Saturday, December 31, 2016


The year is over.  Cripes... you just don't have any clue, ANY clue whatsoever what could be ahead, do you?

I think I've seen worse.  '15 was worse, for sure.  It seemed when things couldn't get worse, for me at least, that it just did.  It would get worse.  But I got out of it with more life experience than I expected, and it came in somewhat useful in '16.  Sometimes you go through crap and it hardens you as a person, and it prepares you for what's to come.  You know, it's sad that this is something that needs to happen to you in life sometimes just to survive, but, that indeed is life.

There sure was a lot of death this year.  And it's not even over,  There are a few hours left of '16 as of this very moment, and God only knows who's going to go next, and when.  I've had relatives die, friends die, countless celebrities have died this year, sports stars... it all leaves a person quite numb when it's fed to us in such large, heaping doses.  I do have my faith.  Death doesn't do a lot to shake it.  In fact, sometimes it even strengthens it.  It forces people like myself to take a harder look at it, to find some kind of validation in it.

I like to go to church.  In particular, my church, Saint Bernard's Roman Catholic here in Moncton.  It's our city's oldest church at over 130 years.  I'd left my last church in favor of St. B's because one of my favorite priests, Father Peter McKee, did services there.  After Father McKee died a few years ago. Father Carroll took his place.  I kind of grew up with Father Carroll.  As an altar boy in my youth, I served with him as a deacon and watched him become a priest, one of the favorites in the local area because of his ability to personalize with the congregation.  He's an everyman, someone anybody could talk to and feel very comfortable with.

Being a churchgoer, semi-regular at least (I'm on the church schedule as a reader, so I go at least every three weeks or so), I've found the church a very comforting place to be.  It's good to be in there and just meditate, or pray, whatever you like to call it.  Connecting with God takes work, I find.  I have to have a clearer mind and be in a good place to actually feel 'the vibe', so to speak, but I do.

I know the vast majority of people don't go to church, and that's okay.  This is just me.  It's what I like.  I don't think I get extra points in the books because I go as opposed to someone else who doesn't.  If you're atheist, that's fine too.  It's your choice.  I think you should be judged by how you treat others.  I know Christians who are utter assholes and atheists who are good as gold.  Whatever.

When I was visited by a friend last summer who I used to work with, who became a nun a few years ago, I was taken aback by several things.  Just with this particular visit.  She comes to see us every year, and we share stories of what's happened in each others' absences, and update one another on our lives.

Here's the deal with why I'm writing this blog to begin with:  This visit with my friend caused me to go into somewhat of a spiritual crisis that resonates to this day.  My belief in God will always be there.  My belief in Catholicism, though, got tested this summer.

Of course, '16 was the year that saw the election in the U.S. that made the whole world turn their heads and stare.  Without delving too much into it, because it's been done and done and done again, the fact is that Americans elected a misogynist, homophobic, xenophobic, faith-challenged, Russian sympathetic, unqualified public servant with no previous experience and bankruptcy-addicted serial wife cheater, climate change deniar and unapologetic compulsive liar to succeed the greatest president in our lifetime, effectively spitting in the face of those championing women's rights, environmental awareness, income equality, and anyone concerned about their rights to health care or even clean air and water.  There are facts piled up from here to Kingdom Come to back up everything in this paragraph.  These are not opinions, they're facts.  And as a well known entertainer has said famously, you're entitled to your own opinions, but you're not entitled to your own facts.

Now, my nun friend made it quite clear that she considered Obama to be what's driven the world backward in our modern era and that Trump was the man to make things right.  When we discussed this particular subject, I threw a lot of questions at her.  It would seem that her choice in Trump as a world leader is particularly faith-based, i.e. Trump is anti-abortion.  Fair enough.  I'm anti-abortion too, to a point.  Getting pregnant is not an inconvenience, it's a gift, to me.  I've felt that since my wife and I were blessed with our daughter.  Doctors told her she'd more than likely never conceive, yet here our daughter is.  Now she can't conceive, as she needed a partial hysterectomy shortly after having Alexandra.  But if someone raped my daughter, or if a pregnancy threatened her life for some odd reason, you can bet I'd be siding with my little girl's choices.  Something tells me Donald would be exactly the same way under similar circumstances, as would most conservatives in general.  When shit happens to you, your opinions tend to change.

My friend also was told that Obama would be seeking a third term somehow so that World War III would be brought about.  I'll leave that one all by itself, because I'll illustrate in a moment the reasons behind such a pattern of beliefs... I queried her on a few things, in light of her unabashed support of the King of Reality Television (sorry, Mr. Probst).  Had she heard of Trump's mocking a disabled reporter at one of his rallies in South Carolina?  How about when he basically told a mother to shut her baby up while he was speaking?  He regularly incited violence at his rallies, how about that one at least?  I don't suppose being a chronic liar while running for the most powerful position on planet Earth is an issue... is it?  Surely being in charge of nukes, he won't consider using them even remotely, would he?  Is it REALLY okay for a potential president to be saying things like grab them by the pussy; I did try and fuck her, she was married; I moved on her like a bitch, etc. God almighty, the list goes on and on and on.  I don't know how it is that Teflon Don gets away with so much, so very much, when only one of these things would bring down any democratic nominee in a heartbeat.  I digress.... my friend did not even know about one of these things.  NOT.  ONE.  Zero.  Now, you have to wonder to yourself, how can it be?  How can someone possibly avoid it, even the most pro-Trump supporters?

The answer is, the filter of the Catholic Church.  My nun friend was not even aware that our very own Pope Francis hesitated to even call Trump a Christian.  Many of those in the Catholic faith and its clergy are fed filtered news, if you want to call it 'news' to begin with, that scarily seems to support an alternate agenda from what our very own Pope teaches.  I know Lifesite News on the web openly and unabashedly supported Donald Trump for president based solely on his anti-abortion views.  Never mind all the other stuff I just gave you links to.  Never mind his elitist views and cabinet appointments that boasts the biggest collection of billionaires in the history of the world.  Christian faith, and especially Pope Francis, after all, are ardent champions of the poor.  A Donald Trump presidency is the antithesis of what Pope Francis stands for, and thus, Catholicism in general.

So, knowing all this... knowing that the inner core of Catholic media is controlled by what has to be seen as some form of extremism that only serves one singular purpose by and large, sent my faith into a tailspin.  This was all strange to me, because when I go to mass at Saint B's, we regularly offer prayers for the poor, the homeless, and the unfortunate in general.  Now we have to deal with a president on the way with mass approval who champions the rich, lives in palaces of his own making and revels at the disparities of others.  My dear friend was surprised at all of the information that I'd offered her, and I even wondered whether she actually believed me, or if that it was all just hyperbole.  Which it isn't, because the video footage is right there, along with an endless list of press of all the terrible things Trump has done and said over the years.  It doesn't even scratch the surface.

I like to follow politics.  I keep a close eye on it because I like to know what's happening in the world around me.  I've voted Liberal, Progressive Conservative and Green in my voting life, and I can tell you I'm stuck voting Green probably the rest of my life.  Voting for anything else is like voting against planet earth.

I respect the fact there are people from various sides of the political spectrum that support their parties, but I will never, ever respect groups like the Tea Party or anything that deems itself "alt-right".  If you've openly supported Trump for his presidency, you've tested my faith in you as someone who's of sound judgment.  I've had judgment issues over my life, hey, I'll be the first to tell you!  But never, never has my discernment been as questionable as it has for hordes of people who voted for the man openly supported by the KKK and Vladmir Putin.

And so, I've lost faith, alright.  I've lost faith in people.  I've lost faith in democracy, where someone who garnered nearly three million less votes than their competitor actually won an electoral contest to decide who leads the free world.  I've lost a lot of faith in Catholicism, but at least not its leader, whom I claim as my own.  I've lost faith in the world's ability to pull up its bootstraps and stand up against climate change, no longer a theory but a fact supported by over 97% of the world's scientists.  If you don't believe in climate change, that's too bad.  You deserve to be ridiculed as supporting the 3% of scientists who side with you, yet you'll still buy the toothbrush that four out of five dentists recommend.  You'll never buy the one that one out of five does.

My belief, outlandish as you might say, is that Donald Trump is perhaps the antichrist.  Or at least a pawn to it.  When we're talking about the proliferation of nukes and fossil fuels in an age where the world is already dying at record speed, and so many readily embrace that which enables the acceleration of it all, suddenly it doesn't seem too outlandish anymore.

As a symptom of my disbelief at it all, I've taken down my facebook.  It's amazing, some of the stuff I see people post.  It makes me sad, angry, and at times outright disgusted.  Since leaving I've felt this feeling of peacefulness, somewhat at least.  Perhaps, to a point, ignorance really is bliss.  I may go back on it, I may not.  Originally I just wanted to take a break.

I did have another blog page where I posted my own personal things about what's going on.  I did make one last post some time ago, and it will be my last post there.  I discussed my openness about mental illness and my battles with it frequently there.  And I've decided I'm done with it.  I've concluded that keeping it to yourself really is the best way to handle it.  What I've discovered, sadly, is everyone wants to know what's wrong with you.... until they know.  Then, it's like pressing two polar opposite magnets together.  They seem to naturally push away.  I've noticed it with friends, especially co-workers, and even with medical professionals, to a point.  But I do have the support of my wife and daughter, and my family.

So as I grapple once again with the changing of medications, for the third time in the past six months, over the holidays no less, I'll sign off the year with a tinge of hope, but with the bristle of protective caution.

Because when '17 is over, I'm sure I'll look back and say, I had no clue that was coming.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Reality Bites

The 2016 U.S. election is over.  It's two days after, now.  I thought it best to let it sink in a bit before I offered my opinion.

I know there are those that will agree with some of it, some will disagree.  I don't care either way.  How I see it is how I see it.  And I respect most others' opinions.

My views have changed over the years.  Maybe not all that drastically, but they have.  Some would be shocked and disappointed at the tweaking of how I see some things, some would be... "meh".  I'm fine with all of it.  One of those views is on the whole "gay thing".  I used to say, 'I don't agree with the gay lifestyle.'  I think that comment is just idiotic and dumb today.  How do you agree or disagree with a lifestyle?  How someone lives their life is inconsequential to me or anyone else, as long as no one gets hurt.  The only people I see getting hurt are gay people themselves, getting beaten up or denied their human rights by those who oppose them.  So who's wrong here?  Throughout my years, I generally have only seen the most gentle of people within the gay community; who care, in many cases, more than their straight counterparts about the good of all humankind.  When the issue of gay marriage comes up, the real firestorm begins.  Voices are raised, soapboxes erected, bibles come out... and hatred exposed.  The ugliness of humanity is magnified in all its self-righteous glory.  And over time, though I've not bought into the hatred of it all, I was unwittingly a part of it, because I "didn't agree with the gay lifestyle".  But I ask myself the question... if a trio of guys are beating up another guy on a street corner because he's gay, and I'm walking on the other side of the street, do I ignore it and continue on, or take my taekwondo black belt ass over there and protect the innocent man on the ground getting abused?  If I don't, I'm as guilty as those beating him up.  So I would go over and do the right thing, and defend him.  Jesus would be appalled.  Appalled that three guys chose to vent their prejudism through violent behavior against a peaceful individual who shares passionate love differently than they do.  Real Christians defend those who are helpless.

With the civil war going on in Syria, and millions fleeing the country, many are seeking refuge in other parts of the world where they won't get bombed or shot at, like many of their friends or family members already have.  Stop and think, if you will, of your city being under siege from an invading army; many of your friends are dead, much of your family is dead or gone, and maybe you only have a child or two, and if you're lucky, a spouse with you still alive, and you make your escape.  You find a kind foreign force willing to take you in, give you shelter, and prepare you for life somewhere else that you won't have to dodge bullets or landmines.  But you so love your city!  How could you leave where you've lived most of your life, and never come back?  Then you ask yourself, how could you subject what's left of your family to chance by staying?  So you submit to the vetting process by the samaritans, and by some crazy stroke of luck and good fortune, you get whisked off to another country where there's no war.  No bombings.  Just a very different way of life, albeit peaceful and welcoming, that lets you take your religion and harmless belief system with you, after the vetting process, and settle amongst a new group of neighbors in a calm, war-free setting.  You're crazy grateful at the good fortune afforded you to escape the sad, violent war zone, and come to what's comparitively viewed as paradise.  Nearly everyone around you has a different color of skin, but it doesn't seem to matter to them.  They're welcoming you with open arms.  Your faith in humanity is somewhat restored.  You're surrounded by countries that have checkpoints, but no barriers.  No barbed wire or fences to forbid you from where you want to go, provided you have legal documentation to prove who you are.

I've written ad-nauseum about how I have a mental illness.  A disability.  There are pros and cons that you can't visually see it.  Some won't believe I have it, unless they see my medication bottles or know my medical history.  And then, some still won't believe it!  But I'm very fortunate that I don't need physical assistance to come and go.  I need no wheelchair or walker or artificial limbs.  I have no degenerative physical ailment.  One time, when I broke my foot on the job and wound up losing said job because of it, I was down on my luck and went downtown with some friends.  I don't drink a lot, so when my friends threw one down after another, I decided to leave.  The walk was a couple of miles home, and that's a long way when you have a cast on your foot up to your knee.  As I began my lonely trek home and crossed Main Street, a group of ladies nearby pointed, laughed and mocked my limping, while I cried putting one painful step in front of the other.  It was a very lonely, depressing time in my life, and I thought to myself as I soldiered home, "what if this is how it was all the time?"  I experienced only a tiny, microscopic example of what it was like to be a permanently disabled person.  It was horrifyingly lonely.  No one offered to stop and help during the 45 minute journey home, where I'm sure I looked visibly tired and in pain.  I'm grateful this happened, believe it or not.  It gave me a wealth of understanding for those who are far, far worse off.  It gave me eyes that were sharper than they were previously.

All these things helped shape the man that I became today.  I'd say that I'm a fairly decent guy.  Maybe not overly smart, certainly not monetarily rich, and even prone from time to time to a joke about someone less fortunate, though I so try not to find humor or entertainment in such things, because there isn't any!  Perhaps that's a part of growing up.  People have to do that - grow up.  Perhaps maintain their "inner kid" and retain some of that innocence, to prevent you from becoming some stiff, boring old windbag.  My wife and I behave like kids around each other all the time!  We say it keeps us young.  Some people around us call us a cute couple, some might call us immature, which we actually take as a compliment.  Keep your boring-ass 'maturity'.  Go to tea parties or luncheons or meetings or whatever you call entertainment.  We'll keep our movies, gym outings, TV watching in our onesies with our snacks and pop and making supper at home together any day.  I've learned over time how much I value the women in my life.  My Mom is my original hero.  She raised seven of us virtually by herself, and most of us fought back against being raised properly, but we all made it.  We all got married and had families, and were responsible to them.  None of us were in trouble with the law because of the values instilled in us by our mother.  In other words, we all have our family values.  And all of the boys, despite growing up in adversity, maintained respect and love and admiration for our female counterparts, all shapes, sizes, colors and ages.  I would dare say we are all gentlemen.

Something Mom taught us all was to be raised Catholic.  She revered the Popes of the times, brought us to church on Sundays, and reprimanded us if we cursed in the house, or anywhere for that matter, while she was around.  We were to recognize Christmas as Christ's birthday (I know it's really not, that it was really some other time, but whatever), Easter as Christ's resurrection (read between the brackets before the last comma), and observed other events on the Catholic calendar.  There are protestant religions that are more or less the same, with a tweak to the Catholic beliefs here and there, which are all fine by me as long as we worship the same God, peacefully.  Most Christian religions would see the Pope as their leader, I think, some maybe not.  And some popes, they agreed with more than others.  Our current one, Francis, has really emerged as the Pope we need for our times.  He's worked vigorously to bridge the gaps between faiths, heal the wrongs of the Christian past (a very, very tall order, but at least he's trying), and tried to restore faith among those who have lost it.  He's the most Christ-like Pope I've ever known of, welcoming everyone in his presence, championing the poor and the weak, and yes, even offering an olive branch to gays.  We so need him in these times.  When he speaks on the issues of the day, people listen.  He's even warned us not to be too focused on abortion issues, and allowing it to fade out all other important subjects of our modern era.  He continuously warns us about climate change, and tells us to embrace science alongside religion.  Never mind a progressive Pope, this man is a progressive human being altogether, perhaps moreso than any of us.  At least most.

Growing up, I was taught, as most of us were that becoming the nation's leader was the finest thing you could be.  The very finest.  Here in Canada, it's Prime Minister.  In the U.S., it's President.  But I've recognized in the States that young men more aspired to be president than Canadians did prime minister.  It was romanticized in songs, poems, speeches, and kids would pretend to be the nation's leader.  A lot of little boys would study hard in school with hopes of serving in public office, and who knows?  Maybe become president one day!  "Son, if you study hard, work hard, pay your dues, and respect your fellow human beings and do all you can to serve and protect them, you deserve to be the leader of the country."  That kind of thing was spouted all the time in TV shows, which would in turn influence little boys everywhere.  Now, the world has changed.  Girls have a shot at it, too.  Girls are recognized as being at least as smart as boys are, and every bit as capable of doing what boys do.  As time goes on, the competitive spirit between genders is deteriorating, and we are being all seen more as equals as we seek out amongst ourselves who is best to do whatever task is at hand.  As long as the good of humanity is served and our dignity respected and recognized, may the best person lead us to further greatness as a people.

%&^###$ -----"vinyl record scratch"-----&*#$%++%

Donald Trump is president-elect of the United States.

This man has made it a promise to repeal gay marriage.  Has claimed to be Christian while behaving the most un-Christian-like throughout his ENTIRE CAMPAIGN.  He's incited violence at his campaign rallies while pledging to his supporters he would pay for their court costs if they're brought up on battery charges against protesters.  He has openly attacked Muslims and their faith, offering and promising to block them from coming to the U.S. if elected.  He belittled an American Muslim Iraq war hero and his parents.  He marginalized blacks at his rallies, and pleaded ignorance to any knowledge of the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacy advocates that openly supported his campaign.  He pledged repeatedly to build a fucking WALL between Mexico and the United States to keep Mexicans out, because, he says, they're "rapists, drug dealers and murderers"!  He kicked a baby out of a rally because it was crying, and belittled the child's parents.  He said he would "bomb the shit" out of middle east countries and even possibly use nukes on them.  He's pledged his support to Vladmir Putin and aligned himself with Russia and its atrocities to modern humankind, and even invited them to spy on his rival Democratic Party.  He would stop the flow of refugees to the U.S., which was barely a miniscule trickle to begin with.  He infamously mocked and made fun of a disabled reporter.  He's mocked and made fun of ("Miss Piggy") a Miss Universe pageant winner for gaining weight from depression.  In fact, he's made fun of women just about every goddamned day.  His hatred for Rosie O'Donnell ruled his Twitter account.  When he was discovered as having said he loves to assault women in the infamous "hot mic" debacle ("grab them by the pussy"), HE DIDN"T APOLOGIZE.  Instead he just attributed it to "locker room talk", like that would normalize it.  He repeatedly cheated on his women (three wives and counting) unapologetically, even bragging about it.  HE DENOUNCED THE POPE.  [where, oh where, are you so-called republican Christians to defend your leader???  Oh, wait, it's TRUMP you worship, not Christ] He belittled the poor and uneducated.  He dodged the draft to Vietnam while shaming fellow republican John McCain for being a P.O.W. there.  He's said people who get abortions need to be punished!  He NEVER served in public office in all his 70 years.  He's declared bankruptcy and defaulted on loans more times than anyone could imagine, and as a billionaire did not pay taxes, AND BRAGGED ABOUT IT.  He promised to repeal the Affordable Care Act and deprive millions of health care who've not had it before Obama took office.  He accused Hillary of scheming to repeal the second amendment, which 1) is virtually impossible, and 2) SHE actually sought to protect to keep guns out of the hands of the worst people in society......And he said he'd have Hillary Clinton investigated in efforts to have her put in jail if he were elected.  That's right, he said he'd incarcerate his political opponent.

I was going to get into the whole Bernie Sanders would have won in a landslide if only Debbie Wasserman Shultz hadn't rigged the Democratic primaries tirade, but there's no point anymore in getting into what-if's.  Sanders appealed to a wide swath on the right AND left, and was the perfect matchup for Trump to take him down.  Trump was the alternative republican candidate, Sanders was the Dems' alternative.  Instead they chose institution over a more relateable rebel.  But I digress... The fact is, nearly half of eligible Americans decided not to vote at all.  Half of the rest picked Trump to be their leader, and leader of the free world, over a woman who's served in public office for over 30 years, and whose worst mistake during her campaign was calling Trump supporters "a basket of deplorables".  Well guess what... those "deplorables" proved her right.  Repeatedly.

I realize there are a lot of Americans who are shocked and saddened at the outcome of events on November 8, 2016.  My heart goes out to you.  I know some of them.  Some are angry and afraid of what will come in the days and months ahead.  The republicans don't just have a president.  They now control the senate and the house of representatives, and will surely appoint a seventh tie-breaking conservative judge to the Supreme Court.  Gay rights and women's rights will exit the country like the Obama family from the White House, and most of the progress made with the deficit, health care, human rights, environment and the economy will surely be reversed.  It happens with every turn of republicans leading the country.  And that's not even to mention whatever new wars they will invent to spend taxpayers' money on.

But here's the real butthurt... America, you wanted this, and now you've got it.  You think Trump's going to give you jobs?  Reduce your deficit?  Increase your wages?  I won't even offer a rebuttal for that.  I'll let you experience it yourselves over the next four years.  Oh, and since you've elected a reality show host/non-public service candidate for president, congratulations!!  You've just won the distinct opportunity to have a legitimate contender on the next presidential ballot, Kanye West!  What??  No way??  WAY.  Who did you just elect??  Wait and see.  Kanye 2020.  I bet the signs are being made right now.

And I do not subscribe to the whole "we have to work together" shit people are saying right now.  Please re-read this blog and try to say that with a straight face.  You have a racist, elitist, misogynist, homophobic bigot for president.  Overseas, you cheer when you see countries that have riots in the streets with the people trying to take back their country from people just like Trump.  The people who have voted against Trump are only trying their best to put the fire out before it turns into an inferno.

God bless the U.S.A.  And God bless those trying to protect what its founders sought to always guard against.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Getting Back On Track


There's an awful lot of talk these days about renewable energy, isn't there?  It comes down, in many instances, to "tree huggers" vs "oil barons".  But, the massive elephant in the same ring as that battle is a fella called Climate Change.

I'm not going to make this an excruciatingly long post preaching about everything that's wrong with carbon pollution in this day and age, because everyone knows pollution of any kind is outright wrong.  The challenge is embracing the extinguishing of it, namely in the face of greed and profit.  Imagine a world where the energy we need is produced right where you live.  You don't need help from overseas or across any borders, or dealings from unsavoury dictators to get that what you need to sustain yourselves.  That age is upon us right now.  Do you really want it?  A growing, tidal wave of supporters doesn't just want it, they're demanding it.

I'm fresh into my 50's now, and what I see largely is a movement of young people who have become increasingly aware of what their future may look like, should the 'old guard' not loosen its grip on the reigns of the current political realm.  Change has to happen, and it has to happen right now.  Results can not happen overnight, mind you, but plans can be made to assure that we don't veer onto the wrong path.  We need entities in politics that are forward thinking who will grab hold of that elusive brass ring and not let go, and assure not only that our future generations, but indeed humanity, have a chance not just to thrive, but to survive at all.

But here's the thing... the present requires us to make funeral arrangements for big oil, but not push it into the grave just yet, as it's still alive and still sustaining us as a species.  That's the cold, hard reality for Tree Huggers like myself.  Electric cars are fast approaching the horizon, and provide us all with the promise of clean air and deteriorating greenhouse gases to give us hope.  Likewise can be said with cheaper, more efficient means of renewable energy, which is making advancements every day, it seems.  The death of the oil industry is unavoidable and imminent.  Fort McMurray and Hibernia can beat their chests all they want about Canadian home-grown energy, but the fact is, sooner than later, no country will need energy from anyone else.  This means quite potentially that a golden age of peace is possible, where greenhouse gases fade, clean air thrives, and energy is plentiful for everyone everywhere, without the reliance of supply from grossly rich leaders, largely in the middle east.  Imagine a world where we don't have to feed money to those who have a stranglehold on our very sustainability.  We could tell places like Saudi Arabia that, "no, you can't have our armoured vehicles or tanks, because your oil doesn't hold us hostage anymore."

Still, we actually need oil for the short term, don't we?  You and I still have cars and homes that need it to run.  I know some of us have electric cars and heat pumps, but not all of us.  It's not necessarily affordable to everyone.  In fact, it isn't, or I'd have both of those myself right now.  So, I have to bitch and whine about oil and gas while actually needing it.  The goal is to not need it for much longer.

So, there's the tar sands in Fort McMurray.  It's an oil haven, rich with black gold, albeit the dirtiest stuff on planet earth.  What oil barons want is to build several pipelines to move raw bitumen, in its thickest, hottest, dirtiest form, through pipelines across our country and across the United States to refineries to be processed and, head-scratchingly, be moved across the oceans to places that will buy the stuff.  Some of it will be used here.  It doesn't matter, where the finished product winds up is not the point I'm trying to make.

Our federal government, not so loudly, has come to the realisation that the oil beds are on their deathbeds, with a life expectancy of not a lot more than another 15 years.  Consider that for a moment.  Hundreds of kilometres, or miles if that's your thing, of pipelines hogging considerable space on our countries' lands, and bearing down with the inevitable threats to the ecosystem when there are ruptures.  And there will be, make no mistake.  Pipelines this long have never proven to be safe over those lengths of space, and if the pipelines do go forward, they most certainly will be hastily built.  Argue against that all you want.  They will insist, ad nauseum, that they are safe.  And they most certainly are safe.... until they aren't.

"But Mike," you no doubt are saying to me in your heads, "railway accidents with oil trains are happening all the time.  Pipelines are far safer and more efficent".  Really?  Okay.... when those pipelines are obsolete in 15 years, and you and I know that's not a hell of a long time, who's going to disassemble them and clean them all up?  I'll tell you who:  Nobody.  They will be left to deteriorate and ugly-fy the lands they occupy, and pose even more hazards long after the hot, thick black goo has been trying to be flowing through them.  We're left with a huge mess that no one wants and no one is willing to be held accountable for.

So, then, there are no alternatives.  Grin and bear it.  We're not long for this world anyway, right?


Here's what needs to be done, in my own humble opinion:

Why do accident like those in Lac Magentic happen, anyway?  Braking systems on the trains?  Bad railway systems?  Here in Canada, under the Harper Conservatives, deregulations occurred all over the map, making our ecosystems fair prey for those who want to harm them.  Canada's lakes and rivers were left completely vulnerable and unprotected in the name of Big Oil.  Indian reserves were threatened.  Cities and towns were left to watch our leaders roll the dice on our safety, which they didn't give a damn about anyway, as oil freight rolled through our lands without anyone imposing rules and regulations on the trains or the tracks they ran on.  Maybe you see where I'm going, here.

Railway systems are the problem that needs to be addressed, not the creation of pointless pipelines.  Our tracks and many of our trains are in dire need of an upgrade.  The need for them is not going to go away, but in fact, like the sources of the energy that sustains us, they must evolve to be safer, more efficient and better-serving.  When oil goes bust in 15 years, the tracks that are still there are still going to be abundantly useful.  It's a chance to advance the train industry and accelerate the means of transit for people, potentially taking even more cars off the road, whether they're electric or not.

But there are so many tracks!  Well then, you prioritise some tracks in the beginning, like the ones most frequented by oil freight, naturally, and let the rest develop as it will.  This is a win-win scenario.  Oil lives out its final few years in a safer manner, while green energy's tentacles grow throughout the land, while the economy thrives on the jobs that it creates during its transition.  Energy steadily becomes cheaper and cheaper, putting more money in the common person's pockets, and everyone is left happy and thriving.  Before you know it, no one needs oil anymore, and terrorism wanes because the funding for it has dissipated into almost nothing.

Doesn't that sound like a world you want to leave for your kids?  I know it's one that I'd like to see my daughter and (hopefully) my grandkids have.

And I believe it can happen.

I believe.