could rise above their own hurt in order to give that to you? Wouldn’t you want to BE such a person?

And it all has feeling of rightness, dare I say “sanity” to it because we all share that deep commonality, whatever you want to call it.

And it occurs to me that a lot of other things, formerly mysterious, make sense if you look at it that way.

“Love your neighbour as yourself.”

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

I have the feeling that that’s only where it begins . . .

Somewhere along the line, the world went crazy with political correctness, which I once heard described by Lorrie Goldstein (then editor of the Toronto Sun) describe as “good intentions gone berserk”.

My latest confrontation with that madness was actually fairly innocuous, but it was illuminating. It is but the latest example of the far left which is (in Canada, at least) coming dangerously close to becoming the new centre.

It’s all about controlling how people speak. I suppose that the theory behind is that if you can control how people speak, you can control how they behave and what they think.

My first run-in with politically correct speak was the word “they”. Early in my career as a teacher, I was told that the official policy of my school board was to use it instead of the universal masculine “he”. “They” was preferred (more like insisted on) because it was considered “inclusive” instead of the supposedly sexist “he”. Sadly, if produced ungrammatical gibberish like, “If a person wishes to do something well, THEY must practise.” (“He or she” would be the correct way of putting it if you thought it was really necessary to be that “inclusive”, but it’s obviously wordy.) Other awkward variants showed up like “s/he” (possible in writing but not in speech), not to mention the uber-liberated “she”.

All such efforts of the neo-Orwellians to remake the language have similar germs of illogic at their core.

Remember “negro”? Verboten in our enlightened age but perfectly acceptable in living memory. The “United Negro College Fund” still exists. And Martin Luther King used the term . . . but it’s considered racist not. And its etymology is “black” – which IS an acceptable term. Hell, the “N” word is simply “negro” put through a certain regional pronunciation. And lots of blacks use the term, supposedly to reclaim it or sound hip or god-knows-what. It’s ridiculous. And you won’t catch me calling myself “whitey”.

Even sillier is the evolution of the racist “coloured people” into the politically correct “people of colour”. What’s the difference? Word order!

I could go on . . .

But it’s all too silly to write about with a straight face, and I can’t do it the justice that George Carlin would have if he had turned his attention to it while he still walked the earth.

So let me loop back to the beginning – “oriental”. Basically, it means “Easterner”. It was was a term that we in the West (“Westerners”) used to denote people from the east coast of Asia, but somehow that became an insulting term. How? No idea. I read all the explanations I could find and none of them made any sense to me, so I’m not going to summarize them here.

Apparently, the new, sensitive term is “Asian”, but it’s just as illogical as “they” (se above), and I refuse to use it.

Why?

Because, as well as being illogical, it’s exclusionary – which I thought the PC folks said was a bad thing. Aren’t we supposed to be inclusive?

You see, the problem is that people from India are also Asian, as are people from Iran, as are Russians (who can be as white as an ethnic Norwegian).

So I guess the correct PC term would be “east Asian”.

Easterners, in other words.

Which is exactly what “oriental” means.