Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Numbers are Very Scary

Over 1200 Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women In Canada.
Police have compiled nearly 1,200 cases of murdered and missing aboriginal women in Canada over the past 30 years – a number that is three to four times higher than their average representation in the country.

It is a scary thing the numbers game. Can you imagine all that is happening right now and has happened in the past?

Last week over 2000 Women, Children and Elderly were slaughtered in the town of Baga Nigeira. One point five Million people have been displaced - no place to go in Nigeria.

Numbers are very scary. Be afraid be very afraid. So many numbers and so many things.

Over Seven Billion 7,000,000,000  in the world and growing. Go to the World Population Clock and just watch how fast the numbers grow. How are these people going to eat?  You know what is really staggering is that they estimate that since the time of people, there has One Hundred and Six Billion (106,000,000,000) people that have walked the Earth.  Wow!  In the after life, how are we going to find our lost loved ones?  That is a fear that I have sometimes. What if I can't find my Boy in the midst of all those people or Spirits? But I guess that is a different conversation for later.

There are pages on the internet where you can go and read about the number of deaths from wars and disasters. Incredible!  The numbers are just numbing!  Between 58 and 85 million lives taken in The Second World War (six years and one day). Can you imagine that number in a relatively short period of time?  In Europe the number of Jews killed  is said to be six million, the Holocaust.  Six million people gone.  Can you imagine the logistics in murdering slaughtering that many people? Six cities the size of Edmonton. Staggering. The number of people killed per minute, per day?  The number of times people were put on a train? The number of families separated?  We are aware of these numbers but it is hard to imagine.  We can only say "ruthless". 

The number of conflicts throughout history are many and the number of people killed is staggering. Not to mention the amount of people that have died through natural disasters. Holy numbers.

What about the Earth and the numbers that affect the Earth? Yes we are on a water planet with 70 percent of land under water, but most of it is salt water. So a miniscule amount of water can sustain our drinking needs. And guess what? The salt water (Ocean) is rising about 3 meters a year. Know what that means? The small number of fresh water supply is being contaminated with salt water. We can't drink that. We lose about 260 billion tons of land ice per year. Unreal and that land ice raises the ocean levels. Scary stuff. And guess what else? We are concerned about Climate Change but not really. It's a topic but we don't really think about it. We have no concern about the declining rain forests. What does it have to do with anything?  Regardless: The study estimates that tropical forests absorb 1.4 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide out of a total global absorption of 2.5 billion — more than is absorbed by forests in Canada, Siberia and other northern regions, called boreal forests. The forest is our lifeline.  But those numbers mean nothing to us.

You know what is also scary, the population decline of animals, birds, fish and insects.  The numbers are staggering. But really who cares?  The "Earth has lost half of its wildlife in the past forty years..."  We are eating too much food. What that means:  "that today’s average global rate of consumption would need 1.5 planet Earths to sustain it. But four planets would be required to sustain US levels of consumption, or 2.5 Earths to match UK consumption levels." One of the biggest losers in the fresh water systems.   "As well as pollution, dams and the increasing abstraction of water damage freshwater systems. There are more than 45,000 major dams – 15m or higher – around the world. “These slice rivers up into a thousand pieces,” Tickner said, preventing the healthy flow of water. While population has risen fourfold in the last century, water use has gone up sevenfold. “We are living thirstier and thirstier lives,".  Yes, we are eating and drinking ourselves to death, and that is not alcohol drinks.

"What about the children? Who will care for the children?"

The numbers of too much. We get them everyday.
The number of crimes in the city, the province, the country and the world. The number of Women being killed, raped or missing. The number of children living in poverty. The number of people living on the streets. The number of people that are in jail. The number of politicians that are not taking part in legislative votes. The number of cold days in winter. We take the small doses of numbers so that way we don't go out of our minds. The numbers mean nothing to us.

You know what numbers mean something to us?  The number in your pay cheque.  The number of cheques you will get untill that vacation or until next Christmas. The number of  litres it takes to fill up your car. The number of coins you have to park your car downtown. The number of weeks until you get holidays. the number of days until the Superbowl. The number of tickets you can get to the game.

Those are the numbers we know. Are they scary

There are so many people that have diabetes now. They have to watch numbers in order to keep on living. Watch your numbers or get a scary number.  Those numbers are affected by other numbers. The weight you are carrying around. Your belt size. Your calorie intake, your exercise numbers, the stress level you face.

Other scary numbers are the number of people in our community dying by suicide. So many deaths that may be preventable. Also the rise in FASD - Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders are scary numbers. So many numbers of things that we are or should be scared of today.

I'm like most people. The numbers important to me are not relevant to the Universe. I count the number of family members left. How many children and grandchildren I have. The number of meals I have in a day. The steps I take. The number of shows I watch on television. The number of days before garbage day (to see if my bin is full).

But if I sit and think about the numbers like -  the time that the Earth has left, how much time beore the Sun burns out, How long until Rain Forests are cut down, how high and fast the  Oceans are rising, the time it takes for Polar Caps melting, the next time a World War will occur, - I get scared. Yes I do. I put it in this  way, what kind of world will the Grandchildren have? What will the numbers have in store for them?

For the scary numbers to mean something - Make it personal I guess.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Nepotism in the Reserve. "Hey Cuz"

I like Nepotism.  Sure it is a monster but I think it is all about the context.  Context is everything.

Our Reserve is set to be gearing up for the Spring community election. Our current Chief is acting due to our former Chief's resignation in the summer. A heck of a thing being elected in the Reserve (or I guess anywhere). The demands are immense.  The decisions scrutinized relentlessly. The politics down and dirty. The attacks are personal ( in many cases). The family, well the families are huge.  Just kidding but that is what people will bring up regardless of who or how someone gets in.  In fact some of the candidates in previous years have campaigned on getting rid of big families.  Yeah, figure that one out.  In any case the issue of nepotism is one that is close to home. I got where I am because of big family.  Lot of siblings, lot of uncles, aunties, cousins ( and I mean lots of them) have all had a hand in my up bringing and experience.  I mean how could it not?  We are in a community where you know who you are and who your relatives are. Is that a bad thing? Of course not. And if you can help out one of your family members, well that's great. You give them a car boost in the winter, let them use your phone, give them a ride to town, lend them a few bucks, loan them a rifle, give them some fish, pass on clothes to them, or let them know about a job coming up, or the big one, give them a job. There is is the conundrum; giving jobs to family members (including friends) when jobs are scarce. That is what gets people upset.  The problem is compounded when the family or friend hired does not know how to do the job. Now that is the thing that gives nepotism a bad name.

How can anyone who doesn't benefit from nepotism support nepotism? Can you support it? I mean when you even say nepotism it sounds like a gross word, doesn't it? Sort of like pedophile, necrophilia, coitious and stuff like that.   It reminds me of this story.  I went to a general assembly for this Native entity over twenty years ago. The entity was giving its annual report to the people and they were also having an election for Board members. My cousin told me about the assembly, so I went to be nosey.  One of my best traits by the way. The meeting was run in a semi-professional manner. I mean it had people and it had a person sitting as the Chairperson, in other words this person was running the meeting. As meetings tend to go, in the Indian community,  things quickly got out of hand. Yelling started, personal attacks and just your typical chaos and mayhem (as I like to tease my grandkids about their behaviour) ensued. The Chairperson sort of lost control of the proceedings and well, she sort of lost control of herself. She didn't take kindly to people talking loudly, shouting at the staff of the entity and calling out the sitting Board members. The Chairperson quit the meeting, yelled at people and left the building. The Board president took to Chairing the meeting. In the end, an election of new board members for the vacancies did occur. And I was elected into the Board.  WooHoo!  If my cousin, a staff member had not told me about the meeting I would never have went and I would not have gotten elected to the board. Cool, eh?  So I joined the Board and I really didn't know too many people on the Board personally. I did know who they were, after all it is Indian Country and you sort of know who is who, or know someone who knows whos who, you know?  So as  new member of the board I did the one thing I never usually do, I kept my big mouth shut. I wanted to know what the issues were, who the players were and who was good and who was not good. As it turned out, it was interesting and kind of fun. So in a short period of time I got to listen to the Board and make my judgements. The Native entity I was  now a board member of, had a family foot print in operations. They were part of the startup of the entity. Some staff were family siblings.  Okay no big deal I figured. The Board knew the family and got along well with them. This particular family had a long history of working for the people and was involved from the beginning of the entity's development. Anyway, the Chairperson of the annual meeting,  who had left the meeting was not happy as it turned out. The meeting had left her with a sour taste and she didn't like it. So she wrote the new Board to complain of the family ties in the entity. She felt it was that family's fault that the meeting got out of hand. In any case and a new board member, I was privy to the contents of the letter and the board discussion of the letter. Seems the Chairperson blamed the family for the chaos and mayhem of the meeting. Even though they didn't seem to be involved in any of the yelling or discussions that took place at the meeting. The Chairperson was so upset she wrote the board and told them to get rid of the family. In her words, the atmosphere of family was "incestuous". For me that was an ugly way to describe nepotism in the work place. But there it was. This Chairperson was a well respected Indian person in the community. The Board discussed it for some time and a few even agreed it was an "incestuous situation". There was some momentum for bad mouthing the family and the entity. It was getting a bit much. I listened to all this taking place. The board didn't know who I was really, I was the new face on the board. Finally I decided to say something. "I know those people, and I am going to tell them what you are saying". The looks on their faces. I told them that the Old Lady was well respected and I didn't appreciate the way the board was talking about her. One fellow tried to backtrack his comments. He is a well known "Aboriginal Elder" in the City of Winnipeg, kind of the go to guy for smudging in public. I still see him quite a bit around the City Traditional circles.  Anyway, before I got to speak to any of the family members he spoked to one of the siblings. He said "I really respect your family" and all that sort of jazz. Later I did speak to the same person and I didn't know that the Board member had got to her first.  She was telling me, that it was weird how she was approached by this board member and how it now made sense as to his behaviour.  It is quite interesting to note that many years later, this angry Chairperson of the annual meeting spoke publically on the virtues of family and how you go to who you know. That it was how it was done before, you relied on family and they would be the ones you could count on and that it was the reason she choose to employ her family member.  Cool eh?  I guess for her, someone else was guilty of incest while she was carrying on a respected Tradition. Cool.

You know what, the world is built on relationships. That's the thing. You know someone and you know their skill set, their strengths so you get them. You know they are going to be good. In theory that is what you think. Sometimes (maybe many times) who you know is no damn good at the job. That sucks for sure. The reason we feel it more in the Indian circle is because it is a smaller community. Compared to a City, a province, a country.  So getting your family or friends in the door is not that big a deal. But in the Reserve, everyone knows and sees. Not only that, the resources are smaller so everything that happens is magnified. In the big world, no one real notices the nepotism so much.

The wider world is run on "relationships". Or as they call it networking. So they practice helping each other out but don't call it nepotism. They try and pretend to not follow nepotism but its there. The Whole Country of China follows the nepotism rule; they call it Guanxi, the basis of their business relationships. In Nepal the most famous fighting Soldiers in the world are called the Gurkhas. They recruit into the army by way of Tribes and families. They embody the notion of loyalty better than "brother/sisters" of other armies. Because many are brothers and cousins and Tribes. In modern society many of the big companies, whether its a public financial institution, or Law office, the practice of nepotism is normal and expected. So why is nepotism such an ugly practice?

Ideally if you got your friend in, they would be grateful and try their hardest to make sure they don't dissapoint you. That doesn't happen. The people you count on, nowadays, just can't be trusted to do their best or better than their best. So they give nepotism the bad rap. Bunch of lazy arseholes. Making it bad for the rest of us.

Oh well, what you going do, eh Cuz?

Cherokee Fiddle, cause Good Whiskey Never Let Him Lose His Place

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