Sunday, November 9, 2008

Tolerating Intolerance

After a splendid morning watching "Flags of our Fathers" instead of going to church, a light salad for lunch and a brisk walk down Marine Drive, Ashley and I hopped on a bus to complete our journey to Park Royal. As with most buses, ours was moderately full, and filled with all peoples of all ages. We settled on two free seats at the back of the bus near a younger Asian gentleman and across from a young white man who seemed to have forgotten to leave his angst in his teenage years. Ashley and I started to engage in discussion of some sort, most likely about Obama, when I noticed out of the corner of my eye an elderly woman a few rows behind me turning around in her seat to address the people sitting behind her.

"Excuse me, do you know what country you are in?" She asked this to the obviously foreign seat dwellers behind her. Their reply was too quiet to be heard. She continued to ask, "do you know what the official language of Canada is?" At this point I was quite stunned. First of all, most people on buses do not address one another, unless it is an almost inaudible "excuse me" as one attempts to get past another. Secondly, this type of interrogation seemed more fit for the dark corner of an American intelligence office rather than the brightly lit fairly crowded public transit system. It was especially shocking coming from a gray haired woman who seemed to have to raise herself to be seen behind the seat backing.

"That's right, it's English, and I'd appreciate it if you would speak in English".

At first I was able to keep myself from laughing out loud, but my looks of incredulous shock were matched by Ashley's reaction to the rather vocal conversation. I soon noticed that our almost emo brother was intrigued by this as well. The fact is, this lady was insulted that people would come to her country and speak in a foreign language, as opposed to the official language of English "Oh, and French" she added, twisting in her seat to throw that quick quip back over her shoulder before returning to face forwards. At this point, I was actually laughing, in short shocked bursts, as the complete insensitivity, and the utter intolerance displayed by this woman. Now, I too have been bothered by numerous people coming on buses and loudly discussing whatever it is in a dozen different languages. But I have never thought to myself that this "did not belong in Canada". In fact, that is the beauty of Canada. Sure, we have two official languages, but one is only used as the predominant language in Quebec. We also have six or seven unofficial languages that make their rounds in China Town, or Little India, or hell, even Newfoundland.

You know, I was so proud of America for finally getting past their racial roots because I felt as though they had raised themselves up to our standards. I had forgotten that in a democratic society, as our Asian bus friend reminded us, every person has a right to their own opinion, no matter how much I may disagree with it. So even Canada has their fair share of bigots, racists, and intolerant old women. I suppose that I'm okay with every person having their own opinion, but the one thing that I struggle to tolerate is intolerance.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

Last night was, and will always be, a historic night. It was one of those nights that we're going to teach our children about, and our children will describe to their children how grandpa was there that night, watching CNN and their fancy "hologram" technology for the first time.

America has taken a huge step forward in the election of the first black president. Watching CNN, reading Time Magazine, I'm reminded by the fact that the entirety of the world has come behind this man, proud of America for taking this step forward. Yet I can't help but be saddened at the result from Proposition 8 in California. It's not official as I write this, but at 95% of the vote, 52% voted in favor for the "protection of marriage".

My major question is this. If your marriage feels threatened by two homosexuals who love each other, your marriage has far greater problems than the definition of marriage. If you feel as though your marriage is tainted, or dirty, because of same-sex marriage, then you need to re-evaluate your own marriage before you evaluate others. If you are worried that your kids will turn gay because his friends parents are both female, then you need to be concerned about your own parenting, not theirs. In my opinion, proposition 8 shows me that hopefully, someday in my lifetime, I will also be watching history being made as the first homosexual presidential candidate gets elected. Maybe then we can give gay people the same rights as us straight blacks and whites.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

A Hopeful Beginning

It has now become apparent the irony of my last post's title.

I'm sitting here in my apartment's living room, listening to CNN replay Barack Obama's acceptance speech. America has reached a period of transition. As one president of the United States prepares to leave office, the new President Elect prepares to move his black family into the White House. As a Canadian observer, I feel the need to note a few things, so that one day we can look back and remember this day. Our feelings, our hopes, our fears.

I was very nervous leading up to this day. I've been watching and admiring Barack Obama for about a year and a half now. I remember first seeing him on "The Daily Show", as some throwaway additional Presidental Candidate. As I got to know some of them better, I started to pick out my favorites. Ron Paul, Mike Huckabee, Barack Obama. These guys seemed to talk straighter than most other politicians. They represented something to me. As the race narrowed to a few candidates, I clearly chose Barack Obama as my favorite. He was the dark horse, quite literally, and I was excited to witness history in the making. I was hopeful that America could finally, at least symbolically, move past a terrible past that has haunted them. Yet I was still afraid. Of an assassination attempt, of the "Bradley Effect", of a man that seemed too good to be true.

This is something that has astounded me. That a man, black or white, who promises to speak to Americans as though they are adults is something that is too good to be true. How far have our hopes and expectations fallen (and I definitely include Canadians within this) that the idea of an honest man causes us to recoil in fear. What deep secret might he be hiding? Is it that he will be tolerate of homosexuals? Dare he allow his faith to influence his moral, but not political decisions? Will he be the acclimation of all our hopes?

One thing I do know for sure is that Obama will dissapoint some of us. He will either be too liberal or too conservative. He will be too cautious, or too rash. He will be too open, or too closed. He will not satisfy us all. But he has promised to explain the reasons behind his actions, and that is something that none of us have had for far too long.

If nothing else, Barack Obama promises hope. At this point, none of us know whether or not he can deliver. Regardless, this shows us that the American people are not who the Bush administration have portrayed them to be. Perhaps they too are a little more honest, a little more tolerant, and a little more hopeful than we give them credit for. I witnessed history today, and I pray that I will continue to witness history for the next four years.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

A Hopeful Conclusion

Well, I think the burden of the wisdom teeth is coming to a pass. For 9 days I was on pain killers, and yesterday I managed to make it through the entire day without taking one.

Now, I did feel pain, and brushing my teeth sucks, and eating is often less than pleasant, but overall I believe that the pain threshold has been lowered, and that gives me hope. I was supposed to go to a dentist on Friday, but I never got around to it until the afternoon, by which time it was too late for the offices, which are reopened on Monday. So my only choice was to wait it out, and I'm pretty glad that I did.

Ideally, from here the pain will eventually entirely recede, and I can return to eating normally. Worst case scenario, something gets infected, which would be a thrill within itself.

But hey, here's hoping that the saga has concluded, and this is something I can tell my children about when they get theirs removed with lasers.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Dry Socket

Wisdom Teeth sockets are troublesome.

So, 8 full days after getting my Wisdom Teeth removed, I still have a lot of pain. At first, I thought that I was just being a wuss, and that I should be able to take it. However, while I was at work last night, I sneezed.

And that hurt, my jaw, and my wisdom teeth sockets, a lot.

So I looked up dry socket again, to reinform myself of their symptoms, which are:

  • Partial or total loss of the blood clot at the extraction site, which you may notice as an empty-looking (dry) socket
  • Visible bone in the socket
  • Pain that increases between one and three days after tooth extraction and that typically becomes severe and unrelenting
  • Pain that radiates from the socket to your ear or eye on the same side of your face
  • Bad breath or a foul odor coming from your mouth
  • Unpleasant taste in your mouth
  • Swollen lymph nodes around your jaw or neck
I have 5 of the 7. While my pain may not be jaw-dropping (ha!), it does seem to be quite "unrelenting", and spreads from my sockets to my chin and forehead. When I sneezed yesterday I got the same taste in my mouth that I got when I first had them removed. That weird bloody/puss taste. Delicious.

So anyways, now my assumption is that I have dry socket, which sucks, hard.

Meanwhile, I still can't eat anything crunchy without suffering dearly for it. I just want to eat some chips, or a toasted sandwhich, or lettuce!