Monday, August 3, 2009

Please Stop Being Poseurs

A Movie Brings Enlightenment

On Sunday evening, The people's network, CBC ran Wild Hogs, the hilariously funny 2007 Harley Davidson road trip movie with John Travolta, Tim Allen, Martin Lawrence, and William H. Macey. In the movie the 4 mid life biker wannabees (poseurs, if you will) turned heroes, feeling that life is not all that it is cracked up to be take a road trip on their Harleys, from their homes in Ohio, with California as their ultimate destination.

Along the way, they run into the usual funny situations you would expect with a Tim Allen movie, but the defining moments occur when and after they find themselves in a biker bar in New Mexico owned by the founder of the Del Fuego biker gang. Without giving away the story line, the 4 of them end up taking a stand against 50 bikers in the town of Madrid to protect some new found friends.

The bikers had originally criticized the wannabees as "poseurs" when they arrived at their bar, claiming to be the real free and easy bikers themselves. In a brief soliloquy Tim Allen turns the "poseur" term back on the bikers, saying that his admiration for their free and easy life was a lie. In the end, our new found heroes stood up for what they had learned throughout their lives, and as well, the bikers were also redeemed in the closing credits. All in all, a happy ending.

I like the term poseur, because it does not connote someone who is evil, just someone who is human, following along with their own dance of life, however misguided it may be at any particular time. Every one of us is a poseur.

But, here is a different perspective. The 4 unlikely heroes reminded me of 4 unlikely human rights heroes of my own that I have come in contact with these last few months. They are Stephen Boissoin, Bishop De Angelis, Constable Michael Shaw, and my friend the former grade school principal. You see, these 4 people went or go about their day to day lives working with or ministering to others, and the work that each one of them did or do was actually on a minute by minute basis about respecting the human rights of others.

These 4 were and/or are out in their communities on a daily basis doing the good work that they believed they were called to be doing, getting their hands dirty as it were, meeting real people in their real lives, with real problems, in one case with the real possibility of physical danger.

The first poseur is a high school teacher, become university teacher, who was pushing homosexuality as an alternative lifestyle in his classroom, with no regard for the thoughts of his students, so a Youth Pastor spoke up in strong words in THE LETTER to the editor of the Red Deer Advocate. Why call him a poseur? I call him a poseur because he alleged to speak for gay people, but EGALE would have none of it, so he proceeded anyway, though he is not gay himself.

The second poseur is a homosexual spa owner, who when asked to step down from a voluntary position as an altar server by the diocesan Bishop, claimed discrimination with the Ontario HRC, and claimed $260,000 in penalties from the Bishop and '12' parishioners who wrote letters to the Bishop complaining about their priest and about him serving on the altar. Why call him a poseur? I call him a poseur because in his Form 1 to the Ontario HRC, he proclaims what the Bishop should do in running his diocese with preaching and documentation, apparently believing that his experience as a spa owner, and recent return to the Church after 34 years absence qualifies him to give such direction.

The third poseur is a small black man, who when asked to ID himself, gave it, and then filed a Form 1, because he felt that he was racially profiled, because the cop who asked for his ID was big and white and he felt intimidated. Why call him a poseur? I call him a poseur because he professes to know how the police force should man their cars, and run their business, and to make his own insecurity a police matter.

The fourth poseur is a black woman, who when her son stole money from the Principal's desk, which he admitted, and when the principal punished him by giving him office detention, claimed discrimination, because the white kid in the room when the black kid stole the money wasn't punished as well (for not stealing the money??), among other ridiculous things. Why call her a poseur? I call her a poseur because rather than take responsibility for her own inadequacies as a parent, she chooses to ruin the career of a devoted and caring principal.

In the movie, the biker gang numbered about 50 of the real poseurs, and so does my gang of poseurs, because these 4 poseurs could not even exist without the enabling of other poseurs behind them. The enabling poseurs are the folks at the Ontario HRC, and the Alberta HRC in these cases, because they are the folks who make it all worth while (or not).

It started to come home for me when I looked at the qualifications of Kaye Joachim, who rendered the verdict in the case of Constable Michael Shaw in June 2009. She holds a law degree and a masters in law. Frankly, I could see nothing in her online resumes, that showed any real outside practical experience, just a bunch of lawyering, most of it in government service. I saw nowhere where she got her hands dirty, though she has written a 58 page book on how to reform the Ontario HRC, about 12 years ago.

Lori Andreachuk, the Chair in the Stephen Boissoin case in Ablerta is a Lawyer too, having received her law degree in 1977. In looking at her online resume, I don't see any real world experience either, just a bunch of lawyering as well. She got a QC in 1992.

Barb Hall, lawyer, even Jennifer Lynch, of the Canadian HRC, lawyer. You get my drift. Some of these and other lawyers are in charge of Commissions and are directing the activities of investigators and others involved in the prosecution of cases like the ones of the heroes above.

There are a lot of lawyers involved, who I may respect for their professional knowledge of words on paper. But, lawyers are like other professionals, so here I will try to make my point.

Lawyers are like Chartered Accountants, for example, highly skilled in a particular technical area, but quite possibly myopic in other areas. Being myopic provides opportunity to be a great poseur.

I knew a Chartered Accountant for about 30 years, who considered himself the smartest man in the room, most places he went. He had scored in the top decile in his CA graduating class. He spent years in private practice, and in industry, was innovative, and creative, and very opinionated. Oh, and far from humble. His first 2 marriages failed. What can I say? He married idiots. So, he thought. He lacked empathy for others, and lacked empathy for himself and for the traumatic events of his own life that had robbed him of his essential character. He worked hard. He played hard. He had a really good income, and thought he had a really good life until he got hit in the back of the head by a Ford Aerostar van one day on the way home from work.

When he came to his senses, they (his senses) were different. Most of them didn't work right anymore for one thing. Some, not at all. He had been humbled. He couldn't do his work. He couldn't remember what it was he did, or how to do it. He looked in the mirror and he saw someone he did not recognise. He saw me, and I knew that I could not be who I had been. At first, it was just physically impossible. Later, I realised that I not only couldn't do it, I didn't want to be that person anyway.

So, now I thank God every day for the blessings of my life, for the hours of clarity that I do have, the few each day, and the chance to get to really know my third wife, who loves me and whom I love. And above all, I thank God who forgives me when I am a poseur, and encourages me to be a hero.

And I look at the heroes and poseurs of this story, and of the Wild Hogs movie, and realise that we are all heroes and poseurs in our own ways, each and every one of us. We are the hero and poseur of our own personal story on any given day. The heroes and poseurs of my story are not good or bad people. They are people, each and every one of them. The heroes weren't heroes until the end, and poseurs were redeemed in the end as well. So, they too are heroes, in a sense.

There is hope for us all, that we can shed the times of being poseurs, and be real, be the heroes that our society needs us to be.

Being a poseur means it is all about ME. Being a hero means it is all about YOU.

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