Of Honour- and photo ops

Parliament voted last week to revoke the honorary citizenship it had previously bestowed upon Aung San Suu Kyi the  civilian  leader of Myanmar, horrified that she has done nothing to stop the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya – OOPS- I guess the Prime Minister was a bit too quick off the mark in awarding the honour in the first place .

It leads me to ponder – what is the purpose of bestowing honorary citizenship anyway? I can think of no practical reason for doing so, other than the obvious opportunity it affords politicians to indulge in a feel good photo-op with a celebrity. Canada’s recognition of  Suu Kyi obviously did nothing to improve the human rights situation in Myanmar, so really, what was the point?

Granting honours, especially to celebrities who are still alive and capable of disappointing us can be a tricky business.  The Order of Canada has had to re-think its membership list so many times, after recipients have subsequently disgraced themselves  I’m surprised they don’t  keep the honour roll in pencil. So why do we do it?

Take Bill Cosby, for example. Back when  he was still  “America’s Dad” and a benign and beloved father figure, he collected over 60 honorary degrees from Universities across the US. His conviction for sexual assault has caused a massive recall of those honours by a number of prestigious schools.

Interestingly, Yale University is not amongst them. It has a long-standing policy not to revoke honours bestowed upon persons who subsequently disgrace themselves. Given that  Yale is the  alma mater  of both Judge Kavanaugh and Judge Clarence Thomas ( of Anita Hill fame) this is perhaps not surprising!

 

 

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Lost Youth’s Lament

This week’s announcement of the end of the  eighty year production run  of the VW Beetle caught me at a vulnerable moment, recovering from a humiliating fall on a mountain hike that starkly, and painfully drove home the point that I’m not as young as I think I am. Continue reading

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Keeping up with the Third World

via Keeping up with the Third World

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Three acres and a cow

via Three acres and a cow

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Rescue – and Penance

It’s already shaping up to be a record-breaking year for our overworked local search and rescue groups, as they pull scores of out of bound skiers, ill-equipped hikers and overly ambitious mountaineers out of danger. The local media have even developed a bit of a formula for reporting these events. Typically an opening shot of the rescue helicopter descending to search base, and disgorging a bevy of sheepish looking skiers or hikers, followed by a clip where the newly rescued blubber a few words of thanks, and ending with a spokesman for search and rescue gravely admonishing the public to be better prepared when they venture into the wilderness on our doorstep.

Inevitably there is a debate as to whether or not the feckless hikers ought to be charged something for their rescue or fined for their stupidity.  The authorities of course are reluctant to introduce financial consequences into the rescue equation for fear that those in need of help might then be reluctant to seek it for fear of those financial consequences, and in the end creating a much worse result. The occasional hiker apparently does repay the favor with a donation to Search and Rescue, but most I suspect simply shuffle off, their fifteen minutes of fame having expired.

Against that background I can’t help but think of the incredible rescue effort recently concluded that miraculously saved the entire Wild Boar soccer club from a Thai cave. it was a rescue effort that had us all glued to our screens and shaking our heads in disbelief.

What really struck me in the aftermath of the Thai  cave rescue was the announcement that upon discharge from hospital, and  after a brief reunion with their families, the team will, en-masse, enroll as novice monks and will spend a week as such in a nearby monastery, doing penance in quiet prayer and contemplation. That they would do this shows a deep respect for the enormity of the miracle which with they have been blessed, and towards those who made it happen. It is a fitting, and elegant gesture.

As my thoughts stray back to  our local North Shore mountains, the concept of penance following  rescue develops a certain resonance. Should rescued parties be subject to something a little more onerous than the loss of their lift pass privileges ? -such as a week of silent navel gazing  in austere surrounding?

We don’t have a lot of monasteries in BC , but it strikes me that we do have a number of boarded up correction camps- relics from an age where boot camp style training was considered the panacea  for youth corrections. So, imagine if the price of rescue was a week spent as a monk in a re-purposed correctional camp, contemplating the error of one’s ways ?

 

 

 

 

Categories: death and dying, Etiquette & manners, Reflections | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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