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Home » Officer Columns » Complacency, Simmering Pots, and Frogs

Complacency, Simmering Pots, and Frogs

  -  AFM International Secretary-Treasurer

Complacency is a curse. It’s a curse because it lulls us into a routine, diminishes our ability to see ourselves through the eyes of others, and siphons off our wherewithal to confront authority. It’s a curse because complacency is the mortal enemy of progress.

Those of us who live within the comfortable walls of what my First Nations friends see as the “dominant” or “settler” society are more likely in thrall of complacency than any other ethnic group in North America. If we have a roof over our heads, food on the table, a steady income, a regular job and live around people just like ourselves, our eyes stop seeing and our ears stop hearing those things in our communities of which we should be intensely aware.

While complacency seeped into our lives, a revisionist US Supreme Court wielded its communal gavel and ruled that money was speech, transformed corporations into humans, substituted nationalism for civil rights, and elevated minority rule over democracy. It turned “settled law” upside down when it reversed Roe v. Wade and cynically stripped away the 1965 Voting Rights Act’s most important safeguards, resulting in the immediate disenfranchisement of non-white voters in several US states.

Then, it determined that perverting the will of the majority with blatant gerrymandering was consistent with the intent of the US Constitution’s framers. They even gutted the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to do its core job, concluding that our right to enjoy clean air and clean water was not Congress’ specific intent in passing the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts.

After President Ronald Reagan showed corporations how to bust unions when he fired the striking air traffic controllers in 1980, regressive influences in our state, provincial, and municipal governments figured out how to distort the weave of our social fabric into an unrecognizable mystery material. Now books are being banned, teachers are forced into educational straightjackets, history cannot be taught in full, certain words are prohibited, civil protests are transposed into terrorist acts, reproductive rights are now reproductive felonies, and doctor’s care has become doctors’ scare.

How can a societal dumpster fire like this happen when the majority’s sentiments lie in the opposite direction? It’s simple. If the pot heats up slowly enough, the frogs won’t realize that they’re getting cooked until they’re on someone’s dinner plate.

These examples are US-centric, but copycat forces in Canada lie in wait—watching, learning, and taking their cues from their American counterparts. Canadians have only to look across the Atlantic and witness the de facto death throes of the UK’s National Health Service—the endgame of years of Thatcherism, neoliberalism, and self-serving national leadership in the UK—to be on the lookout for a stealthy whittling down of the Canada Health Act.

We are one union spanning two nations. Our fight for rights, respect, and survival as musicians is our primary goal. But getting what we want and earning what we need, however, is only half of the fight for real justice. We must watch out for the welfare of our friends and neighbors outside of our specialized workplace. Know what your school boards and city councils are doing. Stay alert to the doings of your state or provincial legislative bodies. If you see or hear of something that you know will bring harm to others in your communities, gather a bunch of friends and allies, step out, speak up, and take action.

That’s what real solidarity is about.