Over the past few days, I’ve begun to notice something about myself. When I watch movies or TV shows, I find myself drawn to the characters who display honesty and transparency. They are often my favourite characters. Locke (in the first half of the series) from Lost. Abed from Community. Gale (in his minor role) in Breaking Bad. Kenneth from 30 Rock. Peter and Hiro from Heroes. These people are not all perfect characters, nor are they always the brightest. But there is some charming simplicity in their actions that draws me toward them. In real life, my closest friends are also ones that display this honesty. I find myself drawn to these people because of the value that I place on honesty.
Obviously, there is nothing taboo about valuing honesty. As the old adage says, “Honesty is the best policy.” But I am drawn to a type of honesty that goes beyond simply not telling lies. It has its roots in something more integral to the self. It is not quite “authenticity”, for that implies being one’s “true self,” whatever that means. The honesty I look for has more to do with a simple sincerity of heart: a degree of integrity. It involves defining one’s purposes and making them plain to everyone. It involves finding one’s identities and being true to them. It is akin to the existentialists’ idea of “good faith,” living a life without self-deception.Continue Reading
With the recent shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, the news media have every day brought us yet more information. More stories. More pictures. More heartache. The stories of children huddled in closets and teachers reassuring and protecting them, of victims’ families finding themselves facing a Christmas of mourning rather than joy, of gifts unopened and family gatherings missing their youngest member…it is all heart-wrenching. I don’t often find myself overwhelmed with emotion, but reading these stories has left me with tears in my eyes almost every morning. The lives of children, brimming with potential waiting to be unleashed, have been cut short. And as the families of these little victims weep, the world weeps with them.Continue Reading
Sometimes I get asked why I am a feminist. Male feminists can be somewhat of a rare breed, and it can be confusing to some people why I go beyond “gender equality” to argue in favour of feminism. Feminism is largely about gender equality, but it goes beyond it to focus specifically on women’s issues (generally revolving around issues regarding reproduction, but also others like violence against women). So why am I, a man, concerned with women’s issues?
The answer is at once simple and complex: autonomy.Continue Reading
The past couple weeks have brought a lot of discussion about the role of Western society in helping African nations. While I found the recent “Kony 2012″ campaign problematic and misguided right from the get-go, one positive aspect is that it has sparked some discussion (though never enough) about the “White man’s burden” and the “White Savior Industrial Complex.” This issue, as with others, has raised once again the question of what part the Western world should play in these issues. Should we step into a conflict that does not affect us, merely because it offends our moral senses? Should we give our money to the first organization that puts forward a simple, clear plan of action, regardless of our own knowledge of the situation? Should we let the people of Uganda (and the neighbouring countries) fix their own problems?Continue Reading
I just recently watched an excellent TED Talk by Susan Cain about introversion. She argued for the need for solitude in society in a world that is quickly becoming more and more of an extrovert’s world. I found her message to be powerful: We need more balance in society so that the insights of both introverts and extroverts can be heard and encouraged. As cities grow larger, and schools and workplaces encourage more and more open “collaboration”, it is easy for introverts to get lost in the commotion.Continue Reading
A few days ago, I was part of an infuriating argument on Facebook about abortion. It started out with much civility: a pro-life person asking nicely for people’s views, and people responding with their own views. But it was largely men who responded (myself included), and when a couple women chimed in to point out the gender disparity, the response ended up being something like, “So you’re saying I can’t have an opinion because I don’t have a uterus?” The conversation only continued to plummet further downhill.
But at some point early on in the discussion, one of the commenters asked the question, “But what about rape?” It’s a common question when discussing abortion. In fact, it has come up quite early on in almost every discussion I’ve ever had about abortion. What do pro-life people think about situations where a woman is raped and now is pregnant with her attacker’s child? It is a question, however, of which I’ve grown tired. It generally does not progress the discussion, and I think it holds the potential to be hurtful. So I’d like to ask people to stop asking that question, and talk about the reasons why they should stop.Continue Reading
The current political rhetoric in the United States (and other countries, to a lesser extent) is all about government regulations vs. the free market. Republican candidates have been spending much time making promises about budget cuts, removal of regulations, and untying the hands of “job creators.” Government regulation is said to be “inefficient” and an impedance to the progress of the country. The rhetoric here in Canada over the past few years has been similar, focusing on “stimulating the economy” and creating jobs.
Amongst all this language about business and economies, it is important to clarify the goals or end-state that one wishes for society to achieve. Certainly, people have different ideas about what society should be like, but in general I think it is fairly uncontroversial to state that society should benefit the people within it. I would submit that a good goal for society to have is to be just and equitable, and to work toward the well-being of its citizens. It is only after we set this goal that we can start to clarify whether government regulations and policies are truly a good thing. Do they achieve this goal?Continue Reading