An Eye for an Eye

An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind ——Mahatma Gandhi

The next time someone does something perceived as wrong to you, instead of flying off the handle and thinking of ways to get even—which seems so popular an attitude these days, why not be different and try a positive response, instead? Talk to the person. Find out why they replied so negatively to you. Was it something you said that irritated the person? Is the person just having a bad day? In short, try to understand!

Humanity is comfortable in a no-change environment. Change causes uncomfortableness, and uncomfortableness causes irritation and short-temperateness in people.

The earth, and even our entire solar system, is going through a rapid transformation: an evolutionary ‘upgrade’[i] [ii] that is causing problems in our psych. It is in our nature to be more comfortable with the same-old, same-old, rather than experiencing change.[iii]

Fortunately—or unfortunately for some who elect to stay behind, this rapid change is necessary for evolution’s sake, both for us, for our planet, and our solar system as we prepare for this transformation. If we let our guard down during these changing times, it can become habitual to shut down reason, unharness the motions, attach these undisciplined emotions to our tongue and let fly, come what may!

A good example of letting our emotions rule over reason is evident in the recent “Defund the Police” marches. Yes, there are problems with police butality, especially in Black communities. But, can you imagine our society without police to protect us from the criminal minded? Practical reason is the answer to this social problem, not unbridled emotion!

Historically, protests have brought about much-needed changes in the way citizens are abused by those in power. The problem is, hidden within the grained victories of the protesters, are buried the injured innocents that happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time while these protests took place. And correcting the wrongs suffered by the innocently injured can take generations to heal, especially if they are brushed aside or insufficiently dealt with.

Looted and damaged storefronts are one example of how an innocent person or business can suffer unfairly during a demonstration. Insurance, plus other costs and inconvenience caused by rioters, are only a minor example of what is wrong with this method of gaining justice by demonstrating against our perceived wrongs.

Lives are lost during riots. Between 1954 to 1968, 41 people were killed during the civil rights movement in the United States.[vi] And that’s just one small sample of human costs caused by riots, revolts, or disagreements.

Is there a more civilized, peaceful way of protesting for the oppressed to be heard? Yes, there is!

Non-violent protests are a far superior way to gain civil rights. This has been demonstrated through proven actions by famous leaders of peaceful protests like Mahatma Gandhi, Henry David Thoreau, Te Whiti o Rangamati, Leo Tolstoy, Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, and the list goes on.[vii] So, we see, peaceful resolutions to our social issue happen, and are possible! Best of all, they don’t cause injury or damage to the innocent.

If we are serious about going along with humanity maturing, we have to abandon violent solutions to our problems.

Rather than rioting to solve our injustices, we need to take greater advantage of our court system. Just like the rioting slogan, “Defund the Police” is concerned only with one aspect of the problem: police violence, court trials can present to an unbiased jury or judge both sides of the argument, resulting in a more satisfactory solution to a problem.

The sign of an intelligent nation is reason through controlled emotions by the application of reason – Mayra Mannes

We also have to think about our future and the future of our children. Will we give in to the rioters and hot-heads and let them stain the good name of humanity by allowing them to solve their issues through rioting and violence? Or will we leave our children a legacy of superior, more just, and binding laws that will leave a legacy of comfort to them that reason, not violence, is the better road to a happier life?

[i] Cosmic Evolution: an Interdisciplinary approach: https://www.cfa.harvard.edu/~ejchaisson/cosmic_evolution/docs/fr_1/fr_1_site_summary.html

[ii] Cosmic Evolution by Eric J. Chaisson: https://www.physicscentral.com/explore/writers/chaisson.cfm

Lena M. ForsellJan A. Åström

[iv] Lemmings: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lemming

[vi] Civil Rights Movement: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civil_Rights_Memorial#:~:text=The%20Civil%20Rights%20Memorial%20is,the%20Southern%20Poverty%20Law%20Center.

[vii] Leaders of non-violent protests: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nonviolent_resistance

A Sunday Chat with Myself—”I feel Deeply Offended!”

“People get addicted to feeling offended all the time because it gives them a high; being self-righteous and morally superior feels good.” —Mark Manson

This morning, my mind is on the recent kerfuffle over the removal of the statue of John A. Macdonald from several locations throughout the country. John A. was one of our Founding Fathers, and Canada’s first Prime Minister, spanning a political career from 1867 to 1873, and again from 1878 to 1891.

Macdonald was a leading figure in the discussions that lead up to the creation of the British North American Act, resulting in Canada becoming a nation on 1 July, 1867.

To say that our first Prime Minister was A Character, would be to oversimplify his nature! According to the National Post, when Macdonald dispatched troops, in 1869, to put down the Louis Riel Red River Rebellion, his son, Hugh John, “deliberately defied his father’s wishes to stick to his law studies and instead joined the militias heading west.”

To say that our First Prime Minister loved to occasionally imbibe would also be describing his drinking habits mildly. John A. was a lush! His Kingston address that once housed his law office, is now a “traditional Scottish Pub,” and his Glasgow birthplace is also now a bar! When he was supposed to be protecting Canada from marauding Irish armies, he couldn’t be reached because he “was on a bender.”

Macdonald was an enigma! While he presided over mass die-offs of Plains First Nations, he also proposed giving indigenous people the right to vote, and he really, really wanted to see Louis Riel dead!

In 1880, Macdonald proposed extending the right for women to vote, while at the same time, he “fervently warned” against Chinese immigrants upsetting the Canada’s “Aryan” character, and for years, along with several other Prime Ministers, extorted a head tax on Chinese immigrants.

It’s easy to fill up several pages cataloguing Macdonald’s escapades while he was in government, because he really was one of Canada’s most unique and colorful characters—but then, so were many other political persons during his time. For example, according to the National Post, “It’s ridiculous to judge figures from the past by beliefs of the present. Thomas Jefferson, who declared that “all men were created equal” owned hundreds of slaves and repeatedly impregnated his favourite one. Winston Churchill held a dim view of [East] Indians in general, and Mahatma Gandhi in particular, other than as handy fodder when needed for warfare. Blacks needed the civil rights movement in the 1960s because, 100 years after the Civil war, it was considered perfectly acceptable to practice discrimination in the U.S., and to a lesser extent in Canada.”

And this brings me to my main point of argument. Should we whitewash our history and blatantly discard any part of it that we find offensive? What would our history look like if we just erased all offensive aspects of our history?

It is true, history books are written by the victors in all situations, but it’s also true that we are becoming a more compassionate and empathic nation than our forefathers were, and we are paying greater attention to the way we mistreated the minority of Canadians in our past.

“Tough times don’t define you, they refine you. ‪” —Carlos A. Rodriguez

I grew up in a rural area in Saskatchewan, quite near the Cree Indian File Hills reserve. One of my first, and best friends in my youth was Elmer Ross. In those days, it was quite normal for white people—and even many Indians—to refer to Elmer as an illegitimate Half Breed—a Metis, born of an Indian mother and a French-Canadian father. However, his birth status didn’t matter much to either of us because, I, again, was Canadian born to German immigrants. It was the war years: World War II was in full swing and our family was considered outcasts—Bloody Germans—Hitler supporters— who were responsible for all the war and hatred in the world.

Because we were so discriminated against, Elmer and I had much in common, and it was that, which we shared in common, that made us the best of friends.

When I see how “politically correct” our politicians are perverting Canadian history, I often have to wonder: how should I write my own life’s journal, to be politically correct?

Should I write, “I was born on a farm in Central Saskatchewan?” But, I could take that as offensive. To say that I have been born on a farm denotes I was not afforded the rights of having experienced the amenities that a large city offers. Should I be deeply offended that I wasn’t born in a city?

On the other hand, if I simply say that I was born in Saskatchewan, I might also have a legitimate complaint that I was denied the privilege of having experienced life in other provinces: I was robbed of having experienced life in the mountains, or life in more densely populated areas, or to have experienced what it was like to live near a large lake, like Lake Ontario.

So, to be politically correct, the best that I can do is say, “I was born!” That should be quite a neutral statement!

Next, I would write in my life’s journal, “I went to school.” Well, I can’t see anything politically incorrect here, so we can leave that sentence stand, other than I must investigate any possible chance that I might have attended one of John A. Macdonald’s Indian Schools, which could give me great cause for concern … except, truth be told, I went to a legitimate, all-white, Christian school—as did my good friend, Elmer Ross— so I can’t be “deeply offended” there! I went to school: a politically correct statement!

I could go on and on about factors in my life that I could list as offending me, including times in my youth when the community branded our family as hated “Nazis” because of my parent’s birth origin, but really, all of those rich life’s moments—the good, the bad, the ugly—offered me a chance to grow and develop my character. I am quite happy with the way my life turned out …

… except for the fact that I am deeply offended that Canadian society, in our weak-kneed drive to be fair to all, should allow our “politically correct” politicians to so screw up our history to the point where we no longer know what, or who, we are as a country!

That deeply offends me!

A Sunday Chat with Myself—25 February, 2018

“The Greatest Problem in the world today is intolerance. Everyone is so intolerant of each other.” — Princess Diana

Image may contain: outdoor

In Stony Plain Alberta, a shop owner that makes wooden signs and things had a brilliant idea. In an effort to promote reading in the community the owner decided to create a small weatherproof, but easily accessible box, containing books that are free to anyone who wished to take one—or exchange it with one of their own from her “Little Library.”

The project worked great for about 3 years, then a neighbor complained to the city about the Little Library, demanding that this “offencive??” item be removed! The push was on. Should the owner of the Little Library resist the crabby, short-sighted grumblings of the complainant, or should she just shrug indifferently and concede—give in—remove the Little Library—and move on with life? After all, it didn’t seem really all that important to warrant any kind of altercation—or was it a very important issue?

At first blush, all this seems so insignificant. For the newsmedia, nothing newsworthy here; just another minor happening, not worth sharing with the busy minds of Alberta, especially when there are more interesting, dramatic, hate and fear-promoting negative stuff out there to feed the public mind—like the latest  shooting in the Florida school that killed 17 students; or, we can take a pick from the almost 1.9 million police-reported Criminal Code incidents (excluding traffic) reported by police in 2015—an approximate increase of 70,000 over crime in  2014. Ask any news anchor worthy of their advertising customers, those are newsworthy items—but in reality, I feel that the Stony Plain incident is more important than the most of the dramatic “dis-information” appearing on the evening news.

Intolerance: unwillingness or refusal to respect other opinions or beliefs

Intolerance. A small, seemingly harmless action, like, I remember the time when I was shopping in Lethbridge at one of the stripmall markets and needed to use their washroom. Unfortunately, the washroom wasn’t functional at the time. Some bored person with mscief on his mind had taken a bunch of paper towels and completely blocked the toilet with them. Then flushed the toilet, allowing the water from the tank, mixed with his excrement, to overflow and make a mess all over the floor. Yes, I was inconvenienced and somewhat irritated that  I couldn’t use their washroom and had to, instead, leave the store and go across the street to the Costco store and use their washroom. On the way over to Costco, I couldn’t help but think, why? Why would a person do such a thing?  Did he have an anti-social problem, or was he seeking revenge against the store for a perceived or real grievance he had with the store, and this was the best way that he could get even?

But, what really bothered me was thinking of that poor store clerk who now had to take time out of his busy schedule and go into that stinky washroom and clean up that disgusting mess so that it was respectable again for future customer.

If I may take a moment to address the perpetrator that blocked that toilet, I’d like to assure you that, no, it was not funny nor was it a joke! It was not a ‘small’ act: it was a very big, inconsiderate and mean act, and if you wanted revenge against the store, I doubt that management was even made aware of your meaningless act!

“Tolerance of intolerance is cowardice.” 
― Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Another intolerant act that really annoys me is when I pull into a parking lot and see some vehicle straddling two stalls, meaning I have to go farther down the line to find an open spot. What causes people to be so inconsiderate of others? Psychology Wiki tells me, “Selfishness [intolerant] is usually associated with a deliberate act. For example, a selfish person deliberately focuses on their own agenda, rather than that of others.” I think that certainly would apply to the person that blocked the shopping mall toilet: he was thinking of pacifying his own feelings—whatever they might have been—with no thought of the inconvenience he was causing others.

Psychology Wiki goes on to say, ‘The act of being selfish can also be unconscious or accidental.” This particular idea can easily apply to the person that parked his vehicle to straddle two parking stalls. Maybe s/he had a deeply troubled mind at the time—keeping an appointment with a divorce lawyer or some similar high-tense meeting. I could easily forgive the person in such a case. But, since I’ll never know why s/he decided to take two parking spaces, I’ll never really know the reason: was he preoccupied with troubled thoughts, or didn’t he just give a damn?

Hate, ignorance and intolerance is what killed the Jews during the Nazi era, not their targeted, mis-informed delusions imposed by a political regime of seeming righteousness

Intolerance is a complex social issue, both for individuals and groups in general. Throughout history, intolerance certainly has been a troubling issue that has plagued mankind since—well, since man learned to be intolerant! There is a time to take a stand against intolerance, and there’s a time—usually in individual cases—when it’s wisest to talk to the person and try to find out why they are so troubled and angry. I wish the Little Library in Stony Plain the very best, and may your issue soon be resolved. Above all, don’t leave the issue in limbo. Reading—the act of gaining knowledge and improving humanity’s intelligence—is not a small matter: it’s a big issue!

“Ignorance and prejudice are the handmaidens of propaganda. Our mission, therefore, is to confront ignorance with knowledge, bigotry with tolerance, and isolation with the outstretched hand of generosity. ― Kofi Annan

 

Anger

In most cases, the best way to address an angry, hateful message is with No Response. Hate needs hate to fuel itself and keep itself alive. Like a snake eating its own tail it soon becomes nothing.

No Response” is different from “No Action.” What would constitute “action” in each case is as varied as there are hate-situations. Attempting to understand what caused the person’s outburst in the first place is one possible, more mature solution.