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Archive for May, 2009

Cycling and social movements in Toronto – A monologue that wants to be a discourse…

May 29, 2009 3 comments

**Author: Terry–Originally posted on Mourningbell.com*


As a avid cyclist in Toronto, and someone who has done his fair share of reading of social movement theory etc. I’m wrestling with something. Why am I so not interested in the types of advocacy/rides that are being held in our city? Is it that they’re being framed incorrectly? Is it that they’re coming on the heels of more heated public road blockades? I just feel so very disconnected. Maybe its because I don’t have my beard anymore or because I don’t live downtown and ride a fixie, or maybe its because I am young enough and confident enough to ride where I want (always have) unhindered by the spatial confines of our car based infrastructure; or maybe its just the feelings of futility that come with working within a political system run on short term 4 year plan…

If anyone has a hypothesis I’d welcome some input. I just feel that our movements aren’t hitting the mark (FOR ME). Why should I want to participate in Critical Mass, the World Naked Bike Ride (despite my affinity for not wearing a shirt), or Cruiser Rides and Island picnics?

I know the importance of solidarity and galvanizing the cyclists, I know the potential for change that can come through living it…the old Ghandian maxim of “be the change you want.” I’m starting to think that either a) My sense of individualism engendered by our society has effected the way I bike or b) that while groups claim to be pluralistic they are perhaps not as inclusive as they may think.

My theory right now, is that I’ve sublimated all of the wonderful governmentalities our society has foisted upon us yet, I love riding my bike. The two seemingly disconnected trajectories have come together to make unlikely bedfellows. A cyclist who loves the power, speed, freedom, and yes carbon fiber (a representation of post Enlightnment’s progress of course) and even care for the environment. Yet at the same time I remain lacerated from my fellow humans/cyclists (Think Aloysha in the Brothers Karamazov).

Or is this an inevitable result of a machine that has gotten too strong? Movements failed in Mexico City and Abbie Hoffman offed himself…Or am I just too yellow? Afraid of new things? Suburban?

Not to mention of course the potential to meet a great girl at those events yet I’m terribly disinterested in being part of “that” group.

Again, help me with my dilemma.  Vive le discourse!

Categories: Musings, Toronto

Tolerance?

May 1, 2009 1 comment

**Author: Mandeep–Originally posted on Mourningbell.com*

Of 1,002 Canadians polled:

  • 72% have a “generally favourable opinion” of Christianity
  • 57% have a “generally favourable opinion” of Buddhism
  • 53% have a “generally favourable opinion” of Judaism
  • 30% have a “generally favourable opinion” of Sikhism
  • 28% have a “generally favourable opinion” of Islam

I’ve always had reservations about Canada describing itself as “multicultural” and while I won’t overstate any implications here based on a single survey, this is bit disturbing.

Prejudice is always easier than taking the time to learn and discover a personal set of truths and perceptions – and there’s a bullshit number in this survey that reaffirms that for me.  Apparently, one-third of Canadians claim to have a “good basic understanding of Islam.”  That number’s far too high.

I suspect the number’s based on the media and cultural references of the last decade with respect to Islam (see: “War on Terror”) and not because anyone actually took the time to talk to any Muslims or, I dunno, pick up a relevant book or two on the topic.

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