University of Toronto, to tell the truth, is filled with the most conformist non-thinkers on the planet

My alma mater, the University of Toronto, has just sent me their online alumni magazine in which their feature article is Taking a Stand: As these alumni have discovered, it takes courage to speak up for what you believe in. Let us go through all eleven to see just how brave these people must have been inside a university setting, one quote from each.

Decision-makers need to appreciate how public policy will affect different communities and individuals. We can do this through a willingness to listen to as many different voices as we can – from the broadest possible spectrum of society. Only then can we get the full ‘truth’ of the potential impact of our decisions.

We all have a responsibility to protect ourselves, our friends, our families and our communities from the spread of COVID-19. Toronto still has the opportunity to slow this virus spread, but we need to work together. We all need to practice physical distancing and stay home if you can and only leave if you have to. People returning from travel from anywhere outside of Canada, including the United States, need to stay home, even if they don’t have symptoms of illness. Staying home not only protects you from this virus spread, it also protects our city’s most vulnerable residents: people who are elderly and those with a chronic health condition. Evidence shows these groups are more likely to be severely affected by COVID-19.

Much, if not almost all, of what we now call Canada is actually not Canada because the original nations on this land never gave up the right to govern themselves. This is not the truth that most Canadians have been taught, and it’s not the truth that most Canadians believe. But it’s a universal truth for Indigenous Peoples here on Turtle Island in 2020. Acknowledgment and understanding of this is the key to moving past it. It will require a fundamental rethink and reimagining of what Canada is as a country.

Cooper’s three-year investigation culminated in recommendations to create a more diverse and inclusive campus. For her, the experience also highlighted, yet again, the importance of looking at a historical episode from different points of view to create a fuller version of the “truth.”

If casting directors hire somebody with a disability to play a role they are good for instead of it having to be about the fact that they’re in a wheelchair, then that breaks down stigma. It shows: Look, we’re everyday people and we live our lives and we fall in love. Just because we move around differently doesn’t make us less capable.

Women are realizing there is an innate power in these stories – and it’s not just women; it’s any marginalized group that doesn’t have a chance to speak or change things because they’re not in power. Just saying these things is very important. Now, if doctors make excuses about why they don’t want to give anesthetics, women are not accepting that anymore. [Might just add that seven of the eleven chosen to give their views were women.]

North, the rocks are choked with millwort.
South, starlings rustle through the cedars:
brought by a man who spent his life importing
every bird in Shakespeare. New worlds
forever measured by the Old. For every measure,
an equal and opposite erasure. How, over the fire,
the family friend said, Jap, not Japanese.

One of our most dominant narratives tells us that happiness equals wealth. But this doesn’t serve us when it leads to damaging the environment beyond repair. I consider an activist to be a storyteller who disarms these destructive narratives. I try to show that we are not in competition with each other for the planet’s resources, and that we can live in a low-impact society that still meets our needs.

Shammaa also wants to put an end to the stigma surrounding steroid users. Like any addiction or body-image issue, this is a mental health concern, he says, and the people who are experiencing it are vulnerable: They do not want to admit weakness, when they are trying so desperately to appear strong.

It’s the same with climate change. I study the difference between the future where we continue to depend on fossil fuels versus the future where we transition to clean energy. And I can tell you there is a night- and-day difference. There is the future where there are significant impacts, but we can adapt to them, prepare for them and build resilience so that when they come we’re ready. Or there is the future where the changes overwhelm us far beyond our capacity to adapt.

We need investigative journalism to get to the truth. But to be meaningful, and to resonate with an audience, investigative journalism needs to do more than just find out what happened. It needs to hold people in power to account.

For these people whatever truths they think they hold will have no consequences in any hierarchy within the establishment in which they wish to rise. I find each of these people fatuous fools. None of them would know what an original thought would look like, never mind how to make one make sense to themselves if they came across it. Mis-educated and uneducated, each and every one.

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