My friends - have you ever been altered by popular culture? Has it struck you in a surprising way, hit something of very personal importance? Brought you to tears?
I have had the pleasure of being transformed by popular culture very rarely, but I feel like tonight may have just made that happen again. Tonight, I watched Avatar again - this time without the impressive three-dimensional figures weaving in and out of the theatre. Instead, I was sitting at home, on the couches that my family has had for more than 30 years, and I was able to focus on the events rather than the action of the story.
I live in Canada, a land once inhabited by the First Nations of the Americas. Treaty 4 is the treaty that allowed for the white people of Europe to settle here and slowly accept that the barren plains of the West could become a home to them. And yet, it was already the home to many - thousands of people that had been ravaged, murdered, and relocated.
My Canada and its history is deeply rooted in this atrocity against humanity.
And we are told little about this history and, somehow we pretend that this history exists in the past rather than creates the present and determines our future.
So, my friends, how do I live in a post-Avatar world when the story presented by James Cameron's lense, minus the last 40 minutes, is the story of my nation's creation and expansion. When the land upon which my European-style home and European-style life exists was once the land of another culture that grudgingly offered it to us in negotiations that were not understood. How can I pretend that my European power, my whiteness, is not the reason that I have had numerous opportunities in my life? That my family has a considerable amount of money? That we never have to worry about putting food on my plates?
Why is it that I have power in my society? Why is it that I have the power the choose whether or not I have power?
How does the past inform my present action?
These are questions that bring me a great deal of shame, because they force me to realize that the life I lead is less-than honourable or ideal. I am not good at articulating this sensation at all...