Has Humanity Listened to the Wrong People?

A commentary on humanity’s choices

A video came across my Facebook feed recently that got me thinking. The video is from Mindfulness Ireland. Have a watch, as it will likely touch your heart as it did mine. You’re probably wondering why it moved me, and why it got me thinking. Let me (#blogger #blog #somseason #YA #authors) explain.

Growing up, I was taught that humans were the pinnacle of creation, and that all other creatures—plants and animals—are inferior to humans. The Christian church I was raised in taught that only humans have a soul or spirit that goes to “heaven.” I even had a conversation with a priest about this topic once. The Christian church has traditionally seen humans as superior to animals based on Genesis 1:26 of the Christian Scriptures, which says:

Then God said, ‘Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.’

Most Biblical intellectuals interpret this scripture text to mean that animals do not have an eternal soul in the same sense as humans do. The website, Catholic Answers says:

The soul is the principle of life. Since animals and plants are living things, they have souls, but not in the sense in which human beings have souls. Our souls are rational–theirs aren’t…Animals and plants can’t do anything which transcends the limitations of matter. Although some animals seem clever, they don’t actually possess conceptional intelligence. They can’t, for instance, conceive of the abstract notion of justice.

To summarize, plant and animal ‘souls’ don’t live on after death. Science conventionally says the same as explained by Dr Arthur Saniotis from the University’s School of Medical Sciences:

“For millennia, all kinds of authorities – from religion to eminent scholars – have been repeating the same idea ad nauseam, that humans are exceptional by virtue that they are the smartest in the animal kingdom…The belief of human cognitive superiority became entrenched in human philosophy and sciences. Even Aristotle, probably the most influential of all thinkers, argued that humans were superior to other animals due to our exclusive ability to reason.” (Source:  Science X).

GospelWay.com has an entire essay, Superiority of Humans to Animals in God’s Plan, that argues that  God values humans the most because animals have no spirit, no moral responsibility, no eternal destiny, and are not held accountable for right and wrong. 

I have always respected the Indigenous or First Nation’s world view. Speaking generally, Indigenous people all over the world have a deep respect for the land, the plants and the animals. Animals played a very important role in their lives, providing them with food and clothing, taught them lessons, and served as messengers and spirit guides. In Honouring Earth, on the Assembly of First Nations website, it says:

Mother Earth…bestows us with materials for our homes, clothes and tools…If we listen from the place of connection to the Spirit That Lives in All Things, Mother Earth teaches what we need to know to take care of her and all her children…First Nations peoples’ have a special relationship with the earth and all living things in it. This relationship is based on a profound spiritual connection to Mother Earth that guided indigenous peoples to practice reverence, humility and reciprocity…Everything is taken and used with the understanding that we take only what we need, and we must use great care and be aware of how we take and how much of it so that future generations will not be put in peril.

Indigenous spirituality highlights a “connection to the Spirit That Lives in All Things.” On the Working Effectively with Indigenous Peoples Blog, it says: 

Many Indigenous Peoples believe that “the Animal People have spirits and enter the human world to give their bodies to supply men with food, fur and other materials. After their flesh is used the animals return home, put on new flesh and re-enter the human world whenever they choose.”

Many Indigenous people believe animals have souls or spirits which live on after death since those animals “put on new flesh and re-enter the human world whenever they choose.” Even science is re-evaluating what it believes about animal kingdom.  Many researchers say animals have feelings and emotions, as in the articles; What Kind of Emotions Do Animals Feel? and Do Animals Have Feelings? Examining Empathy In Animals. In the first article it says:

Instead of considering ourselves [humans] so refined and rational, it’s time for us to squarely face the degree to which we–like other animals–are driven by emotions.

Animals do have emotions, and any pet owner will tell you that. Those videos showing animal affection touch the heart. The video, Unbelievable Friendship! People and Wild Animals, show convincing evidence of this: Have a watch:

Science is even admitting that animals are intelligent as the articles, Animal Intelligence and Everything Worth Knowing About … Animal Intelligence report.  This video certainly shows the intelligence of the family Corvidae of birds, otherwise known as crows and ravens. Here is the video.

I’ve personally experienced the intelligence of ravens. A number of years ago, while on a hiking trip in the Canadian Rockies, I watched two ravens hover around a table where two hikers were about to eat their boiled eggs for breakfast. Before the hikers got to eat them, they got up and left their table. Two ravens swooped down and grabbed their eggs. This was planned, as ravens and crows are strategic and plan their moves before they act. (see Crow Facts).

By now, you are probably wondering why I am babbling on about humans and animals. Here’s why. All my life, I have watched humanity claim to be the most intelligent animal, yet continually make choices that put humanity and our planet in danger. The article, 50 Reasons Why the Human Race Is Too Stupid To Survive, lists 50 stupid things human have done, and I believe there are way more than fifty.

As mentioned earlier, Indigenous people have a deep respect for Mother Earth—the land, the plants and the animals. They believe animals teach them lessons, and are messengers and guides. I have always felt the Indigenous world view made more sense as opposed to the European world view. Perhaps if the European settlers had adopted an Indigenous-Centric world view instead of keeping their Eurocentric view, with its beliefs of superiority and that the natives were inferior savages, our world would be better off. Since Mother Earth guided the indigenous peoples to practice reverence, humility and reciprocity, there most certainly would be less, or even no bullying (#bullying #antibullying).

You see, I believe we have much to learn from Mother Earth, especially her animals. The One Green Planet article, 10 Important Life Lessons we can Learn From Animals, says there are ten lessons that we can learn from animals. Two lessons, according to this article, are ‘We’re All Connected’ and ‘We Must Stick Together.’ This is what Chief Seattle, who advocated accommodation with white settlers, meant when he said:

“Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect.”

Considering the present state of our world at the moment, with all its division, power grabs, and bullying, maybe we would be wise to pay attention to the animal kingdom and Indigenous wisdom. We have nothing to lose, and much to learn. Clearly, the old ways have not worked.

Strange Things Are Happening this Month

A commentary on the spirit of Christmas

Strange things have been happening this month, and I am not referring to the craziness in the world. I’m referring to me (#blogger #blog #somseason #YA #authors). Here is what I mean.

Every year starting in November, my wife starts recording Hallmark Christmas movies, and she watches them endlessly. Every year I ask: “Why do you watch those stupid movies when they are all the same and they are so predictable?” Every year she responds with: “They’re light and make me feel good.” I typically get annoyed with her because she records so many movies that they interfere with the programs I want to record, usually from the History Channel.

Now if you are unacquainted with Hallmark Christmas movies, here is the basic premise of all Hallmark Christmas movies. They often involve a fast-paced, big city type who meets a small-town type who teaches him/her what Christmas or life is really about. The setting is always in a small town with an unusual name like Fertile. Everyone drinks hot chocolate or cider, and these towns have Christmas tree lighting ceremonies or some type of traditional event. These movies always have lesser known, attractive actors and actresses. Perhaps that is the real reason my wife watches these movies as she enjoys nice-looking male actors. Okay, I’ll be honest. I like watching good-looking female actresses too. Often, in Hallmark movies, someone is brought together with an old flame, and involves a going-to-buy-a-tree scene where the couple literally bump into each other and fall in love in a short time. These movies almost always involve some sort of Christmas magic.

Usually when I go to exercise on the treadmill or rower, I watch a movie. Now here is the weird thing. This year, in 2020, I’ve been watching Hallmark Christmas movies. I typically prefer to watch the typical guy movies; action packed Marvel super hero type movies, but not this year. This is a first for me. My wife likes it as I watch some of them with her. But the thing is, my wife is right; these movies do help a person capture the Christmas spirit.

Every year when it comes to decorating for Christmas, I complain. My wife and children call me the Grinch. In fact, for many of the Christmases past, my wife poured me an alcoholic drink so the decorating experience was tolerable for me. I’ll be honest, I hate decorating for Christmas, but this year was different. This year I volunteered to set up the tree and put the lights on it before having a hot tub. Anyone who knows me will tell you the hot tub is my “happy place,” so to decorate before hot tubbing is odd for me. I never complained once; I think my wife would confirm that.

Maybe subconsciously, I had a selfish motive. You see, I love coloured lights on the Christmas tree and my wife loves white lights, so we alternate years. This year is a coloured lights year, so maybe subconsciously I wanted to make sure the coloured lights were put on in case my wife put on the white lights and then claimed she forgot it was a coloured light year. But I don’t think that is it.

I believe the strangeness I am experiencing is answered in the song ‘The World Needs Christmas’ by Emily And Mike. The song says:

It’s been a long and trying year
Full of anxiety and fear
But now it’s finally December
It’s the time when we remember
The world needs Christmas
More than ever this year
Put all the distant, the conflict, the stress, and the trauma behind usThe world needs Christmas
We need laughter and cheer…

If you never listened to the song, here it is

I think I can explain my atypical behaviour. This year, more than any other year, my heart craves love, hope, peace and joy. I need to feel the spirit of Christmas. Some unknown said:

“Until one feels the spirit of Christmas, there is no Christmas. All else is outward display–so much tinsel and decorations. For it isn’t the holly, it isn’t the snow. It isn’t the tree not the firelight’s glow. It’s the warmth that comes to the hearts of men [and women] when the Christmas spirit returns again.”

American essayist and lecturer, Hamilton Wright Mabie once said: “Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love!” American novelist, Edna Ferber, says: “Christmas isn’t a season. It’s a feeling.” Or “Love is what’s in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen,” an unknown author wrote. Yes, I am longing for that Christmas feeling or spirit. Right now, our world needs peace after a trying 2020, the year of bullying (#bullying #antibullying). As American writer of religious and inspirational poetry, Helen Steiner Rice says: “Peace on earth will come to stay, when we live Christmas every day.”

Christmas—I speak of Christmas only because I was raised Christian—has always meant something more to me than the commercial aspect of gift giving. It’s a feeling, and I remember well that feeling as a kid. I remember feeling love when we gathered with aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends. Perhaps American children’s author Theodor Seuss “Ted” Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, says it best with:

And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.

One of my favourite movies is the 1951 version of Charles Dickens’ story, A Christmas Carol. I grew up watching this movie every Christmas, usually with my dad, when it was on television Christmas eve. It’s the story of Ebenezer Scrooge, a miserly businessman who largely views Christmas as a waste of time. But that all changes on Christmas Eve when he is visited by the spirits, or ghosts, of Christmas past, present and future who show him the errors of his ways. My favourite part of the movie is when Scrooge, played by Edinburgh born actor, the late Alastair Sim, wakes up Christmas morning. Here is what I am talking about. Be sure to watch the entire clip.

Mr. Scrooge definitely caught the Christmas spirit. He is filled with hope, love, and joy. What Mr. Scrooge felt is what I need to feel more than anything this year. I suspect that is true for everyone on this planet.

Christmas time is an important month for other world religions, since Islam, Judaism and Buddhism all celebrate major festivals around Christmas. The Jewish festival of lights, Chanukah, is one such festival.  The Muslim festival, Ashura, is celebrated by both Sunni and Shia Islam. The Buddhist celebration of Bodhi Day, celebrated December 8th, is a celebration when Buddha is said to have gained enlightenment while sitting under a tree. These festivals are all celebrated around the Christian Christmas festival.

The word ‘festival’ stems from the root word ‘fest’ which is a gathering, event, or show having a specified focus. A festival is about relationship as it can mean a day or period of time set aside for feasting and celebration. Whenever there is feasting and celebration, there is peace, joy. hope, and love. It is time to bring on the festivals, in whatever form you envision this month, and capture the feeling of Christmas, or Chanukah, or Ashura, or Bodhi day, or whatever festival you celebrate. Author Max Abraham says, “Without relationships, life is useless, empty, boring and lonely.” The world needs that feeling, especially this year.

Does the World Makes Sense to You?

A commentary on making sense of our world

I (#blogger #blog #somseason #YA #authors) taught science for 35 years, so I always taught my students to ask questions. French anthropologist, Claude Levi-Strauss said: “The scientist is not a person who gives the right answers, he’s one who asks the right questions.” I ask questions to make sense of things like what is happening on our planet.

Physicist Albert Einstein once said; “The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don’t know.” That is how I’m feeling these days. Actually, more accurately, the more I learn, the more confused I become. The world once made sense to me, but not anymore. Now I have more questions than answers.

Is the Mainstream Media (MM) telling us the truth? In my last post, The World Needs Christmas! I listed some questions to ask yourself about the MM, so I asked myself those questions. My answers are underlined.

Is the MM making me fearful? Yes, that is why I stopped watching the news. Why? It makes me fearful of COVID because that is all that’s talked about. Is there one narrative that all the MM is feeding us or are there multiple narratives? One, the COVID narrative which has continued for 10 months. If they are only giving us one narrative, don’t we have the right to hear all the different narratives or truths? Absolutely! Is the MM objective or subjective? Does it have an agenda or are there multiple opinions being given to us? Subjective, as it’s based on feelings, rather than on facts. The MM appears to have an agenda.

Canada’s Rebel News—yes, I know it is not MM—maintains they tell the other side of the story, as their website states:

We follow the facts wherever they may lead — even if that conflicts with the official narrative of the establishment.

They have a story titled: CBC says this Manitoba hospital is OVERWHELMED by COVID – is it really?  (see CBC story) After sending a reporter to Manitoba, Rebel News reports “there were just five COVID patients per hospital in the province.”  Either the MM media is spreading misinformation or Rebel News is.  I’ve seen several videos like this one.

Is the MM is scripted? It would explain why all MM has the same narrative. According to the article; The 6 Companies That Own (Almost) All Media, that is, six billionaires, so it makes sense MM would be scripted.  The article shows what companies own what media outlets. That is why I trust independent news outlets more than MM. It makes sense to me.

Are our governments being dishonest?  A Global News Poll in May says half of Canadians feel governments are hiding something about COVID-19. Red State has a September headline: Emails Reveal Nashville City Government Hid COVID-19 Info From Public to Keep City in Lockdown. Governments lie all the time. Huffpost even did an article on it, called Why Politicians lie.

Why are our politicians implementing strict COVID measures when they themselves tend to ignore the rules? Canada’s Health minister flew home eight times while telling Canadians not to visit family, according to True North, a member of the Independent Press Gallery of Canada. This was also reported in the Toronto Sun. The NY Post’s article: Photos show California Gov. Newsom at maskless party, reports a US governor breaking his own rules. I guess it’s as the idiom says: Do as I say, not as I do. This reminds me of a quote from George Orwell’s novel, Animal Farm, a novel I studied in high school: “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” 

Are our health officials spreading misinformation? The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website, under Comorbidities, says:

For 6% of the deaths, COVID-19 was the only cause mentioned. For deaths with conditions or causes in addition to COVID-19, on average, there were 2.6 additional conditions or causes per death.

To consider all deaths WITH COVID as deaths OF COVID is deceptive. Principia Scientific International (PSI), an independent science body legally incorporated to champion the traditional scientific method has an article: Even CDC Now Admits… which states:

Damning CDC document confirms…there has NEVER been any successful laboratory test to isolate and confirm the existence of the SARS-COV2 virus, alleged to have caused the COVID19 pandemic.

The common cold is a coronavirus. Does that mean a positive test for COVID means a persons has the common cold? How can health officials say a person has COVID-19 with a PCR test if they haven’t isolated the actual virus? One study reports that the majority of COVID-19-positive patients were asymptomatic (81%). Could that mean the PCR test is flawed giving mostly false positives? Even Premier  Kenney agrees the tests are flawed. (see Interview). What happened to the flu season? Did flu viruses disappear or is everything classed as COVID? None of it makes sense to me.

Adolf Hitler once made these bold claims:

By means of shrewd lies, unremittingly repeated, it is possible to make people believe that heaven is hell – and hell heaven. The greater the lie, the more readily it will be believed.

The greater the crime perpetrated by the leadership, the less likely it is that the people will ever believe their leaders to be capable of perpetrating such an event.

Are governments, health officials, and the MM be lying to us? If they are, we are being bullied (#bullying #antibullying) in a mammoth way.  

Why are small businesses forced to close doors while corporate stores (Walmart, Costco, Target, Macy’s, Home Depot) have always remained open? Adamson Barbecue located in Etobicoke, Ontario, was shut down with numerous police surrounding the building. Its owner Adam Skelly defied Toronto’s restrictions on indoor dining and was arrested, yet a nearby Costco was allowed to remain open with thousands of shoppers inside (see Toronto BBQ). Does that mean the virus is only spread through small businesses? None of this makes any sense. Why is it dangerous for people to gather in churches but not in the corporate stores? Rebel News’ article, B.C. church FINED $2,300 for in-person services, police CAN’T EXPLAIN which order was violated, discusses how churches are being bullied. It’s unfair and makes no sense.

Why are small businesses and churches forced to close, and Christmas gatherings restricted, when the death rates are so low? Why are governments implementing Draconian restrictions when survival rates are over 99% for all except those over age 70?  The word Draconian stems from the Athenian statesman Draco who implemented severe laws. Rebel News’ story: COVID pandemic restrictions are like Martial Law, is about a Pakistanian Canadian who compares her experience of martial law to living in Canada now. These measures make no sense.

According to the CDC recently updated estimated infection fatality rates for COVID (table 1) the survival rates by age group are: 0-19: 99.997%, 20-49: 99.98%, 50-69: 99.5%, and 70+: 94.6%. Do these survival rates warrant lockdowns? Does an almost 100% survival rate warrant closing schools? Even MM admits as in this ABC News’ article, Predictions of more suicides, overdoses and domestic abuse during COVID are coming true, that isolation, economic pressure and family conflict affect mental health. The CDC confessed that there have been far more deaths from suicides and drug overdoses than from COVID-19 (see CDC). To continue to damage people’s mental health when death rates are so low makes no sense to me.

What is the point of a vaccine if social distancing and masking will continue? That is what US head Dr. Fauci says. (See masks, social distancing will still be needed after a COVID-19 vaccine…) Canada’s head doctor, Dr. Tam, agrees. (see Physical distancing, mask-wearing could be in place for 2-3 years even with vaccine..) How is it possible to develop a vaccine if they haven’t isolated the COVID-19 virus? Yet, there is much talk of mandatory vaccines. The World Economic Forum says normally vaccines take 10 years to be approved for use, that is, to be deemed safe. Why is a vaccine for COVID being rushed? That same article says the experimental COVID vaccine will be ready this month. Does that mean the vaccine will be ineffective or unsafe? It makes no sense. I recently saw a meme that said:

Imagine a vaccine so safe you have to be threatened to take for a disease so deadly you have to be tested to know you have it.

Why are mandatory masks being forced upon us? Calgary and Edmonton have both had mandatory mask policies since the summer, yet COVID rates are purportedly rising. Does that mean masks don’t stop COVID infections from spreading?  Why are people who were given medical exemptions being denied entrance to places? See Police, public health have NO ANSWERS for why mask exemptions aren’t ACCEPTED. It makes no sense.

Is discrimination for having a certain point view allowed? The Vancouver Canucks have fired their anthem singer for planning to perform “O Canada” at an anti-mask rally (see Canucks fire anthem singer for anti-mask support). Is the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms no longer valid? Why is the freedom to protest being taken away? Isn’t freedom of speech guaranteed in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms? Our national anthem has the phrase: The True North strong and free! Is Canada no longer a free country?

As you can see, I have a lot of questions with no clear answers, so I must draw my own conclusions. The only logical conclusion is we are being bullied. There is much talk of the “Great Reset” which is about governments grabbing power by limiting our freedoms. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney admits The Great Reset is not conspiracy and is about “less freedom and more government.” Here is his discussion.

There is a quote in George Orwell’s book, 1984, that says: “We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it.”  That is a troubling thought. One of the founding Fathers of the United States, Benjamin Franklin once said: “Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” He also said: “He that’s secure is not safe.” The third president of the US, Thomas Jefferson, once said: “He who gives his freedom for safety gets none of them.” Maybe the late George Carlin says it best in this video.

Does the world make sense to you? Start asking your own questions.

The World Needs Christmas!

Typically, I start writing about Christmas in December, but as we approach upcoming celebrations like Diwali, Hanukkah and Christmas, we are hearing more and more talk of COVID cancelling these festivals. Global News’ article, ‘Normal Christmas’ off the table,  quotes Canada’s Prime Minister (PM) Justin Trudeau as saying: “A normal Christmas, quite frankly, is out of the question.”  The New York Post has the headline: Dr. Fauci suggests canceling Thanksgiving gatherings amid COVID uptick, so the same goes for the American Thanksgiving. Yahoo has an article titled, Dr. Fauci Says Cancel Christmas Unless This Happens, listing a number of restrictions.

Yes, governments and health officials will try and stop Christmas, and other celebrations, because COVID numbers are allegedly going up. They might be somewhat successful in achieving that goal as those who are fearful of the virus will comply, and those who fear their freedoms are threatened will likely gather with their families for Christmas anyway.

The world is divided into two camps, both driven by fear. There is the camp consisting of those who fear for their lives because they believe the virus is deadly. The other camp are those who believe the virus is no deadlier than any other flu virus. These people fear that this alleged pandemic is being used to remove individual freedoms and rights, and as a means to control our lives. These folks fear this is what the “Great Reset” is about that Canada’s PM is speaking about. Here is a video of the PM’s speech to the United Nations.

A few days later, Trudeau changed his rhetoric claiming the “Great Reset” is conspiracy theory as reported in the article: Canada’s Trudeau calls Great Reset a CONSPIRACY THEORY after video of him promoting the globalist initiative went viral. What I find interesting is the Mainstream Media as remained relatively silent on this.

That being said, I (#blogger #blog #somseason #YA #authors) do not wish to get into the politics as I am merely pointing out how divided our world is. Never before have I wanted to avoid people, whether it be family or friends, because if I say something that others disagree with, I am attacked and ostracized. Most other people I talk to feel the same way. This fear is isolating people and pitting people against one another. This is a terrible time in our history.

The question remains: Can Christmas be cancelled? The answer is emphatically no since Christmas is more than family gatherings. American novelist, Edna Ferber , says, “Christmas isn’t a season. It’s a feeling.” Valentine Davies, known for Miracle on 34th Street says, “Christmas isn’t just a day, it’s a frame of mind.”  I agree wholeheartedly. For me Christmas is about love. As the Methodist missionary in Canada, George F. McDougall, once said:

“Best of all, Christmas means a spirit of love, a time when the love of God and the love of our fellow men should prevail over all hatred and bitterness, a time when our thoughts and deeds and the spirit of our lives manifest the presence of God.”

Yes, Christmas is a spirit of love which is what gift giving symbolizes. For Christians, gifts are given at Christmas is an opportunity to show love. American actress and singer, Dale Evans, was best known for her singing on her husband’s show, the Roy Rogers Show. I remember watching it as a kid. Dale Evans once said, “Every time we love, every time we give, it’s Christmas.” Christmas is about love and you cannot cancel love, so you cannot cancel Christmas.

Presently, the world is living in more fear than love, as I alluded to earlier. Many argue that the opposite of love is not hate, but fear. A quote attributed to Mahatma Gandhi says that, as it says: “The enemy is fear. We think it is hate; but, it is fear.”  Author, Gerald G. Jampolsky says: “Love is the total absence of fear. Love asks no questions. Its natural state is one of extension and expansion, not comparison and measurement.” Or as teacher, author, and spiritual master, Anthony de Mello, known for his parables which are short sayings of “the Master,” has this parable on love.

What is love?”

“The total absence of fear,” said the Master.

“What is it we fear?”

“Love,” said the Master.

If fear is the opposite of love, then let’s talk about fear. It is said fear is learned, so if that is true, fear can also be unlearned. Even more, many argue that we humans are programmed to fear. Many have contended that the Mainstream Media programs us to be fearful, and that has always been its purpose. Sotero M Lopez II is one of them as he says: “‪Whatever Mainstream Media focuses on, BEWARE. Whatever Mainstream Media ignores, FOCUS.” Author Jess C. Scott is another who would agree as he says: “People are sheep. TV is the shepherd.”

Could that be true? Are we humans being manipulated to be fearful? Joseph Goebbels was a German Nazi politician and the Reich Minister of Propaganda for Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1945. He said:

If you repeat a lie often enough, people will believe it, and you will even come to believe it yourself.

He also said:

Propaganda works best when those who are being manipulated are confident they are acting on their own free will.

Ask yourselves these questions: Is the MM making me fearful? If it is, why? Is there one narrative that all the MM is feeding us or are there multiple narratives? If they are only giving us one narrative, don’t we have the right to hear all the different narratives or truths? Is the MM objective or subjective? Does it have an agenda or are there multiple opinions being given to us?  Now you may think: The MM would never lie to me. That is cognitive dissonance. We’ve been programmed to believe the MM is the only reliable source of information, but is it? So I ask you: Is the MM’s COVID narrative making you fearful? If it is, stop watching the news.

American author and YouTube content creator, John Mark Green says:

“If you want to tap into what life has to offer, let love be your primary mode of being, not fear. Fear closes us down and makes us retreat. It locks doors and limits opportunities. Love is about opening to possibilities. Seeing the world with new eyes. It widens our heart and mind. Fear incarcerates, but love liberates.”

Love liberates, so free yourselves from fear. Writer Agnes M. Pahro once said:  “What is Christmas?  It is tenderness for the past, courage for the present, hope for the future…” 

The world needs Christmas now more than ever. The world needs love, hope, peace, and unity. Let’s be honest, 2020 could be deemed “the year of bullying (#bullying #antibullying) with maskers attacking anti-maskers, people who are pro-lockdown attacking those who are anti-lockdown, and those fearing for their lives because of a deadly virus judging, and even attacking, those who fear their rights are threatened, calling them conspiracy theorists. Every human, no matter what camp they’re in, can agree on one thing, which is 2020 is hell. What the world needs is a path that leads to peace and unity, and I think I know the path. We can all join in unity by proclaiming ‘2020 as the worst year of our lives’ and be united in making 2021 a ‘better year;’ a year when we show respect even when disagreeing.

Yes, the world needs Christmas now more than ever. Suzy Kassem, author of Rise Up and Salute the Sun says it better than I ever could when she said:

“When the world shifts its focus on heart over mind, we will finally experience a beautiful global village for our children.”

If 2021 is going to be better, then we must start following our hearts and not our minds. When we follow our minds, our ego gets in the way. When we follow our ego, we Edge God Out, or love out, and attack those who disagree with us. The heart is where love is.  It is where Christmas lives. Imania Margria, author of Secrets of My Heart, says:

“No matter where we come from, there is one language we can all speak and understand from birth, the language of the heart, love.”

The world is in dire need of love, not fear. The world is in dire need of Christmas. Cancelling Christmas is not an option!  Some unknown person said, “Don’t let fear of what may happen hold you back from following your heart.” I urge you to remove fear by turning off the news and start listening to your heart where the spirit of Christmas lives. As the late actor and comedian, Robin Williams said, “There are no rules. Just follow your heart.”

Really, the song ‘The World Needs Christmas’ by Emily And Mike says it best. Have a listen.

We’re All in this Together

A commentary on the need for hope.

I saw a video recently which made a lot of sense. The video was talking about our chaotic world which every human is experiencing; a world facing an apparent pandemic, the Black Lives Matter protests, protests against Covid restrictions, mask confusion, human trafficking, missing children, ever changing messaging, and the list goes on. Here is the essence of the video.

The video emphasized that we’re all enduring this storm together no matter what our beliefs and personal truths are. Everyone has their own truths and beliefs, but we are all navigating these confusing times together as best we can. For many, it may feel like we’re divided, polarized, and fighting against one another. Many feel confused and frightened about what is going on. Despite this, the speaker says to pay attention to how you react and respond to other humans, to your knee jerk reactions, and to avoid asserting that someone is wrong. There is no right or wrong. Practice being neutral.

The speaker goes on to talk about neutrality. She says you can navigate through the chaos with neutrality. You can still have your opinions, beliefs, and your own truths, but see and respect other people’s truths as well. That is what neutrality is. We are all experiencing our own human journey together amongst the chaos, so pay attention to your response to others, having more compassion for them since we don’t know what other people have experienced or what they’re going through. How kind can you be to others? We can be unified with our differing thoughts, beliefs, and still retain our individuality. Be kind, as everyone is doing the best they can.

The message in the video resonated with me. My beliefs about what is happening have not changed. However, I’ve realized that I may have failed to be sensitive to other’s perspectives and beliefs, pushing my perspective without considering other perspectives and beliefs out there. I may have forgotten that many people are fearful; fearful of the virus, or afraid that something sinister is happening in our world. The video reminded me that every human is navigating the chaos as best they can and that now is a time for kindness. If ever there was a time for unity and hope, it is at this time.

Having said that, the speaker did talk about the importance of considering other perspectives, to question everything, and to be skeptical about what we are being told. Be a truth seeker!

In May, I (#blog, #blogger, #YA, #authors, #somseason) wrote a post titled,  An Opportunity, Or Back to the Same? In that post I quoted the author, poet, speaker, educator, humanitarian and social justice activist, Sonya Renee Taylor, who said:

“We will not go back to normal. Normal never was. Our pre-Corona existence was not normal other than we normalized greed, inequity, exhaustion, depletion, extraction, disconnection, confusion, rage, hoarding, hate and lack. We should not long to return, my friends. We are being given the opportunity to stitch a new garment. One that fits all of humanity and nature.”

From the very beginning of this alleged pandemic, I’ve always felt strongly that the world is going through an awakening or reset; that the Universe, God, Yahweh, Allah, Creator, or some greater power is orchestrating this, and awakening us to  the “greed, inequity, disconnection, confusion, rage, hoarding, hate and lack” that is on a global scale; awakening us to racism, bullying (#antibullying, #bullying), misogyny, and tribalism. I believe this now more than ever.

Recently, I saw a post on social media that said:

Don’t Give up on this year.

Keep fighting for the good.

Keep showing up.

Keep loving.

Keep giving back.

Keep being kind.

Keep being brave.

Keep caring.

Keep trying new things.

Keep showing grace.

Keep on.

This world needs you to believe in the good.

How true that is. The fact is, it doesn’t matter if we believe that the mainstream media is imparting fear causing a steep rise in suicides and drug overdoses (see Opioid deaths double) or not. It doesn’t matter if we believe our governments are taking away our rights. It doesn’t matter, as we are free to believe what we want. What does matter is for humanity to be united, to believe in good, and to practice kindness.

Idowu Koyenikan, in his book, Wealth for All: Living a Life of Success at the Edge of Your Ability, said: “There is no denying that there is evil in this world but the light will always conquer the darkness.” Author, Ken Poirot, says, “Light can devour the darkness but darkness cannot consume the light.” In John 1:5 of the Christian scriptures it says, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

Several major religious festivals use light to acclaim the power of spiritual hope. Christians decorate Christmas trees with lights to symbolize Jesus Christ as the light of the world. During Diwali, a Hindu festival, fireworks displays and candles are used to celebrate the hope of spiritual victories. The Jewish holiday of Hanukkah, or “Festival of Lights,” is a festival of hope, that teaches us that there is no limit to what we can accomplish when we let God—or the Universe, Yahweh, Allah, Creator, or whatever you want to call it—be our guiding light. The festival encourages everyone to shine light in the darkest places of our lives and in our world.

Science tells us that light overpowers darkness since the photons (small packages of light) can dispel darkness, but darkness cannot dispel light. This principle can be seen simply by entering a dark room and turning on a flashlight. The light is visible in the midst of the darkness, even if there’s just only a small amount of light in a great amount of darkness. This same principle applies spiritually, as the light of hope is always stronger than the darkness of discouragement, fear, despair or even evil. I choose to believe we are living in a time of hope; a time where light is overtaking the darkness in our world, even though it doesn’t feel like it at times or even if we don’t believe it.

The South African Anglican cleric, Desmund Tutu, is known for his anti-apartheid and human rights work. He said, “Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.”  What the world needs most, right now, is for humanity to have hope that there is light entering our dark world.  To believe we are experiencing a cleansing; a time of light entering our world. Perhaps we’ve been living in darkness—“greed, inequity, disconnection, confusion, rage, hoarding, hate and lack,”—and we didn’t even see it. The world needs to have hope that what we are all experiencing will end and that we will end up with a better world. Perhaps this experience will create a strong desire to build a better world instead of returning to what was. I choose to have hope and to no longer live in fear. You should too.

The Two Faces of a Pandemic

A commentary on the current pandemic

The NetFlix docuseries Pandemic

As I watch the world literally shut down because of the virus known as COVID-19, and as my wife and I are practicing “social distancing” by self-isolating in our home, I can observe and reflect on the world’s new reality.  American author, J Lynn, says, “Sometimes when things are falling apart, they may actually be falling into place,” or American singer-songwriter, Morgan Harper Nichols who says, “Going through things you never thought you’d go through, will only take you places you’d never thought you’d get to.” Perhaps this is what is happening. This COVID-19 pandemic may involve forces we don’t understand that are taking the world in a new direction. My wife and I call it a “reset.”

I been  feeling like the world is out of control for a while now. Democracy in its present form is failing us. Corporate greed is irreparably damaging the planet. Racism and hate are on the rise. I could go on and on.

Tough times—presently the COVID-19 virus—can bring out the best in people, and the worst in people. I witnessed and read about both. First, the worst in people.

A personal example is recently a parent asked our great nieces to stop at the grocery store on the way home from school to pick up some milk. It just so happened that they got the last jug. Three ladies with their carts stocked piled with various products followed them around the store, calling them selfish. They were traumatized by the experience and refused to ever go back during this pandemic.

Barbara Coloroso,  an international bestselling author says this about bullying:

Bullying is not about anger, it’s about contempt, a powerful feeling of dislike toward somebody considered to be worthless, inferior, and undeserving of respect…

These three selfish ladies were feeling contempt towards our nieces because they were not able to get the last jug of milk. They likely—I’m speculating—considered two teenagers to be inferior and undeserving of their respect. The Japan Times has an news report titled, Japan sees rise in harassment, bullying and discrimination linked to COVID-19, so bullying is occurring as a result of this pandemic.

The HuffPost article, Forced To Finally Take Coronavirus Seriously, Trump Turns To Racism, reports that after months of properly referring to the virus as Coronavirus or COVID-19, the U. S. president is now insisting on calling it the “Chinese virus.” Trump claims he does this because it is where the pandemic has its roots, but what he is really doing is laying blame on Chinese people and encouraging prejudice and violence against people of Chinese or Asian descent. The American leader is promoting hatred, racism, and bullying. Is racism bullying, you ask?

Childline, based in London, England, is a confidential service for children, says this about bullying and racism.

Racial bullying is a type of racism where someone’s bullying focuses on your race, ethnicity, or culture. Racism and racist bullying can include:

  • being called racist names or being sent insulting messages or threats
  • having your belongings damaged or having to see racist graffiti
  • personal attacks, including violence or assault
  • being left out, treated differently or excluded
  • people making assumptions about you because of your colour, race or culture
  • being made to feel like you have to change how you look
  • racist jokes, including jokes about your colour, nationality race or culture.

What Trump is doing is shamefully encouraging people to be exclusive of Asians and to treat Asians differently. Racism is bullying!

I have also observed that this pandemic is doing wonderful things. China and Italy’s pollution have drastically lessoned. (see CBC News). Fish and dolphins have returned to Venice’s canals because of halted tourism (see Venice). Italians sing from their balconies during pandemic lockdown (see Singing). People are posting all sorts humorous memes (see example below) to uplift people’s spirits, and posting creative ways to de-stress during this difficult time.  I could go on.

What I find most interesting during this difficult time in history, is people’s attitudes seem to be shifting. I’ve heard people say, “I feel relief and less stressed now that my commitments are gone.” One person told my wife that she has never felt better now that she isn’t working because of social distancing.  People seem to be coming to the realization that maybe their lives have been out of control, and this pandemic is forcing them to slow down. The world was required to “be still” as the Christian scriptures say, “Be still and know that I am God” in Psalm 46:10. Many in the world are beginning to see all humans as a family, saying things like, “We’re all in this together,” and “We all must do our part to prevent overwhelming our health care systems.” Humanity is reaching out to one another.

For example, people are making posts of encouragement. I just read this one:

This too shall pass. I just wanted to take a moment today to remind everyone that storms do end and nothing lasts forever. Things may get worse before they get better, but as a world we will get through this crisis together and emerge stronger because of it. This is a time to demonstrate our capacity to come together to help, care for, and support one another.  We can use these struggles to reforge our faith in one another and prove to ourselves our capacity to tackle difficult global challenges collaboratively. Like our ancestors before us did after the wars, we can use this humbling situation as a catalyst for new grow and new direction for the century to come.

Perhaps this is the silver lining! Perhaps this pandemic is transforming the world into one that is simpler, kinder, and more caring. Let’s hope so.

Does Religious Bullying Occur?

A commentary on Religious Bullying

The National Post recently had an article titled, Christian school expels student who posed with rainbow birthday cake outside class, which reported that Whitefield Academy in Louisville, Kentucky, a private school, revealed it would expel students for living a lifestyle that does not align with Christian beliefs, and apparently that is exactly what they did. This Kentucky Christian school expelled a student after officials found a picture of her posing with a rainbow birthday cake. In the photo, the student of the Academy wears a long-sleeve sweater, with a rainbow on it, and she is sitting in front of a rainbow-coloured cake. For those who may not know, the rainbow is associated with LGBTQ pride. The Academy sent an email to the family outlining that the offending student, their child, showed “a posture of morality and cultural acceptance contrary to that of Whitefield Academy’s beliefs,” and the photo was the last straw in a series of “lifestyle violations.” Some Christian groups reject people who identify as LGBTQ. The mother of the student says that her daughter is not gay, not that it matters.

Rainbow flag  (Photo credit PEDRO ARMESTRE/AFP/GettyImages)

Stories like these infuriate me! Why? Because this student attending Whitefield Academy is a victim of bullying.  Legal Match defines bullying as “the use of intimidation to achieve a state of dominance over another person. Bullying can involve conduct such as, threats, force, coercion, aggressive or offensive behaviour.” The Kentucky student is being forced to change her ways, or risk being expelled from the school she chose to attend. That means the student was bullied! This is the use of coercion, or intimidation, so the school can achieve dominance over their students; to force students to comply with their belief system. That means they are bulling. Let’s call this what it is. This is religious bullying. The W. Y. Alice Chan website says “religious bullying occurs when a religious…person chooses to intentionally or unintentionally degrade another person emotionally, mentally, or physically based on: the bullied individual’s actual or perceived religious…identity, or the doctrines or practices of their belief.” In short, degrading another because someone’s religious beliefs do not align with theirs.

What is this type of behaviour really about? This is yet another story about intolerance, cold-heartedness, and exclusiveness of another.  American political activist, Rabbi Lerner, calls this ‘desanctification’, which is not being able to see the divine in the other. French philosopher, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin called it “dehumanization,” which is not being able to see the humanity in the other.

Barbara Coloroso  is an international bestselling author and is an internationally recognized speaker and consultant on parenting, teaching, school discipline, positive school climate, bullying, cyber bullying, grieving, nonviolent conflict resolution and restorative justice. I’ve never had the honour of hearing her speak, but some of my colleagues have. In her book, The Bully, The Bullied, and the Bystander, she says,

 Bullying is not about anger, it’s about contempt, a powerful feeling of dislike toward somebody considered to be worthless, inferior, and undeserving of respect. Contempt comes with three apparent psychological advantages that allow kids [or adults] to harm others without feeling empathy, compassion or shame. These are: a sense of entitlement, that they have the right to hurt or control others, an intolerance towards difference, and a freedom to exclude, bar, isolate and segregate others.

I like the way Ms. Coloroso defines bullying, and it applies to this story. The private Christian school is showing a powerful dislike toward the LGBTQ community and this student because she is perceived as being connected to the community. The community seems to be “considered to be worthless, inferior, and undeserving of respect.” The school appears to think it has the right “to harm others without feeling empathy, compassion or shame.”  It appears the school has “a sense of entitlement, that they have the right to hurt or control others, an intolerance towards difference, and a freedom to exclude, bar, isolate and segregate others.”  By all definitions, the school is bullying. Just because someone has different beliefs, or disagrees with your beliefs, doesn’t make their victims any less human. Every human deserves respect, regardless of what they may believe.

In fact, this is the stand of the United Nations (UN). In the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it says in Article 1:

 All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

Article 2 states,

Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status…

As I said in my last post, there is a very simple solution to bullying, and that is the Golden Rule, which says, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Ironically, there are 6 scripture texts in Christian scripture that say this in one way or another. They are Matthew 7:12, Luke 6:31, Matthew 22:39-40, Mark 12:31, Romans 13:8-9, and Galatians 5:24. In my view, the behaviour of the Academy is unchristian, and hypocritical, since Christians are supposed to emulate Jesus Christ. Jesus was one of the most tolerant, understanding and accepting people ever, as Christian scripture says Jesus ate with many tax collectors and sinners (Mark 2:15). Tax collectors in biblical times were Jews who worked for the hated Romans. They were seen as traitors who enriched themselves at the expense of their fellow Jews. So, for Jesus to eat with them was a big deal. If every person lived by this simple rule, bullying would stop. It would make for a better world.

Has the True Message of Christmas Been Lost?

A commentary on the Christmas message.

from http://www.shutterfly.com/

A saying often seen on Christmas cards is, “Rejoice! Rejoice! Rejoice in the birth of the Lord – for unto us a child is given this night to bring peace and love to all [hu]mankind.” Another is a quote from Luke 2:13-14 from the Christian scriptures which says, “And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” Peace and Goodwill is a message we hear every Christmas season. New Year’s greetings often involve a wish for peace,  examples being, “Wishing you a New Year filled with peace, prosperity and good fortune,” or “May the New Year bring joy, peace and happiness to you and your family.”

Yet, despite the fact that we are in a Christmas  and New Years season with its message of peace and goodwill, we see stories of intolerance, cold-heartedness, and rejection.  On December 23, 2019, two days before Christmas, the headline, 11-Year-Old Vegan Ordered To Eat Grass By School Bullies appeared on my newsfeed.

The story describes how bullies rammed a tuna melt into a Archbishop Ilsley Catholic School student’s face, and then told the 11-year-old to eat grass. According to the victim’s parents, their son has faced torment in the Acocks Green, Birmingham, England school because he doesn’t eat animal products; in other words, chooses to be vegan. The victim’s dad says “It’s got so bad he [the victim] is now pretending to be ill just to avoid school.”

This story shows intolerance, cold-heartedness, and exclusiveness of another. It is a sad example that shows what the Christmas and New Years message of “Peace and Goodwill” is not. In order for peace to occur, there must be tolerance, understanding and acceptance. Without these three things, peace is impossible in my view.  Cambridge Dictionary defines tolerance as willingness to accept behaviour and beliefs that are different from their own. Understanding a person, according to Cambridge Dictionary, is when a person has the ability to know how other people are feeling; in other words, they have empathy.  Acceptance of a person is the act of agreeing to a person belonging to your group as an equal. Peace occurs when differences of any kind are accepted, and it is understood others think and do things differently. To quote Neal Donald Walsch; “My way is not the only way. It is just a way.”

A common expression I hear during the Christmas season is, “Jesus Is the Reason For The Season,” which is correct since Christmas is a celebration of  Jesus’ birth. Since this bullying occurred in a Catholic School, it should be safe to say the bullies were familiar with the Christmas message.

from thecatholicrealist.com

Jesus was one of the most tolerant, understanding and accepting people ever. In Luke 15:2 of the Christian scriptures, Jesus drew anger of the scribes and Pharisees for eating with sinners and outlaws. In Luke 7:34, Jesus is accused of being “a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.” The tax collectors in Biblical times were Jews who worked for the despised Romans, as tax collectors were seen as traitors to their own citizens. Matthew 9:9-13 tells the story of Jesus calling Matthew the tax collector to be his disciple. In Mark 2:15 Jesus sits at table with many tax collectors and sinners. Luke 5:32 describes how the scribes and Pharisees grumble about the company Jesus keeps. Jesus tells them that he has “not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”  Clearly, Jesus was tolerant, understanding and accepting of everyone.

The truth is, I am baffled. I am trying to understand how a Christian festival that has been celebrated for thousands of years; a festival that celebrates a child who is said to bring peace and love to all humankind, and yet we continue to have a pervasiveness of intolerance, cold-heartedness, and exclusivity in our world. Has Christianity failed with its message of love, tolerance, acceptance and understanding? Has the message been lost? Has humanity failed to understand the Christmas message? All I know, is something has gone wrong.

The reality is, rejection of others comes from a place of fear. It is a fear of difference, change, or the unfamiliar. The article, Accepting Other Peoples Differences, says many people are fearful of others because they’re not sure how to go about communicating with those who differ from them. They fear that their own little ‘cocoon of protection’ might be threatened. To say it another way, they make the mistake of believing that others’ viewpoints and opinions might threaten their way of thinking and acting . Every person’s culture, values, uniqueness, and viewpoints deserves respect even if we don’t understand or agree with it.

Jesus commands in John 13:34, “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”  When we “love one another” we are tolerant and understanding of others, and we accept them with all their differences. That is the Christmas and New Years message that seems to have been lost because of fear. I long for the true meaning of Christmas to return, and be understood. Perhaps this year your New Years resolution should be to practice tolerance, acceptance and understanding, and to teach your children to do the same.