Thursday, October 25, 2012

On Language and its Organic Use. . . . . .

Listening to a professor of "language" on CBC this morning complain about the "gradual extinction" of French, I was struck by a number of things. First of all I was quite offended by her use of the word "literate." In reference to the shocking decline of French in Manitoba over the last century, the professor said that a hundred years ago approximately 60% of Manitobans were French speakers and now she would be surprised if 2% of the population were "literate French speakers." Now, besides the obvious elitism of a professor making reference to who is "literate" or not, I must ask - when will people (even well educated people) understand that literacy is not a fixed state to be achieved but a sliding scale of challenges and abilities that all people face in language as well as other parts of our daily life?? To bracket certain people off as "illiterate" is socially and politically offensive because it is a powerful process of exclusion and elitism. However, the fact that a professor of language was able to pass off such a remark with, apparently, little thought or understanding of the real implications is quite typical of "educated" people in general in every language. But this phenomenon seems particularly pronounced in French. This brings us to what I believe is one of the unrecognized reasons for the decline of French not just in North America but worldwide. It is not, I think, controversial to suggest that French is a particularly "brittle" language, and its brittleness continues to be promoted by the culture and the establishment. The very existence of the so-called Académie française is a three-hundred year old testament to the brittleness of the French language. And the "enforcement" of "proper" French at every level of French society has helped to foster the very elitism of which that professor was so blatantly guilty. If there exists a body that officially defines what is "proper" and "improper" in language, then one can "test" for the notion of "illiteracy" and as a result one cannot avoid the social exclusion that comes with fixed ideas about literacy. The effect of such practices can be seen easily in French Language education. I have seen three kids through French primary education, two through French high-school education and my youngest daughter currently attends French immersion in the English school board here in Ottawa. Instead of being a positive experience for my kids in what is a wonderful and important language, the entire process of blind, rule-oriented enforcement surrounding French has done nothing to encourage the continued use and cultivation of the language. Ironically, my oldest daughter who left primary French education for an English Arts high school, is the one of the children who has displayed a continued interest in French and her language skills continue to improve in at least three languages. However, one of the reasons she left French education was the harsh and punitive ways in which it was being taught and enforced.

Let me say it point-blank - one of the primary reasons that French is declining is that when you create official rules and enforcement around language in a context in which people have access to a flexible and non-rule oriented language, the former is going to suffer and decline. It is as simple as that. Roland Barthes, one of the greatest of all French linguists, famously argued in the 1980s that all 'official' rule of French, particularly those of spelling, should be dispensed with in order to let French grow in an organic and positive way. Predictably, Barthes endured a lot of flack for that position. However, because no one could question his credentials as an important French philosopher, he was able to make such statements in a large public forum. My partner and her family are Francophones, and many in her family are teachers. Ironically, even though they are Francophones, they all teach in English schools. In fact my sister-in-law is a principle at a English primary school. Despite her official position, her English really isn't that great. Though she functions ok, her English vocabulary is fairly poor and the depth of her cultural understanding in English is minimal at best. Let's make it clear, if someone had commensurate skills in French they would barely be able to get a job let alone be a principle of a school. But the flexibility of the English language (and the relative cultural tolerance that this flexibility has fostered) allow for a very large spectrum of English speakers to function in a wide variety of cultural ways. I believe that this, more than any other factor, has promoted the use and expansion of English. People who come from a different linguistic base have surprisingly few fears about using and functioning in English because, relative to French, they don't face the kind of elitist alienation that comes from making grammatical errors.

I have never had a grammar lesson in English in my whole life. Though my teachers in primary school occasionally corrected some usage that was thought to be an error, the notion of "proper" grammar in English barely existed for me growing up. My parent's generation surely got more exposure to official grammar instruction. But more and more as time passed people abandoned such strictness. And they abandoned it largely because it is simply nonsensical most of the time. Take a rule that was once thought to be sacrosanct in English - the split infinitive rule. There was a time when students were severely taken to task for splitting an infinite. You were not supposed to use a phrase like, for example,  "to boldly go were no one has gone before." But the reason that this usage was frowned upon was simply because in the 18th century the protectors of English usage were generally well-educated British men who had all been forced to learn Latin in school. And of course in a so-called Romance language the infinitive generally cannot be split because it is one word not two as it is in English. The Latin infinitive for "to go" is simply "ire" and you cannot, therefore create a split infinitive because there is nothing to split. And because this was true in Latin (as well as in Spanish, French, etc.) grammarians thought that it was something that should be a "rule" in English. But today English speakers generally scoff at such absurd and arbitrary rules. Now, while there is no doubt that over time a person like myself begins to conform to certain generally accepted habits of usage, the flexibility of these habits of usage are everywhere to seen. I have had native English speaking professors attempt "incorrectly" to "correct" my grammar, demonstrating in the process that their own understanding of "proper" grammar was flawed at best. And I have taken classes from professors whose command of English was surprisingly minimal. But that didn't stop them from contributing to the educational process.

The conclusion is, I believe, fairly simple. If you want to keep a language growing, promote its beauty, don't enforce its rules. And if you want to promote equality, linguistic elitism will always stand in your way.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Let's begin to Change the rules. . . . .

It is ironic that the existence of the Harpercon government, with its secrecy, wild disregard for tradition and the law, and shocking lack of transparency, has made the basic problems of the Canadian political system obvious for all to see. I suppose that when you put someone in any job for which they either have little aptitude or for which they have ulterior (often semi-hidden) motives, their employment brings to the surface the administrative problems with that particular job. I once worked in a retail job where the manager was not only incompetent but was continually hiding from the owner much of what was going on. After the managers malfeasance was discovered the owners instituted a number of accountability processess which made the daily workings of the business much more clear.

We, as the owners of the Canadian political system, need to institute such measures to prevent another corrupt, anti-democratic, secret government like our present one from taking power. Here are some of the obvious and basic reforms we need to see.

- A whole host of accountability officers like the Auditor General and the Parliamentary Budget officer  who are appointed by consensus in the House and who have police-like powers to go directly into government offices and take the information they require. 

- Set rules in Parliament in place of those rules that now exist only by tradition. For example, the whole idea of prorogation needs to be eliminated and in place a set of legislative dates need to be established that cannot be changed.

-Legislative boundaries should not be determined by the government but by the consensus of board that is appointed by the whole House.

-All prospective legislation must be fully costed and those costs must be 100% publicly available.

-All proposed legislation must be announced IN THE HOUSE at predetermined times to eliminate the politics and spin of such announcements.

-Government reports must also be released at predetermined times for the same reason.

-The Prime Minister and his cabinet need to have regular press conferences in the presence of un-vetted  media, all of whose questions are not prescreened.

-The rules surrounding international conferences and bodies need to be clarified and the inclusion of opposition members must be included.

These are just a few small ideas which can begin the process of democratizing our system which has come increasingly under threat.

Unfortunately no party in the House is presently taking us these causes.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Haper's Big Sellout. . . .

If you haven't read this article by Michael Harris, read it. It is very interesting. Besides the partisan talk of Nathen Cullen, whom he quotes at length, there is something significant in what Harris is saying, and it is a sentiment with which I heartily agree. China could very well be what brings Harperland down to a heap of ashes and rubble. And the more one looks at the facts, the more bizarre Haper's infatuation with China becomes. (I can't help but wonder if there is something untoward in the relationship). For years Harper and the conservatives never tired of telling us how terrible the regime in China was, and now he has signed a deal so secretive and so dangerously unpatriotic that it borders on treason. Meanwhile Haper has spend a huge amount of his political capital on the idea of a pipeline that will cross the province of BC (which is almost universally hostile to it) and which will pump oil continuously to China. It seems clear now that there is a looming fight between the people of BC and the Harpercons which could end in a very ugly and dirty way, and which could possibly ignite a very real separatist movement in on the West Coast.

Harper has lost Quebec (and for all intents and purposes disregarded it), he is very quickly losing BC (and by the time of the next federal election that loss could be complete, Ontario is really feeling the pinch and a possible victory of the Tories in the next election there will, I predict, generation increasing hatred for the Conservative Brand, his support in the Maritimes is shallow at best, and Harper is certainly not making any new friends in the prairies. Harper has invested all of his political capital on what amounts to a new NEP despite the fact that the Conservatives told us all for years that the Federal government should butt out of energy policy and leave it to the provinces, and that new NEP is looking more and more like a wholesale selloff of Canada to China with no regard for our future economic, social, and environmental health.

Napoleon's Waterloo was really found in the fact that he could never be satisfied with being the leader of the French nation as a nation among others in Europe. Napoleon was driven by an almost psychotic hatred of England and his desire for France to rise above all others in its status and power. From a nationalistic point of view, it was a noble, if misguided, aspiration. Harper's Waterloo is strangely petty and bizarrely twisted in comparison. Harper's aspiration seems to amount to little more than turning Canada into a single raw commodity exporter in the interest of a foreign tyrannical power with no regard for anyone in Canada save a handful of very wealthy oil executives. But the coming fall from grace that Harper is facing will make the real Waterloo look like a graceful defeat.

After Napoleon was finally defeated at Waterloo, the British government held him on the ship HMS Bellerophon at Portsmouth before he was finally imprisoned on St. Helena. Where will the people of Canada hold Mr. Haper after they have taken dragged him from the office from which he tried to destroy Canada?

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Sinking Liberal Fortunes. . . .

I think it is one of the great political ironies in Canadian history that Stephen Harper seems to actually believe that the downfall of the Liberal Party of Canada is a result of his strategic prowess. It must surely be clear now, to everyone except the blindest fools in the Liberal Party that its failure is a direct result of their wholesale adoption of neo-liberal (or neo-conservative, depending on your preference in terminology) economic policies. As Paul Wells very cogently demonstrates in his piece in Macleans, the Liberals (at both the Federal and Provincial levels) "blew their credibility as defenders of activist government." Their vaunted "Red Book" of the 90s turned out to be nothing but electoral rhetoric and, in the words of Paul Adams, the Liberal Party has been guilty of a "wilful refusal to differentiate its policies from those of the Conservatives."

The government of Dalton McGuinty is the latest Liberal organization that has sacrificed itself to this bizarrely self-destructive pattern on the part of Liberals all over the county. When push comes to shove, modern Liberals show their real colors by concentrating their attacks (just like conservatives) on the basic rights of collective bargaining and the working-class in general. As a result, if the polls are anything to go by, the Liberal Party in Ontario is looking down the barrel of complete political destruction.

Further credence to the idea that the Liberal brand has become meaningless is to be found in the fact that both the BC and the Quebec Liberal parties can refer to themselves as liberals without turning red with embarrassment or breaking out into peels of unrestrained laughter.

Of course, while the Liberal Parties languish as a result of their own ideological degradation  the Harper government is busy destroying the Conservative brand through a combination of political confusion and a rather rabid tendency toward tyranny, the depth and danger of which is now beginning to sink into Canadian consciousness.

The Liberal Party could rebound, of course. And they could rebound in spectacular fashion. But any lasting reassertion of the Liberal Party in Canada must involve a return to their political roots, and a place in which people see the Party as an actual return to a government that is not simply an all-out, viscous attack on the idea that government can play an important and positive role in making people's lives better. The Liberal Party once represented an ideology of a mixed economy, and a genuine commitment to some collective efforts. In the face of a growing consciousness of the increasing social and economic inequalities in society, (a phenomenon that Conservatives either deny or don't care about), it is increasingly important for a political party that is centre or centre-left to begin to address the real structural issues facing our society. The Liberals can either play a role in that or they can enjoy the dustbin of history.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Dalton McGuinty and the legacy of inequility. . . .

The prorogation of of the Ontario parliament yesterday by Dalton McGuinty was probably not unconstitutional  the way Stephen Harper's was. Harper's act of prorogation violated the British parliamentary traditions because he shut down parliament specifically to avoid losing power with an impending confidence vote that he knew we was going to lose and a power sharing arrangement already made between opposition parties. McGuinty, on the other hand, was not facing a vote of confidence, and one could say that, at least technically, he still had the 'confidence' of the House, The opposition parties would not have pushed to bring down the Government this fall because a) they didn't want an election so soon and b)they had a good reason to keep the Liberal Party in power until they could suck as much possible political currency as they could out of the present Liberal scandal concerning the moving of two power plants.

All that being said, McGuinty's prorogation of parliament was arguably immoral in its political expediency. But the idea that Mr. McGuinty would act immorally should certainly not come as a surprise to anyone, and I am not sure that most political leaders would not have done the same thing. McGuinty is attempting to save his party from decimation in the next election by shutting down investigations into his party's scandals before the next election and give his party free time to choose another leader.

So it goes.

But it is not these things that really trouble me about the spectacular fall of Dalton McGuinty. Governments always fall into some degree of scandal after years in power, We have come to expect it. Whether a government survives its scandals depends upon the depth of the malfeasance and their ability to manage it. However what seems certain, and is demonstrated over and over again is that as a government loses control and begins to crash and burn, it looks around desperately for a scapegoat. And time and again that scapegoat is, of course, public servants. Dalton McGuinty and his Liberal Party cronies failed utterly to make any real efforts to save Ontario's manufacturing base. It was, admittedly  a difficult task and they got no help from the Federal government. But the Liberal also failed to promote new kinds of economic growth in Ontario and the few efforts that they did make (such as investments in wind power) were quickly mired in avoidable controversy. And so, in light of their failures, the Liberals did what so many governments seem to do - lay their own failures at the feet of the public servants and, wherever possible, the working-class. We live in a system of unprecedented wealth where the rich have never been richer, but Conservatives and Liberal everywhere attempt to divert attention away from the real roots of the structural economic and social inequalities and to suggest that the problem is simply that teachers are getting well paid and that is why we are in economic trouble. Conservatives and Liberals in this country will do almost anything to avoid a real discourse on economic and social inequalities, and instead they attempt to foster a discourse about the evils of decent wages and proper pensions.

But in the end, killing unions and ditching pensions mean only one thing for our future as a society; more poverty. Period. That is all there is to it.

Meanwhile there is little in the way of justice (even of the poetic variety) in seeing Dalton McGuinty fall from power as he engages in more unconstitutional attacks on the principles of collective bargaining. Because in their profound ignorance, the voters of Ontario will probably soon hand power to a guy who makes Dalton McGuinty look like a communist and a genius too boot. And who will suffer? The teachers, the healthcare workers, the scientists, the social workers, etc. And, most tragically, ALL of our children will suffer as the politicians further entrench the third-world style economic model of inequality and poverty.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Novelty, Hockey Strikes, and iphones. . . .

I supposed many people have always been obsessed with novelty. For some people the new is always better than the old. But, at the risk of sounding old myself, it seems to me that our era is more than any other infatuated with the lastest innovation, the newest thing. Sometimes this infatuation demonstrates the victory of form over content. After all, how many times do we find ourselves purchasing some new product, from iphones to kitchen gagets, simply because it is new, regardless of whether it really constitutes a meaningful innovation that will significantly impact on the way we do things. Even in entertainment we have become obsessed by 'newness.' I mean, for years now people have been purchasing the newest novels despite the fact that they almost never add anything to our literary experience. You could, for example, spend years just reading the novels written, say in the decade of 1960s. This obsession with the new is even more pronounced in other areas of entertainment. Hollywood pumps out dozens of movies a year with little interest in narrative innovation, but simply because the film-makers can make a more visually interesting action movie with better and better special effects. Though I have little interest in computer games, I understand this phenomenon is even more in evidence in this field. Some games makers, such as those who developed the Halo series, just keep putting out newer versions of their games with just enough changes to entice their game-addicted audience.

But these examples suggest that this obsession with novelty and newness is more often than not simply a superficial drive and that consumers are easily fooled by what are essentially minor, or even fake, innovations for an audience that will buy almost anything if it is simply marketed correctly. And this realization gave me an idea. Now, anyone who knows me knows that I really despise almost all professionalized sports, and Hockey in particular. Besides my moral and economic objections to professionalized sports, I find them remarkably monotonous. Year in and year out people watch their favorite sports teams play through their seasons, losing and winning in a parade of weary games that seem to turn into blur of tiresome repetition. So it occurred to me that this notion presents us with an easy solution to the present NHL strike. Since the majority of hockey fans simply watch the games on television, does it really matter what games they are watching? Why don't the officials of the NHL simply choose a season of hockey, one long ago enough so that it is not in people's immediate memory but not so old that the games look old, and televise all the games of that season as though they are happening now. News channels can get in on the harmless deception by reporting the scores of the games as though they are really taking place, complete with more in-depth analysis of the ins and outs of the match. It could be an ersatz hockey season with star-players and memorable goals, and a much anticipated playoff race.

This ersatz sports season could solve two problems in one go. On the one hand it would help all those people who are depressed about the strike, and on the other hand it would remind people that they really don't need novelty for the sake of novelty. And while we are at it, why don't we convince Apple to issue the "All New" iphone 6 but without any actual change from the iphone 5 except, say, a new color. And since there seems to be an inexhaustible supply of people who will buy anything new from Apple, they can make a whole bunch of money, a large portion of which they can donate to charity. It would be a win/win situation for everyone involved. All those consumers will get a new phone, Apple will make money and so will charities.

Tomorrow I will show you how to solve the problems in the Middle-East.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Our Political Legitimation of Bullying. . . . .

In the wake of the tragedy of the suicide of Amanda Todd, bloggers are understandably talking a lot about the question of bullying. What do we do? How do we put a stop to it, or at the very least prevent it from becoming so desperate that young people (and adults) take their own lives to escape the physical and emotional pain that bullying brings?

Bloggers are talking a lot about punishing the perpetrators through the law or, in the case of young offenders, through a process of public shaming.

But it seems to be that such approaches will, in the final analysis, do little to really address the problem of bullying. We live in a culture of violence and bigotry. Our Prime Minister and his underlings have made bullying their fundamental mode of operation, and they have spent millions trying to transform Canada back into a nation of war. Stephen Harper and his cronies continually use name-calling, lying, marginalization, and aggressive public bullying in an attempt to deride their political opponents and bring them down in the eyes of the public. How many times did a Conservative stand up in the House and refer to Jack Layton as "Talaban Jack" because he had the gall to question the Conservative policy in Afghanistan? How many times did the Conservatives belittle Dion with name-calling and bird-poop? How many whistle-blowers have the Conservatives derided with personal attacks to belittle them and draw people's attention away from their own short-comings. Never concerned with the actual issues of their opponents, instead the Conservatives marginalize and attack in an attempt to pray upon perceived weaknesses that have nothing to do with the actual politics at hand.

In other words, far from reducing bullying in Canada, Stephen Harper and his government have raised bullying to the status of nationally sanctioned behaviour. And this mode of behaviour is championed by Conservative supporters all over this country. It is legitimized in the eyes of many parents and made honorable through the process.

Putting an end to bullying will be a long and complex problem. But we cannot even begin the process until nasty, mean, lying, violence-promoters like Stephen Harper and his henchmen are publicly disgraced because people reject their bigoted evil ways. The way to struggle against such bullying is when the mass of people stand up against their violent words and actions. Until then, the bullies of young women like Amanda Todd will continue to see in their political leaders that bullying is the favoured behaviour.

Sorry Amanda, and rest in peace.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Obama's Predictable Failure. . .

I am somewhat bemused by the surprised being expressed by many people concerning Obama's rather poor performance in the presidential debates last night. Have people simply not been paying attention for the past four years? Let's face it, as much as I hate the Republicans and as much as I, like many, had great hopes for an Obama presidency, Barack Obama has been something of an ersatz president. He really has done so little in office that he has made Hoover look like a 'can-do' president. He never faced his Republican opponents head-on and he never used his early currency to push the envelope against the extreme corporate agenda of contemporary American politics.

The reason for Obama's failure as president is very similar to the reasons that the Liberal Party of Canada has failed so badly. The failure derives from the fact that Obama, like the LPC, is actually a proponent of the corporate agenda that is, ironically,  killing Western Capitalism while making life increasingly difficult for average working people. And the democrats, like the LPC under steerage of Paul Martin as Finance Minister, embraced this agenda in the 1990s. The Liberal Party, like the upper-echelon of the Democratic Party, embraced a neo-conservative economic agenda under which the purpose of politics has become to increase the wealth and power of large corporations and systematically undermine the economic and social gains made by working people during the long post-war boom.

One need only look at Obama's total lack of serious action taken against Wall Street. Millionaires and Billionaires on Wall St. not only got away with their systematic rape of the economy, but under Obama  they were more or less rewarded. And nothing significant has been done to stop the way powerful people can get away with almost anything at an economic level.

With all this in mind, it is entirely predictable that Obama would lose the debate. I mean, how does one oppose the agenda of the rich if you essentially agree with it? All you have at your disposal are platitudes. Now platitudes are much more effective when you are on the outside looking in. But when you been holding the reins of power and have failed to take any real action to change the increasing economic inequality, platitudes sound hallow. That is why the Liberal Party has failed so badly during the recent political cycle. If you have essentially been the architect of the economic inequalities and the corporate agenda, it is very difficult to argue against it.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Justin Trudeau and the "substance" question. . .

Everywhere (on blogs and in the MSM) I keep hearing people tell me that Justin Trudeau has to demonstrate that he has substance as well as style. They say that he has to prove that he has solid approaches and policies and that he is not just a "pretty face."

And I keep thinking, "Really"? Since when does a politician need to have any real substance? We have a Prime Minister who isn't even "a pretty face," let alone a coherent policy maker! And Haper has demonstrated that you don't need style or substance - all you need is a divided opposition. Harper showed that if you are in the right place at the right time you can have less charisma than a wet dish-rag and you can still be the Prime Minister. The Conservative ministers keep telling us over and over ad nauseum that they are focused on "jobs" and the "economy," but they have NO actual policies to create jobs. They have nothing, and they never even try to pretend. They just have the mantra "jobs and the economy" and they repeat it as though that is itself a policy. Meanwhile anything that they are doing is creating a low-wage third-world style economy and increasing the economic inequalities that are at the root of the problem in the first place!

In fact the entire Harper MO is to do as little as possible (at least at the public level) and that way try to stay out of the public eye. Harper has turned on its head Oscar Wilde's adage that no publicity is bad publicity and try to champion the principle that where politics is concerned "almost all publicity is bad publicity." Even in the face of a government of stinking wretched corruption, Harper's approach is to stay quiet and let the news cycle go by until it all blows over. The most that Harper and his ministers do is just lie over and over until the lie is taken for the truth. Case in point; as more and more people get sick from tainted meat and we see the largest beef recall in history, the Minister of Agriculture not only fails to be accountable but claims that the food inspection system has done a "tremendous job." In other words, the more incompetent your government is, the more you exaggerate its competence and success.

So next time someone tell you that Justin Trudeau has to demonstrate that he has good policy ideas, roll your eyes at their naiveté. In the new age of Karl Rove/Harper style politics, policy competence is probably more of a hindrance than a help. Rather than show how smart he is, Mr. Trudeau needs to demonstrate that he can resist talking about policies, and look good and simply sound like he knows what he is doing. That is where his real hope for success lies.  

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Building prisons in the world and the mind. . .

I admit that I am very far gone down the path of misanthropy. My opinions of society and those who inhabit it are so low that I find it challenging just to keep going with everyday tasks. I am not depressed. Depressions is a much to mild and parochial word for what I feel. Our society is one of diseased control which seeks to destroy our world of abundance. Everything must be classified and put in a box from whence it can only be taken with official sanction to do its assigned job. Our schools seek to excrete cookie-cutter citizens who only function in "appropriate" ways, particularly as 'workers' and taxpayers. It frightens me deeply that creative behaviour is something to be 'cured' or corrected rather than promoted and cherished. The great, creative minds of our culture, from Van Gogh to Giordano Bruno, to Percy Shelley, are seldom, during their lifetimes, viewed with sympathy or respect, but are rather to be "corrected" and controlled. In today's society we are quick to label creative minds as needing to be "cured" of their neuroses despite the fact that is consistently from our neuroses that our creativity and insights arise. Far from curing us of our neurotic behaviours, I think we should protect them, relish in them because if we are to be saved it is from these instabilities and these perceived weaknesses that our creative insight will most often emerge.

I remember reading an old story (I can't recall where it comes from but maybe someone out there will recall) about a wise man who seeks to protect his community. This man has an insight that a rain will come and all of those get wet in this rain will go insane. He attempts to convince those around him to take shelter in a nearby cave to save themselves from this appending doom. However, no one will listen to the man and they ridicule him and ignore his warnings. When the rain comes the only one to take shelter is the man himself. He waits through the night and in the morning he emerges to find that his worst fear have come true. Everyone in the community has lost their minds, their behaviour is absurd and inconsistent. The people talk gibberish or make claims about the world that make no sense. The values of the community have overnight undergone a frightening change and they no longer care properly for each other but seem to care of nothing but themselves. The man goes to all of those he once trusted, the wise and the intelligent, and he tells them that they have all been sent insane by the terrible rain. But no one will listen to him because, in their insanity, they see no change in their behaviour or values. Everywhere he looks for allies but finds only ridicule as the community believe that the man himself is insane. Finally, realizing that he cannot live in a community in which he is the only sane member, the man finds a large puddle from the rain and he lays down, making sure that he is saturated by the water. Soon his behaviour changes and he is suddenly like the other members of his insane community. Those around him are amazed by the fact that simply by dousing himself with rainwater from a puddle this man has cured himself of his insanity. And so the man goes happily among his other, equally insane, brethren.

When I look around me, from our schools to our political institutions, I am deeply disturbed and frightened by the our self-produced prison of thought and action. And ideas produce much more effective prisons than bars and concret ever could.

-I have lived on the lip of insanity, wanting to know reasons, knocking on a door. It opens. I've been knocking from the inside!