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!

Yes, There is a Health Crisis

A commentary on the need for evidence

As Mainstream Media (MM) continues to talk about the “COVID health crisis,” like the CNBC headline, CDC director says U.S. needs to curb Covid before it can mutate again and make the pandemic even worse, I (#blogger #blog #somseason #YA #authors) see independent news reporting on the harmful effects of lockdowns. True North News (TNN) reports in Depression and substance abuse skyrocket during lockdowns: poll, the Canadian Mental Health Association recently revealed that 40% of Canadians feel that their mental health has worsened since the pandemic began.  It also discusses another study by the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) and the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA) which says that the number of Canadians feeling depression symptoms increased from 2% before March 2020 to 14% in December.

Another February TNN report, Toronto records record 40 overdoses in single day, reports that Toronto Public Health records showed emergency calls for opioid overdoses went up 90% in 2020 compared to 2019. In yet another TNN article, Deaths among young men in Western Canada increased during lockdowns: StatsCan, declaring:

2020 was the worst year on record for opioid overdoses in many parts of Canada. Alberta recorded 904 overdose deaths, compared to 790 dying from coronavirus.

The article goes on to say that StatsCan links the increase in death among young men on the coronavirus lockdowns. This is the real health crisis. There is a mental health crisis going on!

Even MM sometimes admits that lockdowns have severe consequences, as in the Toronto Sun that has an opinion column titled, Canadian expert’s research finds lockdown harms are 10 times greater than benefits. LifeSiteNews, a non-profit Internet service dedicated to issues of culture, life, and family, has an article, Canadian doctor’s research shows lockdowns have caused vastly more harm than good, which presents the arguments of a research paper by a Canadian doctor who contended that “the collateral damage caused by COVID-19 lockdowns will cause more harm than the virus itself, and will also far outweigh any benefits that might have been incurred by keeping everyone at home.” There is little doubt, in my mind, that the “cure” for this alleged pandemic is worse than the pandemic itself.

I recently saw a video by Turning Point USA titled, Watch This Before You Consider Another Lockdown. The video argues that lockdowns are a luxury of the rich. I agree, but don’t take my word. Click the link, have a watch, and decide for yourself.

Our health officials and political leaders have been using the COVID Health Crisis to justify lockdowns, with their daily spouting of COVID cases based on the controversial polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test. The World Health Organization (WHO) admitted in December 2020 that PCR tests create false positives. In a December 7 memo, the WHO warned that high cycle thresholds on PCR tests will result in false positives.

Swiss Policy Research (SPR), an independent, nonpartisan and nonprofit research group, explains the problems with the PCR test in its article, The Trouble With PCR Tests. It clearly outlines the issues regarding PCR testing which is being used to diagnose COVID cases. Even Kary Mullis, the Inventor of the PCR Test, says the PCR test was never invented for diagnosis.

Yes, there is a health crisis, but it is not the COVID crisis. It is the mental health crisis caused by lockdowns and fear mongering. The sad truth is, the lockdowns are killing more people than the virus is. We need to question everything, as the business owner in Rebel News’ article, “Question everything. We need to read, research”: Home decor store owner on lockdowns, says. The owner of Stewart’s Decorating in North Bay, Ontario, says:

Citing that this lockdown is not based on scientific evidence, Alexandra feels that these restrictions are causing more harm than benefit, and that the censorship of any dissenting view is worrisome.

I have yet to see our health or political leaders provide convincing scientific evidence to justify the closing of small business and restricted socializing, while allowing corporate stores to remain open. Many people are questioning the science, like a Liberal bureaucrat questions if gov’t COVID response is fully “based on science,” and Trudeau COVID response NOT “based on science,” argues Liberal staffer. In Ontario, a Business group blasts Ontario decision to extend lockdowns, saying the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) says the government has provided “zero evidence” of the effectiveness of its lockdowns and is “insulting” Ontario workers and employers.  Public Health officials unable to provide any data to justify quarantine facilities, that is, the COVID hotels or COVID jails, is a report by TNN. Why are governments not providing convincing scientific evidence? Could it be they have none? Let’s explore this further.

Knoema is a comprehensive source of global decision-making data. On this site, you can find data about any country on any topic.  I first looked up the number of yearly deaths reported by Canada.

On its page, Canada – Number of deaths, it states:

In 2020, number of deaths for Canada was 295.37 thousand cases. Over the last 50 years, number of deaths of Canada grew substantially from 158.43 to 295.37 thousand cases rising at an increasing annual rate that reached a maximum of 2.08% in 2015 and then decreased to 1.55% in 2020.

The site lists the number of deaths since 2009. In 2018, there were 295.53 thousand deaths, an increase of 1.82 % from the year before. In 2019, there were 290.85 thousand deaths, an increase of 1.68 %.  In 2020, the year of COVID, there were 295.37 thousand deaths, an increase of 1.55%. I find it interesting in the year of COVID, 2020, there was the smallest increase in deaths in the past NINE years. Check the chart out for yourself. No health or political leader has explained this data. Does this data justify lockdowns? No!

Let’s look at the US. Keep in mind that the US population is over 300 million people, and Canada’s is only about 37 million, putting the numbers in perspective.

On its page, United States of America – Number of deaths, it states:

In 2020, number of deaths for United States of America was 2,960.99 thousand cases. Number of deaths of United States of America increased from 2,007.75 thousand cases in 1971 to 2,960.99 thousand cases in 2020 growing at an average annual rate of 0.80%.

In 2018, the US had 2,854.59 thousand deaths, an increase of 1.98 % from the year before. In 2019, there were 2,908.94 thousand deaths, an increase of 1.90 %.  In the year of COVID, 2020, there were 2,960.99 thousand deaths in the US, an increase of 1.79%. Isn’t it interesting that 2020, the US also had the smallest increase in deaths in the past FIVE years. How do our leaders explain this? They don’t even mention it, let alone explain it.

Explore the Knoema site, on any country, for yourself. I doubt this site would have inaccurate information. It’s time to demand that our health and political leaders provide persuasive scientific evidence to justify their decision to lockdown and force healthy people to quarantine. We deserve an explanation, since our elected governments supposedly work for us.

From my perspective, the data on the Knoema site does not warrant these Draconian unconstitutional lockdowns. That is my truth! The data fails to justify the suspension of civil liberties and rights. The data does not defend “medical kidnapping,” and “medical tyranny,” which I talked about in my last post. The data fails to rationalize extending lockdowns as Ontario did (see Ontario Extends Lockdown). The Knoema data does not explain this shameful bullying (#bullying #antibullying) on citizens by their governments.

Now, some may think I’m another crazy conspiracy theorist spouting misinformation, but I saw a meme recently that resonated with me, which said:

In a world where it is normal to raise your child without a gender, quarantine yourself while healthy, cower at the sight of someone breathing fresh air, and snitch on your neighbours for celebrating the holidays…I am fine with being called crazy.

That meme is how I feel. It is time to demand answers! It is time to have answers from our tyrannical behaving governments, answers that justify their decisions with convincing evidence. I’ll remind you of the words said by the third president of the United States, Thomas Jefferson:

Tyranny is defined as that which is legal for the government but illegal for the citizenry.

In my province, it is illegal to have social gatherings inside, eat at a restaurant or bar with anyone outside your household, be without a mask in indoor public places, be less than two metres apart, and to protest. That feels like tyranny to me. Start demanding indisputable scientific evidence for these restrictions.

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.

Are We Being Bullied? (Part Two)

A commentary on the reality of our world.

Columnist Molly McCann wrote in one of her columns titled, Mandatory Masks Aren’t About Safety, They’re About Social Control, “Mandatory masks are a critical predicate conditioning us to accept abuses of our liberty.”  Columnist Lee Smith shared McCann’s piece on Twitter and wrote, “Masks aren’t about public health but social control. Image of Biden in black mask endorses culture of silence, slavery, and social death.” President Donald Trump shared a tweet that argued the mandated use of face masks to control the spread of the coronavirus represents a “culture of silence, slavery, and social death.” I couldn’t agree more with these statements. This shouldn’t surprise you since I’ve written about the mask debate in previous posts. The question is: Why are authorities mandating mask wearing and why are politicians and the mainstream media pushing masking?

In the May 21st edition of The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) it states:

We know that wearing a mask outside health care facilities offers little, if any, protection from infection. Public health authorities define a significant exposure to Covid-19 as face-to-face contact within 6 feet with a patient with symptomatic Covid-19 that is sustained for at least a few minutes (and some say more than 10 minutes or even 30 minutes). The chance of catching Covid-19 from a passing interaction in a public space is therefore minimal. In many cases, the desire for widespread masking is a reflexive reaction to anxiety over the pandemic.

Even prestigious medical journals are saying masks are relatively ineffective. So, again I ask: Why are authorities mandating mask wearing and why are politicians and the mainstream media pushing masking?  To me, It seems evident it isn’t to protect us. The only logical explanation is to control the masses.

Dr. Jeffrey Barke MD, a doctor I referred to in part one purportedly said:

We should never require a child to wear a mask. Not only is it ineffective but it could actually be harmful. It increases learning disorders. It increases anxiety. It reduces the ability for that child to bond with their teachers. It is a form of child abuse to require face coverings on a small child in a school setting. Stop scaring the public unnecessarily.

I (#blogger #blog #somseason #YA #authors) couldn’t agree more. Masking children is abusive! This is bullying (#antibullying #bullying) plain and simple. I recently substituted in the school I once taught in where students are forced to wear masks because our government mandated it, even while sitting in their desks. Dr Barke is right! As a teacher, I had difficultly identifying the students and it was tough to develop any kind of relationship with a faceless student. I had no way of knowing if they were struggling with an assignment, or upset, because I could not read his or her facial expressions.

During a press briefing in August, US Presidential Candidate, Joe Biden stated the following:

“Today, I want to talk about one thing, straightforward. Doesn’t have anything to do with Democrats, Republicans, or Independents, it has to do with a simple proposition. Every single American should be wearing a mask when they are outside for the next three months at a minimum.” (source: Biden)

Did you catch that? Joe Biden would make mask wearing outside mandatory. Why? Ken Rice of Pittsburgh CBS affiliate KDKA interviewed Joe Biden in June. Rice asked Biden if he would use the federal leverage to mandate the mask use, to which Biden replied: “Yes, I would from an executive standpoint, yes, I would.” Rice then asked: “So you would, in effect, mandate the wearing of masks.” Biden replied: “I would do everything possible to make it required that people had to wear masks in public” (source: Biden). Joe Biden, if elected president of the US, would mandate wearing masks outside.

Why would a presidential candidate do this? Does he have an agenda? Does he want to keep the masses fearful of the virus? Or, is it about power and control?  Whenever I see someone in a mask, I see them as muzzled; as having their voice taken away. It is like we are symbolically silenced. Is that what is happening? It sure feels like it to me. A few weeks ago, I saw this video on social media. Please listen to the entire video as this person raised some thought-provoking points. You can access the video by clicking on Savanna’s video

Savanna didn’t address another element of masking, and that is: How mask use affects criminal behaviour. If ever there was a prime opportunity for the criminal element of society, it is now. All a criminal needs to do is put on a face mask and a pair of sunglasses. By doing this the lawless person becomes unidentifiable. Don’t believe me? It has already occurring. Have a look at the news articles Anonymous and emboldened: How mask use affects criminal behaviour and  Gloversville man used large face mask to hide identity, commit crimes, say police. I guess we should be grateful that these criminals have our safety in mind since they are protecting us from this so called deadly virus.

The statistics that Savanna gave in the video come from an article titled, Child Abduction Statistics for Parents from Parent’s Magazine. The most shocking statistic for me was:

Every 40 seconds in the United States, a child becomes missing or is abducted.

Now let that statistic sink in.

Beautiful People Magazine states:

According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, roughly 800,000 children are reported missing each year in the United States. Sounds a little bit too much? Think of it this way to realize the whole situation – that’s roughly 2,000 per day!

Yes, pedophiles are taking away our children. They are being sold on the rich black market. Powerful people worldwide are buying them as they would buy groceries or anything normal.

Wow! Pedophiles are buying children. Pedophilia is the ultimate kind of bullying because it is  the abuse of innocent children. My Cognitive Dissonance just kicked in. If this is true, why is this not the biggest story in the mainstream media (MM)? Why is that? The Hollywood elites have been eerily silent on the topic of child sex trafficking. That wasn’t the case after George Floyd’s death when the Black Lives Matter movement exploded. Why are the Hollywood elites silent on human trafficking? Why aren’t Hollywood stars taking up this cause? Why are our government leaders, for the most part, silent on child sex trafficking? Is the MM intentionally trying to keep us focused on the pandemic to distract us? Are they hiding something? Is human trafficking what they don’t want us to focus on? Are our governments trying to keep us fearful of covid with all their talk of second and third waves, and another possible lockdown? If they are, why?

I mentioned in a previous post that I saw this meme on social media:

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 really be true? When I begin to think about all this, my brain says: “Stop that, you’re thinking nonsense,” but isn’t that Cognitive Dissonance?

Just in case you are unfamiliar with that, allow me to explain. When a strong core belief is presented with evidence that challenges the belief, our brains refuse to accept the new evidence. It creates a feeling that is far too uncomfortable for us to stomach, and this is known as, “Cognitive Dissonance.” This happens because we have a need to protect the core belief, so we rationalize, ignore, and deny anything that fails to support that core belief.

You will experience this just as I have, once you start critically looking into things. The English novelist and poet, A. S. Byatt is quoted as saying: “Things are not what they seem.” Don’t take my word for it. I challenge you to do some of your own research. As Atisa, an Indian Buddhist religious leader, once said: “The greatest wisdom is seeing through appearances.”

Bullying Takes Many Forms

A commentary on the forms of bullying

I (#blog, #blogger, #YA, #authors, #somseason) stumbled upon an article, Bullying can happen in many different forms, which made me reflect on my life. The article says that most people accept physical bullying (punching, pushing) as bullying (#antibullying, #bullying), but that other forms of bullying are not as wildly accepted as bullying. In my recent post, Why do Things Have to be Complicated? I suggested that we make the definition for bullying simple, suggesting;  “If someone feels unsafe or threatened by another, then they are being bullied.”  Now I think I should expand that definition to read: “If someone feels unsafe, threatened, rejected, or inferior because of another, then they are being bullied.” The article lists some kinds of bullying as:

  1. Verbal (name-calling)
  2. Physical (punching, pushing)
  3. Social (leaving someone out of a game or group on purpose)
  4. Extortion (stealing someone’s money or toys)
  5. Cyberbullying (using computers, the Internet, mobile phones, etc. to bully others)

The article says all forms of bullying are harmful, but argues verbal bullying, which includes name-calling, is the most common type of bullying. I would have to agree. Never have I had a school yard supervision without some little person running up to me saying, “____called me a ____” You fill in the blanks. Social bullying was also a common occurrence as little ones often came up to me while on supervision saying, “____won’t play with me.”

This article provides an interesting fact (although it gives no reference as to where the fact came from). The article claims, “bullying happens to someone in Canada every seven minutes on the playground.” For the author talks for my book, A Shattered New Start, I use a PREVNet statistic, which is a Canadian authority on bullying research, who say, “75% of people say they have been affected by bullying.” I suspect that number is even higher. The point is, bullying is epidemic.

Another fact the article mentions is; “Other kids are watching 85% of the time when one kid bullies another kid. Adults, like teachers or parents, hardly ever see a bully being mean to someone else.” This is true. Kids are always watching whether you are aware of it or not. For my author talks, I use some stats provided by the Canadian Red Cross, who say; “Over half of bullied children do not report being bullied to a teacher,” and “71% of teachers say they usually intervene with bullying problems; but only 25% of students say that teachers intervene.” The latter stat is concerning.  The truth is, kids perceive teachers as ‘not caring’ or ‘turning a blind eye.” From my experience of a 35-year veteran retired teacher, I don’t believe that is true. It is more likely teachers don’t see the bullying happening. We only hear about it after the incident.

In my last post, I Want to Know, I solicited bullying stories, and I am still doing that. I offered a free promo code to the first 15 people who sent me their bullying story, and in return they could download a digital version of my book, A Shattered New Start, from the  iTunes bookstore. My email is: authorkjsom@gmail.com. The codes are valid until June 1st, so you need to hurry. Since I am asking to hear other people’s bullying stories, it is only fair that I share more of mine, so here goes.

Have I ever been the recipient of verbal bullying?  You bet, even as a teacher. I have been told to, pardon my language, “fuck off,” a few times as a teacher.  Probably the time that stands out most was during my second or third year as a ‘rookie teacher.’  I received in the mail—it was snail mail in those days—a hand written letter from a student, or maybe a group of students, telling me to quit teaching. The author(s) of the letter called me some unkind names. As an insecure ‘rookie teacher,’ that was a blow to the self-esteem. I felt unsafe, threatened, and rejected because of this letter. What might these kids do next, and in fact, my vehicle was “keyed” (scratched by a key) or vandalized around that time, so for all I know it was the same kids.

That letter bothered me for a long time, but I accepted it was kids being kids. As the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry says,

Adolescents differ from adults in the way they behave, solve problems, and make decisions. Teenagers occasionally behave in an impulsive, irrational, or dangerous way…[they] don’t think things through or fully consider the consequences of their actions.” That doesn’t make the bullying okay, but it makes it understandable.

A home-schooling friend of ours, who recently read my book, A Shattered New Start, told me that it never occurred to her that a teacher might feel frightened by a student. I have on many occasions. My daughter, who is also a teacher, told me she has as well, and she teaches kindergarteners and grade ones. Students can be intimidating.

Have I ever been the recipient of physical bullying?  You bet. I remember in elementary school—don’t remember what grade I was in—my brother and I were walking home from school. We lived in a small town, so we had to walk to and from school. One of the town bullies was harassing my brother and I, calling us names, etc. What I remember most is the bully taking snow and rubbing it into our faces. My brother and I were scared as the bully was bigger than either of us. It was a humiliating and upsetting experience. We definitely felt unsafe and threatened by this bully.

Have I ever been the recipient of social bullying? You bet, as a non-athletic person. All throughout school, in gym class, I was always one of the last kids to be picked for a team. You remember those times because you feel unwanted and rejected. I felt inferior thinking I was not good enough to play on a team.

Have I ever bullied? I am sad to say, yes.  As a teacher, I once strapped a student. In the early part of my career, corporal punishment was the norm.  I hated it. Inflicting pain on a student felt awful.  The belief was, if you inflicted physical punishment on a kid, it would be a deterrent; ensuring they would never commit the infraction again. It seldom worked though.    I only ever did it once because it was such an unpleasant experience. There was nothing about being a bully—in my case, carrying out corporal punishment—that felt good.

So, there you have it; some more of my experiences with bullying. Please, please send me some of your bullying experiences, and don’t leave out your feelings. If you are kind enough to share your bullying experience, you’ll receive a free promo code to download a digital version of my book, A Shattered New Start, from the iTunes bookstore, but hurry, as the codes expire June 1st.

Email me at: authorkjsom@gmail.com.

I Want to Know

As you know, I (#blog, #blogger, #YA, #authors, #somseason) have been passionately blogging about bullying. Bullying (#antibullying, #bullying) is epidemic in our world and I spent a career dealing with school bullies. I’ve had bullying experiences myself, as a victim, and I’ve revealed some on past blog posts. I began to wonder what other people’s bullying experiences were like. That gave me an idea.

My idea is this. I will give a free promo code to download a digital version of my book, A Shattered New Start, from the  iTunes bookstore to the first 15 people who email me their bullying story. The only drawback is it can only be read on a Mac computer, iPad or iPhone. I hope that doesn’t stop people. My email is: authorkjsom@gmail.com

By emailing me your bullying story, you are giving me permission to publish your story in one of my future blog posts. If you don’t want me to use your actual name, I can use an alias. Just mention that in your email.

Maya Angelou, an American poet, singer, memoirist, and civil rights activist, says:

There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.

It will be a healing experience to tell your bullying story. Maya Angelou also said:
People will never forget how you made them feel.
So, if you’ve bullied and regretted your actions, tell your story too. I’m convinced everyone has some sort of bullying story, whether it be being a victim of a bully or being the bully. Doesn’t matter which it is, just tell your story. It is freeing! It is healing! It needs to be heard! Please don’t leave out the feelings either. How were you impacted by bullying? How did the event make you feel? Don’t hold anything back. You’ll feel better, I promise.
So, tell me your story. If you do, you’ll receive a free code from iTunes bookstore to download my book, A Shattered New Start, a story about a high school bully. If you know someone with a bullying story that you think would tell their story, then tell them about this event.
Email me at:
authorkjsom@gmail.com

But avoid delaying! These codes expire in 28 days (June 1st, 2020)

Why do Things Have to be Complicated?

A commentary about what bullying is.

Adam Davies is a former member of Nova Scotia’s Chignecto-Central Regional School Board who writes commentaries. His editorial: Is the word bullying misunderstood? published in the Halifax, Nova Scotia’s (NS) Chronicle Herald asks the question: Is the word bullying maligned, misunderstood or meaningless? This is a valid question. If you google the definition of bullying on the Internet, you get 184 million hits. That is a lot of definitions, and they do vary greatly. Two people can witness the same incident, and one might say it was bullying (#antibullying, #bullying) and the other it was not. Why? Because each has a different definition of bullying.

Mr. Davies says;

Many of us know a textbook definition of the word, such as this from the provincial school code of conduct: ‘Bullying means behaviour, typically repeated, that is intended to cause or should be known to cause fear, intimidation, humiliation, exclusion, distress or other harm to another person’s body, feelings, self-esteem, reputation or property, and can be direct or indirect, and includes assisting or encouraging the behaviour in any way.’

However, he argues that definitions leave gaps. For example, Mr. Davies argues some bullying is dismissed as teasing or horseplay. “Clearly, bullying only means what we want it to mean,” he says. In his editorial, Mr. Davies refers to an incident that occurred in a NS High School. A CTV News report, Several students suspended after alleged assault at Cape Breton high school, describes the incident that Mr. Davies is referring to. It also has an edited video of the disturbing incident, which was a violent incident at the NS high school that was circulated on social media. It shows a grade 9 student being attacked by another student who literally throws the grade nine student across the locker room. The attacked student was hurt in the incident.

The author of the editorial argues that many news reports described the incident as an alleged assault but there were others who described it as bullying. Yahoo News’s headline, Assault caught on video at Cape Breton high school, calls it an assault, while the Halifax Chronicle Herald’s headline, Bullying incident in Coxheath shines light on complex issue, calls it bullying. So, the question is: Was it bullying or was it an assault? It’s both. An assault is a physical attack, and that clearly happened in the NS incident.

Before COVID-19, I (#blog, #blogger, #YA, #authors, #somseason) gave author talks for my book, A Shattered New Start. In that talk, I used a definition for bullying from Bullying Reporting and Prevention (BRIM), a company that develops Anti-Bullying Software. Their definition is designed for children, which is why I used it, and it says, “Bullying is when you keep picking on someone because you think you’re cooler, smarter, stronger or better than them.” Writing a post about the definition of bullying has made me realize even that definition is lacking. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) define bullying “as when there is an imbalance of power; where someone purposely and repeatedly says or does hurtful things to someone else.” Many definitions of bullying say to be bullying, it must happen more than once. The news reports fail to report whether the NS boy was repeatedly assaulted either physically (using your body or objects to cause harm), verbally (using words to hurt someone), or socially (using your friends and relationships to hurt someone). Based on my experience with school bullying, and using definitions like Oxford’s definition, “seek to harm, intimidate, or coerce someone perceived as vulnerable,” which makes no reference to repetition, the NS youth was definitely bullied.

Mr. Davies sites a 2019 research study on student well-being and experiences at school which was commissioned by the Nova Scotia Department of Education and Early Childhood Development. Their report, based on survey data from more than 54,000 students in Grades 4 to 12, did not use the terms bullying or bullying behaviour. Instead, students were asked if they felt unsafe or threatened at school within the past month. According to the survey, 19% of students felt unsafe or threatened at school, with 35% for students with physical disabilities, and 36% for those who identified as LGBTQ. The survey revealed that students were most worried about gossip, pranks and being left out by their friends and peers. Most disturbing to me was 61% of students surveyed reported feeling physically threatened and about half of those surveyed were concerned about cyber threats, including online gossip, hurtful messages and the spread of inappropriate photos.

The survey on student well-being and experiences at school reveals a lot of other things about school life, but the fact that 19%, or approximately one in five students, feel unsafe at school is alarming.

The Canadian Red Cross has a simple definition of bullying. It says, “bullying is a form of aggression where there is a power imbalance; the person doing the bullying has power over the person being victimized.” That is a good definition because it is simple, yet it encapsulates what bullying is. Perhaps there is an even a simpler definition of bullying? Maybe bullying should be defined as when a person is made to feel threatened or unsafe by another person. It’s simple, yet says what bullying is all about.

Bullying typically is defined by three elements: aggression, a power differential, and repetition. I have a problem with the repetition part. If a person feels threatened or unsafe, because of another person, even one time, then in my view, bullying has occurred. Under no circumstances should a person ever feel threatened or unsafe because of another individual. Many will argue that bullying is complex and you can’t define it as I just did, but perhaps that is the problem. Maybe we humans want to make everything more complicated than it has to be. To me it is simple. If a student, or anyone for that matter, feels unsafe or threatened by another, they are being bullied.

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.