2014-06-09 09:55 am

Borders

In Thomas King's "Borders" the story discusses the borders between aboriginal identity and Canada and the US. The story was told by a young teenage boy who didn't seem to understand the full circumstances to why his mother was making such a point in not declaring herself as anything other than Blackfoot. This piece was intended for those who do not identify as aboriginal to give them a impartial insiders view on why many aboriginals do not identify with their colonizers nationality. The purpose of this story was to make the reader contemplate on the reality that aboriginal bands are nation states within themselves and are not necessarily keen to be forced to identify as anything other than their band. The initial conversation between the mother and the border guard demonstrate this beautifully. They go back and forth with the border guard asking "Citizenship?" and the mother replying "Blackfoot"; this goes on until the border guard gets fed up and returns with another man "swaying back and forth like to cowboys headed for a gun fight". Both men attempt to press the mother to divulge "which side of Blackfoot" she came from, but the mother holds strong and simply replies, "Blackfoot side." After mother and son spend a few days camped out at the border crossing because "neither the American or Canadian side would let [them] in" the media coverage they receive pressures the border officials to accept them through the border declaring themselves as Blackfoot and they are finally able to visit Laetitia in Salt Lake City.

This story shows that there are many more nationalities in Canada and the US than many non-aboriginals consider. There are many aboriginal bands that conduct themselves with their own laws, language, and ideology. This example of a Blackfoot women and her son being denied entry to the US because of her refusal to identity as Canadian shows how we must respect these first nation identities and how they choose to represent themselves.

Question: Can you think of an identity that you have had forced upon you that you didn't feel represented you?
2014-06-02 08:12 am

Moral Panic and the Nasty Girl

In the article "Moral Panic and the Nasty Girl", paragraph 31 demonstrates the use of the rhetorical strategy logos. The authors illustrate how the nasty girl has become a "folk devil" that society has projected their anxieties onto. In this paragraph the authors use the psychoanalytical perspective to show their point. In psychoanalytical terms, the nasty girl is "more likely to be the object of projection rather than the source of concern and fear". This is to say that society has gone through huge changes in the last few decades; these changes has left people not knowing what to expect from the world anymore. These large, generalized anxieties tend to find a specific focus and create the phenomenon of moral panic.
This article specifically focuses on the gender issues that surround the increase in female violence and how this increase has deeply challenged the ingrained societal beliefs that girls are supposed to be "nice". Women have gone through huge changes in gender roles since the industrial revolution due to many shifts in society as a whole. These shifts have affected everyone in society, and are particularly visible when we look how roles and expectations have changed for women, because of this it becomes an easy area to project ones fear. This paragraph's use of logos to break down the reasons for the moral panic towards the nasty girl allows the reader to reflect upon their own fear projection and how the issues we tend to focus on are often symptoms of a much larger, more complex problem.
2014-05-28 08:14 pm

Peaceful Warrior - The New Masculine

In the movie, "Peaceful Warrior", the main character,Dan Millman, demonstrates the transformation from the traditional alpha male into the new model of masculinity. Dan Millman is a varsity gymnast who "is in great shape, finds school to be a breeze, and only sleeps alone when [he] absolutely wants to". He has the stereotypical alpha male identity: competitive, self involved, promiscuous, and due to not being very loyal towards his closest friends and teammates, socially isolated.
Dan is haunted by nightmares that give him chronic insomnia. One night, following a nightmare, he goes for a mid-night run and finds himself at a local gas station, there he encounters the man who later inspires his transformation, Socrates. Socrates seems to understand more of what is happening to Dan than Dan does. Dan is intrigued by Socrates and begins questioning him about his mysterious abilities; this is the beginning of Dan's transformational homo-social relationship. Through giving Dan a series of tasks and lessons Socrates attempts to teach Dan how to be present in every moment and stop listening to his mind; Dan attempts these tasks but eventually turns back to his old ways and disregards the lessons Socrates has attempted to teach him. Not long after Dan returns to his old ways he takes his fall from his alpha male role and is emasculated by a motorcycle accident that leaves him barely able to walk, let alone compete as a gymnast. This accident completely destroys Dan's image of who he believes himself to be. After his accident Dan reconnects with Socrates and moves forward in his journey in developing the mindfulness, presence, and heart that this intimate relationship with Socrates helps him cultivate. Through Dan and Socrates' relationship Dan is able to triumph over his injury and return to being a gymnast with new insight and ability. The secondary intimate relationship that Dan has in the film is with Joy, a protege of Socrates. She has some influence on Dan's transformation but it is fairly minimal, though in the end of the film is said that Dan and Joy eventually marry. This process of Dan's transformation demonstrates this new model of masculinity very well as it shows that Dan was transformed from his alpha male identity into a much softer, empathetic and humble person through emasculation and his homo-social relationship with Socrates, just as the article, "Post Princess Models of Gender: The New Man in Disney/ Pixar" demonstrates.
The media's portrayal of this transition into a new model of masculinity is very representative of what is happening to men in this post feminist world. Men were once expected to uphold what was considered the masculine traits in society in order to be successful, this is no longer the case. Feminism has allowed women to cultivate their masculine side so they can participate in the domains that were once considered exclusive for males, and because of this, men also need to cultivate their feminine attributes so they can fit into these new gender roles. I believe Disney Films are portraying this transition in their movies.

Discussion Question: Can you see how gender roles have changed from your parents generation to now?
2014-05-21 10:00 am

Pandemic: An Emotional Appeal

In Stephen Lewis's article, Pandemic: My Country Is On Its Knees, he uses a combination of logos, ethos, and pathos to demonstrate his argument. As a person who is most effected by appeals to emotional senses I found his use of pathos to be most convincing, though I must mention that his use of ethos in describing his long term involvement, connection and understanding of African culture made me more inclined to be open to his perspective. I believe that for most people to be convinced of an argument that they were either previously against or neutral towards, a writer must make use of all three appeals, though depending on the topic and the audience, focusing on one a appeal over the others may be key. In this article I found the focus to be the use of pathos, which because of the nature of the topic, I found it to be very effective.
Early in the article Lewis reflects on the time he spent in Africa in the early 1960's, he described a very different Africa from the one we know today. He speaks of Africa being "a continent of vitality, growth, and boundless expectation" and how though Africa was poor it "wasn't staggering under the weight of oppression, disease, and despair" as it is today. Lewis then reflects on one the "saddest, most wretched experiences of his life" when he returns to the Eastern Region in the late 1960's to find that many of his former students had died in the civil war, which "proved to be a premonitory glimpse of things to come". In terms of the present day situation in Africa, Lewis uses a number of individual stories to demonstrate his argument. He describes how the AIDS Pandemic has decimated such a large part of Africa's population that many children are left orphans to be cared for by their elderly grandparents or in some situations, taken care of by other orphaned children. Lewis has conducted a number of interviews with these grandmothers and shares some of their stories in the article. One he shares is of a 73 year old woman who initially had refused to speak until the women collectively sang a song of solidarity and love. After the song, Agnes shares a short story of unbelievable heart break. She had lost all five of her adult children in a few year span and was left with four orphan grandchildren, all of which are HIV-positive. If this story doesn't appeal to a persons' emotional sensitivities, I don't know what would. Later in the article he describes an experience he had while visiting a pediatric hospital in Zambia where after hearing "otherworldly wail" he turns to see a young mother "crazed by loss" as a nurse places a sheet over an infants body and carries it away. He saw this same episode twice more in his forty minute stay. He then describes how coffins are in such high demand that a Catholic AIDS organization in Namibia has an income generating project of making paper maché coffins for infants and how they "can't keep up with the demand".
Lewis begins by providing the reader with a picture of what Africa once was, a place of hope and promise, and then paints a picture of the present day situation, "a quagmire of despair". Many of the examples Lewis provides demonstrates his use of the appeal of pathos to prove his argument that many countries in Africa are in great trouble, but there is hope if we can explore how such a promising continent got into this situation.

Discussion Question- Pathos is a common appeal used in humanitarian arguments, do you find that you are less affected by these stories than you think you should be? Why do you think that might be?
2014-05-19 08:01 am

Food Security - Global to Local

We live in a time of where our global food system is in need of serious revision, the estimated 9 billion people that will inhabit earth this century will need to be nourished through practices that are sustainable and socially sound. Looking at the globalized food system we can see a great disparity in the issues sounding food security in the global north compared to the issues in the global south. In the global south we see issues such as poor transport and market infrastructure, lack of proper storage causing food waste, price supports and subsidies in the global north that are maintaining a "poverty trap", and often the inability to adequately nourish on a local level. In the global north the issues surrounding food security are largely to do with food waste due to developed countries have come to expect their food to look aesthetically perfect and subsequently wasting 30-40 per cent of edible food. The increase of food prices are also becoming a concern, the high cost of fuel to transport the food globally and maintain many of the agricultural practices is becoming more and more reflective in food prices.
As a nutritionist, I look at our global food crisis as a paradox between the developed and developing countries. We see those in developed countries dying from diseases of excess, such as heart disease, diabetes, and other illnesses linked to poor diet and obesity. In the developing countries we see them dying of diseases of deficiency, such as malnourishment and starvation. I believe that our globalized system is greatly flawed and that we need to return to the ways of grandparents food system, local production. Nutritionally speaking,eating food that has been picked within a day or two before consumption is largely nutritionally superior to produce that has been in transport for weeks. Supporting our local farmers not only is more nutritionally beneficial, but it promotes our local economy, cuts down on gas emissions, and connects you to people in your community. A number of years ago I worked as a produce manager in a very busy Co-operative in Nelson, BC, and much of our focus was surrounding supporting the local farmers. Through getting to know the farmers many of them shared with me how difficult it was to make a living as a farmer, even while getting paid top market value for their produce, many of them said when they broke down how much time was spent farming they were making approximately $2 an hour. These were small, scale, organic farmers who were not receiving government subsidies or supports; their situation could be compared to what it looks for developing countries in their global food production participation. I believe that one of the most impacting ways we can create food security is by looking at how we can feed ourselves through our local food system. I understand the issues surrounding food security are very complicated, but our reliance on cheap food from far away is not only unsustainable, it also perpetuates the oppression and starvation of those living in places that are not benefiting from this globalized system.
Question- How much of the food that you purchase is from Vancouver Island?
2014-05-15 07:50 am

Stories of Oppression and Empowerment

In the Ted talk given by Chimamanda Adichie, "The danger of a Single Story", and Martin Luther King's "Letter from Birmingham Jail", they speak of how the stories we tell have the power to oppress or empower. Chimamanda Adichie begins her talk by reflecting on her first experience of how stories influence our world view. As a child growing up in Nigeria, she read British children's books that spoke of white British children who ate apples, drank ginger beer and had snow, none of which reflected her experiences in Nigeria. This left Chimamanda to believe that Nigerian's were not involved in the world of literature, a story she learnt to be untrue as she got older. The next story That Chimamanda speaks of the story of her family's house boy, Fedai; As a child, Chimamanda continuously heard of how Fedai and his family were very poor, and because "all [she] ever heard about them was how poor they were [it] became impossible for [her] to think about them as anything but poor". Through meeting Fedai's family she learnt how having a single story of people was not only incomplete, but has the ability to "rob people of their dignity". In Martin Lurther-King's letter he speaks of the single story in terms of the experience of African Americans, and how the "southland [has] been bogged down in the tragic attempt to live in monologue rather than dialogue", showing that when a story is being told from only one side it most often is oppressing the side that is not being heard. When speaking of the southern segregation laws he shows the single story of segregation in how "the segragator [is given] a false sense of superiority and the segregated a false sense of inferiority".
Both Adichie's Ted Talk and Martin Luther King's letter demonstrate how our stories have the ability to flatten peoples experience and oppress, or see people as dynamic and empower them. King speaks of African Americans being reminded "of [their] birthright of freedom", which subsequently empowered them to change their story. This also demonstrates that when people stop believing their own stories of oppression, new stories begin to emerge.

Question - Can you think of stories in your own life that oppress yourself or others? How can you change those stories to be stories that provide empowerment?
2014-05-12 04:10 pm

Tarmagedom - Canada as a Complacent Nation?

The title says it all, Dirty oil is turning Canada into a corrupt petro-state. In this article Nikiforuk describes how Canada was once regarded as a "do gooder" democracy, but due to the environmental, political an economic destruction the tar sands have caused, Canada's reputation is now being compared to other petro-states that lack accountability and transparency. It is said that Canada used to be a global leader in addressing environmental issues and now is second to last in taking responsible climate action. Canada's Prime Minister, Stephen Harper,apparently does not believe in climate change, as well as has very strong ties to the oil industry. This is all to illustrate that the tar sands as "Canada's new economic engine" is not only destructive and misleading, but creating great instability in all aspects of national life. Nikiforuk quotes a columnist from the Toronto Star who sees Canada as being "a nation that doesn't say much, doesn't do much, and doesn't seem to stand for much"; a statement meant to imply that Canada has turned a blind eye to the environmental and political destruction that is taking place.
I agree with much of what Nikiforuk is saying regarding Canada needing to make serious adjustments in resource management and environmental accountability, though I question the sentiment of Canada being a nation that doesn't say, do, or stand for much. It is becoming more and more apparent that our Government is corrupt and doesn't have the best interest of its people or environment in mind when creating policy, but is this reflective of the entirety of Canada's population? I myself know countless people who are extremely disenchanted with how things are being handled in this country, and want change. I suppose because people have not yet taken to the streets in revolution, as they do in many other parts of the world, leaves people believing that Canada is a complacent nation. The majority of the protests that I am aware of are relatively small and typically peaceful. The physical geography of Canada might contribute to our ability to organize ourselves and rally together. It seems to me that many Canadians have let our Government know that what is happening with the oil sands, the pipeline, and the policy surrounding it, is unacceptable, but the Government doesn't seem to be listening.
The question I have is, will Canadian's have to wager a full fledged revolution for the Government to start listening and creating policy that protects and supports Canada's environment and people?