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Senator Lynn Beyak: Epilogue

Senator Lynn Beyak: Epilogue

This is a follow-up to the first article entitled, Senator Lynn Beyak & Residential Schools: An Invitation to Dig Deeper. Please read that first to better appreciate this post.

What follows is my response on Facebook to a gentleman who took issue with the contents of the first article. Here is what he said:

“What a long winded self serving and completely irrelevant pile of academic drivel! Its the paternalistic, self righteous misguided bleeding hearts like this that brought us the Residential school system in the first place! Who were they? They were by the conventional wisdom of the time the most ethical and morally righteous segment of our society. The churches.. Take a look at the children in this picture, clean, clothed , healthy sitting at desks with books and school supplies. Then take a look at the following picture of naked Jewish women (some with babies in their arms) waiting to be shot in a ditch. And then tell me the intended outcome for the victims in both pictures are the same! Genocide?…Books and bullets have the same intended outcome?”

“You think the intended outcome of this Genocide was to prepare these women and children for a better life? If these two examples are equally heinous (“Genocide”) which would you prefer? …the contents of a book implanted in your head or the contents of a bullet? Books and bullets do not have the same intended outcome and to assert that they do trivializes true genocide. To suggest that that term applies to the residential school system is arsine! Before condemning Conservative Sen. Lynn Beyak for saying a lot of good was done in residential schools, consider two things. First, the views of renowned Cree novelist, playwright, classical pianist and Order of Canada recipient, Tomson Highway, when the Truth and Reconciliation Report on residential schools was released in December, 2015. Here’s what Highway said, quoted by Joshua Ostroff in The Huffington Post, in a column headlined: “Tomson Highway Has A Surprisingly Positive Take On Residential Schools”. “All we hear is the negative stuff, nobody’s interested in the positive, the joy in that school. Nine of the happiest years of my life, I spent it at that school. I learned your language, for God’s sake. Have you learned my language? No, so who’s the privileged one and who is underprivileged? “You may have heard stories from 7,000 witnesses in the process that were negative. But what you haven’t heard are the 7,000 reports that were positive stories. There are many very successful people today that went to those schools and have brilliant careers and are very functional people, very happy people like myself. I have a thriving international career, and it wouldn’t have happened without that school.

This year the residential school system was called “cultural genocide” by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission after collecting hundreds and thousands of stories of physical, sexual, and emotional abuse against first nations children. But one Chief from the Northwest Territories is telling a completely different story. “Those were the best years of my life. My family says the same thing, my sister swears by it. We were treated wonderfully.” Chief Cece Hodgson-McCauley, of the Inuvik Dene Band, spent 10 years at a residential school. That she was taken in as an orphan. Speaking to Gormley on News Talk Radio, she said they learned many things there. “They taught us how to sew, make our own clothes, they even showed us some neat arts like sewing quilts and beads and things like that. And we worked in the kitchen, learned how to cook.” Hodgson-McCauley claims that a lot of the bad stories told about residential schools are a lie. “They’re only reporting the bad side, and the more you lie, the more you say it’s bad the more money you make, and the lawyers are making money because they’re pushing people to tell their stories.” She said some people have contacted her, wanting to tell their positive stories about the schools, but are too scared to come forward. Hodgson-McCauley wants the truth to come out, and she plans on being the person to start it.

“Truth” requires objectivity and will withstand scrutiny. We’re not getting that with the conventional politically correct narrative Dissenting opinions are censured and branded as raciest when in truth just the opposite is true.”

Here is my response:

Ken, I do not doubt the sincerity of what you have written from your perspective. But there are many truths hidden within truths.

For example, it’s interesting that you posted the picture of the children in the classroom as a way of bolstering your argument. Because someone else could easily look at that same photograph and see how incongruent it is. Do those children make sense in those clothes, in that room, with such sad appearances? This picture tells a many stories.

It’s also instructive that there is really only one other event you can reach for to knock the Indigenous people down to size – the Holocaust. After all, what can compare with mass extermination? That the suffering of the Indigenous people is in the same conversation tells us a lot about our relationship with the Indigenous people.

Besides, there is a big deflection here, which is myopically focused on the quality of the schools and those that ran them – for good reason. That ‘quality’ question, as we can see from the comments, is a subject of great debate, though from my perspective, if there is any good to have come from the residential school system, when we look at the state of the Indigenous people, in general, hasn’t the enforced system failed miserably?

Are there some Indigenous people who are doing well? Most definitely by some measures. However, when the success rate is so low, isn’t it disingenuous to focus on the good when it’s pretty clear that the enforced system did not and has not been effective in its proselytization of the Indigenous people?

Of course, one can cherry pick this and that reason in order to make a case that the fault for this failure falls at the feet of an incredibly diverse and storied race of people who are just, unfortunately, not smart or capable enough to get it.

Ken, you have made a solid case that is, nevertheless, easy to counter but what we are doing as a left-brained culture is leaving out the most important criteria of all; the crux of the matter.

Underlying all of the distractions in the debate over the quality and nature of he care is one simple fact: Indigenous children and their parents were ripped away from each. Even if we were to agree that the British system was better; even if we could convince ourselves that ‘they’ would really do better under this new system, there are no humans on earth that would have fared better under this violent coercion.

Outside of a small percentage of Indigenous children who were in extremely abusive homes, the vast majority of children would have been devastated by the sudden loss of their parent(s). As most people will agree with, parents are children’s everything; their Gods, however imperfect.

Ken, let me ask you this. Hopefully, you’ve had children because then this will be relevant.

Imagine one day you, you Ken, with who you are at this moment, if there was a knock at your door and there were people there to take your 6 year old son away from you. You look at these people who are removing your child and they look totally different than you, in every way. So foreign. Your boy, he doesn’t want go to go. Really, who would? But it doesn’t matter what you think. Or what your boy is feeling. Because you don’t have a choice. Ken, how do think you would react to that right now? If someone came to you door and demanded you hand over one of the precious people in your home? Your boy. Your pride and joy. No choice.

And then the ensuing pain for so so many parents and so so many children. Imagine that same boy of yours suddenly thrust into an existence in which every single thing is different. How can this be anything but frightening?

Imagine your 6 year old. How would he be reacting to this insanity? How could he understand at that age that it’s really all for the best? The reality of this kind of situation is such that the stranger’s twisted logic cannot compete with the feelings of abject fear and confusion that will have overtaken your child. How else would it be when your boy has gone from always having your love and protection to be overwhelmingly alone in a place filled with people – strangers?

However well-intentioned some of those strangers were, their impact would been severely limited by the abyss that your boy is toying with, as he works feverishly to create a strategic survival personality to contain his rampant fear because… You, Dad, are your boy’s touchstone and you have effectively fallen off the side of the earth.

Meanwhile, Ken, as your boy goes through unimaginable turmoil at school, you’re at home. Emasculated. Humiliated. He’s your boy. You know how bad this is. Your own frailties and faults shoot up with a vengeance. Your powerlessness in the face of such absurd injustice. And there’s nothing you can do but shut your mouth and get on with it and hope, against all hope, that somehow, some way, your boy will be okay – that he’ll thrive. Even though you know better of course. Because you were taken to that place as well.

The strangers say, ‘Don’t worry, Ken. Your boy will be just fine. In fact, you’re welcome, in advance, because our system is clearly superior to your millennia of traditions. We’re saving your boy and your people. Best if you just forget about the past and read these books and wear these clothes and speak our language. Trust us, it’s way better and as you can see, you don’t have a choice anyway. So, shut your mouth and get back to work.’

Ken, you might not even have anything against these people living with their own system. But you just can’t understand why they won’t just let you live with yours – with your boy. You know, live and let live and all.

Granted, Ken, all of your concerns about your boy and him being stolen from you make incredible sense from your backward perspective, but that’s not really relevant because we have deemed ourselves to be correct. Therefore, you are incorrect. Off you go.

Ken, could you imagine a scenario in which after this goes down you maybe sit and have a stiff drink, then maybe another one?

Meanwhile, Ken, you and others, including a few Indigenous people, have pointed out in these comments that some children did manage to do well in residential school and life. This is true, though by far the exception rather than the rule. But still true to a degree.

So, let’s focus on the success stories. Once again, our left-brained system always seeks to evaluate results within a closed framework. A much fuller truth lies beyond these limited metrics of the ultra-rational mind; a myriad of emotional criteria that is difficult to comprehend for those who have personally and generationally compromised access to our feelings.

(Sidebar: Ken, even if you know that some have done well, I can’t help but note that you have so little compassion for the many Indigenous people who have clearly not done well – even if its ‘their own doing’. Think of your boy, ripped away from you… )

Ken, let’s return to that day when your boy was taken away and had to figure out, at 6, how to navigate that strange place.

As we see from history, humans are outrageously resilient. Whatever our age, we will do our utmost to make the best of even worst situations. When humans experience situations as traumatic as those experienced by Indigenous children, it entails engaging with unprecedented levels of denial, avoidance and revisionist history in order to just function.

So, what are we to make of those Indigenous people who have succeeded within this RMP system?

Again, this is complex. The permutations are so many that they could fill an entire book. However, Ken, here are some things to consider as your 6 year old boy tries to find his way. Children invariably take on responsibility in the face of trauma, at home and away. In the case of your boy, he’ll be wondering why he’s been put in this place. Why has he been taken away from his family?

Maybe my family doesn’t love me anymore. It must be that my Dad doesn’t love me anymore. Otherwise, how could he let this happen. If my number one protector has allowed this to happen doesn’t it mean he doesn’t love me? It must be because I’m not lovable. There must be something wrong with me. That’s why I’ve been put in this place.

Also, I’m being told that I’m fortunate that this is happening but it doesn’t feel that way to me. It feels like the opposite. But I’m just a kid. What do I know? My parents – my gods – have allowed me to come here and the people who work here say it’s great. So, my feelings must be incorrect. My feelings are clearly not to be trusted – and the more I feel, the more insane all of this feels.

Your boy is making all of these evaluations in the first few days, the upshot of which is the necessary banishment of feelings behind a wall – to a place where they will be paradoxically protected but also won’t keep inconveniencing the poor lad because, after all his feelings are no longer relevant or to be trusted – and they are brutal and incomprehensible.

They’re too painful to keep feeling in this place. If your boy shows vulnerability, he will suffer more, at the hands of the administration, as well as some of the other children who are exactly in the same situation and who adjust by becoming bullies – bullying being a result of deep insecurity and fear. Dad and Mum have disappeared. No one is there to hold me and let me know that everything is going to be okay.

So, your boy feels your abandonment and betrayal, without understanding the reasons. Then comes the ultimate betrayal; in order to survive, the boy betrays himself – and his heart. Anything to avoid touching into the abyss that is now a constant companion. The soul-crushing ramifications of this self-betrayal cannot be exaggerated or understood by those who have not experienced it.

This is the default initial position for every child put into such absurd circumstances. Based on a host of reasons, children will react differently. Some will fare better than others. Will your boy become a bully, a victim, a joker? Will he give himself over to this new system? Will he be unable to adjust and instead of resigning himself resist – and become a whipping boy for administrators who are involved in such an inhumane activity that they cannot brook resist that shines a glaring light on what is being perpetrated? Those children who were more sensitive; who felt the incongruence more keenly; who knew that something was very wrong; who could not sit still and say nothing… these children will have suffered the most. They will have made up most of the children who were beaten mercilessly; who were most violently sexually abused. It’s unfathomable really. These were children. Only left-brained logic, devoid of the heart connection, can attempt to make heads or tails of this insanity.

What will become of your boy Ken? Without the necessary presence of his Dad, what will you boy do? Resignation? Submission? Adherence?

Ken, are you the product of the same coercive system? Were you also taken away by those same strangers? Did you lose your parents and your way of being? Have you done your very best to make a life for yourself under such impossible circumstances? Have you struggled? Was your boy born into this and because of your effed up life did you have trouble being a good parent?

At the risk of offending some Indigenous people – who are sincere when they say they thrived under the residential school system (there are very few) – as Mary Dale has pointed out in a comment, “I know hundreds of Indigenous people who attended residential schools, many who are successful and all were traumatized.” Based on what I have described as the process that a young child undergoes to adjust to the residential school life, how could it be otherwise? Furthermore, Mary says, “They are not successful because of residential schools, they are successful in spite of [them].”

And some of these ‘successful’ Indigenous people will have sacrificed their parents and their ancestry for that success. If they’re parents were damaged from the same system and so were unable to be good parents, and then they were taken away as well, how many Indigenous children decided that they’re parents and culture were a failure and that the way forward was to give themselves over to this dominant system?

Ken, a couple of times you have mentioned Tomson Highway and his apparent support of the residential school system. Not sure where you got that quote, and in what context it was presented, but his renowned novel, the “Kiss of The Fur Queen” held no punches in describing the sexual abuse of Indigenous children at residential schools. Did residential school teach him skills that he’s used in his life. Of course. But at what cost? As for the other quote from the Lady Indigenous Chief you also quote, yes, she has spoken positively about her personal experience in ONE residential school. She first spoke out in 2012 and even though she opened the door wide for others to step forward. Few have done so. I’d submit that while some Indigenous people did on the whole have positive experiences, they are clearly in the tiny minority. Furthermore, in keeping with my other commentary in my previous and present post, when we are traumatized as children, especially with the initial abandonment, some people do a better job adjusting; of making the best of things. Meanwhile, many children from all walks of live will also create revisionist history to make the past more palatable. Either way, it’s complicated. The full picture of the state of the Indigenous people tells the story.

Most potentially controversially, I’ll say this final piece – with great respect and empathy for the suffering of the Indigenous people. Those Indigenous people who do speak glowingly of the residential school system are likely among the ranks of children who in order to survive that horrendous place created, as so many of us do in our regular lives, revisionist history in order to avoid touching into the pain of it all. In the face of overwhelming trauma, memory is entirely unreliable.

A perfect example of this avoidance and denial on the part of both White man and Indigenous people is a comment contributed by Dennis Laughton who says, “Some [Indigenous people] experienced abuse, but I also have had conversations with some who other than being lonely due to separation from their family suffered no further abuse of any kind. Point is NOT ALL SUFFERED. It is not all black or white.”

Firstly, again I do not doubt Dennis’s sincerity in sharing his experience. It is undoubtedly accurate. But based on what I have laid out we can see the overarching disconnect: “other than being lonely due to separation from their family”. The dominant culture, in general, doesn’t have a clue what it feels like to have their child stolen from them. The perpetrator and their ancestors will go to great lengths to lessen the victims’ suffering – for obvious reasons. In this case, the threshold of ‘real’ suffering is if you were sexually abused. Otherwise, sure it was probably bad, but not THAT bad. Meanwhile, many Indigenous people, understandably divorced as they had to become from their feelings in order to survive, cannot feel the true devastation of their experience. And those who were not sexually abused have to somehow feel lucky about that. It could have been worse!

Long story short, there is much more nuance to all of this than can be entertained by our RMP system that is itself suffering from the traumatization inflicted on the Indigenous people. The western world is still dealing with its colonial ways that have left destruction in their wake in Africa, North America, India and the Middle East – with ongoing repercussions. While some westerners wonder about all of this terrorism in the world, no culture is even in the same stratosphere as the western countries when it comes to historic inflicting of death and destruction.

The British colonial way was the same in every instance mentioned above. Make contact with the natives, make friends and partnerships and eventually betray the natives, via divide and conquer, in order to steal the natural resources that they would use to build and maintain the empire. For a more thorough reading on this subject you can read my Brexit piece available at boardingschooltrauma.info.

Ken, please forgive me for singling you out here. There are many commenters who have relayed the same type of information you have. You are a legitimate representative the ‘silent’ majority who simply don’t know and, understandably, don’t want to know the truth of Canada’s dealings with the Indigenous people – so insane it is. You are imparting what you know and feel to be correct. However, I will repeat what I said in the piece, “The extent to which Canadians have been, and in many cases remain, unable to meaningfully acknowledge the crimes against humanity perpetrated against the Indigenous people is commensurate with the depth of trauma that is embedded in the fabric of Canadian society.”

When I see how many commenters have taken my piece as somehow supporting Senator Beyak’s position; that I’m somehow revealing her as some kind of superhero, it lets me know where we are at in our national healing process. We have a ways to go. After all, hundreds of years of abuse and betrayal will not be remedied in a matter of a few years. We are all doing our best in this difficult process. We are encouraged to be open to the idea that, despite our own experiences, there are deeper truths that we may not have access to because of our own personal generational traumas that have produced blind-spots.

We are encouraged to listen with as much compassion and non-judgment as possible. Ken, if you come to Toronto one day, I’d be glad to sit and have a coffee with you and chat. Our backgrounds are, no doubt, quite different but I’m guessing we’d have much more in common that you might guess. I know we both want what is best for our families and our country. But, in the end, I’m not here to convince you or anyone else of anything. I’m presenting a different perspective. It’s up to readers to decide if they want to be open to it.

Senator Lynn Beyak & Residential Schools: An Invitation to Dig Deeper

Senator Lynn Beyak & Residential Schools: An Invitation to Dig Deeper

 “The extent to which Canadians have been, and in many cases remain, unable to meaningfully acknowledge the crimes against humanity perpetrated against the Indigenous people is commensurate with the depth of trauma that is embedded in the fabric of Canadian society.”

Over the last month, Senator Lynn Beyak has been excoriated for her perspective on the residential school system. Condemnation has come from almost all quarters, especially coming on the heels of the Truth and Reconciliation Report (TRR), which has shown, in no uncertain terms, the horrors of the residential school system. Indigenous leaders have also, understandably, piled on Senator Beyak, who could scarcely be an easier target.

By most accounts, she deserves to be on the receiving end of the scorn that has been hurled her way by millions of Canadians. Indeed, her apparent audacity is such that instead of backing down, she has double and tripled down on her seemingly absurd stance. Accordingly, we have relegated Senator Beyak to the ‘bad’ column because, after all, isn’t it an open and shut case?

On the contrary, if we dig deeper we might recognize that Senator Beyak is revealing deep truths about where Canada’s relationship really stands with the Indigenous people.

Why can’t we feel the pain of the Indigenous people? Why can’t we treat our Indigenous brothers and sisters with compassion, respect and honesty? Why do we as a society have such trouble feeling much of anything at all other than anger, anxiety, sadness and apathy?

As we go about our adrenalized day to day lives, many of us are unable to delve into our own personal and generational traumas, so painful they are, let alone to engage with what hangs over our country like perpetual second-hand smoke that we can’t escape.

For many of us, our programmed response to Senator Beyak is unmitigated rejection because we want nothing to do with the exceedingly uncomfortable feelings that she elicits. Senator Beyak has upset our Febrezed culture that deals with ingrained and nasty odours by simply covering them up. Anything to avoid having to do the actual work of wading through the muck and cleaning things up.

Indeed, what if Senator Beyak is doing us a big favour by shining a spotlight on the continued failure of Canada to do right by the Indigenous people? The problem is that unlike The Truth and Reconciliation Report, which approaches the subject from the acceptable victim’s perspective, Senator Beyak speaks on behalf of the perpetrator, which is politically-correctly verboten. Coming via the perpetrator’s perspective, the spotlight is blinding and stomach-churning – a challenge to the formidable, generational defenses that we have put in place in order to avoid feeling, acknowledging and remedying the unfathomable crimes perpetrated against the Indigenous people, especially their children.

What is at the root of this system-wide disconnect? The Rational Man Project (RMP). The RMP involves a brain that is “over-trained in rationality, has turned away from empathy and has mastered and normalized dissociation in its most severe dimensions; it is consequently incapable of recognizing the fault in its own system.” (Nick Duffell, “Wounded Leaders: British Elitism and The Entitlement Illusion”, 2014) “Rational Man was (and still is) permanently at war. He was at war with himself and with the world he created. The self he was at war with was his own indigenous self, the natural, emotional, innocent, spontaneous, sometimes lazy, sometimes erotic self.” (Duffell)

To varying degrees, Western man and woman have exiled this poor self, who fills the void with a cornucopia of addictions (food, shopping, illegal drugs, sports teams, sex, cell phone, pharmaceutical drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, working, pain, working out, coffee, surfing the internet, Facebook, soft drinks, pornography, sugar, television, video games).

With the arrival of the ‘The Age of Reason’ in the 17th century Western world, spirit was supplanted by science and reason. Man now controlled his own destiny. Regardless of circumstances, when God was at the centre of most people’s lives there was a direct connection with the unknown, the mysterious, the feminine. The Rational Man Project  ‘civilized’ and sanitized the misogyny and racism which had always been there, and then exported it to the colonial world.

“The fallout from the British Rational Man Project is alive and well” in Canada. “It causes our society grave problems as: (1) It maintains the inherited class structure with its… male elitism intact (2) It prevents emerging new paradigms” from coming to the fore – “due to fear of foreigners and fear of losing the status quo. (3) We do not notice the Rational Man Project’s grip on us because we are too close to it, like the fish who do not know the water; identified with it, we believe it to be our hallowed tradition.” (Duffell)

The main pillar of the British RMP was, and arguably remains, the boarding school system, upon which the residential school system was based. The British boarding school system had two roles: (1) churn out men who would be sent around the world to run the greatest empire the world has ever seen (2) be a ‘home’ for the children of these very same men who were far away from England.

With succeeding generations of abandoned and betrayed boys running the world, including Canada, logic became bereft of feeling. When you have a system in which the elite have for centuries sent their own children to boarding school, it should not be surprising that the Indigenous people were subjected to the same training. Naturally, the powers-that-be would have believed that they were giving the savages a gift by converting them to the most superior system of existence yet devised by man.

Further to the alienation of the feminine, Psychiatrist and Oxford Professor, Iain McGilchrist, writes in his book “The Master and his Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World”, about the respective roles of the left- and right-brains and how our culture, having been overrun by the Rational Man Project, has become predominantly left-brained. Unfortunately, while the left-brain approach “facilitated the accumulation of knowledge and skills, its downside has resulted in a crisis of Compartmentalization.” Duffell on McGilchrist, “there is a precise order to how the two hemispheres work: thought and language are born… on the right, then grow up… on the left, to provide the ‘necessary difference’ for self-reflection.” Crucially, what is sent to the left then returns back to the right, “where a new synthesis can be made.” (Duffell)

The right-brain is more concerned with the feminine, visual, non-linear, heart connection, receptivity, softness, sensitivity, creativity, the instinctual, the unexplainable, the conscience, the feelings, emotional IQ, big picture, cooperation and doubt. The left-brain is more concerned with the masculine, verbal, linear, logical, details, organization, structure, labeling, analysis, specialization and hierarchy.

So, we men – and women – grow up in a saturated Rational Man Project environment, which is overwhelmingly persuasive in pulling us into the left-brain. Throw in our own personal traumas on top of that, especially ones from childhood, and we’re left with a population of people who have had to create Strategic Survival Personalities (SSP) in order to cope (The SSP is a façade, a wall; to mask trauma, to protect the heart). The issue is that the SSP might have served us well as children but is problematic if we don’t recognize and jettison it as adults. If the protective wall remains in place it makes it challenging to become mature and balanced adults. This is why so many of us become defensive so easily. It’s our SSP kicking into action when we feel a threat. Depending on the level of our trauma our facade is that much more convincing – and impenetrable – which can and does lead to isolation, violence (especially against women) and an epidemic of mental illness in our society.

Hence, we have a culture in which so many people, especially men, have little regard for and understanding of women – or the feminine energy within themselves – or cultures such as the Indigenous people that do honour the feminine.

Periodically, we single out one or another of our institutions – Media, Corporate, Banking, Legal, Police, Health, Government – for their failings and excesses. Unfortunately, meaningful change is predictably problematic because it invariably does not align with RMP dogma. And yet, we the people have created these institutions. We work in them. They represent us. We are tacitly, and in most cases unwittingly, complicit in their actions.

From my piece on Brexit:

“RMP failings are most visible in the hands of our leadership. It’s easy to sit back and scrutinize our leaders for their shortcomings, but if that’s all we’re doing we’re missing the boat. Granted, it’s difficult to admit that they are an accurate representation of us within the political sphere. Many of us don’t want to see that, or can’t see it, in the same ways that we create revisionist history – and denial – in our own lives in order to avoid pain; to avoid looking at the past; to avoid looking within and taking responsibility for how we are living and what we are putting out into the world.

 How many of us regularly take the opportunity to unleash our incredulity or anger on a random person, even over a harmless infraction? As pedestrians, cyclists and drivers we are ready to wag an accusatory finger at one another over some apparent advantage taken, or a moment of unawareness, that might have delayed us from reaching our destination by thirty seconds? No worries. We’re on it. We’re on high alert at all times for these situations where, based on one moment, we can identify a person or a group of people as being lesser than us. Less intelligent. Less aware. Less considerate. And while we are fiercely condemning them for their act, we instantly take in their appearance, their race, their gender, their age, their sexual orientation, their fitness level and come up with a personality profile that is born of ego, fear, judgment and bias; that conjures vulnerability in the other; to make us feel better; superior; to give us the justification we need to avoid recognizing our role in creating that very experience; to show us our state of consciousness.

 Meanwhile, on some other occasion we’ve likely made the exact same unforgivable mistake as the moron who is currently invoking our wrath. But it was probably okay when we messed up. Oopsy. Whatever. We wonder why the accuser is getting so bent out of shape. “No big deal. Take it easy. Oh really? Well fuck you too…”, as we size them up and concoct a violent insult cocktail to deflect and protect from the over-the-top reaction that is being hurled our way. “Served them right!”

 Empathy on life-support. Ready to defend. The need to feel a semblance of control over something… anything that’s easier to latch on to than the confusion that reigns when we have a wobbly relationship with our right-brains. We are perpetrator and victim all rolled into one, based on a recipe consisting of systemic, collective and personal betrayal and trauma; masculine and feminine, dissonant.

 Our leaders? They are like you and me though the higher they go, and the deeper their childhood RMP training, the greater the RMP commitment. Regularly, we witness our representatives’ embarrassing behaviour in Parliament. Then again, what can we expect from our leaders when so many of us barely behave like adults in our own lives? Projecting our frustrations on to others; left-brain justification on over-drive; self-reflection and empathy an afterthought. There is a straight line between this low-level type of buck-passing and the mass-scale obfuscation and violence practiced by our leaders, in government and corporations.”

Is it any wonder that as a country we have been so incapable of doing right by the Indigenous people? With that in mind, let us examine some of Senator Beyak’s most controversial assertions, for which she has been denounced by most people.

SENATOR BEYAK’S STATEMENTS

She said that the people who worked in and ran the residential schools were ‘well-intentioned’. On first blush, especially in light of the TRR, this seems tough to swallow. That is, until we understand the residential school system as a perfect representation of the overt colonial racism employed by the British throughout the world. The Indigenous people of Canada were regarded as lesser-than humans by the vast majority of British. They were savages who needed saving and civilizing. The abuse that was heaped on them was justified under this ignorant framework. Whatever the costs were from the abuse, for victim and perpetrator, these surely paled in comparison to the eternal damnation it was believed the Indigenous people would suffer if they didn’t assimilate. From this position, it is certainly not a stretch to say that the residential schools, run by the Clergy, were ‘well-intentioned’. After all, look at the suffering Christ endured. He was the template for the suffering that some might have to experience, especially the lesser-thans, in order to be saved.

This brings us to another statement made by Senator Beyak, who grew up in Northern Ontario, in which she suggested that she has suffered alongside Indigenous people who were sent to residential schools. “I’ve suffered with them up there. I appreciate their suffering more than they’ll ever know.” Surely, this is outrageous. Once again, on its face, this seems absurd… until we dig deeper.

The suffering of the Indigenous people is incalculable and devastating. However, in this equation, the suffering of the perpetrator is always, and logically, overlooked. Suffering of the perpetrator you ask? How on earth can we place these two seemingly disparate positions in the same space? We can and we should. Because what the perpetrator inflicts on others, he inflicts on himself. If this goes on long enough, the perpetrator becomes a slave to shame and guilt inflicted on the victim (ie) present day Canada.

It’s easy to paint all of those who ran the residential schools with the same vile brush. It goes without saying that some of the school administrators were mean-spirited and cruel. But surely ‘good’ people were also involved. Unfortunately, all of them were at the mercy of the overwhelmingly racist and arrogant influence of the RMP Church, government and culture-at-large. How many of these people did their thankless jobs with lumps in their throats, the official justifications constantly at odds with their deeper humanity?

The administrators of the residential schools fulfilled, what they were told was, a necessary and significant role in the building of the country of Canada. They were at the front lines. They took one for the team – and paid a monumental price in the process. Because, however well-intentioned or otherwise they might have been, their mere presence in a system that ripped children away from their parents – and annihilated their identities – cannot have been anything other than soul-crushing for them on a deeper level. Try to imagine the mental and spiritual gymnastics that some of them must have employed to survive living and/or working in such an awful environment.

Regardless of their level of consciousness, these poor people lived with that shame and guilt – in most cases unacknowledged – and passed it down to their offspring and so on… and so on… until the present day. It’s still happening. If we actually require studies to confirm what is obvious, a study of Holocaust survivors finds trauma passed on to children’s genes”. Centuries on, Canada lives in a calcified state of generational shock. It is only very recently that we’ve begun to scratch the surface of the centuries of disowned brutality that victim and perpetrator have experienced.

So, yes, anyone who worked at these institutions , or was related to those who worked there, or lived close by, or who lived in Canada, suffered to varying degrees. The closer the association, the more direct the suffering. For many northern communities, this suffering is still ongoing, as the Indigenous people undertake the grueling process to recover from hundreds of years of having a giant thumb grinding them into the ground.

The extent to which Canadians have been, and in many cases remain, unable to meaningfully acknowledge the crimes against humanity perpetrated against the Indigenous people is commensurate with the depth of trauma that is embedded in the fabric of Canadian society.

In light of the Truth and Reconciliation Report, what steps are being taken to right some of these wrongs? Again, Senator Beyak lets us know, though in keeping with our general cultural denial, we’ve managed to ignore yet another inconvenient truth that she has revealed.

PRACTICALLY NOTHING HAS BEEN DONE SINCE THE RELEASE OF THE TRR

At a recent meeting of the Senate’s Aboriginal Peoples Committee, of which Senator Beyak was a member, until she was removed last week, “She said the commission proposed few new solutions to address the poor socioeconomic conditions faced by many First Nations people today. ‘There are excellent calls to action in the Truth and Reconciliation Report, but, frankly, I did not see any new light shed on these issues.’”

Justin Trudeau became Prime Minister shortly before the Truth and Reconciliation Report was made public in late 2015. The TRR contained 94 calls-to-action. One year on, at the end of 2016, “The head of the Assembly of First Nations [Chief Perry Bellegarde] says he has seen zero movement on the government’s promise to implement 94 calls to action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, more than a year after the commission’s conclusion. Opposition critics, Romeo Saganash (Abitibi-Baie-James-Nunavik-Eeyou, Que.) for the NDP, and Cathy McLeod (Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo, B.C.) for the Conservative Party, also say there has been nothing but silence from the government benches about its commitment to the document.”

Partisan party politics being as pathetically tiresome as it is, the protestations by opposition critics, including from Romeo Saganash, ring hollow since no political party of any stripe, provincially or federally, has done much of note when it comes to doing right by the Indigenous people.

The reality is that, after hundreds of years of Canadian betrayal and abuse, the historic lesser-than status of the Indigenous people has become baked into a generational bureaucratic inertia.

I honestly don’t doubt that the Prime Minister, and others in government, is sincere and well-intentioned when it comes to the welfare of the Indigenous people. I take at face value his Indigenously-appropriated forehead-to-forehead greetings and his occasional moist eyes when attending Indigenous events. Sadly, while good intentions are great, Senator Beyak has pointed out the reality on the ground.

Case in point: Water. How is it that in 2017 upwards of 100 Indigenous communities have water advisories? ‘Water advisory’ is classic, euphemistic, bureaucratic double-speak for what in Toronto would be called a ‘water emergency’. When ‘water emergency’ is not taken seriously over a period of decades, it eventually transforms into ‘water advisory’, which gives the impression that it’s a temporary situation.

How is this possible in a country which ranks in the Top 5 in the world in access to fresh water? The answer is succinctly summed up by this Globe and Mail headline: “Why is Canada denying its indigenous peoples clean water?” It is not that clean water is not available, it is being withheld, as are compassion, respect and land that is theirs under treaties that have been reneged upon by all Canadian governments.

While there is no doubt that some Indigenous communities have contributed to this ongoing water fiasco, once you delve into the record, it’s clear that the lion’s share of responsibility lays at the feet of an unconscious RMP system that still views Indigenous people as third-class citizens. This perspective is self-perpetuating because so many Canadians, steeped as they are in the historic lesser-than narrative, look at Indigenous people and wonder why they can’t just get on with it; get over it.

Besides, how quickly and well do most of us deal with our own personal and generational traumas? How quickly should we expect hundreds of years of trauma to dissipate, and for the Indigenous people to start to thrive instead of just survive?

If we did a Vulcan mind-meld with literally any Indigenous person we would not only unequivocally feel the trauma of that generational abyss, we would likely crumble in the face of the horror of it all. At that point, we might begin to understand both why the Indigenous people cannot just move on, as well as the unbelievable strength and perseverance they have displayed in surviving the onslaught. From this perspective, it’s fair to say that less than two generations removed from the end of the residential school system, Indigenous people have been bent to max but have not broken. Meanwhile, though it is easy to focus on the plight of the Indigenous people, they are now on the move. Incredible strides are being made every day by Indigenous peoples through the country. Nevertheless, healing takes time, especially when you don’t have support.

It goes without saying that Indigenous/Government relations are outrageously complex. But, is that not also the case with the intersection of municipal, provincial and federal governments? Question: If there was suddenly a ‘water advisory’ in Toronto, how quickly would these three levels of government come together to fix the issue lickety-split? How much outrage would there be for delayed action, and how would a delay influence any upcoming elections? If only there were enough Indigenous people for their votes to matter in elections.

That is the difference. The Indigenous people are like the ‘low class’ people of Flint, Michigan, multiplied by a racist-million. The Canadian caste system is as follows: upper-class, middle-class, low-class, Indigenous-class – at the very bottom of the Canadian totem-pole of priorities. Hence, why even with the very public release of the TRR little or nothing has been done, even with an apparently keen Prime Minister at the helm.

‘A SILENT MAJORITY AGREE WITH ME’

Senator Beyak’s coup de gras came after she was removed from the Senate committee on Aboriginal Peoples, when she suggested that, “a silent majority of Canadians agree with what she said — that there were “good deeds” and other positive elements that emerged from the country’s residential school system”. Previously, on March 27th, Senator Beyak said that she had received hundreds of positive remarks. By this point, that must be well into the thousands.

‘A silent majority’? This lady is off her rocker, right? What she has said is absolutely unacceptable, right? Well, let’s put it this way: If the majority, silent or otherwise, really cared for the Indigenous people, would Canada still be doing so little? Ultimately, on the odd occasion that the majority make their wishes known, government is usually forced to act, so beholden it is to maintaining power. Government has not acted because the people are not remotely in the vicinity of wanting it.

While a majority may not exactly or consciously agree with Senator Beyak’s statement, if we take the blinders off we could conclude that the majority of Canadians (1) do not really support the Indigenous people (2) are such adherents of the RMP that they cannot adequately comprehend or feel the suffering that the Indigenous people have endured – to this day.

But, again, this unfeeling, ultra-patriarchal, neo-colonial approach is par for the course in all aspects of Canadian culture, including in the treatment of women, the poor and our traumatized soldiers. So, in a way, it’s not personal. It’s not on purpose. It’s simply systemic.

Our collectively compromised heart connection means that, on a profound level, we know not what we do. If we did, we would be mortified. The vast majority of us are well-intentioned. It’s just we have been on generational autopilot for 300 years. The reason for the inertia, with respect to allowing feelings back into the equation, is self-preservation for the perpetrator. The truth is too much to bear so the system vigorously resists change. Because change will mean having to go through a terrifying cleansing process. Ironically, guess which people have the traditions and methods that could help Canadians with that cleansing?

If we look from a different angle, Senator Beyak has provided a needed jolt to this RMP inertia; another opportunity to evolve our wonderful country to the next level. Let us not succumb to the easy vilification of Senator Beyak. That she has been removed from her position on the committee is an attempt to make the icky feelings go away. It’s a typical RMP band-aid solution to dealing with circumstances that don’t fit within neat and tidy boxes. Pretend it’s not there. Take a pill. Spray some Febreze. Moving right along. Nothing to see here.

Some may ask what the solution is to this generational impasse. What 10-point plan can we come up with to address the situation? Well, how many plans have there been over the decades? And what has changed? Very little. Shall we commission yet another study whose recommendations neither we nor our representatives will have the consciousness, will or courage to implement? Unfortunately, progress has not, and will likely not, come via left-brained institutional solutions. As we can plainly see from decades and centuries of poor results, RMP solutions are largely self-defensive obfuscations.

It may be time we stopped looking to our leaders to be progressive and to do right by the people. It hasn’t and will not happen. Why? Because they are more steeped in the Rational Man Project than the average person. They are too beholden to corporate power, too obsessed with gaining or maintaining power, too lost in the RMP maze. One cannot reach the upper echelons of government, business and the judiciary without sacrificing important parts of themselves; without embracing the very thinking that makes it so difficult to lead in a holistic manner. Institutional avoidance is predictable, understandable and stifling – in every area of our society.

So, pointing out the ills of our RMP system is one thing, but how do we move forward, for ourselves, our country, and this case, in a fashion that brings the Indigenous people into the fold as partners? This process is, first and foremost, personal.

THE WAY FORWARD

This from the conclusion of the aforementioned Brexit piece (which is underpinned by the very same RMP approach):

“Many of us will say we’re not addicted to the RMP way, as we fill our every waking hour with something: coffee, get the kids ready for school, work out, eat, work, surf the web, coffee, email, snack, Facebook, cigarette, coffee, eat, work, snack, pick up the kids from daycare, have a toke, make dinner, clean up, Facebook, bathe the kids, put them to sleep, collapse on the couch in front of the TV, have a drink, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, TV, news, have a drink, late show, stay up way past when we should because we don’t want to go to bed. Oh, it’s morning again. Oh God. Whatever, gotta keep moving; to escape the pain. Weekend? What weekend? What rest? Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

 Are we not addicted? We frown upon those who shine a light on our collective malaise by abusing a specific addiction, especially one that has arbitrarily been deemed unacceptable, such as drugs. Apparently, these people don’t know how to colour inside the lines; and it’s awkward for the rest of us to have to witness that, especially as we are working double-time to escape the pain. The reality is that most of us find ourselves somewhere on the Addiction Continuum, our location correlating with our level of disconnect from our feelings and with the depth of our trauma.

 As the untenable nature of the RMP approach comes into sharp relief, more of us are wondering if this state of affairs really is inevitable. More of us are starting to recognize that this mass confusion, mollified by our normalized addictions, is no longer sustainable. How much longer can we maintain this exhaustingly addictive façade?

 We are approaching the nexus where universal and inconsolable stiff-upper-lipping-it meets a place we have not experienced before. We get snippets here and there of this mythical place, but we don’t know what it looks like. We think we need to know what it looks like before taking the plunge. But looking, and the left-brain evaluation that accompanies it, is not remotely as effective as feeling it.

 Here’s the mission should we choose to accept it:

(1) Forgive ourselves;
(2) Forgive our parents;
(3) Forgive our ancestors;
(4) Regenerate the pathways back to the right-brain; back to our hearts; back to our long-lost feelings.
(5) Make amends where possible

 But before that can occur there is one critical component of courting a viable and juicy dance with compassion and non-judgment, without which little changes: space. We have so little space in our over-scheduled and addicted lives to invite in something new. How can anything change while we suckle at the teat of our permanent hyper-adrenalized state? There is a violence to this routine of addiction. When we engage with our protective walls from this place we are met with a corresponding resistance; a painful rebuff that serves to confirm for us the improbability of safely reconnecting with that far-off place. We are owned by the things we resist most. As with our relationship to the trauma inflicted on the Indigenous people, the greater the resistance to anything, the more in common we have with its energetic signature; not with the exact characteristic but with the feeling underlying it.

 Courage is required to create the space needed to reconnect with our hearts – and compassion for what will arise from this place. Crucially, as Dr. Gabor Mate, says, “Real compassion doesn’t have to do with helping somebody feel good. It has to do with guiding them to the truth because it’s the truth that will liberate them.” A friend of mine took a course with Dr. Mate last year and she asked him about “joy” – because when you look at him over the course of many videos he doesn’t seem to exhibit much joy and lightness. He responded in a way which is entirely congruent with what he is sharing with the world. Uncovering joy and happiness is a process. Many of us don’t even know what joy really feels like. We are attempting to manufacture it from out of thin air. We haven’t known how to be joyful. So, extracting it is not easy. But the more of it we extract, the easier it becomes.

 The introduction of this space, and the accompanying gentle pace, into our lives is a path through which we can gain access to the heart side. Of course, this cannot happen without making some changes.

 Despite the sway of infinite growth, we can take a step back: maybe downsize our home; change our job; simplify our lives; reduce our addictive consumption; limit our exposure to unhealthy relationships. No doubt, this is hard to do when confronted by our peer group and family when they are still operating at warp speed. Hence, courage, to slow down, in order to feel; to be able to deal with the fear that comes with change. When the fear comes, as it always does, we acknowledge it and feel how it is affecting us and then reach for the better-feeling thought.

 The endgame is to feel. Feel the bad stuff and release it. Feel the good stuff and invite it to stick around. Sustained clarity comes from maintaining and nourishing these newly forged channels to our feelings; knowing all the while that this is a life-long process that will sometimes feel like one step forward and two steps back or two steps forward and one step back. At all times, we are encouraged to be as compassionate with ourselves as possible; to cut ourselves continual slack because we are doing the most demanding and honourable work there is.

 An antidote to the confusion that is so prevalent in humanity is the process of gaining access to our feelings. It is only from the increasingly balanced place where right-brain feeling has been re-integrated that we can recognize the patterns, destructive and otherwise, that are governing our lives. Moreover, this personal journey becomes a conduit to decoding larger scale unconscious patterns that dictate our familial, national and global behaviour (eg) the Indigenous people.

 Questions we didn’t even know we had, or have been avoiding because they are so vexing, can suddenly be asked and explored. Why did I marry my wife? Why am I an alcoholic just like my father? Why is my brother in a terrible relationship with his partner… again? Why am I sick… again? Why am I going through the motions with my job… again? Why is my relationship with my mother so problematic? Why am I perpetually unsatisfied and unhappy? What is up with the world?

 Over a period of months and years of accessing our long-dormant feelings the dots begin to be connected as we experience revelatory moments of really understanding the programming behind the scenes. But what’s really fascinating and exciting is that the more insight we gain into our personal patterning, the more we see the generational patterning at work within our own families and our world. Trauma is trauma and betrayal is betrayal, regardless of class, race or religion. With this felt understanding, the artificial walls that separate us begin to fall away. We see ourselves. We see each other.

 We can stop running. We can rest. We can feel the exhilarating liberation of letting things go. Letting go of the illusion that we are defined and judged by our trauma, most of which doesn’t belong to us anyway. We can feel the power of peace and gentleness. We can feel that it’s going to be okay. “

 The more Canadians engage with this kind of personal healing, the greater the available empathy for the suffering of others, including the Indigenous people. Real change takes time, courage and effort. The deeper we go, the more we’ll recognize that Senator Beyak, the Indigenous people, you and me… we all have far more in common than we have differences. We’re all in this together, so let’s consider putting down the Febreze 🙂

A week after this post I wrote a follow-up piece in response to a gentleman on Facebook: Senator Lynn Beyak: Epilogue

 

The Ghomeshi Case, and the treatment of women in Canadian culture and the judicial system, is underpinned by the very same RMP forces. You can read that article here.

American culture and politics is also underpinned by the same RMP forces, the extremity of which we are now witnessing with The Trump Presidency. You can read that article here.

The aforementioned and quoted piece is entitled, Brexit: An Invitation to Dig Deeper – Reflections on the Patterned Role of Betrayal, Trauma and Boarding School on British Politics and Culture. Great Britain being mother and father to Canada, America and Australia, the very same foundational forces are at work in these countries, as illustrated in the above Ghomeshi & Trump articles. The Brexit piece started as an article but turned into e-book. However, you can read the entire work for free at boardingschooltrauma.info

The Ghomeshi Case: An Invitation to Dig Deeper

The Ghomeshi Case: An Invitation to Dig Deeper

The Journey From Rational to Empathetic

“The essential things in life are seen not with the eyes, but with the heart.” (from ‘The Little Prince’)

The night of the Jian Ghomeshi trial verdict I couldn’t sleep, although I wasn’t as surprised or outraged as many understandably were. As I lay there tossing and turning and remembering tidbits of what Justice William Horkins had said in his One-Hour Verdict, I was struck by my own familiarity with his tone and approach – and by his notable lack of empathy.

Like most, I have been raised as a Rational Man, in my case especially so because I attended a British Boarding School for four years when I was six years old (1976-80). Six weeks ago, soon after my 46th birthday, I participated in a workshop in London, England for Boarding School Survivors, which I can tell you to most Brits is an oxymoronic phrase. Long story short, boarding school was a wretched experience that turned me, and many thousands of others, into emotionally stunted humans. Why? One minute the child is at home (however imperfect), the next minute they are left in a strange and overwhelming place in which emotion has no place. The heart connection is violently compromised. Innocence is lost. Empathy crippled.

Why does this institution exist? Its mission has been, and continues to be, to make MEN. Men who will get down to business. Men who will fulfill their roles to carry on carrying on, no matter what. Men who have been specifically and transparently trained to suppress feelings. After all, feelings are just so… nebulous. A man, and society in general, is much better off if he doesn’t trifle with complex things like instincts, feelings, conscience, etc. Binary is easier. Right and Wrong. The clarity of the logical mind is a superior arbiter in all aspects of life.

So, how does a child cope with leaving the bonded family unit for life in an Institution that operates similarly to the Military and Prison systems? By cultivating what British Psychologist, Nick Duffell calls a Strategic Survival Personality (SSP) – a facade to mask the sudden and profound emotional void – to protect what little remains.

I have been such a man and my SSP has been quite something to experience in my life and to ‘share’ with the world. In my case, I became the angry, rebellious version of a Rational Man – a bully with the proverbial heart of gold that disappeared when under threat. Empathy always a slave to Anger, Justice and ‘Truth’. Others become the funny guy as a means of deflection. Most become some version of a disconnected man.

So how does my boarding school and life experience intersect and overlap with Justice Horkins and Jian Ghomeshi? Back to not being able to sleep. At 3am something occurred to me so I grabbed my phone and searched for Justice Horkins’s background. I wasn’t surprised to find that he attended Upper Canada College (UCC), the leading boy’s preparatory school in the country. UCC was founded in 1829 and modeled on the top private British boarding schools, especially the legendary Eton College. And just like at those schools in England, which eschew the Feminine, UCC has been rife with sexual abuse of children, usually by teachers and staff.

Boys who attend these boarding and private schools live in these hyper-Masculine, unfeeling and unsupportive environments; places that are built upon the foundations of unconscious parental abandonment and betrayal. For the child, your parents, your gods, have deserted you. You won’t get to have any contact with them for 3 weeks – so you can acclimate (ie) succumb. They tell you they are doing you a favour – and they believe it. You, the child, don’t ‘feel’ the largesse but your feelings and thoughts don’t count, especially as they come up against the fact that you are ‘lucky’ to be so privileged. Enter the Strategic Survival Personality to try to make the madness somehow manageable – all the while in constant proximity to the abyss within. The abandonment by the parent is directly correlated to the child’s commensurate abandonment of their feelings. Fear now a constant, if unconscious, companion. Meanwhile, the parents understandably thought they were doing a good thing. Yes, it made sense. But the issue, just like now, was not the thinking, it was the NOT feeling, which resulted in a generational passing down of the same old lack of empathy. Wash. Rinse. Repeat. Many of these children grow up to be our corporate and government leaders, with the predictable consequences we see all around us (ie) Institutional Misogyny, Classism and Racism. The SSP is so firmly in place that if you don’t know what to look for you might readily accept that anyone who complains about their boarding school experience is just a big whiner. After all, most will say it was just fine, or even grand. As for the rest of the kids in our societies who are not ‘privileged’ enough to attend these schools, they are led to believe they should aspire to the material wealth and power that the elite enjoy. So, as a population, we court their ways and energies. We connect to them. And it all trickles down into the masses via our Media and Institutions.

After three years of research on the subject, and 26 years of tireless and challenging self-reflection, I’ve identified a strong correlation between The British Private/Boarding School system and what ails Canadian culture, represented here by the Ghomeshi case. Every day I recognize the presence and depth of this connection. In effect, regardless of whether or not we have attended one of these Institutions, Canadian society is built upon the principles and structures of the British system, which itself is underpinned by their educational system. “Cecil Rhodes was one of the classic figures in the inglorious late 19th century carve-up of Africa, a founder of De Beers that still commands immense riches, and a man after whom a whole country (now called Zimbabwe) was named. In 1887, when he was 24 and still at Oxford, a bastion of the Rational Man Project (see below), Rhodes was proud to put it this way: ‘I contend that we are the finest race in the world and that the more of the world we inhabit the better it is for the human race.'” (ibid Duffell). (Perfectly, as I was making the final edits I came upon this posting which connects Cecil Rhodes to Attawapiskat)

Our Canadian (ie) British forefathers thought the same way. They decided they were doing the savage Indigenous Peoples a favour by civilizing them – by introducing religion to them. Up until the 1970s they forcibly took their children away from their parents and put them in Residential Schools (the same structure as boarding schools, but with the added ignominy of profound prejudice), unfathomably hellish places run by the Clergy. Nobody who is in touch with their heart, with their feelings and compassion could possibly think this was a good idea. This is what we come from, and what continues to have a hold on us.

The disconnect in our culture allows us to lecture the world on human rights and on the treatment of women and children, while we are not even close as a Country in taking responsibility for the all but unforgivable way in which we have treated the Indigenous People of this wonderful country – let alone the deplorable state of our justice system where the vulnerable are concerned. What is happening in Attawapiskat is far more grave than many believe. It is in fact an accurate reflection of both our relationship with Indigenous People and the state of the consciousness and conscience of Canada. Our lack of empathy and understanding has killed the empathy in some Indigenous people to such a degree that they would rather die – in droves – than continue receiving this rejection. Or worse, is it just indifference? If you look down upon any Indigenous People, including the homeless drunkards, I invite you to dig deeper. Even do some research into humans throughout history who have had a massive thumb pressing down on them for 100, 200, 300 years. As with Blacks in America, you don’t just come out of this utter repudiation in one or two generations.  You can’t just ‘get on with it’. The grooves of pain, shame and humiliation run insanely deep.

THE RATIONAL MAN PROJECT

What is at the root of this disconnect? The Rational Man Project (RMP). The RMP, a term coined by Nick Duffell, involves a brain that is “over-trained in rationality, has turned away from empathy and has mastered and normalized dissociation in its most severe dimensions; it is consequently incapable of recognizing the fault in its own system.” (Nick Duffell, “Wounded Leaders: British Elitism and The Entitlement Illusion”, 2014) “Rational Man was (and still is) permanently at war. He was at war with himself and with the world he created. The self he was at war with was his own indigenous self, the natural, emotional, innocent, spontaneous, sometimes lazy, sometimes erotic self.” (ibid. Duffell) To varying degrees, Western man and woman have exiled this poor self that fills the void with a cornucopia of addictions (Food, Shopping, Illegal Drugs, Sports Teams, Sex, Cell Phone, Legal Drugs, Alcohol, Cigarettes, Working, Pain, Working out, Coffee, Surfing the Internet, Facebook, Soft Drinks, Porn, Sugar, Television, Video Games).

“The fallout from the British Rational Man Project is alive and well” in Canada. “It causes our society grave problems as: (1) It maintains the inherited class structure with its… male elitism intact (2) It prevents emerging new paradigms” from coming to the fore – “due to fear of foreigners and fear of losing the status quo. (3) We do not notice the Rational Man Project’s grip on us because we are too close to it, like the fish who do not know the water; identified with it, we believe it to be our hallowed tradition.” (ibid. Duffell)

This brings us to Misogyny, a hallmark of all the major religions as well as the vast majority of cultures. Women have been second-class citizens for millennia. With the arrival of the ‘The Age of Reason’ in the 17th century Western world, Spirit was supplanted by Science and Reason. Man now controlled his own destiny. The British created their own particular brand of the Rational Man Project. The British boarding and private school system had two roles: (1) churn out men who would be sent around the world to run the greatest empire the world has ever seen (2) be a ‘home’ for the children of these very same men who were far away from England. This went on for centuries.

Regardless of circumstances, when God was at the centre of most people’s lives there was a direct connection with the unknown, the mysterious, the Feminine. The Rational Man Project kind of ‘civilized’ and sanitized the misogyny (and racism) which had always been there, and then exported it to the colonial world. With succeeding generations of abandoned and betrayed boys running the world, including Canada, Logic became bereft of Feeling.

Duffell on what misogyny looks like today: “Socially and politically, misogyny in its softest normalized form results in an overvaluation of masculinity, an over-respect for the opinions of men high up the hierarchy and the regarding of women as, at best, a necessary diversion… this unconscious misogyny is not just a male… problem; it affects women and, worse: it also takes root inside women… The implications are that there are generations of women growing up not rooted in a positive femininity. As mothers, they raise girls who do not have good femininity mirrored back to them and raise boys who look down on women… British (Canadian, US, Australian) middle-class women, I suggest, have been forced to grow up with and identify with a femininity whose true nature is ignored or despised and disowned. This is an incalculable problem for a society, and one that would horrify much of the Indigenous world, where pride in female wisdom and traditions tends to be a cornerstone of the community.” (ibid Duffell)

The Ghomeshi case is a microcosm of the consequences of the multi-century Rational Man Project, laying bare our latent societal misogyny. But let’s be clear. This piece is more than simply a defense of women. By understanding the role of the RMP, it is a call for both women and men to recognize and embrace the Feminine within. This evolution of our society involves the re-igniting of the Heart Connection; the realization that there is strength in softness; there is power in vulnerability. Accessing more of our heart-centered energy is the key for better living. Institutional Empathy is the next frontier.

LEFT-BRAIN RIGHT-BRAIN

Further to the alienation of the Feminine, Psychiatrist and Oxford Professor, Iain McGilchrist, writes in his book “The Master and his Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World”, about the respective roles of the Left- and Right-brains and how our culture, having been overrun by the Rational Man Project, has become predominantly Left-brained. Unfortunately, while the Left-brain approach “facilitated the accumulation of knowledge and skills, its downside has resulted in a crisis of Compartmentalization.” Duffell on McGilchrist, “there is a precise order to how the two hemispheres work: thought and language are born… on the Right, then grow up… on the Left, to provide the ‘necessary difference’ for self-reflection.” Crucially, what is sent to the Right then returns back to the Right, “where a new synthesis can be made.” (ibid. Duffell)

The Right-brain is more concerned with the Feminine, visual, non-linear, heart connection, receptivity, softness, sensitivity, creativity, the instinctual, the unexplainable, the conscience, the feelings, emotional IQ, big picture, cooperation and doubt. The Left-Brain is more concerned with the Masculine, verbal, linear, logical, details, organization, structure, labeling, analysis, specialization and hierarchy.

The ‘Return’ is the key to balanced thinking and good choices. Without that the Left-brain creates its own micro-contexts and parses things so finely that it can “eliminate all contradictions and leave us with clear and distinct ideas.” (ibid. Duffell)

So, we men – and women – grow up in a saturated Rational Man Project environment, which is overwhelmingly persuasive in pulling us into the Left-brain. Throw in our own personal traumas on top of that, especially ones from childhood, and we’re left with a population of people who have had to create their own Strategic Survival Personalities (SSP) in order to manage. The issue is that the SSP might have served us well as children but is problematic if we don’t recognize and jettison it as adults. If the protective walls remain in place it makes it challenging to become mature and balanced adults. This is why so many of us become defensive so easily. It’s our SSP kicking into action when we feel a threat. Depending on the level of our trauma our facade is that much more convincing – and impenetrable. The protective Wall that is built can lead to isolation, violence, depression and the epidemic of mental illness in our society.

Hence, we have a society in which many Men, represented here by Jian Ghomeshi, have so little respect for and understanding of Woman – and the Feminine energy within themselves. Many people actually confuse ‘Masculine and Feminine’ with ‘Man and Woman’. In fact, as more people are now understanding, each of us, regardless of gender, are made up of varying levels of the Masculine and Feminine. Where the two work in harmony you have a uniquely balanced human being.

“The heart has its reasons, which reason does not know… We know truth, not only by the reason, but also by the heart.” 17th Century Physicist and Philosopher Blaise Pascal

Periodically, we single out one or another of our Institutions – Media, Corporate, Banking, Legal, Police, Health, Government – for their failings and excesses. In the wake of the Ghomeshi case, some are calling for changes to the Justice System. The reality is that because Institutions operate at the behest of the Rational Man Project, meaningful change is predictably problematic. We have created these Institutions. We work in them. They represent us. We are tacitly, and in most cases unwittingly, complicit in their actions. In short, we and they are not doing any of this on purpose. We have been on automatic pilot for 300 years. At this stage, we are simply the fish in the sea, thinking that this is just the way things are. Anyone who suggests otherwise is just naïve.

THE GHOMESHI CASE

Let’s break down the Ghomeshi case. Firstly, according to rules and practices of our legal system there is near universal acknowledgment from the legal community that the verdict is correct: Not Guilty – however unsatisfying and outrageous that may be for some. But, really, as we will see from the statistics, the probability for a conviction in this type of case is remote at best, even when the Plaintiffs are totally consistent. Some will argue that it can’t be any other way but maybe that is just a position which lacks the creativity and effort required to develop a more suitable system.

The case largely comes down to He Said/She Said, which, as the statistics show, even under the best of circumstances makes it challenging to convict an abuser, especially when He doesn’t have to say anything in court, or be cross-examined. In some cases, the challenge is good because it makes sense that there needs to be compelling evidence to convict. What this Legal System cannot contain is the fact that there were not only three women accusing him in this case but some 20 more who have come forward to corroborate the plaintiffs’ assertions that there was not remotely clear consent. They were all blind-sided by the suddenness and severity of Mr. Ghomeshi’s actions. But all these other women coming forward with incredibly consistent stories are not admissible or relevant to this case. Over 20 women. Not good enough. Why? (1) In part, because many people, including Globe Columnist, Ms. Wente, and especially men, believe that the women must have been at fault, or they are coming forward for personal gain. (2) In part also because of the Compartmentalization of our RMP Institutions that are so good at parsing, yet so terrible at the big picture – at Common Sense.

Common sense tells many of us that Mr. Ghomeshi is guilty – hence the outrage at the decision in some quarters. Common sense tells us that when over 20 women say the same thing there is a clear pattern of abuse (as MP Charlie Angus, who has known Mr. Ghomeshi for 25 years, says, “Nobody close to Jian even pretends he is innocent, and somehow this isn’t an issue — the women are”).

There is much lamentation in our culture regarding the dearth of Common Sense. Common Sense is commonly conflated with Logic, hence why our culture regularly jokes that Woman’s ‘unpredictability’ makes her susceptible to lapses in Common Sense. Yet, taking a wider view of things, it’s easy to see that in fact it is the world of Men, which controls the levers of power in all of our Institutions, which consistently acts with a disconcerting and dangerous lack of Common Sense – while hamstrung by the difficulty in seeing past the unfeeling Logic.  After all, Logic is only one component of Common Sense. Actually, sense only becomes ‘Common’ when the Right-brain gets involved. The absence or dilution of the ‘Return’ to the Right-brain results in the debilitating excesses that are threatening our very survival as a species.

Common Sense might tell us that there is something odd about a man who has assiduously kept ALL electronic and hand-written notes exchanged with every one of these 20 plus women. Why would you keep a hand-written note from someone you barely had a relationship with; didn’t have sex with; didn’t see more than a couple of times – this scenario, with many women. Does this make sense? It’s hard not to conjecture that “Ghomeshi kept files on women in case they would later accuse him of violence.”

Here are excerpts from a Toronto Life article written (before the trial) by long-time friend of Mr. Ghomeshi’s, Leah McLaren: “Being rich and successful wasn’t enough for Jian. He wanted to be adored… What’s startling about the allegations against Jian is not that a seemingly law-abiding person is accused of doing terrible things. That happens all the time. It’s the way Jian wove the most cherished and sacred liberal values of Canadian society into an ingenious disguise that he used to hide in plain sight. He was a wolf in organic, fair-trade lamb’s clothing… Once, just seconds before going on air, he said he liked it when his girlfriend wore a certain baggy wool sweater because he knew it was obscuring the bruises on her breasts… For his part, Jian is confident that no matter how bad the evidence looks, he will ultimately be exonerated. He’s a survivor… His true gift is his innate ability to control the people nearest to him… a master of emotional manipulation both at work and in his personal life… Jian was incredibly thin-skinned, and he used his insecurities as an excuse to be temperamental, petulant, even cruel.”

This behaviour, which some might deem Sociopathic, is textbook Strategic Survival Personality at its finest. The façade is masterful. He’s a Survivor, because that is what has always been required. It’s a dog-eat-dog, Mad Max world. Do it to them before they do it to you. Fear and insecurity rule the roost. Think of the dichotomy of on the one hand wanting to be adored, and on the other hand being so cruel. This is the disconnect of the SSP. And there is ALWAYS a good reason for it. No doubt if we knew the details of his life and childhood we would be more understanding. Despite what some believe I don’t think behaviour like his develops in a vacuum. Mr. Ghomeshi is in pain. While I don’t know the details of his pain, with my experience I have a sense of the quality it – because I recognize his behaviour. It is devastating. You create the SSP to survive when you are young. Most of us don’t know how to release it once we become adults. We don’t even know it’s there – which makes life confusing at best and brutal at its worst. I’m sure it sounds ludicrous to some, especially his victims, but in a sense he’s not doing it on purpose. That’s the crazy part. But then how many of us are unconsciously hurting others – and ourselves? It’s just that our shit doesn’t get televised.

Extreme SSP is existential. I must be RIGHT or I might be found out (see Conrad Black below) or I might die or even take my own life. It’s at that level. That’s why he so meticulously laid the groundwork for his own defense years before he might need it. Cleverness to conceal the rot. Because the only salve to the absence of self-worth and self-love is WINNING. That is the way of the Rational Man Project. He knew he was going to win and to ensure his victory he brought on the ‘Eviscerator’ to provide the coup de gras.

In short, while it is strange to say, actual Common Sense is often not a player in our one-dimensional Legal System.

RMP FEMINISM AND THE GHOMESHI CASE

Many women unconsciously participate in and bolster the Rational Man Project. How else to explain how last year, after upwards of 30 women had already accused Bill Cosby of despicable acts (including a host of women who said he drugged and raped them), and overlapping with the allegations against Mr. Ghomeshi, that Mr. Cosby enjoyed a successful Canadian tour, with women being there in similar numbers to men? What does it mean when so many women attending his shows, a notable number of whom will, according to statistics, have personally experienced some form of sexual abuse, manage to sidestep, avoid, deny the incredibly consistent evidence brought by over THIRTY women? Is this not an indicator of a classic general cultural myopia that is the result of excessive adherence to the Left-brain? Isn’t this a group Female Strategic Survival Personality in order to cope with rampant misogyny and abuse that is simply endemic to our culture, despite the much improved veneer? By the way, as with Mr. Ghomeshi, the fact that Mr. Cosby is still a free man is another indication that if you are a successful Man you have the upper hand, even against 30 plus women, even when you are a Black Man in a country in which Black Lives Clearly Don’t Matter.

And while it may be controversial to say, it’s becoming clear that the answer may not be for women to succeed within the RMP, because you can only do so by giving yourself over to it, by embracing the myopic nature of it, the harshness of it, the abject patriarchy of it.

This case has only confirmed what a maestro Defense Attorney Marie Henein is. Within legal circles, there is unanimous praise for the expert way in which she managed to discredit the witnesses and create enough doubt that she got her man acquitted. In his memoir, former client Michael Bryant describes how Ms. Henein seemed to “channel Hannibal Lecter” with her ability to “find a person’s deepest frailties and exploit them.” How wonderful to be compared to a character who is the epitome of the Rational Man Project at its most brutal. That Mr. Bryant would find the ‘positive’ in the most vicious serial killer the silver screen has ever seen, and then ascribe that to Ms. Henein, is instructive and revealing. My guess is that Mr. Bryant’s observation would elicit chuckles from many people – and that most lawyers would take it as a compliment. Were you amused at the comparison?

Here are some excerpts from Globe Columnist Margaret Wente’s Globe and Mail article on Marie Henein’s masterful defense of Jian Ghomeshi: “[Ms. Henein] began to eviscerate the witness – slowly, methodically… In the macho, high-stakes world of criminal-defense law, she is a standout. Nobody works harder. Nobody is more driven… Here’s  what people talk about when they talk about Ms. Henein: Her look is strict, steely, a bit transgressive… the image conveys a potent message: Don’t mess with me After she is described as being ‘supersoft, sensitive” by a friend the same friend says, She can trash-talk anyone – she can – out-trash even the biggest trash talkers… It was her mother who drilled into Marie the precepts of feminism. She was determined that her daughter escape the misogynist oppression the family had left behind” (having emigrated from Egypt when Henein was young)… She prefers to get the job done with… surgical efficiency… When you rise to her level, you’re not just representing a client. You’re representing the system itself.

There appears to be nothing short of glee in Ms. Wente’s support of Ms. Henein’s take-down of the Plaintiffs. Notice the language employed by Ms. Wente in describing what she admires in Ms. Henein: her drive, her surgical efficiency, her powers of evisceration (reminiscent of Mr. Bryant’s description), her methodical approach, her prey cowering before her, her top-drawer trash-talking. But it’s the final sentence that really tells the story. Ms. Henein represents the system. If, as I and increasingly more people contend, the system is inherently and unconsciously stacked against women and the Feminine energy in all of us, then what is the take-away? What does this say about Ms. Wente and Ms. Henein’s idea of Feminism? Wouldn’t true Feminism take a more holistic approach, incorporating more nuance and understanding into the situation? Might not true Feminism be a little less ruthless? Wouldn’t true Feminism eschew the kind of terminology that is the domain of professional sport or war? Maybe, but the problem is there is no space for that within the Rational Man Project.

Of course, despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary, Ms. Wente says in another article, “The message for genuine sexual assault victims should be very reassuring. The message is that if you come forward, the police and the courts will treat you with great respect… If you’re honest and forthright you’ll get a fair shake in court.” Further along she says, “The complainants may have had another motive for concealing the truth. They had become media celebrities. And they had a mission to bring Mr. Ghomeshi down. In one of the thousands of e-mails Ms. DeCoutere exchanged with S.D, she said she wanted to see him “fucking decimated.”

Firstly, with regard to the Police and Legal Systems protecting and defending women, the experience of countless women, as the statistics show (see below), is rather different than the fictional landscape espoused by Ms. Wente. Consider this brave woman who has come forward to tell her experience dealing with the Police and Legal Systems – which many abused women can surely attest to. Secondly, we witness the canard that women come forward for personal gain. Especially coming from a woman, the level of disconnect here is disheartening, though not surprising. Thirdly, I don’t know about you but if I were a woman who had been abused by a man, and then I found out that I wasn’t the only one and that he continues to get away with it I could certainly understand her desire to see him “fucking decimated”. Alas, Lucy didn’t realize that she would somehow be transformed from the Victim into the Perpetrator – into the Liar. And yet, who among us, man or woman, doesn’t consciously and unconsciously revise our memories when the truth of our actions is too shameful and painful to bear?

Again, from her March 26 Globe piece, Ms. Wente writes, “The evening of the cross-examination [of Ms. DeCoutere], Ms. Henein took her team out for drinks to celebrate. They were giddy with success. They called up a few close friends to crow.” In the online version this section was removed, with a retraction appearing at the bottom saying that there was actually no celebration or giddiness or crowing. Apparently, they just went out for ‘quiet’ drinks.

So, did Ms. Wente just make that up? Because ‘quiet’ drinks is entirely different than the High-Fiving one might imagine went down based on the original piece. Indeed, Ms. Wente was likely just too forthright with this information. She should have held that back, though it’s easy to see how inspired she was by her piece. Maybe she got careless, which wouldn’t be the first time, and just before the final edit of this piece, certainly not the last time (Ms. Wente viciously cuts down the credibility of the Plaintiffs, while her own credibility as a journalist regularly comes into question. Classic RMP Projection and Deflection – see Conrad Black below). After all, the kind of emotion she describes in the aforementioned excerpt is a little unseemly and inappropriate – certainly nothing we will likely ever see from Ms. Henein in front of the general public. Maybe Ms. Wente got a bit emotional, a little ‘crazy’ perhaps, and revealed too much. Yes, let’s pull that back.

Women are regularly ridiculed for their apparent lack of consistency, for their moodiness (which is unacceptable and irritating). How many times in our lives and media do we experience women being called ‘Crazy’? It’s okay for a man to be angry but if a woman is emotional then she’s being crazy. She needs to ‘get it together’. It’s irrelevant that she might be being ‘crazy’ because her man or the system around her constantly shows her that she’s not enough – that her feelings are objectionable. She should suck it up in true British-inspired fashion. Stiff upper lip. Moving right along. Nothing to see here.

Surely, it can’t be that Woman, and the Feminine energy, and the Right-brain simply works differently than the logical Left-brain. If you are incredulous as to how on earth a woman could be on the receiving end of what Mr. Ghomeshi or any other abuser has dished out and go back for more – if you can’t get your head around that – it might be an indication that your access to your Right-brain – and your heart – is compromised. Because the reality is that extensive research has shown that women often react in the same ways to abuse and danger – Freeze, Appease, Mend, Tend, Befriend. Is this logical? Certainly not. But logic is irrelevant in this and many other circumstances, which is problematic for a society and a court system that values linear objectivity above all. Of course, real life doesn’t fit into properly labeled boxes. It is complex – and so are feelings. What a horrible feeling it must be for women who end up ‘tending and befriending’ their abusers, with the inevitable shame and confusion that this engenders after the fact.

In Canada there are 460,000 sexual assaults per year. Out of every 1000 sexual assaults, only 33 are reported to the police, 12 have charges laid, 6 are prosecuted, 3 lead to convictions, 997 ASSAILANTS WALK FREE (Johnson, “Limits of a Criminal Justice Response: Trends in Police and Court Processing of Sexual Assaults” in Sheehy, Sexual Assault in Canada: Law, Legal Practices and Women’s Activism, 2012). Does this strike anyone as a beneficial environment for an abused woman to come forward, let alone with some kind of ulterior motive other than justice – when the evidence is overwhelming that the accused will likely end up being treated as the victim? Does adding insult to injury get any more blatant than this? Is it any wonder it has taken so long for us to address the missing and murdered First Nations women? (Women being second-class is one thing. If you’re a minority woman, African-American or Indigenous, you are truly on the lowest rung of the ladder)

Is this to suggest that there are not some instances when women falsely accuse men of abuse? Of course that happens but based on the aforementioned figures surely this is rare when compared to legitimate abuse.

Taking Ms. Wente’s original piece at face value we can see our court system for what it is, a zero-sum game. It’s actually less about truth and justice and more about winning – at all cost. Very RMP. I hope that while Ms. Henein and her group were celebrating her masterful ‘evisceration’ of Ms. DeCoutere they took a moment to sympathize with Mr. Ghomeshi’s many victims, in their case and otherwise. I wonder if they raised a somber glass to the hundreds of thousands of Canadian women who suffer abuse every year. Naysayers might suggest that Ms. Henein et al are not required to have any sympathy in this case since Mr. Ghomeshi was found ‘innocent’. Not innocent of doing the terrible things he has been accused of, which he has admitted to, but innocent of wrong-doing because he had given fair warning of what was to come. Consent is the heart of the matter here and despite being eviscerated on the stand all three Plaintiffs were consistent in their assertions that there was no consent.

Ms. Henein and Ms. Wente are cut from the same cloth as other women who have succeeded within the RMP; women like Margaret Thatcher, Hillary Clinton, Eva Peron and Madeleine Albright (who famously said in 1996 that the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children was worth the overthrow of Saddam Hussein). Ms. Albright, who in 2012 received the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her service, also recently said, “There is a special place in hell for women who do not vote for Hillary Clinton.” Really? Women should vote for Hillary simply because she’s a woman? This black and white approach is a hallmark of the Rational Man Project. This article tells us something about Hillary Clinton that we don’t get from mainstream RMP coverage. She may be a ‘Feminist’ but it’s debatable whether this brand of Feminism is in the best interests of women or humanity at large. Because what is rewarded within the RMP is efficiency, ruthlessness, singular focus and lack of emotion. If you’re going to be a successful woman in a man’s world you’ll take no prisoners, you’ll go for the jugular without hesitation. One female writer, staunchly defending Ms. Henein’s brand of Feminism says, “Henein has yet to allow her personal feelings to get in the way of her job or her clients. Arguably, it’s her greatest weapon… Her ability to separate emotion from career, as well as her relentless faith in the judicial system” Yes, God forbid any feelings should enter the ‘equation’. Check out the Comments at the end of the article to see how many women understandably defend Ms. Henein’s skill but who I contend might be missing the bigger picture. One relieved gentleman notes, “Finally, a rational Feminist voice. I was starting to think that they were an endangered species.” Surely, the only useful Feminist is a ‘rational’ one, which ‘makes sense’ in the society we live in. The hyper-rational Feminist resolves millennia of Women’s subjugation by inadvertently becoming a subjugator. The Victim becomes the Perpetrator.

Obviously, women have worked tirelessly to infiltrate and occupy this patriarchal hierarchy – to ‘break the glass ceiling’. I hold no illusions as to the arduous journey that has been travelled by incredible women like Marie Henein, Margaret Wente and Gloria Steinem to obtain rights and success for women. However, maybe it’s time to take stock and see that Feminism has inevitably become corrupted by the influence of the RMP. Yes, many women are now reaching the hallowed halls of patriarchal power. If the goal was to simply arrive and participate then kudos. If the goal was for powerful women to arrive and do something differently than men it’s abundantly clear that this has not come to pass.

Ms. Henein and Ms. Wente are both formidable people to have risen to the very top in their respective fields. I can only imagine how challenging that was at times, or a lot of time, when they were making their way up the ranks in a man’s world. These two obviously skillful women, and the multitude of other successful women from history, from Joan of Arc to Elizabeth I to Jane Austen to Susan B. Anthony to Marie Curie to the Suffragettes to Rosa Parks to Germaine Greer have set the stage for the arrival of 21st century woman. Women are still getting shafted with lower pay but they have arrived.

Unfortunately, the arrival within the classic RMP Institutions necessarily involves sacrificing important aspects of the Feminine – which are not welcome or understood. This sacrifice is a heavy burden which can only have one outcome – reduced empathy. It has nothing to do with the ability and intelligence of the women. The reality is that you can only succeed as a woman within these Institutions if you play by the rules – otherwise, you’ll be weeded out, whether you are a man or a woman. So, while on the one hand respect should be shown to the Ms. Heneins and Ms. Wentes of the world for having run, survived and flourished within the RMP gauntlet, we are left a sour taste in our mouths since their arrival and participation is not helping women or our society as a whole.

Fortunately, the ‘Arrival’ is now setting the stage for a ‘Veering’ in a more balanced direction, led by the new breed of young Feminists, like Ellen Page, Emma Watson and Malala Yousafzai. As Feminism evolves it has the opportunity to see that the answer does not lie in colluding with the RMP, but instead in charting a new course; one that is more holistic; one that doesn’t end up abandoning those aspects of the Feminine that are considered weak by many men (and some women), where in fact they are essential fonts of great wisdom and power. Indeed, human salvation may lie in these sacrificed aspects of the Feminine.

JUSTICE HORKINS AND THE LIMITS OF THE CURRENT LEGAL SYSTEM

“Reason is a material capacity, while the soul or spirit lives on the thoughts which are whispered by the heart. Thought is born in the soul. Reason is a tool, a machine, which is driven by the spiritual fire. When human reason … penetrates into the domain of knowledge, it works independently of the feeling, and consequently of the heart.” Fyodor Dostoyevsky

As with Ms. Henein, Justice Horkins has also received acclaim from within the legal system for his record, his fairness and his handling of the Ghomeshi case. Technically speaking, it appears he has done an exemplary job. Of course, if you were interested in a little more than the bottom line, Justice Horkins’ verdict might have left you a little wanting. Why? Because even after the case many people, some grudgingly, admitted that Mr. Ghomeshi probably did what he did, especially considering that 20 plus women have come forward to give their accounts of his abusive behaviour. Of course, while ‘probably’ is not sufficient in a court of law, that arena is not the only arbiter of opinion and truth.

What has taken some people by surprise is that despite repeated indications of Mr. Ghomeshi’s disgusting behaviour towards women, in his decision Justice Horkins went out of his way to lambaste the Victims while not saying a damn thing to Mr. Ghomeshi. Yes, there were inconsistencies in the women’s stories. Yet, shouldn’t a judge with Mr. Horkins’ experience know about the mitigating factors involved in the abuse of women? The unreliability of memory under the best of circumstances, let alone when you’ve been blind-sided by a punch to the head? The predictable unpredictability of a Victim’s behaviour after the fact? No doubt, had Mr. Ghomeshi been obliged to take the stand there would have been uniform consistency between his original statements and those given under oath – under heavy cross-examination.

In a parallel universe, this was an opportunity for Justice Horkins to acquit Mr. Ghomeshi (based on the limited left-brain patriarchal legal system within which he is being tried) but where the judge let Mr. Ghomeshi know that while he is technically being found not guilty he might want to do some serious soul-searching and get help because he seems to have a skewed understanding of how respectful and healthy humans interact. This would have been a minor but important salve for women everywhere who have suffered abuse.

Alas, this kind of rounded verdict would require the judge to “feel” what is before him, which he does not have a history of. On the contrary, Justice Hoskins’ lack of empathy made him instead castigate the Victims, who had already been betrayed by Mr. Ghomeshi. After putting themselves through sheer hell by subjecting themselves to our Legal System they not only lost but were shamed further? Does insult to injury get any more blatant? Only can a system that is emotionally stunted produce a decision this tone-deaf.

Sadly, this tone-deafness is par for the course in our culture. Ask many men, including and especially those at the higher echelons of corporations and government, how they ‘feel’ about something and invariably they will begin their response with ‘I think…‘. You’ve asked how they ‘feel’ about something but they are responding by telling you what they ‘think’ – and all of this is unconscious. Then if you press them they might shrug awkwardly, maybe laugh, as they find it difficult to identify their feelings beyond ‘fine’, ‘good’ or ‘bad’. Or they’ll simply say they don’t know, which doesn’t really bother them because so many men are so divorced from their feelings (other than anger) that they don’t even know there’s something amiss.

If we can’t ‘feel’ what’s happening, within and without, we as individuals, cities and countries are vulnerable to acting in ways that we might otherwise not. The more a person’s being is centered in the Left-brain (a) the further they are from being a compassionate and empathetic being (b) the more anger, frustration, fear, resignation, impatience, numbness the person experiences – with predictable consequences such as ill-health, alienation, depression and addiction.

With technology, this abandonment of vulnerability and empathy is being taken to stratospheric levels. Our boys and young men (and even men in their 20s and 30s) are overdosing on a diet of Pornography and violent/demeaning Video Games. The consequences of these boys, and increasingly girls, growing up and becoming our leaders should be a cause for great concern. You might have read that Porn and Video Games do not negatively affect young men – indeed there are studies which reveal that Video Games have ‘benefits’. Yes, I’m sure that’s the case when looked at from a compartmentalized perspective. Conversely, empathy allows us to see, without studies, the bigger picture; the imminent danger; the profound Shame.

Maybe we will look back with hindsight and be grateful that Justice Horkins went ‘All In’ with his decision. Something has been awoken in earnest. Many women throughout Canada are shaking their heads and thinking, “Are you kidding me?” Every day, more and more men are becoming conscious as well. A fire was lit by this case from the moment it came to the fore. Now that fire has been stoked into a bonfire.

RMP INTRANSIGENCE

Conrad Black, a Doyen of the RMP and, like Justice Horkins, a former UCC Alum, recently wrote a piece about the Ghomeshi case – in support of the verdict, needless to say. Please read it with the knowledge that Mr. Black was expelled from UCC for selling stolen exam papers, after which he attended Trinity College School where within a year he was again expelled, this time for insubordinate behaviour.

How does his piece make you feel? What is the tone? To me, it’s familiar. I know it well. I feel like if he were reading it out loud there would be tiny bits of spittle flying everywhere, incredulity dripping from his tongue. Latent rage seeping through. The injustices so full of injustice that it justifies MY Dismissiveness, my Arrogance, my Condescension, my Aggression – all warranted because I am RIGHT. Exaggeration and bombast the order of the day. Everything existential.

Meanwhile, Mr. Black likely doesn’t realize that this thinly veiled exercise in his own perpetual self-defense of his pathologically criminal actions, for which he was convicted and imprisoned, actually reveals the wounded little boy within him. Still fighting for acknowledgment and value, despite the abandonment of long ago confirming for the little boy that there was something wrong with him – and me. That is why he was sent away. Self-worth and Self-esteem obliterated (really, it’s like that until the SSP swoops in).

The method of defense is merciless attack, with the ultimate civilized weapon of choice – penetrating intellect. Like Mr. Black, and many men, there is no backing down in me when I’m at my worst. I will talk – and shout – rings around you – defending myself. Afterwards, until quite recently, I’d easily focus my blame on other – deflecting from my own ignorance, pain, shame, humiliation and guilt.

Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

Fortunately, the arrival of my daughter almost 9 years ago opened a door. Finding out about the Rational Man Project almost three years ago blew the door off its hinges. Though that thing in me will always remain, very gradually (in my case, anyway) it’s being whittled away. I do my best every day; still fail regularly. It’s hard work. Extreme RMP runs deep!

Mr. Black and I, and many thousands of others, are extreme outgrowths of the Rational Man Project. Mr. Ghomeshi and most men and women, whether aggressive, passive-aggressive or aloof are inadvertent servants of the Rational Man Project – hanging out somewhere on the continuum of unconsciousness and alienation.

THE WAY FORWARD

Some I’ve spoken with have asked me what the alternative is. The answer is inconvenient for those steeped in the ways of RMP ‘solutions’: We don’t know yet because we think the RMP maze we are lost in is all there is. The RMP is like a virus. The ‘antidote’? The re-integration of the Feminine, of the Right-brain. This will not be easy but as we move in that direction we will come up with creative solutions that at this point are simply not available – that have yet to be conjured. As Einstein said, “You cannot solve a problem from the same consciousness that created it. You must learn to see the world anew.”

Canada is a special place with huge potential. I say what I say because I love this country. Toronto is much maligned but living in this city, the most diverse city on the planet, with people living in general harmony, is quite incredible when we look around the world. Among other things I’m a wedding and a school photographer. I love the fact that I get to photograph children and adults engaging with life in so many different ways – so many different souls making their way together. Yet, there is an opportunity for further evolution. That’s what the Ghomeshi case is offering us. To look beyond the veneer. To look beyond mere band-aid solutions that do nothing to address the fundamental issues. Globally, with our baggage, we are not at the cutting edge of progressive living – yet. But we can be if we begin to genuinely engage with something that is anathema to the Rational Man Project – Self-Reflection.

The path ahead might be arduous but it will be so healing for our Canada – and will propel us forward in a bold way. To be sure, despite the hold of the RMP, every day more people are finding their voices and making themselves heard, putting increasing pressure on the anachronistic RMP way of life. Evolution is well underway. Things like: Gay rights, Paternity Leave, the Environmental Movement, high level leaks (Snowden, Panama Papers), Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), among many other things, are laying the groundwork for a more balanced framework. Just because there has been a particular approach for a long time doesn’t mean that alternative ways of being are not realistic and available.

And while we are on our way, Men, in general, are too entrenched within the RMP to spearhead the coming shift. Conscious Western Woman is best positioned to affect this change, to lead us towards a new paradigm – with conscious men in tow. Let’s be angry at the Ghomeshi verdict and the system that does such a terrible job of safeguarding what is most precious – our hearts. Let us grieve for the centuries of injustice. But let’s not focus our blame on Jian Ghomeshi, Justice Horkins, Mary Henein or Margaret Wente or anyone else. They are merely representatives of our narrow-minded and dysfunctional system. They are mirrors for us to gaze into and recognize ourselves. Forgive them for they know not what they do – what we do.

If we’re going to be fierce let’s be fiercely compassionate and non-judgmental. That is the only way through this. Not by fighting against (Left-brain), but by coming together (Right-brain). Every day there are more women and men jumping on this evolutionary bandwagon. This is the cutting edge. New ground is being broken. The shift does not require large numbers, just effective numbers. As always, there will be many naysayers. And that’s okay. Let’s remain kindhearted yet determined. Let us welcome the ‘Return’ to the Right-brain. Let us accept the open invitation to the embrace the feelings that will inform and guide our next steps as a species.

We are emerging…

emerge

By: Bard Azima

Photographer, Film-maker, Writer & Boarding School Survivor