Thursday, November 20, 2008

Strathcona Rainbow

This afternoon at around 4:15, a rainbow appeared in the direction of Strathcona. This photo was taken from Union St. & Main. Later, another faint rainbow appeared beside the first.

The red building in the background is Solheim Place, subsidized housing which I believe was named after Olaf Solheim. Solheim was a guy about 86 years old who was evicted just before Expo 86 from the Downtown Eastside hotel room he had lived in for a couple of decades. He died shortly after he got evicted and became a symbol of the social cost of Expo evictions.


Dag said...

John Donne writes in "Meditation XVII": "Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind...."

It does not matter who the man is, no matter how drastic his nature for evil or how high his capacity for good, a man's death takes away from me something that cannot be replaced. Even the worst among us, he whom we would wish long gone, is contributory to the fabric of existence, a companion to Life that makes us what we can be in light of it.

Ans so we cannot simply mourn the death of every man as wrong but we can accept it as having been a loss for us regardless. To measure the worth of a man is one thing in our personal lives, and to mourn the death of a loved one is a necessary hardship we all must learn to live with till our own time comes and others might mourn for us. That diminution is a growth.

So, while one might mourn for the dead, even those we do not know and even for those we would have had a hand in making exit, we live and can, if we will, do better in our own live on the basis of the loss, becoming a lesson to others in turn.

Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.

There is life to be lived; there are lessons to be learned; and perhaps there is a lesson in the learning life that allows one betterment.

What one might learn from life is that an 86 year old man dying is not such a strange thing sometimes. It is that one lives at all that is the miracle. Living 86 years is exceptional even then. But that is not a necessary end-point for the living man. He might, if Nature allows, live another 86, and from that he and we and all might grow further in benefit and wonder. So when a man does die, we might not feel impelled to ask who died, we know it is we who are dying too, as surely as he who is gone. But what lesson in the death of a man of 86 other than the death of a man of any age at any time? Our being. Some for good reason long for this lesson of mortality. Who died?

"Neither can we call this a begging of misery, or a borrowing of misery, as though we were not miserable enough of ourselves, but must fetch in more from the next house, in taking upon us the misery of our neighbours. Truly it were an excusable covetousness if we did, for affliction is a treasure, and scarce any man hath enough of it. No man hath affliction enough that is not matured and ripened by and made fit for God by that affliction....

Another man may be sick too, and sick to death, and this affliction may lie in his bowels, as gold in a mine, and be of no use to him; but this bell, that tells me of his affliction, digs out and applies that gold to me: if by this consideration of another's danger I take mine own into contemplation, and so secure myself, by making my recourse to my God, who is our only security."

What, then, is the lesson one learns from the death of an old man moved to his grave from his long-term home? That iy is the capitalist exploiters who killed him! It's all about the Olympics! That if only the landlords had left the man alone he would still be alive these 20 years later. That only the Povertarians should ever have the Rites of Life. That only the Povertarians are pure and uncorrupted by the love of money; and thus only they should have money to dole out as they see fit to The Poor. That only those who do God's work by saving the poor have the right to have money, for only the Povertarians are pure enough not to be evil because of money. If an old man dies, it is because the evils of the monied murdered him-- for the sake of money; and only the money the evil give to the pure can cleanse the evil of their impurities.

Nothing is about the man; all is bout Heaven on Earth and those who work to make it so, i.e. The Pure. The only lesson they will have anyone learn is that there are the Poor, the Evil Rich, and the Benefactors of the Helpless who cannot live without the Povertarians. The Poor must die because the rich are evil. There is no other lesson. No life is meaningful in and of itself until it is mediated by the Povertarians. There is only mass salvation. There are no people living with names, only dead martyrs to the evil of Mammon have names.

There is no Heaven and there is no salvation but through Saint Jean. No man is an island entire of itself: we are all one big continental community. There are only the evil and the Povertarians and the masses caught between. Pray to Saint Jean that she will create Heaven on Earth. Only she and the Povertarians are Holy. All others are damned, especially the poor who lay with Satan and have jobs and learn and live there own lives outside the communion of Jean.

But sometimes, on rare occasions, this filthy vision clears, and one can see that suffering is not always a bad thing. Sometimes one can see that it is a good thing that makes us want our own salvation though it costs us dear to work for it. And we see, we hear, that it comes no matter whether we are worthy in the end.

Sometimes being a pandered fool is a fate worse than death, a diminution entire.

Anonymous said...

That Solheim died at age 86 is unremarkable. The manner of his death, however, was tragic.

Solheim was "re-housed" after his eviction from the Patricia. It did him no good. And in that there is an important lesson: that "service provision" cannot compensative for the loss of dignity and agency. That there is a difference between having a home and "being housed".

But it's not the fact of service provision itself that stripped Solheim of his dignity. That process began with market forces that recognize no value in a person who lacks economic power.

Some of us who work in service provision understand this, and we understand that it's important to struggle against the forces that make our work necessary.

To use Solheim's death as the jumping-off point for yet another empty, grandiose screed about "povertarians" is as distasteful as what the writer appears to be railing against. His memory deserves better.