Genki des!


parenthood and the pursuit of happiness

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Genki des!
I took my three sons for lunch.

Before we headed out, I was on Facebook. There’s a lot on there like that these days. About you know what. You know who. He-who-shall-not-be-named.

Myself, I’m still in shock, I think. I’m thinking a lot of things. I’m reading a lot of articles. I’m listening to a lot of podcasts. I’m considering. I’m learning. That is, I’m doing all the things Trump supporters never did. Maybe that’s where us “Libtards” get it wrong; we think about things.

I hate that word. I heard or read it first about a year ago, and I cannot think of any word that so encapsulates the WASP fear of educated people more than that one.

A slur for handicapped people mixed up with a word for someone who’s values tend to be progressive and inclusive. Huh.

Anti-intellectualism at it’s finest.

I understand protesting elitism (one stupid reason Trump supporters give for supporting him… Ummm, Trump is pretty fucking elite), but I don’t understand being opposed to people who take on the challenge of thinking for living.  Apparently, the work of academics isn’t “useful” enough for the Firsters (you know, the Canada First, Britain First, America First, ultranationalist KKK crowd in the world today – the fascists of the current century). Never mind, handfuls of academics saw Trump coming (Moore, The Simpsons, Mitchell, and many others.) I myself did not think Clinton would win, but I hoped she would anyway. I had a niggling feeling. It seemed on par with the polarization in the world today (Brexit!) that he should win, but I thought the American population was a lot savvier than to elect a person whose very being was at odds with basic morality even they wanted to protest vote.

Ahhh, protest. I think many conservative white people have lost sight of the idea of marching in peaceful protest. Other movements have taken over that medium these days: Black Lives Matter, Standing Rock, LBGTQ+. Alas, White people marching is almost old fashioned; in their view, it’s what “those whiny minorities that hate the government and all us white people” do. If white conservatives can’t march, I can see why they’d see voting as protest.  It is easier to vote than to organize a rally against elitism (like thos Occupy Wall Street protesters). Certainly, voting is for lazy revolutionaries. Electing a trained pig also makes it easier to punish “Libtards”, the thinkers.

I grew up in a house that didn’t value academics. I was told by my mother that they’d pay for my university education if I was doing something like dentistry, which was useful, but not an Arts degree. And, for that matter, why didn’t I learn to do gel nails, so I could do that to pay my tuition? My mother tried to push that one on me.

I mean, have you met me? I can’t stand that shit. I can hardly wear nail polish. And why would I want to put my hands in someone else’s mouth to scrape their teeth? Ewww.

Perhaps my mother’s comments were more an excuse not to pay when they couldn’t pay anyway, but it still made me feel hated.  I was bold enough to follow my own interests at my own expense (quite literally). I followed my passion, and I am not a millionaire. Admin Assistants at my college make more than I do per year, and I teach people –  that should tell you something about the state of Alberta (the Texas of the North) and their treatment of educated professionals right now. And they even just hired a salesman in a management position where he doesn’t actually manage anyone. Yup. They did. Do I have anything against the salesman? No. Do I have something against the infrastructure that created the desire to appoint him? You bet. People struggle with this differentiation, and certainly, I struggle with it myself in moments of self pity.

I am not elite. Intellectual and elite rarely go hand-in-hand. I’m not quite sure I’d call myself an intellectual either (I’m not quite in that class of thinker!); I readily admit what I do not know, though. I sat in a restaurant the other day and overheard a group of businessmen discussing forecasts and revenue and percentages and reports, and I had no fucking clue, and OHMYGODHOWBORING.

Can we all just admit that we don’t know everything, and that maybe that’s okay?

And if you don’t want to think about this stuff for yourself, why not let someone else do that? Why be against intellectuals? They’re doing what you don’t want to do. I read research articles and think about stuff, so you don’t have to, just like others are sticking their fingers in other peoples’ mouths and putting gel nails on women who like that shit, so I don’t have to. This how society works. And there are people who are offended by this?

And really, thinking and talking aren’t that difficult. My ten-year-old can do it. He did it at lunch the other day.

After I got my sad ass off Facebook, we went to Subway, where individualized pizza subs rule my children’s hearts, and where I can get a Diet Pepsi with cherry syrup (which fucking rocks).

It was Remembrance Day.

No, I didn’t take them to a ceremony.  My ritual for Remembrance Day is to start our day with a reading of Stuart Maclean’s short story, “Remembrance”, which makes me cry every time, and as I cry, I make breakfast for my boys.

I remember.

But I don’t show this in the traditional public manner, I guess.

Instead, I take my sons for lunch and we talk about war and soldiers. They get the gist of Remembrance Day from school. They know the basics, and for the younger two, that’s enough.

Andrew, though, is keener. And I’m careful with this boy. If you know him, you know why.

So, today we sat in the only “good” booth at Subway, and I asked them if they thought they’d want to be a soldier.

They were unanimous in their no.

I asked them, “Why not? Soldiers do all kinds of jobs in the world. Some of it’s pretty neat.”

Ezra, I believe, said, “Because soldiers go out there and die, and I do NOT want to die.”

I said, “Good answer. Mom would be sad if you were a soldier.” Like the salesman, I have nothing against the very important job that soldiers and the military have in the world; I object to the systems and reasons (or lack thereof) that govern their activities. This is yet another dichotomy some people have a hard time holding together in their brains.

Indeed, I am not even a small “n” nationalist; even the Olympic games disturbs me. I cheer for my country (I have patriotism), but my heart is not really in it. Mix patriotism and youths in uniform and my skin crawls.

I don’t think I’m alone in this; I suspect many a historian feels the same. There’s only so many times you can teach 20th century wars before the sight of a young man in uniform no longer invites oohs and aahs and inspires only the urge to vomit. As I scrolled through Facebook today, I noticed a mom posted a picture of her son, an Air Cadet, marching in the Remembrance Day parade, saying, “I’m just so PROUD!”

Proud. I am not this mother. My teenager’s ability to march like a soldier in a uniform while holding a rifle will never inspire me to pride. Ever. I will never laud a man’s ability to hold a gun, to march in a straight line to drum tempo. These are not skills. An Air Cadet has not yet sacrificed for the country. That is false pride, especially in teens, who have no concept of war, and are moved by other’s feelings of nationalism. Fuck that shit.

Andrew chimed in and added two things to the conversation, “It might be neat to just grab a gun and go take care of bad people, but there aren’t any wars right now, anyway.”



Holy shit. I forget that they don’t read a newsfeed. They think war happened 60 years ago. They think a war not in their own backyard isn’t a war. Fuck a duck.

I gathered myself.

“Actually,” I said, “There are a few wars going on right now. Oh, and soldiers don’t just grab guns and go take care of bad people until the government tells them to. When you’re a soldier, you fight who the government tells you to fight.”

The two younger boys had nothing but stares. And, oh, there are wars? I am a terrible mother. Yes, there are wars in the world, children. (It’s fine, they went to bed tonight. They’re not worried.)

“Oh,” said Andrew, “you mean like ISIS.”

“Yes, like the war in Syria.” I explained the war in Syria. I explained the roots of ISIS’s growth (American involvement in the Middle East), and Putin’s involvement with President Assad.

He said, “Is that why people keeping talking about Putin and Trump?”


He said, “I thought ISIS was terrorists.”

“They are,” I said, “but the reason they’re attacking and trying to take control of Syria is for political power. They want the US to get out of their region, too.” I simplified.

“But they’re bombing their own people,” he said.

“Yes, and that’s not unusual,” I said, “in most wars, innocent people get bombed, too. The people on the news – the Syrians, they’re all running away from the bombing. There’s millions of them, bud.”

The look on his face told me he had no idea innocent civilians died in wars. It is not only soldiers that die.

“So, Trump wants to go in and bomb ISIS more? The people will all be out of the way by then, right?”

“Uh, I dunno, Drew, some people stay – they don’t want to leave everything they have behind.”


“What about you, though, if Alberta was being bombed, would you go or stay?” I asked.

“I’d go.”

“Where?” I continued.

“I dunno. Ottawa!” (He’s very proud of the fact that he’s memorized all the Canadians cities, and he loves the word Ottawa.)

“What if Ottawa said there were too many Albertans there, and they’d already allowed enough brown-skinned Albertans in, so we weren’t allowed, what then?”

“I’d go to Saskatoon.” Huh, I think. I keep at him.

“What if the same thing happened in Saskatoon?” Ezra piped up, then, and said he’d get a gun and shoot them. He’s pretty militant for a seven-year-old. (I think he was trying to make a joke out of a serious conversation, though his comment is certainly gives pause for thought.)

Andrew just shrugged. “Well,” I said, “that’s what is happening around the world right now. There are so many Syrians looking for places to go. They want to be at home, but they have no place to go. In Canada, we are taking some of them, but there are so many.”

“Americans are worried about Syrians, right? That’s why they elected Trump? Are they taking Syrians?” he said.

“Yes, partly, and they don’t want to take many,” I answered.

“Well, that doesn’t make any sense. If the US started all those problems over there, messing it all up, they should be helping and taking in Syrians,” he said.

Fuck. I hadn’t even thought of that myself.

God, I love this child. He’s smarter than 60,072,551 Americans (not counting the non-voting adults). He followed the logic better than most adults of voting age in the US. There is hope.

I saw my cousin had posted a “Canadians For Trump” meme circulated by Canada First, and I paused for a long while. This is entirely in keeping with what I know of him; he once posted a tirade against the Occupational Therapist who had assessed his son and given him feedback on how to help him improve his little dude’s gross motor skills. His tirade only proved how little respect he had for anyone with education who thought they could teach him something; it was a “waste of his time… and don’t teachers have anything better to do?” he'd said. It’s doubtful he understood this person’s job, and it’s pretty clear he had no real idea what she wanted him to do with the kid. He’s also a big fat white guy who thinks he doesn’t get enough respect for the jobs he has to take to make ends meet. If you want to complete the image, he also married a lovely Asian woman. Stereotype, anyone? So the story fits; Fragile White Man Feels Dumb (Again).

Speaking of Firsters, Kellie Leitch, a Conservative politician, recently said she’d like to bring Trump’s message to Canada; she’s the one (if you’ve been reading your newsfeed) who wants to make immigrants take a values test.

When I first heard that, I didn’t think it was a bad idea. I thought, “Hmmmm. You know, there’s a lot of new people coming in to Canada. I don’t want an influx of traditional, conservative anti-woman, anti-LGBTQ people coming in. Many Muslims think like that. Maybe this is a good idea.”

But then I thought about it. I was thinking.

The first thing I thought was: Well, most people in the world understand what Canada is and the values we hold, if they don’t want to come here, they’ll likely choose a different country (refugee or not).

The second thing I thought was: How the fucking hell would the government decide what “Canadian Values” are? My values are probably not Kelly Leitch’s values, and I don’t want anyone like that daft idiot keeping out the good progressive ones because the assessor is, for example, a fucking homophobe.

See that? I THOUGHT about it. And I thought it was bad fucking idea.

Just like I think the Liberal Government’s bringing in only Syrian families (not single unaccompanied men) is a bad fucking idea.

(No, I don’t agree with Trudeau on everything. 18 months of maternity leave? Who the fuck needs 18 months? Lord no. Give it to families if you want, but I think, frankly, there’s better shit to do for middle class families, thanks.)

If Canada only takes families and other countries follow suit, then there’s going to be a huge population of young Muslim men who will remain in the Middle East, rejected by the West, as well as poor and dispossessed, and ripe for recruitment into any number of terrorist organizations. This is going to make the problem much worse in the long term. There needs to be a better plan for adapting young men. (Marry them to young single Canadian women in the North, maybe? That was a joke, maybe.)

Arguments against immigration are always interesting. History and research has proven time and again that first generation immigrants often fail to fully integrate; however, their children have few problems identifying and becoming Canadian – this isn’t new. For example, my great grandparents spoke only German my mother’s entire childhood. Historically, people cleave to enclaves of similar nationality – it’s comforting. I stayed in my bubble in Japan for almost two years, and I learned little Japanese (having no intention of staying long term). Ghettoization is a real problem in the West; I get it. In Europe, especially, but also in Canadian cities.

Integration is a slow process, but instead of fighting to keep immigrants out, fight to get them good programs. Good programs cost money; educated people who are willing to work with immigrants can’t work for free. Find solutions to the problem of ghettoization. Once working, their taxes will more than pay it back.

Electing misogynist demagogues and keeping desperate people out is not the answer. Ideas – new ideas from people who study these problems – from the intellectuals, can provide answers to these problems more permanently than walls and guns. Will every idea work? No. But the point is to try.

So, this “Libtard” is going to keep listening and reading and learning and thinking. And teaching, too.

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