in which i continue to hate christmas even though i can't be bothered right now

Right now I'm so busy, between work and union, that I barely have time to hate Christmas.

As I've found in recent years, a combination of circumstances - getting out of the office worker environment, streaming-only TV and movies (ad-free!), discovering the authentic meaning many of my colleagues find in the holiday - has taken the edge off my irritation.

I still hate that Christmas is a national holiday in countries that supposedly separate Church and State. As our world becomes increasingly multicultural, the Christmas and Easter holidays make less sense all the time.

I still hate the hyper-consumerism. The music. The assumptions about our choices. The ads. The crowds. The Santas. Now that I think about it... I still hate all of it. I just think about it a lot less.

Our library, both customers and staff, is incredibly multicultural and inclusive. Yet, out come the Christmas decorations, the cards, the chocolates, the shopping lists, the Christmas storytimes. I find it incredibly inappropriate for a public library. Yet it is ubiquitous.

Also at the library, I've met several colleagues who openly identify themselves as atheists, something I've never encountered in any other work environment. I really like and respect their openness, their assertion of their minority beliefs into the mainstream.

Yesterday one of those atheist colleagues wished me a "happy two days off". Now that's something I don't hate!

[Also: we've had some excellent discussions about this on this blog. The Ghost of Wmtc Past invites you to read posts and comments herehere and especially here.]


why i write for rights and how you can too #write4rights

Tomorrow, December 10, is Human Rights Day. The date commemorates the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on December 10, 1948, the first document of its kind.

Every year on December 10, Amnesty International holds a global letter-writing event: Write For Rights (in Canada). Thousands of people around the world write handwritten letters calling for action for victims of human rights abuses, and offering comfort and support to political prisoners.

Last year, I listed 10 reasons you should participate in Write For Rights.
1. It's easy. Amnesty makes it really easy to participate. Read, type, send.

2. You can do do it from any computer. No meetings to attend, no schedule to keep. Just more of something you do all the time anyway: typing.

3. It's free. No need to donate money. The most this will cost you is postage.

4. You'll feel good about yourself. Enjoy that warm buzz you get from voluntarily helping other people. There's nothing quite like it.

5. You can choose how much to participate. Write one letter, write two letters, write three. Spend 10 minutes writing or spend an hour.

6. You can choose what to focus on. Write about an issue in your own country. Write about an issue in your country of origin. Write for children, or for women, or for LGBT people, or for workers, or for environmental activists, or for another issue that you care about.

7. You're busting stereotypes. We supposedly live in a selfish age where all we care about is I, me, mine. Challenge yourself to say it ain't so.

8. It works globally. Every fight against injustice begins with someone shining a light in a dark place. Be that light.

9. It works locally. When political prisoners are released, they often attest to the difference letters from strangers made in their lives: that knowing they were not forgotten helped them survive.

10. You enjoy your own human rights every day. Why not use them to help someone who can't?
This year I'll list 10 more reasons. They're not cute and cheery. They are why we write.

1. Forced marriages of children in Burkina Faso.

2. Homophobic, racist beatings in Greece.

3. A lengthy prison sentence for political tweets in Malaysia.

4. Forty years of solitary confinement in the USA.

5. Arrests, beating, and prison for a peaceful protest in Myanmar.

6. A 15-year prison sentence for defending peaceful activists in Saudi Arabia.

7. Development that destroys indigenous culture, land, and water in Canada.

8. Suffocation, rape, and other torture to elicit a false confession in Mexico.

9. A 30-year prison sentence for a pregnancy loss in El Salvador.

10. Torture and a death sentence for a teenager in Iran.

It doesn't take much time. It's not difficult to do. And it works.

Spend 15 minutes of your day writing a letter or two.

Write like a life depends on it.

Write for Rights in Canada

Write for Rights in the US

Write for Rights internationally.

On Facebook

Twitter: #Write4Rights


iraq war resisters still need your help: tell the liberal government to let them stay

I rarely blog about the War Resisters Support Campaign anymore, but the war resisters are always on my mind. In fact, they're in my thoughts more than ever, now that the nightmare of the Harper Government has finally ended. With the newly elected Liberal government promising change, we have an opportunity to raise the issue again. This time we fight not only for the war resisters who remain in Canada, but for those who were so unjustly forced out for the right to return.

Wmtc readers, I haven't asked anything of you in a long time. Could you spare a few minutes for the war resisters today? Here's what you can do:

- Watch and share this video of Alexina Key asking Justin Trudeau if a Liberal government will allow her husband Joshua Key and other US war resisters to stay.

- Phone or email Minister of Immigration John McCallum to urge him to let US Iraq War resisters stay. You can email the Minister and your MP by clicking here or write your own message and send to minister@cic.gc.ca. You can also call 613-954-1064.

Key points to mention:

• Resolve this issue swiftly as part of the change promised by the new government

• It is time to fix this issue – end over 10 years of unfair and unjust legal and political actions by the former Conservative government

• Stop the deportations

• Stop pursuing war resister cases in court, as doing so defends decisions and policies made by the former Conservative government

• Rescind Operational Bulletin 202

• Implement a new Operational Bulletin that restores fairness for all war resister cases and reverses the harm done

You can also send paper mail to the Minister of Immigration and mail it to:

The Honourable John McCallum, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship
365 Laurier Avenue West
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 1L1