Sunday, November 28, 2004

Ultimately, I have no idea how *you* (and I mean those "yous" out there who don't know me personally) form the idea of me, the writer, from my writing, so I'm not really sure whether you are going to think that these next transcribed thoughts are in my character or not. You see, I want to write about something I have been thinking about for some time now. I want to write about genocide.

Everything I think about ends up in a place where I start thinking about genocide.

Genocide is what separates from the rest of the animals. Yes, animals are red in tooth and claw. Everything animal prays upon something else that's alive. But the only animal that will destroy all of its competitors in preemptive strikes is mankind. We are happy to kill all the wolves that come near our door.

So whenever I think about animals or wild places, cities or consumerism, I end up thinking about extinction. The scale of this destruction is beyond comprehension. And extinction is just another way of saying genocide.

Most world politics as of late are being framed along lines of religious affinity. This troubles me greatly as thinking about the world as a "clash of civilizations" will only bring ruin to us all. For what is the definition of heaven to the religions of Christianity and Islam? I know this is a matter of endless debate, but consider this simple answer: it is a place where there are only believers around. Everyone else is gone. Heaven is genocide.

Lately my reading tastes have gravitated to books that deal with the plight of First Nations. An examined life in Canada means that at one time in your life you have to decide how you are going to live with your country's history and I think that's what I'm trying to do at the moment.

Now I'm afraid to say that most Canadians, when they do think of our First Nations people, they frame their secret and forbidden thoughts along their other secret forbidden thoughts they hold regarding the French Canadians in Quebec: "There was a war. You lost. You are not entitled to anything. Stop whining and deal with it. " No one actually says this, mind you. They say things like "everyone is equal" instead. Most Canadians don't think about our failed attempts at cultural genocide much less think about ways to apologize and make restitution.

Similarly, Americans have not truely addressed their other historical burden of slavery and Europeans, their burden of colonialism.

Cultural genocide *is* genocide. This idea is beautifully made clear in Brian Fawcett's Cambodia: A book for people who find television too slow. It's a brilliant and strange book that is actually two books: a set of stories on the top of the page and an ongoing essay written across the bottom. Both forms get across the same theme: genocide means the destruction of thought and memory. As such, the same forces that consumed Cambodia with incomprehensible cruelty and inhumanity are as far away as the TV in your living room.

What do you do when your both your culture and your lifestyle both lead to genocide? For me, it has been both paralysis and a near constant pursuit of ideas that may hold potential escape. I have read and continue to read books on economics, biology, political science, sociology, history, anthropology and the like under the guise that I wanted to "understand the world". But that's no longer enough for me. I find that these books only tend to just the symptoms of the disease that eventually rots everything.

Where I find the most hope and where I think the best opportunity for change occurs is in the stories that we tell ourselves. I can't explain why this is so, but I have finally found one book that can: If this is your land, where are your stories.

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