Your country is desolate,
Your cities are burned with fire;
Strangers devour your land in your presence;
And it is desolate, as overthrown by strangers.
— Isaiah 1:7
All my life, I have played the game. I grew up in an evangelical Christian home where I was an audience for my father’s sermons. So, I never learned how to have a conversation. In the area of emotional intelligence, I noticed that the rich get richer, but the poor got poorer. I didn’t have friends in high school. My best friend in elementary school found a different circle of friends in high school.
All I had was an ability to excel at Math, to write, and to draw. I decided at the age of 12 that I would be an artist or graphic designer. I worked to get straight As in school. I won art awards. I learned everything I could about design, using every piece of equipment in the high school graphics department.
I completed a three-year college graphic design program in two years. I worked at a Vancouver design studio for 2 years, pioneering digital design production tools. I started a graphic design business and learned that I wasn’t very good at business. So I took Communications at Trinity Western University. I got married, had a daughter, and didn’t have the money to finish my degree, so I found a part-time job in a Vancouver video production company.
My family disapproved of my marriage, so we moved to Abbotsford to be close to my wife’s parents. I eventually found a full-time job as a designer in Langley. I left that job after 7 years, when my boss made a deadline more important than my wife’s life-threatening illness and emergency surgery. Meanwhile, I built Love Abbotsford into a national movement, Love Your City, until the momentum was crushed by an internal power struggle at our church.
I worked part-time for a Christian non-profit organization until the business model failed after 2 years. After struggling as a freelance designer, I began working for a web agency, doing outsourced print design. Eventually, I started working full time. I was part of the decision to hire another designer as the first step in building the design team. But as the company grew, I realized that I would no longer have a say in decisions after the web agency was turned into a Drupal factory. I was stuck on dead end projects. The custom development team faced a string of failures, and our lead developer left on the arrival of an HR manager from Accenture. As my efforts in building internal business processes were being shutdown, I could sense that the management hierarchy were taking control, and designers did not have a seat at the table. The writing was on the wall. People were getting fired, my wife’s health was deteriorating and I felt that the management hierarchy considered me dead weight. When the Symphony team started a business venture and UFV came fielding for people interested in teaching, I saw that as an opening to try something new. Unfortunately, I left before I had anything solid to land on. Within a year, I discovered how isolating the UFV teaching position was. My wife’s health was failing and I bailed.
Over the past years, I have noticed a pattern. The gatekeepers in my life have been white Christian men. They tell my father that I am going to hell because I don’t believe his gospel. The men at the Vineyard, Gary Stephens, Brian Doerksen, and Dean Richmond, turned my dream, Love Abbotsford, into a fight for power over control of the church and split the church. The men at our agency turned the place where I finally felt like I belonged into a fight for power over control of the company. I didn’t believe in the Drupal/WordPress gospel. The open source dream of an international creative collaboration on the Symphony platform was killed by power-hungry men. I would never find time to work on leading the Symphony team and that dream died.
When the organization fired the design colleague I had helped hire after her return from maternity leave, the erasure of my influence on the organization was complete.
They burned my career to the ground. They made a choice. They decided that I didn’t belong. I want to know why.
After seven and a half years, I have been passed over by Peter Reek, Braden Douglas, Darian Kovacs, and Stan Loewen. Just as I was finding opportunities with Jason Pohl at Gerry Wiebe’s IQM, Braden Douglas bought it out, because we were cutting into his market. UFV fired me and Karin Jager stopped returning my messages.
The message that I keep getting is that I am worthless, garbage, expendable, disposable. I am not worth anyone’s time. I didn’t expect to hear from anyone again. Brad Vis, my federal representative in Parliament, ignores my messages.
So the question I need to answer is, “What is wrong with me?”
My own family, my mother, father, and two younger brothers, have excluded me from participating in the inheritance because I don’t believe their gospel.
So, is that it? Is it because I am not a true believer in Christian white supremacy and patriarchy?
I have burned through the equity in our home trying to find a place where I belong in this world. I am still looking.
As Kimberly Jones so eloquently put it, I played your game and you burned it to the ground.
How can we win? How can we win?
“Now a traveler came to the rich man, but the rich man refrained from taking one of his own sheep or cattle to prepare a meal for the traveler who had come to him. Instead, he took the ewe lamb that belonged to the poor man and prepared it for the one who had come to him.”
David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan, “As surely as the Lord lives, the man who did this must die! He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity.”
Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man!”
— 2 Samuel 12:4-7 NIV
For the sake of the Earth and for the sake of fatherhood, I pray for the end of patriarchy.