Tommy Douglas: Check In

“At that time Saskatchewan had the fewest hospital beds per capita in Canada. The ultimate goal should be kept in mind, said Sigerist: “to provide complete medical services to all the people of the province, irrespective of their economic status, and irrespective of whether they live in town or country.” [… Soon,] within seven years Saskatchewan had the most hospital beds per capita in Canada.”

The world-changing public health care program started from a vision, that everyone regardless of their class can receive world-class medical services, born from the visionary that is Tommy Douglas. Douglas’s family had always been part of the working class, and when he was young, he had not the resources to find a doctor to perform surgery on his infected legs. His legs would have been amputated if a renowned orthopedic surgeon hadn’t passed by and offered his service free of charge. Since then, the seed grew so that when Douglas had the power to change the world, he did so for the people. Douglas was all about the socialist movements, aimed at the workers who are not respected and protected by rights. Worker’s lives in the early 20th century are hard, as they have not the money to provide for themselves even the basic necessities of life. Their lives are in the hand of big corporations, which benefit from tariff and price control. Nowadays, Canadians can all receive decent health care regardless of class and race, a feat that even in the present world is scarcely seen.

“workers in the building trades had become increasingly frustrated. The cost of living had jumped by 73 % since the beginning of the war, while their wages had risen only 13%. They wanted better wages and the right to form unions and bargain collectively. […] Business leaders spread the baseless rumour that Bolsheviks were behind the action, and the Winnipeg Citizen reported that the strike constituted a “determined attempt to establish Bolshevism and the rule of the Soviet.” (23)

This passage strikes me as significant since workers are unequally treated, and that they are also not allowed to protest. They are not given a voice. To protect their interests, corporations would spread fake news and later, strikers are silenced by force, resulting in death and blood. Voices supporting the protest are arrested soon after. It is a very different society from our own now, and once again, we see that workers have no rights. If they are not being treated fairly and are struggling to make ends come, especially later in the 1930’s, why are they still not allowed to voice their concerns? Do they even have a voice then? The answer would be no. The society was focused on the upper classes and the corporations, and the workers are not respected. A couple more steps and we would arrive at fascism. Today, it is different and at least everyone is given a voice and a right to peacefully demonstrate. We have a society that is built on its people, and Canada is still developing to support and equalize its peoples. Without many of the CCP’s or NDP’s early policies (worker’s rights, old age pension, healthcare, co-op), this process would be significantly delayed and perhaps our society will be a lot more racist and unequal for our citizens.

“I recognized then that if you came to a choice between losing freedom of speech, religion, association, thought, and all the things that make life worth living, and resorting to force, you’d use force” – Tommy Douglas (89)

This is a conclusion that Douglas drew during the onset of World War 2. The party leader of the CCP then was a pacifist, who opposed all military activities. Douglas argued that the basis of Canadian society is the values that we possess, and if fascism from the Axis powers takes over, we would cease to be ourselves and the values that we had held would evaporate under force. Pacifism would not matter if we do not use force, as there would be no means for anyone to act or speak anymore. There were many with this idea, but not many had expressed it as elegantly as Douglas did. This was an occasion when Douglas develops as a mature politician and realizes that his ideas are important and valid and that ideas and values should never yield to authority.

One of the great legislative advances of the government was the passage in 1947 of the Saskatchewan Bill of Rights. It protected freedom of conscience, opinion, religion, expression, and […] preceded the United Nations’ adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by a year and came a full thirteen years before the Canadian Bill of Rights. […] Even prior to the end of the Second World War, the CCF invited Japanese-Canadian internees to resettle in Saskatchewan, at a time when most parts of Canada were trying to keep [them away].” (143)

Many of the innovative ideas by the CCF had Douglas, and most importantly, the people behind it. These new concepts that aimed to equalize Canadians and improve life for most of Canadians would not have been possible without leaders who care about the people. Douglas was the essence of the CCF, as Woodrow Lloyd remarked, “[…] I doubt if we could win an election without Tommy Douglas.” This relates to our current world as individuals are given the opportunities to speak, and under this hat, everyone can succeed or make themselves known. With Douglas’s vision, Saskatchewan was turned from a province loaded with debt and unhappy citizens to a booming, front-facing multicultural world. Canada had led the world towards universal human rights, and Douglas is the pioneer behind the wheel. It shows how Canada is a country built by people who are different, yet the same when they unite as a nation.

“Douglas’s style of campaigning: while the ethos was socialist, he distilled from it a number of understandable, achievable goals that had a direct relevance to people’s lives.”

The norm of political campaigning is to fill the crowd with exaggerated promises and wild demonstrations, especially at that time, but Douglas set a new record by using terms and goals that are not only understandable, but most importantly, relatable to the public. It is easy to see how the CCF won the provincial election that year, despite Liberals and all major newspapers calling them “Communism in North America”, and then “Bolshevism of the Soviet” or “Fascism”. Douglas revolutionized the election campaigns first pioneered by Macdonald, and he suggested a way for future campaigns to be carried out by all parties. It also shows how Douglas was at his core a peoples person, keeping with the principle that the people are the ones who have the vote, and they are the ones who need to see change.


 

The overarching idea in this book is of respecting the rights of every single person. The wealth of a nation may be concentrated in a select few individuals, but ignoring the other is a huge mistake for a political party or a nation. The power of the people, when added up, is formidable as many dictators have experienced in their country’s rebellions. When a leader cares about its people and provides for their outcries, it improves the society to be more humane and ultimately, more prosperous. Canada’s current state as a post-national state clearly demonstrates that we are becoming a country that respects the ideas of individuals, and works to embrace the differences in nations. It is undeniable how much of this is due to socialist individuals advocating for more unheard of voices.


Lam, Vincent. Tommy Douglas. Penguin Canada, 2013.

Romeo and Juliet Not “Children”?

Before I start, I would like to clarify that I am looking and writing with a modern perspective. At the time in Italy, things may have been different, and so one may arrive at a conclusion different from my own.


 

It has become a subject of debate whether Romeo and Juliet’s love in William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet is shallow puppy love carried out by teenage children. I have been reading the play in English and in my understanding, the two’s love is a bit more than short passion, but not much more. It cannot be denied that both Romeo and Juliet love from a physical point. That can be seen in Romeo’s change from his description of Rosaline that “beauty starved with her severity cuts beauty off from all posterity. She is too fair…” to his exclamation that “I have forgot [Rosaline]… my heart’s dear love is set on the fair daughter of rich Capulet” (25, 103). Romeo solely focuses his love, or desires, on appearance, so when someone fairer than the one he loves shows herself, Romeo ditches his old love immediately. We can see from here that Romeo have a rather immature view on love, and he “love by rote, that could not spell” (105). Juliet, on the other hand, is much less impulsive and naive, but in modern standards, she loves too fast and without deeper thought. This can be seen in how she is shaken when the news of Romeo killing Tybalt comes, wondering how can “[a] book containing such vile matter [ever be] so fairly bound” (163). The fact that Juliet just comes to realize what kind of person her husband is after the wedding is quite alarming, likely leading to an unhappy marriage after the physical attractions fade away with age. The reason I don’t classify this affair as simple puppy love is because the two aren’t just loving for fun, like so many teenage kids; they are prepared to live their entire lives together, united in marriage. The intense passion made them oblivious to the other’s shortcomings, classifying the relationship as one that is not well thought out, but the extent of their love goes a long ways beyond physical lust and attraction.

When considering whether Romeo and Juliet are children or not regarding the conventions then, we can assume that they are viewed as adults. Romeo and Juliet was written between 1591 and 1595, originating from The Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet written in 1562. The story likely took place during or slightly before that period. In medieval England, children at the age of twelve will often find themselves given the responsibilities of adults with adult-like consequences (academia.edu). Jobs like rock scarers (restaurant dishwashers) or shepherds in Montaillo, France are given to young boys at the age of twelve. The fact that both Romeo and Juliet are in noble households mean that they don’t have to work, but they are both of age to marry as to the customs. It is not often that children under the age of fourteen are married in medieval England, but around 8 % of the children documented are married at that age. The conditions should be similar in Verona, Italy, so the two lovers are both adults in their society. I wasn’t able to find whether “for most of the history of mankind, at 14 years of age human beings were considered to be adults” as claimed by Kulich in her article, but her central idea that Romeo and Juliet are adults is right.

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romeo_and_Juliet

http://www.academia.edu/322247/Coming_of_Age_and_the_Family_In_Medieval_England

ZIP Proposal

The area that I want to focus on for this ZIP project is character development and characterization in different medias. Characters are at the heart of any story (without them nothing will be happening!), and they have the power to move readers through connections. The effective characterization of characters is something that may indicate a good story, whether conveyed through books or other mediums. It raises the question, then, of:

What are the criterias for a successful character in stories, and how does different media (film, book) differ in their ability to develop successful characters?

I hope to get out of this project a thorough understanding of the elements in creating an intriguing story through vivid characters, as well as the knowledge of how written and visual works differ in their ability affect the audience and convey meaning. I will also have acquired more analytical skill in literature. I plan on reading at least 2-3 titles.

I cannot say that I am a seasoned reader and movie critic, but I love reading and know how to use various strategies to aid in my reading. I also have access to a lot of movies, since we have many subscriptions to various services, so it will be easier for me to find movie adaptations. I may need the librarian to recommend to me good books, focusing on character, with film adaptations.

I am not exactly sure right now, but I think I will demonstrate my learning by doing a presentation (more likely), or by writing a compare and contrast essay. I probably have to write something during the course of the project, but I don’t want to make that my final, simply because I will probably have to do another ZIP on essay writing.

Below is a rough draft of my plan: (subject to change)

  1. Dec 8-13: background research, select the first book and finish reading. Write character notes, analysis
  2. Dec 13-15: watch film/others and collect notes (compare/contrast)
  3. Dec 16-18: select second book and finish reading
  4. Dec 19: watch film, notes
  5. Dec 20-22: presentation/final project

Fahrenheit 451 – First Scene

After Montag reveals his hidden books to his wife and persuades her to read it along with him, it really impressed me about how much Montag has grown in his confidence in himself. His internal conflict is obvious and striking, a clash between everything he had known and the haunting shadows of books. Montag wants to find out more about the past, when books weren’t burnt, and he seeks the find out about what books trap between those dusty, yellow pages. Yet, he knew that if his supervisor found out, he would lose his job, and maybe his life. This conflict reaches its own climax as Montag witnesses an old woman who willingly embraced death with her books in flames when the firemen came. Montag is stunned and distressed, exclaiming to her wife: “There must be something in books, things we can’t imagine…  this fire will last me the rest of my life.” (54-55) Driven by that, Montag decides to leave his job and start reading, to find answers of his life and beyond. Montag’s change was almost predictable right from the start of the book, in that it follows the hero’s journey closely. He seemingly lack of thoughts and decisiveness could be due to the completely absence of education and philosophy. This is also a warning to our present society. Books are already starting to step down to TV, “Reader’s Digest” and magazines that eliminate the need to understand works of classic. Clarisse says that kids her age “all say the same things and nobody says anything different from anyone else.” (33) which sadly reminds me faintly of the present school system. TALONS is a different matter all together, but I have seem how countless would keep their silence and vote their support to the first voice that breaks the silence. In a fact-based education, in some countries more than others, kids learn that a question have only one answer, much like the straight-forward world that Montag lives in. Montag demonstrates a high level of inclusiveness and acceptance for new ideas among his fellow citizens. Clarisse shared with him that: “You’re not like the others. The others would walk off and leave me talking. Or threaten me. No one has time any more for anyone else.” (25) Perhaps that is what ultimately resulted in his turnaround.