1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, Feminism, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, History, IN THE NEWS AND ON MY MIND, Interviews, Kerry's Causes, Spotlight Saturday, The Insightful Wanderer

Physical Place and Emotional Space, #SoCS #1000Speak

Whilst I complain sometimes that this new Facebook feature, going live, seems to slow down the voice program on my phone. On a day like today however, I see its benefits.

I am currently listening to a Facebook Live session from a nearby museum. Or is it at the theatre? in a town, not too far from me, but which I am not at this time.

I’d gone to this museum several times, the last few summers, for

Shakespeare’s First Folio.

I’ve gone for exhibits and talks about the world wars,

World War I,

and World War II as well.

But now I am listening to a panel of refugees. They are speaking about the countries they come from, how those places influenced them, and how being in Canada has allowed them to speak from a position of peace and yet with the right amount of noise and outrage for some of the human rights violations that go on every day, back in history into today.

Note: I mostly place *** ahead of any or all things said by the members on the panel, in place of actual quotes for things they said, things I heard, and the mashup in between. I hope I can make clear what are my thoughts and what are those experiences of the three experts I just listened to.

This post happened in the moment, but I realize it could serve as a post for any of the following:

Stream of Consciousness Saturday,

1000 Voices Speak For Compassion,

or even the Ten Things of Thankful post I write every weekend.

This was very much a stream of consciousness sort of post, as I was technically taking notes as I listened, but I wanted to go ahead and share them, plus my impressions and thoughts as I listened.

I didn’t realize this panel was taking place today, but I have access to Facebook and can listen in still. I feel deeply for anyone who has had to live through wars and governmental, religious, cultural upheaval.

This topic of refugees, “topic” sounds like a strange word for it, but I just don’t know, though words come easily in most cases. Not always, not here and now though.

This speaker came with his parents, exiled from Iran, at the age of nine. He lost loved ones, family and friends, back in Iran, to executions. Stuff I hear about in the news all the time, can’t fathom, and brush past the headlines to preserve my sanity. This is tough tough stuff. I feel helpless. I write so I have my own voice. I know I am lucky to have that.

My heart hurts. Those forced to leave their homes to survive and to save their families from further danger. He says we in North America are somewhat uncomfortable with pain and suffering. Struggling, he says.

***an empty shell, suffering. To have that fire, you reach a point where you have no choice.”

He speaks of what is beautiful and inspiring. He’s seen crimes against humanity. He felt such a sense of helplessness as a child. Lost his uncle to torture. He saw horrifying images. He learned his instinct for wanting to end injustice.

***It’s not abstract. It cuts you open like a knife.

He went, fresh out of law school.

After World War II, Cold War, the forming of the UN.

Criminal tribunal. I know little about these things. He teaches me and all who listen.

That line, it was the best of times, it was the worst of times. That’s life for the world. Always.

I wish everyone could hear this man speak, all these speakers.

Humbling. He comes across that way. Futility, enormity. No [punishment is ever enough.

He refers to Nazi punishment at Nuremberg. I saw the movie., My father watched. The lawyers being there. I can’t imagine actually being there, attempting, given that responsibility to give punishment for unthinkable acts. Evil is the word that comes immediately to my mind, but they were all humans too. All of them.

I have the best life here in Canada. Circumstance. Fate. Luck. Whatever you want to call it. We don’t get to choose where and when we are born into this world. Personal past and the wrongs that are done. I see roadblocks. I see them clear. I see people knocking down roadblocks of all kinds. I have knocked down my share, but there are always more, more more.

Others do it. Grace. Genuine humility. Selflessness amongst the selfish world.

Life isn’t always the greatest for all humanity.

This FacebookLive thing isn’t bad at all.

***Living inside the fray vs living outside of it.

This woman has a platform to speak about what happens, good and bad, in her country of Kenya. Violations of treaties. Abuse of women and children. Discriminations. She speaks in Stratford, Ontario, Canada. Her words are powerful in their truth. She wants her country to be equal in its society, eliminating fear, from her position here in Canada. These countries need to learn from each other.

Easy to be full of ideals. Getting into life and reality can shock. True meaning and purpose. This man teaches younger generations, from his experiences. Education.

***Emotion as a form of cognition. Privilege over intimacy. Intellectual rigour. If you don’t understand the reality. you will never have passion to use your ability to go and make a difference.

***Exploit. Own moral virtue. General empathy. Fruits of sorrow. Some do work others arrive for harvest. glamorization of human rights. Profound human experience. Account of suffering. Platitudes. Feel good activism. Idealism is about struggle and being wounded and continuing. Emptied ourselves of that understanding. To separate theory from practice.

Nelson Mandela comes up. Imprisoned for years:

“Sometimes I miss it. I got a lot of reading done.”

Spirit. Upside of suffering. Inspiring each other. Draw on that courage.

Kosovo. Bombings. Refugee crisis happened there too.

Orphanages and institutions all around the world with kids in need of a home and someone to love them. Earlier I watched videos about J.K. Rowling’s foundation,

LUMOS,

a spell to produce light from Harry Potter,

from which I named my cat.

I hope Canada can do our part. We are not innocent. We’ve caused suffering. I don’t know the half of it even.

How to help those who must flee is not a new question. I have no real answers. I write. Stream of consciousness, I use stream of consciousness to relieve some of the pressure.

***Silver lining inside dark clouds. Circumstances, didn’t kill them, made them stronger.

World at large scares me. Gives me hope yet still too. Flip flop. Flip flop.

Prominent human rights lawyers. Doing what they can. All my stereotypes of what a lawyer does and I can’t deny their knowledge and wisdom and influence.

Speaking on certain world leaders. Not an easy job, but so often filled with self interest. Naive and idealistic. It always comes back to that for many of us.

***Cynical short sided policies.

He’s bemused. Good word.

Corruption. Complicity. The west. Middle East. ISIS. His idealism is tempered by realism. The global village is a mess reality but is a reality.

He wanted simple corporate life, just before September 11th, in New York.

He speaks of it so soon after last week’s anniversary.

Policy makers. Theories. Clash of civilization.

***Complex diverse fabric. Took preparation to tear that apart.

Middle East politics. I know nothing about this.

Human rights. Rule of law.

***Refugees are the symptom. Not the cause.

HE says. I just I just…

***Ceasefire. Multi laterally.

Talk over my head. I feel like a child who does not comprehend such things. Of course, I comprehend, I do, I think, even if I do not understand.

I hope Justin Trudeau can do something. Is that possible? The EU. So much to keep up with and my head hurts. Meditation. My best option?

Governments need to work together, like we demand from children, siblings, at school. Leadership and resolve.

Compassion post? Where do we learn empathy and compassion from? How do some not learn it, or unlearn it later?

I believe I’ve learned that from my family and from my disability. You see things differently, or else blindness should force you to do so.

Africa feels so far away to me. The world, so large, west, east, north, south.

She’s proud to say she is Canadian now. We are proud to have her here. Her home is always on her mind. You can hear it in her earnest words and tone.

***Political will.

Hmm.

***Willing but their hands were tired. problems. Take care of their own, rather than others that come.

Hmm.

Camps. Refugee camps. Camps are the word I, here in Canada, feel most uncomfortable about. They are all there is for so many though.

I’ve heard from those in literature. From these activists and civil servants.

Those last ones look forward to the day when they are unemployed. Will that day ever come?

They can not be everywhere all the time. Nobody has that power.

Mass migration and mass movements. Here in Canada we can’t nor should we avoid thinking about it, facing its undeniablility.

We are apart of this world. How do we treat indigenous people here, mirrors how we do for others around the world.

He visits prisons in Iraq. Unsuccessful suicide bombers. Young young men. HE speaks to them. Eighteen and Syrian. Must kill enemies. Then he speaks of the violence he has seen and misses his mommy, his village, wanted to go to medical school. Understanding from an intimate position. How recruitment occurs. Highly corrupt. Religious extremism. We are, all of us, susceptible. We can’t run from this. We are all interdependent.

***Hold our leaders accountable. Resume responsibility. Assume it. Do our share. Impossible for a few to clean up any mess.

A lot of blaming of journalists. Media looks at one problem. Pay attention. Feel powerless. Then what?

How to get beyond colour, I am colour blind. This does not solve it entirely of course.

Robert Kennedy. Fifty years ago. Before my time.

Female genital mutilation. Gender based violence. We feel like we need to pick an issue. These are real, live human beings, silence no more.

Teachers teach and then those students go on to teach children.

I am here in the virtual audience. Big big biggest questions, heavy with importance.

Silly thought, but like my still growing in-box, I fall behind. We have fallen behind.

Justice isn’t always so easy. I watch a documentary on Netflix about the idea of Hitler escaping, and I wonder. What if he had? Conspiracy theories linger, nonsensically.

Ethnic. Ethic. How to obtain sustainable peace? Long term?

***Spectacle of ISIS.

Regimes. Atrocities. Don’t make it to social media. Refugees flee from government. ISIS is the word most people see and hear. Undoubtedly it is all causing such strife.

***Dabbling in feminism. Iran calls it. Complex transition. Authoritarian. Fundamentalist. Leaderships. Repress. Youth want democracy. What kind of a coward is afraid of a feminist?

No kidding. Time isn’t often on their side.

Our leaders, those in positions of power, they do abuse that. How do we fix it? My idealism and naiveté showing again.

Korea.

History straight from this speaker, this man, from those things I was not yet born to see.

***Rule of law and rule of force. How to be civilized.

North Korea. People starving. I have no clue.

Nothing makes you feel better. Well, listening to these people helps a little.

Darkness to light, from Korea, north to south.

Those images trouble me no doubt.

Genocide. Rwanda. Hatred. Dehumanizing. Calling human beings cockroaches. How could anyone, no matter who it is? Fifty years after the holocaust.

***In the moments of most tension people fail, their best intentions lost to history.

When we hear the window to prevent escalation of violence is mostly gone by.

This Iranian/Canadian human rights lawyer states any ordinary citizen should never feel we can’t make a difference, do something. Is this true? Can I help somehow?

Then, in Winnipeg, apologies for residential schools. Prime Minister gives this now. Elderly immigrant couple delivering cupcakes. Neighbours. Could barely speak English but they brought “transcendent humanity” to their indigenous neighbours.

“all that it takes for evil to flourish is for good people to do nothing.”

I must check this Facebook page more often.

Stratford Festival

There is good being done everywhere. I need only seek it out.

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TToT: Shake, Rattle, and Roll – Roadblocks and Shake Ups, #10Thankful

link And it is still true, no matter how old you are, when you go out into the world it is best to hold hands and stick together.

I was reminded of this, by way of my initial TToT quote from last week.

link It will be a great day when our schools have all the money they need, and our air force has to have a bake-sale to buy a bomber.

So, yeah Robert Fulghum has all these great quotes, which apply to education and children, youth and imagination, with all the political rhetoric and campaign promises, all the talk of peace vs war and strength vs weakness.

Sound of Silence (Live on Conan)

Lots of shake ups happening here this week. Bad joke. Read on.

TEN THINGS OF THANKFUL

For “UNIVERSAL” healthcare here in Canada.

I do get irritated with the mis-information spread, that Canada is the BIG BAD “SOCIALIZED” healthcare, that it’s free. But nothing’s free, right?

So, someone in my family needed it, unexpectedly, at the beginning of the week. I am glad we have access to it here in Canada. When you are dealing with stress and fear and panic, you shouldn’t have to fear a giant bill in the mail on top of the close call of a family member’s health being risked.

It’s not free. It is there when we need it and I am thankful for that.

That my brother had excellent care and that someone found him so soon after he’d had a seizure.

He could have been alone for longer before anyone found him and who knows when he would have received medical attention.

How the brain can bounce back, like nothing happened, though not all residual signs were so soon forgotten.

Of course, those two nights in hospital through off his entire week.

🙂

Understandable.

But there he was today, helping or trying to do what he could to help me with yet another computer/technology issue I have.

As the days go on, you start to forget the feelings of terror that we felt when I got the call this past Monday, an immediate flashback feeling of dread, back to seven months ago when he fell and a head injury stopped him and those who love him in our tracks.

That nothing worse was revealed by the tests they did.

CT scan…EEG…MRI…and there is nothing new to see. Any of our worst fears of tumours or the need for brain surgery are put to rest.

So, I use the shake/rattle/roll image to deal with my remaining feelings (close call) and we keep moving forward.

For another lesson full of concepts conveyed and hope for the unblocking of any current roadblocks.

I have my own issues with learning to play the hardest of all musical instruments, the violin, but I am making gradual progress as the months go by.

Somehow, as slow as that progress often feels, my lessons are full of hope that I can, one day, arrive at the breakthrough.

My teacher and I discuss that feeling of being one with the violin. She comments on how it may sound cheesy, but I reassure her that it doesn’t, not at all. Beautiful is more like it to me.

I manage to feel uplifted and I leave my lesson, for yet another week, feeling like I picked the right instrument for me.

For a release date and clues of what’s to come with the new Gilmore Girls.

Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life (First official NetFlix trailer)

My violin teacher, myself, and friends (both near and far) on Facebook share in the news of the November premier.

For the discovery of a new podcast.

Bjork Discussing “Stonemilker” On “Song Exploder”

This one is musical and discusses song writing and lyrics.

For a much more positive week in matters of politics for my neighbours to the south.

I don’t know if I can stand three more whole months of this, but at least this second week of political conventions was more “we” and less “I” and I just wish, now that they have both chosen their nominee, they could get on with the business of voting already.

No heads in the sand of denial about what’s going on in the world, but a little optimism and hope can make all the difference.

For glass ceilings coming one step closer to being shattered even further.

Without getting all political and such, as I try to avoid, but I was glad to hear the sound of breaking glass, when it came to ceilings of gender equality. If something has to break, better that than most other things.

For a ride on the waves with the sun gleaming off the water’s surface.

I had one of those inflatable air mattresses and I found the perfect spot, directly in between two sand bars with crashing waves. In this spot, the water was going up and down, but it was a ride I could lean into and let take me where it might.

The sun was going down, as the best time to go to the lake is after four in the afternoon. Much less risk of getting a sun burn.

Fresh cut French fries and live music. It’s a long weekend here and it was Beach Fest.

BONUS: For balllooons and pufflings.

Who doesn’t love balloons, such as Bill Clinton on stage at the Democratic National Convention? And who doesn’t love puffins, especially little baby puffins?

http://www.cbc.ca/natureofthings/episodes/puffin-patrol

Cuteness alert with the baby birds, just as long as we, as humans, remember to keep our balloons away from wild life and nature.

I needed a story of decent people, wanting to help baby birds, to counteract all the negative we constantly hear of in the news on a daily basis.

Still not feeling my best, but I suppose I owe modern medicine a whole lot this week in particular. This week’s 10 things list may not be my best, but I am at my most thankful.

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IMO’s and Emotions, #FTSF

“Moments of clarity are so rare. I better document this.”

—Bjork, “Stonemilker”

Opinions and emotions can get us into trouble, but what would we do without them?

“In my opinion…”

And pretty soon emotions take over. We think of opinions as more planned and mapped out. I write and sometimes it comes across as more of an opinion piece, while the rest of the time my emotions have ushered me forward, no telling where it could lead.

When it comes to my emotions and my words, I can’t seem to fully control the outcomes. That’s why blogging can be a risky venture. I think I need to say something, get a feeling or thought out, and then I wonder if I should have kept it to myself.

***

We figure we’ll take the stairs down from the seventh floor, choosing a bit of exercise over convenience. We have the time to kill after all.

I grip the railing on the left side, so as to be able to follow all the many flights, down to the ground floor, even though all my life I’ve been taught to stay to the right, so as to avoid getting in people’s way.

This day in the hospital I learn to stay in the middle as I make my way down the halls of the ward. The walls are lined with objects. I risk bumping into a piece of expensive computer equipment or a cart full of medical supplies or a wheelchair waiting for a patient.

How to follow the path. Stay to the right? Go left? Or perhaps it’s better to remain in the middle, not too far to either side of opinion or letting emotions rule, of bumping into people and their opinions and emotions?

Well, now I am walking at as brisk a pace as I can manage, without the possible threat of getting too fast for my own good and stumbling over my feet or a step as I make my way down.

I hear the familiar sound of footsteps a flight or so of stairs behind. I know what this means.

“Sorry,” the man says, an impatient note to his voice. “I’ll just slip ahead of you so I can move faster.”

He clearly has somewhere to be. Perhaps it’s important, truly, or not. All I know is I want to speak up just then, to show my annoyance with him and all those who make me feel as if I am perpetually in the way, blocking people from getting to their destinations on time.

I feel it in a busy place, like a shopping mall or any crowd really. I’m buffered from behind and there are people in front. I can’t move, except physically, by those all around me. It’s a bit of a claustrophobic feeling, but it affects my emotions, making me want to lash out.

I don’t then and I don’t now either.

The man may indeed need to be somewhere, but I can’t possibly have been going that slow, could I have?

I want to tell the man how I feel, but he is a stranger in a hurry. How could I ever explain to him how his need for speed makes me feel like a useless, inconvenience of an object, not a human being at all? What purpose would that serve? Isn’t all this more about how I let my emotions affect my thoughts about myself, more of an internal struggle?

I don’t know at which moment he realizes I am blind, slow by connotation, or if that even really comes into play this time. It does in my own mind. I wish it wouldn’t.

When you’re blind, you’re often made to feel like you are in someone’s way, someone who can see and knows, with certainty, where they are going. I let this affect me more than I probably should.

So, I listen to Bjork sing about feelings and emotions.

She writes about emotional needs, emotional respect. I let her words wash over me and wonder if I write in the hopes of filling an emotional need or several, to demand some emotional respect. I guess that’s better than demanding it in other ways.

With all the politics of the US RNC and DNC from these last two weeks, with politics in general, emotions and words become emotional words. Of course, politics is emotional for most people. It’s certainly more about the emotions than the actual political, for me anyway.

Facts don’t matter. Reason rarely matters at all. Civilized conversation through words quickly dissolves into talking over one another and strong levels of disrespect.

Here I can use my words to convey my emotions. I guess it’s a bit one-sided, unless someone decides to leave a comment of emotion or opinion.

I often don’t say how I am feeling. After all, it isn’t appropriate to voice our every thought, though it sometimes feels like we do, in that moment.

What kind of a world would it be if we actually did?

Cristi of

Finding Ninee

is the host of this Finish the Sentence Friday prompt on emotions and words.

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TToT: Sadness, Euphoria, Sul Ponticello – “BELIEVE ME!” #Disbelief #10Thankful

“Maybe we should develop a Crayola bomb as our next secret weapon. a
link hashtag happiness
weapon. A beauty bomb. And every time a crisis developed, we would launch one.

It would explode high in the air — explode softly — and send thousands, millions, of little parachutes into the air. Floating down to earth — boxes of Crayolas.

And we wouldn’t go cheap, either — not little boxes of eight. Boxes of sixty-four, with the sharpener built right in. With silver and gold and copper, magenta and peach and lime, amber and umber and all the rest.

And people would smile and get a little funny look on their faces and cover the world with imagination.

~ Robert Fulghum

With all the reality TV run amuck this week, disguised as politics. With an unarmed mental health worker getting shot, right in front of his autistic client. With violence in Munich and Afghanistan and Syria.

I read the above quote and the image of that made me want to spread colour and vibrance and imagination. It made me want to create.

TEN THINGS OF THANKFUL

That I am not American in 2016.

I don’t mean that to come off sounding disrespectful to anyone I know there.

I just do not know how things have arrived at where they are. I can’t do anything about it. I feel like I am taking a front row seat to the spectacle of this election and I am afraid, so I tell myself I am thankful that I have at least some distance.

It’s not all that comforting frankly, but I’m just starting my TToT list. I’ve got nine more to go.

To be a Canadian, living here in Canada.

Honestly, as much as I do love a lot about the US and highly respect many people there, I am thankful to be living in this country.

I say it, I think it, and I feel it in my heart, any way you slice it. Luck of the draw. Again, the comfort is short lived, but it’s something. I don’t know what else to say.

I couldn’t resist the line in the title of this week’s TToT, the one the GOP nominee kept repeating: “Believe Me!” and I don’t. I just can’t believe what I’m hearing.

For a Canadian, female writer, whose blog I love to check in on.

“To be responsible is to be forced to confront vulnerability. That is my observation about growing up, generally. The older I get, the more fragile the structures around me seem. The more tenuous. The more invented , in a way. What I mean is that the security of everything I hold precious and dear, even my beliefs, is supported by a certain level of cognitive dissonance, but also by the suspension of disbelief. To dig in, to help build, to get my hands dirty, to make or unmake, is, for me, to witness the complexity and arbitrariness of experience, of life itself, against which there can be no absolute assurances of safety and security.”

Carrie Snyder – Welcome To My Office

She has taught me a lot and continues to teach me, including the fascinating resources she often shares with her readers.

In this post.

She writes about having lost her own physical voice from illness, but I believe it speaks to a bigger way in which so many people feel like they don’t have a voice to speak up for themselves.

For comedians who make me smile when the sadness threatens to overtake me.

Brexitbot 3000

Speaking of British comedy…there’s nothing better than Last Week Tonight’s John Oliver being interviewed by Jerry Seinfeld, for his show “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee”.

With Oliver’s signature British humour and Jerry’s own unique brand of comedy, which he’s perfected for these fascinating interviews he conducts, with the sound of a soft trickle of coffee being poured in between clips of their coffee shop chatter and banter.

http://comediansincarsgettingcoffee.com/john-oliver-what-kind-of-human-animal-would-do-this

For the developing of my violin muscle memory and “sul ponticello”..

I’m loving the possibilities and more of the terms I’m learning.

Sul ponticello is a style of playing, where you move the bow up closer to the bridge of the violin. It makes a higher sound with harmonics, or so I’m told and have read.

It’s like what’s often said about writing. It’s important to know the rules so they can be broken properly. I’m getting there.

That I can apply for a passport to see the world.

Who knows what will be going on in the world at any later date.

When I do use my newly acquired passport for the first time, who knows who will be running the country I will be flying over to get to Mexico.

So many people are afraid to travel, to leave the familiar of their everyday surroundings, thanks to perpetrators of violence and intolerance and the spreading of fear. I am lucky I can apply for a little booklet which allows me to explore place away from my immediate home.

Of course, I must pay attention to the very real concerns I face as a visually impaired traveler, while at the same time not allowing so much uncontrollable nonsense stop me, getting in my way. I wish that for all of us.

That I have writing group friends who show their concern.

I wasn’t feeling up to attending my writing group this week, which I hate to have to admit. It has slowly grown to be one of my favourite things.

So, imagine my surprise when I received an email later that night from one of the members, checking up on me, making sure I was okay.

For an excellent interpretation of a classic.

Victor Frankenstein

I remember listening to my friend, who was in medical school at the time, telling me a few stories of her classes. It was often more graphic than I was looking to hear, but that’s the reality of medicine, which I have benefited greatly from.

Now, of course, any story of Frankenstein is going to an extreme, but it explores the issues of life and death, challenging mortality.

This film was brilliantly done and the actors played their [parts very convincingly. Also, the descriptive narration I found was some of the best I’ve heard.

For the heartbeat of hope.

It beats in time, with rhythmic steadiness, and I hold onto that. It translates into a very real hope for the future, for so many.

It’s how I am able to go from sadness to euphoria, all in one week.

For beautiful lyrics to explain these times we’re living in.

Timeless really.

Summer, Highland Falls (Live at Shea Stadium) – Billy Joel

They say that these are not the best of times, But they’re the only times I’ve ever known, And I believe there is a time for meditation in cathedrals of our own.

Now I have seen that sad surrender in my lover’s eyes, And I can only stand apart and sympathize.

For we are always what our situations hand us… It’s either sadness or euphoria. And so we argue and we compromise, and realize that nothing’s ever changed, For all our mutual experience, our seperate conclusions are the same.

Now we are forced to recognize our inhumanity, Our reason co-exists with our insanity. And though we choose between reality and madness… It’s either sadness or euphoria.

How thoughtlessly we dissipate our energies. Perhaps we don’t fulfill each other’s fantasies. And so we’ll stand upon the ledges of our lives, With our respective similarities…

It’s either sadness or euphoria.

(Lyrics)

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“People Of Canada…” #CanadaDay #FTSF

A lot can change in a year.

Today is a celebration in my country. Today is Canada’s 149th birthday.

How perfect – this all lined up with Finish the Sentence Friday and its particular sentence for the week, which ties in with all I have been thinking about on countries, borders, and our one, global world.

Every year, on July 1st and since I started this blog, I have found it important to say something about Canada or what it’s like to be Canadian.

In 2014,

I listed ten things I loved about my country (Oh Canada).

And then, last year,

I decided to take a different approach,

Reconciling The Truth About Canada.

Last year we had another political party in charge and another politician leading Canada.

This year we have Justin Trudeau. Not all are thrilled, just like I wasn’t thrilled with the people in charge this time last July.

Stories in the news for 2016 are more often than not horrifying to me. I listen to the epic race for the White House and the Brexit referendum. I look around me here in Canada, and I hold on tightly, but the other night I listened to a speech put on in Ottawa’s parliament, by visiting US President (for the time being) Barack Obama.

He began it with the words: “People of Canada…” and I was unprepared for all I was about to hear.

What I wish the world knew is a simple enough word: peace. They often say they know (those leading the way), that they understand, but continually prove the opposite to be true. This leaves those of us, so desperate for peace, to feel like we’re the odd ones out, like what we’re asking for is so out-of-reach impossible.

Obama started to speak and I’ve never been so speechless and yet bursting with thoughts and things to say, all at the same time. I wanted to cry, more than once, as he spoke and the crowd cheered at various statements he made.

http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/wireStory/latest-obama-arrives-canada-us-mexico-summit-40217479

Just days after the Brexit vote, I listened to a speech by a certain UKIP politician, to the EU. It carried a definite, a continual tone of mocking and gloating. Totally uncalled for and unnecessary, in my mind, as mature adults, or thought to be mature adults should be conducting themselves and holding themselves to a much higher standard than was evident in that room.

Then, compare that to one given by Nicola Sturgeon, in Scotland, where she spoke of what may end up need to be done. She struck me as a powerful female voice, in the world of politics, where so often women’s voices are mostly silent. As she finished speaking, however, sirens could be heard in the distance, coming closer and closer. This felt ominous to me in some way.

Then, this week, it was the North American Leader’s Summit. The leaders of Mexico, the United States, and Canada came together to talk a wide array of topics, from the environment to Brexit.

Of course, on Canada Day and every other, I am glad Canada is is its own, individual nation, while existing as part of the North American continent. I feel bad to admit it, that I’ve been feeling a sense of relief, that perhaps Canada’s darker period is over, while the US’s may still be ahead of them. I don’t wish civil unrest on anyone, not the least on my neighbours to the south. I don’t think the United States fully realized how good they had it with Obama. However, I don’t think isolation is the answer and we need each other, more than we’d like to admit.

To be honest, I am dying for this summer to fly by, this year in particular, because I am feeling uncomfortable while the US elections are revving up, but perhaps (if the UK is any indication) I shouldn’t be in any big rush for the summer of 2016 to come to an end. I am dreading the results this November, yet I remain skeptically optimistic, after how Canada’s elections turned out last fall.

Obama spoke in Ottawa and it was his last visit to Canada as President. He was the first US president to come here since Clinton, twenty years ago. Particularly, Trudeau and Obama have been developing a friendly relationship, which is for the good of us all, but this pleasant environment could be short lived.

Obama spoke about refugees and immigrants. He didn’t speak about building walls and closing ranks against the rest of the world. He addressed the dangers of the “us against them” mentality, which I’d like to tell the rest of the world, can’t possibly work.

Obama spoke of the US/Canada history. War of 1812, (some bad memories there).

🙂

Then there came the Underground Railroad. While things for minorities were never great here or there, there was a reason why we were the north that slaves of the time were willing to die to get to. We could be a refuge for so many then.

We could be, we can set an example once more. I want to think Canada can set that example, as politics in the US is soon to change, Obama’s time nearly up, but that Trudeau has only just begun his time in office. Some say he has been bad for Canada, and if they are talking budgets and economy, I am the last to say I know a lot about those things and how it will all turn out, but Justin Trudeau has made strides on many things humanitarian. I want Canada to show the world that opening up our hearts and home to people fleeing war will make the world a better place, but Obama spoke about doing all we can do to ensure a more peaceful planet earth, so wars and unrest can’t uproot so many from there homes in the first place.

I want to make all my bursting thoughts come out in a coherent statement for how I feel. I don’t go by the situation with currency or by the stock market. I go by my heart. What doesn’t feel true and compassionate to me, I know isn’t possibly to benefit the world. So much fear and shameful reaction to fear. I want my country to lead the way in doing better.

And so, as many celebrated their very first Canada Day in this country this year, I hope they feel welcomed, even if this place is still a strange one to them. As I hope for all this, I think always on the first Canada Day my grandparents spent, all those years ago. They left Europe after that continent had been nearly destroyed, devastated by war, and we can’t let that continue to happen. Surely, the world must realize this. Or am I just talking to myself here, banging my own head up against a brick wall? Am I simply too naive for my own good, when it comes down to what humans are capable of?

FTSF is thanks to Kristi from:

Finding Ninee

And I wish nothing but peace on this Canada Day, 4th of July, or whatever else may mark any other country’s place in the world.

To end with – my thoughts are with Turkey, after the latest run-in with the opposite of peace. Their country deserves the same level of support, just like Belgium, France, the US or anywhere else, as fellow human beings, living together and sharing this planet of ours, we need each other. We cannot fight hate with even more hate. Peace, going forward, always. Please. Don’t make me beg!

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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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Cracks in the Ceiling, #InternationalWomensDay #IWD2016

What has happened in the world, in the last year and since

International Women’s Day 2015?

Well, around that time, Hillary Clinton announced her intention to run for President of the United States and we still have months to wait, or how long I don’t know, as the whole process seems insane to me.

Will she win? Should she win, should anyone vote for her, simply because she is female? I suppose not, not if a better candidate exists.

I can’t vote, but I think it’s about time the US elected a woman to lead their country. I know all the scandals surrounding her, her power and influence, but I think she has the experience necessary and, dare I say, is highly capable to do the job.

I just finished watching a documentary with her as one of the main stars, along with Madeleine Albright and Condoleezza Rice.

It’s been twenty years since Clinton spoke in China about women’s rights, a country that doesn’t have the best track record in valuing girls.

“Human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights…once and for all!” Hillary pronounced with conviction.

Well, since then there has been rape as a war tactic (conflict in Bosnia and Yugoslavia), female oppression in Afghanistan, brutalization and attacks during uprisings in Egypt and Libya, struggle in Iraq and Syria.

A year ago I watched “India’s Daughter”, a documentary about a gang rape of a young woman on a bus in India. I watched it with help deciphering the subtitles. I had planned to write about my thoughts here, but I couldn’t quite put that into words.

More recently I watched “Suffragette”, a film about the fight for women’s rights in the UK, during the early twentieth century. I planned to write a review here, but the words did not come. This time it was fiction, based on true events in history, but all the emotions I felt were so strong they burrowed down deep in my subconscious.

And so even though I said I was cutting back on blogging here during the week, starting on the 1st of March, I couldn’t let this day pass without saying something.

An election was held here in Canada last fall for a new leader for this country, just as they are working toward in the US, and now we have Justin Trudeau as Canada’s Prime Minister.

He appointed his cabinet and made news:

“Because it’s 2015.”

Trudeau proudly calls himself a feminist:

Trudeau Declares Himself (Proud Feminist) in Open Letter to Mark International Women’s Day

The question is now more often to become one I think of as it relates to not only being a woman, but for those with disabilities as well: Should a woman be given a place in government or in a job role just to fill a quota?

No, not just. It’s a starting place. It makes a statement. All these things must become laws, policies must be created, legislations drawn, but then action must be taken, these things enforced. Women are just as smart and capable as men, but how do we change the minds of the truly ignorant and arrogant? Is that even possible?

I am proud that, living in Canada, I have a feminist prime minister. Somewhere in the world, however, there are countries with leaders who believe that only men deserve rights, a voice. Even as nothing’s perfect for women, certainly still not even here in Canada, I am proud of the role my own country plays in making things better.

Next comes the decision to put a female on our money. Justin just introduced a commemorative coin for International Women’s Day and it’s about time a woman’s face was shown proudly on our currency.

I have learned a lot about feminism this past year.

I’ve learned it from brilliant and articulate writers:

We should all be feminists – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

I’ve learned it from brave young activists:

Nobel Peace Prize Speech – Malala Yousafzai

I’ve learned it from fictional witches turned real life feminist spokeswomen:

He For She – Emma Watson – International Women’s Day 2016

Some would say that there is no problem, we make it bigger than it is, because just look how far we’ve come.

I know why I care about this. My poor keyboard keys, because I feel like pounding out my intense frustration through them, but then I halt because my brain is working furiously, far out of reach of my fingers.

I care because of what I’ve seen. I know that, for many women, there is no real problem in our day to day lives. I am lucky to say that. I can write what I want, despite the loss for words and the brain fog and overload I’m currently experiencing. I won’t be censored or threatened. I am only one tiny voice online.

That’s the thing though. I feel tiny and insignificant a lot, on a daily basis, and it’s not because I am ungrateful. I just feel like I still get lost, as a female with a disability. I am lucky to have a good life, essentially, but I feel the problem even more consciously.

Females, just like those living with disabilities around the world, we could all say we are treated better and things for us have improved, but many of us still experience feelings of marginalization and feelings of invisibility.

Women who have it good can’t really imagine what other women might be experiencing, right this very moment, somewhere around the world. It could be somewhere in Africa, the Middle East, India, or even North America. The degree is certainly important, but the experiences all still matter.

I am not officially oppressed, not dangerously so. I just feel it in society. Just because things have steadily improved for women, many places around the world in say the last one hundred years, doesn’t mean all of us have reached a place where we feel like we have taken our power back, not yet having discovered the impact through our own unique voices.

I can’t really always detect that ceiling, as see-through as it may be, and some days I feel like it is solid and darkened. I need to feel its clarity and its possibility. I need this, to feel hope for a brighter future.

I want to make an impact, a difference, to have a voice and to stand for something I feel so strongly in my heart.

Purple: My Interview with Garry Atkinson

I am sick of cultural and religious excuses, struggles over politics and money and power and greed, and the fear and the cowardice that is the root of all the battles we’re still fighting. I am sick of the violence and the silence.

And so there’s still a ceiling, made of glass and we can see through to a better tomorrow of blue skies and bright sunshine, but for now I guess we must be glad for the cracks that are forming. It proves we are making progress.

JK Rowling and Emma Watson had a touching International Women’s Day moment

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Compassion For Christmas, #Christmas #Compassion #1000Speak

Welcome to a special edition of my monthly post on compassion for

1000 Voices Speak For Compassion.

Merry Christmas or whatever it is you say, each one of you. I am looking for some peace. Do you know where I could find some?

Nothing goes together more suitably than the Christmas season, peace, and compassion, right? So it should be easy to write about compassion at this time of year.

So then why do those stories of last minute shopping woes and packed stores threaten the peace and compassion I try to focus on?

It’s all about perspective. The last time I spent time in a hospital, visiting a loved one, it happened – all the chaos of the world I couldn’t get away from, (with 24/7 news and social media), all that stuff vanished. As soon as I feared for a loved one’s health I left that chaotic world of sensationalism and drama. What is truly important? It was right there in front of me, staring me in the face.

I saw plenty of compassion for our fellow humans, but I also saw plenty of the other side of things. I didn’t choose to be lifted, so suddenly, into an alternate reality, but I was.

Then it happened again, almost one month later exactly. The first episode in the hospital with my brother was a trial run, for a much worse experience. Again, all the politics here in North America, the horrors of ISIS, and the tragedy of refugees in Europe all took a backseat to my family and the compassion we would receive from other sources.

It started with the way my immediate family come together in the hard times. We rally. We close ranks.

We went into a state of adrenaline, as we did not know, minute to minute, what the situation was. That did not matter, though, in the end. We would be able to handle it, whatever “IT” was. That’s just how we roll.

We found compassion from hospital staff, doctors and nurses alike. We did not have a clue what we were doing. We still don’t. I know we got through it and will continue getting through, no matter what.

We sent word to the rest of our family and friends. They jumped to our aid and supported us. I clung to hope and the positive words of those who seemed to be more sure than I could manage to be, sure that my brother was strong and would fight back against whatever might be holding him down. It wouldn’t win, they were sure of that.

Technology and social media went from being sources of continuous and maddening news articles to a place where I could listen to the proclamations of those positive thinkers and friends. I found compassion there for my current situation and I held tight to that life raft in the ocean of uncertainty and fear I felt lost in.

Then I just happen to hear the news on a television, as I sat in a hospital lounge, just down the hall from where my brother was sleeping. All the horrors and the stress out there in the world crept in. I tried to keep it out, but it felt like cold water thrown in my face, waking me back up to a world out from my own private concerns. I couldn’t ignore the fear I now felt, both close to home and in the wider world. I still felt compassion for those refugees, the ones I wanted to write about, who have made it here to Canada and those still fighting for basic human necessities, out there somewhere.

I again wished and searched for some peace, in and amongst the craziness. It’s almost Christmas now and I still would like to know where that elusive thing called peace is hiding out.

I found compassion. It’s out there. People are doing good things. Those like

Lizzi.

There are those who explain it all, much better than I can:

Thoughts On Compassion

Last year I was a wreck. I was feeling blue and Christmas, a time where I’ve always felt cheerful at the mere approaching of December 25th. Something only made me more apathetic deep down, as last year came to a close.

It was my one and only younger brother who came to the rescue then. He lifted my spirits. He showed me an alternative to the Christmas seasons of my past, and I took hold of it gratefully: never-before-seen Christmas movies and music you would never hear on the radio. His compassion for how I was feeling, lost and alone, that brought me through, got me through.

Now here we were and I felt no peace. I felt around, in the darkness and the emptiness and the ever widening hole in my heart, reaching and grasping for anything I could offer my brother when he needed me. I could not help. I felt incapable of giving him anything close to what he’d given me one year ago. I could not fail him now.

Where was the compassion for myself? I knew I was scared and feeling entirely unable to handle much of any great weight. I feared I would never be able to write again, that my words were no solace to me when I needed something, anything. I knew I needed to eat, to rest, to take care of myself, but I couldn’t function. I had no way of knowing how long that might go on.

And then I heard her words. She spoke of her struggle, watching over her husband, hurt in a car crash. She saw him suffer and she stood by him. That’s what love looks like, I thought. My head in my hands, ready to throw them up in the air in frustration, I let her uplifting message of thinking positive and using any and all available energy to think best possible outcome wash over me. I listened to her words, her simple words of encouragement, my hands closing tight over my face, to squeeze all the panic I was feeling away, I raised my head up finally.

With all the rushing around that people do at this time of year I try to think of those who are sitting, still and quiet, with their loneliness at Christmas. This time of year brings up a lot of bad memories, beautiful memories, all things long gone now and I know how that feels. Suffering does not stop, indeed heightens, when the rest of the world is off celebrating somewhere. I like to have an added bit of compassion for what someone else may very well be dealing with. Sharing that isn’t always so easy, as we’re meant to feel like we’re doing it wrong if we can’t seem to find the spirit of the season.

A lot of compassion has been shown lately, by family and friends and near strangers, and that helps make the worst things bearable. Compassion is when a bunch of the people my father works with come together and raise money to give as a gift to my brother, recovering from a recent brain injury.

It’s not hard to find it: compassion, if you’re aware and open to finding it, but you must be willing to give it too. I want more compassion, for us all, as I return to the awareness of a wider world around me, full of suffering and need. I want it for those refugees who need a helping hand. For Muslims who feel like the world is ganging up on them for things beyond their control. I will join in the holiday traditions with my family and I will be grateful for my brother’s recovery and for the fact that we could have spent Christmas in a hospital. Small blessings are big things.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, or all the best, for whatever it is you celebrate and believe. Whatever you want to call it, it’s all about compassion, when you boil it down. I will be back, to spread as much compassion as I can, with the help and encouragement of 1000Speak, in the new year.

Jewel – Hands – Christmas Version

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Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Happy Hump Day, IN THE NEWS AND ON MY MIND

Time For A Change

Who are you voting for? Who am I voting for?

Good question.

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“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

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From Harper Lee to Stephen Harper.

Another one of these “In The News” posts, two weeks in a row, but this one is a special edition, not my favourite topics, but definitely in the news here.

I read so many awful, nasty comments in the Facebook post from a local college. The question of refugees, Syrian and other, was being debated. It was shockingly sad to hear some of the statements people were making.

What would I do if I had a home no more and had to leave? What would I want?

I did one project, in high school, about the immigration process. I have no clue, being born a Canadian, what it takes to become one.

Is Stephen Harper pushing a cynical agenda, a lot of prejudice against any specific group of people? Could anybody be so wrong as to vilify any whole group of people for the actions of the few? Are there those living here who don’t feel safe, feel wanted, feel accepted?

I knew very little about much when 9/11 happened. I don’t see how bad it’s said to have gotten since. That’s not my experience, but I know how important it is to feel like a part of one’s country, society, treated like a real person who matters.

Fifty years in Canada, and now I feel like a second-class citizen

“It was great to be in London with hundreds of enthusiastic Conservatives last night. People here want lower taxes, balanced budgets, and more good Canadian jobs. They’re voting Conservative on October 19th. Will you be doing the same?”
–Stephen Harper

Canada’s Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, has been leading Canada for, what seems like forever to me now.

Does that mean it is time for a change?

Research. Educate. Check the facts. Pay attention to your gut. What are the facts anyway?

I have felt an unease, a slide, a nagging in the pit of my stomach these last few years. I don’t think I like what’s happened to my country, the direction we’ve been led in, but perhaps I wouldn’t have been happy before that and I just wasn’t paying much attention.

I’m told Harper looks so staged when he speaks. He won’t allow for questions. He won’t answer, won’t address.

What’s going on with the environment? What is our stance on military issues, fighting, peace?

Harper’s talk is always about budgets and other boring things. Okay, so they are necessary for the running of any country, but I know very little about them. I try to educate myself, watch the news, but read a lot, honestly, on Facebook. Articles are posted there and I read about how other Canadians live and the concerns they’re having.

His threats are all fear based. I hate that. The other guys, Trudeau or Mulcair, they will screw our country up, Harper and all Conservatives keep saying.

Vote for him or they will raise taxes. Vote for him or spending will become out of control. We wouldn’t want that, right? What sane person would want that? Of course. No brainer?

I hear this again and again. I never hear him talk about the health of the environment. I never hear any feeling in his voice. Do I truly believe that he cares at all? Would anyone else, anyone, do a worse job than he’s done? Could it get any worse? How bad is it really?

Disabled Canadians Are Invisible In This Election

Promises. Promises. Promises. I am tired of broken promises. I don’t want to feel invisible anymore.

The US has the Americans With Disabilities Act. Canada has the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, but I am looking or feeling for more of this. It is a big concern for me, even if many Canadians are more worried about taxes.

The rich, middle-class, poor. Conservative, Liberal, NDP, Green Party…so much to keep up with and keep track of.

Who do I want to run Canada? Who do I vote for and do I only feel as strongly as I do because that is how I was raised? Hmmm.

How do people pick up their beliefs? I wonder all of this as the next federal election is coming in a few short days. I want to vote, make the right choice, and see it make a difference. Is this all possible?

These are some of the questions I have been pondering lately, in the run-up to October 19th.

Re-elect Stephen Harper? Vote Liberal and Justin Trudeau or NDP and Tom Mulcair?

I voted, for the first time, back in the last election. I have done it a few times only. I didn’t exercise my right to vote, as a Canadian citizen, up until recently.

I know why I didn’t vote before that. It’s the same reason many people don’t.

Oh, I can’t possibly make the slightest bit of difference. I hate politics. I don’t know who to vote fore, so why bother, casting a vote for someone I don’t even really like?

I said all of these to myself. It is true that I hate politics.

It’s rhetoric. It’s attack ads. It’s making false promises, only to not come through with them after being elected. I loath it all.

I guess I wish we didn’t have to deal with it, but there are worse things, like not having the ability to vote at all. I tell myself this now, in moments of pure annoyance, and I say to myself that I’m damn lucky to live in Canada, even with the parts I dislike. I should be grateful and thankful and I should vote, just because I can.

So that old question, that I’ve struggled with, has been resolved in my mind. The next question, after the why, is the whom?

“Nice hair though.”

This has been a favourite line of Conservative attack ads against Justin Trudeau, along with the pronouncement that he’s just not ready yet.

I don’t know how anybody could be ready to run a country.

Do I vote for the liberals? NDP?

I ask my dad what he thinks. He tries to explain about the local politician in our area, which has been Conservative for a while. I grow weary of politics, but I must become more informed.

Minority government. Majority government. And my mind begins to drift. Blah blah blah.

I wish I had more interest in these things, but I honestly begin to doze. Politics, I can’t grow up and get away from the feeling of boredom I have always felt at thinking about government and all of its proceedings.

But then I listen to my father’s passion when he speaks of the country his parents came to, all those years ago, to start a new life. They gave him one, made one for him and his brothers. I truly believe hearing the passionate tone of my father, to understand what he cares about seeing for Canada, has been good for me. It’s taught me to figure out what I feel strongly and passionately about too. He’s shown me the importance of paying attention to how I feel and what my heart tells me is right.

I wonder how much family has influenced my thinking, but at some point we must all decide for ourselves what we believe.

I know what I truly think and feel, somewhere deep down, in my gut, I know. So why then do I still question it?

I know I want protection of our resources, our wild life, our oceans. Just the word “oil” has begun to leave a bad, you might even say an oily taste in my mouth.

🙂

I know I want freedom, to remain the welcoming people we Canadians like to think we are…to feel like we are accepting of all races, cultures, and religions.

People are going on about their discomfort with the niqab. It doesn’t affect me. I wonder what it matters to anyone else. I can’t see the coverings Muslims wear. Why do we fear this? We do not understand. It’s a sign of oppression, as we’ve been told, hear about in extreme cases that make the news.

Can we sit down and talk to those people, those women, to find out if they are happy. Do they have good lives? Are they afraid?

Islam and the Muslim religion are the targets in our world today, not only here in Canada, as we all know.

Culture and belief systems are powerful things. I don’t see to judge. Being blind helps me with that.

“This is Canada. If they don’t like it, they can go back to where they came from.”

This is something said repeatedly, at nauseam. I want us all to live our lives how we want, as long as that doesn’t include harming others. Why is that so complicated?

Instead, again there’s only more separation, more division, more one side against another. I want to feel like this isn’t always the case in Canada.

Fear of terrorism is real, but how much? How afraid should I really be that my safe home could ever see the kind of danger other parts of the world see? Do I fear or do I remain rational, find compassion, believing in a just and peaceful world?

Most people are good, only want to be left alone, to live their lives. Why must we make it more than that?

Okay, so after talking about all these things, what answers have I really found? What conclusions have I actually reached? Where do I stand?

I must go now and stop reading the upsetting things being said, the nasty back-and-forth comments on Facebook posts about who should run Canada after Monday, and move no to more important things, things that feel hopeful and positive. This afternoon’s game, the Toronto Blue Jays against the Texas Rangers. It’s all up to Toronto now.

This is their shot. Can they do it?

#ComeTogether

All I know is I feel better when I hear how hyped people around here are. The impassioned back-and-forth of politics giving way to the pride in our only MLB team.

What is it about sports, a baseball team, a game that makes us all feel so energized?

I wonder, as I’m watching. I feel the excited tension in the pit of my stomach, a nervous energy, but a quickening of my pulse, my heartbeat. It’s just a game of course, but the feeling is contagious.

Of course there are those little funny things that make the game extra fun.

US broadcaster’s comments anger all of Canada

Not such a big deal. He didn’t know. He didn’t know I spent more time, as a child, not playing baseball because of my visual impairment, but playing around a baseball diamond. My sister, my brother, my parents all played. He didn’t know. Made a silly comment and suddenly Twitter was buzzing.

I focus on the positivity I get from my mom. They can win this. It’s possible.

As Scarlet O’Hara mused, in Gone with the Wind: I will go back to thinking about politics and the important issues of the day, in the news, tomorrow.

Indeed Sheryl, indeed.

Oh no! Will she sue me for using this song in my post, if she doesn’t agree with my political views? Hope she doesn’t see this.

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