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Happy 33 To Me, #FTSF

Twenty years ago, on this date, I spent my 13th birthday on dialysis, hooked up to a machine by an extremely fresh and painfully inserted central line in my chest.

So the nurses, me being the only child in a ward of mostly elderly patients, felt bad for the small girl on dialysis and they gave me a little birthday cake and all sang Happy Birthday to me.

How else do you make a small girl less upset to be stuck on kidney dialysis for her birthday, her first day as a teenager?

You present her with something sweet, that’s how.

It’s all relative. What made me upset then isn’t the same thing making me upset now, as a newly turned thirty-three-year-old.

I hadn’t even heard of him then…anyone by the name of…well, I’m not using the name on this blog from now on I’ve decided, even though in Harry Potter it says we should never shy away from using the name.

I am not afraid. Okay, well afraid for the world, sure, but I am more sad, enraged, frustrated, upset at where a lot of things currently are.

The other day, when I heard one of many in a string of a long line of blatant lies, it resulted in me giving myself a headache. These lies are going so far from the usual “all politicians lie lies” and into those that feel like they are so in-your-face that it almost feels like, when I hear them, they literally smack me in the face. So, I tried to act this out and my hand actually made physical contact with my own cheek.

I know, I know…ridiculous, right?

Upsetting, to be sure, but certainly not worth all that. Getting too upset in the moment means I don’t articulate myself all that well, for a writer, kind of like tonight apparently. I suppose it illustrates the theme of being upset rather nicely though.

Anyway…

I am celebrating twenty years of not having to spend birthdays or any other day tied to a dialysis machine. I am making big plans to celebrate that fact, come June. This is shaping up to be quite the thrill.

As for my birthday, people keep asking me how it’s been, how it’s going, and if I’ve had a good one. I try to answer, but how can I top the week I just spent in Mexico?

Ten Things of Thankful and Then Some

I can’t and I’m not even trying to. Different thing.

My birthday present from family and from myself was that trip. This day can’t quite live up to that and I could now go on to list the specific reasons why it hasn’t, or I could just say I’m upset I’m no longer in Mexico. I could just leave it here, but it’s late and I am in need of sleep and I am trying to sort out how turning another year older makes me feel. So, I will go on, at least a little more.

As I stare out at a restaurant, one where I am celebrating my birthday by having a lovely lunch with my father, I see a lot of blurry space in front of my eyes, mixed with the constant noise of a loud lunchtime crowd. These things feed into each other and I wonder if I will still see anything at all, upon turning thirty-four next year or on turning forty-three in ten years time. Will I sill see anything at all, on any number of future birthday celebrations in my future?

When I get upset about these thoughts, these very questions that are asked, without much prompting inside my own head, I try to remember everything I’ve been lucky to see and all the brilliant living I’ve still got yet to do.

I get really upset by a birthday where I go to give blood and I leave with a bandage on each arm because veins were hard to come by, but a needle now and then is nothing compared to what once was.

After twenty years of needles for a lot of blood tests, there’s scar tissue in both arms and I didn’t drink enough before going in. It’s not the nurse’s fault. I was distracted, but it didn’t hurt, not by this point.

I then decided, since I was already in the building, to stop in at an adjoining medical office, which just so happens to be my dentist’s office, to make an appointment for a routine teeth cleaning. I’m long overdue. The only thing more celebratory than making a dentist appointment on one’s birthday will be the romance of a Valentine’s Day oral checkup, right?

I wished for something rather odd this year. It’s not the first thing I’d think of when blowing out candles, but I did wish that, if I were going to get one of my common colds, thanks to my somewhat lowered immune system, I’d rather get it on my birthday than having had it occur at any point while I was in Mexico.

It’s seemed, on the eve of my birthday, that I had gotten my wish.

And now, am I upset that I have a sore throat and other symptoms ongoing on my birthday, with a lively family triple celebration still to come tomorrow? It’s not so nice, but my week in Mexico was all pretty nearly perfect, so I am okay with it really.

I took a break all day, making it a point not to read Facebook and my newsfeed for my birthday, if it meant I could avoid all stories about the U.S. so-called president and whatever nonsense he was up to on the day of my birth. I did use Facebook to feel the birthday love from friends and family though. One makes me upset when I read and the other makes me smile.

When I’m upset, I think of all the things I have to be thankful for. When I feel upset because I am back from such a week of writing in Mexico and I worry I will never figure out my future, I remember the generous compliments about my talents as a writer that I received from my writing mentor and from the other writers in the group. I may have felt a fair bit of fear and uncertainty since I arrived home, but I can’t put so much pressure on myself, on my own birthday no less, to figure it out right away.

When I am upset about so many things I can’t control, things the world feels like it’s getting all wrong, I think of so much that has gone right for me lately and I listen to the things being said to me by people I love and trust and who know me and who think I’m special in some way.

I don’t let those who don’t know I exist speak nasty things to me inside my own head. I can’t control all those awful things that cause me upset and I can often do very little about seeing those I love or admire become upset either. I can offer a kind word or a compliment or a joke to break the tension. I can write, no matter how pointless it might seem in the moment of despair or cheerlessness.

Another birthday has come and gone. I can’t say where I’ll be, what I’ll have just experienced or accomplished by my next birthday. I can fight feeling upset. I can acknowledge it and then I can move forward.

Finish The Sentence Friday

Happy Birthday to me! Happy Birthday to me! Happy thirty-three! Happy Birthday to me!

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Give It A Rest, #SoCS

I don’t envy politicians, but I also don’t excuse much of what they do to get where they are.

Mostly, the good ones aren’t entirely good, but nobody is.

For instance, President Obama is nearly finished and I know many won’t be all that sad to see him step down as the one in charge of one of the most powerful countries in the world, but I will. I like his calm, or what I’ve mostly seen and felt of it. He is intelligent and well spoken. His voice calms and soothes me, when normally anything involving politics gets my stress level increasing.

The world is a complex place. I get that.

He’s going on an Asia trip. He will visit Japan and Viet Nam. These are both places where the US did serious damage, all in the name of security and righteousness.

I know the history. Japan wasn’t giving up, even after Hitler’s Germany, no longer controlled by Hitler, had surrendered. Still, Japan fought fiercely on and risked many more countless lives of soldiers whose only choice would have been to go and fight. So, the US dropped bombs on two Japanese cities, in theory, to put a stop to the madness. That must have sounded like a practical and a rational answer, the only answer at the time, in 1045 America. Well, I say “GIVE ME A BREAK!”

It didn’t put any end to the madness. The madness continued on.

Okay, didn’t intend to get so political in this post, but after all, it is stream of consciousness writing, and sometimes things happen. Surely, that can be understood.

Well, as if that wasn’t bad enough, twenty or so years later and another war, this time between the US and another Asian country transpired. More countless suffering and seemingly endless carnage. What for? What purpose did it ultimately serve?

GIVE ME A BREAK!

Politicians and powerful and power hungry countries behave worse than little children throwing temper tantrums. At least those don’t end up hurting thousands or millions of lives.

So, when politicians step up, years later, to apologize for things they weren’t directly involved in, yet take responsibility for as the latest leaders of the participating nations, people have the nerve to cry “publicity stunt” or “free vacation on tax payers money.” Well, guess what, better some tax dollars than more loss of life and denial of past wrongs and missteps.

More apologies this week, early on, as my country’s leader apologizes for Canada turning away ships full of fleeing people from safety 100 years ago. Again, his motives are challenged. Apology is refreshing from anyone in this world today, most especially from a politician. It’s the kind of action we demand of children when they fight or when they act up. Why jump all over any adult, most of all a president or a prime minister of a country when an apology and an amends is put forth?

Well, for those who think I love Canada’s leader, no matter what, I will finish this SoCS post with this little tale from the week that just was.

Finally, after so much nonsense with the 2016 US election cycle, all of which I am tired of hearing about, there came some news out of Canada’s parliament in Ottawa mid week, from a country like mine, who is always being labeled as super polite and mild mannered.

Headlines such as: “Justin Trudeau Elbows His Way” make the rounds in every Canadian publication, news outlet, and beyond. I can’t see the video, but look it up online if you want to see for yourself.

It’s funny to me, as someone who sees less and less as the years go by, that even when something is caught on video, it’s still up for tremendous debate. Those who like Justin Trudeau defend it and those who don’t won’t. That’s just how it is.

Of course, everything is up for interpretation. The government was in session, debating something as tense as assisted dying. I get that things were tense in that room. I also think everyone took it too far. One side pushed and the other pushed back. NDP party and Liberals want to fight. That’s their problem, but control yourselves.

GIVE ME A BREAK!

Justin saw another person being blocked from coming forward, during a debate, a vote? Whatever was going down. He elbowed a woman MP as he barrelled through? Was it on purpose? Is all his talk about feminism and equality a coverup for his real hatred and mistreatment of women? Give me a break please. If she felt assaulted, of course that is serious and she had the right to say something, but was most of this an uproar, after-the-fact? Was it all misconstrued? Was much of it planned to hijack the entire process? Were most of them, on all sides, acting badly and in a misguided way? No doubt.

Then Justin did it again, that is, he apologized. Oh, was it fake? Was it a sham? Give me a break!

Someone needed to put a brake or more than one on those proceedings, the moment things started to get out of hand.

I don’t doubt that Trudeau is a bit spoiled. Who wouldn’t be, growing up around politics their entire lives. His campaign nay sayers lines have returned, as most news publications think it necessary to rehash.

“He’s just not ready.” (To be prime minister that is.)

“Nice hair though.” (My favourite of the ridiculous attack ad lines from last fall.)

He is younger than a lot of leaders chosen to run a country. He is a Trudeau, son of Pierre Trudeau.

But he also lived under the spotlight his entire life. He was the product of a broken home and had to watch his mother live with depression. Not everything in life has been a ball for him, not even him.

He has done some good for Canada and he has only been here for six months. I just know Canada doesn’t feel like a cold and tight lipped place since he arrived.

I wish all politicians could grow up. That’s what I wish.

But Justin has issued apologies. What a concept.

These magazines and newspapers keep writing stories because they get attention and readers. Give me a break!

Will Justin Trudeau ever be able to live this down and go on to do anything more for Canada? Give me a break!

But I do have to say, Justin, seemed like kind of a Rob Fordian thing to do.

Just give it a break, all of you. Give it a rest, please. I beg of you.

Stream of Consciousness Saturday #SoCS

With this week’s prompt:

brake or break

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In The News and On My Mind: Supermegafragilisticexpialidocious

It’s a funny thing, but the prime minister of my country of Canada was featured on the US news magazine program 60 Minutes, before being honoured with a state dinner at the White House last week. This week he’s in New York at the UN (trying to secure Canada a seat on the Security Counsel), speaking at an event about why he is proud to call himself a feminist, and he hasn’t once mentioned anything about the size of his genitals.

GO FIGURE!

***

“Watching the news in the evening is a bit like being on an emotional Tilt-aWhirl. “Isis now sets people on fire.” “Harper Lee has a new book out!” “Some oddballs are bringing measles back because they’re scared of autism, which is a bit like saying I’m worried about birthday candles, so let’s start a forest fire.” “It’s going to be gorgeous this weekend!” “Look, a politician being deliberately rude.” “And also, look at these adorable puppies!” My limbic system does not work that fast.
–JEG

***

Super Tuesday…Mega Tuesday…what?

Comparisons are being made between Adolf Hitler and Donald Trump: Louis C.K. said it. Now I’m saying it.

But so many aren’t about to go there. Oh no! Perish the thought!

I am saying it and I am not going to back down from it. I am afraid.

America is full of beautiful places and kind and compassionate people. I know many citizens, writers and bloggers and friends, who don’t want the US to feed off of violence and divisiveness.

At the same time, North American culture thrives on celebrity. Media matters, has influence, seeks headlines and hype.

Is it any surprise then, (not to me), that a reality star, part of the reality TV craze, is so close to securing the GOP nomination?

With celebrities fighting over Twitter about naked Instagram shots, roses and marriage proposals that hardly ever last, and a show about a religious family with 19 kids…dismissed when sexual abuse comes to light and still a network brings such a mess back for ratings.

Is it any wonder? Yes, I wonder.

Donald Trump is a white, privileged male, who has likely had to fight for very little in life, mostly unaware of the struggles many minorities face. He has been a reality star for years, now the ultimate challenge, nomination of the highest office in the land, modern North American king, royalty, this is just much too much of a challenge to pass up, to see if he can take that title for himself.

Of course he can’t back down from this. He’s already practically hijacked the whole entire world into watching him/listening to him talk. It’s the ultimate reality show, on a world stage.

But what happens if he actually gets there?

Hitler. Trump. Of course I don’t think they are the same men, with the exact same plans or intentions. I don’t know what Trump has in mind for the kingdom he wants to rule. I do know that Trump is only the symptom of a larger problem in the world.

I’ve studied pre-World War II history, the great depression, and the uprising of anti-semitism somewhat. Now I watch the news and often I wonder if I am witnessing the sorts of things that those in the 20s and 30s witnessed. I have this yucky feeling inside that I might just be.

Demagog. Xenophobic. These are terms I didn’t even know five years ago.

People see things, with their own eyes, hear things with their own two years, but choose to dismiss them. They are in denial, don’t want to believe it, if it is not happening to them in that moment.

“That couldn’t possibly happen again, oh no. Not on my watch, on ours. Not with what we know, in the world today. That would never happen in 2016, in America.”

But they forget the past, or never fully acknowledged it, and are then on the way to repeating the mistakes of history, at break-neck speed.

Horrible things do happen again, are happening right now, and they are just as cruel and unfair as ever before. My father taught me, as difficult as it is and as negative, to love and appreciate history and the hard lessons it can teach us, if we pay attention.

I wish I could have all the positivity of my mother, but I sometimes think she is counting on the rest of the world being as logical, rational, and genuinely good as she is.

I wish I had all that faith in humanity that my prime minister who, amidst endless questions from reporters about his thoughts on Trump, repeatedly takes the high road over.

He says very little, only that he has faith in the better judgment of the American people to make the right choice when the time comes. He doesn’t resort to insults and petty name calling, like Trump is caught doing in so many sound bites, some I will never be able to un-hear.

Trudeau stays dignified, as us Canadians are famous for, but what does he truly think? Is he worried, like me? Perhaps I can’t figure out how to remain quite so tactful any longer.

Jokes are made all the time now, as a Trump win for the presidency starts to look more and more possible – Americans saying they want to move to Canada if Trump is elected:

Cape Breton: The Canadian island for Americans who want to escape Donald Trump

The fighting spirit going on during these tense times has those in favour of Trump, his own family included saying they will help them pack. I hate to hear all the ugliness, all a bunch of bickering children on the school’s playground.

Some Canadians would say no to this escape plan anyway, turning away our neighbours, immigrants (refugees is a stretch, but who knows). Some Canadians go on to say that Americans must clean up their own messes, but where do we draw that line? For those Americans who don’t vote for Trump, depending on what were to happen after he took office, wouldn’t they have a right, a reason to get away?

In the media, Canadian islands like Cape Breton talk of inviting Americans. If Trump becomes president, not even a US/Canadian border feels like enough space and separation to me. Our world may have borders and oceans between continents, but we can’t remain separate from our fellow countries. Our globe has become much too global in the nearly 100 years now since the World Wars.

I know Hitler used the dissatisfaction that a lot of Germans felt at that time. Then it was the Jews, Communists, us against them. There had to be someone to place the focus, to lay blame, to be afraid of, as fear has always evolved into a lot worse things.

Now Trump is using the dissatisfied state of America to win, something he loves to do, and he’s doing it at the expense of Muslims or Mexicans. I don’t know his true intentions, but he is egotistical and narcissistic.

He has slogans like, “MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN”. Of course, politicians use slogans, but his sounds ominously like something Hitler shouted to crowds at his rallies in the thirties.

The world has always been ruled by white men. We know the history, but some places, the US and Canada, we don’t like to think about the bloody, greedy details so often white washed over in the history books.

Canada and the world at large aren’t perfect either. The North American continent was inhabited by Natives and it was the white Europeans who came over and took all that we have today. Most of us, since then, our ancestors were immigrants at one time or another, but we choose to forget that fact. We must not forget that part.

George and Amal Clooney on 5 years of conflict in Syria

People who know me know I tend to get easily upset, and so I am told not to read Facebook comments, but I sometimes do. I can’t always help myself and I sometimes think it helps me remain compassionate.

I hear from Canadians all the time that they don’t want refugees over here, taking our resources away from us. It can be a chilling reality to hear what some people are really thinking.

It’s the individual stories that frighten: One Florida woman spoke of her family being of a different kind of immigrant. They weren’t like the lazy, bottom feeder immigrants of today. This was her rationale for her feelings. This is a scary position to take, if she really does believe what she says. No empathy, no compassion, not even from most of us who’ve had our ancestors come from other countries in the past. This baffles me most of all.

Hitler believed his success couldn’t be attributed to anything other than divine providence.

Trump said his success, even after the riots and violence at rallies in recent weeks, not even he can explain that one.

All the conflict in Chicago for example only serves Trump’s purpose. No violence is acceptable, but things shouldn’t have gotten out of hand. I wish it hadn’t. Will this continue? Will it escalate?

I am not American and won’t be able to vote against Donald Trump for President. I am Canadian and glad of it, but I have a stake in what happens in the world. I may be in a separate country, but no “wall” (real or metaphorical) could ever possibly keep me secluded and unaware of the scary rhetoric that many are spouting.

Where does it end? I am not fleeing my home right now. I live in Canada, a peaceful place, but I can empathize. Where is the empathy? It’s clouded by fear, misinformation, and stereotypes.

It helps my own ability for empathy to listen to the personal stories: like the young Syrian refugee who now lives in Montreal and studies psychology, all the while keeping an eye on what’s going on back in her home country, all the while remembering the painful and cruel interrogations she underwent when she was arrested for protesting, five years ago back when the conflict in Syria began.

All of Europe are dealing with the fleeing people up close, on the front lines. This can’t be easy. Countries who were accepting at first now experiencing push-back from some citizens, bigotry increasing, stereotypes free flowing.

Hillary and Bernie both made their mistakes, said the wrong thing at the wrong moment and offended someone, but Hillary apologized. Trump has never done this. Anyone who has never apologized or recognized the mistakes they’ve made, because we’ve all made them, is nobody I want running anything. This equates him with someone as dangerous as Hitler was proven to be and I am saying it without hesitation.

More and more are beginning to call him out, but is he a joke (like so many late night comedians would like to think), a harmless nuisance, a guy who will do anything necessary to win, or something worse? I try to give him the benefit of the doubt, as I have never met him in person. How can we really judge another person if we’ve never met them? I don’t want to believe I am living in another 1930s, but we don’t tend to learn all that much from our past mistakes. I hate to say it.

I am scared. If refugees, immigrants, Muslims can be targeted, where does it stop? Women are still suffering in many places around the world. People with disabilities and LGBT face prejudice in both big and small ways. We can’t continue to support white supremacy. If you can’t bring yourself to mention Donald Trump in the same breath as Adolf Hitler, at least call his talk what it is. He may not be in the KKK, but his statements, the things he’s said to get where he’s gotten, they can only be said by someone living in his extremely privileged position. As chaotic as things are in his country these days, such a situation is something so much of the world would kill for. Terms like that are worded that way for a reason.

I know what’s happening around the world is awful – in the five years since the war in Syria began, when I hear word coming out of the atrocities happening in South Sudan for example, and the problems feel far too huge for any solutions to be found.

But there are those looking for compassionate solutions.

I feel optimism when I listen to this expert from Oxford or Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. I am uplifted when I realize there are still those using common sense, compassion, and intelligence to figure out this complicated world we live in.

I keep up on what’s happening in the US, not only from the news, but from one writer/blogger in particular who writes thoughtfully about politics and in a way I can begin to understand about a system that I often find highly confusing and complex:

Little Pitchers Have Big Ears

We all have an opinion, but so much of it is backed by anger. A lot of what can be found underneath that anger is fear. What are we teaching our children? What is being modelled for them?

What Our Children Are Learning

It’s really hard to let kindness, understanding, and empathy show through all that, but we need to make the effort for the hope of the future generations.

Like I so often think: I wonder what the state of things in my country of Canada, in the US, in North America, and all around the world will look like, one year from now?

One year from now? Fifty? One hundred?

I wish I could turn off the news for good, as I can’t really stand to hear Trump’s smug, ranting voice much longer, but I may not have much of a choice by this time next year, no matter what anyone says, what my prime minister says or does not say out loud.

Does Trudeau have a duty, as the person running Canada, to speak up and stand up to Trump, especially if he’s saying such inflammatory things about all manner of types of people? Or is he showing tact by keeping quiet?

When is it important to speak up? I think none of us, even Trudeau, would hate to think Trump could be compared to Hitler in any way whatsoever.

Trust me, I don’t want to think it (don’t even like using these two men’s names if I can help it), but am following a gut feeling.

Or perhaps I am just using the comparison to prove something through my writing.

Who knows which one it truly is. Not even I’m certain at this point. Some of both I’d say.

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In The News and On My Mind: Seeing Red, #BlueSkyFriday

Remember, back a few weeks ago, when all we had to debate were a bunch of red coffee cups?

didyoureadmylatestblogpostyetimage-2015-11-18-01-18.png

***

“Watching the news in the evening is a bit like being on an emotional Tilt-aWhirl. “Isis now sets people on fire.” “Harper Lee has a new book out!” “Some oddballs are bringing measles back because they’re scared of autism, which is a bit like saying I’m worried about birthday candles, so let’s start a forest fire.” “It’s going to be gorgeous this weekend!” “Look, a politician being deliberately rude.” “And also, look at these adorable puppies!” My limbic system does not work that fast.
–JEG

***

Okay, so there was always a lot more going on in the world than that, but still…

It’s nearly a month till Christmas, and now the world is, once more, seeing red on the events of Friday the 13th and the latest November terrorist attacks by ISIS.

It began with Starbucks and their solid red cups, but it did not end there. It never does.

I had a conversation with my parents recently. In this conversation, my mom stated emphatically that, in the end, there is no way the US would actually elect Donald Trump as their president. My father and I aren’t so sure. At this point, a lot wouldn’t surprise me. That wouldn’t surprise me. This world is a crazy crazy place.

Listening to another one of Trump’s rants, about the popular coffee chain choosing just plain red, as their Christmas cup design, I was baffled by the attention America has given this man.

I was also baffled by the things that people obsess over, but there’s always something else, coming along, to shift the discussion to another outrage or outcry. People like to be angry about something: sometimes warranted and sometimes not.

Speaking of red…

that expression (seeing red) is one I’ve been thinking a lot about. It fits with my series: “In The News and On My Mind” and yet, going from some silly coloured coffee cups to the level of outrage at those poor people injured and killed in France has me thinking about my favourite colour, as the holiday season approaches.

I went slightly numb when I heard the news in progress last Friday night. Here we go again, I said to myself. It was approaching suppertime, and then…

Gun shots. Crack. Bomb blasts. Bang. Not again.

But just a few days earlier I’d heard about the cracks and the bangs, but in countries and cities I didn’t know.

Everyone knows Paris, but this had been already going on elsewhere in previous days. These attacks happen in other places, but that’s just what happens in places like Iraq, Turkey, Beirut, but not in France. Oh no.

I listened, through the night, until I could not listen anymore. I wanted to wait for more information because I wanted to know what we were dealing with, before my outrage flew out of control, like the rest of the world.

So, my Facebook newsfeed burst with people’s status rants, condolences in solidarity with France, and news stories from every angle. I tried to read it all, to educate myself and remain as informed as possible, but after a bit of a family emergency, a distraction from the wider world’s events, I had something closer to home to focus my attention and all my worry on.

The events of the wider world were silenced, as if someone turned the volume way down, in the background, and I may not have wanted that, but I almost welcomed the change and this other place to put all my energy.

What a lot to happen to my country’s brand new prime minister, a test of his capability, only a few weeks in. On his way to summits, dealing with economic matters and soon to be in PAris for talks on the environment.

Justin Trudeau’s big promised plan to bring 25,000 refugees into Canada by New Year’s was going to be challenged. Some of the Canadian premiers are urging Trudeau to pull back, to think carefully.

Governors are calling for similar caution from President Obama. If even one extremist is allowed entry and the chance to do what was done in PAris, even amongst the larger group, this would be too much, right?

I’ve listened to all this and I am not the one in charge, thank God, but I do not wish to fight fear with fear and violence with violence. That is where the world is heading, where most countries start to head in times like these.

Again, where would I want the world to go with that? If I were innocently fleeing from my home, surrounded by violence and fear, what would I want from the rest of the world?

All the stories I heard with November 11th being just last week. All of what was known and what wasn’t done during the Holocaust. If the rest of the world knows people are suffering, and we all sit back and ignore it, what does that make us? If, one day, it is any of us in the other position and in need of help, what should we expect?

I’m born from a line of those who only want to see the best in people. I am also the granddaughter of two immigrants. We are all, for the most part, immigrants from one time or another.

Us and them. Those and we.

The Islamic State. Islamic religion. Islamic terrorists. It’s all so mixed up in people’s minds, but these are not the times where people should be excused for saying awful things and remaining uneducated. It hurts my head to stay educated on the world, forever changing and moving, but I have no choice now. It’s the world my niece and nephews will inherit, which means I have to care. I have no more choice to stay sheltered and hidden, as I was and did as a child.

I am slightly removed still, an entire ocean between myself and France, but I can imagine what it must be like, having something so threatening right in my back yard. I want the appropriate action taken against anyone who has an express purpose of destroying human life, no matter the reason. I know what he had to do, as president of the country attacked. I know all of Europe is under a whole lot of stress and strain, as more and more Syrian refugees keep coming. Canada just wants to help, but are we next?

We can’t keep all the danger removed from us over here, as much as we might want to. I want to live in a bubble sometimes, to avoid getting hurt, but what kind of a life would that be? People are afraid. I get that.

Out for a night, in Paris, and nobody thought there would be so much blood. Out at a soccer game, to listen to a concert, or simply out for dinner and now there’s more anger and fear than ever.

Oh, of course there’s plenty of kindness, compassion, and love. Facebook shows both the good and the bad in people, just like in other ways. I have read plenty of both. I’ve read some of the ugliest statements from people and some of the most compassionate.

I may be the naive one, the one seeing the best in people, even as it fades in and out. I just can’t bring myself to think ignorant thoughts and make judgments about people I don’t know.

In the week since Paris was targeted:

A Peterborough mosque was torched

and

a Muslim woman was attacked in Toronto while picking her children up from school.

Indifference leads to fear, which often leads to outright hatred.

We expect certain rights and freedoms over in North America and in Europe. We expect the Middle East to be violent and evil.

Fighting between Israeli and Palestinian sides.

More us and them.

Christians and Muslims.

Us and them.

ISIS is getting more creative apparently,

communicating through PlayStation gaming systems.

What?

So many stories and new information coming in and how can anyone possibly keep up or know what’s true and what’s reality?

Facebook can be a curse at times like these. The debate over the changing of profile pictures was everywhere the other day. This is exactly why my mother’s advice to stay out of commenting and debating on Facebook is so smart. So what if someone wants to show their support or their emotion this way. And if they choose not to, that’s fine too.

On and after Friday night I wrote and posted how I felt, on my blog pages and my personal page, but I did not change any profile pic of mine.

All the gun safety talk of late was pushed back with this newest terrorist attack. That’s how it goes in the media.

Before this, I was working on my thoughts for these “In The News and On My Mind” posts. Here’s what else I was planning to talk about:

On the morning before the attacks on Paris I woke up to alarming news. I don’t wish to use his name here, but he is one of Canada’s most notorious murderers and he supposedly wrote a novel.

Read more about it here.

As a writer I was disgusted, but I suppose even Hitler wrote a book once.

Freedom of speech and all that, but I could not read such a book. I believe someone should, to find out what we’re dealing with, but I’m just glad it is not me.

Who, on earth, would help him do this in the first place?

These next two items have to do with the ethics of aquariums, zoos, and marine parks and the role my country plays in the global risk for the environment.

Embattled Sea World to overhaul killer whale show

As this article states, I am not sure Sea World has seen the light. They want to redeem themselves, after Blackfish, but upon seeing it myself and on further reflection, I want better for those majestic marine mammals I love so much.

And then there was Obama’s rejection of Canada’s Keystone Pipeline project.

I don’t want to sound like an environmental nut, because God knows I am not. I know oil has its uses and how much we all depend on it. I also know that the whole topic of oil makes me feel yucky. I don’t like the thought of it being pumped underground. I don’t like the alternative, which resulted in

something like this,

but how often does just such a tragedy happen? I don’t know the political elements that were involved in Obama’s decision or the plans Canada has going forward, but I think of poor marine animals, when the inevitable oil spill happens again, and I want a better option. I know all the fighting and the greed that goes on over oil and Canada has lots of it. I can’t say I was totally unhappy with President Obama’s choice, as uneducated on all the rest as that might make me.

And so it’s my own Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, who made a promise during his campaign: 25,000 refugees would be brought to Canada by the end of the year. Is this a good idea? More naive liberalism?

Liberals and conservatives.

Us and them.

Perhaps Canada needs to rethink things a bit? Not go back on Trudeau’s promise, but maybe, in the shadow of Friday the 13th attacks, slow the whole process down some.

We’re seeing, learning more and more about the process and how it will all come about. Skeptics ask if everyone so welcoming of refugees is willing to take some into our own homes:

First of all, I want to understand and to hear the individual stories.

From one refugee to another: What you need to know about Canada

It warms my heart that there are, in and amongst the uninformed and fearful comments, stories like these:

Canadian Couple Cancels Big Wedding to Sponsor a Family of Syrian Refugees Instead

We all know about boats full of migrants: women, children, and men too. Women and children are one thing, but the young men are all clearly terrorists, right?

I shake my head at this. I don’t let fear rule my notions of every single man coming off of those boats or fleeing Syria and into a refugee camp. What about the violence and the persecution these men are running from in their countries? Men can be in danger too. It’s the isolation and the desolation that leads to anger and vulnerability. This is what ISIS prays on. We can’t give in. We can’t let them win by making us afraid, using that fear against us, so we end up frozen by our suspicions.

I do not have any answers in this case. I still don’t know how to write about most of this, as it all feels much too big and broad. There are good and bad people everywhere and I refuse to give in to the fear, but more and more it seems that’s what leaders, politicians, and the media suggests.

Satisfied – Jewel

So if you are one of the many, “seeing red” at the crazy world we live in, I can understand and, believe me, I have my moments. However, I beg you to try to keep to your compassionate side, to look towards those who have let anger go, in favour of productive strategies and kindness.

As much as I love red, I leave that for the celebrations that are coming around the holidays, for most of us. The colour red is better suited for holly berries and ribbon. I would remind us all to remember that we are all human, all of us.

For more views on this, here are some posts written by fellow bloggers:

http://sisterwivesspeak.com/2015/11/19/is-your-love-big-enough-the-syrian-refugee-crisis/

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

–Martin Luther King Jr.

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