Someone once said that it was better to tell a massive lie rather than a small one because the former stood a greater chance of being believed due to its sheer audacity. The Bible clearly tells us not to engage in this practice. There are many varieties of lies ranging from little white lies to half truths to omissions to obfuscations and onto fabrications. They are classified from black to white through all the shades of gray according to their perceived justifications. If they prevent human discomfort they are placed on the white side.
This classification structure is very logical and from it we can become very creative as we race back and forth from the public stage to our private dressing rooms. We are generally more inventive and lenient with ourselves than we are with any others, including our relatives and friends. It is an accepted practice to lie to children the world over under the twin justifications of protecting and entertaining them. Part of the behavior expressed by adolescents as they make the transition from childhood into adulthood is a quite natural rage against the lies that have been told to them. Interestingly, at this point it matters not to the young adult which shade of gray the lie is painted in. In this phase of life, there is only black and white, true and false.
Not very sophisticated or conducive to a busy social life but nonetheless pure and purely human, I might add. Our modern, civilized culture in particular exacerbates this phenomenon when held up against other more ancient cultures as well as when compared to the state of mind of young people who enjoyed privileged educations at private institutions. With an eye to the future and to providing new captains for steering the ships of state along desired courses, they are taught very different philosophies with which to complement a less propagandized sugar free curriculum, especially as regards to history.
Each generation is a living breathing chance for mankind to reach for far more practical goals than orbiting hotels, mining asteroids and devising new taxes. Each generation instead is either thrust out into the maelstrom or coddled in the basement if they have somehow escaped being diagnosed with ADD, hyperactivity, autism or depression and have managed to make some noise.
When punk music washed ashore from England onto North American shores, I hated it. In my opinion you could have used it to churn butter or strip paint. At that time, I knew not of the de-industrialization purposely carried out on that island or of Prime Minister Thatcher’s announcement in a speech that there would be an entire generation of Britons who would never see gainful employment in their lifetime. Pub hours were extended, the heroin taps were turned on and rich people chuckled about how you have to break a few eggs if you want to make an omelet.
The first few tattooed and pierced individuals I worked with in the Post Office initially repulsed me. As their numbers grew and I worked more closely with them, I came to learn that they were, in general, a very conservative bunch of people. They were very spiritually oriented and had a well defined sense of morals. At first this perplexed me until I realized that the outward appearance was a statement which served the dual purposes of protection and identification. Protection from the many evils they perceived in the world they had been handed and identification for recognition by others of that generation. A tribe, if you will.
I have noticed that this effect can be seen around the world, regardless of race or indigenous culture as places are literally hammered into the Globalist Utopia. This is being done in such a way that it appears to be a Western or a Capitalist or a Socialist trend. The keystone is the adoption of the central banking system and this is furthered strengthened by the signing of international treaties which bind large populations to vague rules enforced by non-resident tribunals. Sovereignty falls on the field of progress just after truth, while local privilege seeks safety by signing up tax payers as collateral to guarantee World Bank and IMF development loans. All the nice bits such as natural treasures, islands, nature preserves and ancient heritage sites are swapped for temporary debt forgiveness. In this way, corporations will have less interference when extracting resources in the future and something to show the world that they have protected by putting a fence around it, installing a zip-line, a tourist center and selling tickets.
If we look at Britain through the centuries and compare other countries to this model, we may get a foreshadowing of things to come if there is no change in current trends. Elderly people freezing in their own houses, young people ravaged by drugs, mass unemployment and the whole shebang caught on zillions of CCTV cameras. This is also true when looking at the symptoms manifested by the popular culture of such unfortunate places, such as dissonant music accompanied by agonizing visceral poetry screamed at unintelligible volumes. We seem to always fall short of a diagnosis or wait to be provided one by a face we trust from our local news outfit.
I saw on my local news just yesterday that there were only fourteen million households in Canada. I had recently heard on the same media that the average Canadian citizen had not enough savings to see them through any major unforeseen expense without resorting to borrowing, if they were able to qualify. It always strikes me as absurd that anyone should go homeless or penniless due to the servicing of a monster mortgage in such a vast land of resources. I was struck by the same incongruity in parts of Asia where people starve in lands that enjoy three growing seasons per year. Here at home, we are reluctant to provide door to door mail delivery for a population that would fit inside California.
I calculated the other day that I will have to draw my pension for twenty-five years in order to have been paid the same amount as the first years salary of the CEO of my former employer, Canada Post. I’m one of the lucky ones. Just as the Red Coats, Highlanders, Gurkhas and Fusiliers left their dead across the world, the American Forces were handed a false global burden after hearing rousing speeches by the likes of Rudyard Kipling and they have added immensely to the body count. In both cases, lines were drawn and redrawn on maps with little regard to the humans contained in those strategic containers. Many times over the number of the uniformed dead, civilians and non-combatants populated mass graves. Waves of displaced homeless refugees came to the shores of Britain and America.
They in turn sacrificed their sons and daughters for yet other military adventures.
The charade can be easily seen in a study of the Korean Conflict or Police Action as it was called. These new euphemisms for war seem to have stuck with us. The back and forth from Seoul to Pyongyang and on to the Yalu after the Inchon Landing and then the scorched earth retreat back to Seoul and the subsequent firing of the 33rd degree Mason, MacArthur by the President can tell us much.
MacArthur, like Patton before him recognized a future adversary and wished as a military strategist to engage that enemy at a time and place of his own choosing. Both men were stopped in their tracks by Presidents whose loyalties slunk in the shadows. During the entire conflict, the orders came from a United Nations where Americans paid for everything and Russian Communists were aware of each new objective prior to its execution on the ground. Cities and towns were razed to the ground, waves of innocents were made homeless, brave men sacrificed their lives for naught and lucky contractors got to rebuild the mess. A bogeyman was left in place to be used as an excuse for future adventures in the region. It is a modus operandi that is clearly visible throughout history down to the present day.
It may well be that we now stand on the verge of another chapter in this ancient game. The race to privatization and monopoly affects the defense, security and detention industries just as it has the power, transportation and agricultural industries. Atlas may shrug and Sisyphus may take a nap while migrants roll his stone. Time will tell. Meanwhile we must be aware that precisely those things we do not like to hear or see, such as that awful racket coming from the independent music scene can be helpful in diagnosing some of the ills of society that certainly should be addressed. Or we could watch the brand new season of Mary Kills People while our children Tweet themselves into a coma.
One of the barriers to remediation of many of the problems we face is the fact that the truth, particularly in regards to history and politics, is so outrageous that it would scarcely be believed if its pieces were dragged from their shallow graves and laid out in the Main Streets of the world. The opposite intentioned Freedom Of Information Acts of the world ensure that at least two generations of publicly educated individuals grow up thinking the wrong things before a tiny percentage ever bother to read the declassified bits that have escaped the censor’s Magic Marker. This keeps everyone quite busy jumping to conclusions, flying off the handle, carrying grudges, running interference, seeking shelter, nursing hangovers, killing time and fishing for compliments. Me and you included.
Sometimes we can easily tell when someone is lying to us. If it is a well intentioned person having a laugh at our expense, they always give visible clues, wait for the light bulb to go off in our head and give up the ghost if we don’t catch on. Like the time I asked a gas station attendant in Nanaimo how to fish for abalone. I had just moved there from North Vancouver to work at the Keg N’ Cleaver Restaurant. I had my eighteen year old wife from Nevada, my old Beaumont Acadian and not much else but a desire to pursue success and happiness.
I think it was my accent that triggered the mischief. The young man was about my age, twenty that is. As he pumped the gas, he told of a time honored complex ritual involving Honda generators, miles of extension cords, moonless nights during neap tides and several pit lamps. I followed along the instructions so far, he couldn’t stand it and confessed the ruse. The upside was that he told me of a good spot off Hammond Bay Rd. to fish for oysters. I used to keep a one gallon glass jar full of shucked meat and produced enough shell to pave the drive where I parked the Beaumont.
These oysters, unlike the small ones in the Gulf of Mexico on the Texas coast, were simply lying on a sandy bottom attached to nothing. Texas oysters had to be dredged up by strong metal hooks to break them off their ancient beds. Also, unlike Texas where you wouldn’t have been allowed to cross a waterfront homeowners property to access the beach without risking some buckshot, we could stroll right down the side yard of any house to get to the spot. I have always appreciated Queen E. for this and I hear from my cousin that it is much the same in Sweden under their Royal Everyman’s law.
I took friends and family from Vancouver and some guests from Texas out there many times. We would float a large plastic beer cooler out in front of us and dive for the treats. Each time we popped up we had one monster mollusk in each hand to plop in the box. Those evenings would be spent shucking in the back yard, reminiscing, slapping skeeters and planning the gumbo. I found out that they were very good with eggs in a local dish called “Hangtown Fry.”
Sometimes it is nearly impossible to believe the truth. This can be because we may have never confronted a particular event ourselves. When my young wife phoned me at work to tell me that objects were flying around our rented old house, I didn’t believe it. I rushed home due to her hysteria and saw what she had seen and still didn’t believe my own eyes. In due time, I had to make a bigger space in my awareness and accept something new. I have told the true story of that haunted house and it will air in two parts one day soon under the title of “Ghost Story.” Our story even made it into the Nanaimo Free Press.
I was able to experience a similar occurrence of disbelief in the face of truth from the opposite vantage before leaving Nanaimo. It happened that I became temporarily unemployed while in the ghost house and I had heard through the grapevine that I might have a chance of getting a gig as a deck-hand on the Gabriola Ferry. This is a small ferry that runs back and forth from Nanaimo to one of the many Gulf Islands off the B. C. coastline. My father had gone to sea in Montreal at age fifteen and my mother’s father had gone to sea at the age of fourteen. I figured, being twenty should make it even easier.
I was armed with good intel that the Captains were suitably impressed if you came on board during a run dressed for the job and eager to show off some knot tying skills. Back then I was pretty good with clove hitches, camel hitches, bowlines and such. I had been bringing my wife to work with me prior to getting unemployed due to her inability to remain alone in the spirit-ridden house. If you are wondering why we didn’t simply move, it was because we had innocently signed a six month lease that stipulated we were to pay in full for each month early we would have vacated the premises. It was money we didn’t have and thus not an option. The landlord turned out later to confess full knowledge of a murder that had occurred there but had purposely chosen to omit this information when I signed the lease. Conversely, when I moved out six harrowing months later, he used the notoriety of the place generated by the newspaper article to rent the house quickly and easily for double the amount I had paid.
The day I set off to apply for the ferry deck-hand job, I had my wife along as usual. I pulled up to the grocery store on Front St. near the terminal, told her to wait patiently and that I would bag this job. I reckoned I would be less than ten minutes. After all, the ferry was loading, it only held a few cars and Captains were good judges of men. She wished me luck and adjusted her sun-glasses to the glare reflecting off the water.
I strode aboard and quickly found the Pilothouse after negotiating a slew of bicycles, tripods, cases, back-packs and other equipment which clogged up the deck. It was as if a group was getting ready to climb Mt. Everest judging by their gear. I glanced at the deck-hand on my way up, certain that I could do what he was doing. As I finished my introduction, hand-shaking and offer of services for a position that the company had not advertised for, the Captain tooted his horn and threw her into Back Slow. I made a tiny bit of a face and he smiled and said that it couldn’t hurt to go along one run although he didn’t know of any openings for deck-hands in the foreseeable future. I figured it was a test and held my mud.
The run to Gabriola doesn’t take too long and I knew I could smooth things out with my wife when I got back. Truly, I was Shanghaied. I would have thought the Captain would have had the decency to notify me before casting off. Anyway, the round trip was about six nautical miles and would take under an hour. I chatted a bit longer with the Captain, not showing any concern or distress. After a suitable time, I went down to talk to the deck-hand. As the Gabriola dock hove into view, I felt that wonderful ancient feeling all mariners experience when coming ashore.
The deck-hand sprang into disciplined action and soon had the few vehicles safely on their way like so many geese shooed away from a tree stump. What happened next took a few moments to implant in my brain and a few more moments to process as being real. A man and woman rode their bikes off with three children in tow.
Halfway across the gangway, the mother stopped, turned, held up a small packet and yelled, “Who wants gum?”
“I do, I do.” came an answering chorus from the youngsters and father.
It was only then I turned and saw that all the equipment I had seen earlier was set up in place behind us and a film crew was busy with the shoot. The family began to chew their Trident Sugarless Gum and giggle as they rode off the ramp and a hundred yards down the bend in the island road. I looked at the deck-hand, the film crew and the Captain grinning in his cockpit.
“Are you shitting me?” I inquired of the deck-hand.
“I shit you not,” he replied and handed me a pack of gum.
I knew I’d need it as evidence, so I didn’t chew any. I let the novelty of the situation become comfortable on the sofa in my mind and leaned against a rail to watch the cyclist come back aboard. They were swiftly stowed away and in short order we cast off. It couldn’t have been too soon for me. Due to the situation at home, my wife’s nerves were not the best. Like Antoine de Saint-Exupéry wandering the Sahara after crashing his mail plane en route from Paris to Saigon, I was suffering agonies at having inadvertently caused her to worry. While I made peace with this, the ferry Captain threw her into slow Ahead and took another run at the dock. As I stood gripping a stanchion, we docked again and repeated the entire scene. I heaved a sigh of heavy relief when we were again moving astern and I felt that wonderful feeling all mariners experience when watching the land slip away.
The third time we docked I turned to the deck-hand, “Are you shitting me?”
“I shit you not,” was his calm measured reply.
The fourth time, I checked my tobacco pouch to make sure I could pass the balance of the day without mooching. By the fifth landing, I was considering asking the camera crew if I could get any cash for appearing in a cameo role. By the sixth and final repeat, I had decided I didn’t like the film business, I hated gum and I sorely missed my little wife. I tried to concoct something more believable than the truth on the way back to Nanaimo. I couldn’t. When I got to the car, in the waning light of a late afternoon, I told my poor dehydrated woman the truth and I even showed her the gum. I apologized profusely but made it clear that I admitted no guilt under the peculiar circumstances. As a back up, I added that I had been told that the commercial would be aired in six months and that then she’d see for herself.
She pointed her face to me, tilted up her sun-glasses, tossed her corn-silk hair and said, “Are you shitting me, Michael?”
“I shit you not,” I replied with the conviction of a Southern Baptist preacher.
We never did see that commercial. We didn’t own a TV during our short marriage. I honestly don’t know if my ex-wife ever believed the truth of that afternoon. Yet, there it lay like a grease stripe atop a cat’s head after it has crawled under a differential.
Today we are affected by many new and numinous maladies. When diagnosed by our medical professionals, they are merely described in Greek and Latin. The underlying causes are frequently admitted by Doctors to be unknown as are the cures. Personally, I figure this is environmental and is due to many the irritants, additives, pollutants and altered substances we ingest and absorb.
Whether a person is looking at social, political or medical issues, it is important to describe what is observed like the emo music lyrics referred to in the beginning of this essay. A description is a starting point but far from a cure. Anything administered to alleviate symptoms does not provide a lasting solution either. I am sure that cures and prevention are very difficult to attain but I am equally convinced that these are the only destinations worth aiming at regardless of where we end up.
I have found that sometimes lasting solutions to problems and their proper diagnosis can come from very unlikely sources. I experienced this last month. I had been feeling very run down, lethargic, itchy and sore for some time. The TV medical experts spewed out an endless barrage of maybes to be considered and although I don’t watch it much, it is on in my house, it is Winter and I can hear it. I puzzled over the way I felt for a considerable stretch of time. Then I paid attention to a silent partner, my cat, Mr. Dusty Bones, Esq.
He had taken to sitting on a high perch in the bedroom and staring like a sphinx at a small ventilation hole near the ceiling that most trailers have in the living room and the main bedroom. He continued this behavior for some days and nights. I was really getting fed up with feeling off kilter. So much so, I even contemplated heavy physical exercise. One morning, I woke and saw him there like a Royal Bank granite lion staring at the vent which had been cleverly blocked up with Styrofoam in order to save on the last occupant’s heating bill. I stood on a chair and smelled it immediately. Mold.
When I pried out the foam, I was treated to the sight of several paper wasp nests which had been constructed from the outside through a hole in the screen. They had subsequently become wet from condensation due to the blockage of the foam and then had molded. This was the mysterious cause of all those symptoms. I had experienced something similar in Vancouver at an apartment I rented. I removed both foam blocks, cleaned out the molded wasp nests, scoured the aluminum sills till they shone, disinfected them and replaced the screens behind the small glass louvers. All while my cat watched silently and knowingly. We cracked them open a wee bit to let the air circulate and carry away moisture and one by one all the symptoms disappeared. Maybe one day the world will learn something vitally useful from those who don’t communicate in the usual manner. Whether they stand on four legs or on two.
Michael Hawes was born in Texas, raised in Louisiana and lives in British Columbia.