Cancelled or Retired?

Dear GenXers, Xenials and Millenials,

I know that you are feeling outraged and scared right now, as some of our foundational cultural icons and creations are being questioned and deconstructed and “cancelled”… but I want you to all just take a step back and breathe for a second.

We forget that as we did to the Boomers, and as the Boomers did to the Greatest Generation before them, this is a natural process in our cultural evolution – It’s GenZ’s turn to take the culture from us now… they are actually the ones who get to establish the norms and values and merits around cultural and cultural production. Because culture and consumerism has always revolved around the youth – they know what is hip, and within them lies the profits of the future.

As someone whose career revolves around disrupting systems of oppression, I, for one, am pleased to see that the things the next generation coming up is focused on cancelling things like guns and racism and violence against women.

Our knee-jerk reactions are understandable in a manufactured culture which has brainwashed us into thinking that our identities and existence are so inextricably connected to things like catchy tunes and cute cartoon skunks. So we sometimes forget that all of these things are commercially produced for the place and time that they become popular. They are intentionally designed to entertain us and take our cares away, and generate wealth and profit. And for a long time, they did.

And we didn’t have to worry about whether or not racist caricatures in kid’s book, or racially problematic pancake mix mascots, or whether or not songs that casually talk about tying intimate partners to the bed and lighting the house on fire were things we wanted to continue reproducing in our culture – things were a lot easier. We could nestle safely in our consumer-driven nostalgia and not have to analyze the things we like, and why we like them, and whether their normalization was contributing to collective and individual trauma, and some of the biggest problems we are facing as a society.

Cause all these things that we have celebrated for decades, which emerged to entertain and distract us in a certain time and place, have contributed to normalization of many traumatic things. They may not be traumatic to you individually or personally, but they are to someone, somewhere.

Don’t get offended by the people labelled “too sensitive” or “offended” by these things. Try a bit of compassion… remember that their “offense” and “sensitivity” is almost certainly linked to their trauma. When you do this you might be able to begin to feel comfortable with, what seems like, a hostile takeover of cancel culture… in fact you might even start to understand why some of these things are too problematic to NOT address and continue to reproduce in our culture.

Besides… it’s not like you are never going to be able to listen to an Eminem song again, or that all the Dr. Suess books in the world are being burned, or that Pepe le Pew’s legacy of being an adorable lecherous French skunk will disappear off the face of the earth… it just means that they are retiring, to make way for the next generation’s culture, for this time and place, for the generation of new and diversified profits.

Because we do still have personal choice, and if we want to personally continue to enjoy, and consume and celebrate these things, we can. But if those are the choices we are making, then we have to also accept our role and responsibility in contributing to the greater societal problems of racism, oppression, violence, dominance and control.

We all play a role in the creation of culture.

What kind of culture do you want to live in?


Statement from the Family and Friends of Mike Brown

Michael Leo Brown was well loved by all his friends and family.  He is survived by his brother, sister-in-law, and nephew.  Mike was a lifelong son of Nova Scotia and had many surrogate families of friends spread across the province.  He was actively engaged in a number of communities as a citizen with roots in Timberlea/Tantallon, North End Halifax, Dartmouth, the South Shore and the Tri-County area of Nova Scotia.  Through this process, it has been touching and overwhelming to learn of the many lives Mike touched and imprinted on being an active and lifelong citizen of Nova Scotia. 

Mike was a retired sailor and served on the HMCS Athabaskan and HMCS Montreal, and was a member of the Submarine Squadron.  In his service to the country he participated in a number of harrowing missions, and by the time he had retired, he considered himself to be a pacifist.  His family is very proud of his service and he was well-loved by the people who served with him.  Michael’s time in the Navy resulted in the onset of PTSD, which would be activated when things felt “unsafe” to him. 

The stress and uncertainty of Covid, as well as the events in Portapique were deeply affecting Mike.  He was very concerned about the state of the world, and that fear for the world activated his PTSD and he started to internalize and personalize the tragedy surrounding him.  He very much felt unsafe.  

On May 7, 2020, Mike was reported missing to the RCMP under mysterious circumstances. In the initial days, all of those close to Mike thought it was unfathomable that he would harm himself and, at the time, no evidence had been found to indicate that he had.  Unable to locate his tent, sleeping bag and survival gear, the assumption was that he had had a paranoid break and had gone to ground.

Mike recently had a brush with death in a battle with cancer and told his friends and family he was cancer-free a few weeks before the pandemic was declared.  To friends and family, it seemed he had acquired a greater level of peace in and appreciation for life.  So for the weeks following his disappearance, Mike’s friends and family frantically continued to search for him following up on many tips provided through social media and CrimeStoppers. 

As the integrated HRP/RCMP VICE unit continued the investigation, new evidence emerged the week of May 25 to indicate that Michael had taken his life in the very early days of his disappearance, however there were still many questions and doubt among his family and friends.  During that week, a recovery effort began near Mike’s house, and on June 1st the body was found by a member of the public, and DNA identified by the Medical Examiner on June 5, 2020. 

Mike’s family and friends would like to express a sincere thank you to the integrated HRP/RCMP VICE unit for their leadership in the investigation, as well as the members of the public and media who assisted them in their search for Mike by getting his story out and sharing his picture so widely.  We would also like to thank the person who found Mike’s body and was able to return it to us. We are now turning our efforts to saying good-bye and memorializing the amazing man Mike was.  We will not be speaking to any media on this, but the media is welcome to quote this statement if they would like to follow up on the story.     

Pandemic Thoughts Part Seven… Happy Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day 2020 has been quite something.  It almost feels like a cruel joke so absurd that it is, in fact, laughable.  So many people have lost their moms, can’t see or hug their moms, or don’t have a mom to speak of in their lives.  They don’t have a mother figure that they can turn to for nurturing… those kinds words, a kiss on the cheek, and positive reinforcement to go forward.

I’m lucky.  I have a mom in my life, and she’s a great one.  Despite me not having been the easiest child to raise, she stuck by me.  I know there were times she had her doubts, but today she is beyond supportive and proud to call me her daughter.

I’m also lucky to have been afforded the experience of being the mother to two very amazing, unique humans.  Parenting under my circumstances has been a challenging and enriching exercise of motherhood, one that I would not exchange for anything.  I try my best to be nurturing with my kids.  But sometimes I feel inept, and am constantly worrying that I am psychologically damaging them in some way.   Because we have such different brains, I don’t get feedback from them as to how I am doing as a mom… So I find it where I can and just keep following my instincts.

I think I’m a good mom.  Everyone tells me I’m a good mom.  But I don’t actually 100% know if my kids think that about me.  It’s a weird place to be.

But I’m not a very good daughter to my mother in similar ways.  Sometimes it feels like we aren’t on the same wavelength because I have weird ways of expressing my feelings of closeness to people.  I used to unintentionally hurt my mother because I couldn’t give her the feedback that I do 100% think she is a good mom.  I am getting better at that…

Because to me, part of being a good mom is about assuming responsibility for another person’s psychological and physical well-being.

In many ways, I do that to varying degrees with other relationships in my life.  The people I care deeply about, that I consider to be my family community, I want psychological and physical well-being for them.  The nurturing part of my brain activates regardless of which family member it is.  It is selfish really, because their happiness and well-being will directly affect my happiness and well-being in the short and (perhaps) long term.  But, on the flip side of that and depending on how connected and intertwined my life is with theirs, when their life goes sideways, mine tends to as well.

Motherly nurturing is a risky emotion to invest with sometimes.

So for this extremely fucked up Mother’s Day 2020, to all the humans out there who invest with motherly love in the other humans (and fur babies) lives, Cheers to you.  The world needs you now more than ever.  It is going to take some heavy duty nurturing to rebuild.