Forced to Step Outside of My True Pacifist Nature, Part 1

(Originally written 1992-93. The encounter occurred in early 1985, at age 18.)

THE Laser Palace arcade, though a few mocked it as the Loser Palace, was well-occupied that afternoon, and being a wet day exacerbated the humidly stuffy atmosphere within. Nevertheless, upon entering I went straight for the Space Shuttle pinball machine and plugged in the requisite two bits. Removing my worn, wool insulated, denim jacket, I noticed Barney standing next to an adjacent video game, staring at me.

What’s his problem? went through my mind, as well as some concern.

Returning my attention to my pinball machine and pressing the start button, Barney spoke: “Michelson was up here, and he’s looking for you,” he informed me, a little too gleefully for my comfort. “He’s drunk.”

John Michelson was a tough-guy wannabe, known to get drunk and then into street fights; it was even alleged that he was an “experienced” fighter while under the influence of moderate amounts of alcohol.

“Thrills,” was my brave façade response. However, the truth was, I really wasn’t into a physical confrontation, and I began to wish I’d stayed home that bleak weathered Monday afternoon.

Barney—a.k.a. “Burney,” because of his propensity towards selling underweighted cannabis allotments—was a smalltime, small hearted drug dealer. His faded denim upper and lower body attire plus weather-beaten Dayton boots, all complimented by his scraggly head hair, did everything but make him look the least bit trustworthy. Just his rowdy, worn out appearance alone should’ve served to warn those of a pacifist predisposition to not deal with him, for he simply couldn’t be counted upon to practice business ethics of the scrupulous sort.

As for John and his dealings at the time, he was facing a likely four years of jail time for rape, and he was ‘living it up’ while free on bail pending a ruling on a defense motion for the judge to grant him an appeal of his conviction. His friend Greg, and his own older brother Rod, I’d heard, testified for the prosecution against John in exchange for reduced sentences for themselves. (The victim testified that the three, without doubt extremely intoxicated, assaulted her after they picked her up hitchhiking.)

Not wanting to be obvious about my intimidated mindset by leaving the arcade too soon, I decided that I’d leave after a game or two. Or so I thought.

About five minutes into my game (I was doing well on that pinball machine for a change, just my luck), within my peripheral vision I could see the door open; sure enough it was John. But just as quickly as he’d entered, he’d disappeared amongst some video games. Where in hell did he go? I thought, my adrenalin flow increasing.

The next thing I knew, he was standing behind me at my four o’clock, and I could smell the liquor on his breath.

(It’s noteworthy that I was at a crossroad in my troubled youth at which point I was just beginning to stand up for myself against bullies and other wannabe-tough-guys-at-others’-expense skid folk.)

“Let’s step outside,” he immediately insisted.

“When I finish my game,” I countered, still attempting to maintain a confident demeanor.

_______________________

JOHN and I went back about three years, though we only knew each other by looks. The first time I came across him, I was walking along Marine Drive by the White Rock pier one summer day in 1982, as he was walking in my direction accompanied by two younger boys (one likely was his younger brother Gerald, and both appeared to be in admiration of the bigger John). As they approached me and passed by, John gave me a nasty look. Not wishing to initiate a physical confrontation via the always risky ‘stare-dare challenge,’ I returned my gaze back to straight ahead.

It would be about two years later that John would unconvincingly behave courteously towards me, as though he’d never seen me before. Initially, I theorized that perhaps his chivalry was at least in part due to the two new friends—beholders of renown no-nonsense attitudes and respectable reputations as true-to-their-nature tough guys—with whom I’d begun associating.

Consequently, I presumed that John, unlike that first time by the White Rock pier, no longer had a problem with my presence.

It indeed seemed to be as such, until I persistently refused to “front” John twenty-five dollars (i.e. pay first, and then hopefully receive your cannabis soon-enough after his disappearance) for a supposedly real eighth-of-an-ounce plastic sandwich baggie of cannabis. He adamantly felt that I should trust him with my money as he’d disappear between some houses, allegedly to the residence of some super-paranoid-as-per-usual drug dealer who supposedly refused to face most of his customers.

Regardless of his assurances that there was nothing for me to worry about, I nevertheless insisted, though to no avail, that I go along with him and (most importantly) my money into the presence of the dealer. Soon after that unfortunate disagreement, my then closest friend informed me that John was well-enough known to, at the least, pinch a couple joints’ worth of cannabis for himself or even go as far as help himself to all of the cash or cannabis.

As it happened, following that incident John decided that, like old times, he didn’t like me after all, therefore he commenced erroneously, maliciously propagating around the scummier side of town that I was in fact a police informant or “a rat.”

If Frank isn’t an informant, he wouldn’t insist upon coming with me to the dealer, was his flawed yet self-serving logic.

It wasn’t long before he and a couple of his ‘tough guy’ friends expressed their contempt for me one Saturday night by throwing little pieces of rolled-up paper at my head while I was racking up yet another top score on the Star Wars video game (naught but an enough-practice-makes-perfect accomplishment though nonetheless seemingly earning me even more contempt from the trio). But what was I to do—try fighting off all three scumbags? Not bloody likely, for John alone was enough for me way back then.

A day later, I was drinking a mickey of Southern Comfort at the same said closest friend’s residence, with the previous night’s unmerited bullying I’d endured lingering in my thoughts. With the liquid courage alcohol consumption increasingly motivating me to express my anger and requisite physical vengeance, I foolishly decided to even the score with my nemesis. By the time we’d driven uptown to the arcade, I was as obnoxiously cocky and extensively motor-functional disorientated as a drunk could be—and I’d end up receiving a bruising for it.

I went inside the Laser Palace and called him out onto the paved parking lot. Once outside, with a dozen or so onlookers from the arcade around us, things got physical, with me monopolizing the receiving end of the action.

For a short period of time, perhaps six to eight weeks following the altercation, I felt psychologically as well as physically emasculated by his presence; meanwhile he, on the contrary, doubtlessly felt superior. But it didn’t take me very long to rebel against that strong sense of subservience, and I began giving him dirty looks. More so, the occasion would soon arise whence I even gave him an unmistakably firm shoulder bump as we passed each other on my way from the Laser Palace to the local Muffin Break coffee shop.

_______________________

“NOT good enough!” was John’s silent yet quite physical response, as he suckered me. It was clearly an impaired, clumsy attempt at getting me into a solid headlock, for I readily slipped my head out from his clasping arm. He nevertheless continued his attempt at wrestling me into a position favorable to him, all occurring as physically debilitating dreadful thoughts raced through my mind. Perhaps the most intense stomach-turning thought was the one undoubtedly from within my defeatist psyche; the one which readily let me know as I was hit two or three times that I was in a very bad situation and place infested with malicious people who held naught but considerably ill will towards me and my presence—the latter which only further debilitated any defensive moves to which I may have otherwise had access. (It would be three decades later that I’d read George Orwell’s 1984 in which the narrator at one brief point seemingly curses “the treachery of the human body which always freezes into inertia at exactly the moment when a special effort is needed.” To this day, I’ve yet to meet anyone who’ll discuss the meaning to him/her of the abovementioned treacherous mind over matter, especially when it comes to unrestrained debilitating fear. Although, it seems that Orwell would’ve likely been able to relate to what I experienced that violent day at the Laser Palace arcade.)

We landed on the barely carpeted, cement-based floor and tussled for but a moment, each determined to get on top of the other thus gaining dominance. Fortunately, I got him on all fours, with my right knee pressed down onto his back. “Now it’s your turn,” I said as I initiated repaying his assault, directed to his head. However, with a sudden burst of kinetic energy, he threw his body mass upwards and me off of his back.

John’s friends and allies took him outside to wait for me as he took in some fresh air. I, on the other hand, remained inside, with my then-boney legs feeling like they were about to buckle. I soon began futilely squinting about the floor for my glasses, which I’d eventually reacquire two days later, all twisted up and useless, except for a few spare parts for future specs requiring them.

[His friends and allies were pretty much the same lot of (what I’d privately referenced as) North Surrey scum whom I’d get nauseated quietly listening to, especially the grinning brags about sexual conquests, both actual and wishful; the same recklessly condom-less phallus-armed conquesteers to whom, a week earlier, I’d finally raised the real risk of their ‘knocking up’ one or more of those conquests, along with the very serious consequences of doing so for the girls and infants (if the pregnancies are carried to term)—all for maybe 30 seconds of boy pleasure; and the same thoughtless inconsiderates who, in turn, looked at me, then at each other, then again at me with the incredulous look of having had their parade pissed on by an insignificant like me. One uttered, seemingly on behalf of the entire lot of boasting boys, “What are you, some kind of homo?” Of course I didn’t repeat the lecture, however brief it was, on the morals of their feel-good philosophy with the potential human collateral damage when the selfish ideal is implemented. Instead, I asked them whether they would first go down on their sex partners, which was the least they could do for the girls. Before they could react, I quickly told them I had heard from an older male that, if performed properly, there was nothing like the erotic power of making your mate lose herself in a frenzy of unsurpassable pleasure. As her partner, you have this control that’s quite consensual; she’s clearly more than happy to share the experience that can be orgasmic for her and enjoyable for him, even though he may be keeping his pants on. Similarly, gals can get off from the erotic power when going down on their guys (not to mention the additional power from her potentially clenched teeth). According to what had been related to me, it could be fantastic for both parties, I frankly stated. But to this they collectively gave the typically unthinking laugh-cringe response, “Gross! No way!” The lot’s spokesman again asserted himself, with the rest nodding in agreement: “I’ll get her to go down on me.]

I had fear in my heart, while his held drunken rage within. The two extreme opposite ends of the psychological/emotional spectrum greatly interact thus feed from and get depleted by one another; thus, each is increasingly intensified and usually results in one triumphant winner and one lacerated loser.

About ninety seconds later, John walked back in and towards me with his forefinger motioning me to, “Come here, Frank.”

“No way, man,” I declined, waving my hands in the negative as he approached me. He then began angrily rambling incoherently about my ‘offenses’ committed against him, though in reality all being either just alleged or in factuality.

Perhaps feeling confident that I wasn’t going to strike back judging by the panic likely showing in my eyes, he laid one on my left cheek. But my unpredictable hair-trigger-fury-when-hit reflex, rather than any fear I had felt, fully revealed itself and dictated my temporary ‘psycho’ physical response to his surprisingly weak blow. As his arms covered as much of his face as possible to block my rapid succession of uppercuts, our ‘winning/losing’ roles up till that point were already shifting: I had become the aggressor while, it appeared, he became the stunned and much less presumptuous.

By utilizing the derogatory term ‘psycho’ to describe my very rare mental state, even during such a horrible experience, I’m expressing how some altercation spectators perceived me when I so dramatically lost my temper composure control the instant that an angry, rambling John blatantly drifted me one to the cheek. In fact, I discovered exactly what was/is meant by the phrase, “I saw red” or “seeing red,” for that’s what I saw—just like a very light red tinted, transparent filter instantly placed over each eye’s pupil. …

(Personal essay concluded in Part 2)

(Frank G Sterle Jr)

Forced to Step Outside of My True Pacifist Nature, Part 2 (Conclusion)

DURING my troubled teen years of the 1980s I observed that by ‘swinging first’, in general, a person potentially places himself (or herself) in an unanticipated psychological disadvantage—one favoring the combatant who chooses to patiently wait for his opponent to take the first swing, perhaps even without the fist necessarily connecting.

Just having the combatant swing at him before he’d even given his challenger a physical justification for doing so seemed to instantly create a combined psychological and physical imperative within to react to that swung fist with justified anger. In fact, such testosterone-prone behavior may be reflected in the typically male (perhaps unconsciously strategic) invitation for one’s foe to ‘go ahead and lay one on me’, while tapping one’s own chin with his forefinger.

Yet, from my experience, it’s a theoretical advantage not widely recognized by both the regular scrapper mindset nor general society. Instead of the commonly expected advantage of an opponent-stunning first blow, the hit only triggers an infuriated response earning the instigator two-or-more-fold returned-payment hard hits.

It brings to mind an analogous scenario in which a chess player recklessly plays white by rashly forcefully moving his pawn first in foolish anticipation that doing so will indeed stupefy his adversary.

I’ve theorized that it may be an evolutionary instinct ingrained upon the human male psyche—one preventing us from inadvertently killing off our own species by way of an essentially gratuitous instigation of deadly violence in bulk, which also results in a lack of semen providers to maintain our race. Therefore, in this sense, we can survive: if only a first strike typically results in physical violence, avoiding that first strike altogether significantly reduces the risk of this form of wanton self-annihilation. In other words, things should remain peachy when every party shows the other(s) proper, due respect. It’s like a proactively perfect solution.

It should also be noted, however, that on rare occasion (at least from my many years of observation) an anomalous initiator/aggressor will be sufficiently confident, daring and violently motivated, perhaps through internal and/or external anger, to outright breach the abovementioned convention by brazenly throwing the first punch(es). Perhaps with the logical anticipation, or hope even, that his conventional foe will physically respond in kind by swinging at or hitting him, the unprovoked initiator/aggressor will feel confident and angered enough to willfully physically continue, finishing what he had essentially inexcusably started. It was as though he had anticipated that through both his boldness in daring to throw the first punch and then furthermore finish the physical job he himself had the gall to unjustifiably start in the first place, he will resultantly intimidate his (though now perhaps already quite intimidated) non-initiator/non-aggressor foe into a crippling inferior sense of physical-defense debilitation, itself capable of resulting in a more serious beating received by that diminished non-initiator/non-aggressor party. Or, another possibility remains that the initiator/aggressor will be completely confident that when/if he strikes first and the non-initiator/non-aggressor responds with reactor’s fury, he, the initiator/aggressor will himself respond to that response with even greater fury thus physically/psychologically overwhelm the non-initiator/non-aggressor with a very unfortunate outcome for the latter party.

Regardless, it has always both bewildered and sickened me how a person can throw a serious punch without any physical provocation.

_______________________

(Personal encounter resumed)

HAVING observed the said turn of events, the arcade attendant—short, but with a conspicuously heavy build (perhaps through steroid use, being in vogue back then)—jumped me from the side and held me to the floor. Again John went outside to await my eventual exit. When I did so only a couple minutes later, my exit was without choice, according to the attendant, who had intervened on a total of three occasions during that day’s arcade altercation by diving on me and only when I’d finally let loose on John.

I was outside for a few seconds before my debilitating fear again ridiculously turned me into a limp noodle, thus enabling him to easily throw me down onto the red brick walkway like I was naught but a ragdoll.

Immediately after dropping his knee onto my abdomen (or perhaps my chin, though I don’t recall feeling any notable impact, pain nor further facial lacerations), I threw a punch upwards that connected with his nose area but was too weak to draw any blood.

Separated once again, I then sufficiently sensed the thick air of contempt felt for me almost all around in order to walk away.

I walked away with my coat over my shoulder, a gash on my cheek and mangled glasses left behind somewhere inside the arcade. What a day, I thought, spitting out some reddish saliva, which was followed by my tongue sliding across my two loose upper-front teeth.

But it all wasn’t over, yet. “Frank!” came the cry from somewhere behind me. John was running towards me without his T-shirt, Clint Eastwood style, and closely followed by his mob-like supporters.

In necessary haste I scanned the large parking lot of an old strip mall across the busy main road, as though I was ludicrously seeking out the softest looking twenty-square-metre piece of decades-hardened pavement upon which to go yet another round. (As I ran to my choice of locale, I now believe, I may have disappointed some who would’ve taken pleasure in seeing me flee the entire scene.) There, I tossed my coat aside and watched the maniacal Eastwood charging at me.

With the arcade spectators right behind him, John stopped about a meter from me. He threw a fist and a kick at me with both off their mark, as I simply pulled back; however, his misdirected kick caused him to lose enough balance to fall upon his hands and knees. He obviously was wearing thin, tiring and losing body co-ordination, all at an increasing rate.

Of course I wasn’t at all in a merciful mood after having to deal with such an obnoxiously inebriated, violent punk and to such a nasty degree. I physically explained to him that he should’ve remained back at the arcade or very near it.

My succeeding kick into his horizontally orientated abdomen was easy yet satisfying. I went down on my knees, awkwardly wrapped my left arm around his head and face then began delivering for a second and final time a succession of rapid uppercuts to his face, which that time wasn’t blocked at all by anything.

In turn, perhaps intended to literally cost me a digit, he bit into my forefinger, since my left hand’s fingers happened to be gripping that area of his face. As he bit with increasing jaw strength, I transferred the pain to my finger to the intensity of and rate at which my right fist delivered additional uppercuts.

It was somewhat like a who’ll-blink-first standoff—which of us could endure the most intensifying assault, for the longest time.

Biting into my finger as hard as he could, he seemed to realize that he was getting by far the worst of the trade-off and threw himself upwards sufficiently forceful to throw me off, causing me to lose balance and land on my back.

As I lay there vulnerable, he attempted to gain total advantage by solidly positioning himself above my head and shoulder region. However, as he tried to get around my feet, repeatedly dodging left to right then back again, I rotated my grounded body so as to kick him away if he tried to get close enough to evade my feet.

Luckily, the embarrassing conduct lasted no more than fifteen seconds before some older, larger guy brought it all to a halt.

I suggested that we settle any remaining differences another day, which never did come, with nothing but silence from John.

Re-engaging my walk away home, I looked at my bloodied finger and noticed that, ironically, John had viciously bitten square on and deep into a large wart thus permanently annihilating it.

With many townsfolk eyes witnessing the ugly violence, not to mention my lacerated face, the police not surprisingly were summoned. The police officer who’d intercepted me with his cruiser made a notable effort to be sympathetic while insisting that I go to the emergency ward of the local hospital to be checked out for any unseen physical trauma (e.g. brain hemorrhage).

Once there, given the doctor’s O.K. and feeling somewhat foolish, I went through some tedious paperwork with a staffer. All the while I couldn’t help but repetitiously wonder how in hell I got into such a mess—as though it was my blunder or character flaw that was at fault.

Leaving the hospital, though, I once again was forced to endure John’s (fortunately very brief) presence, for he was taken to the hospital by another officer shortly after I’d arrived. John sat slumped forward in a wheelchair, his head hanging down as though he’d passed out. It then fully dawned on me that he was the reason I was at the hospital and faced with the prospect of a catastrophizing, overemotional mother greeting me in shock when the officer drove me home.

“Goof!” was the last and only thing that I’d say to him as I, flanked by the officer, left the hospital. (Yes, I did see him one last time as we exchanged a stare dare glare one day by the beach front adjacent to the White Rock pier—in fact, just meters from the very spot where he’d given me that first ugly look and, as chance would have it, a blatant stare dare likely for no other reason than just to be a tough guy in the eyes of a couple kids.)

“You know, you can always lay assault charges,” I was informed by the officer, who’d learned from some honest source which of us had indeed instigated the brawl. “But from what I’ve seen, he got the worst of it.”

“Nah,” I replied, still picturing Mom suffering a large stroke when she’d see my face, no matter who “got the worst of it” or the least. “Just let it be.”

(The Laser Palace arcade was shut down only days later by a Surrey city council greatly embarrassed by and therefore fed up with all of the criminal activity frequently occurring there. The fight was simply the cliché straw that broke the camel’s back. About two weeks after the fight, I was attacked by a girl who thought much of John and therefore not much about me telling her that I’ve been told he’d gotten the worst of the altercation. Also, I was told by a good-ally friend of mine, who unfortunately for me numbered quite few back then and there, that John’s father—who was somewhat known for physically expressing his significant displeasure towards any son of his who bore a shiner, etcetera—smacked him around shortly after the arcade incident.)

(Frank G Sterle Jr)

Earth Day Too Quickly Followed by Business-As-Usual Distractions and Denial

I’ll never forget reading the unsigned editorial that a local B.C. community newspaper printed just before Earth Day 2017, titled “Earth Day in need of a facelift”. Varied lengths of the same editorial was also run by other community newspapers, all owned by the same news-media mogul, who’s also an aspiring oil refiner. It opined that “some people would argue that [the day of environmental action] … is an anachronism”, that it should instead be a day of recognizing what we’ve societally accomplished. “And while it [has] served us well, in 2017, do we really need Earth Day anymore?”

I’ve never heard anyone, let alone a mainstream news outlet, suggest we’re doing so well as to render Earth Day an unnecessary “anachronism”. Considering the sorry state of the planet’s natural environment, I found it one of the most irresponsible acts of editorial journalism I’d witnessed in my 33 years of news-media consumption.

Thus, the aspect I like about social media in general is that it enables far greater non-gate-kept information freedom — particularly in regards to corporate environmental degradation — than that offered by what had been a virtual news/information monopoly held by the mainstream news-media, including that of print.

While I don’t know his opinion of social media, Noam Chomsky has noted that while there are stories published about man-made global warming, “It’s as if … there’s a kind of a tunnel vision — the science reporters are occasionally saying ‘look, this is a catastrophe,’ but then the regular [non-environmental pro-fossil fuel] coverage simply disregards it.”

Though it’s a couple decades late, I believe that progressive movements are far more effective with the unprecedented informative and organizational abilities made widely available by social media.

___

In Canada, we have a near-monopoly corporate news-media (i.e. Postmedia’s ownership/control of all-except-one major print publications) who are formally allied with one of the planet’s greatest polluting solid forms of “energy” and the most polluting form of crude oil — bitumen crude oil, a.k.a. tarsands.

During one of its presentations, it was stated: “Postmedia and CAPP [Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers] will bring energy to the forefront of our national conversation. Together, we will engage executives, the business community and the Canadian public to underscore the ways in which the energy sector powers Canada.”

Also, a then-publisher of a Postmedia national newspaper said: “From its inception, the National Post has been one of the country’s leading voices on the importance of energy to Canada’s business competitiveness internationally and our economic well-being in general. We will work with CAPP [Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers] to amplify our energy mandate and to be a part of the solution to keep Canada competitive in the global marketplace. The National Post will undertake to leverage all means editorially, technically and creatively to further this critical conversation.”

Although the newspaper giant’s apparent bedding with the powerful industry is not news and was downplayed by Postmedia itself, it’s little known amongst the general population. More so, should the promotion of massive fossil fuel extraction, even Canada’s own, at all be a partisan position for a newspaper giant to take? And, at least in this case, whatever happened to journalism’s role of ‘afflicting the comfortable’ (which goes along with ‘comforting the afflicted’), especially one of this scale of environmental monstrosity?

(Frank Sterle Jr.)

Earth Day Too Quickly Followed by Business As Usual, Distractions and Denial

I’ll never forget reading the unsigned editorial that a local B.C. community newspaper, The Surrey Now-Leader, printed just before Earth Day 2017, titled “Earth Day in need of a facelift”. Varied lengths of the same editorial was also run by other community newspapers, all owned by the same news-media mogul, who’s also an aspiring oil refiner. It opined that “some people would argue that [the day of environmental action] … is an anachronism”, that it should instead be a day of recognizing what we’ve societally accomplished. “And while it [has] served us well, in 2017, do we really need Earth Day anymore?”

I’ve never heard anyone, let alone a mainstream news outlet, suggest we’re doing so well as to render Earth Day an unnecessary “anachronism”. Considering the sorry state of the planet’s natural environment, I found it one of the most irresponsible acts of editorial journalism I’d witnessed in my 33 years of news-media consumption.

Thus, the aspect I like about social media in general is that it enables far greater non-gate-kept information freedom — particularly in regards to corporate environmental degradation — than that offered by what had been a virtual news/information monopoly held by the mainstream news-media, including that of print.

While I don’t know his opinion of social media, Noam Chomsky has noted that while there are stories published about man-made global warming, “It’s as if … there’s a kind of a tunnel vision — the science reporters are occasionally saying ‘look, this is a catastrophe,’ but then the regular [non-environmental pro-fossil fuel] coverage simply disregards it.”

Albeit a couple decades late, I believe that progressive movements are far more effective with the unprecedented informative and organizational abilities made widely available by social media.

______

In Canada, we have a near-monopoly corporate news-media (i.e. Postmedia’s ownership/control of all-except-one major print publications) who are formally allied with one of the planet’s greatest polluting solid forms of “energy” and the most polluting form of crude oil — bitumen crude oil, a.k.a. tarsands.

During one of its presentations, it was stated: “Postmedia and CAPP [Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers] will bring energy to the forefront of our national conversation. Together, we will engage executives, the business community and the Canadian public to underscore the ways in which the energy sector powers Canada.”

Also, a then-publisher of a Postmedia national newspaper said: “From its inception, the National Post has been one of the country’s leading voices on the importance of energy to Canada’s business competitiveness internationally and our economic well-being in general. We will work with CAPP [Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers] to amplify our energy mandate and to be a part of the solution to keep Canada competitive in the global marketplace. The National Post will undertake to leverage all means editorially, technically and creatively to further this critical conversation.”

Source: https://thetyee.ca/Opinion/2017/11/14/mair-media-unholiest-alliances

Although the newspaper giant’s apparent bedding with the powerful industry is not news and was downplayed by Postmedia itself, it’s little known amongst the general population. More so, should the promotion of massive fossil fuel extraction, even Canada’s own, at all be a partisan position for a newspaper giant to take? And, at least in this case, whatever happened to journalism’s role of ‘afflicting the comfortable’ (which goes along with ‘comforting the afflicted’), especially one of this scale of environmental monstrosity?

(Frank Sterle Jr.)

Watching the War While Keeping the Sordid Score

IF for nothing else — though definitely nothing at all civil, compassionate or humane — what war may actually be good for, besides the obvious proficiency to cause great devastation and an enormity of gratuitous suffering, is to act as an egregious game from which comes the most polarized appreciation and praise for ‘our side’ in the various bloody conflicts, indeed for those of the sordid moral sort raging for the bloody vengeance they left behind in the Mother Land.

It’s good for those who desire to watch video footage consisting of those ‘boys back home’ who’ll fight with firearm and fist until nothing remains but numerous bodies lying torn; and there’s but one purpose left for those bodily remains, for those living at a safe distance (perhaps already abroad in their new home country with their TV set before them) yet still irresistibly interested for but the ugliest motivations of personal partisanships, which is essentially to watch, listen or read the news all about the atrocities committed hopefully by ‘our side’ — no morally less than keeping the latest sordidly wretched score of the war …

Upon the daily, hourly or half hourly updates — even while the combatant parties linger in light sleep as the usual exchanges of rampant volleys of gunfire briefly subside during late night and early morning darkness — those who are truly concerned about those deathly scenes consume and regurgitate whatever morsels of news however repetitious.

The various first, second, third, etcetera, generation immigrants comfortably safe in the Western world watch their television news intently without uttering a word, as though with great appetite consuming their TV dinner’s course of meat … Until the news clip of interest to them cuts for commercial break or to offer other viewers news-story coverage of a mangled bus filled with lifeless broken children, or perhaps coverage of another un-civil conflict violently flaring elsewhere upon Spaceship Earth — all of which are of no score-interest to so many other unmentioned viewers who’ll turn the channel quickly for total lack of ethnic allegiance or racial relevance.

Until upon completion of their news-slots of interest, however bloody, when the couch comfortable score-keepers find it opportune to then discuss (if not rant on about) the warring sides and which one is considered by the viewers to be precisely what good or bad nature — to be deemed the very worst of the bad-guy lot by the news-media and therefore likely the general developed world; all before placing foremost in their minds for that day the current score with its indeterminate give-or-take-a-few-hundred (or thousands to date in the entire run-on inhuman conflict, for those interested but just tuning in) slaughtered or just instantly killed (blissfully, if very lucky) … And, of course, those of the by-far greatest number who are missing or fleeing en masse their homeland for refuge.

Frank G Sterle Jr

A Potential Ounce of Prevention of Need for Future Government Intervention

I was taught in journalism and public relations college courses that a story or PR news release needed to let the reader know, typically in the lead sentence, why he/she should care about the subject matter — and more so find it sufficiently relevant to warrant reading on.

It’s disheartening to find this vocational tool frequently utilized to persuade readers why they should care about the fundamental psychological health of their fellow human beings — but only in terms of publicly funded monetary investment and collective societal ‘costs to us later’ if we do nothing now to ensure young children are able to properly develop.

Sadly, due to the common OIIIMOBY mindset (Only If It’s In My Own Back Yard), the prevailing collective attitude, however implicit or subconscious, basically follows: ‘Why should I care — I’m soundly raising my kid?’ or ‘What’s in it for me, the taxpayer, if I support child development education and health programs for the sake of others’ bad parenting?’

Regardless of whether individually we’re doing a great job with our own developing children, however, we all have some degree of vested interest in every child receiving a psychologically sound start in life, considering that communally everyone is exposed (or at least potentially so) to every other parent’s handiwork. And this is from a purely self-serving perspective.

Proactive measures may be needed to avoid later having to reactively treat (often with tranquilizing medication) potentially serious and life-long symptoms caused by a dysfunctional environment, neglect and/or abuse. And if we’re to avoid the dreadedly invasive conventional reactive means of intervention — that of governmental forced removal of children from dysfunctional/abusive home environments — maybe we then should be willing to try an unconventional proactive means of preventing some future dysfunctional/abusive family situations. Child development science high-school curriculum might be one way.

While such curriculum may sound invasive, especially to traditionalist parents distrustful of the public education system, I really believe it’s in future generations’ best interests.

I strongly feel that the wellbeing of all children in general — and not just what other parents’ dysfunctional children will cost us as future criminals or expensive cases of government care, etcetera — should be of great importance to us all. 

(Frank Sterle Jr.)

Open Minds Quarterly sample issue

NOTE to readers: My mugshot on the contributors page is a mid-1990s bloated, a.k.a. horizontally challenged, version of me; today, my face (and pretty much the rest of me) is considerably thinner, I’m told. And, no, I don’t have a recent photo of myself, in large part because I don’t use a smart phone or camera.