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Monday, 26 January 2015

Oh, The Thinks I Can Think!

I've been taking a break from social media for a little while now. I can only handle name-calling and anger for so long at a stretch before I burn out. Then I start turning nasty, myself. As Nietzsche said, "He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you." I was becoming a certain kind of monster, and was well aware of it. The first thing I did was cut the people out of my life that showed such a marked tendency toward viciousness, and then I stopped subjecting others to my own bad behaviour. I'm well aware that once you start in with the name-calling, you've just as good as admitted that you've lost the argument. Name-calling is the sign of a person who no longer has reason backing them up. It's not necessarily true that the name-caller is always wrong, but by that point you've crossed over the line from debate into mudslinging, and the argument isn't going anywhere but down.

So, I've made only brief appearances on Facebook, in some cases to thank the people who have come on to tell me they've got my back, and in some cases for tentative forays into humour. I've avoided commenting on anything that hovers around the edges of serious discourse. And you know what? I'm a hell of a lot happier, I think. I'm also catching up on a few things. Not finding news items to blog or write articles about has actually turned my brain back toward my real passion in writing - fiction. At first I started organizing some of my notes, and then as I was pulling notes into my OneNote folder for that particular novel, something strange happened. I opened the document for the book in order to glance over it. Then I read what I had written. That's when I started to write!

At first I was just doing a bit of minor revising; phrasing I didn't like that I decided to alter. I got to the end of what I'd already written, realized I'd stopped writing without finishing the chapter, and there I was...suddenly adding another thousand words.

Almost as interesting to me was the fact that I actually started considering doing some fiction work yesterday - short stories to be added to my website. Of course, I opened up the back-up pages of my website to see where I could put in a short-story section, only to realize that my website isn't properly set up for it. Instead I wound up meandering around online and adding WordPress to a section of my site (that isn't really publicly available yet, but probably will be at some point), so that I could move my blogging over to it. This is what attention-deficit disorder gets you. You start out doing one thing, realize there's something else you need to do and wander off to do that, and in the middle of that you notice there's something else that needs to be done, so you work on that for a little bit. Nothing ever seems to get finished.

Thankfully I've curbed my ADD when I'm doing stuff for other people (usually), so I'm able to accomplish things and meet deadlines in a professional sense, but when there's no obligation or time frame that has to be adhered to it's not surprising I lapse more often than not. I get stuff done for the show, because there's a weekly deadline. In fact, I rather surprised myself and got ahead of schedule there. That helps, because I'm not even thinking about the show now. It's not niggling at the back of my mind, distracting me from enjoying other activities. In fact, we've got some pretty amazing shows under our belts now. Our last one was an interview with a retired colonel who used to work at the Pentagon. He talks about the current situation with IS and the Islamic extremists, and really knows his stuff. If you want to have listen, go our our Podcast page. It's well worth your time. I learned a lot, myself. The Twitter memorial account for Charlie Hebdo actually retweeted our show, if that tells you anything.

Knowing that we're going to be moving probably helps, too. We've hated this place since we moved into it, and looking back I know that's why I could never bring myself to unpack completely. We stayed more than two years, and that's more an indicator of my laziness than the fact that I didn't unpack the boxes. I've been so unhappy living in this hole, surrounded by people who are content to live at the bottom of society, and who spend their money on alcohol so they can pretend they're having a good time. I don't eschew the odd evening of intoxication, but they happen pretty rarely for me. Once every couple of years maybe. For many who live in my building, every weekend is a party. Knowing I was living in a slum didn't exactly make me want to get up and dance every morning, and my natural disinclination toward domestic activities was exaggerated - in other words I became even more of a slob than I'm comfortable with, which is a saying a lot.

We may be buying a house, which will be further cause for celebration should things go according to plan. There are a couple of 3-bedroom houses (with two bathrooms) we're interested in, and having a third bedroom means having decent work space. I can set my desk up properly again, close the door, and really concentrate on my writing. Since I'm not in the midst of any sort of romantic entanglement, it also means I won't have any worries about anyone interrupting me, or getting pissy with me because I'm more interested in working than watching TV. My daughter respects my need to be left alone while I write - probably because she doesn't like being bugged either.

While many people fantasize about falling in love, I daydream about setting up the perfect office and being left alone for days at a stretch. In fact, that's actually how my tailbone got destroyed. I worked for more than 24 hours in a row once, sitting in a really cheap steno chair and only getting up to venture to the bathroom and grab a sandwich. When I finished the draft of the book I was working on it took me about fifteen minutes just to stand up. It was never right after that, and kept getting worse until I finally had to have it removed about four years ago. It had a major curvature to it that even I could see from the x-rays was far from normal.

Part of me has been pondering getting back to my fiction work for a while now. Yet somehow I've been thinking I would wait until we had moved and I didn't have those external distractions. Instead I've already gone back to it. I think all I really needed was to get away from the kind of writing I find so aggravating. Aggravating not only because it isn't the kind I want to be doing, and also because of the subject matter being more than a little controversial, so I ended up with trolls here and there. There are still some serious topics I'd like to dig into at some point, but they're major pieces that will require a lot of work and monetary compensation. They're also the kind of work that will take me away from fiction in a big way, and now that I've finally gone back to it I don't want to leave again for a while. In fact, when I started this blog I wasn't planning to do much other than just chat with people and get my thoughts 'on paper' so to speak. Much like a journal, except that it's public. I certainly didn't intend to spend the next couple of years writing for various online publications about so many controversial topics.

Life is funny like that, isn't it? As much as I feel like I've accomplished as a writer over the last 30 months or so, it was very different from what I had planned to do. I don't consider it to have been a waste in any way - just the opposite in fact - but certainly it was a completely different path from what I intended. I read an article a year or so ago about how many words a writer had to write before they were ready. I don't think it was even the author's idea, but rather they were talking about someone else's notion of the amount of practice it took to be a good writer. Apparently a million is the magic number. Yup. A million words. Now, maybe that seems like a lot to some people, and especially to those who don't normally write, but a regular novel is around 100,000 words. Anything less than about 60,000 words is more like a novella. The average article is anywhere from 500 to 1,500 words, usually, depending on the depth of the subject matter. I once wrote an article that I believe was over 5,000 words, but then it was on the aftermath of rape - not something to be taken lightly, and there was a lot that needed to be said. A blurb just wasn't going to cut it.

However, just taking the average length and multiplying it by the number of articles and blog postings I've written (well over 300), I've actually got about half a million words floating around out there online. Never mind what I've written that hasn't been made public. I've finished one full novel, of about 120,000 words, that I've rewritten a couple of times. (It's a book I never intend to publish, since it was a romance I wrote when I was young and full of silly ideas like that.) Then there's the work I've done on other books that I have not finished. Then there was the half of a book that I wrote as a teenager, and I was writing fiction stories starting at the age of twelve. Being 43 years old now, I'm pretty sure I hit the million mark some time ago, in addition to having 'matured' 32 years. Yes, I used scare quotes, but that's because I don't really consider myself to be very mature. I spend far too much time playing computer games for anyone to call me mature. I don't care how grey my hair is. [Funnily enough my daughter was just saying I might be able to pull off a Jamie Lee Curtis with my hair, and I was more than a little flattered by that (no she's not prone to flattery - the opposite if anything). I respect any woman, particularly in Hollywood, who ages proudly.]

Maybe now I'm ready. I'm looking forward to it at any rate, and it's been a while since I really got into something I was working on. I can feel my focus coming back. Again it's an area where I didn't plan to do any writing, since it's within the fantasy genre I would say, but at least it's within the realm of fiction. I started plotting out this book a year ago, doing research on any relevant historical topics, but since it's about demons and other mythical beings I can really have fun with it and make it what I want. The fact that everything can be made up is both the joy and the challenge of fantasy writing. J.K. Rowling probably had a blast writing the Harry Potter books, but with everything that you make up you have to be sure you keep track of it. That same thought occurred to me when reading J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings again. You can make up an entirely new planet if you want to, but then you're starting completely from scratch. You can't take anything for granted, not even the invention of the wheel.

If I really got serious with my current effort, I could have the first draft written within a month. Since it's intended to be the beginning of a series, however, I won't be finished even then. It's going to be a smaller book than the ones I'll be writing for my serial killer series, so hopefully I can bite the bullet and just get the thing done already. Okay, I'm off again to do what I do best - daydream and make things up as I go along. I'll be around, though, and will keep everyone posted on my progress. I'll talk to y'all very soon!

Friday, 16 January 2015

The Difference an Imaginary Line Can Make

When viewed from space our planet has no actual boundary lines. It's all greens and blues with swirly clouds here and there. It's a beautiful sphere of peace and harmony. Yet, when viewed from the surface, there are imaginary lines all over the place. Lines that tell us we're in a certain country, and if we're born there what nationality we must claim. Lines that break down each country into segments such as states, provinces, counties, and municipalities. It's not enough that we're already divided into physical continents by the oceans, with the exception of Europe and Asia. No, we had to go and mark out territories, and spend a lot of time fighting over what amounts to nothing more than imaginary lines.

I'd really like to know why it is we feel it's necessary to do this. I know there's greed involved, because the resources of the planet are valuable, and so we try to claim as many of those resources as we can. However, I was born into a set of rules I took no part in making. I didn't decide where I wanted to be born, and neither did anyone else. The moment we emerge from the womb we are bound by laws and customs, and told we're some sort of nationality. I was born in Canada, and so I'm Canadian, but as much as I love my country it was never a choice that I made. Either fate or mere happenstance determined that I took my first breath of air in this country. By doing so I was issued an identity packet. A birth certificate and social insurance number to be precise. Then because I was born in Ontario I was issued health insurance based on that.

So when did I choose any of this? Well, I didn't. My only choice thus far has been to remain where I am, rather than relocate to some place of my choosing. What bothers me, however, are the rules that were slapped on me at the moment of my birth. Who decided that a red traffic light would mean you had to come to a full and complete stop? Who is it that determined a dandelion is a weed, when I grew up eating dandelion leaf salad, and others made dandelion wine - and that determination meant that your neighbours could complain if you had too many on your lawn? Some of the rules are so arbitrary that you can't keep from shaking your head at them.

The imaginary lines have such a powerful effect on people that even those that speak the same language will become confused by the word usage of people from a different country. A good example of this has to do with the political system. In the United States, the word 'liberal' is interpreted as a political affiliation rather than the way in which the word is defined in the dictionary. Being Canadian means something completely different from being an American. A liberal, even in the political realm, does not mean the same thing. I once said someone was pretty liberal, and the person I said it to was insulted, when in that context all I meant was that they weren't bigoted. I thought it was a compliment, but it certainly wasn't taken that way.

It's actually kind of amazing all the little differences an imaginary line can make. Sure, at their core most people are basically the same, but the way they process language and react in everyday situations can be the polar opposite of someone from a different country. There can be a lot of confusion and miscommunications. When I worked for a multi-national corporation years ago, I had to deal with these differences on a daily basis. My job involved financial, payroll and human resources tasks, and with everything I did I was constantly dealing with people in different places. What made it so bizarre was that everyone assumed things were done exactly the same everywhere else, and mostly because they simply couldn't imagine things being done a different way.

When I talk to my American friends about political or social issues, I'm fascinated by the way people view themselves, their country, and countries outside their own. It's like no other country exists outside of the US. If things are done a certain way there, they either assume it's done the same elsewhere, or if they know it's not they don't understand why anyone would do things differently. I'm sure the reverse is true to some extent. Every country has its own way of dealing with the citizens it governs, and even when things aren't perfectly smooth we think our way is the best possible way. By having friends in countries all over the world, however, I've learned about some of the options out there. I've learned to be grateful I was shoved into the world exactly where I am, because I know it could be a whole lot worse, but then I also know it could be a whole lot better.

I was drawn to watching Star Trek shows and movies long ago, and there was a message within the franchise that was embodied in pretty much every episode every made. It was the ideal society, where people that were not only different races and religions, but also different species, were basically considered the same. Sure the Federation, the Romulans and the Klingons were enemies, and those clashes were a good metaphor for racism and bigotry, but as the franchise played out from one series to the next, those clashes softened and soon there were real attempts to bring everyone together.

Throughout the years, my best hope for humanity was always along similar lines to Star Trek. I truly want everyone to have a place at the bargaining table, no matter what our differences might be. A world without persecution is something I'd like to see in my lifetime. I don't think it will happen without some major precipitating event or catastrophe, and maybe it's not meant to be, but it's my hope for the world anyway. The creation of the International Space Station really boosted those hopes. The very idea that we would share space like that seemed to me a step in the right direction. Things might be a mess on the surface of our planet, but up there they have a pretty great perspective on things. Now we can only hope that everyone will start to see things with those eyes, where the imaginary lines are no longer relevant.

Sunday, 11 January 2015

The Only Rights We Have Are the Ones We Fight For

Oftentimes in life, just showing up to a fight is enough to end it. Thus was the case with my most recent battle a couple of days ago. My landlord attempted to take me to court to get me to pay for renovations they were doing. Yes, that is totally unfair, as well as completely illegal, but if I hadn't gone to court I'd have been charged more than $2,600 in absentia. They tried to lie and say we'd damaged a floor that had been in the building since it had been built. I won't bore you with all the details, but I will say that the guy who did our walk-through when we were looking at the place said they would fix the floor before we moved in. They didn't, but that tells you the damage was pre-existing.

The end result was that as soon as they saw we had shown up to court (they saw our names on the sign-in sheet) they decided they would be willing to go through a mediator rather than the adjudicator. Fancy that! We presented numerous pictures showing the water damage in the apartment that could only be pre-existing, and entirely out of the realm of our control. The roof had leaked for a long time, there's a wall in which there's a leaking pipe, and there is so much mold and mildew that I can no longer use my bedroom. By strange coincidence they were no longer interested in pursuing damages. Happily this mediation gave us the opportunity to bring up their numerous illegal activities without actually reporting them, but they took them a little more seriously at least. It also gave us the opportunity to let them know we'd happily be vacating the premises at the end of March. Yay!

Things became remarkably friendly during these proceedings, considering how nasty they tried to be. They talked about what great tenants we were, because we were quiet and always paid our rent. I guess they figured we were so nice that we would happily roll over and pay for them to replace the floor in our apartment. Right. The funny thing is, they truly have no clue how absolutely nasty I could have been. I could have forced them into bankruptcy had I chosen to make my complaints known with the appropriate legal parties. If I had chosen to be vindictive, the city would have come in and shut the place down. They would have been charged many thousands of dollars just to be able to continue as landlords.

Instead, I simply stopped them from screwing me over. If they had chosen to keep on with their case, I would have pulled out all the stops, of course, if for no other reason than to show the true state of their general character. Their blatant dishonesty would have been more than enough to have my case thrown out. As it is, that's what the end result was here, and they were forced to swallow the application fee of $170 for filing against us. They've also told us they're going to provide us with a good reference, etc. I don't care if they're doing it to placate us, as long as they don't screw up our reputation as tenants. Here they tend to keep a record, and it becomes really difficult to find a place to live if you've been a bad tenant - similar to having a bad credit rating.

It just goes to show, though, how far some people will go to get you to pay their bills for them, and how little you sometimes have to do to stand up for yourself. Just because there are laws that exist to protect us, does not mean we won't be taken unfair advantage of. Every time we do not force people in power to abide by the laws, the more likely they are to run roughshod over us. Landlords seem to be some of the worst, because so many of them are owner-operators, basically, uneducated in the terms under which they are allowed to continue said operations. They seem to think that because they buy a piece of property they automatically have the right to rent it out in any manner they choose. They don't, and the courts can remove their privileges as landlords. They can also be heavily fined and find themselves stripped of their property if it turns out to be unfit for residential use.

There are people in this world who have a gigantic sense of entitlement. They've somehow come to believe themselves above the law, or simply better than others around them. They feel like they deserve better treatment than that which they afford others. You find it a lot in wealthier people, who have never had to live through difficult times. People who inherit their wealth in particular, such as the Walton family brats who now run the Walmart empire, and the Koch brothers who now run Koch Industries. They didn't build their businesses themselves. They just suck every last ounce of profits out of them with no consideration for what they're doing to others. They simply do not care, and the government lets them get away with it.

Things aren't a whole lot better in Canada, but all companies are forced to comply with much higher minimum wages, and there's a lot more protection for employees up here. Yet, somehow, Canada has been listed as the number one country to do business in. A less complicated tax code helps. We have very little local interference in business, too, so businesses generally only have to deal with provincial and federal legislation, and they do not contradict each other in any case I've ever seen, because the contradictions have already been dealt with very simply. If the business runs across provincial lines, such as transportation, it's governed federally. If not, it's usually governed provincially.

Very few of our laws are municipal or regional. Sometimes they're managed by regional departments, but the laws are still provincial. I had American friends be confused about how little concern I showed for the mayor of Toronto being a crack-head, but truthfully there is almost no power in being the mayor of a city here. He could have done something stupid like have a garbage truck dumped onto someone's car, maybe, or change parking legislation, but that's about it. It wasn't until it came out that (allegedly) he was abusive to his wife, I even looked twice at him. As far as I (and most other Canadians) are concerned, scandals aren't really something we pay much attention to in politics. Drugs aren't legal here, but a lot of people think they should be, so people think nothing of offering to share a joint with their neighbours. My own mother smokes a fair bit of the stuff, which I find funny because I can't stand it. I don't mean that I judge anyone who does it. I just mean I don't like what it does to me, so I don't smoke it myself.

Over the last few decades, sadly, many people in North America have given up on the idea of fighting for their own rights. We had a big lull where we thought things weren't perfect, but it wasn't worth getting worked up about, but now we're seeing the harsh reality that crept up on us during our political slumber. In Canada our environment is being destroyed. The entire province of Alberta is a disgusting mess. Yes, people still live there, particularly since there are a ton of high-paying jobs, but it really isn't a healthy place. There are so many toxic spills in Canada, that they're almost uncountable. Close to 2,000 per year for the last 37 years. About 6 per day.

In the US, there are so many problems that may be unresolvable. The education system was attacked and dismantled a long time ago, so it becomes a struggle just to make people understand that there is a problem, much less what to do about it. George Carlin did a far better job of explaining it than I can here, but it boils down to a system of government wanting a population that is easily controlled. I'm hoping the people in both our countries wake up to the reality, and that we can come up with a solution before it's too late. However, so many just shrug their shoulders and say, "What's the point? There isn't anything we can do about it anyway."

Of course, that's exactly what they want you to think. And by "they" I mean the giant corporations that are profiting off our ignorance and inertia. The government itself wouldn't be a problem if big businesses weren't there to hand over the cash. In the US it's even legal to bribe your senators and congressional members. It's called lobbying. They have to be a lot more circumspect in Canada, but they still manage to a lesser degree. If people are led to believe that nothing they do will make a difference, they simply won't try. If they don't try, it just makes it easier for their rights to be stripped, even if those rights are protected by law.

Every time we allow someone to step on us, we contribute to the larger issue. In fact, there's a butterfly effect. I'll use my own example to illustrate what I mean. Let's say I hadn't fought my landlord on this, and they got my money to pay for their renovations. There's no way they would have stopped with me. They would have found it a very easy way to renovate the whole building, and would be encouraged to try it with everyone, knowing that it was unlikely anyone would try to stop them. Every single person in this building (about 30 apartments) would most likely have been taught that they're just going to be screwed over for the rest of their lives. Maybe that's an exaggeration, but I don't think it's too far off the mark. The people who live here are mostly uneducated, and they're all poor. Nobody would live in this building if they were bringing in a decent income. In my case my daughter makes minimum wage, and I'm on disability. Even still, we're moving on to better things. I've never lived in a place this disgusting in my life, and I don't intend to stick around.

Back to my point, however. So, you have a building with 30 families, all being taught that they have no power and no rights, because none of them here will likely have read the Residential Tenancies Act. In fact, most tenants never read even excerpts from it. I'm an exception, apparently. I like to learn new things, and I like to know what my rights are. My landlord is far from unique when it comes to bending and breaking the law. I don't think I've ever come across a landlord that wasn't breaking the law in some fashion or other. Most of them violate entry laws, most violate anti-smoking legislation, most don't pay interest on deposits, and most do not maintain their buildings mechanically or health-wise in accordance with the law. When tenants don't fight back against them, they simply continue doing business in the way that brings them as much profit as possible.

Our homes are the places where we spend most of our lives, usually. At the very least we usually sleep in them. To have our rights taken from us in our own homes is very meaningful. This mentality invades all other parts of our lives. When you stop to think about the fact that most employers also violate the rights of their employees, there are very few ways in which citizens are not being stepped on. It becomes a constant, daily thing. Again, so few actually read about employment legislation, so they don't even know that their employers are supposed to provide them with a copy of the Employment Standards Act in order to educate them on their rights. When employees don't know that, they don't ask. They don't know where to go to get the information, because they aren't researchers by nature.

Even thinking about the ways we're always being taken advantage of is exhausting. There are just so many battles to be fought. I haven't worked for anyone other than myself for a long time, and even then I worked in payroll and human resources, so I was the one making sure the employees were not having their rights stripped. My employers weren't thrilled, but I didn't care. I wasn't going to be a party to it. These were people that were paying themselves a million-dollar bonus at Christmas, but they didn't want to pay two hours of overtime to an employee. This attitude is typical, and I've never worked for an employer who wasn't like that. I'm sure there are some nice employers and landlords out there, but like most people I haven't been lucky enough to run into them. In many cases landlords and employers don't even know they're doing anything wrong, but it's their legal obligation to know these things, so I feel no sympathy for their plight. If you're going to hire people, or rent property to people, then do your due diligence.

At work and at home we're getting screwed over constantly, and then there are all the other things that are coming down on us. Our lands are being stripped and destroyed, the environment is becoming toxic, and in twenty years there's a good chance we're not even going to have breathable air unless something is done immediately. There will be continuous changes to what we can do in our leisure time, simply because there will be places we'll no longer be able to go. People are discriminated against for their gender, race (theirs or their spouse's), religion, and sexual orientation.

This is why every single one of us has to stop in their tracks and say, "Enough already!" We have to stop this on a daily basis. We have to fight against it. We have to share information with one another about what can be done. We stand to lose every one of our rights without a single battle being fought, simply because we don't want to deal with confrontation. I'm well aware that confrontation sucks. I absolutely hate confrontations. I hate drama and fighting. I don't watch reality TV, and that's one of the biggest reasons. I don't mind sports like UFC and boxing, because there are rules and they're not based on personal issues. It's about technique and skill in the ring.

When it comes to fighting 'city hall' as they say, it's different. The results matter. They have an impact on your life, so it's scary to fight against someone. I guarantee, however, that if you don't fight, the results will be far worse than if you do. If I hadn't shown up in court the other day, they would have ruled that I owed the money, and I would have been charged for the filing fee as well. I would have been stuck owing almost $3,000 for something that wasn't even my debt. Not showing up for a fight is basically considered tacit consent. Courts will almost always rule against the party that isn't there. You simply must refute the claims of those that would take advantage of you. If you don't, your neighbour is going to be the next one footing the bill.

If it's your boss taking advantage of you, your co-workers are likely getting the same treatment. I actually had a friend go to work for a company that had screwed me over in the past, and they did even worse to her. I helped her fight it, and she won, but she would likely have never been put in that position if I'd fought them when I had the chance years earlier. An employer that's forcibly reminded by the courts that what they're doing is illegal, will think twice about doing it again. An employer that is never challenged will keep doing the same things, and will likely get progressively worse. In some cases they never learn, but as long as people keep fighting, then there's a good chance the company will end up getting shut down and the employees will be awarded what they're owed.

It's always worse in lean times when there are few jobs and few places to live. People are afraid of losing their jobs and apartments, because they know it's going to be tough to find another one. That fear is what keeps us all down. We fight when we know we've got the upper hand, or we fight when we know things can't get any worse. The common person rarely has the upper hand, though, and if we're in a position where we know things can't get worse, that's a terrible place to be. It's easier to give up then.

I'm of two minds when it comes to unions. I know they've served a purpose, but I also know the unions aren't exactly the benevolent organizations they pretend to be. In some cases they simply clog up the works and take hard-earned money from their members for doing absolutely nothing. Their existence, however, is a benefit in that they're a constant threat to the employer. I'm well aware that it was union efforts that organized the workers and they were responsible for getting us our shorter work weeks (and many other benefits), so we certainly need to show our gratitude there. However, I've also worked for a company where I have been harmed by their presence. It's a sort of catch-22. All in all, though, I do think they're needed, if for no other reason than the silent threat factor. Any company that has a union in place is well aware that they're being constantly and closely monitored, and not just by a single individual. They aren't faced with only one employee that knows their rights, but every employee that has an ironclad contract. That can make a big difference with a crappy employer.

Organized protest is always what leads any social change. A single person can be responsible for a great deal, and usually that's because they've managed to gather together a group of like-minded individuals. The shouts of a group become loud enough that the governing bodies can't tune them out. The public starts hearing their voices, and they often add their own then. Social change happens because the majority of people want it, and they force the legislators to acknowledge that it's what the public wants. Government is supposed to work for the people, but it doesn't unless the people force it to. Government simply goes on doing whatever it's doing, often being bought and paid for by big business, unless the citizens put their collective feet down.

The other part of understanding social change, is that we have to realize it starts small, and it starts locally. If we want change, we start with our neighbourhood, because it's really not that hard to get a few hundred people together. Then we can move on to our city. Once we have our cities back, we can deal with state or provincial government. After all, if every major city has changed, the province or state no longer has a choice, really. Once each state or province has changed, that changes the whole country. It's not that hard to remove the corrupt government officials if we band together and decide we don't want them. We hired them, and we can fire them.

All of this begins with showing up. Until we show up for the fight, we will be walked on. Once we show up, we can plead our case. Enough people together, fighting for the same rights, and you've got big change. It may not be changes to the law, because the laws might already be on the books. They just have to be enforced, and if you don't fight for your own rights, then who do you think is supposed to do it for you?