O Canada, terre si belle, si grande We pledge our love from cliffs to surging sand Car nos bras saient porter l’épée, nous savons protéger la paix Notre sagesse dès milliers d’années donne à tout ce qui vit respect Pure prairie skies, tundra and tree O Canada we stand on guard for Thee O Canada […]
Note today: As the 150th Anniversary of Canada’s Confederation approaches, a re-post of the 2012 blog entry seems worthwhile. Canada’s House of Commons has approved a rather awkward-sounding tinkering with the English version to change “True patriot love in all our sons command” to “True patriot love in all of us command” but the senate hasn’t yet confirmed the change. Time we stopped tinkering… This version has been in my head and written down for almost a decade now. I think it deals with several genuine issues, including the above one about gender, but may be a little controversial. My vision is of a version such as this being sung everywhere, in verbal unison, by all people in Canada – including our First Nations.
We must remember, with respect and sensitivity, that this beautiful, shared land did not suddenly rise from the sea in the 16th century.
So here goes the original 2012 post:
O Canada, terre si belle, si grande
We pledge our love from cliffs to surging sand
Car nos bras saient porter l’épée, nous savons protéger la paix
Notre sagesse dès milliers d’années donne à tout ce qui vit respect
Pure prairie skies, tundra and tree
O Canada we stand on guard for Thee
O Canada we stand on guard for Thee.
This single version, using both official languages, has been floating around in my mind for a few years. For me it expresses my dream for a Canada that we can work towards building.
A Canada that believes in peace keeping and not in gratuitous wars that make the world less stable.
A Canada that respects, because of the influence of our native peoples, all forms of sentient life with whom we share the richness of our air, water and earth.
As a three-year-old, I can remember sitting on the floor in the living room near my dad’s old Montreal-made Willis upright piano, while he played one of his very favourites, Autumn Leaves.
Here is Eric Clapton doing a sweet, sweet version. The photos were taken this morning before I raked the back yard to give our overseeded lawn a little more sunlight. The maple, shown here, will produce more. I’ll mulch them later.
This article honours Jack Kennedy for his brave initiative to seek common human ground with Russia. Going against the powers that preferred war got him killed. It is written by a former CIA agent, Ray McGovern. It laments, by comparison, where we are today. It quotes key parts of Kennedy’s surprise Peace Speech of June 10, 1963. It is beautifully written and valuable also for the links that thoughtful commentators have provided.
Two tragedies (out of the myriad people on our planet suffer regularly) stand out in my mind and grieve my heart:
Gaza and Malaysia Flight MH17.
Many others exist, but these two are the worst for me because they involve unimaginable grief and they fuel the fires of long-standing hatreds. An earthquake or flood can bring people together. These two drive people apart.
Both involve bad political decisions made in the 20th century and both are being used in the 21st century to fan the flames across these two centuries.
Then I reconsider what effect my blunt, certain-to-be-misunderstood-by-many “truth-telling” will have on my ability to continue to do the other things I love that make a real differences to a limited number of very important people.
And I frequently take the post down and pick up the guitar.
Pete Seeger was a huge influence on the 20th century struggle for justice and peace. He epitomized the values of the left and fought for trade unions and against racism at a time when people got killed for taking a stand. He mobilized a successful movement to clean up his beloved Hudson River. Our middle class owes its present numbers to people like Pete who risked much to fight for a living wage for workers. He was a young man during the Great Depression and rode the rails with the hoboes. He sang with and shared the values of the iconic artists who opposed the excesses of “Daddy Warbucks” type capitalists, wars like the Vietnam War, and the racist Jim Crow laws.
He was a beacon of ongoing hope even while, in recent decades, he watched the middle class shrink and inequality grow as the corporations, given more and more power, have destroyed what he and his contemporaries had fought and even died to gain.
History, I fear, may have to record Pete Seeger’s time as the highest period in human evolution. The apex. It was a time of material and moral progress from the thirties to the seventies, as the period during which humanity, given the leisure to reflect and confronted by committed young people, began to become aware of, and to seek, a higher ethical way. We still hold some of these values, but our democracies have been reduced to shams by corporate interests running amok.
Our young people no longer even remember how their standard of living was earned with the blood and guts of those in Seeger’s tradition. Those who hold the last of the secure jobs are now isolated and portrayed as outliers, lazy and unjustly privileged. Good jobs stand out and those who hold them are objects of jealousy and ridicule.
Small wonder, when the media are overwhelmingly part of the established right and owned by the fewer and fewer, richer and richer, rich.
It saddens me to think that the world for which Pete Seeger lived and fought is now surrounded and besieged by interests whose sinister control is, all too quickly, becoming insurmountable. One of my favorite Seeger songs:
Pete Seeger, R.I.P. Here’s hoping you can find a hammer where you are now. Anyway, it’s now the fight of us who are left behind. May we find leaders like you to guide us through the 21st century. May we not break faith with you. May we be worthy.
I have been combining Tonglen breathing as described by Pema Chögrön with Tai Chi (24 form) and with my strength exercises.
Tonglen is a simple process of breathing in dark things like pain and suffering (yours, that of those close to you, that of friends, strangers and, ultimately, that of all sentient beings), assuming this suffering, and breathing out healing and peace.
Physical Exercise: My personal trainer at the local gym after my heart attack(s) in February 2000 showed me how to breathe in prior to performing an exercise and breathe out while you are performing the strenuous part. This is safer for the heart. So, for example, I breathed in while I descended in a squat and breathed out while ascending. I breathed in before pulling on a rowing machine and breathed out while pulling. Now I breathe in slowly while resting between sets of an exercise and breathe out slowly during the entire action.
My morning program now consists of:
Treadmill walking for 30 minutes while listening to CBC podcasts on (mostly) philosophy or literature (simply walking on a treadmill is so incredibly boring otherwise for me)
Squats and dumbell exercises combined with tonglen breathing in my own home while listening to restful, oriental music
One performance of tai chi 24 method combined with tonglen breathing meditation while listening to restful, oriental music
Tai chi is supposed to be done while breathing in the chi (energy) and pushing it back out. I had thought of the chi as positive energy, so it seems counter-intuitive to be breathing in “hot, dark and heavy,” (i.e. suffering), and breathing out “cool, white and light,” (i.e. healing and peace). Somehow, for me, this works really well to give me a feeling of peaceful healing.
As for the strength exercises, at first it seemed weird to be breathing out peace and healing while one is doing the strenuous part of a physical exercise, but then I thought:
Bringing about peace and healing in the world, beginning with yourself, is hard work.