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Don't Paint Me Into a Political Corner

October 14, 2013
Torrential Rain
A lot of people are under some misconceptions about my political stance. For the most part I'm painted with a liberal brush, but I have some unrecognized (and decidedly conservative) viewpoints. On the more liberal side I'm very outspoken about equality - that's a given. For one thing I don't believe anyone has the right to tell anyone what else to do with their personal lives as long as it involves other consenting adults. I make no bones about the fact that I know with every fibre of my being that women are just as important as men, and are capable of just as many things - I know this from personal experience competing in a so-called man's world. I've never met a man who was any better at learning about math or mechanics or computers than I am, and I've never met a man who was less emotional (or more logical) than I am. So, when it comes to the standard 'reasons' people give for treating women as a lesser species, their logic is irretrievably flawed.

Why do I buck against the constraints of being painted as a liberal? Well, for a couple of reasons, and they're big ones.

First off, I don't accept excuses from anyone for their behaviour once they hit the age of consent. It's a common stance with sociologists and liberals that people raised certain ways simply can't help what they become. Really? For anyone who has read my blog, or even some of my articles, they're already aware of some of the difficulties I faced during my childhood. They weren't pretty. I was abused in pretty much every way possible. I was abandoned by my mother when I was four. I was physically and sexually abused. We were poor. I was bullied emotionally in school, picked on and called terrible names. At the age of eight I wanted to die. Living hurt far too much. At thirteen I followed through on that wish by attempting to kill myself.

Fast forward 29 years. I'm not stealing from people, raping or abusing anyone. I didn't finish high school, but I advanced my career through a lot of hard work. I went back for some post-secondary education. Not once did I think it was okay to treat my daughter the way I was treated. Not once did I consider abandoning her or molesting her. I didn't beat up on a spouse or significant other. I didn't become an addict - though I did admittedly have some fun with mild-altering substances at times, I was responsible about it and never allowed them to impact my daughter's life - and neither drugs nor alcohol cost me a job.

Maybe you can see why I don't accept excuses from people who say they can't help it. We all have choices. Some choices are hard, and those are the ones that make a difference in our lives. If we give up before we walk a difficult path, whose fault is that really? Did abusive parents force us to stop walking? Did our psychological trauma make us physically incapable of improving our lot in life? People are free to believe what they like about that, but we're not doing anyone any favours by telling them they should take the path of least resistance. People make great strides when they push forward, and everyone who makes a stride forward pulls a piece of humanity along with it.

Of course, all of that leads into my other big reason for not falling into a political pigeonhole. There's such a thing as giving too much of a hand up. As the old saying goes, "Give a man a fish, feed him for a day - teach him to fish, and feed him for a lifetime." Well, the average liberal mindset seems to be constant fish-giving. There is no long-term solution in place. Many people think of Canada as a socialist or communist country, where people are given everything and all of our control is taken away. I beg to differ. When it comes to the welfare system in Canada it's not a free-for-all by any means.

I'll use the province of Ontario as an example, but the systems are similar in all provinces that I'm aware of. To start with, having children does not mean you get to be on assistance until your children are eighteen years old. Once your child turns two you're expected to start looking for work. All recipients of assistance are required to participate in job search programs, including a two-week, full-time session with career counselors who help with creating and polishing resumes. Once a person gets through that program, they can opt for additional training or job searching. Additional education requires applying for student loans, not social assistance. Training options are limited but available. Generally people start looking for work.

Something else Americans may not realize is that a single person on assistance in Canada (with no children) only gets about $600 per month. Since the average rent on a one-bedroom apartment in a really crappy city amounts to about $600 per month, not too many people wish to remain on assistance if they can help it. In other words, those on assistance are forced into the work world simply to survive. Imagine your life on $7,200 per year. They take the attitude that anyone who isn't disabled needs to get off their duff and work for a living. Sounds fair to me. This is not the welfare utopia they're looking for.

Maybe it's a general difference between nations, because there isn't a lot of sympathy to be found in Canada for those who don't work. I had a friend at one time who used to say, "Sympathy is between sh*t and syphilis in the dictionary." There's a place for empathy, certainly, but never sympathy unless someone is dead. Empathy means an understanding rather than just feeling sad for someone. Feeling sad does nothing. If we truly have an understanding for how a person might be feeling or living their life, then we need a long-term solution that involves fishing lessons.
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Rain Stickland is a Canadian writer with a passion for ferrets and a love for sentient creatures. She produces The Kovacs Perspective, hosted by Steve Kovacs.

Her professional background includes freelance writing, consulting, technical writing, procedures manuals, payroll and HR, investment analysis, and accounting. She owns a company that develops and manufactures safe pet toys, and donates the proceeds to ferret shelters in Canada and the US.

Rain's writing background includes topics such as stem cell transplants and feminism, and position papers on charitable organization development. She's also a staff writer for a popular online feminist publication. A crime-fiction series is in the works, as she continues to contribute to various online and print publications.

Follow her on Twitter @RainStickland

You can follow her blog at: Torrential Rain

Future articles can be found at: Soul of Wit where she will contribute articles formerly written for SearchWarp.com.

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