Out of Touch, Out of Time

So the siege of Toronto has begun…

Imagine, if you will, the pathological privilege that is required to make the opposition of public health recommendations – implemented for the good of ALL of the society that permitted that privilege – and the disruption of that same society your sole focus.

YOU can stay home from your job – disrupting the lives those who live in the cities you have occupied, preventing those same people from going to their places of employment, taking food from those who are less-privileged, threatening violence, with racist, antisemitic and misogynistic overtones, setting up camp in view of the houses of local and federal government with the support of one of the major political parties in those governmental systems, while local police stand by in support (the Ottawa Police have given up, based on their twitter thread this morning) and/or issue statements warning those who have cared for the sick and the dying through a global pandemic, as if our healthcare workers are nothing more than potential collateral damage in your perceived war against your ‘freedoms’.

Imagine having the arrogance to falsely appropriate the symbols of people who have had to fight – endlessly – for actual freedom from the same society that has sought their eradication.

And, if you’re not there in person, imagine being so self-involved that you make claims of ‘bad apples’ while swastikas and the confederate flag are waved in the faces of those with personal experience of the damage caused when and where those flags have been flown, unchecked.

Support of this movement is complicity – there is no legitimate argument that says otherwise. FB posts calling for the continuation of support – financial or otherwise – demonstrates nothing more than deliberate misunderstanding of the mores of a functional society.

It is individualism – without benefit of education or contextual insight – run amok.

In the last 2 years I’ve had the opportunity – and have accepted the necessity – to delve into the reasons why such a thing came to pass. It has involved a great deal of reading – and a new understanding of the history of North America in the years since WW2. Particularly the decades which saw the rise of the religious right and their usurping of the American – and Canadian –  political process.

It is facile to try to distill such things into a twitter thread or a blog post but the overarching message I’ve been seeing, as the ‘convoy’ and its enablers persist in regressive actions and re-actions, is that we are, truly, at a point in history that is witness to the deconstruction of social realities that a minority of people have claimed – along with the benefits and privileges that accompany that societal structure.

What we are witnessing is an ending – and, with hope and hard work – the potential for a new beginning.

This thread was dragging on too long, so I finished up the rant here – click on over if you want to have a look at the rest. This IS Canada – but it doesn’t have to be.

Historians don’t write history, they interpret history. Human beings – for all their strengths – are not great eye-witnesses. Any forensic specialist can tell you that – and lawyers count on our inattention to detail when presenting arguments for the innocence of their clients. 

Our books of history – such as they are – generally rely on data that is removed from the first-hand. Even those who write about personal experiences of history do so through a lens of context. Their own reality shapes those things they see – and the perspective that that brings is unreliable – best efforts notwithstanding.

All history is story – and (I know this will get me comments) all history is fiction. Even the advent of on-the-spot reporting and cameras represent a particular perspective. News is reported by people. And people have agendas. Even if agendas aren’t de facto slanted to present misinformation (fake news) the voice of the author finds its way into every story told.

The truth – and we are seeing it now, here at what is likely the end of things – is that the ‘history’ most of us learned isn’t worth more than the paper it is written upon. 

That tautology – that those who do not know it are doomed to repeat it – misses a key element: history is nothing more than story – and it is in those stories that we need discover what to do and what to avoid. STORY, not history, is the key to understanding humanity – and ensuring its continuance. 

Nostalgia is treacherous – since it is rarely based in real history. The ‘good old days’ may have been good for the few – but the many would legit beg to differ. ’Fake news’ is a thing. I don’t discount that. I would add a caveat though – that most of that which is ‘fake’ is being created and spread by men who are out of time. 

And what does that mean, you ask? I mean those men who know that their time is ending. The stories they’ve been telling – that have allowed and secured their ascendancy in this world – are being challenged by other experiences of history – stories that speak against things like exceptionalism, and manifest destiny, and superiority based on human-constructed lines designating us vs. them.

THEY are out of time. And they are scared. Terrified. And grasping at whatever they can to ensure survival in a world that knows they are all but extinct.

Unfortunately – for all of the rest of us – though they may be next on that same universal hit-list that took out the dinosaurs, they are the ones who control most things (unlike the dinosaurs, who had few concepts of social order and hierarchy).

They have their followers – as has always been the case – and will not release that control willingly. Out of time, they will try to take the rest of us down with them if they cannot preserve their self-created carved-out place in the social order.

Fear is the father of hatred. Hatred comes from nothing other than fear. That’s another tautology for you. These men (and the women who stand by them) have been made deathly afraid by the reality that they are out of time. And deathly fear is always deadly. Always. 

If I were to self-describe that place where my passion and my interests most lie I have to acknowledge that I’m a student of apocalypses. Gnostic apocalypses, to get really specific. No longer a ‘practising’ historian, I remain a gatherer. And the stories that I’ve been gathering over the past four years are stories of apocalypse and endings.

But. The studies I’ve done in the years I’ve had at my privileged disposal have made me understand that the stories that bring us to the end times also, when well-constructed, (and this is key) describe what could come after.

We are in the end times now. We can work together, and I will participate, where I can, to help shape what comes after. 

The present is no longer tenable. Genies won’t be stuffed back into darkened bottles. We are in an age in which all the oppressions that are practiced under the sun are seeing the light of day.

“Look, the tears of the oppressed—with no one to comfort them! On the side of their oppressors there was power—with no one to comfort them.” 

Stands up, that does. And we’re here, at the end, because of that disconnect between expectation and reality. Qoheleth knew what he was seeing. And what we witnessing now, at a distance of 2500 years (or thereabouts).

Mark well, though, that those participating and supporting this ‘convoy’ are not the oppressed. 

We can stop those who seek to hold up their interpretation of history, and plot a path for a better, more equitable and inclusive future. Parts of Canada – people in Canada – have been falling for the rhetoric that enables the illusion that outdated social constructs and social constructors aren’t out of time, but that a ‘return’ to something fictive is the way to be heading.

Progressive order must be asserted so we can address the systemic overhauls that are required to collectively create the new solutions and alternatives that our stories tell us we can use to move forward.

What’s happening in Ottawa – and what is now manifesting in Toronto – is terrorism. Having called both those cities home, I ask the governments – municipal, provincial and federal – along with the police forces we pay exorbitantly to do what is necessary to keep the people who live in those cities safe and unmolested by those who are out of time – and out of touch with the realities of what is involved in living in a functional society. We can not be subjected to the last gasps of the minority who have called the shots for far too long.

2 comments on “Out of Touch, Out of Time

  1. quiall says:

    Whew. That was excellent. Terrifying, but excellent.

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