This Saturday, November 19th, I will be travelling to Vancouver, to celebrate International Men’s Day (http://www.international-mens-day.com/Canada.php), and train with the highly respected and dynamic creator of the day, and many other programs, David Hatfield (www.davidhatfield.ca). I am excited for many reasons about these opportunities, because it will give me the chance to become more articulate about my reasons for standing in solidarity with women, for peace and social justice, and to put an end to the terrible and on-going violence, which we see everywhere in the world. Whether it is young women beaten and left to die at the side of railway tracks just over on the B.C. mainland, or the ongoing degradation of our natural environments, the cycle of violence continues and must be stopped. By re-thinking our own conception of violence, true change can be fostered, and this is what I hope to do by further exploring with David Hatfield what it means to be a facilitator in a world where masculinity is both involved in the perpetration and alleviation of violence.
A Blog at it’s best poses questions which others feel compelled to answer to create a dialogue. While my job as a facilitator is to pose the most open ended questions possible, and many have struck me lately, I hope that others will come forward, particularly youth, to ask questions, because often it is the voices of youth which pose the most poignant and relevant questions.
SWOVA’s most fundamental mission is to end violence, and this is what drew me in to work as a facilitator with youth here on Salt Spring Island. One of the ways that the organization fulfills this mandate is to ask questions about whether norms, actions, words, images, entertainment, sports, economies and indeed society as a whole, are violent. Numerous questions have, one way or another, arrived on the proverbial doorstep of my consciousness:
- Is logging our old growth forests violent?
- Is the continual lack of criminal prosecution to protect unborn males from brutal and painful circumcision violent?
- Is reckless/dangerous speeding and driving violent to oneself, passengers in the vehicle, and other motorists?
- Are lack of shoulders and space for cyclists violent?
- Is the continual consumption and acceptance of food produced with fossil fuel based pesticides, which by their very nature harm this earth, and create countless and as yet untold problems for future generations violent?
I believe it is by asking questions that real change happens in life. Speaking with ourselves, friends, family, colleagues and indeed the world, about what is actually going on has led us to this point of immense awakening that we are presently experiencing. Even as the Police attempt to physically destroy the Occupy Wall Street movement with weapons of violence, we know that ideas of peace and non-violence cannot be quelled, and will endure. Their time has come. The time has come for everyone’s voices to be heard and everyone’s questions to be considered. The question which lingers in my mind and gnaws at me the most is how could we have arrived at the place where the freedom to assemble, without fear of violence from those who are supposed to protect our democracy, has disappeared? The next question that logically follows and angers me so, is how could we have exported this brand of democracy so arrogantly in the last ten years.
By Kevin Vowles, R+R Adult Facilitator