“St. Paul the persecutor was
a cruel and sinful man.
Jesus hit him with a blinding light
and then his life began.
I said yeah, yeah, oh yeah!”
-The Rolling Stones
We associate it with all kinds of things but especially with knowledge. Educational organizations often use a stylized illustration of an ancient oil lamp to symbolize knowledge and most of us are familiar with the light bulb over the head symbolism for getting an idea.
We have expressions like, “I see the light” which usually means, “I understand” and “there’s a light at the end of the tunnel” which means “things will be better soon”. We are led to believe that dead people are told to walk towards the light but we don’t need to talk about that right now. If you’re reading this hopefully you won’t have to worry about walking toward the light until later.
I mention all of this because lately there seems to be an awful lot of dim bulbs around and to be honest; it is beginning to become more than just a little wearying. Except for the gratuitous violence, it has become boring.
Even the music is boring. There are no songs by Bob Dylan or Joan Baez expressing the feelings of a generation about war and the inequality of civil rights. In fact, there is no music although I think this song would probably be apt. It pretty much defines what most of the fuss is about.
|Something on you mind? Make a
sign, get some folks together and
let’s hit the streets.
It has become de rigueur to take to the streets to protest everything and anything, usually with the stated purpose of bringing about change, but it seems more to me that most of these folks are simply dancing in the dark and most of the causes are demands for more free stuff. We used to call that mooching. Protest today is pendantic and lacks originality, creativity and most of all, the rhetoric is so mundane and self-serving, it is difficult to take it seriously, let alone even begin to engage in serious dialogue.
Sometimes protests, even labour strikes, are necessary things and they do bring about change or at the very least draw sufficient attention to a situation or an issue that it galvanizes the electorate and politicians to initiate change but I don’t see that happening lately. The civil rights movement in the 60s was an important and significant protest movement that did bring about voting rights and equality for blacks. Protests, like those led by Gandhi and Lech Walesa led to freedom for two nations but then, those folks were protesting for important things like democracy and human rights.
I remember the Million Man March in support of fatherhood by black fathers and the protest of a single and very brave young man in Tianamen Square facing down a tank.
|God doesn’t hate signs. God thinks that
most of the signs are silly and pendantic
I tune out the empty rhetoric of protesters who think that being required to obey the laws of a democratic society is oppression or that a measured police response to rioting is brutality.
In my city, since the beginning of May, there have been two dozen protests and I live in one of the dullest cities in North America. You would think that the protests might actually have livened things up a bit but in fact, they were the perfect metaphor for my city. They were ho hum affairs over even more pointless and pedestrian issues and causes.
Labour marched to protest Employment Insurance reform. Civil servants protested job cuts and teachers protested temporary salary freezes. Pro choice supporters marched on alternate days to pro life supporters and Occupy tried to be there at all of the protests because it hasn’t really got much of a clue about anything, has a lot of time on its hands lately but loves a good get together.
|Run for your lives, the librarians are becoming militant
Students have marched to get free or cheaper tuition. Environmentalists protested the oil sands, the Keystone pipeline and the governments tossing out of the Kyoto Accord. Tamils protested conditions back in their homeland. Egyptian-Canadians protested the Egyptian Embassy and librarians bless their hearts, protested cuts to the budget for the National Archives. You know things are serious when even librarians take time from the Dewey Decimal System to get active in support of a cause.
I don’t deny anyone their right to protest although I confess that I mutter a lot under my breath when those protests tie up traffic to the point where it takes an extra hour or so to get home. I’ve even participated in protests but those were back in the days when we protested to end war and to bring equal rights to minorities rather than simply to get more entitlements or regulations that hamstring business and cost decent folks their jobs.
Quite honestly, I’m more than a little weary of the lack of significance of these ongoing hissy-fits over issues that can and should be addressed electorally. More to the point, I’m somewhat discouraged that after all this time, this is the best our society can come up with; a bunch of whiners prancing around in the streets with semi-literate signs and bellicose chants about how hard-done by they are.
I find it particularly offensive to have people demanding more free stuff that will be paid for with borrowed money, lecturing my generation about the debt they think they’re inheriting. What do they think their constant demands are doing for their children and grandchildren? The thinking of some of these people takes my breath away it is so self-serving.
|Environmentalists protesting killing trees with signs
made from paper that came from killing trees.
The environmental movement has been protesting everything from what they call dirty oil to cutting down trees. (Personally, I always found it a bit ironic that they were trying to save trees carrying signs made out of paper products that originally came from trees; but I digress.) What has all this protest accomplished lately?
Here’s how successful the environmental protest movement has been.
The government scrapped the Kyoto Accord, introduced legislation to speed up the environmental assessment process and energy costs are skyrocketing. It isn’t what one would call a resounding accomplishment. They were successful at getting retailers to charge a nickle for plastic bags that they used to give away for free but all that did was add to the profit margin of many retailers. Score one for the environmental, anti-corporate profit movement. If it wasn’t so sad, it would be laughable.
|You just have to admire this
level of commitment
Despite all the disruption and damage Occupy has done, it has pretty much made itself irrelevant and has very little to show for all that effort. Well….to be honest….it doesn’t actually have anything to show for it but I’m trying to be kind. Basically, Occupy has turned itself into a bit of a joke that not too many take very seriously anymore. Even the celebrities have stopped dropping by.
The teachers’ pay freeze protest accomplished nothing. The pay freeze is proceeding as planned and the civil servant protest over job cuts only drew support over the lunch hour before everyone had to go back to work, so you pretty much know how much that accomplished. It barely made the evening news.
Even the librarians with their mock funeral of documents got better press coverage although they failed to see the irony of staging a mock funeral for records storage on the same day that Syrian families were holding real funerals for 32 slaughtered children.
We can debate whether or not these protests tend to fail because of the issues or the violence that attaches to some but I think they fail because they are less about achieving something than they are about getting something for nothing or simply for blaming others.
|Apparently this dim bulb hasn’t made
the connection between oil and the
internal combustion engine in
the bus he rides.
It’s difficult for most of us to jump on a bandwagon to support some group demanding an end to a pay freeze for teachers when their employer, the provincial government is borrowing $17 billion just to meets it bills every year. That includes $10 billion just to pay the interest on what it has already borrowed up to now. I’m not an economist but even a bookkeeper can tell you that you’re on the way down when you have to borrow more money to pay for the debt you already have. This, of course, is lost on protesters who think that all the world’s problems can be solved by taxing the rich and corporations…..and, of course, taxpayers who are nothing less than organic ATMs.
It’s that kind of thinking that helped get us here. It’s ill-informed, simplistic and quite frankly, it’s self-serving.
The simple fact is that strikes for more benefits, higher salaries and more cost to the employer have had the effect of driving manufacturing jobs out of the country. Caterpillar just closed a plant in London, Ontario because of high labour costs and taxes and this past week; GM announced it will be closing a factory in Oshawa, Ontario.
The unions, predictably, are furious and castigate GM for taking its jobs elsewhere but guess what? Those jobs belong to the company, not the union and unions have failed their membership by creating an adversarial environment with employers that led to militant demands for more and more until the companies started saying, “See ya!”
|Today’s protest is brought to you by
the letters A and X and the number 3
It’s the same with the wealthy. Go ahead and tax them more so that you can demand more entitlements but where will we all be when the wealthy move on to other jurisdictions, as many already are? Who will pick up the tab for the entitlements we are already borrowing to try and cover now?
The simple fact is that, while providing many with an outlet to express their sanctimonious social conscience is not effective any more. If anything, it tends to accelerate the downward slide. Think of all the time and money wasted in Greece rioting rather than planning how to deal with their crisis.
Going into the streets protesting austerity when austerity is a reality is sort of like protesting your flooded town after the damn broke and the rains came. It’s happening whether you protest or not and the only choice you have is work together to survive and rebuild or do nothing but whine about it and drown.
We live in a democracy and we have the right to protest but having the right to do something doesn’t make it the smartest choice. Quite frankly, if marching around in the streets banging on pots and pans, as students are in Montreal over tuition increases, is the best you can bring to the party, well, you really aren’t bringing much at all.
That isn’t going to accomplish anything except give a public venue for the chronically self-absorbed to vent but as for providing solutions, give that up. As Occupy has amply proven, modern day protesters are long on angst and short on solutions to overcome the problems our societies face.
Perhaps it is because so many of them are so ill-informed on the issues, easily manipulated by those with an agenda who encourage these outbursts or perhaps it’s just because. But whatever the reason, protest these days isn’t protest. When it isn’t violent rioting, it is really nothing more than a hissy-fit that is primarily of benefit to the mainstream media. It gives them something to talk about. Other than that, it really doesn’t serve much useful purpose.
What we need is more light instead of so many dancing in the dark but as long as environmentalists continue to insist we use those ridiculous curly light bulbs that give off so little light that you can’t see anything, I doubt it will happen any time soon.
No wonder we’re in trouble.
I’m Tired Of Student Hissy-Fits Over Tuition And The Greed Behind Them!
My Response To Those Offended By My Article On Student Entitlement
What I Saw At The Pseudo-revolution – by guest writer ProfessorJim Bellano
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