O Canada, O Paris, O Islam, O For Fucks Sake

Up here on the ice roads of Alberta, there is an eerie calm and a palpable mystery to the landscape. Along with an unparalleled beauty. After a couple of days in Vancouver and a drive through British Columbia, I’m taken with the Canadian lakes and mountain ranges. The kindness of the locals is something to be cherished as well. The biggest difference between touring in the states and touring Canada, is that I don’t have the ever-present internet at my fingertips. I chose not to pay the extra costs to carry international service, and so my online exploits are limited to spotty wifi at petrol stations, hotels, and venues. I find it refreshing to be honest. I’ve spent the day snapping shots of snow capped peaks, waterfalls, and the tranquil colors of early northern dusk. The sun went down around 4 pm and by 5 it was dark. At the moment we have been idle on this mountain road a few hundred kilometers west of Edmonton for about an hour and a half. Lots of extra time to think, upon all the extra time to think in the 10 hour journey today. Which looks like it will actually end up being closer to 12-13 due to the accident and the unexpected snow and ice. I suppose we should have expected it, being Canada in the winter and all. Rookies.

Last week, when the internet had it's uproar after the Paris attacks I posted a series of responses out of anger and frustration. Unfortunately, when posting on twitter, the meaning behind words is not only masked by a screen, but hindered by the use of 140 characters and all too readily available to the angered masses. It's infamous for being a medium that enables vitriol and ignorance, among the occasional spot-on humor and cornucopia of nonsense. For some reason I decided I would post a message to my relatively small amount of followers (AND THE WORLD TOO DAMMIT) directed at the terrorists who had allegedly died in the melee after they had finished their mission of cowardice in Paris. I was raging, angry like I rarely become. And what I posted had a religious lilt, so of course it could be instantly hated by someone or other, merely due to the fact that I used the word GOD. The essence of my post was that I hoped the perpetrators were wrong when they left their bodies for this god they were so valiantly trying to serve by slaughtering their fellow man. I merely expressed my hope that when they met their maker, they would find that this angry, murder driven celestial being lording over their entire existence and directing them to kill every last non-crazy person on this planet, would in fact instead tell them upon arrival, “You done fucked up. That’s not what I was trying to say at all, you FUCKING IDIOT”, and perpetually reincarnate them as snails on the sidewalks of New York City for their troubles. 

For my own troubles, I was called disgusting, horrible, an Islamophobic fuck, mayo (because I’m white maybe?), and various other unsavory names. To which I had to defend and explain myself, becoming even more angry for a different reason in the process. Like, really? I’m a god hating islamophobe because I’m angry that militant terrorists killed a bunch of peaceful concert goers and crew members at a place that we could very well have been playing? I was pissed. Super pissed. But I did my best to keep a cool head and explain my position more, because surely my words had not sufficed to initially do so. And then I took to Facebook. After all, I was still heated, and I could use more characters there. *Rubs hands maniacally*... But I was becoming angrier over a different problem. There was no shortage of prayers going out, and no shortage of posts advertising that said prayers had been said. I took an issue with that. I took a side, I have an opinion on it. So did everyone with fingers and an internet device, I'm aware... but I added my warbles to the growing cacophony anyway. Fuck the "post and move on” trend. Fuck not saying anything about it, and especially fuck not doing anything about it. Maybe I was angry with myself for not doing more to help my fellow man. Maybe I was angry at some god for allegedly ordering a murder strike, while another calls for an earthquake, or a tsunami, or for some other ridiculous event that will smother more human lives. These gods that are prayed to seem so fickle at times, don't they? These prayers directed towards change, without actually trying to do anything about it, just feel so hollow to me. I wasn’t attacking prayer itself, because I’ve prayed. I’ve prayed to god, I’ve prayed about people I care about, and prayed for someone to help me when I’ve been helplessly sad and defeated. Prayer can mean a lot of things, and I can’t say if it works or doesn’t work. How could I? You can’t either, I’d bet. However, I would never bash the sending of positive energy to another being. Not my point at all. The terrorists who killed the men and women in Paris prayed to their god to make their aim true, and it must be an attentive god, because those automatic rifles pointed at that thick, innocent crowd didn’t miss. They found body after body, each bullet a prayer of hate and megaphone for religious zealotry. They took action, and their prayers came true. So if you’re going to “Pray for Paris” by merely posting a Facebook status, or changing your profile picture, then you damn well better follow up and do something to help. That’s what I posted about, that’s why I was angry, that’s why I’m writing today. If you can’t go to Paris and become a counselor, or a social worker, or a volunteer... well you’re not alone. Most can’t. But you can educate yourself on what ISIS wants, and is, and believe they are working for.

-----> READ THIS <-----

I’ve found that in the aftermath, and doing a large amount of reading and research, that most people don’t really know. They haven’t taken the time. Because it’s so much easier just to post your condolences and support with a handy, pre-made image of a peace sign, then to learn that our enemy is actually winning the war of fear. They want to take away our freedom, and bait us into their traps, ultimately bringing us into battle on their soil to prove that the prophecy was indeed correct. They want us to hate Islam, they want us to do exactly what we are doing. Strike their civilians with bombs, practice general prejudice towards Arabs and Muslims around the world, and continue to ignore and ridicule their prophet. It’s too late to change their minds. They’re going to have to be defeated. And it won’t be pretty, but I firmly believe that instead of mindless praying, posting, and general malaise, we should learn what they are killing for. Become as educated and as passionate as they are, and take deliberate steps to defeat them at their own mind game. We give them power, but we don't have to. And that doesn't mean just ignoring the problem.

I would digress, but it’s just really eating at me. ISIS is not alone in this war of attrition. They are masters of media manipulation, and have taken on a much grander design to spread their religion of terror. But this goes on in many countries, equally as horrifying, but with less focus on playing mind games with the rest of the world. It’s bad in many places, and I believe that the online outcry stemming from Paris brought to the surface a deeper festering issue of ignorance. I want to do what I can to change that. I have words and ears, and I will use them. It's been a strange juxtaposition of images today, with the thoughts I'm having. I think that maybe seeing so much beauty and serenity just makes it that much harder to take. I just simply wish that every person could experience this drive today. It was breathtaking, and I feel lucky for having seen it.  

So the traffic finally cleared up, and we’re on our way again. Slippery up here. Onwards to the next show, tomorrow night in Edmonton. A few days ago, I was thinking about music and concluded that it has never felt more important. To perform, to create, to listen, to experience... along with many performers around the world, I took this attack personally. It hit me in the heart, right in my home. I live most of my life on the road, in venues, in front of crowds of concert goers. I could feel this tragedy, in a way unlike any previous. I was in that hall, I could look out and see the bodies fall, and hear the screams and the hearts breaking. I feel changed, awake, more alive than I have ever felt. I’ve never taken a show for granted, never felt like I didn’t want to be onstage.. yet there are some shows that slip by, and don’t hit fever pitch, occasionally leaving me with a sense of melancholy or dissatisfaction. I didn't leave it all out there that night. Could be any reason. But you never really know when your last one will be. Life is short, unpredictable, random, and precious. It’s so many things. It’s everything. 

So as we slide across the Canadian ice roads in the inky pitch black to take the music to the people, I know that what I am doing is right. Music from the heart is the sound of love. And that’s what we are giving to those who come to hear and see. Love. Come get your fill.