Tag Archives: independence

Sally Urquart

[a short story –  by Sha’Tara]

The law required that the local council call a public meeting, so they did, on a Wednesday evening, for 7:00 PM. It being the middle of the week, “they” knew that many commuters would be unable to attend and that was the point, wasn’t it. Me and my political group of “Greenies” as we were labelled attended, of course, and tried to get as many of our supporters as we could to oppose the proposed development of a new strip mall that included an anchor super market from a major multinational food distribution and retail corporate group. We didn’t need another food store, we already had two perfectly adequate ones. But it’s the old story, isn’t it. Money talks, bullshit walks.

The meeting got underway and despite some heated interruptions and cries of “lies, lies!” the presentation by two corporate shills was concluded and the meeting opened to questions. The questions and borderline speeches came hard and fast. A couple of angry residents were forcefully expelled but the mood did not relax.

After most of the participants had had their say and were summarily cut off from further discussion, that’s when she came forth. A pleasant looking young woman I had never seen, wearing a simple blue sweat shirt and faded jeans, in sandals yet imposing enough in height: she must have been close to six feet if an inch. Her long dark hair was tied back with a scarf. She wore no makeup and her fingers, when she took the mike, showed her to be a worker of the soil. She had a good tan too, and it was of the honest kind: from the sun, obviously. From where I sat I couldn’t tell the colour of her eyes but they were piercing.

She held a brown envelope in her left hand which she placed on the podium and she addressed the meeting in a very soft and gentle voice that forced everyone to listen intently in order to hear. As a hopeful politician, there’s a trick I would have to learn. She greeted “Mr. Mayor” by name, as well as the six council members, one having recused himself due to known conflict of interest in the matter. To the rest of us she said, “Hi neighbours, my name is Sally Urquart and I realize most of you don’t know me but I live here too and I have an interest in this community, and the well-being of its children. I am not here to oppose the development being discussed because I don’t have to. It isn’t going to happen.”

You could have heard a pin drop. “Mr. Mayor” had his mouth open but no sound came. I was on the edge of my seat.

She continued, “I have here some documents that indict your mayor and three of “his” councillors sitting before you. These documents, of which these are but copies, are now filed with the Crown attorney but I was given the opportunity to bring my discoveries to this meeting so you would all know; so the local paper, represented here by Jim Leeson, reporter, could have the goods firsthand.

“Your mayor is facing charges of high level corruption for accepting bribes from the main anchor of the proposed strip mall, Food Source, and for openly lying about his involvement in this matter to the electorate, that is you people here, and the rest of this community. As for the other three councillors whom I need not name, they shared in the mayor’s bribe money and future interest in the venture’s profit.

“Food Source, on a plea bargain, has already admitted to the bribes and additionally to being in violation of provincial law by knowingly attempting to develop prime agricultural land currently in protected agricultural land reserves. I have little more to add except to say that your mayor and three councillors here present are now under arrest.”

At that moment four RCMP officers came in the hall and took charge of the individuals, reading them their rights and taking them out a side door though not in handcuffs which many of us would have liked to see. ‘Good riddance,’ I thought. Then I looked for Sally but she had disappeared, along with her brown envelope.

It took a bit of digging but we found out that she had been an attorney for the Crown, had resigned for personal reasons, then had accepted a temporary assignment on behalf of the Crown to investigate the Food Source strip mall affair and the town of Green Oaks’ council. During her investigative work she had quietly bought a one acre parcel of land with a few dilapidated out buildings, had moved a mobile home on it and begun her work of clearing the land and doing some serious gardening.

At our next meeting we decided we had to have “Sally” on our executive. We needed her savvy, her poise and her so seductive voice. We had to send a delegation to her and find out how we could persuade her to join with us. It was agreed that myself and my side kick, photographer, recorder, documentary maker, Phil Tompkins would be the delegation.

We found Sally at the back of her property, clearing blackberries and replacing fence posts. She looked much as she had at the town meeting, except for the added wide-brimmed Aussie hat and boots. She greeted us with an open smile, offered to go to the trailer and make coffee, which we declined because it would have interrupted everything. Without beating around the bush I told her what we had to offer her if she would join our organization. She would be our nominee for the next provincial election which was in less than two years’ time. She accepted the introductory parphernalia we offered her, accepted that Phil video’d our conversation. She was never one lost for words and I admired her even more on that day.

“Would you like some time to think this over, Sally? Maybe I could come back in a couple of days or so?” She made it easy to talk to her and us being of approximately the same age made our interaction ever smoother.

“Oh, that’s very kind of you, but I’ve always been one to make quick judgment calls and decisions. Your proposal is persona non grata here, I’m afraid. The moment you join an organization your personal life ends and you become an adjunct of other people’s thoughts, decisions and choices. When I became an attorney I was under the delusion that I could be an independent; that I could pick my cases and handle them the way I felt was right. That didn’t happen, was never going to happen, so I resigned as Crown counsel. Now I am an independent. I take pro bono or quasi pro bono cases entirely on my own, and my investigations which I prefer to court room presentations, pay the bills.”

Then she pointed around at her property. “This though is who I am. This acre of land, such as it is, is my real world. I live here. I share it with the beasties, the trees, the plants, the sun, wind, rain and snow and whomever comes to visit and doesn’t mean to stay. This is my universe.

“I can understand your group wanting to use me – yes that is the proper term – because of certain skills I possess and because of my self-possession but if I acquiesced, I would lose the very things that make me what I am. I’m not for sale. If you need some information dug up, if you even run into legal problems then come to me and I’ll do what I do best: I’ll unravel the ball of twine for you until you learn to do it for yourselves. Do you have an investigator in your group? An attorney of sorts? If not, get them. If you’re going to play this game you have to play with a full deck and a not few cards up your sleeves. That’s how the other side does it. That’s all I have to say. I rest my case.” She smiled again, leaning gently on her long-handled brush cutter.

Now here I am, Jenny Derksen, on my own little parcel of land outside a different town. Yes, some years ago I aspired to become a politician. When Sally Urquart turned down my appeal, I listened to what she had to say and after I narrowly lost my very first attempt at becoming an MLA (Member of the Legislative Assembly for those not familiar with Canadian political terminology) I began to listen once again to Sally’s words. Joiners can never be their own person and I had seen more and more of that as I struggled with our own growing bureaucracy. I was becoming less of a human being and more of something that endlessly needed to be shaped, goaded, driven, counselled, trimmed, managed. One night it came to me and I literally threw up realizing what was happening. There and then I quit, walked away. I was an elementary school teacher and I could do quite well on my salary. I didn’t want the limelight, I wanted to be me and certainly the bureaucracy of the education system was already more than I could take. I didn’t need the added burden of politics that benefited higher and higher up opportunists. I could teach “my children” and one of them might even be the next Greta Thunberg. Ah! Dare to dream!

Oh yes, I wear a worn sweatshirt and faded jeans most times at home, as well as a wide brimmed Aussie hat, boots optional, and I remain unmarried though not without many good offers and opportunities. When some of “my children” come to visit, we work or play in the back gardens or if it rains, we go inside and bake, or I teach them how to sew or we play games – rule #1: no cell phones, no tablets, no TV.

I did learn some important lessons from Sally. Did we become friends? No, that wasn’t necessary. In the few moments we interacted we got all we would ever need from each other. She taught me to become a self empowered person, the greatest “gift” anyone can give another.

The Kindergarten Art Class

[thoughts from   ~burning woman~   ]

From my current level of awareness and observation, I see mankind as a bunch of unruly kindergarten kids crammed together and told they’re having an “art” day.  To get them started, there’s a pile of paper sheets on the floor, and next, a big bowl full of crayons of every conceivable colour.  The kids are sat on the floor and more or less arranged around the items.  Predictably things don’t go as planned, or even as unplanned.  Some kids just lie back on the floor sucking their thumbs, trying to fall asleep.  Some just grab paper and fistfuls of crayons and begin to draw wildly across their papers.  Some quietly and dutifully wait for some sort of instruction.  Some look at the ceiling and smile at something.  Some start to argue over the items, a fight erupts and a couple of kids start to cry.  Pandemonium reigns supreme. 

So far I’ve described our general interaction as social communities through academic, scientific, religious, political, business and financial processes.  Basic Earthian interaction. 

But I missed something, didn’t I.  I forgot to add that there is here at least one adult, one supervisor, someone with presumably superior knowledge and wisdom to bring these children together for a purpose that will bear some fruit.  At the end of the exercise, each child will have a piece of paper with something drawn on it to take home. 

Obviously, the Teacher aspect is missing in earth’s kindergarten art class.  There is no one to bring the kiddies to stop fighting and to cooperate together and share the items offered on the floor.  So you have an entire planet running on a  pre-interventionist-teacher anarchic condition. 

We already know why the kiddies act the way they do: it’s how they were raised, what they’d already observed at home; what they’d seen on TV or what they’d already experienced on playgrounds, in doctors’ offices and daycare.  Also, it’s something locked in their DNA.  It’s what they are.  It’s their nature running its course and without the teacher intervention, that will be the course of their entire lives.  Nothing will ever fundamentally change for any of them.  That last line is worth repeating because it is a truism if there ever was one:  nothing will ever fundamentally change for any of them.   

We’re not short of groups and organizations trying to shove the teacher aspect in our face.  Put your faith in science and all will be well.  Believe in Jesus and you will be saved.  Convert to Islam and Allah will bless you.  Vote for the Democrats.  Join the army.  Join this, join that; support this, protest that; love this, hate that.  There’s stacks of papers and bowls of crayons and anybody can draw lines in any sort of colours they want. Or can they? 

It’s complicated.  Someone’s sitting in the wrong place and they won’t move.  Someone’s using the wrong colours and they won’t stop using those colours.  Someone’s got paper they didn’t pay for which they took from someone else’s stack; they stole from them and now the “victims” want them punished for their crime.  There are threats: if they’re not punished we’ll get some friends (allies) together and we’ll beat them up ’cause we’re better than they are.  

Earthian civilization, in a nutshell. 

Faced with this incurable condition, what do you, as an intelligent person do?  Basically you can do whatever you want.  You can choose to become one of the bullies, or one of their victims.  Or you can choose not to participate in the art class as long as there is no consensus on how it should proceed. 

The Art Class:

               No matter where you sit, it’s anarchy all around and you’re expected to share a space with people who fear and hate other people in the class.  “Look at her: she’s black.  She shouldn’t be allowed in here!”  “Look at him, he’s got no shoes, that’s gross!”  “Look at those two with their ragged clothes munching on a couple of pieces of stale bread: that’s disgusting!”  “Him?  Don’t even think of being friends with him, he’s a Jew and we hate Jews.”  “Look, she wearing a hijab, she’s a Muslim and flaunting it; she needs to be taught a lesson.  Those kids in the corner?  Their parents are commies.”

               We may not be able to have them thrown out of the class but at least we won’t associate with them and when we get the chance we’ll gang up on them and beat the hell out of them.  That’ll scare them and they won’t come back.  We don’t want them here.  This is our place and this is our stuff now.

Let’s say you are a reasonably intelligent person and you realize it’s not possible to participate in the class without compromises.  No matter what, if you choose to sit with the two eating the stale bread, you find out they hate the black girl.  If you sit with the black girl she tells you she hates the kid in bare feet ’cause he’s Catholic.  If you sit with the Muslim girl you discover that she has been taught to hate Jews and Christians and she tells you that as the enemies of Allah they must die.  If you choose to sit with the bullies who by now have most of the paper and crayons, maybe they’ll let you borrow some paper and maybe one crayon but the deal is, you swear to join them in the bullying later. 

Fortunately there is one more choice.  You can turn your back on all of them and walk away, alone.  No paper, no crayons, no personal space on the floor, just yourself and the wilderness: thorns and hail, flowers and butterflies, blizzards and loneliness, gently flowing streams and renewal.  More chaos, surely, but this time it isn’t deliberately ignorant or evil.  It accepts you without throwing a mantle of exclusivity around you. You swim or sink – nobody cares, it’s all up to you.

But what about that programming?  What about that Earthian DNA shit?  Well, that is a thorny problem ‘cause you can’t blame that on anyone else, you have to face it.  You need to get rid of your Earthian programming, or at the very least you need to cancel its inimical effects on your mind. 

That’s when you say, hey, I’m me!  I’m not what I was born to be; I’m not white, French, doctor, politician, student, taxi-driver, female, male, mother, leader, young, old, voter, entertainer: I’m me.  Just me. 

Everything up to and until I left the kindergarten class was me according to society. Society had designed the pigeon holes and I could only choose to function as an adjunct of society from one of those holes.  Not anymore.  Now, I can be me, according to my own choices.  To hell with society and civilization. 

I am about to reinvent myself as something completely new.  Everything I am from this point on is the chosen me; chosen and designed by myself, no one and nothing else.  I will never again return to the kindergarten art class; not for love, not for money, not for reputation, not for salvation.  Being in collusion with the denizens of the kindergarten class is something I will no longer do until the day when I can no longer do it.