Revanchist Review

Monday, May 30, 2005

A Mother's Love

“A mother’s love for her children, even her inability to let them be, is because she is under a painful law that the life that passed through her must be brought to fruition.

No matter how old a mother is she watches her middle-aged children for signs of improvement. It could not be otherwise for she is impelled to know that the seeds of value sown in her have been winnowed. She never outgrows the burden of love, and to the end she carries the weight of hope for those she bore. Oddly, very oddly, she is forever surprised and even faintly wronged that her sons and daughters are just people, for many mothers hope and half expect that their newborn child will make the world better, will somehow be a redeemer.”

The Measure of My Days. Florida Scott-Maxwell

I came across this quote with all its simplicity and profoundness, in a little book recommended by a friend - A House by the Sea, by May Sarton.

It helps explain that unique love and devotion shown by a mother for her children. Even the most devoted father eventually loosens his grip on the weight of hope and expectation that parenthood brings. It also served to remind me of how much I miss my own mother who died at the age of 50, before she could see me become a parent and give her two grandsons she would have adored.

And it added a measure of grief to the loss of a friend in the past week. Only 65, she leaves behind a husband, two children and several grandchildren. That grief is tempered by the fact of her deep Christian faith, and her confidence and mine that she has passed to a new life and new body which are both imperishable.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Pillow Talk - Peter and Belinda

Belinda: Peter, sweetie-pie, strong and handsome one, would you mind doing me a favour this morning?

Peter: Of course my high cheek-boned teutonic temptress, anything you ask.

Belinda: Would you please call that horrible man Stephen Harper, that bully who insists on forcing us to work on a principled political agenda, rather than just give those Ontario folks whatever they want.

Peter: Of course munchkin, what would you like me to say to Stevie boy?

Belinda: Tell him that sweet old man Martin replied to my blackberry message last night. You know I send one out every day to my Daddy reporting on what is happening in caucus. I guess I inadvertently sent it to Mr. Martin and he responded right away.

Peter: What did you say in the email my warrior vahine, my amazing amazon?

Belinda: Oh you know, the usual stuff. "Dear Sugar Daddy, that Mr. Harper is so horrid and boring. He has no interest in preserving our non-renewable water resources. He insists on seating me next Stockwell Day who is even more straight and boring than Mr. Harper. Harper is so young Daddy, I won't ever be able to lead this party while he is around. I mean like, he has no life. All he does is read, write policy statements, spend time with his kids. He never boogies down at the clubs by the Rideau Canal with Petie and me - he is just so boring. I wish I could be over on the other side with Scott Brison who is so cool, I love his coloured shirts and those long side-burns and he has such style and he's so gay and so cuddly. I am sad, Sugar Daddy, can you cheer me up?"

Peter: What did Martin say?

Belinda: He is such a sweet man, so like Daddy and almost as rich. He said: "Sweet Belinda, cross the floor with me and I will put you in charge of the most renewable of resources, Human Resources. We have been using them to our advantage for decades now and you just never run out of them Belinda. It is amazing, we abuse them, we lie to them, we steal from them, and when they complain a bit, we just lie to them again, throw back to them some of the money we stole, and tell them we will save them from the scary Conservatives. East of the Manitoba border, they come back to us in droves. It is amazing! And, we Liberals know how to party and we know how to spend money honey, and Scott will be delighted to have your stylish pant suits next to him. He will even forgive you for shacking up with Peter.

Peter: But my dyed blonde goddess, my ticket to paradise, what did you say? What have you done?

Belinda: I said yes silly, what do you expect? I couldn't bear another minute of having to play second fiddle to that Rona Ambrose with her quick tongue, and her own boobs and her perky western enthusiasm and her ideas - God she has all these ideas, like who has time for them unless they get you into power right now. So be a good boy and tell Stevie boy that I am putting on my lavender power pant suit this morning and announcing I am joining the Liberals because, well because, let's see because, well they want me and they believe in Canada and they get it, like you know they understand Quebec, and they won't go to bed with the Bloc, and they like gays, and they like to spend money like - aw Petie, sweetie, don't make me have to think of a reason!

Peter (pulling on his rugby shorts and heading out the room): Oh my dim bimbo Belinda, what have you done? It's back to beer and burgers down at the rugby club for me.

On phone: Hi Stephen, it's Peter. You were right old buddy, money can't buy you love, but it can buy you a cabinet seat.

(Fade to black)

Lady Macbeth - aka Stronach

Ms. Stronach today enters the wasteland of the political rogues who, unencumbered by intellect, have allowed the weeds of their ambition to choke the flowers of principle.

We are indeed a nation of utter rubes if we don't see the Lady Macbeth syndrome hard at work here.

Like Lady Macbeth in Act I Scene V, Stronach has called upon the spirits of crass political opportunism to "stop up the access and passage to remorse that no compunctious visitings of nature shake my fell purpose".

Mr. Martin would do well to watch his back for Lady Stronach will soon call up the "thick night, that my keen knife see not the wound it makes, nor heaven peep through the blanket of the dark". Fortunately for Mr. Martin she is so dim and inept she will likely stumble over a discarded principle and stab herself first.

It is a dark time in Canadian political history and I suspect there are more tempests to be endured before this tragedy reaches its climax.

Ms. Stronach can now make her impassioned pleas to the Liberal caucus to support pet projects of hers such as "preserving our precious non-renewable resource of fresh water".

The Liberal Cabinet has just dumbed down another notch with her addition, and the Conservatives should be relieved she has gone.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Paul Martin - The Black Knight

Oh, oh, I see, running away then. You yellow
bastards! Come back here and take what's coming to you. I'll bite
your legs off
! - BLACK KNIGHT to King Arthur - Scene 4 - In Search of the Holy Grail

In yet another stark example of life imitating art, our Prime Minister today stood before the nation, announced that he now would send $170 million of aid to Darfur, and assured us that his government is in control and functioning as it ought.

I could not help but be taken back to the Black Knight scene in Monty Python's "In Search of the Holy Grail". (Here is the link to the scene's script for those of you unfamiliar with it -

King Arthur comes upon the Black Knight who appears to be a worthy knight. He invites him to join the crusade, but the knight repudiates the King and challenges him to a fight. Arthur systematically whacks away the knight's extremeties one at a time, at each juncture offering him the chance to yield with grace. The graceless, stubborn knight refuses and becomes more aggressive with the loss of each limb. The scene ends with the armless and legless torso of the Black Knight spitting invective at King Arthur.

There is much that is Pythonesque about what is happening in Ottawa and Mr. Martin as the Black Knight is the most pathetic figure of all. Feckless and desperately hoping that enough Canadians will be gormless enough to swallow the Liberal propaganda that will paint them as victim of a power hungry Conservative/Bloc alliance, Mr. Martin clings to power and offers tax payer money as bribes to the NDP, to Ontarians and to the push-me-pull-me member from Edmonton Mr. Kilgour.

Is there an ounce of self-respect left in Mr. Martin and the Liberal party or are they so utterly soaked in the slime of sycophancy and malfeasance that has emerged from the Gomery inquiry, that there is no hope of lighting even the faintest flicker of a flame of conscience amongst them?

But then conscience appears to be a word bereft of any real meaning in the lexicon of politicians who have not been humbled by electoral defeat. George Cardinal Pell says, "We think well when we understand moral principles and apply them in clear and reasonable ways; we think badly when we ignore or reinvent moral principles, or apply them in ambiguous and unreasonable ways. 'Good conscience' in this way of understanding, means a grasp and good application of moral truth - for it is the truth that remains primary, the truth that is grapsed and applied by the practical mind."

Should Paul Martin and the Liberals be re-elected when the election comes as it inevitably must, it will mean that conscience for a sufficient number of Canadians has come to mean nothing more than a personal freedom to judge by our own resources and to act as we each think best for ourselves. The corruption, mendacity, avarice for power and generally dissolute nature of the Liberal party and the core of its leadership will have been ignored. The opportunity for the many decent, honest, thoughtful Liberals to clean house, regroup and emerge in 4 or 5 years out from under the rotten carcass that now covers them, will have been lost.

The re-election of the federal Liberals will mean Canada will have lost even more of its lustre as a nation. The little stump of a man and the ragtag band of moral cripples whom he protects will indeed have won another battle. He will have bitten off the legs of the latest crusader for truth and justice and accountability and all Canadians will be tarnished by his victory.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Pilgrim Thoughts

“Often I have not known where I was going until I was already there. I have had my share of desires and goals, but my life has come to me or I have gone to it mainly by way of mistakes and surprises. Often I have received better than I have deserved. Often my fairest hopes have rested on bad mistakes. I am an ignorant pilgrim, crossing a dark valley. And yet for a long time, looking back, I have been unable to shake off the feeling that I have been led – make of that what you will.” Jayber Crow, Wendell Berry

It is with a mixture of excitement and anxiety that I look forward to my return to Saskatchewan for my 40th high school reunion Homecoming celebration.

The flood of memories that comes with anticipating a 40 year reunion is rather daunting. What will those girls I was madly in love with in Grade 12 look like now? Will I even be able to hit the green on that 140 yard par 3 where I made my one and only hole in one? How will I match up against those old friends on the “who has best resisted the ravages of time?” measure? Will we have anything to talk about except old times? Will it matter if we don’t? Will some of them even remember me?

This looking back is captured so poignantly by Wendell Berry in his novel Jayber Crow. In the passage Crow looks back on his life after he has returned to the small Kentucky town where he spent a few years of his youth as an orphan in the care of his elderly aunt and uncle. He has just visited the graves of his parents, his aunt and uncle and others who were the links to his past.

As he stood over their graves he thought,

“I am finding it a little hard to say that I felt them resting there, but I did. I felt their completeness as whatever they had been in the world. I knew I had come there out of kindness, theirs and mine. The grief that came to me then was nothing like the grief I had felt for myself alone…This grief had something in it of generosity, some nearness to joy. In a strange way it added to me what I had lost.

I saw that for me this country would always be populated with presences and absences, presences and absences, the living and the dead. The world as it is would always be a reminder of the world that was, and of the world that is to come.”

It occurs to me that too often I forget about the world that was and the world that is to come. And I fail to pause and find the time to give life to that feeling that I too have been led. We all could benefit from moments of reflection on our lives as ignorant pilgrims.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Oh, Canada - Chapter 9 -

Dreams, they say, tell stories
To explain away our woes
And so we go on living.

If we didn’t do such dreadful things, we would have a better opinion of ourselves. If we had a better opinion of ourselves we wouldn’t do such dreadful things.

D.J. Enright – Injury Time

I have had to recuse myself for several weeks now from producing any critical commentary on the sad state of affairs in our “home and native land”. My therapy was to escape to a quiet spot by the sea and labour in my garden, avoid newspapers, television and radio and take time to observe the natural world around me.

I saw a hummingbird wander into my cottage, hover about for a few moments and somehow discern the open patio door through which it fled apace. I followed the ripples on the surface of the bay in those moments before sunset as grebes, wood ducks and seals glided on or near the surface and marveled at how the gulls all let out their loud squawks just as the last rays of sunlight hit the top of the pier piling.

Then I returned to the city, and the newspapers and CBC Newsworld and the Gomery Inquiry and Minister Volpe calling Conservatives Ku Klux Klaners, and I felt the need to share a few thoughts with you.

What does Mr. Martin dream about I wonder? Is he able to sleep at all? How does a fundamentally decent man deal with the reality that he has been caught out to be a hollow man, a shallow man, a man bereft of vision, a man whose dominant reason for becoming Prime Minister was to avenge the failure of his father to survive the juggernaut of Trudeau-mania and eventually suffer the ignominy of banishment from the front benches at the hand of getaway driver M. Chretien.

Is he able to sleep and dream and explain away his woes and waken ready to face another day of specious argumentation and bold faced mendacity? Or does he toss and turn and wrestle with his conscience? How is it he cannot muster the courage to do the right thing and step down?

Enright’s tautology on self concept struck a chord with me as I read it again today. He brilliantly captures the human condition. The Anglican liturgy does the same with its General Confession where the souls in the pews confess that “we have left undone those things we ought to have done, and we have done those things we ought not to have done, and there is no health in us”. What an unpopular message in today's culture.

As individual Canadians, even the most obtuse and disinterested amongst us must by now be aware there is something rotten in the corridors of power in our smug nation. Many of us seem to find various effective ways to explain away our nation's woes - the skill to do so seemingly more prevalent East of the Manitoba/Ontario border.

“All politicians are crooked, everybody does it, Harper is scary, wait till Gomery completes his investigation” – pick your palliative, but for goodness sake don’t make me stop and think about what my tolerance of systemic graft and corruption at the highest levels of government says about the opinion I have of myself as a Canadian and of my country.

As I brace myself for another federal election I am more and more attracted to another Enright witticism – “Used to read the newspaper…. Used to read the headlines…. Used to read the first two or three words of the headlines…Have given up reading.”