2013 – A year of protest?
By: Alan Murdock
| Posted: Saturday, Jan 12, 2013 06:00 am
And so, having avoided Montezuma’s ultimate revenge, we begin another trip around the sun. Wakening from another winter solstice, we once more look upon the world we live in with renewed hope that we will do better this year than last – at least for our children.
My start to this year began with reading some letters sent to me as a Christmas gift. They were written in the 1930s by a close friend of my father who had become a high school English teacher after graduating from McGill University in 1932. His letters tell of a persistent and dignified determination to survive in a world that had lost hope. He lived an itinerant and uncertain life in staying with his chosen profession. And then came the Second World War. He, like my dad, tried to enlist – only to be told that the government wanted to keep teachers in the schools and not in uniform. And so they did. That generation of Canadian men and women saved Canada. The Little White School is a living testament of gratitude to that era.
So we should probably start 2013 by being thankful for the blessings we have and not complain too much about the unfairness and foolishness that surround us. They can seem minor in comparison to the past.
Still, if we do not bear witness to injustice, if we close our eyes to political arrogance, if we turn our backs on the type of world that our children will inherit, we will have failed to honour those who struggled so hard to save our civilization. And I admit to very mixed feelings as we enter 2013.
In Canada we have government by decree and omnibus bills – efficient, effective and democratically destructive. First Nations have risen in protest.
Pakistan, Afghanistan, India and too many African countries continue to treat girls as disposable chattel. The public in India has at last reacted.
Palestinians, feared and loathed by every governing authority in the Middle East, have at last been given “observer status” at the UN despite Canada’s resistance. Palestinian children may no longer be treated as untouchables.
Syrians are destroying their country, brick by brick and child by child while the world stands by wringing its hands and waiting for Vladimir Putin, a corrupt dictator, to stop the slaughter. Acid rain for an Arab spring.
Child slave labour still sits at 250 million children despite more than a decade of UN efforts. China refuses to co-operate.
The National Rifle Association, with the tacit approval of the National Teachers Association, would turn U.S. schools into armed camps, citing the sacredness of the Second Amendment. Guns don’t kill people; Americans with guns do. They live next door.
And in St. Albert, city administration and council are well on their way to crushing the youth centre and Arts and Heritage St. Albert as contributing partners to our community. Of course, these two volunteer groups have children as their primary recipient of programs. And children have no vote in the upcoming municipal elections.
Still, I see signs of opportunities for positive accomplishment in the coming year. Premier Redford’s leadership in transporting Alberta oil to eastern Canada and minister Stephen Khan’s advances in linking post-secondary education with business and culture are major positive initiatives. Minister Doug Horner’s public consultation process on government spending shows promise.
Our First Nations children may actually start to be given a fair deal in education. In the U.S., there is a refocus on child literacy. We could learn a lot from this. Maybe we could even reinsert Canadian History and Constitution as a core secondary school subject.
Alan Murdock is a local pediatrician and former chair of Arts and Heritage St. Albert.