Thursday, April 12, 2007

Some Scenes of Vancouver from the 1920s and 30s

Thanks to Studying the past, we get a sense of the long roads that have brought us to our present place. Trapped in the blinking present, we can only ever know the past, and so those roads may seem to define a future course for our one-way trip, as if our road were now an arching arrow, taking us to our final place with geometric logic. But the road becoming arrow is really more like a river emptying into an uncharted sea whose tides and currents will push back and diffuse our rivers into the endless possibilities of the future. Meanwhile, in the delta, the people depend for life on the dependable long flowing river and on faith in the untold wealth and general benevolence of the ocean to come.

We, as the present, are the people of the delta, with the freedom to build roads and islands into the sea, to channel the future course of the river, if we have the courage to experiment in building these new islands, to create new centres of attention for the nation, islands that our fellows may or may not soon come down to join, creating more new centres, competent individuals taking it upon themselves to take a lead in representing the nation. But if we fear being told by established elites and interests that we have no right, no permit, to build, because our island might exclude someone or another, we will find that we have no choice but to remain on well-charted and -divided land, each is his or her own proper place. But this land is always at risk of eroding under the weight of ages, under the inertia and violence of massed resentments. If we fail to find new ways to go out from old piles in both political and economic freedom, to build again, each with equal rights but no special privileges, the river in time will wash us away and revert to a more primal course.

The Covenant Zone bloggers meet every Thursday in the atrium of the central branch of the Vancouver Public Library, 7-9 pm. We wear blue scarves. Join us in the political delta and discuss the future of the Canadian covenant that allows each of us, as humble ordinary members of the nation, to build new islands together, to welcome others, and negotiate our differences in freedom, and not in bondage to some guilt- or fear-mongering empire of liberalism, the dictatorship of relativism, the empire that would, if it could, rule over all tributaries, the empire that seeks to obscure the differences among our many rivers, and between rivers and seas, all in a magic aimed at confusing the purpose of freedom's builders and vainly pretending, with its over-bearing dams of taxation, regulation, and public relations, to be directing the proper shape and size of the roads and endless flows from past to future. Empires never hold together forever. Those who want to survive the coming flood need to start building islands, nations, now.

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