Posted on2020 June 01|Comments Off on Bird’s Eye View of a Burning Empire
Our hearts are on fire, our cities are on fire.
As massive coast-to-coast protests continue in the United States in the wake of the killing of George Floyd and displays of solidarity spring up around the globe, it’s safe to say this outpouring of grief has firmly switched gears.
What began as an outcry over institutionalized racism in policing has, over the last few days, evolved into a wider movement encompassing the generalized pain of the tragedies of COVID-19, the inadequate state of American political leadership, the decay of American institutions, and the toxic levels of socioeconomic inequality that have collectively led to escalating polarization and regressive standards of living for so many citizens.
On the matter of the protests themselves, the excesses of law enforcement, and the systems that support those excesses, news vlogger Phil Defranco put together a nicely balanced video summarizing the status quo, so I wanted to share that:
One of the issues that’s come up repeatedly in contemporary US politics is the idea that the 2nd Amendment conveys an individual’s right to obtain, possess, and openly carry firearms.
The realm of law and order is not unlike the fashion world in that over time, new trends emerge and fresh items of interest arise, while established trends can be played down or may fall out of favour entirely. Interpretation matters most, and that interpretation is generally subject to the linguistic evolution and societal attitudes of the period. In the case of the 2nd Amendment, the legislation has been furiously debated in a modern setting as to the merits of its grammatical structure and meaning, other historical precedents, and differences between the original and ratified versions.
The recent push for widespread ‘freedom’ enshrined in law as permitting individual gun ownership wasn’t always so. Up to the turn of the 21st century, it was widely accepted by many (even conservative Chief Justice Warren Berger) that an individual right to bear arms wasn’t a thing. Many conservatives at the time carried the same torch and stood in opposition to what they believed was a silly, if not fairly hazardous, idea.
During 2015, Canada took a conscious, introspective turn toward a more progressive journey as voters elected Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Since then, we’ve been making inroads on a significant departure from the attitudes of the prior administration and staying mostly true to this. While there remains a lot of heavy lifting to do in correcting the anti-progress legacy of Stephen Harper, we’re on the road to recovery. There remains a certain faith in government, such that we’ve significantly boosted voter turnout. That in itself speaks volumes.
While these changes are in all respects welcome, and in most cases long past due, it’s the subtle stuff we don’t see going on behind the scenes day-to-day which contributes just as much if not more to the shaping of our character as a culture of many different cultures. The way our politicians behave toward one another, their interaction with the people, their willingness to champion progress and education, their attitudes toward strangers, and their compassion towards the ‘other’ — all of these are the measure of a politician whether that individual is within view of the press or not. One thing I found reassuring about this past election was the conscious rejection of divisive politics by the Canadian people. What we have right now is not perfect by any measure, but it’s a lot better than the alternative might have been.