Modern myths

But I do not want my inaction to prevent me from sleeping. Once the story is handed to me, I have a choice. I can keep the stories and the images safely guarded inside my own mind, so it makes no one uncomfortable. But in so doing I am part of maintaining the status quo. Or I can say, “I heard this story. Someone showed me this picture. Do you think it reflects the truth?”

If from one group of people I am hearing that it doesn’t, that the victims of poverty are to blame for their own poverty, red warning lights go on in my head. This is a neoliberal message that has been carefully massaged so it begins to sound quite reasonable. It is part of the discourse all around me here in the predominantly white, middle classes. It is also the message of the mobile sociologists, the taxi drivers. Blame the poor. Do not waste your pity on them. It is their own fault. They choose to drink, to take drugs, to have babies too early, to drop out of school.

Another myth I hear, is that the Inuit way of life will inevitably be subsumed by the western, modern, capitalist world. A corollary is that the western way of living is an improvement on the charming, romantic but outdated way of life of the Inuit. In other words much of what is written in the Nunavut land claims will be rationally side swiped by the rhetoric of the rationalist.

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