Fertig’s new poems

“Poet, publisher and long-time supporter of the writing community, Salt Spring Island-based Mona Fertig (left) has released her first collection of poems in 14 years.” FULL STORY


#42 Thou Shalt Not Kill

September 28th, 2015

They’re closing borders in Europe. Hungary has put up the kind of fence the US wants to build between itself and Mexico. Even Germany is doing what it can to stem the flow of migrants.

The numbers are staggering. Those countries were “full” before the tsunami of desperate people poured out of the cities and towns that we are helping turn to rubble. Where are they going to find room to stack the traumatized?

We’ve got mile after mile after mile of empty land here and we couldn’t handle the numbers of determined migrants, so how will those already crowded countries cope? Gee, maybe it’s time to stop destroying villages, towns, and cities by dropping bombs on them. Maybe it’s time to stop making more and more frantic people.

Harper has suddenly announced that we have some extra money. A surplus. Interesting how he found this money in time for the election campaign. He’s presenting it as proof his fiscal wisdom is going to save us. If they were so fiscally wise in the first place they wouldn’t be so surprised now; they’d have known where this money was all along.

We know where it wasn’t; it wasn’t going to the wounded vets, it wasn’t going toward getting clean drinking water on FN reserves, it wasn’t going to social programmes, it wasn’t even going into the EI fund.

Don’t you just hate it when some git presupposes you’re stupid?

I retreated to reading. Just completed a marathon. I was in my big chair reading To Kill A Mockingbird and Go Set a Watchman. Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird is still a wonderful story; Watchman not so much. Of course, it’s close to impossible to equal a masterpiece. Watchman stands on its own, and it’s a good read, and any let-down I felt at the end was probably my own fault. I wanted ‘another’ Mockingbird and Watchman isn’t that.

When I finished both books I finished the laundry, folded and put away my clothes, and chewed, chewed, chewed some more on the furor over the refugee/migrant crisis.

When I don’t know what it is I’m thinking and feeling, I fall back on research, so I did, everything from Wikepedia to The Guardian newspaper. I read articles which said the problem was because of climate change, drought, and the displacement of hundreds of thousands of farmers to the cities. I read other articles which blamed war; some blamed ISIL, some the USA, and some the oil/gas corporations.

All that research I did has left me more confused and upset. That three-year-old boy washed up on the beach was a Kurd, a people who seem to be the target of persecution in every country in which they live. Small wonder they want their own nation of Kurdistan, safe from the frustrated rage of just about any other group you’d be able to name. A lot of news reports have not made it clear he was a Kurd and his family was from Syria. They had been living in Turkey for three years. They had applied to come to Canada, where they have family, but were denied entry.

I have been told that the Conservatives added a hurdle a few years back. Somehow you have to find an official representative of some international agency to officially record your existence, even if you have well-meaning relatives from Canada who want to vouch for you and help pay your way in. This bureaucratic hurdle conveniently eliminates about 90% of the wannabes, I’m told. Well, I’ll have to try and look that up, too, because I sure as heck ain’t gonna find any of that vital background information on my TV. I guess crawling under barbed wire to escape chaos and famine and persecution is the easy part; finding someone with a clipboard in an office with a translator, that’s the hard part.

The parents wanted to go to Europe. Some reports said they wanted to go to Germany.  Some reports say the father intended to apply to immigrate to Canada from there. Would he have been refused again? Would he even be allowed to apply after having been rejected previously?

And so the mother and both little boys drowned. The father survived. But some could argue they shouldn’t have left Turkey in the first place. Wasn’t Turkey a relatively safe country, if they’d been there three years? We don’t know the details. Kurds have been repressed in Turkey for a long, long, long time. So what are the details? Some reports have described the family as “refugees” but there is little evidence they were refugees.  Were they not safe in Turkey? Other reports refer to them as “migrants.”

I’m all for allowing refugees to come here. I’m all for immigration. But I’m not okay with people trying to fudge the line-up. There are many worthy people who are waiting, people who have filled out the forms, people who are patiently waiting to come here to start new lives in Canada. Why should those people have to wait while other people use a form of emotional blackmail and claim to be refugees in order to get here first?

The more research I do, the more I find out about the tangle which is our immigration department, the more confused I become.

The refugee problem in Europe has twisted my innards. I feel as if I’m trapped in a deja vu nightmare. The sight of people standing in line, arms bared, waiting their turn to have a uniformed person put a number on their skin horrifies me. No, they aren’t being tattoo’ed, it’s just marker pen this time, but somehow, that’s worse, it underlines the reality that, to some, these suffering souls are temporary, and we’ll soon dispose of the problem.

Some of those in charge have decided the place for these homeless refugees is a settlement camp. That, too, brings nightmares. It is such a short step from “settlement” camp to “concentration” camp and from there to “extermination.” as if what we were dealing with were feral cats.

Then, of course, and inevitably, we have other people, like our noble leader, who don’t see the camps as any sort of solution at all. His solution is to increase the number of bombing raids against Syrian targets. It’s the same sort of mentality which thinks we should kill people who kill people to prove killing people is wrong. Somehow, I can’t seem to make myself believe that if there are more three-year-old kids dead on beaches, the world will be a better place.

I am not, repeat not, advocating we just open the door and let everyone pour in. Not every “refugee” is necessarily a nice person nor will every one of them prove to be a benefit to this country. I’d bet they have their own percentage of total arstles and I’ll go so far as to agree some of those total arstles deserve to be in a settlement camp for life, just to protect the rest of us.

But not the three-year-olds.  Not the five-year-olds.

Our troops used to wear the blue beret and were known as peace keepers. Now?  Not so much. Our leader is a fundamentalist Christian. Thou shalt not lie… thou shalt not commit false witness… and THOU SHALT NOT KILL … What part of that one is hard to understand?

Anne Cameron grows pussywillows on the western edge of Vancouver Island. She received the George Woodcock Lifetime Achievement Award for an outstanding literary career in British Columbia in 2010. Her 23 books include Daughters of Copper Woman, the bestselling work of fiction ever written about B.C. and published from within B.C. She has banished herself to Tahsis, a small town not far from Friendly Cove where the shenanigans called British Columbia all began.


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