Control is a form of Bullying

A commentary on censorship

The Guardian this week had a news article titled: Facebook and Twitter restrict controversial New York Post story on Joe Biden. The article says Twitter blocked tweets that contained links or photos to the New York (NY) Post’s report on alleged emails that show that Hunter Biden offered to introduce then Vice President Joe Biden, and now Democrat presidential candidate, to an executive of a Ukrainian gas company. Joe Biden’s son has faced accusations of corrupt behaviour from both Democrats and Republicans. Users attempting to share the story were shown a notice saying: “We can’t complete this request because this link has been identified by Twitter or our partners as being potentially harmful.”  My question is: Harmful to who?

Facebook also took steps to limit the spread of New York Post—a newspaper that is part of the mainstream media—article placing restrictions on posts linking to the article, saying: “This is part of our standard process to reduce the spread of misinformation.”  The article goes on to say that Republican senator Ted Cruz wrote Twitter saying: “Twitter’s censorship of this story is quite hypocritical, given its willingness to allow users to share less-well-sourced reporting critical of other candidates.”

Are social media companies censuring? I (#blogger #blog #somseason #YA #authors) personally have had Facebook posts that I shared declared “misinformation,” and YouTube videos which I saved to watch later to discover them removed from YouTube.

According to the NY Post’s article; Ted Cruz slams ‘unbelievable’ Twitter censorship of another Hunter Biden story, Twitter locked down some accounts of people who shared the report, forcing them to delete the story from their feeds. White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany refused to delete her tweet and remains locked out of her personal account, which has 1 million followers. The article also reports that Twitter blocked Ted Cruz from sharing the article. President Trump has had many tweets blocked by Twitter, and the company has even temporarily blocked the Donald Trump`s re-election campaign Twitter account (see US Election 2020).

A September 29th study uncovering global perspectives on online censorship using citizens in the United States of America, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, Russia, Norway and Sweden, showed large segments of people in each country do not trust the integrity of information they find online, and many suspect censorship is at play. The study reveals 37% of Canadians and 54% of Americans feel that they’ve experienced internet censorship. The Toronto Sun has an article: BIG TECH CENSORS: Social media continues to gag conservative voices, stating YouTube nixed thousands of videos under the pretense it was removing hate speech.

Are we being controlled? If we aren’t being controlled, then why are so many users unable to speak their truth without being censored? New Zealand-born writer, Juliet Marillier, says,  There is no truth on this island of yours. Rather, there are as many truths as there are stars in the sky; and every one of them different.” American photographer, John Szarkowski, says, “Because we see reality in different ways, we must understand that we are looking at different truths rather than the truth and that, therefore, all photographs lie in one way or another.” We all like to think we hold “the truth.”

We need to ask questions, such as: Have we been controlled and manipulated with the use of fear tactics to keep us silent and out of our truths? Let’s face it, if we are being controlled and manipulated, then we are being bullied. Bullies (#bullying #antibullying) intimidate and torment others to control them. Start asking questions. First ask yourselves: Who is doing the censoring? Why are social media CEOs censoring? Who is telling them to censor? Secondly, ask yourselves who and what are they censoring? Are they censoring people who are speaking truths that are not the truths of those doing the censoring? Are they censoring truths that they don’t want us to hear? I have to wonder why the social media giants are attempting to prevent a New York Post article about the possible illegal dealings regarding the Biden family from being read? I guarantee that if a similar article about Trump came out, it would not be censored. We’ve seen lots of examples of that. The third question to ask yourself is: What are those doing the censoring afraid of? After all, censorship is the voice of fear. What are they hiding? Who are they not censoring? Could it be they are not censoring individuals that have the same agenda as them? Are they allowing the truths to be spread that are their truths? I am merely asking the questions while remaining neutral as best I can. Do some research to find the answers to the above questions if you feel called to.

I was under the illusion that everyone had freedom of expression or freedom of speech in the ‘free wold.” The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects our rights and freedoms, including freedom of expression and the right to equality. It is part of the Canadian Constitution. The First Amendment of US Constitution guarantees freedom of expression by prohibiting Congress from restricting the press or the rights of individuals to speak freely.  

So, ask yourselves are we manipulated and controlled? Have we always been? An article titled: Fear-Based Manipulation: How Politicians, Marketers and the Media Create Panic to Control the Masses, explains how this could be done. Another article: How the Media Controls Your Reality explains how media could control our lives. I encourage you to read them.

American singer and songwriter, Jim Morrison, once said, “Whoever controls the media, controls the mind.” Soviet politician, Nikita Khrushchev, said, “The press is our chief ideological weapon.” Malcolm X, an African American Muslim minister, says, “The media’s the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power. Because they control the minds of the masses.”  British television writer, novelist and non-fiction writer, Dresden James, once said, “When a well-packaged web of lies has been sold gradually to the masses over generations, the truth will seem utterly preposterous and its speaker a raving lunatic.” Could that be true?

If we really do have freedom of expression, which our constitutions say we do, then we must respect and tolerate everyone’s truth. As German-born physicist, Albert Einstein, once said, “We must not only learn to tolerate our differences. We must welcome them as the richness and diversity which can lead to true intelligence.” We must remain neutral, no matter how difficult that may be, and stop labelling things as right or wrong. Really, there is no such thing as right and wrong. As Ufuoma Apoki, founder of Petra Ministries, says, “Right or Wrong, most times, merely depends on perspective. It takes humility (not necessarily logic) to let go of our egos to see through the other person’s eyes. But I guess even I, myself, can’t let go to see why you’d object.” In other words, right and wrong are relative.

Some people might claim there are absolute truths, meaning a truth that is true at all times and in all places; a truth that is always true no matter what the circumstances. Perhaps there is, but that would require more study.  

If we are ever going to live in peace and harmony, then all truths need to be respected and tolerated, and the use of censorship to control others needs to stop. Let’s face it, we live in a diverse world; a world with an infinite number of truths, and that is okay. I don’t have to accept your truth, nor do you have to accept my truth, but we do need to understand and accept that your truth may be different from my truth. When you attempt to impose your truth onto someone else, then you are acting as a bully.

What is Really Going On?

A commentary on the Epstein story

In my last post, Selective Pandemic Attention, I (#blogger #blog #somseason #YA #authors) questioned whether the Mainstream Media (MM) is intentionally promoting fear of covid as a way of distracting us. I recently saw this meme, which got me wondering even more.

When you search hashtags such as, childrenslivesmatter, saveourchildren, SaveOurChildrenWorldwild, and others like it, you will see numerous videos  and posts about protests happening around the world to bring awareness of human trafficking and missing children. What I don’t understand is why the MM is relatively silent about these protests. I did find one article in the Times West Virginian titled, Protest raises awareness about human trafficking. Why is this? I thought the job of the news media was to report news. I wanted an explanation, so I did some research. Wikipedia’s topic: Concentration of media ownership says:

Canada has the biggest concentrated TV ownership out of all the G8 countries and it comes in second place for the most concentrated television viewers.

Business Insider’s article, These 6 Corporations Control 90% Of The Media In America, shows a graphic called the Illusion of Choice, which shows who owns the Mainstream Media (MM) in the US. It shows the 6 corporations, all owned by billionaires, who own all the big media companies. Could this explain why the MM is silent? Could that explain why the MM is distracting us from things such as more people die of drug overdoses and suicide than from covid as I talked about in my last post? Are they intentionally distracting us from the bigger problem of human trafficking and missing children which is bullying (#bullying #antibullying) on a massive scale and of the worst kind? Abusing innocent children is bullying at its worst.

The International Labour Organization’s report, Profits and Poverty: The Economics of Forced Labour, says of the US$ 150 billion in illegal profits per year from human trafficking, US$ 99 billion came from commercial sexual exploitation, while US$ 51 billion resulted from forced economic exploitation. Human trafficking is a massive issue! This should be a huge story for the MM. Why are they silent? Are they being directed on what to report? Before calling me a conspiracy theorist, which is fine by me, it might be interesting to note that according to Paul Craig Roberts, chairman of the Institute for Political Economy, says:

The Term “Conspiracy Theory” was invented by the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) in order to prevent disbelief of official government stories.

Now isn’t that interesting. I remind you, Readers Digest lists conspiracy theories that turned out to be true. Their article, 12 Conspiracy Theories that Actually Turned Out to be True lists 12. Another, 15 Conspiracies That Turned Out To Be True, lists 15.  Still, in another article, 11 Unbelievable Conspiracy Theories That Were Actually True, describes Operation Mockingbird, an CIA operation in which they carried out a secret campaign to influence media around the world. The article says, by the 1950s, there were about 3,000 CIA employees and dozens of large global media outlets working to maintain a complex propaganda machine. Could it be that Operation Mockingbird never stopped?

The MM is silent on the topic of human trafficking and missing children. They continue to be solely focused on covid for six months now? I also have to wonder why the MM is so relentless in making Donald Trump look bad? Now, I’m no Trump fan, but is there more going on than what we’re led to believe? Do they see Trump as a threat to them? Does the media have an agenda to keep us focused on covid? I decided to look into this topic, and the more I researched, the more alarmed and disturbed I got; to the point where I was literally losing sleep. This topic is unsettling on so many levels. Don’t take my word for it. Do your own research; in fact, I urge you to. Become informed about what is really going on. When I started looking into this topic, I would often stop researching, saying to myself, “This can’t be true!”

Sometimes when a core belief that is very strong is presented with evidence that goes against that belief, we are unable accept the new evidence. It creates a feeling that is far too uncomfortable for us to stomach, and this is called, “Cognitive Dissonance.” This happens because we have a need to protect the core belief, so we rationalize, ignore, and even deny anything that does not support that core belief. I experienced this, and you will too if you accept my challenge to do your own research.

Now I had two choices. I could say this is conspiracy and leave it, or I could seek truth.  I delved into the topic. I started by watching the Netflix mini series called: Jeffery Epstein, Filthy Rich. I encourage you to do the same. It’s disturbing and writing this post has been probably one of the most difficult for me to write thus far.

According to the mini series, multimillionaire Jeffery Epstein systematically abused girls in his homes in both New York and Palm Beach, Florida. He recruited victims as young as 14 from area high schools and other places, offering underage girls hundreds of dollars in cash to give him “massages.” Then he would molest and sexually assault them. To maintain and increase his supply of victims, Epstein paid certain  victims to recruit additional girls, typically their friends, to be similarly abused by Epstein. He essentially fashioned a pyramid scheme to create a vast network of underage victims for him to sexually exploit. Epstein was a registered sex offender, and clearly a pedophile.  He has a sexual perversion in which children are the preferred sexual object.

The documentary references his social circle which included Bill Clinton, Donald Trump, and Queen Elizabeth’s son Prince Andrew. It also mentions Alan Dershowitz, a Harvard Law professor, famous for defending celebrity clients such as OJ Simpson, and Leslie Wexner, the billionaire behind the Victoria’s Secret lingerie chain. Wexner hired Epstein in 1991 to manage his money, giving him vast power over his investment and tax affairs. It also mentions Woody Allan. His ex-girlfriend and longtime associate, Ghislaine Maxwell, was his chief recruiter of underage girls.

In 2008, Epstein pleaded guilty to a felony charge of solicitation of prostitution involving a minor. A plea deal, overseen by Alexander Acosta, Trump’s former Secretary of Labour. At the time, Acosta was the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida. Acosta made the deal without the knowledge of the lawyers for Epstein’s victims. With this deal, Epstein was sentenced to 18 months in a county jail; serving 13 months, and granted work release, which allowed him to commute to an office outside the jail six days a week. Why was his sentence so lenient? Was it his connections to powerful people?

Epstein’s US Virgin Islands property and main residence, known as “Orgy Island” by locals, was referred to as “Little St. Jeff’s by Epstein, and is probably what he is most well-known for. The series explains how he forced young women, many underage, into participating in sex orgies with his famous friends.

On August 10, 2019, while awaiting trial, Epstein was found dead in his prison cell. His death was officially ruled a suicide, however, there were violations of normal jail procedures on the night of Epstein’s death and alleged malfunction of two cameras in front of his cell, according to the Netflix series.

According to the article, Ghislaine Maxwell Bragged About ‘Pal’ Jeff Bezos, Epstein and Maxwell ran in the same circles as tech giants including Amazon entrepreneur Jeff Bezos, ex-Google CEO Eric Schmidt, and Tesla chief Elon Musk. The article also says Epstein was introduced to Facebook owner Mark Zuckerberg.  Maxwell even spoke at the United Nations (see Ghislaine Maxwell Speaks at the United Nations). According to Vanity Fair’s article, How Prince Andrew and Ghislaine Maxwell’s Friendship Became a Scandal, Maxwell socialized with actor Kevin Spacey and Harvey Weinstein, an American former film producer and convicted sex offender.

My question is: What does it mean when Epstein, a convicted pedophile, and Maxwell, his right-hand person, have ties to billionaire tech moguls, Hollywood celebrities, high level politicians, and royalty? I saw a meme that someone posted that said:

The Media isn’t silent on Child Sex Trafficking because of the Children, it’s because of who the Customers are. Read that again please.

Could that be true? I am merely asking. It is interesting that MM, owned by billionaires, is silent on human sex trafficking. It is interesting that the Hollywood elites have been silent on the topic of human sex trafficking. They weren’t after George Floyd, the African American man who allegedly died by a police officer kneeling on his neck. Many celebrities in Hollywood tweeted, posted and spoke out against the atrocity (see 21 Celebrities Who Participated In The George Floyd Protests). Why are the Hollywood elites silent on human trafficking? Do they believe black lives matter more than children’s lives? I just want to know what is really going on. Don’t you?

Is Nature Fighting Back?

A commentary about the environmental abuse

National Geographic’s recent article, To prevent pandemics, stop disrespecting nature, states:

Some people are viewing the pandemic as nature fighting back against all that has been and continues to be done to it. But it is human behavior and disrespect for nature that have been the cause. Furthermore, as we cope with the pandemic, climate change is marching ahead. It’s causing strong ripples of change in all ecosystems and probably tipping the balance in favor of pathogens currently unknown to us. The wise way forward is to invest in conservation and science, and to embrace nature and the glorious variety of life with which we share this planet. A healthy future for humanity and a healthy biodiverse planet go hand in hand.

Perhaps, science is catching up with Indigenous spiritual teachings since Indigenous people have been telling us since first contact to respect the earth. For example, Big Thunder (Bedagi) Wabanaki, Algonquin is credited with the quote: “The Great Spirit is in all things. He is in the air we breathe. The Great Spirit is our Father, but the Earth is our Mother. She nourishes us. That which we put into the ground she returns to us.” There is an ancient Indian (Indigenous) proverb that says, “Treat the earth well: it was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children. We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children.” There is a Cree prophecy which says, “When all the trees have been cut down, when all the animals have been hunted, when all the waters are polluted, when all the air is unsafe to breathe, only then will you discover you cannot eat money.” On the Assembly of First Nations website it says,

Indigenous peoples are caretakers of Mother Earth and realize and respect her gifts of water, air and fire. 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. It is also based on the subsistence needs and values extending back thousands of years.

Indigenous people have always believed the earth to be a living organism. Now even some scientists are saying the earth is alive. It is called the Gaia hypothesis, first articulated by James Lovelock and Lynn Margulis in the 1970s, and argues that Earth’s physical and biological processes are inextricably connected to form a self-regulating, essentially sentient system. Check it out in the Astrobiology Magazine.

In another National Geographic article titled, Traditional indigenous beliefs are a powerful tool for understanding the pandemic, it states:

While this pandemic is presenting an opportunity to find meaningful ways to connect, it’s also a wake-up call with important lessons for the future. “If we don’t learn from now,” warns Mindahi Bastida Muñoz, general coordinator of the Otomi-Toltec Regional Council in Mexico, “then another thing, more powerful, is going to come.

I’ve  (#blog, #blogger, #YA, #authors, #somseason) always argued that this pandemic is a wakeup call for humanity. To borrow a phrase from singer Jidenna’s song, ‘Bully of the Earth,’ we humans cannot continue to bully the earth. Let’s call it earth bullying (#antibullying, #bullying), and by that, I mean, exploiting and abusing the planet by polluting the air, ignoring climate change, pouring plastics into the ocean, deforestation, and pouring tons of chemicals (herbicides, pesticides, etc.) into our environment. If the Gaia hypothesis is true, and the planet is a living organism, then we humans are killing Mother Earth.

Yet, we humans continue with the earth bullying. The New York Times has an article, The Trump Administration Is Reversing 100 Environmental Rules, listing all the environmental protection rules that have been or are in the process of being eliminated. CBC News’ article, Alberta regulator’s move to suspend oilpatch monitoring sets dangerous precedent, reports that oil companies say the environmental suspensions are necessary to maintain COVID-19 guidelines. In essence, the oil companies are claiming it is too dangerous to monitor the environment, yet it is not too dangerous for hair dressers to cut hair. The argument is weak to say the least, yet our provincial government fell for it. CBC News reports in their article, Alberta rescinds decades-old policy that banned open-pit coal mines in Rockies and Foothills, says the provincial government is cancelling environmental protections that have been in place since the 1970s,  making it easier for open-pit coal mining in some of the province’s most ecologically sensitive areas. This move has nothing to do with Covid. This is about corporate greed, and governments enabling companies to do so at the expense of the planet. It is shameful!

Back in 2018, the Guardian had an article, The Earth is in a death spiral. It will take radical action to save us, claiming “climate breakdown could be rapid and unpredictable. We can no longer tinker around the edges and hope minor changes will avert collapse.” There is no doubt for me that continued abuse of the earth will have dire consequences for humanity. National Geographic’s article, Ocean Threats, has a long list of threats to our oceans because of human activities. The Guardian has an article, Humans just 0.01% of all life but have destroyed 83% of wild mammals – study, essentially arguing that humans are the cause of a mass extinction. I’ve seen articles about bird populations declining, and bee populations being endangered. It is all alarming!

Having said that, CBS News’ article, Before-and-after photos show dramatic decline in air pollution around the world during coronavirus lockdown, is eye opening. The earth, whether a living organism or not, has shown an amazing ability to heal itself when allowed to.

A NASA photo

I’ve always argued in my posts that this COVID pandemic is a tool of some higher power—God, Allah, Yahweh, Universe, Source, or whatever you want to call it—bringing about transformation on our planet, creating a simpler, kinder, and more caring world, and that includes the earth. Maybe it is a reminder to humanity to respect and honour the earth instead of being a bully of the earth. The Indigenous people have always said that. If only we of European decent had listened to the Indigenous people instead of bullying them into submission, before bullying the earth.

Names Should Never Hurt

A commentary on how one’s name can make you a target

Most of us like our names and believe others do as well, but that is not always the case. CNN’s article, Tom Hanks writes to bullied 8-year-old named Corona, is a story about Corona DeVries, an 8 year old from Queensland, Australia, who told reporters that he had recently been called “coronavirus” at school. He told them, “Coronavirus — they kept on saying that, and I get really mad.” The 8-year-old wrote to Tom Hanks, a well-known American actor, and his wife Rita Wilson, wishing them well and saying, “I heard on the news you and your wife have caught the coronavirus. Are you ok?”

What is special about this news story is Mr. Hanks wrote the young boy back, addressing his letter, “Friend Corona.” The actor expressed gratitude for the 8-year-old’s concern about his and his wife’s health. In the letter, Mr. Hanks says, “Thank you for being such a good friend — friends make their friends feel good when they are down.” The Oscar winner, who collects typewriters, sent the 8-year-old a typewriter saying, “use it to write me back.” At the bottom of his letter, Hanks added the handwritten postscript “You got a friend in me!” — the name of the “Toy Story” theme song.

The likelihood of this young man being bullied because of the name Corona would be close to zero under normal circumstances, but because the world is presently experiencing a viral pandemic with a virus called Coronavirus, he was targeted. I was touched by this story because of the kindness shown by Tom Hanks. Even more, just when I (#blog, #blogger, #YA, #authors, #somseason) think I’ve heard it all, I hear about another ridiculous reason for bullying. It is not this 8-year old’s fault that this virus is called coronavirus. It shows how insensitive bullies are.

Bullying  (#antibullying, #bullying) a boy, because his name is Corona, is outlandish, just as outlandish as people relating Corona beer with the virus.  CBS News put out a story in early March titled, Survey finds 38% of beer-drinking Americans say they won’t order a Corona. It says 38% of American beer drinkers surveyed said they wouldn’t buy Corona “under any circumstances” at the moment. Among regular Corona drinkers, only 4% said they would now refrain. Refraining from drinking a beer that has been around for years because its name is the same name as a virus is ridiculous.

Getting bullied because of your name is nothing new. It has been happening forever. I too, was harassed because of my name. All throughout elementary and junior high school, I was made fun of because my last name was Sommer. I was called summer sausage, which is a sausage that has been dry-cured, smoked, and hardened. I grew up eating summer sausage as it was one of my dad’s favourites. I hated being called summer sausage, and at the time, I didn’t think of it as bullying. The kids that called me that thought it was funny, and they laughed a lot calling us summer sausage. The reality is,  my siblings, cousins, and I  didn’t like being called that, and that makes it bullying.

ABC News did a story, Boy who changed his name from Trump, about Joshua, who lives in Clayton, Delaware, who began using his father’s last name, rather than his mother’s, due to the relentless bullying he experienced after Donald Trump began campaigning in the 2016 presidential election. Joshua’s mother, Megan Trump, no relation to the president, said that other kids would curse at her son, calling him stupid and an idiot. He hated his last name and felt sad all the time. Since the bullying got so bad, the school district agreed to change Joshua’s name in the school system when he began Middle School. I feel for this 11-year-old. It is not his fault he had the same last name as the current resident of the U.S. White House; a man who makes it easy for others to ridicule him when the U.S. leader makes statements such as, covid-19 patients might be cured by treating them with injections of disinfectant and applications of ultraviolet light.

A 2011 Daily News’ story, Lea Michele: I had to change my last name because I was bullied in school,  is a story about “Glee” actress, Lea Michele, who ditched her surname after being bullied in school. Sarfati, is her real surname, but the actress said. “I don’t use it a lot because I got ‘Lea So-fatty,’ ‘Lea So-farty’ at school.” She said, “When I was little and I went on my first audition they were like, ‘And may we have your name,’ and I was like Lea Michele. And I’ve been Lea Michele ever since.’ ”

Bullying of any kind is serious, even bullying because of a person’s name. When it is relentless and malicious, it can lead to suicide. Wikipedia lists 16-year-old, Sladjana Vidovic (1992–2008) from Mentor, Ohio, as someone who hung herself in October 2008 by jumping from a window with a sheet around her neck. She and her family were from Croatia. Because of her accent and her name, other students called her names like “Slutty Jana” and “Slut-Jana-Vagina.”

As I’ve said in my post, Really? Bullied for Loving Books, 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.”  However, it is not that simple as hurting people feel better when they take their pain out on others, so the bully’s pain needs to be healed first. As the adage says, “Healed People Heal People.” A bully is a hurting person, so the first step is to acknowledge that. The next step to help them heal. That might be as simple as listening to their story of pain, since many bullies feel unheard. Some may require professional help, so recommending a healer might be a way to help.  Most importantly, show kindness, compassion and love, all which heal. So, instead of condemning those who bully—even though that is our first instinct—try having compassion for them, but make it clear that their bullying is unacceptable.

It’s Time to Express Our Gratitude!

A commentary on those who deserve recognition during this world pandemic

NetFlix docuseries Pandemic

I found that the news media since the coronavirus pandemic started is relatively quiet about bullying. That could mean one of two things. Either the media is focused solely on COVID-19 news, or bullying has declined drastically since stay at home orders have been implemented by governments.

I did find an article, published in March, in Education Week which is an independent news organization providing coverage on K-12 education. Its article titled, How Teachers Are Talking to Students About the Coronavirus, tells of information available for educators to help them challenge racist comments related to the coronavirus in the classroom. Its creator says teachers should confront bullying behaviour since it is counterproductive when bullying is trying to find a “scapegoat” for a global health crisis. In a recent post, I pointed out how the U.S. president at one time was referring to COVID-19 as the “Chinese virus,” claiming he does this because it was where the pandemic had its roots. This is laying blame on Chinese people and encouraging racial bullying against people of Chinese or Asian descent. Teachers are expected to counter bullying of any kind.

Haim Ginott, an Israeli child psychologist, psychotherapist, and a parent educator, once said; “Teachers are expected to reach unattainable goals with inadequate tools. The miracle is that at times they accomplish this impossible task.” I see teachers criticized more than valued.

I’m happy to see many wonderful posts thanking doctors, nurses, and other essential workers during this pandemic. These people deserve our recognition and gratitude, not only now but also during normal times. Here is a recent post I’ve seen:

Next year I don’t wanna hear about the Oscars, Grammys, Tonys or Golden Globes. I don’t want to see a single pathetic actor, actress, singer, celebrity or sports person on any red carpet!!!

Next year I want to see nurses, doctors, ambulance crews, health care support workers, shop workers and truck drivers, all essential workers, grocery store workers having free red-carpet parties with awards and expensive goodie bags. If this doesn’t happen it will be the biggest injustice ever!! Thank you! All of you that are working hard to keep us safe and allow us to have food on our table.

I couldn’t agree more. I’ve always believed there is too much value placed on celebrities of the performing and sports worlds. These people get paid outrageous amounts of money to entertain us. I have never understood why child care workers, for example, receive next to nothing for wages when these people care for our precious children. For me, it feels like our priorities are “out of whack.”

Our teachers are another group overlooked when it comes to receiving gratitude. As a retired teacher, I know how much work it is to teach in normal times. School closures due to the current world pandemic have forced teachers all over the world to teach differently. Suddenly, educators are forced to teach through technology. For some teachers, this is not a huge adjustment as they already post assignments and lessons online. These would be mainly high school teachers, but for elementary teachers, this is a huge shift.

My 29-year-old tech savvy daughter is one of them. She finds implementing creative ways to teach kindergarteners and grade 3 math students to be overwhelming, highly stressful, and time consuming, often working 12-hour days. She has calmed teachers in tears, overwhelmed with the technology. These are committed people who care about their students.

I’ve seen posts paying tribute to the graduate class of 2020 who will not experience a graduation ceremony. There are Facebook posts from the school I once taught at telling their students that they miss them. I’ve seen signs on school windows saying “we miss you.” As a former teacher, I have no trouble believing that teachers miss their students as my students were my family. After all, a teacher spends 6 or more hours a day with them.

bl020717Teachers are essential workers! They are the ones keeping a child’s education going during this crisis. I read all sorts of posts saying parents are home schooling their children, and in part they are. But true home schoolers prepare the lessons and evaluate their child’s progress. Most parents are ensuring their child is learning, but it is the teachers who are preparing and teaching lessons virtually, and are the ones evaluating the child’s progress.

My wife was out walking in our local park, and came across a grandmother. Practicing physical distancing, the grandmother said her daughter who is now homeschooling her children, was doing great. My wife responded, “You do understand that it is the teachers preparing the lessons, right?” This grandmother could not grasp what she meant.

CBS Boston’s article, Teachers Find Creative Ways To Reach Students During Coronavirus Closure talks about the challenges teachers have during this pandemic. A Fox News’ article, Parents praise teachers, say they deserve ‘billion dollars’ while homeschooling kids amid coronavirus outbreak, reveals the many U.S. parents who are grateful for their child’s teachers. I have not come across any Canadian articles, other than articles saying teachers are hosting virtual lessons, expressing gratitude for Canada’s teachers. This saddens me. I was happy to find that Buzzfeed, an American News outlet, has an article called, 23 Teacher Appreciation Tweets In Response To Schools Being Closed And Kids Being Quarantined At Home, showing tweets of gratitude for teachers.  French-American historian, Jacques Barzun, says; “In teaching you cannot see the fruit of a day’s work. It is invisible and remains so, maybe for twenty years.” We don’t see the impact of a good teacher until children are adults. I have had many students approach me long after they graduated to tell me the effect I had on their life.

It is time to include teachers in the list of essential workers during this time of world crisis. It is time to express gratitude for the work teachers do. They are doing their part to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by teaching virtually. They are doing their part to ensure your children and grandchildren’s education continues. The Greek philosopher, Aristotle, allegedly said, “Teachers, who educate children, deserve more honour than parents, who merely gave them birth; for the latter provided mere life, while the former ensured a good life.” In my view, teachers are invisible frontline workers!

It is Time to Get Serious, People

A commentary on the importance of following pandemic rules

PM Trudeau giving COVID-19 update

Global News reports that Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, said in March that the federal government was/is considering invoking the Emergencies Act to help keep the Canadian economy afloat as the  COVID-19 spreads throughout the country. This act was created to provide a legal framework for power to be temporarily consolidated with the prime minister and cabinet to issue executive orders during national emergencies. It was only used three times in Canadian history. The War Measures Act—the act before 1988—was invoked during the first and second World Wars, as well as during the October Crisis of 1970 when members of the Front de Libération du Québec (FLQ), a terrorist group in Quebec, carried out kidnappings. (see October Crisis).

The point is, the Emergencies Act allows a great deal of power to the prime minister and cabinet. They would have the right to take over property, public utilities, provide special services and special compensation, regulate, prohibit public assembly, and prevent travel anywhere within the country, among other things.

This Act infringes on our individual rights, such as restrict travel in our own country, and dictate who we can and cannot see. The Megan Meier Foundation, a foundation working to create a world without bullying and cyberbullying, defines bullying as “an aggressive behaviour that involves an imbalance of power or strength.” One could argue, that Emergencies Act is aggressive and involves an imbalance of power, since governments would have all the power, thus making an argument that leaders are bullying their citizens to comply with their demands.

The Boston Globe has an opinion piece titled, A civil liberties pandemic, which debates the toll being taken on Americans’ freedom and constitutional liberties by the unprecedented restrictions that have been imposed to enforce physical distancing. The Military Times even has an article titled, Will coronavirus lead to martial law?  Martial law is the replacement of civil rule with temporary military rule in a time of crisis.

NPR is a media organization founded on a mission to create a more informed public. Their article,  Life During Coronavirus, reports that Chinese citizens are financially rewarded for reporting those who fail to follow quarantine orders reflecting a decades-long history of social control, which has been mobilized on an unprecedented scale for the COVID-19 crisis.

The Boston Globe’s opinion piece, A civil liberties pandemic, which I mentioned earlier reports that in Israel, the government has ordered a round-the-clock curfew and deployed anti-terrorist technology to track down people suspected of violating the coronavirus restrictions. In Norway, anyone caught violating isolation rules can be fined $2,000 or jailed for 15 days.

Even in Canada, most provincial governments have issued stay at home orders,  implemented fines for anyone returning to Canada and not self-isolating for 14 days, or not practicing social distancing (see Provinces inpose fines). The purpose of these measures is to avoid overwhelming health care systems and reducing the spread of the Coronavirus.

I have not heard, or read, anything, about any such debate occurring in Canada about civil liberties (freedoms to do certain things without restraint from government), other than the occasional meme on social media saying (paraphrased): “Stay at home or risk losing more civil liberties.”  No one that I have spoken to—via technology, of course—has mentioned any concern about their civil liberties disappearing, unlike the U.S. That doesn’t mean things couldn’t change. Our Prime Minister has not invoked the Emergencies Act as of yet, but if enough people don’t respect the stay at home orders and practice social or physical distancing, then more civil liberties could be removed. Our governments have warned us of that.

Yet, there are still a number of people who are not respecting the pandemic rules. CBC News has an news article, Grocery store staff fed up with ‘social’ shoppers who flout pandemic rules, reporting that customers are chatting and getting too close to others in grocery stores. Some employees say they have been yelled at, cursed at, and accused of overreacting as they try to enforce physical distancing measures put in place by their employers.

I’ve heard of “Snow Birds,” (Canadians who winter in warm places like Arizona or Mexico) returning to Canada after the Canadian Government advised all vacationers to return to Canada. In the town where I grew up, I’ve heard of Snow Birds ignoring the 14-day self-isolation rule by going into the post office to collect their mail. Local papers told of Snow Birds in a nearby town going in the grocery stores upon their return. Urban Dictionary coined the term “convidiot” for those misbehaving during the coronavirus pandemic. Its definition:

1. A stupid person who stubbornly ignored ‘social distancing’ protocol thus help to further spread COVID-19

2. A stupid person who hoards groceries needlessly spreading COVID-19 fears and depriving others of vital supplies

I am very willing to give up my civil liberties if it means keeping my family and me safer. I felt that way during the October or FLQ Crisis in 1970 as well. But the thing is, we don’t have to give up our civil liberties if all people followed the advice of the health professionals, and took this pandemic seriously. Or, to use Urban Dictionary’s word, stop being a convidiots. To me, it is all common sense. Perhaps the French writer and philosopher, Voltaire, was right when he said, “Maybe Common sense is not so common.” The bottom line, we will all get through this much faster—in theory—if everyone followed what the experts tell us, that is, follow the pandemic rules.

There is a post circulating on social media. It reads:

History repeats itself. Came across this poem written in 1869, reprinted during 1919 Pandemic. This is Timeless….It was written in 1869 by Kathleen O’Mara:

And people stayed at home

And read books

And listened

And they rested

And did exercises

And made art and played

And learned new ways of being

And stopped and listened

More deeply

Someone meditated, someone prayed

Someone met their shadow

And people began to think differently

And people healed.

And in the absence of people who

Lived in ignorant ways

Dangerous, meaningless and heartless,

The earth also began to heal

And when the danger ended and

People found themselves

They grieved for the dead

And made new choices

And dreamed of new visions

And created new ways of living

And completely healed the earth

Just as they were healed.

NetFlix docuseries Pandemic

What is the truth around this poem? There was a Cholera pandemic that spread throughout the Middle East and was carried to Russia, Europe, Africa and North America, but according to Oprah Magazine, the poem was actually written by a Kitty O’Meara. Magazine editors contacted the author in her home outside of Madison, WI. Remember, not all you read on social media is fact!  Nonetheless, the message of the poem tells a truth. I’ve seen evidence that people are beginning to think differently. My hope is that there will be an absence of people who live in ignorant ways; who are dangerous, meaningless and heartless. When this is all over, I dream of people making new choices, having new visions, creating new ways of living, and ultimately healing the earth, just as the poem says. As I’ve said in other posts, maybe this virus is trying to teach the world, and more specifically each of us, to live differently. I also mentioned that we humans are slow learners!

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.