Looking through the magnifying glass and it’s not pretty

I have been kicking around this old world for a long time and seen changes that, unfortunately, are not good. I remember the focus placed on discerning one’s “calling” or vocation. I was raised Catholic, which will explain that, I guess. I have always worked with the public. It has been a joy and an honor to serve people in many capacities. I don’t feel it’s been a vocation per se, but I have enjoyed life, even with all its challenges and tribulations. Serving the public felt like I was leading a life of meaning, in ways that have fed my spirituality and nourished my soul. It feels good to help others. If I make someone’s day a little bit easier in any way that is a wonderful thing and by and large I have found people to be good, decent, and absolutely wonderful.

But reading news of racial strife, of the systemic murder of people of color; of poor leadership in governments around the world (if you can even call it leadership) makes me shudder. There is so much pain, so much injustice, and this pandemic is acting like a huge magnifying glass forcing us to see that which we would prefer not to see. Ignorance may be bliss for the privileged and the powerful, but for the victims of poverty and want it is not bliss but a horrific and painful reality. And it makes me wonder if the idea of service, of the golden rule, has been plunged into the whirlpool of dark eddies that seem to have enveloped our world.

In these times of terrific upheaval, of economic uncertainty, of a future shrouded in fear of the unknown, it can be so easy to throw in the towel. It is tempting to turn one’s back and fall into the temptation of self preservation. But the lessons I learned in childhood, the experiences I have had, all have kept me rooted in the idea that service is an honor and helping one another is a blessing and a deep, deep joy. I hasten to add service does not equal bending one’s neck to be stepped upon, nor does it mean having to live life like some kind of joyless martyr. No, not at all! I will not be swayed by the evil behaviors of the few. I will not bend to fear or abuse of power. I will stand with the one who is indeed powerful by whatever name you may attach to a higher power. I will stand with those who have always been chained in poverty and injustice. And if I can do anything at all to help break those chains I will!

Wounds revisited

Some days are heavy. It is what it is. My brother is very much on my mind today, as are his children and his granddaughter. Some news just opens up wounds and we feel the hurt anew. It’s been nearly three years since he died tragically in an event that was wholly preventable. Three years. It’s hard to believe – it doesn’t seem that long ago. We go on with our lives – what else can we do? As most of you know he was killed by an impaired driver as he was driving home from work. I am searching for peace as I write this and trying to let the heaviness go. Life sometimes seems so hard. I just found out that the man who killed him has been granted day parole – he has not served even a year of his four-year sentence. I am trying to process this information. I am trying to fully forgive. One step at a time, I guess, and one day at a time. And in the end, it really doesn’t matter whether he serves one day or several years – nothing will bring Chris back to us. So, what to do? There really is nothing to be done is there? Chris was a generous, kind, and loving individual with a terrific sense of humour. Hopefully I will find a way to channel these personality traits and live life as fully as I can, both for myself and to honor my younger brother who was the epitome of selflessness.

The Chameleon

The Chameleon, once imbued with power

Sits upon her royal throne

Within her ivory tower

What care she if the shaky ground

She puts you on

Behaves like shifting sands?

You are at the mercy of hands,

Like talons, unmerciful and cruel

Nor does she think of others

In her quest for ultimate power

The hirelings beneath her feet

Are treated to

Pretended sensitivity

While she falsely smiles.

The ideas and plans she sprouts

Stolen from another

Insights, imagination, and new ways

Are concepts she has mined

From those she often plunders.

Sly and cunning, forth she creeps

Like a spider stalks its prey

Knowing that no one will speak

Or call her out, for without a doubt

She knows their needs are deep.

And fear, a vicious sword she sweeps

To cut them to the marrow.

O, chameleon, this I pray

With earnest heart and soul

That you will soon discover

Your ways are not so secret

Your theft of knowledge, known

And you will be meted justice

As sweet as that you’ve given

And all your ‘servants’ will be set free

To enjoy what you have taken

And from that day forth

Never be forsaken







Clicking away

I have been reading the news stories coming out of the U.S.A. about the horrific policies in place that allow babies and children to be separated from their families. I am saddened and appalled, as most people are. At the same time, I am seeing memes in my news feed on social media declaring that children are separated from their families when their parents break the law. But, you see, in that case it is the parent who is put in a cage, not the child. And in most cases, there are other family members who step into the breach to care for the children. This kind of thinking defies logic in my mind. How do you compare the two? There is no comparison.  Do people not understand that families fleeing situations that place them in peril- whether it’s due to poverty, war, or natural disaster –  are searching for a place to raise their children in peace. These people are the most vulnerable citizens of this planet. And the most vulnerable of all are the children. I cannot even fathom the trauma they experience by being forcibly separated from their only source of comfort and security – their families.

Two years ago, wildfires swept through the city I call home and we were evacuated. We left with very little clothing, food, or water. Some jokingly referred to themselves as refugees. But we live in Canada and the Red Cross delivered food, water, medicines, and essentials within hours of being evacuated. Yet I still remember those feelings of fear and vulnerability, even though I knew help was on the way. The mass efforts to provide humanitarian aid was swift and gratefully received.

For the peoples of South America there is no such comfort. Instead they reach a border where they hope to receive aid and are faced with the ultimate sorrow – separation from their children. I cannot even begin to imagine how that feels, or how I could ever deal with such a situation. And so, I have been clicking away, sharing news stories that underline the plight of refugees and immigrants; sharing memes that encourage compassion and inclusion.  I don’t know what else to do. I feel totally helpless. As for the people who embrace the logic of “don’t break the law”, I can only shake my head and sigh. Laws sometimes need to be broken when your very life is at stake. And this litany plays over and over in my mind, “there, but for the grace of God, go I”.

The tormentors and the tormented

“When faced with senseless drama, spiteful criticisms and misguided opinions, walking away is the best way to stand up for yourself. To respond with anger is an endorsement of their attitude.” – Dodinsky

It is so easy to respond with anger to situations and circumstances that seem to be unjust and unfair. It is not easy to take the high road. It’s all fine and good to sprout clichés like “consider where it comes from”, for there is truth in that. Conversely, ‘it is the squeaky wheel that gets the grease’.  I am torn between these ideas as well as the Christian admonishments to ‘turn the other cheek’ yet on the other hand, ‘do not sin by silence when you should defend”.

I try to bear in mind that each individual is coming from their own unique background and so have their own frame of reference, which I may or may not understand. Constructive criticism is a good thing, when it is, in fact, constructive and delivered in such a way that it does not attack the person. Too often, however, biting words are spoken – words meant to wound. At times like this I try to remember that the tormentors are also the tormented. After all people with good self esteem, the happy and content people, do not strive to feel better by inflicting harm or by destroying the reputation of another. It seems to me it is individuals suffering from low self esteem; from a lack of understanding; or from ignorance that tend to strike out to blame and maim.

There is a time to stand up and be heard. There is a time to bite your tongue and maintain silence.  I am praying for the gift of wisdom to discern which is best in any given situation.

Thoughts and Prayers

I have been thinking a lot about thoughts and prayers after the backlash following the horrific shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. It is not hard to understand the anguish and the anger that follows such a senseless and tragic catastrophe.  My heart goes out to the people in this community and to the American people as a whole. “Thoughts and prayers” have become a terrible cliché after so many mass shootings. It seems trite and useless, I am sure. The phrase that is meant as an expression of sympathy; as an expression of unity and empathy has been viewed as an insult to many when government action is not taken.

I am a child of the 60s and well remember the student protests in regards to the Vietnam War; to racial segregation; to injustices in general. I remember the sit-ins that were met with armed soldiers in some cases. The movie, ‘The Trial of Billy Jack’ springs to mind. We were the generation that wanted real change – and many of us still do. Sadly, violence is too often the response to a peaceful demonstration for change in many places in the world.

Yet, we are God’s hands. However, we have to agree to be just that. We have to ‘put our money where our mouths are’ and take concrete action to give legitimacy to our thoughts and prayers.

I am Canadian, but the coverage of the most recent school shooting has been massive here. It has eclipsed the very real issues around human rights that we face in our own country. When a farmer can kill an indigenous youth and be exonerated something is terribly wrong. My heart aches for the American people, but it also aches for all Canadians and for humanity in general, for all those who are living with injustices of every kind.

“More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of” – Alfred Lord Tennyson. I believe in the power of prayer; in the power of positive thought; in the inherent goodness of humanity. But our prayers must also incorporate the will to do something, to be God’s hands in this world.

Read any good books lately?

Read any good books lately? In my opinion it is incredibly difficult to find a good story. Most novels are filled with drama; with death and mayhem and leave me feeling anxious, angry and disturbed. I prefer good news stories where the hero wins the day. Today it seems the villain of any given story is more glorified than the hero. Do we have any heroes to fight for what is right? Television, movies, books, and magazines all seem to sprout hate and negativity. I think the world sorely needs more positive messages.  Enough of drama, tell me about integrity, honesty, love, and peace. Tell me stories where people care about one another and this beautiful earth we call home.

We are all well aware of the large number of injustices in the world: war, famine, natural disasters, have been a reality since the dawn of time. I want to know the stories about the people who are fighting injustice; the people who step up to help in times of war, famine and natural disaster; the so-called little people who nevertheless are heroes in my book.  And, really, we can all step up to help in small ways. Even something as simple as a smile can help encourage a person who is struggling with some unseen burden.  In the book of life let us strive to write good stories.