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the spirit of activism
“No pilgrimage is holier than compassion, no gospel is truer than kindness, no offering is grander than love.”
― Abhijit Naskar, Citizens of Peace: Beyond the Savagery of Sovereignty
“I’m walking in my Human Sandwich Board from South Surrey to Downtown Vancouver today. If politicians won’t listen, and media refuse to report on the outright lies in Bill C-6—and the harm coming to children everyday—then we’ll tell parents ourselves!”—Chris Elston
My mate Chris decided to walk from South Surrey to Downtown Vancouver today in his continued campaign to raise awareness about Bill C-6 and the Gender cult sweeping Canada silently as the media continues it’s deliberate blackout. Chris created a stir when he decided to take some inspiration from Posy Parker. Sara Kirby-Young, a Vancouver City Councillor, demanded that Pattison Outdoor remove the “I heart JK Rowling” billboard because it stoked divisiveness. And within 48 hours of erecting it, the company caved into the city and removed the billboard.
To add insult to injury, a self-appointed feminist gatekeeper came out publicly against Chris’s involvement in the fight against the gender cult because he’s a man, with an assortment of baseless insinuations about his character and gaslights about his social media reactions to feminists, reactions which seemed puzzling to me at the time he was making them and now make complete sense to me, given the context and the fact that I now have all the information I did not have before. Chris has won my trust and has been in my home whilst I designed the sandwich board signs on my own MacBook Pro, he has met my partner and my siamese cat, Beatrix Potter. Beatrix Potter approves, Chris Elston is Beatrix Potter approved.
Chris is ‘just’ a dad who is reading Harry Potter with his youngest daughter and who is fed up with the nonsense the cult of gender is feeding school children. He is a dad who is fed up with the state religion of Gender Identity in country that has become Trudeaupia, Justin Trudeau’s wokebro feminist Canada. He isn’t a sinister dude, he’s a regular flawed human being like the rest of us. What he’s done in the past doesn’t concern me. None of you have any clues what I have done in the past. If you could see me in that DTES alley or in my east van living room, pushing some brillo with a broken fondue fork into a glass tube, loading a crack rock onto it, placing that pipe to my lips as I light the rock and inhale, you might have all sorts of unsavoury descriptions of me too. I shudder to think what you would say about me, and yet know it’s none of my business or concern.
That was 12 years ago and I was living a private hell. I’ve transformed so much trauma since then—spun it into wisdom. This is now. We are here now. And if people are going to work alongside me then I can’t have anyone who will stick the knife in my back when I look away, and I can’t have anyone who will believe any troll who emerges from the dung pile of my dark and awful history to sh1t on my cornflakes and the life I have had to rebuild. So, Chris represents a flashpoint for me in many ways. He also reminds me of a devastation that now lives in my past. Most importantly though, Chris represents an example. And a path—compassion.
So, back to the pilgrimage that Chris has embarked upon—fighting the eugenics bill which wants to chemically castrate and sterilise gay and autistic children and fighting the state imposed gender identity religion which created the bill. There are two sides to this gender story. There’s the pronouns and the Orwellian linguistics and the low level homophobia and disintegration of consent—all of which the media promotes. The brave and stunning wokebros with their new found identities, demanding complete fealty and accusing female humans of being nazis for pointing out the reality of sex.
Then there’s the other side, detransitioners struggling silently, coping with unimaginable loss and trauma atop the trauma which drove them to seek comfort from a cult that instructed them to see their body as the enemy. There’s the women in Canadian prisons, with nowhere to escape the violent male sex offenders taking advantage of Bill C-16 to identify as women and serve their sentences in female prison. There’s the women escaping domestic violence with no female exclusive shelters to take refuge. The media refuses to look at this side. Trudeaupia is a cornucopia of humans rights violations masquerading as progressive feminism and social justice.
I’ve spent the bulk of the day with my mobile off and all devices in the lounge, away from me, who was cocooned in the heat of the bedroom under the covers with Nellie McClung’s autobiography and Bob’s Burgers muted on the tele. (My balcony door is stuck opened because the building is sinking and it’s been near zero degrees lately, so it’s a bit chilly in the flat). It’s been more than a week since I left the apartment building, maybe nearly two, I’ve lost count—does it matter in a pandemic under near lockdown? This is a difficult and socially sticky time to be an aspergian autist with reactive airways.
The aftermath of the American election and the volatile and emotionally intense state of discourse required me to distance myself from social media today and Covid-19 keeps me mostly caged indoors. So, I’ve taken to reading about Nellie McClung. I’m currently reading about her early life, moving westward with her family—at the part of her story where they have just left Winnipeg and headed into the sun to build a new life and land. Nellie describes her mother, Letitia, as walking most of the way, because she liked to survey the caravan of wagons journeying sunward.
When I turned on my phone later in the day, I saw Chris’s messages about his pilgrimage to Vancouver. He reminds me this is a marathon and not a sprint. Damn, I was always a sprinter. I am learning the ways of marathoning. Holding hope, as my friend Josie George has said, feels painful. Chris holds hope. Sabr, patience, has never been my strength. I am learning. Omid Safi reminded me the other day in his podcast to make room for mercy. Vincent Harding, activist, often said that—make room for mercy.
This work cannot happen without mercy and compassion. Compassion literally means suffer together. And so we do the work. We languish. We learn to be misunderstood. We learn what Malcolm X meant, when he said that thing he said about the oppressors being celebrated and the oppressed being vilified. Bismillah—we still begin everything we do with compassion. Because that is why we are doing this in the very first place. And without compassion, we have already lost.
So the activists of the past very much provide me with hope and wisdom. And I find comfort in their stories as I see parallels that remind me the human condition never changes, not really. Elsewhere I’d read about McClung and her activism—she would take the opportunity to talk to whomever would give her their ear, she would spread her message far and wide. She had no social media, no patreon, no podcast, no substack. She wasn’t trying to build a platform. Did she consider herself a public figure? I don’t know, I think women of that era didn’t have time for such foolish thoughts. They were mothers and wives. Their roles as mothers drew them into activism. Their belief in God, their values, drove them to build a better world.
However flawed, they laid a foundation we barely think of today. My father is dead and my mother inherited his estate. That’s dower law and that’s courtesy of suffragettes. I voted recently in a provincial election. I can have my own bank account, loans, credit cards. I don’t need permission from a man. That’s courtesy of suffragettes like Nellie. I am a person. That’s courtesy of the famous five. Women became persons 2 years before my mother was born. My mother is approaching 90 and so her life is a measure of progress. I find this remarkable and poignant.
I’ve felt quite sad and rageful of late. Limbic storms creep up and roil my nervous system and my gut. Rage and limbic storms also spell physical pain in the form of coat hanger headaches and temperature flashes. Humans betray, this is a basic fact that my own religion teaches me. Yet, despite the fact that I dislike people, I love humanity and feel betrayed on behalf of all those who suffer at the hands of those who have made themselves social messiahs. And frustrated because I can see potential and know we could do so much better than we are doing. I find myself asking questions these days. Questions that go unanswered.
What happened? What happened to us? Why are we now obsessing over pronouns, and referring to human beings as body parts, and libelling and dragging and shi1ttalking anyone whom we don’t want sitting at our mythical sorority activist tables? Why do we justify abusive behaviour in our fight against abusive behaviour amongst those who are fighting for the same cause? Unless those who backbite and carry tales aren’t actually fighting for a cause, but are only fighting? Fighting has become it’s own end and purpose. Fighting has become an identity, sadly. These individuals wage war against themselves and project it onto humankind and call it social activism.
Secret: the greater jihad is actually against one’s own ego. That is the greatest battle each of us will ever have. No true social justice can be achieved without first engaging the greater jihad against your nafs. That is a fact.
Intention setting and values inventories seem like a good exercise right now. What is your intention? What are your values? What do you hope for? Why are you doing any of this? I know what I’m fighting for, and with whom.
“Do not look for safety in this world. There is only balance … We have not much choice in the mechanics of our lives … But in one respect we have liberty and that is in our attitude to life.” —Nellie McClung
Chris completed his pilgrimage—42.5 kms in total—this evening. Pilgrim seems the perfect word to describe this man—a person who journeys.
*photos by Chris Elston