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Lyrics and Life

By Caitlin Ward

03/14/2018
Feel it Still

Feel it Still

Portugal. The Man

Can’t keep my hands to myself
Think I’ll dust ‘em off, put ‘em back up on the shelf
In case my little baby girl is in need
Am I coming out of left field?

CHORUS

Ooh woo, I’m a rebel just for kicks, now
I been feeling it since 1966, now
Might be over now, but I feel it still
Ooh woo, I’m a rebel just for kicks, now
Let me kick it like it’s 1986, now
Might be over now, but I feel it still

Got another mouth to feed
Leave her with a baby sitter, mama, call the grave digger
Gone with the fallen leaves
Am I coming out of left field?

CHORUS

We could fight a war for peace
(Ooh woo, I’m a rebel just for kicks, now)
Give in to that easy living
Goodbye to my hopes and dreams
Stop flipping for my enemies
We could wait until the walls come down
(Ooh woo, I’m a rebel just for kicks, now)
It’s time to give a little to the
Kids in the middle, but oh ‘til it falls
Won’t bother me

Is it coming? (repeat)
Is it coming back?

Ooh woo, I’m a rebel just for kicks, yeah
Your love is an abyss for my heart to eclipse, now
Might be over now, but I feel it still

CHORUS

So. This morning, I nearly hit two cars. With my car, that is. Not my fists.

It’s the snowfall that’s overtaken Saskatoon in the past week. At home I’m parking on the street because the parking lot behind my building is under two feet of snow. My parking spot at work is in a back alley, and though the spot itself has been cleared, the alley is 18 inches deep. After spending almost five minutes trying to drive half a block, I decided it wasn’t worth it to try to actually get into the spot. So I spent another 10 minutes driving the rest of that block, occasionally trying to rock out of the snow soup under the car.

I ended up parking in a pay lot several blocks from work because I figured it was the only way could guarantee I wouldn’t get stuck for an hour after work, trying to push myself out of a snow drift. The back injury I sustained when I was rear-ended on my bike a few years ago has flared up again, so I don’t think I have the shoulder strength to muscle my car out of a drift anyway.

When I finally got to the office, more than an hour late, I opened an email from my sister linking to an article about how the protein powder I use is going to kill me. Heavy metals in the plant protein are above levels that are safe for human consumption. My decision to try to use a low carbon footprint nutrition supplement has backfired spectacularly. I’m switching to toast.

I wasn’t going to write about any of this. I had a mind to talk about reconciliation, what that means in a Catholic context during Lent and what it might mean for us as Canadians in a racially divided province and a divided country. But now I’m tired and irritable and apparently ingesting unreasonable levels of cadmium, so here we are.

But that’s just the problem, isn’t it? I’ve been reading Ibram Kendi, a leading scholar on racism in America. In his book Stamped from the Beginning, The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America, he posits that racism doesn’t come primarily from ignorance or hatred, but from self-interest. That’s not to say ignorance and hatred don’t play a significant role in the perpetuation of racism, but that is not where they are incepted. Racist ideas are disseminated to prop up discriminatory policies, rather than the other way around.

I don’t mean that my injured back and trouble getting to work this morning have temporarily turned me into a raging bigot. But it has made it difficult for me to talk about truth and reconciliation in any sort of nuanced way. At the moment, I’m doing my best not to smack my officemate simply for existing in proximity to me. If you knew my officemate, you would understand how absurd a proposition that is. He’s one of the least offensive people I’ve ever met. If I can’t have reasonable thoughts about him at the moment, there’s no way I can take on something as complex as the history of the treaties, the perpetuation of racism against indigenous peoples in Saskatchewan, western alienation, and how we move forward as disparate communities who have historically been pitted against one another for a variety of reasons, none of which are good.

I do think my wildly frustrating morning gets at the heart of a particularly pressing issue, though, and that’s how we can possibly understand one another’s politics without understanding one another’s practical realities. I wanted to talk about all sorts of high-minded things today, but in the back of my mind I’m really focused on whether or not I should eat the lunch I brought or buy poutine because today has been stupid and useless and I’ve poisoned myself with arsenic-laced protein powder already, anyway. My best intentions spiralled into potato-based self-interest in a matter of hours. And that’s just this morning.

George Orwell (not entirely unfairly) wrote screeds against the Salvation Army in Down and Out in Paris and London because of their tendency to force religion on people who were really just very hungry. But then, Orwell was an educated man who came from what he termed “the lower-upper-middle class,” if you can wrap your head around that as a concept, and did not care to try to understand what the Salvation Army was doing, or why. He just thought it was absurd.

Ultimately, as a Catholic but also as a human being, I believe people are basically good. I think also, though, that we often have a hard time seeing beyond our own struggles and our own reality. If we try to engage in difficult conversations without trying to recognize and even honour the struggles of our adversaries, we do so at our peril.

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 www.twitter.com/newsetofstrings