1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, History, Kerry's Causes, Memoir and Reflections, RIP, Shows and Events, The Insightful Wanderer, Travel, TToT

TToT: Memory Use and the Overall System Footprint – Call and Response, #InternationalDayOfPeace #Graceland #10Thankful

It was a slow day And the sun was beating On the soldiers by the side of the road There was a bright light A shattering of shop windows The bomb in the baby carriage Was wired to the radio

These are the days of miracle and wonder This is the long distance call The way the camera follows us in slo-mo The way we look to us all

The way we look to a distant constellation That’s dying in a corner of the sky These are the days of miracle and wonder And don’t cry baby, don’t cry Don’t cry

It was a dry wind And it swept across the desert And it curled into the circle of birth And the dead sand Falling on the children The mothers and the fathers And the automatic earth

“The Boy in the Bubble” discusses starvation and terrorism, but mixes this with wit and optimism. Simon concurred with this assessment: “Hope and dread – that’s right. That’s the way I see the world, a balance between the two, but coming down on the side of hope.”

Hope and dread. Hope and dread. Hope and dread. These things run through my head…my head…my head.

My nephew is learning so many new things at school, even already after his first few weeks.

How do I know this?

The other night at dinner he started asking about carrots and how they grow, in the earth, from seeds. Such a basic concept of a lovely natural process.

Seeds planted. Something growing, sprouting up, from once there was only dirt under foot.

I am thankful for all the time I got to spend with my aunt.

Her life is a mystery to me. I get stuck on trying to imagine it. I only knew her for the last few decades of her life.

She was my father’s half sister. She was born in Europe during World War II. She came here to Canada, all by herself. I will forever wonder about all that.

The last time I saw her, as herself, she had made the trip to her mother’s funeral. We didn’t think she would come, for several reasons, but she came and I was nervous to give my tribute to my oma, whose relationship with her daughter was different from ours.

I hugged my aunt, after a day at the graveside, and an evening reminiscing about the life Oma lived, all of us sitting on the deck, around a table. I hugged her and left.

The next time she would have faced tumour treatments, her brain badly effected. She clung to me, our last real moment of contact, and one more familial thread is lost..

Without my parents making a decision to introduce us, I would never have known her mighty spirit.

I am thankful for the light chatter of young voices on a hard day of reality confronted.

On the night we received the news, I heard a one-year-old playing lovingly with her doll (all thanks to WhatsApp) and I interrupted a family in the middle of their beloved spaghetti dinner.

I needed to hear these little people, to remember that there are beginnings as well as those endings we wish would never come.

Na na na na na na na na Max Man!

🙂

Thanks to speaker phone, we discussed colours, what we want to be when we grow up, and what our favourite foods are.

I sat back, listening to my niece describe all manner of shades of many many colours. I needed that just then.

I am thankful for a world attempting to live more peacefully.

Justin Trudeau spoke about what “Canada has gotten right, not perfect.” That we believe diversity brings us strength to fight hatred and violence.

With all the meetings of UN in New York through the week, I listened to several speeches, President Obama and Prime Minister Trudeau in particular. All still so complicated. Peace exists in pockets. I just happen to live in one of those at the moment. No guarantee it will always be that way.

I am thankful for another educational Ken Burns PBS documentary.

I was unaware of the story of this couple.

I am thankful for a room full of writers

I had a question about writing, about the writing journey we’re all on, and I thought who better to bring it to than that select group of people. They are just learning as they go along, just like me, and I wanted their take on a particular situation I’ve gotten myself into.

Their input did not totally squelch my concerns, but we did have a lively discussion about writing contests and when a scam is a scam. I did not want to bring down the other writer in the group to have received good news like myself. He may choose to go a different way with it, but I am still undecided. We all want our writing to have a chance out there in the wider world.

I am thankful for light in the depths.

Edith Widder: the weird, wonderful world of bioluminescence – TED

This sort of thing is not visible to me anymore as such, but just hearing this scientist’s enthusiasm made me believe in the hope of all that magic to be found, especially in the ocean.

I am thankful for the perfect autumn weather.

Thursday was nearly thirty degrees. It was humid but yet there was a coolish breeze, enough to make a meal out on a patio still rather lovely. Yep, there was at least one bee this time, but not on me. Not that I knew of anyway.

I wasn’t having a great week. I was feeling unwell and having more computer troubles. I wanted the first day of fall to feel like fall.

By Friday the temperature had dropped ten degrees or more. I was in Heaven. Fall had arrived.

I am thankful for speedy and readily available medical care for myself and for those I love.

I felt lousy, but I needed blood taken and tested. I got it. Results available online now and oh how far we’ve come, to be able to check our own blood levels, without having to ask any doctor.

Then my family needs treatment for chronic medical conditions, tests run to check out symptoms, diabetes, and diet changes are called for. Hopefully those I love can remain healthy and live for a long time still.

I am thankful for a lovely day on the go.

It began at a secondhand store. Not exactly my kind of place, as I have a strange aversion to old, used things. I am also drawn to their stories. My sister was shopping for maternity clothes, not as easy as it sounds.

We kept my nephew occupied in the halloween decorations section, specifically interested in a doorbell with an eye that opened and and a voice that cackled.

We had lunch at a “pizza store” as my four-year-old nephew refers to it. All you can eat, but still we ate thin crust pizza, to stick, as close as we possibly can, to our diets and health restrictions.

Then I had my violin lesson. Brahms’ lullaby, played for me on piano and violin, so hopefully I can master the entire song by next March.

I went, with my brother and a few people, to attend a bit of speaking about video game production and radio.

A Journal Of Musical Things

This guy, the one with the website, he has been on a Toronto radio station for years. My brother listened to his radio programs. We heard he was visiting and we decided to go and listen to what he had to say.

Finally, we walked downtown, a Beatles festival happening, and capped off the day with a relaxing glass of wine and delicious dessert on a patio and then a cup of coffee, latte, before I felt a sore throat coming on dampen my mood. Nothing could truly dampen my first Saturday of fall.

I am thankful for an album, which becomes an experience in itself.

This album was brought back to my attention, but this week it has great value, in its overall feeling of hope and peace.

It is a magical record, full of the voice of Paul Simon, but yet with a distinctly African tone. Anyone who has never heard it has been missing out.

These days albums in their entirety are all but extinct. Songs that stand alone are what gets the public’s attention. This album, named for a tourist attraction, a musical and cultural icon of a place, a spiritual experience for some, that is what this album is for me.

It’s a collection of songs, taking me on travels, experiences of sorts, to a place called Africa, where my young self couldn’t imagine. This album was playing in our house, thanks to my father, and this can clearly be heard on an old home movie when I was three.

There was the almost mystical affection and strange familiarity I felt when I first heard South African music. Later, there was the visceral thrill of collaborating with South African musicians onstage. Add to this potent mix the new friendships I made with my band mates, and the experience becomes one of the most vital in my life. block quote level 1block quote level 1

Graceland – Album By Paul Simon (1986)

I did not want to visit Graceland, the home of Elvis Presley, so much as I wanted to learn about South Africa, about the troubles and the ruining of lives Apartheid caused, when I was too young to realize, when the concept of black and white wasn’t something I thought anything about. Now I think about it often. No superiority. No ranking of human life.

What was unusual about Graceland is that it was on the surface apolitical, but what it represented was the essence of the antiapartheid in that it was a collaboration between blacks and whites to make music that people everywhere enjoyed. It was completely the opposite from what the apartheid regime said, which is that one group of people were inferior. Here, there were no inferiors or superiors, just an acknowledgement of everybody’s work as a musician. It was a powerful statement. block quote level 1block quote level 1

Graceland transcended racial and cultural barriers. ” Graceland was never just a collection of songs, after all; it was a bridge between cultures, genres and continents, not to mention a global launching pad for the musicians whose popularity been suppressed under South Africa’s white-run apartheid rule,” said Andrew Leahey of
American Song Writer.

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1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, History, IN THE NEWS AND ON MY MIND, Kerry's Causes, Poetry, Special Occasions, TToT

TToT: My Weekly Antidote to Cynicism – Lest We Forget, #10Thankful

Superior, they said, never gives up her dead
When the gales of November come early

–Gordon Lightfoot

“The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald”

This week was less like the last, and more like it must have been forty years ago. It felt gloomy. It was windy and rainy, just like it was, this time in the month of November, when the Edmund Fitzgerald went down in lake Superior.

TEN THINGS OF THANKFUL

Okay, so I usually put a lot into these weekly posts here and enjoy doing so, but this week, for the first time, a lot has hit me all at once. Not sure I can keep it up to my usual standard.

This week’s been an emotional one, starting with Remembrance Day, Friday the 13th, and the unexpected horror of more terrorism and violent attacks came as a total surprise, but my week was not through with me yet.

Ten Things of Thankful:

For the way the children in my life remind me to appreciate the simple things.

bus-2015-11-15-02-55.jpgreedlookingoutwindow-2015-11-15-02-55.jpgreedcloseup-2015-11-15-02-55.jpgreedpullingcord-2015-11-15-02-55.jpg

For the honour to be asked.

A friend wondered if I would do something for her and her daughter, be a reference, and I was just so pleased to be the one she would come to.

For the work another friend put into something, she hoped I could use on my blog.

didyoureadmylatestblogpostyetimage-2015-11-15-02-55.png

She didn’t have to do this, but she did it anyway.

For the way history comes alive for me, even forty years later.

In the eighth grade I had a history teacher, Mr. V, who gave us the lyrics to a song as a school project. He played the famous song in class and I learned about the wonder and the power of our Great Lakes.

Gordon Lightfoot recalls the night of the SS Edmond Fitzgerald’s sinking

It was the first time, after studying Canada’s founding fathers of Confederation and being bored out of my mind, that I began to really care about history and I learned what it could mean, as a true teacher of the past and also future, as far as lessons go.

For freedom, even if I don’t always appear grateful for what I have of it. And for poetry, written 100 years ago, that gave me a way to connect to a long ago event like World War I:

The Changing Shades of Flanders Fields’

Sometimes I feel like I don’t appreciate the sacrifices made, as is so commonly spoken about on November 11th (Remembrance Day/Veteran’s Day/Armistice Day) whatever you know it as.

The Complicated Task of Never Forgetting

This is not true. I know I am lucky because if those wars hadn’t been fought, who knows what might have happened, but I just feel so morally opposed to war that I have trouble.

I know. I know. Nobody likes war. I am thankful for other perspectives, even when I have a really hard time understanding.

I got the chance, on Remembrance Day, to listen to an interview with a Canadian soldier who fought in Afghanistan and Iraq. He lost both his legs, fighting for a cause he believed in. Although I felt myself beginning to shout at the TV screen, a few times as he spoke of why he wanted to go and fight, I tried really hard to understand his point-of-view. I had to at least try and I am thankful I made the effort.

For the writing and the lessons from Anne Frank and her life and for my blog, the diary to my modern world.

My father saw that there was a new documentary on her life and he asked if I wanted to watch it with him.

The subject of World War II, in particular, he and I have both always been interested in. As completely horrible as it was, unthinkable, I am glad my father showed me that stuff, because it’s made me a more compassionate and empathetic person, and for that I thank him. I also thank Anne for being who she was, as courageous as she was, at her age and through all she went through. Her writing is what I admire most and I am thankful her work was shared.

For those who made sure, even after she no longer lived, that her writing lived on for her.

Her father, Otto Frank, and for the family’s friend and Otto’s employee, Miep Gies, who discovered the diary and kept it safe until Anne’s father returned and saw that it get published. I wish I could have had the chance to meet her. She seemed like a really cool old lady, even in the 90s:

Miep Gies Wallenberg Lecture

I once more, after this past summer’s visits to the Anne Frank exhibit, and with this week’s reflections on wars, began to let myself fall down the path of listening to Holocaust survivor stories, through YouTube interviews. This can be a difficult place for me, so I had to watch myself, or it could become all too consuming. I know when and where to leave things, to remain positive and grateful.

For VoiceOver.

Just thinking about where people were during the thirties and forties even, compared to now and today’s modern age of technology. Truly amazing to think about.

Believe me, I don’t only think about this at this time of year, but all the time actually. I am lucky to have electronic devices that talk and read to me, opening up the world and providing all the information I could possibly need or want.

This makes things so much more accessible, of course, but it makes it harder to hide what might be going on in the world, compared to when Anne Frank and millions of others were suffering and being persecuted and killed.

These things are still going on, but we can’t pretend anymore.

For my safe home in Canada.

I know the fear of these times we’re living in, with terrorism as a global problem. I am not naive enough to think things can’t happen here or anywhere, but I know I am not a refugee who has no choice but to flee my home. I have not been caught in a terrorist attack. Not yet.

For the modern healthcare that is at my fingertips and at the ready when a family member is in need.

I felt the not-so-unfamiliar feeling in the pit of my stomach, the deep down fear for my brother’s health and the kidney transplant that is only just over two years old. It is a fragile balance.

Here I was, just last week, complaining that I worry sometimes about my own kidney failing, but the truth is that I haven’t been hospitalized in fifteen or so years, but my brother has had to be plenty of times in the last five or six years alone.

Well, the reason I easily could have avoided TToT this week is that things are still up-in-the-air and that still scares me a lot to think about, because he’s always had a complex medical story and nothing is clear yet.

I haven’t slept, after what happened in PAris the other night (which already gets me on edge) and then I heard how unwell my brother has been all week. I hadn’t realized he felt this bad.

I spent the evening in emerge with him. I can’t help but want to go to him at times like this. We are close, in our sibling bond, but because we’ve both gone through some incredibly complicated medical crap together over the years, and I would never want anything to happen to him. I needed to see to it that he was going to be alright.

So, hopefully things with my brother get figured out.

Over the next few days to a week I hope for that and I will go forward and let the start of the holiday season warm me, starting with my favourite Parks and Recreation character, to launch the season officially:

Nick Offerman shares his thoughts on Oprah’s Favourite Things

Forget Christmas music starting to be heard on the radio or the Santa Claus Parade. Nick knows how to usher in the Christmas season something fierce.

🙂

Last week, Canada’s new leader, Justin Trudeau, was sworn in. He has been big news and the New York Times even had an article where they referred to him as:

An Antidote to Cynicism in Canada

Well, as crazy as things may have gotten this week, Ten Things of Thankful is my antidote to cynicism.

After all that’s happened this week, I will try to go forward and into the holidays, and try to remember these words and to follow them:

“Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness. Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place.”

–Kurt Vonnegut

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

Time For A Change

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

Good question.

***

“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

***

From Harper Lee to Stephen Harper.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Does that mean it is time for a change?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Disabled Canadians Are Invisible In This Election

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Nice hair though.”

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

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

Do I vote for the liberals? NDP?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

🙂

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is their shot. Can they do it?

#ComeTogether

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

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

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

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

US broadcaster’s comments anger all of Canada

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

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

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

Indeed Sheryl, indeed.

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

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1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, Happy Hump Day, IN THE NEWS AND ON MY MIND, Kerry's Causes, Poetry, RIP

In The News and On My Mind: Sticks and Stones

“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

Here we are again, going in circles.

Again, President Obama, Stephen Colbert, and John Oliver are compelled to speak about gun violence.

And, I guess, so am i…

President Obama Speaks At Press Conference For Oregon Mass Shooting

There are more causes with days or weeks or month recognition in October than I could shake a stick at.

😉

This week I focus on mental illness, because it is the week to recognize that people are suffering and, once more, we are forced to talk about it because havoc has been caused in its name.

In my Facebook newsfeed, I can’t keep track of the causes and their turns to be highlighted, but most of it hits me hard, has touched my own life in some way.

I’ve been rereading some Harry Potter lately and I began to think about weapons in that magical world. They have their wands, which are like our guns, and then there’s Hagrid’s trusty bow and arrow.

Okay, so just this week, in Toronto, a man was found dead after being shot with an arrow. It happens, in all sorts of ways. We kill each other and we can’t seem to stop.

I think about the way it was, hundreds of years ago, when there were arrows and swords.

Now we have guns.

People are going to die, be it from an arrow, a bullet, a blade, or a drug.

Those who feel alone or have no support will lose the battle sometimes. It’s up to those who have had the support, to give that support right back to others.

Stephen Colbert said, “Insanity is changing nothing and pretending something will change”.

I hope we never lose the humour, his type of humour and honesty, in the face of these hard and harsh realities.

The LAte Show, Stephen Colbert – Some Thoughts On Pretending

Rowling’s wizards could and did horrible damage and caused horrific cruelty with their wands, but this was mostly due to evil groups such as Lord Voldemort’s Death Eaters.

Law abiding wizards used their wands, more than we use guns, specifically speaking in Canada, but still I say you could compare it to the world a lot of people want to live in, most often in the US. They want a gun accessible, for a feeling of security and a way to protect themselves and their loved ones, in the case of a dangerous intruder threatening them.

Whether it’s a bow and arrow or a shot gun, hunting was and is a way of life for people, for need or for sport, in Canada and elsewhere.

I don’t know a lot about guns and I don’t know the laws and the loopholes. I do know that the battle is between us and them, one side against another and I don’t like it. It’s about one side saying “they” want to take “our” guns away from us.

Then the other side says they want less mass shootings.

I can’t help but think of a time when settlers came to this continent, us against them, and guns were introduced.

Us and them. Us and them. Us and them. It never ends.

It never ends and I’m sick of it.

I know which side I am on, but then I realize just how futile being on any side is. Where has it gotten us? Why can’t any sort of compromise be reached? Why are humans so stubborn, immovable, and unwilling to bend at all?

And then the two sides fight over mental illness.

Mental illness or guns?

Where does that put the people with those illnesses, the vulnerable? How do they feel?

This week is Mental Illness Awareness Week and my next post will be one I’ve wanted to write for over a year, but I couldn’t resist including John’s clip here because it is part of this conversation.

Last Week Tonight With John Oliver – Worst Time To Talk About Mental Health

His idea is a radical one, a drastic one, and one the one side would totally discount, but again his honesty in the humour he dishes out is worth listening to.

I’ve enjoyed John Oliver since I first saw him with a role in the show Community, but take a look at John’s segment because I want to do more for mental health, as my next post will continue to demonstrate.

I think we need to not focus on one over the other. We need to focus on both. Why oh why are we always so quick to pick one side, divide, separate? Why do we go to extremes?

Don’t we use the term “extremist” for violent and evil terrorists?

Someone who would storm into a classroom, movie theatre, shopping mall with a gun or guns able to take down many people is committing an act of terrorism, aren’t they? They are terrorizing people.

Are they mentally unstable, ill, sick, disturbed? Call it anything you like. It’s an extreme and it is terrorizing.

Oh, but those people are going to the extreme of an extreme, right? We all like our extremes, our sides, but we aren’t like them, oh no.

Most people with mental illness aren’t ever going to shoot up a place. Some could commit an act of violence, but mostly it ends up being on themselves, as with conditions like self harm, cutting, or suicidal ideation.

When a mother drowns her three children and then herself, that makes the news. When the mother kills her children and not herself, we see her face as she stands before the judge and jury to accept the verdict.

We condemn her for hurting the innocent, but how do we prevent that from ever taking shape to begin with?

As with the latest mass shooting, we hear about it for a long time and the ripples can be felt spreading out, in every direction. People do use these occasions to back up whatever facts or points they want to get across, for their own reasons. It becomes political instead of social or humanitarian. Then we do move on, or most of us do.

We don’t hear about the every day struggles of mental illness in someone’s life. We don’t want to, we choose not to, would prefer to avoid hearing about that part of the story, the ugly, that part that comes before the possible tragedy. I read a lot of these stories on the blogs I come across. The ones I read about are the stories that will hopefully have a happy ending.

Like this one, for instance.

When suicide can be and is avoided, it’s a wonderful thing, but it is an ongoing struggle for most people. We need to be aware of it, be honest about it, find humour in the good parts of life to help combat it.

I don’t know why we listen to the news or a press conference really. Can what’s being said really mean anything lasting or practical? I must, like everyone else, try not to let the negative futility take over my thoughts.

Like John says, we owe people more than just words. We owe them a plan.

For me, here, words are the plan, but I don’t know the answer for a plan to prevent tragedy like we see again and again and again.

I am not afraid. I don’t live in a dangerous part of town. I have support and love in my life. I don’t live in poverty.

I do not fear for my life. I do not carry a gun. I think you would probably agree that not being able to see and guns don’t mix and I would agree too.

🙂

I wish they weren’t in the hands of anyone who couldn’t be sure of being proper and safe, but are any of us truly guaranteed safety with a gun in the picture?

Some would say yes. They would feel powerful and in control. Us against them. Me against them.

😦

Then another shooting makes my television’s news program and the insanity continues.

An eleven-year-old boy shoots an eight-year-old girl.

And I curse guns all the more. They didn’t keep that little girl safe. They didn’t keep her alive. They won’t permit her to grow up and have a future.

I can’t find a smidge of humour in that, honestly.

Dear Congress – Sincerely, A Mass Shooting Survivor

Not only has this particular, firsthand account received a huge amount of attention, but even my comment I left, from my perspective as a Canadian has received several likes, more than I would normally get.

We need different perspectives and we need to pay a little more attention and learn a little something from all of them.

I see a climate of fear and one that perpetuates violence. I see that being so deeply ingrained in US culture specifically.

I may be blind, but I am not blind to what things might be like here in Canada. I know it’s not my experience, but my somewhat sheltered life has put me at a greater position of hopefully having a better understanding, somehow and somewhere among all the chaos.

Nothing will change, as fatalistic as that might sound, as long as this deeply ingrained fear persists, if the “them against us” view of the world continues, no matter what country is in the headlines.

As the well-known rhyme says, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”.

Sticks. Stones. Words. Lies.

Then there was the story that just broke about a comedian/actor who told an awful lie. He’s been busted and a lot of Americans would like to see him hung out to dry for it.

Words. A few little words and a story of exaggeration, told in a small group of people, and nothing more might have come of that, if it weren’t concerning the sensitive subject of September 11th.

Steve Rannazzisi Comes Clean About 9/11 Lie

He speaks about this to Howard Stern and Howard listens, gives the guy the chance to explain and to begin to apologize, but does not take calls. Probably a good idea. There’s always Twitter and the rest of the Internet for that.

I wasn’t involved in 9/11 and so I’m not quite so raw over the matter I guess.

That September 11th, it seemed bigger than I could possibly comprehend on that day, but these things happen in the world.

I am a fan of The League, ever since I was introduced to it by someone a few years ago. Who would have thought that a show about fantasy football would be my kind of show, but when I actually sat down and gave it a chance, I liked the humour and the guys and the characters they played.

Steve didn’t directly hurt me. I can give the guy a break. Others can’t. Outrage and anger for some. Forgiveness for others. Compassion from me because I am able.

Listening to the interview was interesting. With my interest in psychology, it is fascinating to hear someone explain, justify, rationalize something so irrational as pretending they were involved in something so horrible. What kind of a person would or could do that? A lonely one. An insecure one. A misguided, attention seeking, weak guy in a weak moment.

I just recently saw a program about a woman who insinuated herself into online grief chat rooms with 9/11 survivors and the families of those who lost their lives.

She did it for money or for a hole inside. How is Steve all that different?

People’s intentions matter. Their actions, for some, matter more.

Compassion is the way we should be leaning. Anger is the tempting route to take. Violence and weapons go hand in hand. Hatred and anger feed off of each other.

Guns kill. The line, guns don’t kill people, people kill people has been bandied about so much. It’s becoming a cliche. People kill other people with guns. I am not for banning things altogether because I know, like with drugs, that doesn’t solve the problem. I am for compromises, understanding, and care..

Terrorism kills.

I firmly believe we can not bend under the pressure, snap, and let the hate win. Words can be used for good, for positivity, for kindness. I use my words for that.

Next week, for In The News and On My Mind I will talk more about immigration, refugees, and the federal election here in Canada.

Do I vote? Will I vote? Will it make any difference whatsoever if I do or don’t?

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History, Kerry's Causes, Memoir and Reflections

Human Rights Day 2014: Fragility

“Nothing comes from violence and nothing ever could.”

Sting, Fragile, YouTube

When I hear this version of the above song I always think of the IMAX film Sting wrote and performed the soundtrack for.

Starring my beloved dolphins: it was about the ocean and I sat in a theatre in Niagara Falls several years ago and was in awe.

The music and the lyrics touched me and moved me, not just because the enormity of something like an ocean dumbfounded me, but because I felt so completely tiny and insignificant in the vastness of everything.

The idea of the ocean has always beckoned because of all this, because I love it so much, but on a day such as this:

The United Nation’s designated HUMAN RIGHTS DAY, December 10, 2014,

I want to highlight Sting’s words and specifically the line from above.

I feel so small and insignificant on days such as this, but I especially like the theme of the 2014 Human Rights Day: everyday should be a day for human rights!

I wish I could shout this to the world because I know what I say here will only reach a minuscule segment of it, but I write this anyway.

I wish I could shake the world into finding respect for all human beings.

After thousands of years of the horrible things humans have done to one another and after two world wars.

The UN declared December 10th Human Rights Day in 1950, highlighting this with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

How many lives have been lost and human rights infringed upon since that time?

Whether it’s all the division and unrest in the US right now, in the midst of several disturbing incidence between young black boys/men and white law enforcement.

After what happened here in Ottawa, Canada’s capital, with the senseless killing of Nathan Cirillo on Parliament Hill.

Or in addition and by expansion, with ISIS and in the middle East.

The admissions of the CIA and their torture tactics revealed.

Whether it’s the growing racism in countries in Europe, all these years after such blemishes on our world as the Nazi regime’s atrocities.

Racism. Terrorism. Sexism. I don’t care. I want it all to stop!

Discrimination of Native people in my own country in the past and still now in the present.

, the helplessness and uselessness I feel living still as a woman with a disability in the 21st century.

Or all of the above.

I want more for us all. Much much more than the status quo.

“Nothing comes from violence and nothing ever could.”

I repeat this line from the start of this post because I can’t help tearing up when I think of it or hear it sung and my heart hurts so much, which leads me to write this now, as it’s all I have to do to even attempt to quell the hurt I feel.

I hear variations of the above stories I speak of, on the news every night, and I want to reach out and shut off my television, not wanting to hear any more.

I feel like I must fight for my rights and I know others are fighting more desperately for theirs.

It’s on days like this when I am just so so sick and tired of fighting.

Be kind to one another. Please!

As tough as a large portion of our world thinks they are and tries to portray themselves to be to the rest of us, I know the title of this song to be true.

Fragile. That’s all we really are.

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