1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, Blogging, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, History, IN THE NEWS AND ON MY MIND, Kerry's Causes, RIP, Shows and Events, The Blind Reviewer

Whistle A Tune As You March Toward Hell #FilmReview #JusJoJan

The documentary begins and ends with their voices, ghostly, from the past.

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All of them, their collective voice is a powerful
echo
of a war with no discernible point, but massive waste and loss of life. But still, they must not be forgotten.

I love Peter Jackson for his bringing to life of Middle-earth and now he shows us what fresh hell war was/is, and not the kind of war in fiction where men and elves and dwarves (with the help of a wizard) defeat the orcs in an epic battle. It’s reality at its worst.

From what I hear, the grainy old footage moves into vivid modern colour and then back into the old shots, but I see none of it.

I don’t see the ugly part of war, bodies blown apart and such, but I do hear the bursting of artillery in battle, the men crying out, shots and screams coming from all around me as the surround sound has me sitting on edge, forward and stiff in my seat.

Archival recordings from the 1960’s and 1970’s, of the First World War veterans, all the way back to actual British army camera shots and film that was taken, live on the western front. Lip readers were even brought in by Jackson to interpret what was being said in those shots. Actual interview voices speaking, with no narrator. I wasn’t sure what to expect, if I could get enough from the film, but these kinds of documentaries are usually accessible, for the most part.

From the boys they were, lying about their ages to sign up and on into their basic and specific training. To heading into misunderstood horrors of war. To the trench life to off duty time. To the lead-up toward the battle itself. Then to the aftermath and home once more, for the lucky ones.

It ends where it began, with the time passing habit of whistling and the innocent sound that portrays, the nonchalant spirit of such a tune.

It’s all ringing
echoes
of history in Jackson’s latest film, which played in theatres in Canada on January 21st, for only one day and two months after the anniversary of the armistice that finally ended World War I – They Shall Not Grow Old is a solemn phrase of fact for millions and a gripping title for Peter’s latest. Check it out when and where you can.

It’s not about why the war happened, but rather what it was like being there. And still, I left asking “why?” anyway.

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Bad Words and Battlefields, #FTSF #SoCS

As the days grow darker, I wonder about why darker is harder for people.

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Sleep and internal clocks and SAD (seasonal affective disorder) are the ones that are most felt this time of year.

I get my time from my iPhone, which turns back an extra hour automatically, (will do so again tonight) rather than the clocks on appliances. I like that hour, as there’s a time for everything, even the chance for more sleep, something I blame pain more on than anything else when I don’t get enough of it.

Darker is the start of winter, but it is summer somewhere. Australia and New Zealand are down there, waiting for me, but life goes on until then. I go in to the colder, darker season in Canada with an appreciation for where I live. Christmas means darker, but with that five o’clock darkness, come Christmas lights. Christmas makes me happy. I let the additional hours of darkness bring me peace and reflection. I try not to focus on word meaning all of the time, letting my sensitivities get the better of me, but why is dark bad and light good anyway?

Our fears hide out there, just waiting for the right moment to leap out and scare us?

I’ve written about this before and probably can’t sum it up any better now, as Daylight Savings comes upon us for another year. I do wonder why and then my answer comes, as to why blindness is feared like it is. The idea of being left in darkness for the rest of one’s life is scary, I get it. Still, black and dark are so entrenched in our consciousness as things unwanted and feared. Whether it’s skin colour of another or a state of seeing/not seeing the world. Will we ever get away from such associations?

November is one of those more difficult months for me, at certain moments at least, as I look back over past experiences with these thirty days. Things happened to me in this month I won’t ever forget, things that have left solid impressions on the person I am.

Zooming out to a broader picture, it means solemn thoughts of war for Canada, with Remembrance Day (November 11th) and this year’s 100year anniversary in particular. I feel worse about the subject of war (the lessons we’ve learned and those we yet haven’t) than I do any dark morning or evening come too soon. Just as many lives were lost in the four years of World War I during bright, daylight hours, just as much death and carnage. Likely, more, as the armies needed the daylight hours to see what they were doing. Night would have been when it was smarter to hunker down in separate trenches wherever and whenever possible.

I think of every ghost, set adrift across those European battlefields, and I am haunted by the heaviness of so many souls lost.

And I go onward to November 11th this year with a heavy heart once again, though I don’t know exactly why that is.

I think of that word often and I don’t need Halloween or a day devoted to wars to do so. This month holds memories, like the hauntings of a shadowy realm.

I have all things monsters and ghosts on my mind still, even with Halloween in the rearview mirror for another year. Darker days mean winter and winter means ice.

I had to go to the easiest accessible book to me and that was my shelf of all seven Harry Potter stories to find my random word.

I did
point
and a wintery word is what I got.

Black ice can be a danger on the roads in Canada, in the months ahead. Scary.

Harry Potter stories use ghosts and monsters to great effect. The ice forms when the monstrous, hideous dementors show up. (Read the series to learn more about those.)

A fascinating representation of the things that scare us, threaten to remove all happiness, like the depression that is sometimes seasonal and sometimes all year round.

If you can, look at what darkness brings that is pleasant and happy, rather than those things it hides or covers up or frightens you with. Maybe, one day, we can change some of the feelings around what darkness represents.

What’s good could be bad and what’s bad could be good.

This is the weekend of
stream of consciousness prompts
for another
Finish the Sentence Friday
in early November.

I am back and taking part, after several weeks of distractions and elsewhere’s. Also, I’m writing blog posts and prompts, while avoiding something I should really be doing instead. This is okay, I suppose, but I know I need to get back to it shortly.

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1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, Feminism, History, IN THE NEWS AND ON MY MIND, Kerry's Causes, Poetry, SoCS, Spotlight Saturday

Men and Beasts, #SoCS

I am glued to the news, but pushing myself to move.

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It’s France, Britain, and the United States and Canada is staying as the peace maker, as always, offering to help, but not directly with war tactics.

The centre of it all is the war in Syria, that’s been going on for six or seven years now, with no real end in sight.

The name #45 has given Syria’s leader is
“MONSTER”
and, if he is gassing civilians, he is just that.

I don’t know any of these “leaders” of these countries. I don’t know their hearts or their true intentions. I wish a lot of things, just me and my simple-minded self.

I wish the best for Syrian civilians, those left there, at risk, and also those who’ve come here to Canada and migrated other places. It must be so hard to see your home in such turmoil.

I wish Russia would stay out of that country, but they seem to think they’re helping. They claim any poisoning, to former spies in Britain or to people in Syria, is not them, a hoax, a lie, a distraction, a plot.

Lies. Lies. Lies. Which governments aren’t lying?

Why are all these, seemingly mostly men, doing this? They blame, shame, claim. It’s lame.

Clowns. Beasts. Monsters among men.

I want to shake them all. Where does it end?

I feel like I am living in the first season of Downton Abbey, after the no return event, assassination that began World War I in 1914.

According to Google:

The direct cause of WWI was the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand at Sarajevo on 28 June 1914. However historians feel that a number of factors contributed to the rivalry between the Great powers that allowed war on such a wide-scale to break out. Apr 20, 2016

One country erupts, or perhaps two countries clash, and, eventually, other countries get involved, take sides, and suddenly the edge of the cliff is underfoot.

In a university library, I was turning the pages of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s personal journals the other day, carefully as I could. I read her words, what living through the 1914-1918 years was like. It was horrid, even from the safety of Canada. We, sheltered from direct danger and conflict, watch with morbid fascination, but with relief and my guilt, that at least it’s not me and my loved ones in any immediate threat.

I turned to the page (November 11, 1918) and she spoke of the end of the war, after herself being glued to the news of the times. She didn’t know another world war was to come. I don’t know now.

I am rather excited about this though, speaking of monsters:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T-WGaZaojFc

This movie, “Mary Shelley,” is a snapshot of the times, when Frankenstein was written. It’s about feminism, sexism, and in today’s Me Too moment, a girl of Shelley’s age, getting involved with Percy Shelley is a scandalous, wrong thing. Then, it was what it was.

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/45115/art-thou-pale-for-weariness

She fought to prove she could be just as good as the men, coming up with a truly classical ghost story, as it was. So much more because science and us humans, we wonder about defeating death and the limits of science in an unknown world.

Though, I ask myself and my literary/literal mind, just who are the monsters anyway?

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Bullets and Bones, #Vimy100 #AtoZChallenge

Nope. Even though the title of today’s post might suggest I have forgotten what letter we are at with this April challenge, I assure you that I haven’t.

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I heard it on a series about Canada and I thought it makes the point.

The A to Z Challenge – H is for History

That famous quote:

“Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it”

I believe that wholeheartedly. I don’t ignore. I listen and I learn.

A lot of history is bullets and bones. Wars seem to be all we talk about when we speak of historical events and the bones of those who have gone before us, who lost lives, they are everywhere.

The series I was watching spoke of the War of 1812 and the battles between the United States and the Canada that wasn’t quite Canada yet, but a colony of Great Britain. So much colonialism throughout history.

What year did Canada become its own country?

I am a big history buff. I focus on wars too, though I despise them and all they have ever been about.

I do not like to refer to the United States of America because I do not approve of how the country started, by actively attempting to take the entire continent of North America for themselves. They wanted what is now Canada, the Canada that I love. Sure, when I listen and learn about that war, one often neglected, I think of what would have happened if the U.S. had won the war. What would be, where my country now lies?

The U.S. wanted all the land. They fought British and Natives, in what is now the Detroit and Windsor area, Niagara, Toronto, and all along borders we now hold dear.

There were battles fought where the capital city of Toronto now sits. We don’t now realize. Bones are buried there.

There has been remembrance ceremonies here in Canada and over in France. April 9th, 1917 was the start of the Battle of Vimy Ridge. And 100 years on. That, it is said, is where young Canada became a country, but fierce debate about just whose war they were fighting caused great tensions between French and English-speaking Canadians at the time, a set of tensions that still exists, in some ways, today.

Many died and were wounded for that fighting. I don’t look fondly on such a thing, but I try to respect the lives that were lost. Many bodies buried in fields in northern France. I am emotional about history. I don’t know any other way.

***This is my first year of joining the A to Z Challenge and so I’ve decided to post randomly, as a way for new visitors to my blog to get to know me a little better. I look forward to discovering some interesting new blogs too.

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1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, Blogging, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Kerry's Causes, Spotlight Saturday

Spotlight Saturday, 1000 Voices Speak For Compassion: Sisters Think Alike

It started with:

We All Need The Village

and it was followed by:

http://yvonnespence.com/all/1000-voices-for-compassion/

With this the train had left the station. Compassion has been spreading rapidly through the blogosphere ever since.

It is a movement which hopes to spread compassion, kindness, support, caring for others, and non-judgment and there is nobody I think embodies all these things more than my very own sister.

She is an extremely kind and caring daughter, sister, friend, wife, mother, and aunt. Not to mention one of the most caring human beings around.

Okay, so I may be a tad biased here, but just read on and you’ll see what I mean.

All this is why I’m pleased she took some time to write about her thoughts on these important qualities and I am thrilled to shine this week’s spotlight on her and her thoughts now.

***

Compassion is a complicated thing. It should be more simple, but it is often more than just caring about the people that deserve it. The hard part is caring for those who do not deserve it, it is those people who somehow need it more.

The problem with that is that it is the other people, who we believe to be innocent, who usually are – that would then suffer. There are also many situations where lines – between those who are considered innocent our not, whether to consider someone a victim or not, or if they are worthy of compassion – are blurred.

Those who do the most horrendous things are usually the most scarred, the ones with the most tragic past.
The hardest line to walk is not excusing their current behaviour; the fact that their father beat them everyday of their childhood – that they had to witness the same atrocities to their mother or siblings, should this give them a pass for their current actions? Does this excuse what they have become?

Of course not. There comes a point in time when any victims they are creating are now more important than the tragic up bringing that turned them into the reprehensible person they have become. Personal accountability has to be taken into consideration, there is a certain point where it trumps even the most tragic upbringing, but even then there is all always room for compassion, though that is often easier said than done.

Does that mean we should not also feel compassion for what inspired this person’s spiral into what they have become?

Herein lies the problem. How do we try to understand the bad part, without excusing it?! There is, unfortunately, no simple solution but it does require to sometimes just take a step back and try and look at the situation from all sides – especially when it seems like the hardest thing to do.

Recent events; terrorist actions, racial injustices, victim shaming in sexual assaults – all things that could use a little, or even a lot, more compassion.

Does free speech excuse being callous with someone’s beliefs? Regulations on free speech, whether legally enforced or from social pressure, are in no way the answer but just because you can do something does not mean you should!

There is, again, no excuse for any reaction that involves a blatant disregard for human life, and it is never easy to balance being able to express ones personal beliefs that are often something we as humans feel very passionate about. No one wins when public discussion and free speech is suppressed – but there is also always room for a little more compassion.

On September 11th, 2001, nineteen men were responsible for the death of thousands. Thousands of people who were living, breathing human beings, with feelings and families. How many children grew up with out a parent – how many parents had to bury their children? Others buried their wives, or husbands – uncles, aunts, cousins, friends.

Now just imagine what went wrong in those nineteen men’s lives for them to feel these actions were justified? It’s not an excuse for what they did, only something to take into consideration. Did one or two of these men – or all of them, experience loss on their own scale? I am not suggesting we excuse their actions, only that we strive to understand them.

To look beyond and consider these feelings, this terrible event brought up, in an attack so close to home, it is hard to look past our own pain and see the pain in others.

That this feeling of vulnerability, that not feeling safe and secure in our every day life, it is the reality in those attackers lives, as well as so many others in their communities. Also that they do not all turn out to be extremists. It’s not always easy to understand for us but like in all parts of the world we are often byproducts in our upbringing and what we are subjected to in our everyday lives. Now imagine this it’s your everyday life but on a much more extreme level.

There is little one can do to make war less horrific than the hard truth of it but a little compassion can go a long way. You may argue that the, us against them, mentality is what gives a soldier their ability to do what it is they need to do, but compassion might just be what is needed.

Most of the people they are fighting are also just people with families, fighting for their country. You may feel they are fighting for a country with unconscionable practices, but we also must remember looking in on another country’s policies (as with an individual’s beliefs) is not as simple as it sounds. Morality is sometimes much less black and white than we would like to think.

Just as, despite what side you may fall on with the out come in the shooting in Ferguson, Missouri, a little more compassion for what is a never ending struggle to feel safe as a minority in North America.

I can not say what the police force, nor the individual officer’s, feelings were behind the shooting but Michael Brown’s subsequent innocence or guilt does not remove what it represents to a community that feels unheard and unimportant.

Michael Brown’s guilt or innocence in any crime in the moments before, is not really what makes the situation so hard to just move on from. The feeling that it may not always matter if he was coming from volunteering at a soup kitchen or from robbing a convenience store, that his death is representative of what it means, to not, be a white man in America.

There are many examples that being guilty of something, is not always requirement for a death sentence – this is not the first or the last time. Compassion is required to understand that, it requires taking yourself out of your own shoes and imagine how different some peoples realities really are.

Victims of sexual assault also feel a similar marginalization – with the burden of the victim to prove their innocence, in favor of not violating the rights of the perpetrator. In that regard, people usually just site innocent until proven guilty for standing up for the accused, but with sexual assault, unlike most other crimes, assuming the accused is innocent often requires implying the victim is guilty until proven otherwise.

This doesn’t happen in murder cases or most other crimes, it just means they’ve got the wrong person. With sexual assaults, the assailant is most often known to the victim.

The innocent until proven guilty defense also does not apply outside a court of law, and definitely does not remove your ability to show compassion towards someone who is a victim of such a personal and horrendous crime.

Ensuring there are never false accusations may not be possible but there is a much larger number of women who remain silent, due to the reality of what the victim exposing themselves will do to their everyday lives.

It is when we fail the victims on such a large scale that we need to look at how we deal with such a sensitive subject. Compassion when dealing with a woman (or a man) who has been sexually assaulted should be an easy choice but like many things in life – any hostile or judgmental reaction, often tells more of the other person than the victim themselves.

Understanding a person’s motivation can go a long way with dealing with your own suffering. This applies to personal pain, on an individual level, as well as on a larger scale with the pain of a whole community, or a nation. Compassion can also be applied in all areas of our lives.

Instead of throwing away a relationships – regardless of the degree of the betrayal, maybe try and understand what caused them to be so careless with your feelings. Forgiveness is not always an option but understanding it can give way to some compassion for both parties. It can also be just as beneficial to you as it is to whoever hurt you. By your ability to show that understanding, in a situation that is not necessarily your fault (though most things in a relationship do require some fault on both ends) – this compassion will help to strengthen your other relationships, in both the present and the future.

We also see it as a divide between generations. We could all better ourselves if we could try and have a little more compassion for the things we see as insignificant in the lives of others. The idea of a teenager being in love can seem foreign to those who have long been passed this stage in their life, making it easy to pass it off as puppy love. Although it may not be the same, as the love of a couple who has enough experience in love and life, the loss of either relationship is painful to the respective person, both just as valid, even if they are not what some see as equal.

Everyone’s pain is valid, and this is where compassion is ultimately needed. You do not need to excuse behavior to show compassion. We could all benefit from putting ourselves into others shoes. Does this solve all the problems of our world, maybe not. Does it erase the many wrongdoings, of course not – but the only way to change the world is through these small steps.

There will always be bigger events that are credited with shaping our humanity but it is just as important to make these small gestures to continue to push all of us to create a world where we have the best chance to get along, to give all its inhabitants the dignities we ourselves deserve. And it extends to all inhabitants of this earth, from our fellow humans, to the many animals we share it with, as well as the environment and natural resources surrounding us.

Compassion is the answer.

***

I agree. That is why I am participating in #1000Speak and why I wanted to share this topic of compassion, from wise women like my sister.

Thank you Kim, for these deepest of thoughts.

For more information, check out:

1000 Voices Speak For compassion on Facebook

I will be posting a few more times on these topics, leading up to February 20th.

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History, Spotlight Saturday

Day in the Museum: Part Three, Keep Calm and Carry On

This is the final segment in my week-long posts of my day at The Stratford Perth Museum last weekend.

Part One explored my relationship with museums, through

The Four Senses

and then I spoke about the whole reason for visiting the museum in the first place in Part Two,

Shakespeare’s First Folio.

Now here is my final post.

***

TWW1his year marks

One Hundred

years since the start of World War I and with the subsequent World War II and the huge influence and shaping they both had on the 20th century.

When I heard about the World War exhibit upstairs I had to make use of the ticket to see as much as I could.

We took an elevator up a floor and back in time, finding ourselves amongst the history, bravery, and heroism of war.

We stepped out through the elevator door to commemorative service medals, to pictures and names…searching for familiar names, as we have had family around the area and, although it was a long time ago, you never know.

There was a history of the area and a write-up on the creation of The Stratford Perth Regiment, beginning with the settlement of settlers in the area in the 1850s.
stratford brass company.
Felt shoe company.
Manufactured goods and services. A furniture company.

Shells and bullet casings. Buttons from some long gone soldier’s uniform.

An example of the sort of food provided. Biscuits were, I can imagine, cheap and easy to produce, but must not have provided much nutrients to soldiers fighting in the trenches. I guess it was better than starting. I simply can not imagine it.

Again, seeing as we were in a museum, most of these things were untouchable for me, for whatever reason. a drum was one of the few things I could reach out and feel. I could imagine the sound of a drum beat, some chant in war.

A piece of trench art from a shell casing, a cross engraving.

What looked like a bit of rock, removed shrapnel from someone fighting in one of these mostly forgotten battles.

A diary and address book from 1916, France and the battle of Vimy Ridge in 1917 – a bayonet and an oil lamp. Some medical badges.

***

Above are some of the items from these wars and below are just a few of the stories:

I enlisted because I wanted to travel. I lied about my age.”

The D-Day Dodgers

we are the D-Day Dodgers
in sunny Italy.
Showed us the sites and gave us tea, Sang us songs. The beer was free.

More on The DDay Dodgers here.

just names,
an ironic take on the italian campaign, a brutal campaign. It was actually considered to be the cowardly mission in comparison to what was going on in France. They did not receive the same recognition as D-Day soldiers in Normandy did.

red_crossA female nurse during World War II:

She enlisted. That was her second attempt. She was told the war would be over by Christmas so they did not need more nurses.
She landed in Sicily with the troops,
at the casualty station.

“We went to see MASH and my aunt was upset by the way the docs and nurses in the OR acted.
My mom explained, you had to do that or you would end up losing it.”

(Daughter speaking on behalf of her mother)

war bonds

The most interesting part of this whole exhibit to me was the part devoted to the subject of propaganda. Being a fan of words I am amazed at how they can uplift and inspire, both in good ways and bad, how words have the power to sway and to mobilize. During times of war the propaganda machine can be used for good and for evil’s means.

The simplest of slogans can have the greatest effect:

DIG FOR VICTORY
To help with the war effort, Britain and Canada grew 1 million tuns of vegetables.

Dig dig dig,
Your muscles will grow big.
Do not mind the spade…

On display there was an extremely controversial text: Mein Kampf (My Struggle).

Adolf Hitler wrote this manifesto while incarcerated in the 1920s and in it he details his vision and his feelings concerning those he deemed to have caused him and his country the problems they were facing at the time of The Depression, post World War I.

– Ten million copies distributed throughout Germany
– This copy Had been handed out to Hitler’s Youth

The Swastika
– The crooked cross, an omni-present symbol
– a symbol present on everything from flags to match boxes, to inspire pride and loyalty in National Socialism.

It’s funny how I don’t have a clear image in my mind of what one of these looks like. I may have seen it. I seem to remember seeing it as a thick dark outline, in the Tom Cruise film Valkyrie, but as my vision has decreased, over time, I am unfamiliar with such a well-known symbol of cruelty and destruction.

However, symbols could be just as vocal for the other side:
– A hammer smashing the swastika.
– british Canadian propaganda posters in circulation
KAPUT!
Give us the tools.

Keep CalmIn thirty-nine and after outbreak of war the british designed posters with bold coloured backgrounds, a symbolic crown of King George the sixth.

rupert-grint-and-keep-calm-and-carry-on-t-shirt-galleryTo add a more modern and a contemporary touch, perhaps hoping to reach younger visitors such as myself, in and amongst the other examples of propaganda and symbolism there was even a movie premier poster from a few years ago. I don’t know which movie in the series it was for, but Rupert Grint was included, in one of the Harry Potter movie promotion posters, wearing a shirt with the infamous wartime slogan: KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON. I suppose he could be playing his role of Ron Weasley. Lord Voldemort was often compared to Adolf Hitler in many ways.

I have heard variations of this slogan myself, but this one in particular must be common enough in Britain still today. I find that slogan, in particular, rather interesting. Words even as simple as those are able to influence morale and mood, even in the toughest of times and those words still “carry on” to apply to any of us today.

originalposter Keep CalmThis slogan did not have a chance to take off as a slogan for war, remaining on only a few of these posters on the walls of military and recruitment offices. So how did it manage to remain in the peoples’ consciousness for all these years?

Some bookstore owner came across one of these posters mixed in with a dusty old pile of books from an auction.

A true nostalgia item.

keep mumOne more variation on this slogan was one spoken to warn soldiers against spilling privileged wartime secret information to any beautiful woman they might come across: KEEP MUM, SHE’S NOT SO DUMB!

And those are the words I will leave you with.

🙂

***

I left the museum and was left to ponder the power and potency of words, either written or spoken aloud. I learned a lot over one simple afternoon at a local museum.

Have you ever been to a museum and learned something you hadn’t known before? What effect did it have on you?

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