Eye Saw the Light

by Roxanne Tellier

I’m not a big fan of this ‘aging’ stuff. But unfortunately, dealing with all the things that can go wrong as our bodies mature beats the snot out of the alternative.

Sometimes the drama of politics has to take a number and wait for my attention. This was one of those weeks. I had some routine cataract surgery that didn’t go as well as planned, and it took a lot of strong-arming to get that rectified.

I’ve long had the reputation of being the loudmouthed rebel, who takes no sh*t or prisoners, either for herself, or for those she loves. Not sure if it’s the Irish or the French in me, but that’s just the way I’ve always been. If you come for my people, you’d better come prepared for a fight.   

Trouble is, that kind of white knighting gets a little harder every year. After a while you start to pick your battles more carefully, and less often. It takes a lot of energy to mount a successful attack against authority, and energy isn’t as readily available when you’re already down a quart due to health issues.

I’ve always been aware and concerned about the treatment of seniors. You know, it’s only in my lifetime that Canada has had a social safety net. We didn’t even have a proper pension plan until 1965. Some would say we still don’t, especially if they’re trying to stretch out those few pension dollars to cover living in a modern world.

Our societies idolize youth and youth culture. When we’re young, we cannot imagine what it would be like to be old. Those ideas carry their own seeds of dissatisfaction; realizing that we’re aging means that we have become what we once disdained. This can lead to depression and poor self-esteem.

I’ve always been attuned to how our society can unwittingly ignore the needs of seniors, especially those without a significant income. If you’re not a productive member in a capitalist society, then you are often perceived as less worthy, since you are no longer part of the work force, nor likely to be putting a lot of your income into the economy, beyond your own basic needs.

We make a lot of assumptions as well, about what seniors are entitled to receive. That cataract surgery I mentioned? You better have a couple of thousand put aside if you’re hoping to see through those aging eyes; neither the surgery nor the expensive eye drops are covered by OHIP or the senior drug plan.

Seniors often feel invisible when they have to interact with others. Is it apathy or discrimination that leaves some to be unattended in stores, or has cashiers failing to realize that old hands can’t bag their own groceries as quickly as the hands of younger people?

Public transportation, with its unpredictability, and often with lurching movements, can be dangerous for old bones.  Interactions with people in governmental or health offices can be authoritarian hell holes, when bored or disinterested employees fail to hear or respond to the queries of those who are already a little confused by how these entities work.  

I’ve also seen some alarming prejudice against seniors, when even the slightest bit of advantage is accorded them. The TTC had to resort to handing out special buttons that said, “Please offer me a seat” to remind the able bodied riders of simple courtesy on transit.  And at my local Loblaws and Metro, I’ve seen white haired seniors on walkers who dared to shop outside of senior hours be told to ‘get to the back of the line.’

The effect of the pandemic and ensuing yearlong lockdown has exposed a lot of anger in those who believe that things could get back to normal, if only the able bodied didn’t have to ‘coddle’ the old and vulnerable.

When Sweden (and the trump administration) talked about relying on ‘herd immunity’ to combat COVID-19’s damage to the economy, they were twisting a scientific concept to fit an unspoken prejudice against the elderly and the vulnerable. True ‘herd immunity’ happens when about 70 to 90% of the population have either had a disease, or have been vaccinated against that disease.

While proponents of this theory always hastened to say that vulnerable citizens would be isolated and protected, that was belied by the proportion of victims who succumbed to the virus while in long term homes, ostensibly as isolated and protected as could be.  What Sweden, and White House coronavirus advisor Scott Atlas were proposing was to simply let the virus run free, effectively sacrificing those whom they considered a drain on society, in order to keep their economies running smoothly.

And that’s all too reminiscent of the dystopic 1973 film, “Soylent Green,” in which the protein that kept the citizens alive came from the bodies of those making a final sacrifice, in lieu of being a functioning cog in their society.

Ageism is now thought to be the most common form of prejudice. You can’t discriminate against people of other colours or creeds, but too often, older people are fair game.

We boomers now live in a world where the population aged 60 or over is growing faster than all younger age groups.  In a study conducted at the University of Alberta in 2019, researchers found that discrimination against older people is a growing problem that will require a social awakening, akin to the gay rights movement. It was recommended that Canada enact anti-ageism legislation, as Britain did several years ago with its Equality Act.

There’s a big personal impact. Children see older people being disrespected and grow up thinking they’re useless and then they find themselves turning 60 or 65. We don’t expect or encourage healthy aging; everybody who hits 65 thinks it’s all downhill from here.

“If they think they’re useless and boring, how negative is that for them and their family? They don’t exercise, they don’t volunteer, they don’t keep working if they want to, because they feel this discrimination. They don’t go out and find a new mate if their spouse dies because they think ‘I’m next.’ There’s both a societal and personal impact to internalized ageism.”

In reviewing all existing studies on the topic, Wilson discovered that 48 to 91 per cent of all older people surveyed experienced ageism, and 50 to 98 per cent of all younger people admitted to having discriminatory thoughts or behaviours toward older people.

“We have a rapidly aging population in Canada that will jump from 19 per cent of the current population to 26 per cent in 11 years, but we’re afraid of that fact. Based on ageism, we think they’re a drain on society, and that’s where a lot of the myths and long-standing prejudices arise.”

Yeah, yeah.  #NotAllOlderPeople. Everyone’s mileage may vary, based on a number of factors, including our personal circumstances, health, and finances.

Life’s funny – things can turn on a dime. The person enjoying good health, emotional support, and a healthy bank balance today can suffer misadventures that turn their reality on its head, tomorrow. That’s the thing about life – no one gets out alive.

While much of how we see the world has to do with our own attitude, it really does help when we feel like we’re equal and respected within our communities.  

In truth, getting old is mandatory, but feeling old is optional. I hope to keep my sh*tkickers polished and ready to go when needed, whether it’s to stand up to discrimination against me, or against you.

Just .. take it easy on those ‘little old lady’ jokes, mmmkay?

Coming Down from the Sugar High

In the last weeks of January, and into the first two weeks of February, I was floating. I would wake each day, nearly bounding out of bed, and ready to take on the world. We were counting down the days to Biden’s inauguration, and even the horrific attack on the Capitol on the 6th was but a speed bump, easily acknowledged by both Democrats and Republicans as an obvious and seditious attack on the Constitutionally mandated work of the Congress.

The Dems impeached trump AGAIN. Biden was inaugurated without incident. And with trump silenced by Twitter, life was sweet.

Sadly, however, a few weeks sans trump had left the GOP with a bad case of amnesia, and, just last week, they yawned like teenagers through video evidence of trump’s guilt, and voted to acquit. 

I think it was then that the bubble burst, the sugar wore off, and I succumbed to serious lunch bag letdown.

My mania was entirely predictable; the end of the madness was in sight. For nearly five years I’d been banging the drum about the dangers of an unstable American president. I had spent nearly five years constantly on high alert, and I wasn’t even American.

I am not alone. Many in the media have mentioned that they’re still adjusting to their ‘new normal,’ of being able to set their phones down for the night without waiting for that ‘ding’ that used to shake them from an uneasy sleep with the news that there’d been a new tweet, a new horrific proclamation, a new addition to the litany of lies and fears and bullying. 

And yet. And yet. Some will admit to feeling a little – dare I say – bored? After four years of a constant, IV level epinephrine injection being propelled through their veins, life can seem a little dull, when the sounds of battle dim.

It’s withdrawal. Those who touched the live wire of American politics became hard core adrenaline junkies, as dependent on the ‘what has trump done NOW?’ news hit as any junkie who is frantic for a fix.

The dings and beeps and boops of cellphones and iPads were background noises that covered up the breathtaking realization of how close America was coming to losing her democracy. 

Seriously, even I could not have imagined some of the horrors that ensued during his reign of error and terror.

Worse still, there were times when I doubted my own thoughts, wondered if perhaps, I was the one that was deluded in my abhorrence of all things trump. After all, so many people, across all spectrums, (save minorities, immigrants, DREAMers and LGBTQ et al) seemed to truly believe that he was their Chosen One, the genius leading America to economic nirvana. Could it be that I was the one who was exaggerating, who saw parallels to Hitler’s worst followers and ‘solutions’ where none existed? That I might be, indeed, suffering from ‘Trump Delusion Syndrome?’

Could a stock market that absorbed every new presidential abomination by soaring to ever more unprecedented heights, be wrong?

Could I truly trust my own eyes and ears? Should I be ignoring all evidence of cruelty and rampant bigotry as figments of my imagination? After all, over 74 million American voters wanted him to continue what he’d started.

Was I the one that was wrong? Was I the one out of step with the crowd, out of touch with the times? 

I wondered if I could be somehow mistaken in my reasoning, even as Trump refused to accept the results of an election that his own officials had proclaimed ‘the most secure in American electoral history,” incited his followers to attack the Capitol, urged them to wreak their anger against his own vice president, then flounced off in a huff, refusing to acknowledge Biden’s inauguration.

And I second guessed myself, despite it being quite obvious that trump was treading on fascist territory, while his supporters created an imaginary foe they called ‘antifa,’ apparently unable to see that they were labelling deniers of trump’s governance as ‘anti fascists’ thus admitting that his governance was indeed fascism.

If what is true, if what is right, relies upon a majority, relies upon the victor writing history – what did that terrifyingly small (figuratively) Biden majority say about the future of America?

Anti-Semitism, weapons-grade misogyny, white supremacism, homophobia and quite horrible attempts to frame all Muslim people as complicit in the actions of any Muslim terrorist or criminal have moved squarely into the mainstream media. I believe this has happened precisely because divisive sloganeering and rancid rhetoric have gone unchecked. In short, people are not being challenged to justify their views, or to explain WHY they think what they do…

Fascism prevails when anti-fascists persuade themselves that what’s happening in their own country isn’t actually fascism after all, because “this isn’t 1930s Germany – this is 21st century America!” …

Trump’s legacy is clear: Fascism can happen here. And people that hate fascism, to give it a 21st century flavour, are currently called “woke.” James O’Brien, LBC commentator

It was a rough ride.

And then, on a bright day in January, this happened.

“I know speaking of unity can sound to some like a foolish fantasy. I know the forces that divide us are deep and they are real. But I also know they are not new.

Our history has been a constant struggle between the American ideal that we are all created equal and the harsh, ugly reality that racism, nativism, fear, and demonization have long torn us apart. The battle is perennial. Victory is never assured.“  Joseph R. Biden, January 20, 2021

Biden’s stirring inaugural speech told America – told the world – that it HAD been as bad as it seemed, that America HAD come very close to losing it all, and that there still was a battle to be fought. He admitted that the heartbreaking fight between those who watched the horror with glee and did nothing to stop it, and those who believed in the ‘better angels’ who had always prevailed through all the struggles, sacrifice and setbacks the nation had faced thru the years, was real.

He assured us that the attack on January 6th was on democracy and on the truth. Objective truth. And that we were done with lies and cruelty.

Sometimes courage is just speaking up, calling out what you see, even when it’s not blindingly apparent, even when others try to tell you it’s not as bad as you think it is. It’s speaking out even when many you know and love cling to a would-be dictator, pretending to see his actions as those of an all-knowing, infallible quasi-God, because his voracious appetites allow their own greed and selfishness to seem ‘normal.’

There is no joy in being ‘right’ about trump. There’s no schadenfreude in watching his supporters in tears. There’s relief – but no joy.

And what is left?

The entire world watched a rigged impeachment trial and saw trump acquitted of inciting insurrection against his own country. Can any rational leader of any other country truly believe that the United States can be trusted again, when the votes of 74 million Americans showed their disdain for democracy?

What the world has seen is the tsunami of change that can happen overnight, brought about by the will of the voters. Are they to trust that, four years from now, the treaties and agreements they’ve signed under one administration, will be honoured by the next?

America has been divided into two camps. One camp believes that Joe Biden is not the legitimate president. Armed and dangerous, they lurk in the shadows, and plan for the next time they are called to do battle in the service of their savior.

“On Thursday evening, CNN reported that the close to 5,000 National Guard troops who have been stationed around the Capitol since shortly after the Jan. 6 insurgency will stay in place until March 12. If it seems odd that the Guard is still in place weeks after President Biden was sworn in on Jan. 21, the reason they’re sticking around is because of another inauguration date. That would be the Mar. 4 date when many QAnon followers expect Donald Trump to emerge from hiding to be sworn in as the 19th president of the United States. (Daily Kos, Feb 2021.) 

The deluded portion of the American population that does not believe or care about democratic principles, civil rights, or the rule of law, will ‘march forth’ on March 4th. They will obey what they believe is the will of their racist demagogue, unable to conceive that overturning the rights of the more than 81 million Americans who voted for Biden can never be justified by the demanding of their own rights.

And if they are not rewarded with the sight of their enemies hung for their sins, and the elevation of their leader to what they believe is his rightful place in American government, they will bide their time, but they will try again. And again.

In Biden’s first month in office, he has accomplished much to turn the ship of state around and to right many of the wrongs committed in the last four years. Every day, his policies and actions have chipped away at the assault against democracy perpetrated by the trump administration.

And it is good. It is a throwing open of the window and the letting in of fresh, clean air.

But those who would prefer the not so tender ministrations of the Republican party under trump continue to hamper these efforts.

“Our choice of leaders matters. Our respect for institutions matters. Trust in the democratic process matters. Freedom of the press matters. An independent judiciary matters. And it matters that America continues to believe itself a country that welcomes “your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”  (Jake Cusak, Marine Corps office, in 2016)

America is learning that democracy is a fragile thing, and that the price to maintain it is constant vigilance.

And we who look on will continue to seesaw between hope and despair, placing our bets on the ‘better angels’ odds of winning over those who would bedevil the nation.

Doomed to Repeat

by Roxanne Tellier

When I was a kid in Montreal, most of the dads (and some of the moms) were veterans of World War II, and the Korean War, which had ended just a few short months before I was born.

People were more news oriented then, probably because so many of them had been newsmakers in their own small ways, whether as combatants abroad, or as part of the vast armies of civilians aiding in war efforts. Gathering to hear or watch the evening news was a sacred part of most family’s day.

When John Cameron Swayze, Walter Cronkite, or Huntley and Brinkley informed viewers of the day’s events, their words were accepted truth. A shared reality.

And nearly everyone knew of someone that had escaped the horrors of the Holocaust. The tattoos that signalled those who had been spared the Final Solution were commonplace; no one questioned that a horrible war had wreaked havoc on the lives of millions.

And yet, in 1959, 14 years after the end of World War Two, in an antisemitic publication called Cross and the Flag, Gerald L.K. Smith, an American clergyman, began to claim that six million Jews were not killed during the Holocaust, but had instead immigrated to the United States during that time.  In 1964, a French Communist who had actually been interned by the Nazis, published The Drama of European Jewry, in which he claimed that it was not Hitler’s scientists that had invented gas chambers; it was an invention of a “Zionist establishment.”

In 1966, the Libertarian periodical Rampart Journal began publishing articles which claimed that the Allies overstated the extent of Nazi atrocities in order to justify warring against Axis power, and by 1969, an American far right group that became know as the Liberty Lobby began to publish Holocaust denial literature.

In 1976, The Hoax of the Twentieth Century: The Case Against the Presumed Extermination of European Jewry was published by an engineering professor of Northwestern University, claiming academia bolstered his claims, and in 1977, Ernst Zundel, a German-Canadian, established Samisdat Publishers, in order to disseminate neo-Nazi literature which included the denial of the Holocaust.

At that point, the floodgates opened, and those who sought to deny history carved out a place so large in society that their gatherings and protests are barely even commented upon today. 

All of that went through my mind when I read that Michigan’s highest-ranking Republican, their Senate Majority Leader, Mike Shirkey, was caught on video calling the January 6th attack at the U.S. Capitol a ‘hoax,’ saying of the Capitol insurrection in which five people died, that “It was all staged.”

Shirkey was caught on video at a meeting he attended with Hillsdale Country Republican Party officials. At that same meeting, he used degrading and violent language towards Governor Gretchen Whitmore, asserting that “[Republicans] spanked her hard on the budget. Spanked her hard on appointments, ” and inviting the governor to a fistfight over her executive orders.  

“About half an hour into the video Shirkey can also be heard asking, “Why wasn’t there more security there?” (at the Capitol)  He accused Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of being involved, saying McConnell “is part of the decision-making how much security they have on stand. I think they wanted to have a mess.”

Shirkey made these comments just one month and a few days after the sack of the Capitol.

In 2021, we live in a very different world than that of 1945, when bits and pieces of information about the devastation in Europe came to us slowly, and usually in black and white newsreels.

For those interested in current politics, the January 6th revolt happened live and in colour, and over a period of many hours.  In some ways, it was like September 11th, 2001, in that these shocking events played out for us in real time, with no one knowing exactly what would happen next. As the marauders flooded into the Capitol building, the world held its breath, wondering if they were about to see the most horrific political assassinations in decades happen right before their eyes.

I will grant that my husband and I are both political junkies, and that we will often have CNN playing in one room, and MS-NBC in another. But about an hour into the events of Jan 6th, pretty much all of the civilized world was not just aware of what was happening, they were witnesses to American history being written.

And I’m going to hazard a guest that Mr. Shirkey was one of those who viewed the riots in real time.

And yet. Here we are. It has started. One month after such a traumatic event, Mr. Shirkey has begun what will likely become a flood of misinformation and lies, as actual history is contorted into ‘fake news.’    

“Fake News” … perhaps the most truly sinister of trump’s invectives, forever to be bundled with KellyAnne Conway’s further tortured manipulation of the truth – ‘alternative facts’

Yesterday, at the impeachment trial of the former president, who was charged with  “incitement of insurrection,” 43 Republican senators, who had actually been present at the riot, just one month before; who had had to run for their lives against a howling mob, thirsty for blood; who had joined in a partisan decision to allow U.S. Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, the officer killed during that riot, to lie in honor in the Capitol Rotunda; and who, along with other Congressional leaders, had promised his family and his fellow officers that they will never forget his sacrifice – forgot his sacrifice, and pronounced trump “not guilty” of the crime that murdered Sicknick.

For the last five days, the Democrats impeachment managers had built a case against the former president, showing that he had undertaken an effort to overturn the election, long before the election, and continued to sell his Big Lie for months after, before provoking the assault on the Capitol.

“If that is not ground for conviction, if that is not a high crime and misdemeanor against the Republic and the United States of America, then nothing is. President Trump must be convicted, for the safety and democracy of our people.”

Representative Jamie Raskin, Democrat of Maryland and the lead manager

But the 43 Republicans who voted ‘not guilty’ were uninterested in reliving that traumatic experience. Some texted. Rand Paul doodled. Josh Hawley made himself comfortable, feet up on a chair, in the Gallery while he read a newspaper. 

For them, the entire impeachment trial was a sham. A fraud. “Fake news.”

And when Mitch McConnell, minutes after casting his own ‘not guilty’ vote, railed to the media that what had happened was a “disgraceful dereliction of duty,” and said that the former president had shouted “wild myths” about election fraud into “the largest megaphone on planet earth,” he seemed to have forgotten that it was he, Mitch McConnell himself, who had created the conundrum that stopped him from convicting such a dangerous creature.

McConnell called impeachment a “narrow tool” meant to remove an official from office, not pursue them afterward. This was based on his reading of the Constitution, not the vote in Senate that had indeed determined that this was Constitutionally correct. And it completely ignored the further truth, that it was McConnell who refused to call the Senate back into session to start the impeachment trial before trump left office. “Not enough time,” he claimed, although he had had no problem squeezing in the nomination and confirmation of a new Supreme Court justice just days after Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death, in a time of plague, and days before a presidential election.

I guess he forgot that too. Must have been fake news.

Far too many of us have been conditioned to believe what men in high places tell us, even when it is patently observable that telling the truth would not serve their venal purposes. That’s partly how Western Civilization got into the state it’s in.

The impeachment trial showed, over and over, that trump was the perpetrator of the Big Lie, that trump had continually claimed that the election was rigged, and that he, not Biden, had actually won. And the Republican party stood with him and that lie, over and over, as the months dragged on, and as trump’s legal team lost 60 legal kicks at the can.

McConnell himself, then Senate Majority Leader, only admitted that trump had lost the election on December 15th, nearly a month and a half after Biden had won. And for that month and a half, McConnell was Team Trump, encouraging trump’s lies and delusions.

Lies and Fake News.

I’ve written before of how there’s been a sea change since trump’s banning from Twitter, and the inauguration of Joe Biden. We’re all breathing easier, sleeping better. It’s like the world has woken from a nightmare that 8-billion-people shared. 

And because of that, many are gradually beginning to doubt what they lived through, in these past four years. Could it really be possible that trump threw the world into chaos with his Muslim ban, just a few weeks into 2017? That he caged children, and separated them from their parents, without so much as keeping a record of which child belonged to which parent? That he launched a trade war that nearly cratered the economy, and threw thousand of family farms into bankruptcy, and then ignored a pandemic that has killed nearly half a million people in just ten months?

No – surely, that has GOT to be Fake News!

But he did those things, and so much more, and for dessert, he concocted a Big Lie that nearly overturned democracy in America. Even more, his clinging to that Big Lie may still succeed, since he’s convinced his motley cultists of that truth, and they are nothing if not loyal – to the death, or your death, if necessary.

Trump has still not conceded that he lost the election, and this refusal to abandon the Big Lie keeps it potent, keeps it as virulent at COVID-19, and enables him to continue to rally his supporters, and suck the last of their dollars from their pockets and into his own, all in a deadly inversion of reality.

“Finally, the managers warned that, unless Trump is stopped, he will absolutely do such a thing again. They pointed out that the riot in Charlottesville, Virginia, after which the president condoned the white supremacists who killed Heather Heyer, was a rehearsal for the attack on the Michigan state house this summer. That, in turn, was a rehearsal for the attack on the Capitol. As manager Diana DeGette (D-CO) said: “In 2017, it was unfathomable to most of us to think that Charlottesville could happen, just as it was unfathomable to most of us that the Capitol could have been breached on January 6…. Frankly, what unfathomable horrors await us if we do not stand up now and say, no, this is not America.”

Heather Cox Richardson, February 11, 2021

Trump continues to tell his Big Lie, and the ‘not guilty’ vote from the Senate has given that lie new life. In his post trial letter, he wrote, “Our historic, patriotic and beautiful movement to Make America Great Again has only just begun. In the months ahead I have much to share with you, and I look forward to continuing our incredible journey together to achieve American greatness for all of our people. There has never been anything like it!

“We have so much work ahead of us, and soon we will emerge with a vision for a bright, radiant, and limitless American future. Together there is nothing we cannot accomplish.”

This signals his intent to return. He’ll give it another shot, and if you let him, this time, he’ll get that insurrection right. After all, he’s had all the practice shots already.

As attorney Glenn Kirschner put it, “follow the bouncing corruption. This injustice was a Mitch McConnell production. Mitch McConnell is where Justice goes to die.”

AFTER his ‘not guilty’ vote, McConnell said, that “trump’s actions were a disgraceful dereliction of duty. He is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day.” And that “President trump is still liable for everything he did while he was in office. As an ordinary citizen, unless the statute of limitations is run, still liable for everything he did while he was in office.”

But the ‘not guilty’ vote in the Senate created a new precedent. It has determined that a president can do all the things that trump did in office, and still not be convicted. A president can provoke an armed insurrection against the Capitol, and still be found not guilty.

Imagine the Republicans finding a younger, smarter, cannier, less incompetent candidate – perhaps a Josh Hawley – to elevate to president. There will be nothing to stop that candidate from doing exactly what trump attempted to do – overthrow the government – and to succeed, without penalty.

After just a little over a month, the denials have begun. The people are already beginning to forget some of the worst of the events they lived through during the trump administration. Soon, we’ll begin hearing some Americans saying that they can’t be 100% sure that the attacks on the Capitol even happened – even if they themselves were there that day. 

The Big Lie. Fake News. And somewhere in Florida, in a tinseled mansion fancifully called Mar A Lago, an old man is puttering around the omelette bar, sans wig or makeup, in golf tweeds, while the next ‘rough beast” “slouches towards Bethlehem to be born.”

Or perhaps that’s only in an ‘alternative reality.’

The Great Reset

by Roxanne Tellier

I’m still marvelling at how much more relaxed the world has become since January 20th. Feels like a luxury, not being on high alert every minute of every day, and I’m loving it.

As the fog of negativity lifts, there’s time to look around and marvel at how much our lives have changed, and will be forever changed, by our experiences. There’s no discounting that the very framework of our lives has been reworked by the ravages of COVID-19. Nearly everyone has lost someone dear to them to the virus, and many who became ill with the disease may have healthcare issues impacting them for the rest of their lives.  

We’ve often felt scared and alone, dealing with our concerns. Studies have shown that feeling happy and enjoying life have been associated with longer lifespans, and a reduced incidence of serious illness. Our attitudes define how we treat ourselves and others. COVID-19 greatly impacted our quality of life, and shut a lot of the doors that allowed nearly everyone, regardless of mental or physical health, to seek out healthy encounters and to be part of the cultural mosaic.  

The isolation can literally kill us. While some of us are missing our coffees at Starbucks, or our lunches with friends, others are suffering alone in silence, contemplating their own mortality. I worry about those at both ends of the age spectrum, since the very young and the very old are often at the mercy of caretakers who are under great strain themselves.   

The times, they are a changing, and more than just our lives have been upheaved; our economy has taken a brutal beating. Many have not been able to work. Tens of thousands of stores have closed. Our major cities will be reshaped as the bone structure created by small business and entrepreneurs fractures due to the loss of investments and opportunity, and is replaced with franchises. Our hospitality industry has been decimated. People in the arts, or those who work in fields that support the arts, have been either unemployed, or underemployed, for nearly a year.     

And strangely, the majority of people that continue to work during this time, often against their own better judgment, our ‘essential workers’ who toil in menial jobs that allow the rest of us to continue in relative comfort, are some of the lowest paid workers in the country. Meanwhile, their bosses, some enjoying six and seven figure salaries and bonuses, haven’t left the house in 12 months, and never missed a single paycheck.

Is it time for The Great Reset? That term came from the 50th annual meeting of the World Economic Forum, held in June 2020.  They were originally more focused on initiating entrepreneurial solutions to handle the problems of climate change and achieve sustainable global development, but as the pandemic has dragged on, and dragged down global economy, the more imperative question has become how to move forward in sectors that have been devastated by the pandemic’s effects. 

“The Covid-19 crisis, and the political, economic and social disruptions it has caused, is fundamentally changing the traditional context for decision-making. The inconsistencies, inadequacies and contradictions of multiple systems –from health and financial to energy and education – are more exposed than ever amidst a global context of concern for lives, livelihoods and the planet. Leaders find themselves at a historic crossroads, managing short-term pressures against medium- and long-term uncertainties.

As we enter a unique window of opportunity to shape the recovery, this initiative will offer insights to help inform all those determining the future state of global relations, the direction of national economies, the priorities of societies, the nature of business models and the management of a global commons. Drawing from the vision and vast expertise of the leaders engaged across the Forum’s communities, the Great Reset initiative has a set of dimensions to build a new social contract that honours the dignity of every human being.” (weforum.org/great-reset/)

This has a lot of people quite concerned, especially those with a vested interest in squashing the idea of a better, brighter, more sustainable future. Within 72 hours of the announcement, a petition to stop it gained 80,000 signatures. A lot of people are very much afraid of not having the status quo to kick around any more – even if that status wasn’t all that quo to begin with.

Those who rail against Big Government, Big Pharma, and the Big Corporations are certain that these ideas are being put into place to either take away people’s money, guns and freedom, or, even more bizarrely, some conspiracy theorists believe that this would signal the beginning of humanity’s enslavement to the Lizard People. (Hard to believe they’d be any worse than trump and his cultists)

So, what does the Great Reset propose we do? Is this the best way forward for the planet, and all of the people who inhabit it? And who are the people that want to design and control the implementation of the plan?

Those that deny that a global pandemic is a cause for alarm are the same cadre who were the climate change deniers of the last decade, who subscribe to the age-old idea that we should just keep on talking about inequality, climate change, and the pandemic, without ever actually doing anything about these problems.

The Great Reset has been championed by global celebrities, like Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, cellist Yo Yo Ma,  andmodel Lily Cole, leading some to believe that these idealists are more interested in their own wish lists of progressive ideas, including a return to an independent media, support for the arts, sustainable architecture and demilitarisation.   

But at the core of the Great Reset is the request that every recovery stimulus, fiscal and monetary, ensures an inclusion of Green conditions. The reasoning behind that thinking is that any money tossed at the economy will likely help, at least a little, but why not invest in the planet’s future, rather than simply patch up its current wounds?   

If there are to be economic recoveries, the key lies in joining the need to create jobs with the need of most countries to sink more dollars into infrastructure, education, and health care. Creating jobs to further those endeavours puts money into the hands of the workers, who in turn, spend that money on their community and country’s businesses, ultimately making the economy stronger. Everyone’s quality of life thus improves.

The key is ensuring that the jobs being created contribute to the long-term health of the planet, rather than the depletion of scarcening resources.

It’s not surprising that some of the wealthiest people fear losing their ability to plunder the planet, and  are calling this agenda, “another example of wealthy, powerful elites salving their consciences with faux efforts to help the masses, and in the process make themselves even wealthier and more powerful.” (Forbes.com)

In Canada, Conservative member of Parliament Pierre Poilievre described his idea of what he believes is Justin Trudeau’s approval of the plan.   

“Last week, the presumptive finance minister in Erin O’Toole‘s “government-in-waiting” warned that “global financial elites” are attempting to “re-engineer economies and societies” in order to “empower the elites at the expense of the people.” Canadians, he said, “must fight back against global elites” and “their power grab.” He invited those who share his concerns to sign a petition calling on the government to “protect our freedom” and “end plans to impose the ‘Great Reset’.”

That certainly does sound like a frightening scenario. But there are some holes in the plot.

The item that so alarmed the Conservative frontbencher was a clip that circulated online last week of the prime minister speaking at a United Nations conference in September. “This pandemic has provided an opportunity for a reset,” Justin Trudeau told the conference. “This is our chance to accelerate our pre-pandemic efforts, to re-imagine economic systems that actually address global challenges like extreme poverty, inequality and climate change.”  (CBC.ca/politics/ Nov 27, 2020, Aaron Wherry, CBC News)

 Oh my yes! How very terrifying it would be to actually address such challenges! There are profits to be made, and profiteers to feed!

Those unable to contemplate change have seized upon a rallying cry attributed to Davos attendees. “You will own nothing, and you will be happy.” Were that the end of the quote, I might find it disturbing as well. But what it actually refers to are changes that are already upon us, and to come, based on actual changes to our needs and priorities. 

And the quote came from a series of predictions for what the world might look like in 2030, that was published in November 2016. It accurately noted that for many, especially in cities that ‘work’, there is no need to own a car, a house, or any appliances. All of these are rented, and you can leave them behind when you move on to another location. Products thus become services, not something to own, but to use and discard when their use is no longer necessary.

The other eight predictions include global carbon pricing, a lessening of U.S. dominance, a change in how we interact with health care providers, a move to a diet less reliant on meat, the testing of Western values, and the opening up of practical applications for space technology in order to move humans off Earth, and onto other planets. Much of this has indeed come to pass, just in the five years since the predictions were written.


We often falsely believe that those who have become wealthy through commerce have society’s best interests at heart. But then again, we also used to believe that of our politicians, and certainly we can agree that that is no longer always true.

The Great Reset is merely a proposal; however, it seems more in keeping with the progressive direction that the planet needs to take, post pandemic, in order to ensure not just humanity’s survival, but the survival of our planet. We could do worse than listen to what is in the proposal. We already have.

Post Trump Traumatic Stress Disorder

by Roxanne Tellier

Eleven days post the Biden Inauguration, and I’m still on a high. It’s not about Joe Biden per se, nor even the wonder of the first black, South Asian-American female vice-president in history in the form of Kamala Harris. It’s not even about the days starting to get a little longer, with the sun coming up a little earlier every day.

No, it’s so much more than that.      

This high started when trump was unceremoniously and ignominiously booted off Twitter on January 8th, two days after the riot of January 6th.

“After close review of recent Tweets from the @realDonaldTrump account and the context around them — specifically how they are being received and interpreted on and off Twitter — we have permanently suspended the account due to the risk of further incitement of violence…

Our public interest framework exists to enable the public to hear from elected officials and world leaders directly. It is built on a principle that the people have a right to hold power to account in the open.

However, we made it clear going back years that these accounts are not above our rules entirely and cannot use Twitter to incite violence, among other things. We will continue to be transparent around our policies and their enforcement. “   

Twitter Inc.

It was astounding how quickly the temperature of social unrest dropped. Within hours, the silence was deafening. And oh, so very, very welcome, after more than four years of increasingly manic, psychotic, delusional and authoritarian tweets designed to condition his cult followers into demanding trump’s elevation to dictator of the nation.

Still, so many of us waited with held breath, unable to believe that the nation had actually escaped the hostage situation it had been held in since January 20th 2017.

Post Trump Traumatic Stress Disorder. It’s a thing. For the last four years, America and those who watch her, have been gripped in the paw of a giant, insatiable ego of a man-child, whose gift of creating constant chaos prevented any agency, whistleblower, or potential traffic cop from stopping his reign of error and terror.

Every day was an exercise in a retreat from decades of progress in civil rights, and an assault on how best to suppress votes, allow nauseating police misconduct, defy hard won protections against discrimination against minorities, and to strip from citizens what was left of their health care and social safety net.  

We watched social and mass media, along with trump’s administration, and his devoted base, indulge in a shared psychosis, where the ability to perceive right from wrong became moot, and the only alternative to a trump defence was to confess to a castrating admission of being wrong.

Those who cried out for justice received none. There was no cavalry coming to save the day.            

And so, like the victims of domestic abusers, we happily anticipated the Inauguration and its beautiful and touching celebrations, while we also feared and dreaded what might occur, based on the wrath of trump’s delusional supporters.

That is actually what his followers believed, and still wish to happen, even as January changes to February, and March 4th approaches.

“Social media users have been sharing posts that make various claims related to the QAnon conspiracy theory, including that Martial Law and the Insurrection Act have been invoked; power has been transferred from outgoing President Trump to the military, not President Joe Biden; there have been mass arrests; Biden is not President; and Trump will come back to power on March 4th. There is no evidence to support any of these claims, linked to the widely debunked QAnon conspiracy theory.”

January 22, 2021, Reuters.com

Like hostage victims, like prisoners in war camps, like those who tremble under horrific domestic abuse, Americans have been made fearful and emotionally damaged by the abuse of trump’s followers.

Trumpism is a death cult. Trumpists are willing to die for him, be it by failure to protect themselves against the disease he proclaimed a ‘hoax,’ or in interactions with authorities. Trumpists are willing to kill, whether it be anyone on social media or in real life who disagrees with their contentions, or in storming the Capitol in order to hang Vice-President Pence for failing to block the vote certifying Biden’s electoral win, or, as in the case of one man’s fantasy, to “put a bullet in Nancy Pelosi’s noggin on live TV.”   

All to keep trump in power.   

The images we saw of the insurrectionists storming, sacking, defiling, and searching for elected representatives that they wanted to murder, were disturbing, to put it mildly. As the days go by, and we are privy to more information that confirms that the attack was, in fact, plotted and planned in advance, it’s only natural that Americans, and those that care about the nation and it’s people, are suffering from a PTSD similar to what any person who served in a war zone might experience. We are in recovery.

Under the circumstances, it shouldn’t be surprising that many people continue to look over their shoulders, unable to believe that the Trump Error is really over; we are in a collective mourning.

After four years of watching America’s democratic framework be worked over like Fury pummelled Wilder, it’s no surprise that many continue to feel unsafe and vulnerable. Trump’s behavior towards the American people looks very much like that of a domestic abuser. He was further abetted in his sadistic efforts by the people he chose to head up important cabinets controlling the nation’s emergency and safety nets. These machinations left no escape route for those most damaged by his decisions.

Even before the horrendous incompetence the trump admin showed in handling COVID-19, which has led to over 440,000 American deaths in less than one year, (and still counting), research was showing a large increase in emotional and mental health problems that were brought about, or exacerbated, by trump’s time in office.  

Contrary to the presidential oath of office, trump never cared about, or intended, to protect the safety, health or well -being of the nation he’d been elected to lead. Leading, in fact, was not why he’d sought out the position; it was always intended to simply raise the profile of the Trump brand.   

So the four years of trumpocracy somehow managed to encompass racism, misogyny, a very public embrace of white supremacy, an increase in domestic terrorism, a disastrous trade war that led to a flailing economy, and was topped off by, arguably, sabotage and willful negligence in the handling of the pandemic – a de facto crime against humanity – and an attempt to overthrow the votes of millions of black and brown Americans.

Donald Trump is the most successful bio-terrorist in human history. This is not an accident.”

John Gartner, Psychologist and former Johns Hopkins professor

From 2015, when trump began his run for the presidency, until January 8th, 2021, when Twitter finally silenced his nonstop IV drip of ugliness and bile, trump and his regime emotionally and psychically abused the American people, whether they were in the minorities he systematically targeted, the people he’d elevated in his party, or his slavishly devoted base.

It will fall to Biden, Harris, their team, and the Congress to attempt to salve the emotional wounds of the trump error. For the good of the nation, this PTTSD needs to be treated immediately.

A failed coup, a failed attempt to overthrow and take over governments, must never be ignored, or treated as anything but what it clearly is – an attempt to force the will of one group of unelected malcontents, over the wishes of those who voted for the leaders of the party currently in power.  

Allowing seditionists and traitors to continue to spread false information amongst their supporters cannot be tolerated. Those that contend that trump had a victory stolen from him are provably wrong. Even as the Republican party tears itself apart, in a deathmatch struggle over whether their allegiance is to trump or to the nation, it’s elected representatives must either accept that Biden holds the legitimate power in their constitutional democracy, and spread that message to their base, or they must leave their posts. Their personal beliefs cannot be allowed to poison the ‘one nation, indivisible’ to which they pledged their oaths at the start of their elected terms.   

History has shown us that the failure of President Andrew Johnson, who assumed the presidency after President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated, to hold Confederate traitors to task for insurrection, and who instead allowed those who had ‘engaged in insurrection against,’ or gave ‘aid or comfort to the enemies’ of the United States to hold public office, is a mistake that resonates in America to this very day.

Similarly, the first insurrection attempt by Hitler and his followers, in the 1923 Beer Hall Pusch, was a failure. But the second one was successful, as his followers had now learned how to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

George Santayana is credited with the famous quote, “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

History doesn’t repeat itself but it often rhymes,” said Mark Twain  

America is at a crossroads. Will she choose the ‘red pill’ of reality, of life-changing truth, or remain in blissful ignorance, lulled into the comforting ignorance of the ‘blue pill’ of Trumpism?  

I believe that it will take gut-wrenching courage on the part of the Biden administration, backed by their justice departments, to use the Fourteenth Amendment, Section Three, that carries the penalty of barring from holding public office anyone who took an oath to support the Constitution, and then ‘engaged in insurrection against,” or “gave aid or comfort to the enemies” of the United States, to punish those in current or past office who had any role in instigating the attack on the Capitol of January 6th. Their actions were treasonous.

Furthermore, I believe that anyone arrested for their part in the attack should be subject to the executive order trump himself signed into being on June of 2020, which he intended to use against sanctuary cities, and Black Lives Matter protestors, which directed the Department of Justice to “prosecute to the fullest extent permitted under Federal Law” people who damage government monuments, participate in “efforts to incite violence,” or damage religious property, with a punishment of up to 10 years in prison for the damaging of federal property.

Trump supporters gather outside the Capitol, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

As harsh as these measures may seem, they are necessary to prevent a future America in which trump flags, murals, statues, and re-enactments of the January 6th attack celebrate his presidency and its denouement, rather than censure his lies and incitement. That would be the fate of an America that DOESN’T prosecute trump, and all of his violent, and criminal followers.   

An America that prosecutes, fines, and jails those that attempted to overturn the results of a fair and legal election would be taking the first and most important step in healing the nation, and all of those suffering from Post Trump Traumatic Stress Disorder.

The Wisdom of Our Elders

by Roxanne Tellier

What a difference a week makes! Since the inauguration, I haven’t had a single communication with another person that didn’t involve a distanced high five, and a recounting of how much better we’re all sleeping and eating since we saw the backend and ignominious departure of the previous resident of the White House.

Trump was that creepy uncle that you only saw once or twice a year, and learned at a young age to step lively around, lest he pinch you cruelly, and in a ‘private’ place.  His words were lies, his ‘truth’ nothing but narcissism and tales of his own greatness, believed only by the gullible.

Predictably the QCrazies are bereft, inconsolable, losing their minds, because, it seems the Kraken didn’t awake, the Storm didn’t break, and all the money they spent on champagne to toast a forever trump presidency is gonna have to paid for, so it’s back to the proverbial chain gang, trumpless.

There’ll be no pardons for those that opted to follow their leader’s words, and attempted to overthrow the government, just arrests, fines, and imprisonments to remind them that black out drunks and highs have consequences.

A new Biden administration toddles into place, just a few days old, and already under siege from a Republican party that believes their bluster will protect them from the wrath of not just the Democrats, now in a majority, but the millions of Americans who watched trump and his lackeys attempt a coup in broad daylight.

Gone, but not forgotten, America must now sift through the rubble left behind by a corrupt and criminally incompetent administration whose response to crises was to throw blame and shade on everyone around them, before taking off for some R & R on the golf course. There’s a lot of work – a mindboggling amount of work – to be done before America is back on track.

Yes, Creepy Uncle is gone. In his place, we have ‘No Malarkey’ Joe Biden, a man whose backstory would make an amazing made for TV movie. A dog lover, and a lover of trains, he’s a man who has spent the best part of his life in and around D.C., in public service.

It’s an interesting moment in time. The 74-year-old contender was beaten by a 78-year-old retiree. While the new vice-president, Kamala Harris, is just 56, Nancy Pelosi, who is third in the line of succession, will be 81 in March. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is 70.   Mitch McConnell will be 79 in February. The incumbent Secretary of State, Daniel Bennett Smith, is 64. Many of the most prominent members of both parties are in their seventies and eighties, including Dianne Feinstein, 87, whose mental capabilities have been questioned in recent months, and Chuck Grassley, who is also 87, and who recently won yet another six years in office. Prior to last week, Wilbur Ross, 83, was the US Secretary of Commerce, when he wasn’t busy on his side hustle, as Jeff Dunham’s puppet, Walter. (Wilbur Ross Walter Puppet.jpg)

South Carolina’s Senator Strom Thurmond left office at the age of 100, after having served almost fifty years in power. West Virginia’s Robert Byrd died in office at the age of 93, as did Georgia’s John Lewis, at 80. Prior to the most recent elections, it was virtually unheard of that a Senator be under the age of 40.

The United States has, thus, for some time been effectively a gerontocracy.

“A gerontocracy is a form of oligarchical rule in which an entity is ruled by leaders who are significantly older than most of the adult population. In many political structures, power within the ruling class accumulates with age, making the oldest the holders of the most power. Those holding the most power may not be in formal leadership positions, but often dominate those who are. In a simplified definition, a gerontocracy is a society where leadership is reserved for elders. “ (wiki)

Under trump, that gerontocracy was in full bloom, as he placed into positions of power septuagenarians and octogenarians willy nilly. By contrast, the majority of Biden’s nominations look more like the average American than in any previous administration, with the exception of a few, like Janet Yellen, 74, who has been nominated to serve as Treasury Secretary.

And this, a younger, more diverse cabinet, is deeply needed, since the aging of the three branches of government has been repeatedly connected to the broader themes of American decline. 

How weird is it that, in a country where, clearly, we treasure the ‘wisdom’ of our elders, based on our electoral choices, where we only feel safe and in good hands with those as old as our grandparents and great-grandparents in the highest elected positions – that we also treat the poorer, less powerful, and frailest of our elderly with such dismissive contempt?

If we believe, as has been said, that the weight of years and experience is responsible for the wisdom, gravitas, and good-hearted balance brought about by decades of living, how is that so few of those opining on the ‘common sense’ approach of ‘herd immunity’ in dealing with COVID-19 feel absolutely no shame in expressing no regrets, publicly, that the first and most voluminous group of martyrs in such a program would be our elders? 

In Canada, COVID-19 has wreaked most of its wrath upon seniors, disproportionately affecting the elderly. In November, StatsCan reported that more than 52 per cent of those who had died from the virus were individuals aged 85, and older, while 36 per cent were aged 65-84. 88 per cents of our deaths have been in people over the age of 65. Only 12 per cent of the victims were younger than 65. 77 per cent of those deaths can be traced to long-term care, and senior homes.

95 per cent of deaths in the US were of people over the age of 50.

That we have failed so dramatically at protecting and prioritizing the health and care of our elders is a colossal moral failure. It appears that we only value people who are deemed economically productive. Once that time has passed, and regardless of how much we may have contributed to society throughout our younger years, people who are no longer economically productive are essentially perceived as worthless, and without further value.

In Ontario, twenty-five years ago, and under the Mike Harris government, hospitals were closed, and the jobs of thousands of nurses were eliminated, while the public role in long-term care was reduced, allowing corporate players such as Sienna Senior Living, Revera, Extendicare and Chartwell Homes to enter the game. Regulations were relaxed, and public oversight was reduced. Seniors would now have a range of options for assisted living and long-term-care housing, but at a significantly higher price.

In May of 2020, the Toronto Star reported that “three of the largest for-profit nursing home operators in Ontario, which have had disproportionately high numbers of COVID-19 cases and deaths, have together paid out more than $1.5 billion in dividends to shareholders over the last decade.”

The article added:

This massive sum does not include $138 million paid in executive compensation and $20 million in stock buybacks (a technique that can boost share prices), according to the financial reports of the province’s three biggest publicly traded long-term-care home companies, Extendicare, Sienna Senior Living and Chartwell Retirement Residences.”

A decent society resists the temptation to take the easy way out, no matter how profitable it may be. The elderly deserve more than warehousing, secured away from their loved ones, while they wait to see if they’re next to die. It shows a horrifying disrespect that we are not making more effort to protect them. 

Ontario may be the guiltiest province in Canada for hypocrisy. In April 2020, when the province wanted to appear ‘caring,’ they brought in the military to help with the abject neglect and chaos in long term care homes, brought about by those lax regulations, and poor staffing choices.

And yet, in June, and despite record-setting profits, the CBC reported that the majority of Ontario’s LTCs were still operating at 1972 structural safety standards.

Ontario changed its structural safety standards back in 1998 — mandating, among other things, that nursing home bedrooms should house no more than two residents.

Homes that didn’t meet the new standard were allowed to keep running as-is, with an expectation they would upgrade eventually. The vast majority of homes that haven’t yet upgraded are run by for-profit companies.

While non-profit and for-profit homes have been equally likely to experience outbreaks, those outbreaks have proven deadlier in for-profit homes. (CBC Canada, June 2020)

In January 2021, Mike Harris, who spent the last 25 years raking in profits from the long-term care system he helped create, and who is the chair of Chartwell Home’s board of directors, was nominated for the Order of Ontario, despite protests from numerous minority groups, most vocal of which have been the Indigenous communities of Ontario.

(“Between 1995 and 2002, Harris was premier during some of the province’s most notorious scandals in recent history, including the shooting death of Indigenous protester Dudley George in 1995 and the Walkerton water crisis five years after.”) from CTV News, January 2021

We believe that we live in lush capitalism, but that’s not true of all of society. In fact, we are in end-stage capitalism, where even the lions turn upon each other. There are homeless living in our parks, but millions in dollars in pandemic aid is going to corporations making healthy profits, who are paying out dividends with one hand, while receiving federal wage subsidies in the other.

In Canada, 53 public companies disclosed receiving more than $10 million under the Canada emergency wage subsidy program (CEWS). CEWS will have cost ALL Canadians more than $100 billion by the time it wraps up in 2021. But only a small segment – the wealthiest – will have received the most benefits from that and similar protection programs.  

While far right Republican and Conservative pundits clamour that the Democrats will ruin their economy with socialism, their parties actually preach and platform something more akin to dog eat dog, where people are only valued for what they produce. These groups advocate the removal of any sort of social safety net, in the form of Social Security or Medicare. What these politicians never acknowledge is that the removal of those nets will doom the elderly, the frail, the ill and the disadvantaged to spending their days in situations akin to that of the worst horrors of the 19th centuries poorhouses and workhouses, where society placed stigma and shame on those unable to support themselves.

The COVID-19 pandemic laid bare the truth in the social safety net, that it was never adequate protection in times of major risks like pandemic illnesses, because of the massive inequality of resources in capitalistic societies. If not addressed and amended, the worse is still to come.

I’ve long contended that the gerontocracy of the United States government is a negative factor, in terms of governance, primarily because those making the rules and regulations for the future have no stake in that future; they won’t be around to reap the rewards or punishments of their decisions. That’s on top of the fact that the majority of those in power are long term seat holders, who have amassed significant wealth and fulsome pensions and benefits, and so are unaffected by the ebb and flow of the average citizen’s lifetime.

They don’t look, act, behave, or earn like the hundreds of millions of Americans they represent. Yet they define the parameters for everything those hundreds of millions must do, from birth to death, and everywhere in between.  

Some have called me ‘ageist’ for this position, which is almost laughable, in that there is no ‘ist’ or ‘ism’ that takes away one iota of wealth or power from that most blessed group of elected fortunates.

But what do we call those who look at the opposite end of the age spectrum, at the people who are poor, sick, frail, and without any of those benefits, and deem them of no value to society?  Nothing that can be repeated in polite society, that’s for sure.

These last few years have been hard on all of us, in Canada, and in the United States, as we’ve struggled under circumstances made all the harder in the last year with a global pandemic. I want desperately to believe that there are better days ahead. I sincerely hope that Biden has begun as he means to go on, and that his successes inspire Canada and other countries to look in the same direction of progress, healing, and more equal opportunities for all, not just the privileged.

BONUS .. everybody sing along! 😉

Reelin’ In The Years

by Roxanne Tellier

You wouldn’t know a diamond if you held it in your hand.” Truer words never spake, Messrs Becker and Fagen. Ah, the things Americans have thrown away in fits of pique.

The domestic terrorists that sacked the Capitol on January 6th  did a gross disservice to themselves, and every other American citizen or visitor to America, that will have impact for the next many decades. If they thought wearing a mask, or being ‘cancelled’ for their QAnon views impinged upon their ‘freedumbs’ before, they’re about to find out the very hard way how much more they lost with that day’s sedition. 

Remember way back in 2001, when al Qaeda-trained terrorist Richard Reid hid an explosive device concealed inside the heel and sole of a shoe? I’ll bet you do, because it was after that attack that the TSA started requiring all passengers to remove their shoes for screening before getting on a flight. And twenty years later, we still have to do that.

Americans don’t like terrorism and they really don’t like terrorists. But they also know that they’re dealing with a population that contains large amounts of unstable individuals. Some people just can’t be reasoned with; because of that, the only weapon the US has against terrorism is the imposition of laws that restrict previously enjoyed freedoms. And the loss of freedoms for all, based on the actions of one, will be the upshot of the attempted coup of January 6th.  

In the days leading up to the inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, all the defence and security offices have acted in tandem to offer what they hope will be the protection necessary for the ceremonies to go forward. There are 21,000 National Guardsman stationed in the nation’s capital today, more US troops than are stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan combined.  

At the Inauguration on Wednesday, there’ll be no parades, no mass gathering on the National Mall, no formal balls that evening. America has given in to the terrorists that stormed the Capitol – Biden’s inauguration will be low key and fear based, rather than the joyous event every other president elect has enjoyed. 

And the terrorist army that caused this fear were led by Donald Trump, who has been feverishly planning his own leaving ceremonies, determined that Biden and Harris and their families enjoy not a single moment of happiness, if he can have a hand in stopping it.  Right to the end, trump is proving to be a craven, selfish, utterly self-centred and sadistic narcissist who can only find joy in causing pain to others.

As the wonderful pastor John Pavlovitz said in his column today,

We should be celebrating—but we can’t do that.

 We can’t, because the violence generated by an outgoing president and his complicit party, (who have for the first time in our history refused a peaceful transition of power) is so pervasive and threatening, that our nation’s Capitol is a literal war zone, that state capitols around the nation are boarded up and closing down, that there is razor wire around surrounding the Inauguration, that members of our government are wearing bullet-proof vests.

We can’t revel in the results of a free and fair election, in the Democratic process working, in our shared efforts in this sacred American experiment—because we’re too busy attending to the PTSD of watching a less-than-two-week-old mass assassination attempt by a political party and wondering what horror is coming next. We’ve endured pre-emptive election sabotage and post-election recounts and lawsuits and a failed bloody coup—and still, we aren’t allowed to rest in those many victories.

We can’t enjoy these moments with our friends and our families and our children, because we’re still trying to process a group of politicians helping their rabid base plan and execute a murderous terrorist attack on the Nation’s Capitol in an effort to kidnap and kill members of Congress—all because they’re unhappy that their gerrymandering, voter suppression, and outright corruption didn’t overcome the votes of the people.  

Our arriving joy is tempered by seeing a party still inexplicably doubling down in the wake of unfathomable violence, by perpetuating their defeated president’s big lie—knowing it will surely incite more brutality; that it is directly placing public servants, law enforcement officers, and ordinary citizens in harm’s way.

We will not get to have the cathartic, public, unfettered happiness that his supporters had after the 2016 election and on the day of the 2017 Inauguration, because they are not able to consent to that; because they are a people so collectively afflicted with enmity that they cannot allow it.

Denying other people’s joy and causing them pain is all they understand and all their president has nurtured in them, and the sole cause they are truly devoted to.“ (from The Inauguration We Can’t Enjoy, January 17, 2021)

The rioters went to the Capitol because trump, Josh Hawley, Mo Brooks, Ted Cruz, Trump Jr, and Rudy Giuliani told them to. Trump, aided by GOP allies in Congress and the media, had so often told them the Big Lie, that the November presidential elections had been “rigged,” “stolen” by Joe Biden and the Democrats, that they were in effect, hypnotized. Gaslit. Wound up like little treason robots, and sent off to sack the Capitol. 

Where, almost to a man/woman, they announced to the world that their president had sent them, and invited them in.

The upshot of the insurrection will be a devastating loss of freedoms within American societies, stringent new laws on guns, gatherings, social media, and more. And the people will have trump’s cult followers to blame for that clamp-down, although they’ll tell themselves, victims that they think they are, that it’s not their fault, that it’s all the evil Democrats fault, and say, “see? Told you! This is what happens when Democrats win elections!” 

I will never understand why this segment of society can so easily fall into authoritarianism and fascism, so easily believe that there are Democratic ‘global elites’ running a massive ring dedicated to the abduction, sexual abuse, torture, trafficking and cannibalization of children, in the aid of Satanic rituals, even after Pizzagate blew up in their faces years ago.  And even as they see actual video of real live children crying and sick in cages in camps on the border for years, a sick remembrance of the horrific racist AG, Jeff Sessions, who insisted that it was only by torturing these families through separation that they could maintain border security.

I guess reality is the one concept they just can’t envision.

“The most significant terror attack on our country since 9-11 happened because Republican radicals believe Democrats are Satan worshipping pedophiles who stole their country. And they’d rather die than lose the protection of their leader. Defending truth and democracy and equality for all people against any tyranny, foreign or domestic, is the only thing that unites us and protects our freedoms.

For the former Republican party, who call themselves patriots, this is your wake-up call. Your nightmare of a brainwashed, radical, anti-American movement, trying to destroy the country, was you.Matthew Cooke

I’ve thought a lot recently about how lawmakers and those in power talk. There’s a presumption that those with money and power are better at every thing they want to turn their hand to, and that they will always have the purest of motives in their dealings with the public. In truth, that’s almost never the case, and amongst ourselves – those of us without significant power or wealth – we know that Big Business rarely has our best interests in mind. We know it’s all about Big Profits. We talk to each other about the unfairness in our systems, but we lack the wealth and power to be equals.

Most of us have unconscious biases, which comes from what we’ve seen, heard, felt and been told over our lifetimes. We are told that those with money and power are our betters. We tend to assume that those who look like us cannot be sinful, since we know that we are not. And for many, there’s an inherent belief that those who don’t look like us, of a different skin colour, are suspicious simply because they are not ‘our kind.’

But these are tales told to us by those who profit in some way by training us to believe what they say. It’s how they keep themselves our superiors, even when they are in many ways, inferior.  

The Republican party doesn’t want trump to be impeached, in the name of unity. But, while in power for the last four years, no thought was ever given to unifying with the Democratic party. In fact, while claiming victimhood every minute of the day, the GOP shoved their incompetent judges and corrupt administrators into every facet of the United States government, without heeding any pleas from the Dems.

And even at the deathbed request of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, that her seat not be filled until there was a new president in power, they simply laughed at any suggestions to stop a precipitous, fast-tracked confirmation during a lame duck presidency period, and rammed the flawed Amy Coney Barrett into place and a lifetime appointment, laughing all the way.

There will be some who think that maybe it’s ‘kicking a man when he’s down’ to impeach trump days before he would leave office anyway. Those people need to be reminded of two things.

One, history has shown us, time and again, that any constraints on justice around seditious lawlessness, whether it was Lincoln refusing to punish the traitorous officers of the Civil War; Clive Bundy and his family defying state and federal laws with claims of being a ‘sovereign citizen’ untethered by law and order; the right wing domestic terrorists who’ve been ramping up into seditious militias under trump; or trump himself defying his first impeachment and gleefully committing yet more impeachable crimes — is that these scofflaws DO NOT learn a lesson. They DO NOT stop their reigns of terror unless they are legally prevented from doing so. All they do is learn from their mistakes, re-arm, and come back hundreds of times more powerful, with more supporters behind them to gain their ends.

And two – trump has to be impeached in the House and the Senate, even if the Senate vote is taken after he’s left office, because justice must be seen to be done. To not impeach and remove this ability to run again would be to definitively declare a president ‘above the law.’ If that were to happen, you might as well tear out those pages in the Constitution that give that ability to the lawfully elected representatives. And that would be so unconstitutional as to be a further criminal act.

Trump has to be impeached for inciting insurrection. His and his party’s commitment to the Big Lie that the election was stolen from his supporters, and that only the disenfranchisement of over 80 million citizens who voted for Biden will save them from imminent chaos, must be seen for what it is: seditious falsehoods, meant to overthrow democracy in America, and install a trump autocracy. He must suffer fully the loss of any privileges an ex-president would normally receive, and his name must be blackened as the traitor to his nation that he became.

Impeachment isn’t subject to the constitutional protections of criminal law. Trump can be impeached for ‘inciting’ insurrection. The investigation does not need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he actually hoped his supporters would hang Pence, attack Pelosi, or harm those they were told were their enemies. It only needs to prove the flagrant abuse of his office, in the pursuit of power over and above the limits of a constitutional republic. The very people that gathered that day are the witnesses to the seditious crime that was committed. 

And because of his incitement to insurrection, the nation that once swore that it did not negotiate with terrorists is on its knees, attempting to protect its lawfully elected representatives across all 50 states. National Guardsman are sleeping in the halls of the Capitol in order to prevent another incursion, and to protect the men and women inside. This is what trump wrought, this is how he made America ‘great’ again.  

And I think pretty much everyone is ready to say – we ARE sick of this kind of winning.

There’s A Riot Going On

by Roxanne Tellier

Ahead of the mob violence on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, there had been weeks of incendiary rhetoric and planning in plain sight, on Facebook, Twitter, and on far-right websites like Parler, Gab, TheDonald, and MeWe.  There had been a virtual social media landslide of conspiracy theories, disinformation, and lies about fraudulent voting, often coming directly from the POTUS and his favoured minions.

Prior to the insurrection, Advance Democracy had found more than 1,480 posts on Twitter from QAnon-related accounts, promoting violence. When it became clear that VP Pence was unable to overturn the results of the election, and unwilling to ‘try’ to do so, right-wing extremists began to plan the murder by hanging of Pence, whom they believed to be committing a traitorous refusal to act.  

Holt believes the key factor was the remarks from President Trump and his allies when they addressed the rally on Wednesday. When Trump told his supporters to head to the capital, Holt says, “I think the levee just broke.”

“If Trump had not told people to go to the Capitol, I don’t know that it would have happened. Because people on the ground were engaged in some pretty extreme rhetoric about coming back with guns if things don’t go their way, and stuff like that. But there wasn’t any real sort of significant action happening on the ground until Trump finished his speech.”  from NPR’s reportage    

Even the most casual observer of social media, anywhere on the planet, was aware of the potential for a political ‘incident’ occurring. But only those with the ability to stop anything serious from happening, turned a blind eye. Or did they?

“The attack on the Capitol was anything but unpredictable. It was incited, touted and trumpeted by the president of the United States, whose job is actually that of protecting his people from harm. It was Donald Trump who demanded on Wednesday midday that the vice president instigate a coup d’état. It was Trump himself who, speaking from a podium in front of the White House, encouraged his followers to march on the Capitol.”  Der Spiegel, Germany. 

I remind us of these facts to show that there is simply no way that anyone involved in the planning of security for the ceremonial certification of the Electoral College ballots would not be aware of the potential for serious violence on that day.

Washington’s Mayor, Muriel Bowser, put in a request on New Year’s Eve for a limited National Guard deployment, to patrol the streets from January 5th to 7th. A U.S. defense official approved that some 340 D.C. National Guard members would be activated, with about 115 on duty in the streets, but they would not be armed, or wearing body armour. Instead, they would be used to set up traffic control points around the city, for crowd management, and to stand with district police officers at all of the city’s Metro stops.

“Because D.C. does not have a governor, the designated commander of the city’s National Guard is Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy. Any D.C. requests for Guard deployments have to be approved by him.

The defense official said that there will be no active-duty military troops in the city, and the U.S. military will not be providing any aircraft or intelligence. The official said there will be no D.C. Guard members on the National Mall or at the U.S. Capitol.”  APNews.com 

After a century or more of television and film extolling the foresight, intelligence, and ability of America’s top cops, military, and defense organizations to anticipate the potential for violence and chaos in the seat of American government, America was about to witness the complete failure of everyone involved, from the Pentagon and Department of Defense on down.

January 6, 2021 will be a day that goes down in infamy, right up there with 9/11, Pearl Harbour, and Kennedy’s assassination. Everyone will forever remember exactly where they were the day American democracy was breached by a gang of cos playing domestic terrorist insurrectionists.  

Although it will likely be some time before we knew where, how, and by whom all the tangled webs were woven, it’s very clear that the match that lit the fuse was struck by the soon to be ex-president, trump, his son Donald Junior, Rudy Giuliani, and Congressman Mo Brooks. These four need to be charged with inciting violence, at the least.  

Trump and his minions led a violent and deadly insurrection to overthrow the United States government. There are no stronger grounds for Impeachment and removal than that. The Rosenbergs did less, and were summarily executed.

But the fuse itself was crafted and laid by a young, brash senator from Missouri, Josh Hawley. Once the brightest light, and hot new thing on the Republican’s Christmas tree, he’s now Public Enemy Number One on Capitol Hill, has been denounced by the very people that worked to get him elected, been reviled in his own local newspaper, and has had his family home surrounded and his family terrorized by those who understand exactly what Hawley was attempting. Hawley himself, however, is shocked … SHOCKED I TELLS YOU … to discover that it doesn’t feel very nice when people are incited to attack, surround, and terrorize your home.  

The Capitol Buildings are the People’s House. Turnabout, in this case, is karma.

Hawley was the first senator to sign on to the objection to the Electoral College certification ceremony. He knew, from the onset, that there would be no actual point to the objections, beyond removing the focus from Biden’s legitimate win, and thus shining a spotlight on trump’s made-up grievances and false, debunked claims about non-existent voter fraud. He calculated that this move would draw trump’s base to himself, with the knowledge that his actions could lead the most fervent trump supporters to act out their rage, violently, and en masse, during trump’s call to arms rally, pre-vote.  

From the Kansas City Star’s op-ed, headlined “Assault on democracy: Sen Josh Hawley has blood on his hands in Capitol coup attempt:

“No one other than President Donald Trump himself is more responsible for Wednesday’s coup attempt at the U.S. Capitol than one Joshua David Hawley, the 41-year-old junior senator from Missouri, who put out a fundraising appeal while the siege was underway.

“This, Sen. Hawley, is what law-breaking and destruction look like. This is what mobs do. This is not a protest, but a riot. One woman was shot by Capitol Police in the chaos and died while lawmakers were sheltering in place.

“No longer can it be asked, as George Will did recently of Hawley, ‘Has there ever been such a high ratio of ambition to accomplishment?’ Hawley’s actions in the last week had such impact that he deserves an impressive share of the blame for the blood that’s been shed.” 

Oh, certainly, there were others just as eager to risk it all for a scrap of trump’s mantle. But Hawley – young, smart, attractive, and cynical – was the one who publicly saluted the protestors and rioters with a fist pump as he walked outside the Capitol to object to the ceremonial counting of votes. Hawley knew that Mike Pence’s role in the role call was completely ceremonial, and that nothing Pence – or the objectors – did would do anything but ensure a very long, boring day for everyone in Chambers.  

Or so it was hoped.

The purpose of Congress convening is only and simply the time mandated by the Constitution to formally tally the votes of the Electoral College. It’s not a time to litigate election matters.  

But Hawley, and the Sedition Caucus of Ted Cruz, Marsha Blackburn, Ron Johnson, James Lankford, Cynthia M. Lummis, Tommy Tuberville, Steve Daines, John Neely Kennedy, Bill Hagerty, Mike Braun and Roger Marshall were determined – and succeeded – to make it a day that no one could ever forget, no matter how hard they tried.

And, even more importantly, each of these senators fundraised constantly on the back of their hypocrisy. Hawley sent out another fundraising appeal just an hour before the Capitol was stormed. Ted Cruz was doing the same, even as he cowered in fear as the insurrectionists sacked the Capitol.  

Even days after the horror he helped to unleash, Hawley is still unable to understand what he did wrong. Strangely, the young man whose attendance and grades at Stanford and Yale Law School were pedestaled as exemplary, failed to actually read the Constitution to which he swore an oath to uphold.

Even more shockingly, after pro-trump extremists sacked the Capitol, bludgeoned a police officer to death with a fire extinguisher to gain entry, nearly crushed another police officer between two doors, and after a young woman was removed after being shot in the hallway for attempting to breach the Chamber, six senators sustained the challenge to Arizona’s results. Lawmakers had decided to reconvene and finish their Constitutional duties. Many of the Senate Republicans, shocked by the violence and chaos they’d just seen, abandoned plans to object.

But six persisted. Those six were Josh Hawley, who continued to insist that this was the time and place to raise his concerns; Ted Cruz, who urged his colleagues to disregard a lawful and fair election, and instead allow public opinion to dictate the winner; John Kennedy, who reiterated that his plans to raise objections during the proceedings were on behalf of his constituents; Cindy Hyde-Smith, known for such fulsome support for trump that she once told a supporter, “If he invited me to a public hanging, I’d be on the front row.”  That deluded crew was joined by Tommy Tuberville and Roger Marshall, both of whom are essentially no more than ‘hangers on.’

121 House members also supported the objection. House members also objected in the cases of Georgia, Michigan and Nevada, but as no senator joined in the objection, there were no debates. The only other state disputed with support from both chambers was Pennsylvania; 138 House members, all Republicans, supported the objection, as did seven senators: Cruz, Hawley, Hyde Smith, Cynthia Lummis, Marshall, Tuberville, and Rick Scott, of Florida.

And yet now, there is talk from the GOP of how we must enter a time of healing. The same senators, representatives, and soon to be ex-president, all of whom crossed the Rubicon into insurrection against their own government, believe this should now be a time when we all ‘come together.’  

Apparently, immediately after nearly being murdered in the ransack of the Capitol wasn’t that time.

It was only when these seditionists and traitors realized that there would be consequences for their actions that they began to ask, however obliquely, for mercy.

I feel that many of those who participated in this plan believed that it would succeed. That can be the only explanation for actions so clearly contrary to the oaths the elected officials take, and the job descriptions of those who appear to have been complicit in allowing the carrying out of the raid. They hoped to overturn the government, and continue under the auspices of trump, as autocratic, unelected leader, at best – dictator of America at worst.

Every day a little more information on how many were involved emerges. The Rule of Law Defense Fund, a fundraising arm of the Republican Attorneys General Association, sent out robocalls encouraging people to march to the U.S. Capitol on the morning of January 6th.

“At 1 p.m., we will march to the Capitol building and call on Congress to stop the steal,” said the voice on the recording, which was obtained by NBC News.

Police officers and at least one police chief from departments across the United States, including in California, Washington state, New Hampshire, Arizona and Texas are facing termination, suspension or other discipline for their proximity to or alleged involvement in the riot. Based on tips, social media posts, and other evidence, it is believed that many more officers will be implicated as well.

The links between law enforcement officers and white supremacist groups are long standing.

“That an angry mob of armed right-wing insurrectionists was able to so easily push itself into the U.S. Capitol is nightmarish on its face. But it may be a much darker fact to realize that quite so many people vested with the authority to kill others seem so willing to sympathize with those who dream of a violent revolt against the government.”  … theappeal. Org

The Capitol police let the insurrectionists inside the gates. They took selfies with the rioters. And when it was over, they politely held the doors for these traitors to leave the building, unmolested. It was the very picture of collusion and complicity within those hallowed halls.

The Business Insider was told by multiple European security officials that trump appeared to have tacit support among US federal agencies that were responsible for securing the Capitol complex. This is critical information, because, even if untrue, some among America’s international military allies are now willing to believe that trump deliberately tried to violently overturn the election, with the help of federal law-enforcement, many of whose department heads he himself had put into places of leadership. 

Four Years of American Carnage in One Photo

“Will the United States ever be able to recover from the ignominy of Jan. 6, 2021? It is difficult to imagine the country being able to present itself as the shining beacon of democracy in the coming years – if the country isn’t even able to stage a peaceful transfer of power. America will not be able to provide any advice to up-and-coming democratic leaders for as long as the images from Wednesday – which ex-President George W. Bush compared to a ‘banana republic’ – are in circulation.

The U.S. now finds itself facing a painful period of self-reflection. It would be too easy to merely blame Trump for the attempted coup. He does, of course, bear a lion’s share of the blame for the attack on the Capitol for his full-throated claims that the election was stolen from him. But the pack would not have been so ready to participate in sedition had Trump not had such a committed coterie of abettors at his side during his entire term in office – a team of lackeys who played a significant role in the dismantling of democracy in America. “ Der Spiegel

There will be no healing in America until all of those who instigated this traitorous insurrection admit publicly, and in writing, that Joe Biden won the 2020 election, freely and fairly, and that NO ONE in America is above the law, including their POTUS.

Every person involved must be routed out, and must pay the price for their part in this seditious attempt to bring down their government. And trump must be impeached, and never again allowed near any kind of position of power in the United States.

Even Grownups Get the Blues

By Roxanne Tellier

“I just feel so badly that my child will not have a Christmas like I did, as a child.”  

“But it could be Great Aunt Thelma’s very last Hanukkah! It’s so unfair to deprive her of our presence!”

Yeah. No. This is not about the kids. The kids have many, many more Christmases in their future, and some will be good, and some will, for whatever reason, not be totally Hallmark. There will be horrible holidays in everyone’s future, because that’s how this thing called ‘Life’ works. 

And it’s not about the seniors, most of whom are terrified that you might be bringing them the plague for the holidays. No, this funky stank you’re feeling and scenting is all you.  

It’s OKAY to be sad about this crummy December. It’s normal to feel depressed that you can’t get together with your friends and family. It’s completely copacetic to regret not being able to share your traditional holiday goodies, dinners, spiced egg nog, and kisses under the mistletoe. This is.. yes, it’s a terrible year. It’s the Grinchiest Christmas ever.  It’s “The Year Without a Santa Claus” nasty. And that was pretty nasty, even by 1974 standards.

It’s the pits! It’s the most awfullest awful! It’s the terrible, horrible, no good, worst December ever! It truly is!

There are restaurants, businesses, and the people who work them who were counting on salvaging this year with a massive influx of sales, and that’s not gonna happen. There are millions of people in the U.S. who were counting on their elected representatives pulling out the stops and getting them something… anything! … to get them thru the last of this year, who are already struggling, frequenting food banks, and praying that they are not evicted on January 1st.

All of this is for real happening, while you can’t get your hair done, a new holiday picture, or hang out at the mall. You can’t go to the gym, and when you go to the library, all the staff are wearing masks and they look like they hate you for wanting more books that they’ll have to disinfect before anyone else can read them.

What is this, 1918?

So it’s one hundred per cent okay to be sad, bummed out, depressed, angry, frustrated, and feeling out of control. Even if you’re a grown up, and supposedly the person in charge of the family emotions. Maybe even ESPECIALLY if you are that person.

Wallow in that mud! Splash in the acid of your anger! Put on your steel toed boots and kick the curb! Throw something you have always hated against the wall, until it breaks and you’re finally able to put it into the garbage can without guilt! You are ALLOWED to feel all of those emotions. Not for hours – that would be counterproductive. But for .. I dunno, what’s good for you? Five minutes? Ten minutes where you stomp and fume and yell into your pillow? Cuz even grownups are allowed to do that, you know.

And then, once you’ve let off some of that steam, cast your mind back to Christmases past. Like last year, when maybe you realized that you’re tired of doing all the shopping, wrapping, decorating, planning, cooking, and prepping. Remember the Christmas when you were totally broke, and felt guilty about not being able to shower your loved ones with gifts? Remember the Christmas when someone else was broke, and didn’t shower YOU with gifts? What about that Christmas when you lost your job? Or your relationship was breaking down? Or someone you adored was in hospital and you didn’t know if they’d make it? Or maybe a time when it was you who didn’t know if you’d still be around to ring in the New Year.

Remember all the years you couldn’t find that special gift, even though you battled through the frenzied crowd of shoppers at the mall, and you had a huge blister on your ankle, and then, overheated but starting to get cold, waited way too long for a bus to come? Remember when you gritted your teeth and swore that if you heard one more chorus of “Silver Bells,” you would start lashing out at passerbys with a sharpened candy cane? Remember all those years when politicians claimed that their opponents were bent on stealing Christmas? Remember that year when you were working so hard on making everything perfect for the holidays, that you nearly drove yourself into a nervous breakdown, and then found yourself just losing it on the very kids you wanted to gift with a wonderful day, and then hating yourself for losing your temper when all you really wanted was for them to have a special memory? (Oh, they’ll remember it. They’ll remember it long after that expensive toy is dust.)    

Remember the big holiday feasts where those relatives that you only saw once a year, showed up and  you remembered why you only saw them once a year? Remember how the kids tore through all the presents you’d given them, on Christmas morning, and then whined that the one present you’d missed was the one present that mattered? Remember how you swore that next year, next Christmas, there’d be a ceiling on what was spent on gifts, and it would be stress free, dammit! Or else!

Remember trying to remind ourselves the Seussian truth, that Christmas can’t be bought? Christmas lives in the heart, not the wallet.

What I’m trying to say is that there have been crummy Decembers before, and there will be crummy Decembers to come. As much as we would love every holiday season to be picture perfect and suitable for framing, it’s the rare one that hits all the high notes properly. And if we look really hard, there’s nearly always someone in the vicinity who’s hiding their tears and a broken heart behind their Christmas smile.

Stuff happens. Always has. Always will. Yes, we are all in agreement; this particular holiday season wins the Worst Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa/Winter Solstice/Diwali/Las Posadas and Chinese New Year ever. EVER.  Combined! It does. We all agree.

So be angry. Be sad. You are allowed to feel that way. Watch an old movie and blame your tears on Clarence getting his wings. It’s okay.

Because, at the end of the day, Christmas is really about spending time with the people we love and cherish the most. It’s not about the presents. It’s not even about the food. It’s not about one-upmanship. It’s not about arguing with Great Uncle Bert who is never going to stop being a bigot, so why get your stomach in a knot?

You are allowed to be upset that this holiday season will not fulfill all of your own hopes and dreams. You don’t have to say that it’s about the kids. Sometimes it’s okay for YOU to be the sad child.

At least for a few minutes.

Then it’s back to adulting.

Unless you can find an adultier adult. Cuz adulting is hard. That’s why it’s called adulting, not childing.

<<<<<< >>>>>>

Happy Ho Hos! Merry Crimble!  And Assorted Seasonings to you all!

Cogito, ergo sum I think

by Roxanne Tellier

“So this is Christmas, and what have you done? Another year over. A new one just begun.”  (John Lennon/Yoko Ono)  

In 18 days, this year – this miserable, disappointing, painful, ugly, disquieting, frustrating and lonely year – will finally end. Good riddance to it; it’s broken far too many of us.

It was a year when being an introvert might have saved your psyche, if it weren’t for the people you were locking down with. Really, the pandemic opened our eyes to how socially distant we already were, in our own minds. For many, not having to be around other people was wonderful. The world, as a rule, is built for extroverts, who enjoy and thrive on the energy generated by gatherings, their brain’s ‘reward’ centre activated. But if you’re an introvert, dealing with others is overstimulating, akin to being drained by a vampire; it takes a while to recover from the contact, no matter how pleasurable. 

This year, we learned to fear others, since there is no way to know if that kid on his scooter, the crazy lady in the supermarket, or that guy walking on your side of the street, is carrying the virus. We are less quick to remember the niceties of civilization, like holding open the door for others, or asking a confused looking person if they’re all right. In our misperception, we are more likely to push the automatic door opening button rather than touch the door’s handle, without realizing how many others, potentially infected, did the same thing.

But it’s also the year in which we came together, within our ‘bubble,’ and, perhaps naively, assumed that people we knew, or those who looked the most like us, could not possibly be the carriers of the plague. It was a little like the bad old days of herpes and HIV/AIDS, when many threw the sexual dice based on how ‘clean’ the potential partner appeared. I wonder how many people, grateful to interact, joyfully greeted the instrument of their demise with hugs and handshakes.  

2020 was when we learned who the real ‘essential workers’ are, and it’s not the 1%, or the CEOs; it’s the guy or gal on the front line, making your coffee, wiping down tables with antiseptic cleanser, or processing your order. It’s the drivers of the delivery trucks that deliver an unending stream of necessities and baubles to keep our brains and hands occupied. It’s the hospital staff who keep working during the worse time of their careers. It’s the construction worker who is fixing the sidewalk, or the plumber that comes to your house to fix that leak. Now we need to learn that these people who keep the world turning deserve to be paid accordingly.

We also discovered what an enormous role, emotionally and financially, the arts play in our lives. When the world of entertainment shut down, a big part of our leisure lives went with it. The entertainment industry were already calculating at least a $160 billion hit, over the next few years, just a couple of months into the pandemic. The many industries that exist to support theatres, concert halls, and other places that offer music, theatre, and dance are also struggling to survive.

With so many people unable to use the pressure-relieving valve of gathering, be it at work or play, a lot of things we took for granted as being ‘just the way it is,’ were revealed to be illusory. The important things – food on the table, a roof over you head – shone a light on how foolish we had been in equating the skyrocketing stock market with the economy. In actual fact, inequality has never been as sharp. We are a nation of haves and have nots, with one end of society able to ply their trade from home, while the other may be losing their homes and contemplating life in a tent in a city park.

In the United States, more than eleven million people remain unemployed, while 614 American billionaires grew their wealth by nearly a trillion dollars. And in Canada ….

“A report released on June 17 by the Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO) reveals staggering levels of social inequality in Canada. Often portrayed in the corporate media and official politics as a “kinder,” more “progressive” society than the United States, Canadian capitalism is exposed in the study as an oligarchic social order.

According to the PBO, the share of wealth held by the top one percent of Canadians is 25.6 percent. This is almost double the estimate of 13.7 percent given by Statistics Canada.  

According to the new PBO estimates, the top one percent in Canada owns about as much as the poorest 80 percent. The upper middle class and petty bourgeoisie, the 9 per cent immediately following the top one per cent, own 30.8 per cent of the wealth.

The millionaires and billionaires in the richest 10 per cent of the population own a staggering $5.829 trillion. “

There’s an ever-widening wealth gap between the rich and the poor, in Canada, as in the rest of the world. The richest one percent of the globe’s population possesses twice as much wealth as the poorest 6.9 billion. And that has had devastating consequences on those struggling to survive. The poor are more likely to have less access to higher education, to suffer from health problems, and to die many years earlier than the wealthy.

COVID-19 has had a profound impact on our personal and financial circumstances, even before you take into account the emotional toll it’s had on us. As humans experiencing the trauma of the pandemic, many are experiencing depression, anxiety, panic attacks, grief at what has been lost, and suicidal ideations. Worse, whole communities are being impacted, so that the pandemic is about to leave a societal scar. Beyond the struggle each of us are dealing with, we are experiencing a collective or communal trauma. Psychologists say this can impact the psyche and culture of our communities, sometimes spanning generations.

2020 has been a horrible year for so many reasons. But it’s also had a few bright spots. There’s been a number of scientific breakthroughs that may help curb the effects of climate change. A drop in pollution caused by commuting has brightened our skies, and even made the Himalayas visible for the first time in thirty years.

In Europe, an app developed in Denmark called “Too Good To Go” has kept over 30 million meals out of the trash by connecting businesses with excess food to consumers who can buy that food at reduced prices.

A Brazilian and U.S. non-profit initiative is paying farmers and ranchers to keep the Amazon forest standing.  The pandemic also shone a light on the ‘wet markets’ where poorly handled animals being consumed contribute to about 75% of recently emerged infectious diseases affecting humans, with cities finally willing to work towards shuttering these places.

The wave of kindness and community that blossomed at the beginning of the pandemic is waning, but in its place are new and often renewed charitable agencies helping people to get through these tough times. Volunteerism is up.  Animal adoptions are at an all time high, as people connect with a furry friend and companion.  

In the States, Joe Biden is the president elect, and Kamala Harris is the first woman, the first African American, and the first South Asian American to be elected to the vice presidency. In just over a month, the reign of error that was trump will hopefully be in our rear-view mirrors.

Not one, but several vaccines have been created at breathtaking speed, and are being distributed around the world, leading to hope that within about a year, we can look forward to returning to some kind of normal. And the pandemic itself has taught us some important lessons about responsible health care that is already having an impact on the rate of colds and flus that regularly take us down when our bodies are stressed. Turns out, washing your hands, wearing a mask, and staying home when we’re sick has a positive outcome on lots of more common illnesses.  

So it’s been a year that closer resembled a Chinese curse than a gift, but it’s almost over, and many of us survived. We’re all a little older, wiser, and greyer. Some of us have less money than before this trial, while others learned that money really can’t buy happiness, but a CERB cheque can buy a lot of cool junk on Amazon. And they deliver.

What a ride, eh?

Wishing that your holidays be merry, and your new year a blessing. Love to you all.