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Lyrics and Life


By Caitlin Ward


Crown of Age
The Ettes

It’s harder than they say
To try to settle down
You see it in a line
You hook it up and down
You see it end to end
You read it like a book
And then for what it is
You take a look

And when it rains, when it rains
Oh the sun it comes out again
Crown of age, crown of age
Just like it’s always been
And you know, and you know
Oh, what you gotta do
Crown of age, crown of age
It’s all up to you

It’s harder than you know
To get where you belong
Somehow you’re always there
Somehow it’s always wrong
As far as I can see
That much’ll never change
It’s what you always know
Just like your name

At one point, Barack Obama told the world he didn’t want to have to give another statement to the press about a mass shooting before his presidency was over, but experience bore out that he couldn’t be sure of that. Was it after Sandy Hook or San Bernardino, or another mass shooting entirely? I can’t remember. I tried to look it up but he talks about gun control a lot so it was taking longer than I had patience for. I don’t suppose the particulars matter in this case, because either way he was sadly proven right this past week when 49 people were murdered with an automatic weapon in a gay bar in Orlando. That number again were hospitalized.

I’m sure you have read more than enough on the subject of that shooting: the 24-hour news cycles with the prurient details of the killer’s life; conversations with more and less nuance about hate crimes and homophobia, radical Islam and Islamophobia; most of the world looking on without comprehension while huge swaths of a nation somehow manage to convince themselves once again that adequate gun laws are not a reasonable sacrifice to make for the sake of their safety. Someone will bring up Mr. Rogers, either literally or in spirit, talking about the people who helped and the kind or heroic actions people took. Depending upon your disposition, you’ll be glad there were more good people than bad in that situation, or you’ll think it’s sentimental and it doesn’t matter, because either way, people died.

So perhaps we don’t need to get into the particulars of all of those things, because I’m sure you’ve seen and read and heard enough about all of it. To be completely honest, I’m not sure I want to write about another mass shooting, but trying to write a nuanced article about how I think the provincial government has failed us with this ideologically driven budget seems inappropriate in light of the fact that another man with a gun wrought havoc on people who had done nothing to provoke or deserve it.

I suppose that’s the trouble, though, isn’t it? Mass shootings draw focus. When I say that, I don’t mean they shouldn’t draw focus, or that we shouldn’t care. Obviously, when someone does something as horrific as open fire on a crowded night club, a university, or a school, attention will be paid to it, and victims mourned. As they should be.

But the devil is in the details. The last time I wrote about a recent mass shooting (sigh . . .), I talked about how the reasons that things happen are rarely singular, or simple, and when we try to make them such we’re not doing ourselves any favours. The trouble seems to be, though, that the multifaceted, complex, and nuanced reasons behind a disturbing act of violence don’t make good copy when there’s hasn’t recently been a disturbing act of violence. It’s barely good copy when there has been a recent disturbing act of violence. Nobody’s a big fan of nuance. Nuance is complicated, and it’s boring. It’s easier for that orange monster of a man running for the presidency of the United States to blame Muslims and Mexicans for everything bad that’s ever happened than it is to have an honest conversation about the poor policy choices and geopolitics than have led the U.S. into murky waters.

I have more sympathy for Bernie Sanders than the wretched orange man with the fluffy hair, of course, but his politics get a little simplistic as well — to him, just about everything boils down to income inequality. It’s a more fair bogeyman than old orangey-face fluffer head’s “people who moved to our country recently” catch-all, but it’s still leaving a lot of things out.

I’m thinking about this particularly, I suppose, because I didn’t think it made much sense to talk about the provincial budget, and how the government made cuts that effectively ended the province’s 42-year-long relationship with the Saskatchewan Council for International Co-operation. It’s not a huge chunk of money, and I’m guessing nobody died as a direct result of those cuts, but it means that the SCIC will not be able to fund projects that address poverty, education, and sustainable development in the Global South. You know — that quiet, unassuming work that facilitates a world where people are less desperate, more hopeful, and better fed.

That world became just a little bit less possible because of the provincial government’s cuts to the SCIC, and a thousand other cuts they quietly made in a budget that came out after the election instead of before. That world where fluffy-headed orange goats aren’t vying for the position of Leader of the Free World. That world without compelling headlines because nothing has gone so painfully wrong today.


Ward is a Saskatoon-based freelance writer who spends her days (and most nights) working at a small Catholic college. Her less eloquent thoughts can be found at