Archive for April, 2008

WHERE IS THE JUSTICE?

(AFRICAN TOWNSHIP)

I went for a drive a few weeks ago. Everyone is talking about social justice issues these days and I can’t help but wonder where the justice is in my own community. The pictures below are just a few of the ones I took on my drive through “the ridges”. Charlotte County, I’ve been told, is economically the poorest county in Canada and just a few minutes drive on some rural back roads is found the evidence. Looking at some of the conditions people live in makes me wonder are we really any better here in Canada then some of the developing nations we criticize?

I spent some time in South Africa a few years ago and one thing for which we heavily criticized the government was the dramatic gap we saw between the rich and the poor. In the midst of Cape Town or Johannesburg we could convince ourselves we were in any 1st world, Western city. But just a few miles out into the rural area were massive townships where thousands of people lived in destitute conditions.

How can everyone just ignore such a huge problem? I wondered. How can the government justify allowing so many people to live in such poverty? Now I understand that there was a plank in my own eye and that we live in the same sort of denial here in the Maritimes. Sure, it may not look like a South African township, but some of conditions here, when combined with harsh winters, no electricity/water, and the rising cost of fuel, mean that many New Brunswickers live in 3rd world standards. I know it’s not just Charlotte County, in fact it’s a country wide problem and very much a wide spread problem here in the Maritimes (I have seen some similar areas in Cape Breton, Western PEI, Northern Aboriginal Reserves, etc.).

Please do not misinterpret what I am saying. Believe me, I think it is beyond necessary that we all move toward a way of life that consumes less resources and I would never want to criticize someone for choosing to live simply. But we all deserve the opportunity to make that choice. I do not think that this perpetual cycle of poverty is of many people’s choosing.

I can’t seem to escape the nagging question playing on repeat in the back of my head asking “Why do we allow this? How do I allow it?” I know there is no one, single, solution–nothing so simple or else we would have fixed it by now. In part the federal government has taken much and given back very little in return; in part it is corporations like Irving that we have allowed to run our province, take our land, and determine working standards; and in part it is our own “poverty mentality” and inability to step up and assume responsibility for our neighbours. As Maritimers it is all we have ever known and therefore we do not know anymore what is and is not acceptable.

Let me say this now.

This is absolutely not acceptable.

I don’t know what the answer is but I will continue to seek for one, and I hope and pray that as we all become more aware of the plank in our own eye we will stop ignoring our own economic problems, convincing ourselves that we are “making poverty history” because we verbally encourage our government (and Bono) to give more of our federal dollars toward eradicating 3rd world hunger at a G8 summit. There are plenty of justice issues next door and we need to stand together and figure this one out.

Whispers of Change

“I don’t know nothing except change will come…” -Patty Griffin, “When it Don’t Come Easy”

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately. As much as I would like to, i can’t seem to get away from it. Change is in the air, and I have come to realize that change may be the only constant thing in life. The only thing that you can really count on happening. I have never been one to embrace change but I am finding that there is comfort to be found in that thought.

We had our 30th convocation ceremony this weekend here at SSU. It’s a season of change in the SSU community and in some ways it feels representative of things to come in my own life. I just wish I knew what those things were. It is a bizarre thing to be walking down a road that is clearly going somewhere but have no idea where, exactly, it’s taking you. Part of me feels like I have never had so much direction in all my life, and part of me has never felt so very lost.

Change is coming.

I am scared.

But I have faith.

It has occurred to me that security lies not in knowing where you are going, but rather in knowing who you are. It means that the road may take you anywhere it likes and but your confidence is found in the knowledge that whatever happens, you will be just fine.

I will be just fine. I am telling myself that as much as I am telling you. Perhaps more. I cannot get away from who I am and it looks like I am finally giving in. This is both good news and bad news. The bad news is that I am quite sure that my life is not going to end up looking the way I thought it might…or the way you thought it would for that matter. The good news is that the possibilities are endless and I can breathe a sigh of relief–relief to know that it will be my own choice that takes me this way or that, rather than following someone else’s lead or push because I am too insecure in my own ability to decide what is good for me.

Confidence is a tricky thing. It comes and goes with complete unpredictability and you are never quite sure if it’s going to be there to back you up. I’ve been working hard at not losing it. It’s not an easy thing to do. It means not compromising when I normally would, and not listening to all those voices in my head trying to tell me that i just can’t do it (no, i don’t mean literal voices, i’m not THAT crazy…yet). It also means looking at people and saying, “thanks for the input/advice/direction, but I choose not to follow it.” It feels bad to let people down, but it feels good find my voice. Being all things to all people has, for me, meant losing myself–a price I have realized is no longer worth paying.

So bring on the change. I am afraid, but i will be just fine.

March Madness

redneck ray and dave

yeah, i know. I haven’t written in awhile. But yes, i’m still alive, and yes, i still use this this thing.

End of term is approaching at SSU and with it always comes a rush of chaos which just about sums up my life the past few weeks. I will try and recap the month of March which for some reason is always such a crazy month for me. The month started out with a great weekend in Moncton with some girls I graduated SSU with. We had a spa and shopping weekend which was so much fun. I love that we all remain close still, making concentrated efforts to see one another. In another year we will have known each other for a full decade. I can’t believe I am THAT old…

Speaking of old…I celebrated my 28th birthday this month. It was so much fun! My sister and Future Fiance (see previous entries) came to visit for the weekend. I never cease to be surprised by her willingness to always meet me where I am at and celebrate my life. I think we lead such very different lives but somehow it has never been a point of division. She is always so unconditionally supportive. Having her and Future Fiance here was like delicious icing on an already fabulous cake because Kristi had already planned the event of the century! This girl loves to party plan and she is so good at it (which is great because I’m not so much). The day started with a great brunch with close friends followed by a party later that evening. I knew we were having a party, but had no idea what the theme was…as it turns out the theme was “Mardis Gras” (a very sacrilegious theme to have in the middle of Lent…) and everyone went all out with their hilarious costumes! The party was followed by a bigger “post-party” event at the local pub. I love having all my friends in one room! I think that was the best part of the night.

Kristi pulled off a great party, only to do it all again two days later for St. Patrick’s Day (her favorite day of the year). This party was a bit more low key, but included green beer and the movie “Waking Ned Divine.”

The following weekend was Easter and I returned to a cold, snowy Island to celebrate that, and my Dad’s birthday. Kristi came along as well and we had a great weekend with my family! It was also so nice to see people I haven’t seen in too long, but unfortunately just not enough time to really catch up. It never feels like there is enough time…My friends, Mark and Melanie just bought a new, beautiful house, and their baby is growing so fast! Other friends are going through major life changing stuff as well and I know I am missing out on some huge moments which is always so hard. In that way it is always bitter sweet to return home.

Last weekend had me in Halifax for work at a Christian conference. These are my least favorite events to attend as they are always full of crazy evangelicals who want to debate theology and let you know who is and who is not getting into heaven (and of course, some lovely people as well…they just get overpowered by the crazy ones).

All of the in between times can be summed up in one word: work.

My daily routine looks like this:

wake up
go to work
eat supper
work on my essay/presentation/assignment until the wee hours of the morning
go to bed.
Repeat.

I also bathe regularly somewhere in that mix (in case you were worried), and sometimes I even have these little moments of hilarity that keep me going. The above picture is an example of one such moment…my friends, Ray and Dave, who in support Mandatory Mustache March, are sporting their new look to go along with their disgusting facial hair. I will be laughing at these pictures for a very long time. Thanks guys for making my week way more fun!

So that’s my excuse for last month’s lack of blogging. Hopefully I’ll do a better job this month. I am looking forward to the term being over and finally having time to think…

Until then…*sigh.


Good Advice

"Don't sweat the petty things and don't pet the sweaty things"

Currently reading…

"'Tis" by Frank McCourt

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