Friday, March 26, 2010
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
This past week has been difficult with the death of my father. I have felt very tired and will not, I am sure, get my grove back for some time. But I have continued to read and write through the process as much as possible. My novel is three-quarters done and my next book on Charles and Mary Lamb is half-way there.
Saturday, March 20, 2010
Many have heard now that my father, Royston Evans, died this past weekend. He had been sick with cancer in recent months and had grown frail and somewhat weary. In the end he succumbed to a heart attack on Sunday the 14th of March at about 2:30. I was with him in his last hours and at the moment that he passed away. It was a difficult time but I was glad that I was able to be with him.
Royston lived a long life and was only a week or so short of his 78th birthday. I know that Roy got a kick out of the fact that he managed to outlive the life expectancy by nearly two years. Even though he always thought that he was in rather poor health, in reality Roy lived very well for most of his life and was very lucky. Roy lived with my wife Sylvia, me, and the kids for the past five years and we were able to ensure that his last years were happy and comfortable. Even though the three oldest were, technically, only step-grandchildren, he loved them all and enjoyed spending time with them. But perhaps the greatest joy of his last years was that he was able to see Cairo grow from a baby into a sweet little girl. When he was still healthy Roy spent a great deal of time with Cairo and he often played with her for many hours in a joyful, childlike manner. If the greatest joy of life is to retain the spirit of a child, then Roy certainly enjoyed the very best that life has to offer.
Roy was born in March of 1932, in a tenement building in Errol Street in London England, just off the Whitecross St. market. He had one sister, Kitty, and a younger brother, Chris. Kitty passed away in 1997 and Chris still lives in England. During WWII Royston and his sister were evacuated out of London, as many children were, to the countryside to take them out of harm’s way. Though during the last period of the war he lived in London and witnessed some of the bombing that so devastated London.
After Roy completed school he did many different jobs looking for the passion that would guide his life. Not only did he do many different kinds of practical jobs, Roy also tried his hands at being a poet, a cartoonist, and even a fashion designer. Roy finally found his true vocation in art and design and spent a couple of years drawing and sketching before entering art college in London at what was then called the Regent’s Street Polytechnic. After attending the Polytechnic Roy went on to do an advanced design diploma in Typographic design.
Roy married my mother Lynne in 1962 and after my sister and I were born we eventually moved to the US and Roy and Lynne pursued a career in Advertising design. We lived in Detroit, Philadelphia, Cleveland and Los Angeles. Together Roy and Lynne won many awards in design and enjoyed their life in Commercial Art. After my parents were divorced Roy and I moved to Calgary where he took a job teaching graphic design and illustration at the Alberta College of Art. Up to that point Roy had lived a rather itinerant life-style and he never expected to stay in Calgary as long as he did. But in the end Roy was happy to have the stability and enjoyed the time he spent as a teacher. He genuinely felt that he was contributing to people’s lives and I believe that his gentle, human touch helped many young art students to find they way.
After twenty-two years in Calgary Roy came to live close to me in Ottawa. He eventually joined us here in Manotick which is a small town just outside of the city. He enjoyed living in the village and in the summer he loved to sit at the beach in the Rideau River Provincial Park just south of here. Ever since he was very young Roy had always dreamed of a quiet country life where he could read and draw and just enjoy life. Though he was a London boy, born and bred, his real personality searched for something much smoother and more gentle. A couple of years ago he wrote a short essay entitled The Village that spoke to these feelings. That essay ends with this paragraph.
Los Angeles may have no winter. And in January and February when the temperature here drops to minus 30 or lower, I sometimes miss sunny California. I don’t want the cold and I envy those who enjoy perpetual summers. But there is no perfect place to be, and what I may feel about the cold is just a natural human reaction. My happiness in this village life, even with its cold season, gives me pleasure day by day and almost makes me forget my years of moving from place-to-place. Before Manotick I stayed in places I happened to be at the time. Now in this village I have, after searching for so long, found my way home.
Royston Evans did a great many things in his life and had a very dynamic personality. A short obituary of his life can do no justice to all that he was. He was generous, loving, creative, funny, silly, political, dynamic, self-educated, and always ready to lend a hand. Like all of us, Roy had his weaknesses and short-comings but, following his truly generous spirit, he would be the first to admit them, and even laugh about them. Most of all Roy always said that he was lucky. He knew that no matter how hard we try and how much we think of our talents and skills, fate holds us in its hands and none of us are more than one lucky break from great success or one break away from disaster. The most important thing, he always said, was to keep laughing along the way and when you have good luck pass it on to others.
One of Roy’s favorite books, among the thousands that he read over his lifetime, was Eric Wright’s memoir Always Give a Penny to a Blind Man, because he said it reminded him of the fragility of life, the role that luck plays in it, and the need to support others. With this in mind I ask everyone who read this to put a five dollar bill in your pocket and give it to the first homeless person you come across. I hope they will buy a good meal with it, but if they don’t, remember we are all just struggling, vulnerable souls looking for love and care. And then remember Roy’s favorite saying, “I blew all my money on wine, women, and song. . . . . and the rest I just wasted.”
So long Roy, you will be sorely missed.
Friday, March 12, 2010
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
Monday, March 8, 2010
Saturday, March 6, 2010
Friday, March 5, 2010
It amazes me that there are still people out there who believe that the invasion of Iraq was a good idea. The greatest irony of the war was, of course, the simple fact that the invasion, and the entire ‘Bush-Doctrine’ was a violation of the very international laws that the invaders claimed that they were enforcing in the first place. This should be enough to dissuade any rational person from supporting the war to begin with. However, despite their claims to the contrary, those who supported and continue to support the war have very little rationality on their side anyway.
Supporters of the war were of course forced to abandon their initial arguments for the war very soon after the actual invasion. The idea of WMDs went by the wayside very quickly. This fact should motivate any rational person to doubt the legitimacy of the invasion not just because there were no weapons but because it makes clear that the actual motivation for the invasion was contrary to the publically stated one. Now given the history of British and American imperialism, anyone who fails to understand that the invasion of Iraq was motivated by a continuation of this history must either a) tacitly support this history or b) be so wildly uninformed about American and British actions over the past 100 years or so that they really can’t understand this issue to begin with.
The invaders quickly found a new spin to put on their illegal action – so-called “regime change.” Now this is a strange one since they are the very ones who set up the regime in the first place and continued to support it through the worst of its abuses as long as it functioned as an ally in the region. George Bush senior even addressed a joint meeting of Congress begging them not to pull funding from Iraq after Hussein gassed the Kurds because though he had done some pretty nasty stuff, he was still an American ally and deserved financial and military support.
The Iraqi State going “rouge” didn’t mean it was a brutal dictatorship or that it killed its own people, in American parlance it meant that Iraq would no longer do the American bidding exactly the way they wanted it done. This is where we must question the long history of US and British support of every kind of terrible dictatorship. The Shah in Iran, Surharto in Indonesia, the so-called Malayan Emergency, countless dictatorships in Africa and Latin America, the list is too long to recite.
So the argument of ‘regime change’ begs the question, if the US and Britain were so concerned about the evils of the regime in Iraq why did they support it for so long and why do they continue to support dictatorships all over the world and undermine democratically elected leaders when they don’t conform to US and British globalization strategies? (By the way, the US and British support of the de facto dictatorships in Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan, two states that they use to launch attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq respectively, should be enough to make any rational person doubt the argument of regime change. )
The answer is, as it usually is, a combination of factors. One is that the US and Britain have proven time and again that they have no real interest in human rights or democracy except where they can manipulate them in order to further their overall strategy of the movement of Capital. The Iraqi regime had become a serious thorn in the side of this strategy particularly because of the movement of oil and the need to blindly support the State of Israel as the main military force in the Middle East. With dwindling justification for the military spending in the US in particular, a serious new motivation had become necessary for such expenditures. Dick Cheney had already made this argument in a frighteningly explicit way years before the invasion of Iraq. US military expenditure constitutes not only the largest in the world by far by also has been the most effective way for the US government to funnel huge amounts of tax money from average people to large corporations such as Lockheed – Martin, General Dynamic, and others. Beginning with the invasion of Iraq, this spending not only went on undeterred but actually increased with the formation of huge deficits spent almost solely on the purchasing, design, and use of new weaponry.
An overall justification for huge military expenditure was the primary motivation of the invasion of Iraq. The Bush Doctrine, the Cheney-doctrine (sometime referred to as the One Percent Solution) and the so-called ‘Wolfowitz Doctrine’ which has its origins in the 1990s, all add up to the necessity of finding a serious war that would be able to turn the attention of the US population (and hopefully the populations of other states like Britain) to a resurgence of the military-industrial complex which guarantees the supremacy of a Capitalist class which can continue their raping of not only their citizens but of the world’s resources.
“Regime Change” was just another neo-imperialist spin, not unlike the way the so-called ‘white man’s burden’ was the spin for the initial phase of British imperialism. A frighteningly obvious exposure of this fact is that the regimes in Iraq and Afghanistan continue to be de facto dictatorships run by undue Western control. Now instead of children dying because of Western supported sanctions they die because of the use birth defects created from the use of radioactive and phosphorous weapons during the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. The US and Britain continue to support dictatorships bordering on both Iraq and Afghanistan, and they continue to tacitly allow Israel to maintain an Apartheid-like situation in the occupied territories.
Every justification of the invasions of both Afghanistan and Iraq is either naïve or based on a fundamental lie about US and British neo-imperialist goals. Over the past few months, the situation in Afghanistan has become particularly blatant in its effrontery to reason as we have watched bogus elections and the increasing power of war-lords running the country. Countries like Canada who had normally not been engaged in these kind s of neo-imperialist adventures now find themselves in the position of supporting a non-elected government which imprisons its people indiscriminately, uses torture routinely, and punishes homosexuality with death. Meanwhile in Iraq, different forces jockey for position against the backdrop of continued death, destruction, and extreme want. Independent organizations like Amnesty continue to show that Iraq is a torture state while birth defects run rabid through the country. Thousands of US troops continue to be in Iraq with no schedule for departure and any hint of democratic decisions that contravene US goals are quickly put down.
Regime change really meant no change at all because the more things change the more they stay the same.
For those still unconvinced let me make a simple analogy. Let's say a guy goes into a room full of Mafia Dons and he shoots one of them, justifying his act of murder with the claim that he did it because the gangster was involved in murder and organized crime. If the same man then drinks and socializes with many of the other Gangsters and publicly calls them his friends despite the fact that they are guilty of the very same crimes as the man he just murdered, then we can reasonably assume that his stated motivation for his act was a lie. If we then investigate the man and learn that not only has he supported this and many other Mafia leaders in the past but has been guilty of the very same crimes that he claimed to have motivated his act of murder, then we have learned that far from an altruistic act of charity, this was what they call in New York, a gangland slaying. Now we may not mourn the death of that particular Mafia leader we also cannot justify his murder by another criminal who has done so simply as part of the typical jockeying for position by Gangsters.
Fact: The US, just like the murderer in our analogy, supported Hussein for years while he was guilty of the same crimes they later condemned.
Fact: The US, just like the murderer in our analogy, continues to support (with financial and military aid) other dictators in the region who are guilty of the same crimes.
Fact: The US, just like the murderer in our analogy, is guilty of the very same crimes all over the world.
Fact: The US is the largest producer of weapons in the world, selling them to many dictatorships.
Fact: After the end of the Soviet Union the US lost its primary justification for the more than 50% of its national budget that it spends on the military-industrial complex.
Fact: At the end of George Bush Sr.'s reign as president Cheney and Wolfowitz wrote documents specifically saying that the US needed a major Military event to justify its continued military supremacy.
Simple Conclusion: The US invaded Iraq (and in large part Afghanistan) to reinvigorate its military position and spending in a post cold-war world.