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The Struggle Is Real, #JusJoJan

Perspective is important.

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Perspective is important and being a writer helps me find some.

I used to stare at the coloured fish, swimming around the long rows of tanks at the pet store. I wondered what they were thinking, through that glass. I still wonder, though I can no longer spot them.

Did we hold the power, us who looked at them through the glass and from our positions in the world outside?

Or did they hold their own kind of silent power, somewhere in there?

Sometimes I wonder why I even bother. Why do I bother to write at all?

Do words really hold a kind of silent power?

Or any power at all?

But I continue to write because it gives me a sense of power in a world where I feel mostly powerless.

Who really has the power and what were they willing to do, who were they willing to become, to get it?

You have the power! Just Jot It January #JusJoJan

Hosted, once more,
by No Facilities.

I jot things down anyway, so sometimes I am doing it here. One of these days I should share the to-do list I am working with for this most special first month of the new year. I believe that is allowed, if I read the rules correctly.

Today’s prompt came from this blog right here.

I hope I can soon have a week away from the temptation of time to check social media, to listen to the news on television. I hope to have no time to think about what might be going on between myself and the place I call home – Canada.

I hope I may soon find myself so busy trying new things that there is no time for everything that worries me.

Power to run one’s own life is the good kind of power. Any power over others can become dangerous, but we all have power over someone else, in a great number of ways, at one time or another.

I want to be free of the ways in which I may feel someone holds some power over me. I am doing this by focusing on myself.

I want to take back my own power. I don’t want to hold that power over anyone else.

I do worry that Canada and Justin Trudeau will be negatively influenced by the country which has always had more power on the world stage.

If my country has or has had power, it would be a less obvious power, one most people would refute. Maybe we will have the chance to show what we are made of here soon. Or, maybe we will be squashed by our close physical placement. If one country sinks under the weight of tearing itself apart, how long can Canada stay afloat on its own? Maybe we would become an island for the drowning and how long could that possibly last?

In certain situations, like on the school playground, the stronger, the one with all the real wisdom, is actually said to be the bullied. The bully is said to be the weak one. I know this in my heart. The world does not recognize this as a whole. We lecture our children that it’s wrong to bully, but we don’t model that belief.

Bravado is what makes noise and waves a lot of the time, but the really powerful waves come from those who feel oppressed, little, or unheard.

Who holds the power, really?

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Happy Holidays and Traditional Thankfuls, #FTSF #TGIF #10Thankful

One of my favourite Christmas time traditions growing up was to go for a drive on a snowy night to check out all the houses and their lights, coloured or all white. Didn’t matter, not at one time.

This holiday season I still feel grateful for so many things, including the lights of Christmas. It is not so easy to spot houses covered in lights anymore, but I am still thankful. Having traditions at this time of year helps to brighten my mood as the end of another year draws to a close.

And what a year it was.

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I am unable to really see this photo now, but sounds nice anyway. Trees. Lights. Snowflakes softly drifting down.

December is here once more. I have a tree-like situation in my living room, lights outside on my house, and snow is starting here in my part of Canada, but all over really.

I am thankful for where I live.

I am thankful because I know Canada isn’t the greatest country in the world, but it is pretty great still. I am happy to see Justin Trudeau using social media, as is how it’s done these days, but he uses it without malice or ugly undertones.

The still current U.S. VP Joe Biden visited Canada this week and spoke to the Prime Minister and the representatives of the provinces, about climate change. It is close to many Canadian’s hearts and on many of our minds, the arctic, pipeline concerns, effects of oil on animal species, and severe weather patterns with melting sea ice. It isn’t so easy to ignore, but I know it isn’t easy to figure out either.

I know a lot of people who live here hate the cold and the snow of the long winter months Canada is so well-known for, but I can’t think of anything better than a still, silent, and snowy night.

I am thankful to have a mother who loves decorating for the holidays and she sets everything up for me, now that I am on my own.

Last year, around this time, our family found ourselves in a frightening situation, likely the most frightening we’d ever experienced, which is saying a whole lot.

It wasn’t so easy and somehow didn’t feel quite so important to decorate for Christmas, while we waited to see what my brother would be like when he woke from a sudden head injury.

Of course, as soon as the shock wore off and things began to look up, family and holidays were once more the priority and felt right to celebrate.

None of us, nobody in fact wants to spend Christmas in a hospital, but they are so nice to have when needed.

I am thankful that I can still see Christmas lights.

Who knows…next year this time…five years from now…ten and beyond. I’m living in the now and enjoying what I have while I have it.

I am thankful for the recognition that is still extremely necessary and is brought into focus on December 3rd, every single year.

International Day For Persons With Disabilities 2016

I am thankful for set plans made this week.

It feels good to see the plans forming officially. It will be here before we know it…before I know it. Preparing. I can and I will do this.

I am thankful for the help I’ve received so I can be comfortable with my stuff I will be taking with me, my ability to read and write, and to just fit in and be another member of the class.

I am thankful for the guidance from my writing mentor, a wonderfully helpful local travel agent, my parents, and all the family members who have been so supportive of me wanting to take on a new adventure in 2017.

I’m thankful for some of the fascinating reading material I’ve received already, reading material about one place in particular where we’ll be during the writing workshop.

I am reading New York Times articles about a place of art and that goes by the name, translated from Spanish, to mean “House of Frogs” I believe. Better than “House of Scorpions” as I am a little more nervous at the thought, ever since I read “The Pearl” in high school.

The Pearl by John Steinbeck

I’m thankful that I sold two more copies of the anthology where my story can be found, from 2015.

After The Scars – A Second Chances Anthology (Goodreads)

One minute, it went from the reading material from off of my shelf, to use for scanner practice, and then suddenly two copies were being requested. A lovely surprise.

In the last month or two I’ve gotten my anthology possibly sent and traveled all the way to Australia and now a copy will surely live at a school for the blind that I did not attend, but I know lots of people who did.

I thought I would combine the TToT this week (after missing last) with Kristi’s
Finish the Sentence Friday.

I will be writing my own brand of a 2016 summary, but I thought I would celebrate a little first.

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Stalemate, #1000Speak

The other night, on the news, a reporter did a story about how desperate of a situation it’s becoming in Syria.

She began to, not just lay out a few facts and statistics, but to compare the city of Aleppo to the city of Toronto, where her news broadcast was airing from. She went from one part of Toronto to another, explaining how it would look if what’s currently happening in Syria were to happen in a Canadian city

Okay, so maybe it’s a bad example or I’m just not describing it all that well. I have a cold and my right ear is plugged and I feel like I’m losing it a little, but I wondered why this reporter’s method was necessary in the first place.

She began her segment by saying something along the lines of:

?How does what’s happening in Syria relate to life here in Toronto anyway?”

I wondered if people really needed the story to be spoon fed to them like that, as if they couldn’t already put themselves in the shoes of a mother, losing hope for keeping her children healthy and alive. Hadn’t they all considered what it must be like to be stuck in a war zone? I guess, to a point, I use that distance between myself and such horrible events as a cushion too.

I may feel sad and disappointed in the Syrian government for being unable to keep its people safe. I may be frustrated that although my country of Canada has done more than many to help the Syrian people, our participation has dwindled. I may be sad and disappointed in myself for the fear that even the small gestures of compassion and gratitude I’ve made aren’t enough.

Lots of sadness and disappointment to go around. Excellent choice for the month. If I’m honest, to come right out and say it, I have been sad and disappointed that
1000 Voices Speak For Compassion
and
Ten Things of Thankful
seem to be losing steam.

It’s obvious by the number of entries in the linkup. The terrible events around the world that inspired a handful of bloggers to act in the only way they knew how, nearly two years ago, is a small sample of what it was once.

That first month there were hundreds of entries. Now, with the linkup being open, not just one day, but a whole week. And yet, my entry is found to be one of the last, if not the last, at five or six along on the list. Where did everybody go? It’s frustrating to see how willing people were, when the excitement and energy were new and when a small discussion on holding on to compassion in times of hardship suddenly and unexpectedly grew into something a lot larger than anyone could have ever anticipated.

Five or six people, including me, took the time to write and keep the movement going this month. This makes me sad. I feel disappointed, but I have compassion for all those who haven’t kept up with it, though some come and go, taking it for granted that it should always be there.

You have to feel it to write. I can be honest about how I feel, but I have a lot of compassion for everyone who didn’t show up. I have been one of them. I can’t say I won’t be one in the future. All the praise goes to those keeping it going this long.

Nothing goes on forever. Everything starts and stops somewhere.

Life gets busy. People forget. Times are hard. They’ve moved on.

This is a time where sadness and disappointment are commonly felt emotions. I am sad and disappointed.

I am sad that we have arrived in this place, where compassion feels strangled by suspicion and self interest.

Taxes. Rising bills to be paid. Mortgages and kids and stressful jobs and relationships and social media.

I am disappointed in America for giving up and giving in. Donald Trump is where he is. I am sad and I am disappointed.

In these times, I believe honesty is best, if we’re ever going to face the ills of our society, like racism and class, job, and economic uncertainties. We’re all fighting for our own, equal slice of the pie.

Where, then, does compassion come in? I am trying desperately to fit the pieces together.

I am trying, underneath a steady undercurrent of sadness, to listen to people and to respect different beliefs. It is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. This situation is unique in that most times, after a time, I can see where someone may be coming from. In some of these situations, where prejudice is at the core of it, I can’t understand.

Then I lose all compassion for myself, as I feel like it’s something on me, like I’m just not trying hard enough to understand.

It’s mostly based on fear. That much I’ve surmised. I can have empathy for that, to a point, as I know what fear looks like, feels like, smells like, sounds like.

I have compassion for everyone. It’s when some people’s true feelings come to light that I jump back in shock and the sadness and disappointment wash over me with no warning.

Is this the end? By which I mean, are we coming to the end of this experiment in writing for compassion here? Or will we keep going forward with the participants we still have? Couldn’t compassion sustain itself, even through blogging, just a little longer? Perhaps not.

Will I even be here next month, to write about compassion, or will I have moved on? I honestly can’t say for certain.

I don’t see any end to this stalemate, these feelings of intense sadness and disappointment at my fellow human beings.

I can’t look the other way when the progress with women’s rights or disability rights or any other rights are threatened. I wish I understood. I wish I could.

I just finished listening to
a podcast
about writing, about memoir, and about trying to put ourselves in another person’s shoes. This is my mission these days, but is it fruitless, when such serious issues are at stake?

I continue to see gestures and acts of compassion in many different places and that softens the blow. It isn’t all bad. This has been and continues to be a difficult time for a lot of people, but a lot are doing the best they know how in the moment.

I go ahead and focus on what makes me feel the opposite of sadness and disappointment. I hope things will continue, that very likely will not. I can’t blame anyone for that. I can only control my own actions and remain compassionate yet honest when the sadness or the disappointment threatens to drag me down next time, hoping what I’m left with is a little piece of compassion left over to spare and to share.

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Train Wreckss, #SoCS #Halloween #GilmoreGirls

Ho, ho, ho!

  1. Okay, so wrong holiday there. I am looking past a lot of things happening right now. I’m fast forwarding two whole months.

Just over a week left until Halloween and lots to be
HORRIFIED
about I figure.

This afternoon, on my way to a pumpkin patch, but the day looks to be cold and windy, not quite as pleasant as last year’s adventure. Should have some fun with family anyway.

It’s not really the horror of all things Halloween that’s got me so on edge and taking it out on stream of consciousness writing as an art form, more like a form of therapy.

I tried to get into the spirit of the season, by watching
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
last night, but couldn’t get into it.

This clown thing that’s been making the news for a while is scary enough. I’ve never been a fan of clowns.

Nothing against the ones who live to dress up and make children laugh. Not my style.

I think our options for entertainment have grown in the past several years, technology a big part of that, resulting in less need for clown entertainment, but not all will agree with me. Some still prefer just such classics.

When I was in kindergarten, I had a little friend and his mother was a clown. She did kid parties and had a candy floss machine. How cool was it to have a friend with a mother who had constant access to that sweet treat?

Well, something happened after I lost touch with that boy and I grew up. I started to fear clowns.

I was in hospital a lot when I was twelve. The Shriners even have a hospital. Clowns were an easy way to cheer up seriously ill children. This meant one could often find a clown wandering around any children’s hospital I happened to be at, going from room to room on a paediatric ward, trying to help the boys and girls forget about how sick they were and the needles and surgeries, just for a little while, with magic tricks and songs and friendly, lighthearted chatter.

I confess, my trick was to pretend to be asleep in my hospital bed when I got word that a clown was on the way. This only worked when someone could tell me, as one thing I disliked was how clowns were often silent until they were right up on you.

Sounds like a predatory action and it wasn’t. Any clowns I met during my months of hospital visits were nothing but well intentioned. It was I who was growing more and more uncomfortable.

I have never liked makeup and so Halloween only held excitement for me because of the candy. I didn’t want thick makeup on my face and I didn’t like to think of it as a part of a clown’s costume either. The only clown I liked, by this time, was the Jewish clown on The Simpsons.

As I’ve lost more sight, makeup never held any real interest, as a woman. I know it isn’t the case, but now that I can’t really make out faces, whenever I imagine makeup on a woman, I think of thick, dark, clown makeup.

As I learned of terrifying clowns in the horror genre, like Stephen King for instance, I liked clowns all thee less.

This whole thing is ruling social media at the moment. I try my best not to imagine a creepy clown in the woods. Better left for fiction, but when I heard it had started in certain US states, I said, “thank God that isn’t happening here in Canada.”

Well, it has spread, as many things on social media will do. It’s here in Canada, in my town even. I say if I were harassed by one of those guys I would use my white cane to jab jab. Maybe a kick to the crotch. I don’t advocate real violence, but getting up in anyone’s personal space is not cool.

I think people can be a little odd or possibly more than that. I also think once certain folk realized this silly thing would get them some attention, just such a behaviour was far too tempting to pass up. People are on edge now. Someone could get hurt. Will this whole bit of nonsense stop once October 31st has passed us by?

I try not to bring a whole lot of attention to it. Besides, there is a horror a lot more worrisome anyway, but that one we must wait for Halloween to be over before we face it.

I spent a lot of energy talking about the horrors of the US election in my post last week. So, I will not go too far down that rabbit hole this week. Already, much too much of my week/month/year has been spent thinking/talking about the horrible predicament they are in, but of which we in the rest of the world are not immune to.

I focus on the candy of this season and I look forward to the remainder of 2016 because it’s been a life changing one for me, in several ways, more of which I will write about as the end of the year approaches.

Happy thoughts. Happy thoughts. Happy thoughts.

I am tired of feeling this anxious. I want to focus on the things I’ve got to look forward to.

Though, I have wondered lately about hope.

After a few more challenging times practicing my violin lately, I’ve started to fear that I have no hope of getting better.

I hope I will persevere through the trying times, because I never believed learning to play an instrument like this would be easy at age thirty-two. I don’t sound like a horror when I play, but I do struggle to remember everything and not get discouraged beyond repair. This is still something I love and am determined to get good at, or at least better than I am right now.

All you usually hear are those reactions when people hear I even wanted to start, at my age, to learn one of the more advanced musical instruments. They don’t see things as I go along, as I keep practicing and fight my doubt in my abilities. Most people aren’t around for the tough times. I may sound more horrible than a tormented cat or a screechy something or other, but I know what it sounds like when the correct strings are played and the exact notes are found. I still have hope.

And so, all threat of clowns aside.

(Halloween or November 8th included)

😉

I just want to get past Halloween without meeting up with one of those guys. Always have my white cane on hand though, and I will make my intentions perfectly clear before acting in my own defence.

🙂

Then, November 8th will come and go. Can’t wait for that fun day.

After that comes American Thanksgiving and the event I am really looking forward to, something to help me relax after these months of stress.

The new Gilmore Girls revival on Netflix.

After that Christmas and the start of a new and exciting year.

BRING IT ON!

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Seeing From All Sides, #HowISee #HowISeeIt #SoCS

October 1st is the start of Blindness Awareness Month.

Okay, so SoCS usually means Stream of Consciousness Saturday, but well Saturday, Sunday, either way.

Many visually impaired people, writers and bloggers specifically, are blogging every day and many are speaking about one particularly controversial hash tag and campaign making its way around Twitter and social media lately.

I re-blogged about this just a few days ago, and though I don’t mean to rehash or restate, I figured I would offer my own thoughts on the whole thing.

When I tried to think of what is AWKWARD,

I thought about these very topics. Blindness means I face many awkward situations, all the time in fact. I try to improve my social skills and interacting with a mostly sighted world, but I often struggle to fit in and feel like I am seen and yet that I don’t stick out, stand out, and get in the way.

I often feel as if I am in someone’s way, but I recognize this is often more in my own head. The thing about the world is I skip past a lot of the more awkward situations, simply because I don’t see that they are even taking place at all.

🙂

As for the idea of a sighted person putting on blindfold for a few minutes and attempting to walk or cook or whatever, I thought on it awhile, as I pondered the thoughts of others.

There is a lot of awkward nonsense going on in the world these days. Why should anyone with a visual impairment feel like they must always be cast as the awkward ones in this nonsensical world?

The Foundation Fighting Blindness Canada (FFB)

They state that their mission is “leading the fight against blindness” and they are doing that through social media campaigns like this one to raise money:

#HowISeeIt on Twitter

People who are blind share stories and videos of how they do certain, every day tasks, and then their friends or relatives who are sighted will put on a blindfold and try those same tasks.

I know people are curious. I’ve often been asked how I pick out my clothes or how I use the stove. I get that. Most of us don’t mind answering a genuine question when asked. It’s just a fine line when it crosses over to patronizing.

I know foundations who raise money and do research to fight blindness are needed and necessary. I get that also.

I am often told I over think things or am too sensitive, and perhaps I can be, but perhaps that’s an easy, bandaid response for a bigger issue. I often can’t tell the difference anymore, and not sure I ever could or ever will.

😦

On one hand I hate the statement put out there of fighting blindness, like it’s some enemy that needs to be destroyed. I should understand language and its uses better than anyone, but I feel icky when I hear that. I am fighting a constant battle with myself, never mind some war against blindness in a wider context.

However, I would take a cure, sure I would. If it were real and lasting, but blindness isn’t quite so simple. I want attention put on finding ways to stop progression of or slowing down of retinal eye disease. That’s what I have and I often wonder what my life would be like if a cure were suddenly found. Would it be the answer to all my prayers of life? Would it automatically make things easier?

Yes and no, I think the correct answer is, which isn’t really any answer at all to my satisfaction.

So I could rant on and on about this, such a giant thing that I cannot contain, to hope that someone somewhere will understand me, after all I don’t think some lousy blindfold is the answer.

Apologies if this post is long and rambling, with a few links thrown in for good measure. I feel like I am always apologizing for something, to someone. Stop it Kerry, stop it.

But going back to some of my “In The News and On My Mind” posts I’ve shared on this blog in the past, I’ve usually opened those with a line from a woman I know on Facebook who is also blind and living life well. So Here’s her take today, to start:

“The Foundation Fighting Blindness is doing a screwball campaign in which they have sighted people wear a blindfold for a few minutes and try to complete some everyday household task. Naturally, they’re lousy at it, because they don’t have any training. The FFB then has them share their horrifying experiences under the hashtag “how eye see it”, the idea being that blindness is terrible and scary and must be stopped. Well, obviously, we can’t have that rumor going around! For the next week, I’ll be stealing this hashtag to share cool stories about blind people’s actual everyday experiences. If you have a story I should share, send it to me in a message. Today, I’ll share my story. I’m 27 years old and live independently in a gorgeous little apartment in Austin. I’m happily married, work in the field of higher education, and have a wonderful close-knit family and group of friends. I love yoga, hiking, music, poetry, and have recently taken up martial arts. My life is abundantly rich, and has not been diminished by labels or other people’s preconceived notions. This is #howIseeit.”

I do feel it’s simplification for someone who does not live with blindness to put a blindfold across their eyes for a matter of minutes and try to tackle something they won’t feel they could handle without their sight. If they had it all their lives, a few bloody minutes trying without will only muddy things up even more, further blurring the lines between reality and something else entirely.

It feels pitying to me. It feels dumbed down. It feels wretched really.

You panic when suddenly all your world goes dark. Of course. Nothing is how it is compared to if you’ve had time to process and work out solutions we have worked hard to find for ourselves and our independence.

Debates began popping up on people’s social media and on FFB’s Facebook page, in the comments, from both sides. People have accused Foundation Fighting Blindness of blocking or deleting comments that oppose what they’re trying to do with #HowISeeIt and FFB replied that it must have been a misunderstanding, but they usually put the blame onto Facebook and their rules for commenting. Things are getting ugly. People don’t feel heard. It’s impossible for something like this to speak for all. I just want to share opposing views and keep the conversation going.

The point was made that the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge may have had similar responses. I don’t know how many ALS patients felt about it truthfully. Not sure you heard much about that amongst all the screams of shivering cold horror and shock captured in all those videos that went viral. Money was raised. A good thing. Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth I suppose.

But that challenge did not have people living in wheelchairs, unable to move. See the difference?

I see all sorts of lives lived by those who are also blind. Some are doing life more successfully and happily than others. But that’s no different than the rest of the population.

I first heard about a Twitter campaign going around known as How I See, which I wrote my own post for here several weeks back:

Black Or White #HowISee

Life is neither, sometimes one, sometimes the other. No different for me.

When I heard #HowISee vs #HowISeeIt, I admit I was originally confused and wrote on FFB’s Facebook page, asking for clarification. I did not jump to participate or to get anyone sighted in my own life participating either once theirs was explained to me.

Some more well known visually impaired advocates are taking part in #HowISeeIt, by helping spread that message of FFB, such as a UK poet with RP (Retinitis Pigmentosa):

Stand By Me RP awareness page on Facebook

Of course, different people are going to have different opinions on which hash tag campaigns, websites, and organizations are doing good work and which are furthering myths, stereotypes, and negative views about what blindness is and what it’s like to live with.

Here one visually impaired young Canadian has her story told through FFB.

I have watched many of her awareness videos on her YouTube channel and she has been working with The Foundation Fighting Blindness Canada since she was young.

This may not seem like stream of consciousness writing exactly, with all these links inserted, but I knew it would be close enough, as I feared before I began that if I started to write about my own thoughts on this topic, I may never stop.

Here are a few places where I think we’re on the right track:

Blind New World, #BlindNewWorld

&

Bold Blind Beauty

Of course I mention all sides because I don’t necessarily think there is a total right or wrong here. People with all sorts of experiences deserve to feel how they feel about these things.

I just make it work with where I’m at today and keep as much positivity and hope alive inside as I know how.

Thanks for listening.

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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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1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, History, IN THE NEWS AND ON MY MIND, Kerry's Causes

What Is Courage Anyway? #1000Speak

I’ve always wondered…

How J.R.R. Tolkien Found Mordor on the Western Front

Then there’s the Cowardly Lion’s take on the word.

If I Were King of the Forest – Wizard of Oz

But I like Yvonne’s take on courage most of all.

The Courage to Have Compassion – A 1000Speak post

Courage and compassion really should go hand-in-hand, but most times, they do not.

Courage. Bravery. These have, historically, been male characteristics. They’ve meant the strength to head off to war, to fight, and inevitably, to kill for the good of a cause. This meant enemy and victor. Someone won and someone else (one country or another) lost.

But who was it to really win in the end?

Where were the courage and valor in death, destruction, lost, pain, and grief?

Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree – The Andrews Sisters

I will never agree with war. Silly, right, to even say those words because nobody would, nobody does, right?

I may sound unaware of the hard realities. I may be a privileged, naive little Canadian, living in a time and place of peace. I may.

This doesn’t mean I don’t comprehend or appreciate what it must take to fight in a war, to step up when there is a clear and present threat, but I want better for my fellow humans. I make it my mission to put myself into any number of other pairs of shoes, but some things simply cannot be grasped through mere wanting and determination.

I want the reasons we go to war in the first place to be eliminated. I want to imagine, to require from people, a world of peace because the alternative sounds crazy/stupid to me.

I have no clue what I’m talking about, maybe. Maybe. Who knows.

I don’t know where the world is headed. I wanted to write a coherent and thoughtful piece for July’s 1000 Speak For Compassion. I know there are much better examples of courage I could come up with. War just came to my mind firstly, as that is what comes to most people’s minds when the word “courage” is mentioned.

Of course, I sound ignorant, but just stop the wars. They aren’t glamorous. We may not have fully realized, one hundred years ago, but now we are a much more connected world, with social media and 24-hour news. This is both better and worse.

As for other examples of courage, it would be a child fighting for his or her life in hospital.

I think my family are courageous for different reasons.

I think my grandparents were courageous, when war came to Europe in 1939 and they were only just two young people, starting their lives.

My parents were courageous when they were given me as a blind baby girl, my brother three years later, to navigate the world of disability.

My sister is courageous to fight for the family she wants for herself, her husband, and to give a sibling to my nephew.

A good friend of mine is courageous for going it alone, making a life for herself and her little girl.

Even I will hope for a little courage, if I am ever going to take a chance on myself and my writing, by going after a dream and traveling through a busy airport, unable to see my surroundings as I go.

I like to watch programs, documentaries, about war. I do see the value in learning from such an extreme human experience. I just don’t happen to think that is all we as humans can ever do to be truly courageous.

More and more, we need to show compassion and find our own courage when faced with the world we have to work with now. Courage, to me, means trying to keep a cool head when dealing with anyone who thinks or feels something different from myself.

I just wish more of us realized this. Our differences are varied, but our humanity can make us braver than we ever could have imagined.

Fight for peace and compassion, not wars and hatred. Be courageous enough to be compassionate.

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