Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Response to last night's shooting...

Cue the outrage. Cue the anger. Cue the sadness, despair, confusion, loss of words.

While I see most people on various social media outlets responding all sorts of ways, I find myself comparatively indifferent in my reaction to last night's tragic shooting in Scarborough. It's not because I'm callous, cold, or even cynical - I'm simply not that surprised that it happened. I think it’s terrible, I am sad that it happened, and my prayers go out to the victims, their families and their friends. And I’m not surprised.

What most people don't seem to understand is that we live in a world where what happened last night is actually not that uncommon. Shootings with this many victims at once, in one place at one time, yes, do not happen often in Toronto. We’re quite fortunate that for a city our size, we have a relatively low violent crime rate compared to most major cities in the world. Why I’m not surprised, however, has little to do with the geographical location or particular circumstances surrounding this incident; it has to do with where we’re at as a society, and more broadly as a race.

Let’s get a few things out of the way: this isn’t the police’s fault. This isn’t the government’s fault. It’s not white people’s fault, it’s not black people’s fault, it’s not Rob Ford’s fault. If people insist on putting blame on someone, put it on the person or people who pulled the triggers. They are responsible for their actions, regardless of whom or what drove them to the point of wanting to kill other people. That being said, I don’t think that assigning blame is going to get us anywhere.

We have this persistent delusion that if justice is served and we lock the shooters behind bars, everything will be OK again. The truth is that things are not going to be OK for the victims, their families, or their communities no matter what happens to the shooters. Dispensing justice will not prevent future acts of violence like this from occurring. The most constructive way to view last night’s shooting is that is was a symptom of much greater problems in our world, problems that we (for the most part) ignore in our daily lives and do little to nothing about in most of our lifetimes. The greatest of these problems that we need to confront is ourselves.

I believe that we are responsible for last night’s shooting – every single one of us. Not in the sense of being culpable for the crimes committed, but rather I am saying that we are responsible for the kind of world we live in. The kind of world I’m referring to is one in which it’s quite normal for people to die needlessly every day. It’s quite commonplace for atrocities to occur all around the globe and have nobody do anything about it. It’s become normal for people to have their egos so bruised or their feelings so hurt that they feel justified in picking up a gun blasting holes their fellow human beings. These things aren’t right, they aren’t good, and I don’t believe they should happen, but they do, and they happen because, on some level, we allow them to happen.

This idea of responsibility isn’t going to be easy for most people to get their heads around. It’s going to take a level of thinking that most people don’t think on in their daily lives and frankly most people don’t want to think on because it’s not easy. It’s not comfortable – it takes effort to step out of our isolated little shells of lives and circle of friends to think of who we are and what our lives are about on a societal level, and furthermore on a global scale. It’s necessary, however, to begin to think of ourselves as integral parts of this world in a very real sense if we want these kinds of horrible events to stop. We are literally connected to each other. The way we choose to be in the world has an impact on the way the world is. What we say and do, and what we don’t say and don’t do, all have causal consequences that reach far beyond anything we can measure. That kind of power, the power we have to influence each other’s lives and affect our world as a whole, is precisely the thing that we as individuals do not want to take responsibility for (I could write an entire book on the things about us that stop us from accepting our power and responsibility, but that is beyond the scope of this paper).

I believe that last night’s shooting, at its root causes, is about how we relate to ourselves as human beings and how we treat each other. It’s about what work (if any) we’ve done to take stock of the kind of people we are, what we’ve done to really gain true knowledge of ourselves. It’s about the people that we are committed to being in this life. It’s about how we raise our kids, how we educate our youth, and what we tolerate in ourselves and each other. It’s about more than seeing the problems around us, it’s about relating to ourselves as the people who are here to do something about them.

I didn’t pick up a gun last night and shoot anybody and (unless you are the shooter/shooters reading this) neither did you. If we want to know what we can do, if we really want to take responsibility for these acts of violence happening in our world, we need to ask ourselves how we’re living. We need to start asking ourselves the hardest of questions: What is my life about? Am I here just for myself or am I here to make a difference? What difference am I actually making? What kind of person am I being in the world? It’s a shift in consciousness that needs to occur, transformations that need to occur within ourselves, before we are going to see lasting, sustainable changes happening in our society and in our world as a whole.

There is no one right way to go about transforming ourselves and in turn transforming the world. I’ve used readings on various philosophical and spiritual traditions, creative self-expression thorugh hip hop music and culture, writing (poetry, prose, songs, essays, etc.), direct mentorship, volunteer work, and more traditional education systems as some of ways to gain knowledge of myself. I don’t care what methods people choose to use (as long as they don’t harm anybody) to see the truths about themselves, but we need to start somewhere. It starts with each one of us acknowledging who we truly are – the good, the bad, and the ugly. We can’t grow from where we’re not. From where we are, from a place of honesty and humility, we can begin to have access to our greatest power as human beings: the freedom to consciously choose.

Choose who you are going to be in the world. Choose to build and create. Choose to make a difference with your life and impact the world for the better.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

If Darkness Reigns

If the ceiling
should crack and crumble
and all below
is covered in dust and rocks,
while walls decay
and fall over
leaving all beneath them
dead and gone,

If the ground
should shake and drift
from solid foundations
to liquid earth,
while the golden pictures
come falling down
into pits of fire
and burn,

If the truths
that we all seek
should elude us and
hide in lies,
while the lights
that warm our souls
stop gleaming
and dwell in shadows
in the night,

If the happiness
is depleted
and all the joy
is dry and cold,
while the waters
of the rivers
that sustain our life
seem to stop to flow,

If we are still alive
through all these things,
then this is reason enough
to keep dreaming,
keep fighting,
and keep on living.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

We Are Still Here

we might not look at you the same way we used to

we might squint our eyes a bit more in confusion,
furrow our brows
and ask more questions,
be unable to understand your answers

sometimes it might hurt you to know
that we don’t recognize you
or seem to have forgotten who you are

please don’t be too sad –
we have not forgotten

the same people who loved you your entire life
still love you –
we still care as much as we ever did,
even if we are unable to show it,
it still warms our hearts to see you,
to hear your voice,
even if our brains won’t let us acknowledge it

you might think that you’ve already lost us
but you haven’t.

we are still here.

we are still here,
behind the waves of confusion,
the disorientation,
the utter impossibility to make sense of it all,
we are here,
still beings inside these shells,
still feeling, still experiencing the world,
if only in different ways than we have before,
still seeking your love and companionship
despite everything that’s happening to us,
still listening for your words
even if we don’t seem to be able to comprehend them

and we know it’s hard for you to be with us like this,
we know it hurts for you to see your mothers, your fathers,
grandparents, husbands, wives, aunts and uncles,
to see your heroes deteriorate before your eyes;
we wish that it didn’t have to be this way,
but it is;

do not feel guilty for your pain,
do not be ashamed of us or of your sadness –
nobody expected things to turn out this way

but here we are –
you, us
still here
still living in the face of an insidious disease,
still living through it a day at a time

we are still here
waiting for you and the only thing that some of us can still understand at all:


we still understand your love

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Inspirational Words: Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein, widely renowned as a genius physicist, famous for his General Theory of Relativity and father of what is now known as Quantum Physics, was also a man of deep philosophical thought. His words are wellsprings of wisdom based on his own soul searching and observations about himself, human beings, society, and the world as a whole. By all appearances, Einstein was a simple and humble man who had a tremendous impact on the human race.

Here are some of his words. Read. Think. Be inspired.


tell me not to care me so much

they tell me to be realistic,
listen to the ways of this man-made world and
tone in down a notch

dream only when you’re asleep
and don’t tell me about it

don’t look behind all these tarnished, maroon curtains
at the ugliness we’ve kept so un-cleverly hidden,
don’t pay attention to any of it
because it might take you a step closer to the truth
and the truth hurts,
it hurts…

speak when you’re spoken to,
walk when the sign says to
and go where you’re allowed because
it’s bloody dangerous out there and you might get

stay comfortable.
stay home.
stay safe.
as long as you don’t bother anyone
or move anything then everything will be ok

things are not ok.

they shit on us telling us it’s chocolate icing,
spray Febreeze on piles of decaying rot and tell us
it’s a breath of fresh air,
tell us that as long as you can afford your skinny mint frappuccino with flavour shot of your choice from Starbucks every single day then – hey,
you’re doing pretty good

how good are you really doing?
how are you actually living?

aim higher.
push harder.
reach farther.
ask more of yourself than you would of your children,
your significant other,
your employees;

be a leader;
to lead is to teach and teaching by example isn’t the only way to teach
but it’s probably the most effective,
listen to the cries of your soul on one of those nights of fear
instead of going out for drinks,
write something, build something, create something
instead of watching another episode of Jersey Shore,
and if you don’t want to listen to me then ask yourself why
because all I’m telling you to do
is to listen to you,

listen to you
no matter how much it hurts.

Friday, July 6, 2012


pain doesn’t really care what colour you are
whether or not you have a trust fund or
live on the street
pain doesn’t care how old you are
if you live a comfortable life
or haven’t slept in a week

fear doesn’t give a fuck if you’re a homosexual
if you’re straight as an arrow
or you live your life celibate
and fear doesn’t care if you’re an athlete or professional
if you live a rough life
or your whole world is delicate

this is life right now and there’s no prerequisite
no instruction manual, no list for double-checking it
we’re only here as long as we are – no half steppin it
this world brings us down only as long as we’re letting it

you see, sadness doesn’t just pick on the weak-hearted
and madness doesn’t just steal the minds of cowards
we wanna build our lives, but before we start it
we should take a few minutes to analyze our power

strength lies in more than our muscles and bones
strength is what it takes to build a family, a home
a community, a world worth living in
when a man does you wrong, it takes strength to be forgiving him
it takes courage to live this life
to be true to oneself in the face of the odds
to make sense of a world that can seem so odd
keeping faith is more than about believing in God

it’s about seeing greatness in the eyes of each other
responsibility for pointing out the lies in each other
no matter how uncomfortable, we must rely on each other
we can either grow together or die with each other
and might sound drastic, but life can be drastic
we all carry burdens around, we try to mask it
lie about the fact that sometimes we get our ass kicked
it’s like we’re tryna shine our light through layers of plastic

but we’re greater than we give ourselves credit for
you’re greater than your bank account balances and credit scores
this world made you forget who you are – what you let it for?
once upon a time, you had a dream – what did you forget it for?

get quiet. take some minutes from time and just listen
be patient with the process,
get in touch with your inner waves like audio that’s lossless
fuck a dollar sign – silence is priceless – costless
just listen…

because love doesn’t care what mistakes you’ve made
even if you spent half your life drinking your way to the grave
and love doesn’t resent you for being a human being
love lives in the unseen – there’s so much we’re not seeing

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The Path

Lyrics for "The Path” feat. Mike Devine (produced by Junia T) - lead single on the poet EP:


I saw my life painted on a canvas
strayed from my path and then the picture vanished
did a bit of damage
tried to put it down, but life without raps – I can’t manage
now I’m feeling famished                                                                      
hungry for a bigger life, thirsty for a broader dream
now at least I sleep nights not toking like a fiend
and though I’m grateful for that, I can’t stop moving
when I’m making progress the only time I’m not losing                                              
six years since I stopped boozing – for what?
so I could relax and lay in the cut? nah – fuck that
can’t live my life without momentum like a drum track
keep my skills sharp like the tip of a thumbtack                                                              
I know that there’s battles ahead, I won’t run from
though I feel cut from my Roots – my life “Undun”
but from this place, spitting out distaste
refuse to live my life in the shadow of disgrace                                        
the race of a thousand souls, what is fifth place?
when only one or two can shine, what is it we chase?
life ain’t an iPhone, you can’t replace
years gone by or the time you waste                              
staring in the mirror, tryna analyze my face
the man that grew from a boy,
now it’s build or destroy
I guess it’s time to put away old toys
on this journey tryna find my voice                            

seeing my dreams as I create that
ain’t no rehearsal and ain’t no take backs
blessed with a gift and I’ve got to show it
ain’t no glory on the path of a poet
I know that time don’t wait for no man
gotta stay focused on where I’m goin’
where this road leads is not for knowin’
try to keep faith and enjoy the moment


consumed by thoughts that aren’t theirs
pursuing wares that ain’t fit for the wear
walking through life sometimes I stop and stare
I’m looking for that soul but it just ain’t there
try to numb out but I really do care
what’s the point of keeping score when nothing is fair?
sometimes I wish that I wasn’t so aware
but I know what I know, I gotta spit it and the message is rare                           
we are much more than they ever said we were, unsure
of whether we can live out our dreams, cliché as it seems
I believe that we need to achieve
our utmost, to bear fruits on these branches of leaves                                    
(so) caught up in all that we receive
we refuse to pay attention to the things that the world really needs
we hiding in the night like thieves
looking for ways to get a buzz but we’re never relieved              
we can’t relax, losing real estate in our minds – Remax
try to do better but we tend to relapse
where are we goin? we gotta take a look where we at
we can’t grow from where we ain’t, we’re not sinners or saints
we’re in between like the colour between purple and green
it’s all blue, the distance between me and you
real recognize real, real recognize the fake too
but I don’t hate you…

seeing my dreams as I create that
ain’t no rehearsal and ain’t no take backs
blessed with a gift and I’ve got to show it
ain’t no glory on the path of a poet
I know that time don’t wait for no man
gotta stay focused on where I’m goin’
where this road leads is not for knowin’
try to keep faith and enjoy the moment


moments yeah they pass by
sometimes miss ‘em like I got two glass eyes
everybody hustle hard, tryna live ‘em fast lives
half the time talking in tongues, speaking fast lies
overly familiar like past-lives                                                         
feeling like I been here before, is this a failed attempt
to live a glorious life, or am I just exempt
from the mediocrity of averages
that we all condone while ignoring the savageness                                           
honestly, I don’t how to handle this
sometimes lost in my ramblings, searching for advantages
tryna manage my own career without management
half my time spent tryna recoup my damages
so what’s the sense in it
when everything’s an expense and that I keep on investing in
self-interest vested in
laying out my soul over beats and manifesting it
struggling’s the method that my character is tested in                                      
not just another rap specimen
a poet that grew from walking the path of lesser men
from the fog I was in to way out of my element
I still resist this road to my detriment                            
I got a soul sickness – this art is my medicine
so I’ma play my part and shine light like Edison
but I’ve learned to keep my pace steady-and
anything less than my God given purpose I’m not settling

seeing my dreams as I create that
ain’t no rehearsal and ain’t no take backs
blessed with a gift and I’ve got to show it
ain’t no glory on the path of a poet
I know that time don’t wait for no man
gotta stay focused on where I’m goin’
where this road leads is not for knowin’
try to keep faith and enjoy the moment