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Heedless, #Travel #History #Canada150 #JusJoJan

So here we are.

Just Jot It January is back!

Though I am starting my #JusJoJan a little late this year, but really, what else is new?

GJzn8wy.jpg

Today it’s brought to you by:

No Facilities

I rang in 2017 in the best way possible. I had a great 2016 personally. I have high hopes for the coming months…personally.

But, of course, the warnings are out there, as ever and as always.

There have been warnings to not get too far ahead of myself with the guy soon to be US leader.

In 2016 I wrote about my fears and the bad feeling I had several times and this hasn’t changed, even grown somewhat, but I can’t stop it all. If I had my way, things wouldn’t feel quite so grim, but my own deeds and heeding of people’s warnings is where I have some semblance of control. Perhaps they have a point. Who knows.

Who am I to say?

I have chosen not to say his name on my blog, this so-called “leader”, if I can help it. In the Harry Potter books, I do recall there being something about “a fear of the name only increasing fear of the thing itself”. –
*clears throat*
Or something like that.
Well, I can’t help it if I am worried about the state of our world at the moment, but if there is any small possibility the attention I’ve brought to it could ever be contributing, even so slightly to the situation we’re now in and the direction things could be headed, I choose to focus on what’s good and gentle and positive in this world going forward.

There are some warnings I will heed and other ones I can’t promise I always will.

We are warned about travel, with all the terrorist attacks across the world these days. People may be more afraid than ever to venture out, but I can’t let that stop me in my tracks or I might not get started back up again.

Whatever history may have wrought, the future does not need to reflect that. We here in Canada can choose acceptance and inclusiveness over rejection caused by fear and misinformation when a fellow human being needs a little help. I wish to believe all the warnings some continue to offer up about refugees are being blown out of proportion, that human decency is universal and does not belong to one religion or part of the world with any exclusive right of ownership.

I’ve received warnings all my life, but in other ways my unique situation has allowed me to take my own chances on things, often years later than many others, but still I eventually get there.

It’s vital that we do pay attention, now more than ever, to the warnings we receive. There are precautions we can take, but I am determined to take the leap, to not let fear rule me anymore, not until absolutely necessary.

Take a chance and explore a new place, speak to someone new. Who knows. You might not end up regretting it. You might even learn something new, something you’d never considered before.

I might … I’m telling this very thing to myself as I take a giant step into the unknown of this new year in progress.

I am not so lost as I was last year at this moment. My future is just as wide open and undefined, but I don’t nearly feel as frozen in one spot by it all.

I won’t be clinging on quite so tightly to my blog and this month-long blogging exercise this time around, rather dropping in on certain days throughout January, just to check in. It is still an excellent way to discover other writers and their blogs. That is why I will be back. My month is simply a lot more booked up than it was last year.

I wish for us all to be vigilant when necessary, to heed warnings when we must, but to be mindful that too many warnings will paralyze us all.

Do not be afraid to live a little. I don’t intend to be. Perhaps, for certain reasons this year might appear to bring with it a sense of recklessness in my life, but I choose to take a more positive view of my 2017 year.

One for the books.

Right Canada?

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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: Exploding Pizzas, Table Clouds, and Irish Munks – Extended Holiday Edition, #10Thankful

Every tear you cry, every doubting eye All of these things will pass away
All of your big mistakes, your little old heart would break Wishing that I would take them back clickable

Write down the things you don’t want Burn them in a glass
Write down the things you dream of Make a paper plane that flies to heaven clickable

Waiting In Canada – Jann Arden

And buy a ticket for a plane And come and see me, baby
Or drive your car all night By just starlight to Canada
That’s where I’ll be waiting clickable

http://www.metrolyrics.com/waiting-in-canada-lyrics-jann-arden.html

It was an odd sort of grab bag kind of week, filled with emotions, both good and not so good.

TEN THINGS OF THANKFUL

That my broken string could be replaced.

I had a little mishap with my D string. It took three employees of the music store to find one that would fit.

I had it driven home, once more, after the day I was having; I am one-of-a-kind and so I shouldn’t really be surprised that the first try of violin strings wouldn’t quite cut it.

The guy eventually, expertly fitted the correct D string to my violin and all was well again.

Back to the newbie life of a beginner.

For fresh pea season arriving once again.

It only comes once a year. I look forward to it, all the long winter months.

The pea podding is a zen activity.

Do you know those ball pits kids love to jump into.

Well, I love the sound of a bowl full of podded peas. The sound they make, rolling all around, it reminds me of just that.

That I could enjoy another spectacular Canada Day fireworks display.

The weather was cool, just how I prefer it. The company was on its way. The bbq decided to be out of propane.

Plan B: kitchen – sausages, hamburgers, and more fresh strawberries.

The night sky lit up bright and I was blessed to see a bit of the dazzling display, as who knows, by the time another year rolls around, what I may see.

My three-year-old nephew saw a pizza in the sky, circle bursting forth. I love his imagination. I saw huge bursts too. I saw something.

That my brother was given another chance to perform his music, somewhere in his city, thanks to

London Arts Council

They were buskers on the street. Driving by I could hear them out the car window.

Standing there, watching them perform, I enjoyed the shade of the tree they were set up under.

My brother performed a beautiful version of “Decade Adrift”, the song we’re currently collaborating together on.

I really don’t see how his hands can move so fast, on those guitar strings, to produce something of such power.

For an excellent dinner.

It was the discovery of a new delicious vegetable. I had never tasted water cress before. It reminded me of bean sprouts a little. It was refreshing and delicious.

My beer (Great Lakes Blonde) was the perfect choice, and at this place there were a lot to choose from.

The meal was the perfect choice, chicken florentine, along with turtle chocolate cheesecake and gelato.

The restaurant is in an old house, with creaky floors upon entering, but a roomy bench seat and cool air vent after being outside for the afternoon.

For a 100th birthday celebration.

She was the only main character in Gone with the Wind, to die in the film. So, it only makes sense that she is last to live in real life.

100 Years Of Olivia De Havilland

Still going strong and living in France.

Her part in Gone with the Wind is one of angelic purity, but if you stick it out until the end, you see that she is so much more.

Olivia, in that part, reminds me of my own grandmother, from the first time I watched and became obsessed by the film. Each time I watch her play the role of Melanie Hamilton, I think of the grandmother who always believed the best in people.

For old movies.

They are a great contrast to movies of today. They have a sound, distinct, that I love to lose myself in.

Not that they took place in a better time, but it feels like that, so I explore how people thought, acted, and spoke in those days.

For a prime minister who makes the effort.

This year was the first time a current Canadian Prime Minister walked in Pride.

The parade is celebrated, all over the world, as in people travel from all around to attend the biggest LGBTQ celebrations.

With it being Canada Day, I watched videos of recent refugees in tears, so grateful to be in Canada.

It’s a struggle, to be a minority or marginalized, but I am glad my PM is making a statement by showing up.

For the hard/valuable lessons learned from one who was there.

Elie Wiesel died this week. I read his memoir “Night” when I was about twenty.

The way he wrote, describing the sights, sounds, and smells of his horrible time in concentration camps was like nothing I’d ever read before.

For the chance to be a witness.

He said even if those who were there are now disappearing, those who listened to their message while they were here, we are witnesses, not literally, thank God.

But that we took the time to really listen and are devoted to never forgetting, to sharing, and spreading the history.

link When a person doesn’t have gratitude, something is missing in his or her humanity.

—Elie Wiesel (1928-2016)

And a special edition bonus thankful:

Canada, the country, to have been born here. This is the thankful that is in the background and foreground of this entire post and always, in everything I write.

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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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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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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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TToT: Happy Days Are Here Again, #10Thankful

A woman is like a tea bag – you can’t tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water.

–Eleanor Roosevelt

maxanddadwaitingforcupcakes-2015-11-29-02-00.jpg

I watched a Ken Burns documentary on the Roosevelt clan: Theodore, Franklin, and Eleanor.

I had heard of them all, especially Franklin and Eleanor, but I enjoyed learning about the history. My mother mentioned she didn’t know what to do with me becoming all political all of a sudden, but I assured her that was never going to happen.

I simply wanted to learn about the people themselves, what times were like back then, and how we got here. All the political stuff wasn’t my main focus. I payed more attention to the polio that Franklin was stricken with. I wanted to know how disability was handled in those days and how he made it all the way to the White House.

Then there was his wife and all the social activism she took part in and the work she did for women’s rights. I was planning a post on feminism for mid week, so I was particularly interested.

TEN THINGS OF THANKFUL

“Your cares and troubles are gone. There’ll be no more from now on.”

HAPPY DAYS ARE HERE AGAIN

This was a big song in the early thirties and when FDR ran for president, after the crash of the stock market in 1929 and the subsequent depression throughout the thirties and leading up to the outbreak of World War II in 1939.

The Happy Days song was a theme song, a slogan used for Roosevelt’s campaign. At one point, during the documentary, there is one of the first actual film and media clips on record, at least one of the first to appear in the documentary anyway. Franklin’s little granddaughter is the one to deliver that line, which was cute even all these years later, but although her grandfather would bring his country out of some extremely terrible times, the slogan “Happy Days Are Here Again” wasn’t exactly the case and wouldn’t be for more than ten years.

World War II and the Cold War and so on. It all just got me thinking of when we’re ever really happy, as whole countries or as individual citizens, but that doesn’t mean that gratitude is not the place to start.

The psychological benefits of gratitude closely mirror those of meditation

American Thanksgiving, I wrote my

1000 Speak post (the link was open for a whole week),

and then there was yet another shooting outside a Planned Parenthood. What a week.

Ten Things of Thankful:

For my country and my province.

Yeah, Canadians are known for their modesty, most of the time, but lately we have been in the news for many acts of good will and open minds and arms.

Most notably, since being top story in the news around the world, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s pledge of 25,000 Syrian refugees accepted into Canada.

The deadline is now at February, but at least we’re doing something and taking action to offer our doors wide open for anyone who wants to start fresh.

But also…Christmas in October.

terminally ill Ontario boy celebrates Christmas early in hometown

and

Ontario brothers capture incredible photo after bravely rescuing bald eagle

For the chance to share a valuable male perspective on feminism.

Purple: My Interview Wit Garry Atkinson

November 25th was International Day For the Elimination of Violence Against Women. I am very interested in feminism and write about it as much as I can here. It’s important to me and often somehow it gets twisted into something it is not. I want to change that.

The interview I did, is one man’s point-of-view on what feminism means and what it means to be one, to him personally.

After fifty years, Gloria Steinem is still at the forefront of the feminist causehttp://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/10/19/road-warrior-profiles-jane-kramer?mbid=social_twitter

For something to look forward to in 2016.

A little taste of what I might be getting.

I love a good concert and I chose the lawn “seats”, so I really hope for no rain that day in June.

I consider myself lucky every time I see another of my favourite bands live. It is the best feeling in the world, when the music I love surges through me, the performers so close.

For an invitation from a lovely group of fellow writers and bloggers.

I have been gradually building these blogging relationships with this particular group of bloggers from

the TToT.

Well, they hold a big Google Hangout vidchat, as they call it, and they asked if I wanted to join them.

I liked having a place and people to talk about writing with and I told them about my travel blog. Maybe they will be kind enough to offer some feedback at some point.

http://www.theinsightfulwanderer.ca/

I am new to Google Hangouts, but they were patient with me, even when I hung up accidentally.

Oops.

🙂

It is nice for me, after so many months of reading and commenting and interacting, to get to put voices to the names. It will take me a few weeks to get a handle on exactly whose voice is whose, but I will get there soon enough. It’s just harder because I can’t keep track of who may have joined or left the chat because I can’t see the separate little windows on the screen.

For a very special 60th birthday celebration.

happybdaysign-2015-11-29-02-00.jpg

All the family came together on the final Saturday afternoon of November, to celebrate the best husband, father, and grandfather (PA) we could possibly have.

dadwithhiscupcakes-2015-11-29-02-00.jpg

For some very special 60th birthday cupcakes.

cupcakes-2015-11-29-02-00.jpg

Who doesn’t love cupcakes? How could anyone not be thankful for cupcakes?

🙂

I have a cousin who makes cakes and she does all sorts of designs and flavours.

I can’t see them, but I can feel the fondant.

For my brothers.

brianonalaptop-2015-11-29-02-00.jpg

I am just lucky to have them, all three of them. Whether it’s when one carries my bag out to the car for me and gives me a ride home, to all the times he and the other two make me laugh, to the amazing father’s two of them are to my niece and nephews.

My older brother and I had a nice conversation, which isn’t always so easy in the group with everyone there. He was telling me about how his job is going. He is a photographer and Studio Manager.

Think Global

He has been there for ten years and he is well known in his department for his talents, his hard work, and his integrity. I was happy to listen to him tell me about what his duties include and what an important and reliable part of the team he actually is at that place.

sophiaandmomlaughing-2015-11-29-02-00.jpg

For goodbye hugs.

I am always a little sad when my niece and nephew are leaving. I love our byes at the door. It’s only one month until they will come back, next time for a few days, just after Christmas. It’s like we have Christmas twice in our family. Who wouldn’t love that?

reedsmilingwithyoubehindhim-2015-11-29-02-00.jpg

My nephew holds onto me with his little gloved fingers and I say bye again.

For small businesses, locally run, such as my cousin’s hair salon.

I did an interview with her last March and November 28th was Small Business Saturday.

Keep Calm and Get Your Hair Done: My Interview With Alaina From Glow Hair Studio

I think it is important to balance out the giant corporations and brans with the people who work so hard to offer quality options, products and services, in a friendly and relaxed atmosphere.

For two of the most generous parents anyone could ask for.

That is all. They are just great to everyone they meet, especially their children.

I’m thinking this Christmas might not be so bad after all. I wasn’t quite myself last year around this time, but despite everything, it may turn out alright – happy days once more.

The only time i ever heard that old slogan, until I realized where it originated was when Brandon and Kelly got back together on Beverly Hills 90210.

Yeah, well for those of us who were huge fans of the young adult nighttime drama back in the nineties, it was a big moment. I remember how happy thirteen-year-old me was when my two favourite 90210 lovers were finally reunited, after two years of will-they/won’t-they.

🙂

What can I say? It got me through dialysis and that lousy year. Life gets more complicated as you grow older and it’s harder to find the sort of pure happiness you used to feel as a kid. This exercise in being thankful helps.

“I am angry every day of my life, but I have learned not to show it; and I still try to hope not to feel it though it may take me another forty years to do it.”

–Louisa May Alcott

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