Tag Archives: young

Justin Trudeau Makes Me Cry: The Trouble with Strategic Voting

I love democracy. No bullshit. The idea of “one citizen, one vote” fills me with hope and pride. As a woman, a Canadian, and a self-declared citizen of the world I am acutely aware that voting is a hard-won privilege. People my age (particularly women) have given life and limb to make voting my right. So usually, when I vote, I swell with pride. This year I hated voting. Voting made me so sad. Because this year I voted strategically. In Vancouver South Liberal party candidate Harjit Sajjan is most likely to beat Conservative candidate Wai Young. So I voted Liberal.

Before I get too far I need to note I’m not a right-wing-hater. In fact, I pride myself on being relatively non-partisan (but left). I don’t think that people who vote Conservative have bad hearts. In fact I am sure there is enormous goodness in the heart of your average Conservative MP. Good hearts aren’t hard to come by. I do think that the government, as it is, has gone too far. I believe that Stephen Harper’s once good heart has been corrupted by unchecked power. And that’s why I lied on my ballot.

Nor am I a Liberal-hater. Like many of his Conservative competitors and coworkers Justin Trudeau has a good heart. Since I was a child I loved Justin Trudeau. He was my political celebrity crush. He was my rock star. He was like the sensitive one from a political boy band.

trudeaujpg

Photo by Jean-Marc Carisse – CC BY 2.0, 

I had so much hope for his solo career. And that childhood crush sort of lingered through until adulthood. I was SO excited when I heard that he (he!) would be speaking at my university (mine!!!). I was going to get to be in the same room as Justin Trudeau! I couldn’t wait to hear what political wisdoms he would impart and what solutions he would offer to the Conservative infestation we seemed to be having in the cabinet. I arrived two hours early and helped set up chairs. Then he started to speak. At first I was confused. Then I got sad. Then his stupid face started to piss me off. Continue reading

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Houghton Students and Early Marriage [An Observation, Not a Defence] – Redux and Reflection

evan20122Three years ago I graduated from Houghton College, a Christian liberal arts college in the hamlet of Houghton, New York. A few months before I left, however, I wrote my first and only op-ed for the Houghton Star, the student newspaper, the title of which is pretty self-explanatory.

Due to recent events [three engagements within a few days of each other] marriage has very understandably been on my mind, and I thought it would be worth digging up the article and comparing where I was then to where I am now. Due to extensive revamping it’s no longer hosted on the paper’s website, so I’ve included it in its entirety below. There are also pictures from my high school and college graduations, respectively, for your enjoyment.


Houghton Students and Early Marriage
An Observation, Not a Defence


evan20082Four years ago I graduated from Grace International School, a Christian school in Chiang Mai, Thailand. With the internet and, of course, Facebook I was never really far away from my former classmates in spite of us scattering to the far corners of the globe. Since that final year of wearing matching polo shirts and eating lunch by the pool 
seven members of the class of ’08 have gotten married, two of them to each other; three others are currently engaged. Out of a class of 45 or so students that’s almost a quarter of us tying the knot before the age of 23.

A few years later I was musing about the flood of marriages [four happened at least a year after graduation] out loud to my cousin one day, and he asked why all of my classmates were getting married at such a young age. He then quickly answered his own question with a question, asking “Oh, it’s because you can’t have sex until you’re married, right?” This wasn’t a factor for him, and I vaguely recall half-heartedly muttering something to the affirmative. I knew that couldn’t be all there was to it, but it made enough sense at the time.

Now here I am, a senior with less than two months left before I hit the real world. At least four of my college friends have gotten married since my freshman year and “Save the Date” cards continue to materialize in PO boxes left and right. Proposals have lost any kind of surprise they once had for me. Not too long ago two people in one of my classes were engaged over the weekend and I [not that I wasn’t happy for them] didn’t give it a second thought. My first semester here I had never heard of “ring by spring” or the more clever “getting my MRS.” I didn’t understand at the time how quickly dating relationships could metamorphose into marriage or how prevalent engagements would be in my college life. Continue reading

Evan and Gordon Kat Talk: Weddings and Marriage

KAT: Welcome everyone to this week’s Evan and Gordon Talk. This week I will be stepping in for Gordon as he has tirelessly posted a whack  of articles all in a row and could probably use a bit of a rest. Even the reds need their sleep.

Today Evan and I will be talking about weddings [and marriage].

And no, I would like to clarify for you all that Evan chose this topic. Not me. And don’t gender stereotype. It’s bad for your health. Continue reading

Fame Day: The Young Turks Arabs

A few days ago, a client at the nonprofit where I work heard that I was from the Middle East.

The conversation went as it usually does, beginning with some surprise, followed by a few questions like “why on earth were over there?” and “How did you learn to speak English?”

You get used to questions like that.

Then came the inevitable comments on the ongoing violence in my adopted homeland of Syria. Those comments are always pretty vague- existing as a result of having to say something so as to not appear ignorant while being ambiguous enough to avoid proving that you are ignorant. In this case it was a theatrical, sad shake of the head, followed by the statement “Well that’s a shame. But y’know? There always has been fighting over there and there probably will be to the end of time.”

I’ve always hated that statement.

In all fairness, that’s true as well…

First and foremost, it’s a complete lie: “There’s always been war in the Middle East?”

No, there hasn’t. For centuries, the Arab world was the shinning pinnacle of human civilization. Even in its decline, the Middle East was still a relatively peaceful place- especially when compared with the rest of the world. Look at European History in the 19th and 20th centuries and compare its body count with that of the Middle East in the same time period.

Secondly, there’s a deeply racist implication in the statement that “there will always be war in the Middle East.”

Why?

Because of the way the borders are drawn? Because there’s oil in certain parts of the desert?

Or is it because the Arabs are simply and inherently angry, violent people?

That statement is on par with saying “Africa will always be poor.” Why?

Because, you know… Africans?

This is some ol’ bull. “Africans are capable of nothing but starving, as they always have done and always will do, and Arabs are capable of nothing but fighting- always have and always will”?

Nevertheless, that was the line (and often still is) that was fed to the public over the past couple decades. Recently however, the events of The Arab Spring have completely and utterly turned that picture on its head.

Starting with the self-immolation of 26-year-old street vendor in Tunisia, ripples of protest spread out across the Arab world, building in power and momentum until they evolved into revolutions against some of the most brutal and dictators and entrenched bureaucracies in modern history. Egypt, in particular, stands out as a shining example, with thousands of young, unarmed Egyptians doing in 18 days what the US and all her allies couldn’t do for Iraq in nearly 10 years.

And no, in case you’re wondering, that had nothing to do with either Facebook or Twitter. I recall during the weeks following the victory of the Egyptian revolutionaries, pundits in the West were desperately fishing for some way to co-opt the accomplishments of the young Arabs and paint them as somehow being ultimately rooted in the bounty and decency of America. Facebook and Twitter were cited as essential tools, without which there would surely be no free Egypt. Again, any sane person is going to call bull on this. Twitter never set itself on fire. Facebook didn’t dodge gas canisters or face-off with riot police and tanks. Again, as a result of the American media’s desire to scare you without actually showing you any blood or gore, grasping the full scope of what many of these young protesters were up against is difficult, if not impossible.

You’ve got to see the casualties of battle to really and truly understand the courage and sacrifice of those going into the maw. Perhaps its for that reason that westerners often look to social media to take a slice of a glory (though my bet is still on jealousy).

And what’s even more impressive isn’t simply that the Arab people have faced off with their governments in the past, it’s that they’re still doing it.

You might think “Hey- we came, we saw, we conquered. Insert-dictator-here is dead and/or gone, let’s all go home and take a much deserved and well earned break.”

That’d certainly be a temptation for me.

But instead of resting on their laurels, the Arab people (again, the Egyptians serving as a prime example) continue to stand on the front line and demand nothing short of total freedom and complete justice. Yesterday, another young Tunisian vendor set himself ablaze in protest. In the occupied West Bank, Palestinians continue to hold hunger strikes. In spite of recently reaching over one million refugees, the rebels in Syria continue fight on against the Assad regime.

Across the Arab world, in the face of vicious repression, the Arab people are fighting on. Through their perseverance and valor, this generation of Arabs is changing the image of the Middle East from a place that “always has been violent and always will be” to something soon to be synonymous with democratic revolution, collaboration, and freedom. There’s certainly still a long way to go, but time and time again the young Arabs have proven that they’re on the right path and they’re not taking one step backwards.

What did you do today?