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.

Have We Time Travelled Back to 1984?

A commentary on our times

“DoubleSpeak” is a term coined by George Orwell in his novel, 1984; a novel I read in high school long ago. Its language that deliberately disguises, distorts, or reverses meaning to further an agenda, often by governments, corporations, marketers, or other powers. I (#blogger #blog #somseason #YA #authors) see a lot of DoubleSpeak happening these days, and really, it has always been used. I’ll give you some examples.

Canada’s prime minister (PM) in his Statement by Justin Trudeau on the 35th anniversary of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms said:

“For the past 35 years, the Charter has helped build a country where people from all over the world can come together as equals and create opportunities for one another…Today, I remind Canadians that we have no task greater than to stand on guard for one another’s liberties. The words enshrined in the Charter are our rights, freedoms, and – above all – our collective responsibility.”  

Our PM also said:

Ultimately, being open and respectful towards each other is much more powerful as a way to diffuse hatred and anger than, you know, layering on, you know, big walls and oppressive policies.

I find our PM’s words to “stand on guard for one another’s liberties” ironic because of headlines like the Toronto Sun’s WARMINGTON: COVID hotels against Charter of Rights, Justice Centre says. The article quotes the president of the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF):

“The government has not explained why people cannot self-isolate at home. Locking people up in secret locations, without a right to call a lawyer or to have their detention reviewed by a judge, is in line with practices carried out by the world’s most repressive regimes.”

The PM’s words are clearly DoubleSpeak since Trudeau’s comments on the Charter are twisted, or out and out lies, to further his agenda. Even worse, are headlines like Federal Conservatives call for suspension of hotel quarantine policy following reports of sexual assault, which reports on two sexual assaults as a direct result of the Trudeau government’s quarantine policy. True North News also reports on the unsafe COVID jails in Quarantine hotels meant to “protect Canadians” Hajdu says following sexual assault reports. How is this “being open and respectful towards each other?” More DoubleSpeak?

Even Joe Biden, present resident of the White House, says similar things saying:

“The Supreme Court has confirmed the simple but profoundly American idea that every human being should be treated with respect and dignity. That everyone should be able to live openly, proudly, as their true selves, without fear.”

Yet, similar government abuses are happening in the U.S. It’s curious that Biden also said, “No Ordinary American Cares About Their Constitutional Rights.” Sounds like a contradiction and DoubleSpeak to me.

Canada’s prime minister has also said:

My idea of freedom is that we should protect the rights of people to believe what their conscience dictates, but fight equally hard to protect people from having the beliefs of others imposed upon them

Rebel News reports, Man misses cancer treatment after being forced to quarantine. This man was prevented from following his conscience, which was to attend his cancer treatment appointment, the reason why he flew back to Ontario in the first place. Think about that! A Canadian citizen is confined to a COVID jail for “safety” reasons, but is denied seeing his doctor regarding a health problem he’s addressing. Clearly this man is not free. Just more DoubleSpeak, I guess.

Trudeau has also said:

“We will always speak up for freedom of religion and for human rights here in Canada and around the world” (source: The Catholic Register).

Clearly more DoubleSpeak, as there is no freedom of religion and no regard for human rights in our country. Don’t believe me. The National Post’s headline Church whose pastor was arrested for defying COVID-19 restrictions holds service, reports on GraceLife Church which held a service that health authorities say exceeded provincially set gathering limits meant to curb the spread of the virus. Independent News media, Rebel News’ headline, Lawyer for Pastor James Coates: A Christian pastor arrested for holding church, takes a very different perspective compared to MM, saying; “The idea of a pastor being thrown in jail is so utterly antithetical and foreign to a nation that purports to be free and democratic.” I have to agree with Rebel News. We cannot claim to be a “free and democratic” country with the Draconian behaviour of our health and political leaders.

Trudeau has said:

One of the most important things in any leader or in any successful approach is to focus on connecting with people and really listening to them. We shouldn’t just be saying, oh yes, the people are protesting. We need to ask them why they are protesting and try and figure out if there is something we can do to bring them in and respond to those concerns. That’s not populism – that’s being thoughtfully open to the fact that our citizens are allowed to have, and are even justified in having, very real concerns and questions for the people responsible for serving them

Yet, there are many reports of protesters being harassed and arrested with brute force. Here are some of those news reports: Edmonton police attack peaceful protesters, then turn against journalists, Protesters, police gather outside two Toronto COVID hotels, and Second week of arrests at Toronto lockdown protest. Most anti-lockdown protests have been characterized by the MM as being attended by religious fundamentalists and conspiracy theorists, as TNN says in its article,  Group with anarchist ties organized weekend Montreal anti-curfew protest. Does this sound like Trudeau “connecting with people and really listening to them?” More DoubleSpeak, I’d say.

George Orwell also uses the term, doublethink, which is the act of simultaneously accepting two mutually contradictory beliefs as true. Those who speak it are conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies. Slogans like, “War Is Peace” and “Freedom Is Slavery,” are examples from the book. Could the following words from Trudeau be “doublethink?”

“All Canadians expect their government to do two things: to keep Canadians safe and to defend and uphold the values and rights that all Canadians hold dear.” (source: Global News).

Could it be that Trudeau wants Canadians to believe he is protecting us from COVID and defending our civil rights while slowly removing more and more of our rights?

Canada’s prime minister, Justin Trudeau, is quoted as saying:

I don’t read the newspapers, I don’t watch the news. I figure, if something important happens, someone will tell me.

I have to wonder why that is. Could it be that he knows the truth about the Mainstream Media (MM); the truth that it distorts truth or even gives untruths? Could that be why Only 28% of radio listeners see value in CBC Radio? Is this why the article, Media Party proposes BANNING competitors after survey shows lack of trust in Media Party, reports a new survey saying trust in the media, and all establishment institutions, is plummeting with roughly half of Canadians not believing a word the media says.

Are Trudeau and Biden, health officials, and other political leaders using DoubleSpeak? Yes, but as the old adage says, “actions speak louder than words,” and their actions are unmistakably bullying (#bullying #antibullying) actions.

 Division is man-made
 Division is designed to keep you powerless
 Division is designed to keep you fighting each other
 Division is designed to keep you enslaved
 The narrative has you
 No one person is above another
 Unity is strength
 Unity is love
 Unity is humanity
 Trust yourself
 Think for yourself
 Only when good people [collectively] come together will positive change occur. 

These words from Q speak truth.  QAnon, or Q, is said to be a disproven and discredited far-right conspiracy theory, but we won’t get into conspiracy theory right now.

How are we divided? Political parties keep us divided. If two different people belong to two different political parties, naturally their political ideas and beliefs will be different, creating division. Religion is one of the greatest dividers, as countless people have lost their lives and property in the name of religion. Race divides us. In Race Delusion: Lies That Divide Us, it says

Races are supposed to be real, objective divisions of the human family—analogous, perhaps, to breeds of dog. To be a member of a certain race is to be a certain kind of human being. Racial identity is supposed to be innate and unalterable (you don’t have any choice about what race you belong to) and transmitted from one generation to the next…When one group of people sets out to oppress another, they “racialize” them—that is, they think of them as fundamentally different from and, importantly, inferior to themselves…The idea of “blackness” was a European invention, designed to legitimize the oppression of Africans.

In reality, there is only one race which is, Homo sapiens, or the human race. As Martin Luther King, Jr. once said: “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”  Or as Abraham Lincoln once said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” Our leaders use DoubleSpeak and DoubleThink to keep us divided and confused. We must stop listening and believing what others say—especially MM and our leaders—instead, thinking for ourselves.  Doing this, I believe, will bring humanity together. Aristotle once said, “Find the good. Seek the Unity. Ignore the divisions among us.” It seems humanity has always known there is strength in harmony. Remember the idiom: “United we stand, divided we fall.” Humanity cannot continue to stay divided!

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.

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.

Not Even a Pandemic Stops Bullying

NetFlix docuseries Pandemic

As citizens of the world isolate themselves, and most of the world has come to a halt because of COVID-19 or Coronavirus, I had some hope for the future. Why, you ask? Because if ever there was a time, since World War II, that the world must come together to stop a threat, it is now.

The reality is, this virus, known as COVID-19, does not discriminate. It does not discriminate based on whether an individual is male or female. It doesn’t choose its victims based on a person’s age, race, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, or social standing. It does not matter to the virus whether you belong to a Royal family, a wealthy family, middle class family, or a poverty-stricken family. Nor does it discriminate based on whether you’re a celebrity, a politician, a CEO of a corporation, a professional, or tradesperson.  The truth is, if you are a human being, you qualify.

Yet, I naively thought that we humans would realize (during a crisis never experienced by anyone presently living) that all of us are human brothers and sisters, and that we are all in the same boat. I thought it would motivate humans to start behaving more kindly and compassionate to one another. Don’t get me wrong, many on the planet are. But still bullying and racism continue, even when the world is in crisis. People and Forbes magazines both report that countries worldwide are reporting an increase in assaults against citizens of Asian descent. People’s article, Racist Attacks Against Asians Continue to Rise as the Coronavirus Threat Grows, tells of a Chinese fencing student who was viciously assaulted in Australia, how a student from Singapore was attacked in London by four men shouting ‘I Don’t Want Your Coronavirus in my country,’ and how a Los Angeles high school student was attacked after bullies accused him of having the virus. It lists other examples. Clearly, many in the human family fail to see one another as brothers and sisters.

There is a letter in the Parksville Qualicum Beach News, a newspaper in the Canadian province of British Columbia titled, Adults are a primary cause of bullying behaviour among children, where the authors say:

One only has to really look around to see and realize that bullying exists, every day, in all age groups. Bullying is a constant in our society and it is about exerting or trying to exert power over those who are vulnerable or in positions with less or no power. It seems to be acceptable for adults to bully in their daily dealings and interactions. Corporations and government at all levels pay lip service to preventative programs. Programs need to be geared to adults as well as youth and children.

Children learn by observing the behaviours of their parents. They mimic those behaviours and take those behaviours and beliefs on as their own. If their parents/society demonstrate bullying behaviours and those behaviours/ beliefs/attitudes are deemed acceptable, then the child will think that they too can get away with those behaviours. They become the norm.

This is exactly right. We are born innocent and pure. We are born without the tendency to bully. Bullying is a learned behaviour, so I agree completely, adults are to blame when children or young people bully.

The letter also says; “The activities of the U.S. president Donald Trump are a blatant example of bullying,” which is exactly right. In my last post I revealed how the U.S. president was referring to COVID-19 as the “Chinese virus,” claiming he does this because it was where the pandemic had its roots. What he is really doing is laying blame on Chinese people and encouraging racial bullying against people of Chinese or Asian descent. Racial bullying is a type of racism where someone’s bullying focuses on your race, ethnicity, or culture.

I saw a meme on Facebook that said, “It kind of feels like the universe has sent us to our rooms to think about what we’ve done.” The world is being stilled, just as it says in Psalm 46:10 of the Christian scriptures, “Be still and know that I am God.”  Maybe it is a reminder to all of us that we humans are a family, and we need to be acting as a family. Perhaps it is reminding us of the Golden Rule; “Do unto others, as you would have done to you.”

Perhaps this COVID pandemic is a tool of some higher power bringing about transformation on our planet to a create simpler, kinder, and more caring world. Perhaps the pandemic is lasting a long time because we humans are slow learners. Anthon St. Maarten, an inspirational speaker from the Netherlands, says; “Many of us dream of a better, safer, more caring world, without recognizing that it all begins with creating and maintaining a deeper love in our own home. The seeds of world peace should be planted in our own backyard.”  Mohandas K. Gandhi says it best when he said, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” Maybe that is what this virus is trying to teach the world, and more specifically each of us. The change has to start with you and me.

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.

Leadership and Influence

A commentary on how much leaders empower their followers

A February 12, 2020 Washington Post article titled, Trump’s rhetoric has changed the way hundreds of kids are bullied in classrooms, caught my attention. It reported:

2016 online survey of over 10,000 kindergarten through 12th-grade educators by the Southern Poverty Law Center found that more than 2,500 “described specific incidents of bigotry and harassment that can be directly traced to election rhetoric,” although the overwhelming majority never made the news. In 476 cases, offenders used the phrase “build the wall.” In 672, they mentioned deportation.

The news article sites examples such as:

Two kindergartners in Utah told a Latino boy that President Trump would send him back to Mexico, and teenagers in Maine sneered “Ban Muslims” at a classmate wearing a hijab. In Tennessee, a group of middle-schoolers linked arms, imitating the president’s proposed border wall as they refused to let nonwhite students pass. In Ohio, another group of middle-schoolers surrounded a mixed-race sixth-grader and, as she confided to her mother, told the girl: “This is Trump country.”

In 2017, the LGBTQ-rights organization Human Rights Campaign reported on a new survey of more than 50,000 young people ages 13-18 “revealing the deeply damaging fallout the November [2016] election had on youth across the United States.” The survey included respondents representing a diversity in gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity and religious background. Seventy percent of those surveyed reported witnessing bullying, hate messages or harassment during or since the November election. Of those who witnessed such behaviour, 79% said it occurred more frequently following the start of the campaign.

I wondered how much my country is affected by this constant rhetoric we hear from our news media. The late and former Canadian Prime Minster, Pierre Trudeau, once said about the United States, “Living next to you is in some ways like sleeping with an elephant. No matter how friendly and even-tempered is the beast, if I can call it that, one is affected by every twitch and grunt.” Canada is very much influenced by the United States, and not always in a good way.

CBC News did a series examining the impact of peer-on-peer violence on students and parents. Its October 29, 2019 article,  ‘I get nightmares’: How racial violence in high schools is taking a mental toll on students,  says:

In a first-of-its-kind survey commissioned by the CBC with 4,000 youths aged 14 to 21, more than half of young people that identified as visible minorities say they’ve been subjected to racist names or comments. One in eight said it happened more than five times. The survey also revealed that 41 per cent of boys reported being physically assaulted in high school, and 21 per cent have been threatened with a weapon — a significantly higher percentage than girls.

Although it was not stated, or even implied, I can only speculate that many of the racist bullies where inspired by rhetoric heard by political leaders in Canada, and especially the U.S. How can young impressionable minds not be influenced by the constant racist and xenophobic rhetoric coming from a person touted as the most powerful leader of the free world? Leaders empower and inspire people and the current resident of the White House is empowering children to bully. I am keenly aware after teaching for 35 years how much power my words had and how those words influenced my students. Teachers are leaders, and any leader empowers their followers.

Leaderonomics is a leadership development organization based in Malaysia that began with the purpose of transforming nations through leadership. Its article, Leadership Is Influence, defines influence “as the ability to move others into action.” It goes on to say, “Whenever we can change someone’s thought process and convince them to pursue a course of action, we have exercised influence, hence demonstrated leadership. The heart of strategic influencing is to gain willing cooperation instead of mere compliance.”

When I observe our world leaders, many of them use influence to gain compliance as opposed to cooperation. The recent Senate Impeachment hearings were more about complying with their political party as opposed to cooperating to determine if the U.S. president did indeed commit a crime.

An article titled, Influence and Leadership, says:

Leaders lead by mobilizing people around a compelling vision of the future, by inspiring them to follow in the leader’s footsteps…Leaders lead by modeling ways of thinking or acting…The best leaders are teachers, mentors, and role models–and they accomplish the vast majority of their work through influence, not authority.

Leaders should inspire us to be the best we can, yet I see many world leaders modelling selfish and bullying behaviours. What our world is sadly lacking is leaders who inspire people to create a better world. The Born This Way Foundation was created to build a future that supports the wellness of young people through an evidence-based approach that is fiercely kind, compassionate, accepting, and inclusive. I share their vision. I wish to do my part in creating a world that is kind, compassionate, accepting, and inclusive for everyone regardless of age.

Mohandas Gandhi once said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Leaders can inspire us to do that. The Dalai Lama said, “I believe that individuals can make a difference in society. Since periods of change such as the present one come so rarely in human history, it is up to each of us to make the best use of our time to help create a happier world” John F. Kennedy said, “One person can make a difference, and everyone should try.” We can all do our part in creating a better world, and as I’ve said in some of my previous posts, there is a very simple solution to bullying, and that is following the Golden Rule, which says, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”  It’s a rule that is recorded in many world religions and philosophies (see Wikipedia).