Sunday, September 22, 2013

Rant: The #ArmyRun

Today, my social media streams are brimming with support and excitement for Ottawa's Army Run, a race day fundraiser for Soldier On and the Military Families Fund. Given the title of this post, you should surmise this post will in no way resemble those musings.

I start with credit where credit's due. There are two elements of the Army Run I like: fitness promotion and the integration of traumatized and wounded soldiers into mainstream culture. End praise here.

The political economic reality of the Army Run articulates the event as a shining example of neo-conservative politics in Canada. The Army run achieves two neo-conservative goals: the militarization of culture and the privatization of veteran's care.

If Canadians think veterans and their families have a right to care, then the government should assume the responsibility of providing consistent quality services. Instead, millions are cut from Veteran's Affairs, and charities are tasked with the care services required by the veterans and families who have given the most. Charities are structurally incapable of offering services as efficiently as a government agency; their resources must be partially diverted to perpetual fundraising. The Army Run is both a consequence and celebration of the privatization of veterans' services.

Blatantly, the Army Run also celebrates militarism. That we live in a world that requires armed forces and embraces the cultural production of violence for "our own security" is a tragedy. I am not saying that it's realistic not to have armed forces, but I think it's not reaching too far to ask for consensus on moving beyond the need for armed forces someday.

If the project of human existence is to proceed indefinitely, global resources need to be curbed away from the production of violence toward the development of sustainable social and physical infrastructures.To achieve this end, the knowledge system that permits military violence to punctuate history must be meaningfully challenged. The Army Run suggests that cultural pride in our military can substitute duty for our veterans' post-service care, and I couldn't disagree more.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

In Memory of Barry King.

I don't normally use this blog for personal reflections, but today is my Uncle Barry's funeral. I'm from a tight-knit Atlantic Canadian family, and he died at only 64. The proceedings will occur in Sussex, New Brunswick later today. Unfortunately, logistics and finances precluded my attendance this afternoon, and I'm heavy with both loss and placelessness.

With a dry wit, a strong sense of duty, and kind heart, Uncle Barry crafted a life full of love and laughter. I'm blessed to have been part of that life.

Admittedly, closure will evade me for sometime. I'll watch my family adjust from afar, and wait for the tonne of bricks that will hit me when I'm home next.

I will honour this great man by carrying my memories of him in the part of my brain that gives me strength to be the best version of myself. I promise that the love I had for him will not cease to exist, it will turn inward and make me a more whole person.

Uncle Barry, you will be missed and remembered. Rest in peace.