Saturday, February 28, 2009

Radicals... can't live with them but where would we be without them

So your best friend is a radical. The type of person who is fixated about "the cause". Whether that cause is the defence of the French language in Quebec or the survival of the wild amoeba, he finds ways of relating everything and anything to it. Every time you go out, conversations always end up focusing on "the cause". You like the guy but sometimes you would just like to see him go to neutral and just "be" for a while.

But radicals can't do that. That's why they're so annoying and, so necessary. I don't think I need to explain why they can be annoying; any one that's ever been to a steak house with a vegetarian or to a strip club with a feminist knows that... Why they are necessary is another matter. Without radicals, many forms of abuse would go unnoticed until it too late. Without radical non-smokers, we would still be getting second hand smoke in bars and restaurants; without radical ecologists, lumber barons would still be destroying our forests with no regard for future generations. In a way, whether we like it or not, radicals are our conscience.

What radicals need is some good PR advice to help them with public opinion. They do great things but these don't seem to influence their image. We love to hate Green Peace and Amnesty International but, on the other hand, are really happy to see whales on our summer vacation and Nelson Mandela smile on television. Ask someone to describe a radical and you will consistently get the image of an extremist militant with a Molotov cocktail in one hand and some sort of manifest in the other.

We need to understand that radicals are people too and are productive members of our society. So, to start breaking down the barriers, I suggest we all go out and hug a radical.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Just one bullet

Sometimes I have strange ways of getting myself to sleep.

Last night, as I stared at the little black spot on the ceiling, I started thinking about what I would do if I had one guiltless bullet to use. Who would I use it on and why? How could I get the most bang for the buck from that one bullet I was allowed? I first went through the usual suspects: terrorists, dictators, greedy CEOs, sleazy politicians, Celine Dion... But the imaginary disappearance of any one of them did not bring me the satisfaction I thought I would get. Celine's music would continue to be the cause of gagging reflexes around the world even after she is long gone.

As I continued trying to identify the best candidate for my no risk bullet, I came to realize that a single bullet could, at best, only provide a temporary fix. No matter how important the target would be, there would always be a willing replacement and the wheel would keep on turning. I guess, even in the literal sense, there is no silver bullet. A solution to a deep rooted problem cannot come from a quick fix...

Still hypnotised by my little black spot, I finally found the perfect use for my one bullet; a way to relieve someone from the pain of living; to bring happiness (albeit for the last time) in tired eyes; to make all that individual's problems disappear; to complete what the uncurable sickness has started... It may be that it would only help that one person for an infinitely small period of time but, in the end, isn't that possibly the best way to change the world, one person at a time?

Satisfied with the use of my one shot, I went gently into that good night.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

These eyes

Picture this: you are running towards the elevator; you make eye contact with a guy standing in it; you notice the doors are closing; your eyes plead for some form of intervention but you realize that *guy* is not and will not be making any effort to hold the elevator... Finally, by the time you get there, the elevator and *guy* are gone!

Beyond the frustration one feels, one wonders why *guy* didn't do anything to help. After all, the eye contact should have created some sort of communion. But, instead of compassion, sympathy and desire to help, all one was able to read in *guy*'s eyes is pure emptiness.

In this situation, I usually first tell myself that *guy* possibly didn't notice me; that his mind was elsewhere. Then, as I wait for the next elevator, I grow angry and plan my revenge... Ultimately though, I let it go and move on but still I wonder, why...

These eyes that were looking at me, why did they not tell *guy* to react? Is it laziness, selfishness, lack of empathy? I think it's just the way we all are now; a sign of the times... We live in a world of WIIFMs (what's in it for me) and, obviously, *guy* could see no benefit to him in holding the elevator for me so, why bother. After all, the question is there isn't it: why bother? Why do something for someone else when there is nothing to be expected in return? Some will say that it is because people don't believe in God anymore or some other similar esoteric explanation. I would venture to say that religion and beliefs have little to do with this: there are good and bad believers and non-believers... Maybe WIIFM is just an old character trait from our survival of the fittest days... Maybe WIIFM is what happens when a society equates success to accumulation of wealth by any means necessary and not to kindness, self-sacrifice and empathy.

So, I solemnly swear to perform a minimum of one act of kindness per day... just not for *guy*...

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

What's in a name?

So, why this bizarre name for my "blogger alias"? Good question! I don't really know what got me to think of the Algonquin language as a possible source of inspiration for my alias but, I am happy I did think about it. I am not of Algonquin seed although it is said that most French Canadian (or Québécois, according to your level of sensitivity in relation to the Canadian political landscape) has some native blood flowing in his veins. I guess I wanted to show my roots as being French Canadian Québécois North American Anglo-Saxon Catholic with maybe some Algonquin, Cree... Since finding true common ground amongst those different roots, I settled on Algonquin because it is not well known, it is different, it is kinda cool and it may even be considered sexy (although I would venture to say in a very limited circle).

So what does Sabenindam mean? According to the "Lexique de la langue algonquine By Jean André Cuoq" (see picture above), it means to have a strong, active, vigorous mind... I think, actually I hope, this accurately reflects a part of my whole.

Me and Why

Well, I finally broke down and decided to try blogging. Don't really know why I am doing this or if someone will actually ever read what I write but what the hell...

So here I am, a no longer young man from the French speaking side of the Great White North, interested in everything and anything, trying to burst this writing pimple that has obsessed him since his early childhood in the colds of Northern Quebec.

I don't really know if I have things to say... Actually, let me rephrase that, I know I have something to say but am not sure it's worth writing it or expecting someone other than me to actually read it!

There it is first post done... I will try to be assiduous in my blogging endeavor, and we will see where it leads...

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