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Diplomacy

The report that Weyerhaeuser representatives tried to intimidate the protesters blockading a logging road in the Walbran Forest actually made its way into the local paper today, albeit by way of denial. Weyerhaeuser representatives told the press today that they were peaceful in their dealings with the protesters, but it’s certainly the case that they have on past occasions used force against people who tried to stop them. Issues come down to playground blueprints, become battleground blueprints: he said, she said, he did, she did. It’s uncanny how familiar playground bullying still rules the world, and how we just don’t seem to know how to deal with it. I’ll go on record to say that I believe the protesters and that I think Weyerhaeuser is a corporate bully. I’ll digress: I did something once, to a bully. It must have been around the time I was 9 or 10. This obnoxious older boy named Jamie went out of his way to taunt, strike, and spit huge flying goobers at anyone he didn’t like, whether at school or at the playground. No one could stop him. He wasn’t very bulky, instead having the wiry build that some small, but unbelievably strong, moving men have. We were all afraid of him because when he hit you, it really hurt. But one day — in my secret-agent-defender-of-the-free-world mindset, i.e.: completely insane and after getting spat on for the umpteenth time — I jumped on him, pummeled him to the ground, and then sat on his prone body. It was the proverbial tiger by the tail situation: I couldn’t let go. Alll my little friends were impressed and simultaneously scared, as I was. At that moment, the paper boy, on whom I had a total crush, came by and explained a dirty trick to me which I promptly used. (It involved applying pressure, via my interlocked fingers, to the root of Jamie’s nose.) I hurt Jamie so badly that he started crying, and when I shifted aside a bit, he managed to get up, scrambling off, in tears, completely humiliated. Interestingly, I felt like crap for having done it. There was no moment of triumph, it was all ashes. Maybe my brain isn’t wired right, or maybe it is, because maybe all this “conquer and kick ass” hype is just that, hype. A few days ago I heard a woman on a CBC Radio interview say something that stopped me, figuratively, in my tracks: “Diplomacy is taking care of yourself while you’re taking care of others.” Part of me (lots of me, actually) wanted to scream “NO!” and it took me a minute to figure that out. It had something to do with not having been taken care of myself, when I was little. Beating Jamie up was one of the many last straws expressing anger over a certain, shall we say, lack of diplomacy in my life. And what if it were as simple as that, after all? That if as individuals we were taken care of well and diplomatically, we could behave diplomatically towards the world, that is, take care of ourselves while we take care of others? Wouldn’t that be a change, or has the “kick ass and conquer and exploit” mindset, used in the frontline vs as a last resort, become too overweaningly seductive? It’s the bully who needs to learn diplomacy. But how to teach it?

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