Sunday, December 23, 2012

Protests As Ritual Energy Sinks

I don’t know if any of you have heard about what’s going on up here in Canada, because the international press isn’t giving it much coverage, but there has been a massive protest launched across the country this week. This movement, called “Idle No More,” is primarily coming from First Nations people, and is an outcry against not being consulted on an important omnibus bill that passed through our federal parliament just before all the politicians went on their holiday break. Among other things, this bill drastically reduces environmental protections for water quality, and allows for the privatization and sale of lands on Indian reserves. It’s basically a very devious, short-term strategy for the expansion of fracking development in Canada, at First Nations’ expense.  Many of my friends, students, and family members travelled to Ottawa to join the main protest on the solstice. My brother-in-law, who is not psychologically well right now, trekked out early on foot to set an example, traveling in sub-zero temperatures the whole way (this is basically like walking from Montana to New York, and he’s lucky that people picked him up and gave him rides along the way). The same day he started walking, an Attawapiskat Chief named Theresa Spence began a hunger strike, vowing that she wouldn’t eat again until she was able to meet with Stephen Harper, our Prime Minister. She’s currently on the thirteenth day of her fast, and may very well become a true martyr if Harper continues to ignore her request

I wanted to make you all aware of this situation, because it has been foremost in my thoughts all week. My training has of course continued, though I’ve been a bit limited by a sore wrist, which is not allowing me to really set to work intensely developing myself with the free-weights I recently purchased. I was, however, able to demonstrate enough CLF proficiency to get green-lighted for learning the TKD-inspired form, which is something I’ve definitely been looking forward to. Here are a few video highlights from my week…

But outside of the physical training, as I said, my mind has been on the events unfolding up here. I’m troubled by them, because I personally do not feel that protests have any real power at all. In fact, I see them as ritual safety-valves, intended to protect the system that the people are trying to undermine. Protests capture and absorb resistance energy that could be far better spent in other kinds of actions that would have more direct effects. When I look at the function of flocks, herds, and schools in nature, they are practical for evading an attacker, or rather offer individuals the greatest odds of safety when an attacker approaches. They are not, however, used as mere displays in protest of the fact that an assailant happens to exist. To have an effective offence, a different approach is needed. I’ve been trying to communicate this position to friends and family all week, and have not been well received. As an end note, I’d like to share something I wrote last night, a sad insight that I think relates also to our recent discussions about Jokers:

Here's what I observe: There are several very important causes worthy of our attention. They are not really new, they have been here all along. Some of us are perpetually engaged with them. But for the most part, they have been ignored by both the masses and minorities alike. In fact, the most important of them are cited as real issues only when serving human-centric political or financial ends

Regardless of how serious these causes may be, they also happen to function as convenient stages for a very small number of disturbed individuals, people who are in some manner seriously failing themselves and find, in the issues at hand, opportunities for redemption, for heroism. In their compromised state, these people frame their identities in opposition to a singular Other, a celebrity figure who cares nothing of them, but who can serve as a powerful and familiar symbol for all they wish they themselves were not. But alas, perhaps the target is not so unlike themselves, in scale of selfish motive supposedly pursued for the benefit of all, or in scale of stubborn aggrandizement. The disturbed place themselves at serious risk for fulfilment of their heroic fantasy. And in that act, some may get lucky and find at least temporary redemption in going as far as they claimed they would. Others, who set the bar too high from the start, place themselves in mortal danger. And when the cowardly masses witness the truly disturbed, they may very well greet them as heroes, reinforcing the fantasies

In the end, someone dies, whether physically or ideationally, whether celebrity or mad-(wo)man. And the serious issues go on, more deeply entrenched than ever


  1. My cousin told me yesterday about those new laws that Harper recently added, it really sucks. It makes me think about when our last primary minister in Quebec (Jean Charest) wanted to upgrade the cost for students in University. Students and all kinds of people protested for months without much results until the elections came in September. That primary minister got kicked out. I hope Harper will receive the same treatment at the next election.

  2. I'm sorry to hear about what's going on up there in Canada. How did you hurt your wrist? Maybe we can all learn from your injury and try to prevent it from happening to ourselves. You are doing very well with your training. Andre Joeseph, may be another Online Todai with us, I'll see, he has been purchasing a few lessons and made a donation today after I haven't heard from him in the longest. You are doing very well with training & updating us with everything. I don't know how you train in such cold weather, in the studio, we keep the heat off in order to save on the bills and it feels really cold in there being around 58 degrees, I guess we are just getting so spoiled training indoors. As far as protests are concerned, I see that we should simply change our own lives and head towards a better way ourselves, that is protest enough. The protest is more for the herd mentality, we should rather focus our energies on our inner development.

    1. I'm not 100% sure what it was that caused the wrist injury, because there wasn't a strong immediate pain. But I suspect it occurred while lowering my curl bar after doing a set of military presses, because I recall dropping the bar a little too fast and feeling strained to control it. So the injury might be some kind of hyper-extension. It doesn't hurt except when I apply physical pressure against it, as when doing push-ups, bench press, that kind of thing. In fact, twice yesterday I attempted to work the bench press, because the wrist seemed to be okay, but as soon as I tried the pain was there, so much that I couldn't even lift the bar off the rack. Hopefully it'll heal up quick

  3. Lifting weights will work your muscles in ways that you are not used to. Watch out also for shoulder injuries, the shoulders are very delicate for the bench and military press. Ease up on anything that aggrevates the wrist until it heals. It may be a good time to focus on the legs, abs, forms, and things like that. Woodlock oil will be the best for injuries like this. I have the power twister in, please send me over your address one more time via email and I will get one out to you.


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