The Parallel Parliament

Glen Pearson

Posts from the “Politics” Category

Truthiness and Consequences

Posted on May 1, 2018

It was back in 2005 when Stephen Colbert first used the word “truthiness” on the Jon Stewart show.  The audience bellowed their laughter and overnight the term took its place in our modern vocabulary.  Colbert said he used it to describe the kind of politics that rejects reason and research in favour of “gut feelings” that someone feels regardless of the lack of facts.  Now, some 13 years later, the term is etched in our thinking. One of the clearest examples of how “truthiness” played out in real life occurred in the Republican Party’s 2012 primary race – a contest eventually won by Mitt Romney.  In one debate, Romney’s key challenger, Rick Santorum, provided a strange example of what happens when governments get too…

Labyrinth

Posted on April 26, 2018

The thing about rage only two decades into the 21stcentury is that it’s everywhere.  In past eras it brewed in turbulent hotspots – the Middle East, India-Pakistan, the Balkans, the Congo, Nicaragua, among others – usually far away and, in consequence, far from our minds.  But the individual and collective anger has spread to normally stable places around the globe – Germany, France, Norway, Britain and most obviously in the United States. In his Meditations, the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius cogently noted, “How much more grievous are the consequences of anger than the causes of it.”  It seems to me that some are coming to terms with this observation.  The “age of rage” has been rolling on for years and the change which that kind…

A City’s Potential Stifled By Self-Doubt

Posted on April 24, 2018

The quote holds out hope for what a mid-sized city can become: “These cities have the potential to become leaders of sustainable and inclusive city-building initiatives across Canada.” It’s posted on the website of Evergreen Canada, a group coming to London on May 15-16 to see if we can make the cut as a municipality dynamic enough to carve out a more prosperous and meaningful future for itself. That Evergreen is coming to London at all, in co-operation with numerous local organizations, might be a sign that it values our potential, but it could just as well be a recognition that we are floundering enough as a community that we could use some outside help. It’s tough in a country as spread out as…

Bringing It Home

Posted on April 20, 2018

Last week I attended an annual outdoor lunch that raises awareness over the state of homelessness in our city.  It’s a powerful mix of housing advocates, policy makers, media and most important of all, homeless individuals seeking a better world. On the same day The Guardian published what turned out to be a timely piece titled, “Finland has found the answer to homelessness.  It couldn’t be simpler.”  It was the kind of headline meant to quickly draw the reader into its rationale that defeating homelessness isn’t perhaps as complex as we thought. But first the bad news.  The article reminded its British readers that, whether they liked it or not, they were tolerating a homelessness situation that was becoming a national embarrassment: The number…

The “Terrible Simplifiers”

Posted on April 17, 2018

Robin Sears’ article, posted in Sunday’s Toronto Star, was a cogent warning on the implications of extreme populism.  Titled “The Fatal Attraction of the Politics of Confrontation,” the column reminds us of what inevitably happens if we opt for leaders who would rather attack democracy as opposed to reforming it: “But the problem with those who bellow their promise to confront the swamp denizens, or to clean up City Hall is this: they always fail, and they leave a large mess for their successors to struggle through their first term trying to clean up.” As with the current Syrian conflict or the circus that is now Washington D.C., what we have isn’t war, but many wars.  By electing what Jacob Burckhardt calls the “terrible…

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