Wednesday, June 28, 2006


Ok, I’m taking a huge chance here. I’m touching on a very tense and politically charged issue, with two very strongly opposed sides. And I’m not actually on either side, so I guess there’s a good chance I’m going to attract some ire. However, I do feel strongly about this issue, and want to put my message out there. Because no matter what happens, I don’t want to feel that I didn’t at least say something.

I’ve really been thinking about the whole “Native Crisis” thing up around Caledonia. You know, the blockade, tire fires, collapsing power towers, that stuff. Now, I don’t claim to be an expert on the behind-the-scenes issues and factors at play here. I, like most everyone else, learned about the events by watching it on the news or reading about it in print. I followed along with interest.

The original protest was smart and completely understandable. Sometimes, you just have to stand up for your rights. How long are the Natives supposed to do things the “right” way (i.e. the way our government tells them to)? How long are they supposed to navigate our labyrinthine legal system, only to be stymied, lied to, ignored, and patronized and condescended to before they finally stand up and shout “Enough!”?

Of course, as any intelligent individual knows, any successful protest will, eventually, get out of hand. Because it will grow, and once a mob reaches critical mass, it becomes an entity on its own right. Warriors become vandals. Because no one can control the mob. So, anyone who starts a protest must therefore accept responsibility for the fact that the protest could, conceivably, end up out of their control. And they must respect the fact that they are therefore accountable for the actions of the mob even after they have lost control.

If you start a fire, you are responsible for what gets burned.

And then the folk of Caledonia, who had had enough, decided to have their own blockade. Apparently deciding to fight fire with fire. A popular phrase, which I believe really only actually applies to real fire. Not a phrase to be used metaphorically. Think about it. You don’t deal with a flood by shooting fire hoses at it. In otherwords, another bad idea.

Why? Don’t the people of Caledonia have just as much right to protest as their neighbours?

Welcome to the analogy portion of the diatribe.

Once upon a time there were two brothers. Their names were Bob and Wolf. Now, Bob and Wolf were adopted brothers, true, but fate and circumstance had put them together, in the same family, in the same house. Like it or not, they were going to have to learn to live together.

Turns out, Bob knew some pretty cool tricks. He had collected some pretty cool toys, and had even invented a few new ones of his own. They definitely came in handy. Wolf knew a lot about camping, sports. Turns out, even though they would sometimes fight, that both brothers had a lot to learn from the other.

Left to their own devices, things probably would have worked out for the best. But their adopted father – let’s call him Government (ok, so it’s “very thinly veiled analogy time”) – didn’t really want the kids to get along. He had his own agenda, and in order to accomplish it, he would need to take things from both his adopted children.

If there was one thing he couldn’t have, it was a united enemy.

So he gave Wolf special “privledges”. A good allowance, but only if he stayed out of sight most of the time. He sometimes took things away from Wolf, and gave them to Bob. Well, sold them to Bob. This made Wolf angry, because Bob had his things.

Bob resented Wolf’s anger. After all, it was Government who took Wolf’s things. Probably for good reason – after all, why wold Government do something if it wasn’t for good reason? Wolf most likely had done something to deserve it.

So, to recap: Government stold from Wolf, and sold the stolen items to Bob. And in the end, Wolf was angry at Bob, and Bob was angry at Wolf.

Turns out Government was quite Machiavellian.

And a genius. Now he could play Bob and Wolf however he wanted. As long as he continued to play each side against the other.

One day, Wolf had decided he had been taken advantage of long enough. Not too long ago, he had bought a car with his own money. Government had taken the car, and sold to Bob. Wolf wanted it back. He was tired of arguing with Government, because he would always just lie. He’d promise to set things right, then renege. Or deny it.

Wolf decided that if he couldn’t use the car, neither could his brother Bob. He got some heavy chains, and wrapped them around the car, locking them with padlocks. Bob was pissed, but Government told them both that he would deal with it.

Government got drunk and decided to ignore the problem.

Eventually, Bob got angry, and sick of waiting, and decided to put a padlock on the bathroom door. If Wolf was going to keep him away from his car (and yes, it was his car, because he paid for it), then he was going to keep Wolf away from the can.

Stepping away from the analogy here, I hope you can see what I am getting at. We shouldn’t be angry with each other. We should’t be on opposite sides of the issue. We have to, as a people, realize that we have a common antangonist. We all have to do some soul searching, and be willing to take a portion of the blame onto ourselves. We all have a share.

Once we have done this, we can turn our attention to Government. We can shake our heads and wag our fingers, and admit we’ve been had. It was a fun ride, but now it’s over. We’ve grown up, we’ve turned 21, and we’re not going to be played against each other any more.

That means supporting each other. That means that Bob will have to admit that Government should not have stole things from Wolf. And Bob will have to admit to himself that he should not have bought Wolf’s things, because in doing so, he was perpetuating a crime.

Wolf will have to admit that, while Bob’s actions were wrong, they were done more in a spirit of ignorance than antagonism. And while Bob does have things that belong to Wolf, he does want to put things right.

So who should pay? Should Bob just give everything back to Wolf, allowing Government to keep all the money he paid? Should he just loose everything?

Should Wolf just decide to forget about all that he lost, and allow Bob to keep it all? While Government still, once again, keeps the profits?

Fuck that.

Where possible, Bob should give Wolf back what he bought. Government would then pay Bob back, with interest, the money that the items are worth.

In some cases, Wolf will have to accept that Bob will be keeping some things, but in turn, Government will pay Wolf what the items are worth. With interest.

And Government, if he has any sense at all, should just shut the fuck up and let the brothers make things right.


Auntie Bernie said...

You have, very eloquently, put most of my thoughts onto paper. Peter and I drive through Caledonia almost every weekend and, of course, the topic comes up. I don't know the answer, but I agree the "battle" is with the government and not between the people.

Well said!

saga said...

Yes, very well said!
I understand that some residents of Caledonia have now (finally!) formed a group to support Six Nations, and to quell the racist thugs who are causing the problems. Maybe they see through "government's" agenda.