Every day I awake and get out of bed and begin my day with the Hours of Prayer and contemplative reading – here I become socially grounded in freedom, spontaneity, and love (Merton) in the midst of my community. And then I read the news.
hardly ever never a day in which there is not a story of some fools destroying others’ lives by shoving their rules down others’ throats – here is repression through objectification. And the worst part of it all is that the fools who perpetrate this destructiveness in so many cases actually perceive that they are doing the right thing based on simplistic, generalized thinking of good-and-bad, right-and-wrong.
Yesterday a newborn baby girl was forcibly removed from her aboriginal mother in a hospital room in Winnipeg. This is a common practise in Canada and occurs at least once a day somewhere in the country. Yesterday, deemed at risk by medical personnel at the hospital this removal followed a standard protocol established by the health services here. What is impossible to understand is how this young woman was being any immediate threat to her child while sitting in her bed in a hospital in Winnipeg?
The available reports do not make it clear as to why she was singled out. Is it possible that this was done to protect the identity of a doctor or nurse who made that decision? Was this young mother tagged while on her reserve before coming down? If so, then who did that? They should be held accountable for their judgement. If it was medical staff at the hospital, then they should be made to stand before a larger community and account for their actions. But that is not going to get done.
It will not be done because the Canadian health system is publicly funded, which means that it is controlled by government, which means that protocols are put in place that meet both the budget designated by governmental officials and a strategy for dealing with people that is purportedly impartial but is in reality inhuman. And the two are intimately intertwined.
There is no doubt that in the case of abuse, children need to be protected. There are two levels of protection. There is first of all the need to consider actions required for immediate protection. After that there is a need to consider actions that require long-term protection. Everyone understands this. If someone is being actively abused, then stop the abuse. After that then devise a strategy for actions that honour the actual experiences and lives of the people involved so that they can make healthy social choices on their own terms. But let’s be clear that this is not what drives governmental programs in Canada in general. The ability to relate to others genuinely does not come in to play when governmental programs are designed and implemented because those who design and implement them do so from a standpoint of supposed impartiality and not that of care. Ironically, heath care is designed and run by people who do not care, that is, people who are not connected with the people whose welfare they oversee. Instead, moralists shape programs based on principles and ideologies reinforced through their own psychologies and upbringing and are rewarded with employment, status, and incomes for doing so. These are not inclined, either through their personality or having been so enculturated, to simply relate as one human being with another.
As a full-time employee in a level III trauma hospital who had access to these situations I observed this dynamic time and again. Medical staff were routinely given protection from bad, sometimes errant, sometimes horrific decision making. Social workers followed these decisions up and validated these judgements. Police were called to enforce the decisions. Each played a role which exonerated the other. It is all a carefully crafted role-play that comes out of a desire to protect the individual rights of those who carry out the will of the state which was established by people who refused to see any similarity between themselves and others simply as human beings and for which these players are each richly rewarded. And it has absolutely nothing to do with being compassionately and personally involved with the lives of others. Over the course of my professional life I repeatedly ran up against this impositional and destructive way of dishonouring the lives of people when it came to the health system. In the end I quit my profession as a result of it.
The words spoken by an agency executive: I have personally reviewed this file in detail and met with the agency staff involved, including the director of the agency. I am confident in the decisions made.
The words spoken by the Grand Chief of Manitoba First Nations: We want to take back our babies because they belong to us. They belong … in their own culture, in their own societies, among their own people. The system that we’re subject to is not a system for our people.
Which statement is based on protocol; which one reflects an adequate approach to honouring and nurturing relationships?
The Canadian government, its surrogates, and its employees is a sick and twisted system. Time and again I have described to these employees how their adherence to this dualistic protocol is both less than human and destroys people. Time and again I receive blank looks from those who are a part of the system. And this is why we are firmly committed to running our farm in a way that is actually responsive to the actual needs of others.
If you act on protocol you teach others to act on protocol…you actively encourage people that this way of being is all that there is to being human. It is not.
The truth is that it is not only aboriginals who need a system that is responsive to the needs of their people, but that all Canadians need to disavow this empire of apparent lackeys who either by will or proxy are unable or unwilling to simply be people among other people.