Mindful action is key to responsible living

I tried to find a suitable photo for this post, but couldn't. So here I am. Again.

I tried to find a suitable photo for this post, but couldn’t. So here I am. Again.

For every grievance we’ve ever had against those who have wronged us there is always another story. I try to remember this when I think about past conflicts where I feel I’ve been slighted.

As flawed people we do the best with the tools that we have. We’re not perfect, we were raised by imperfect people who are not whole, just as we are not whole.

I’ve maintained for years my annoyance with expectant parents. My argument is that I don’t know one fully functional adult so how can anyone arrogantly believe that they’ll be able to raise one?

Our children, before they enter kindergarten, will learn exclusively from us. They will see how we resolve conflict, what we believe about the world, what religion we follow, our dislikes, our philosophies, and all of this will leave an imprint that they will live with for the rest of their lives.

Being a parent is a serious decision and just because we can do it, doesn’t mean that we should. It requires thought, mindfulness, stability and security. Some of us will arrogantly hold to the notion that we inhabit all of these characteristics, but I doubt any of that to be true.

Couple these imperfections with what’s happening across this planet, and it’s wise to pause when considering building a family.

The battle rages on between Israel and Gaza, ISIS terrorizes Syria and Iraq, Ukraine is being bullied by Russia, North Korea and Iran are arguably developing nuclear weapons, Africa is suffocating in disease and poverty, climate change is changing our landscapes, need I go on? The world is growing increasingly erratic and unstable — in the next 50 years environmental refugees will be a serious global problem, one that was preventable, had it not been for our willful ignorance, greed and selfishness.

These are qualities that we fall back on. To have a family we must not only look to ourselves but to the world around us. We have to see the problems outside of the confines of our own home as our own personal issues, because that’s what they have and will become. How can we positively contribute to a world that we often look at with apathy?

So much of this can be blamed on how we were raised. None of these problems truly existed when we were growing up, but they certainly do now. To be an effective parent we must first free ourselves of a need to be exclusive, to compete and contrast with others. This attitude only serves to hold a space of arrogance.

There are too many global conflicts to consider, but also, our own personal conflicts as well. We get caught up at looking at others with disdain, especially those who we disagree with. We forget, or choose to ignore that they have feelings and insecurities that have been developed by other people in a world that is callously judgmental and unforgiving.

Being alive means being aware that other people exist. They too have fears, hopes, love, all the things that we find important, so do they. If we could be a little more tolerant, even to our enemies, and see them as humans who deserve compassion and kindness, we’d demonstrate to children the foundation of being responsible global citizens.

Thought. Mind. Action. It’s not difficult to achieve. Collectively, it will change the world.

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Why we’re apathetic, according to me

Apathy

This past weekend I was discussing the apathy prevalent in our modern society when a relatively wealthy woman, in her 60s interrupted to say that she doesn’t support my viewpoint.

I challenged her to consider the evidence.

1% of the population controls 80% of the wealth, and we let them get away with it. How is that possible if we’re not apathetic? There’s a reason why the masses aren’t revolting over decreased pay and cuts to pensions and benefits, while executives are making astronomical salaries.

How are they able to get away with this? Well it’s simple.

First the powers that be start cutting funding to education. That’s first and foremost, but of course that’s not all of it either.

Next they work tirelessly to make everyone feel bad and insecure about what they don’t have. Advertising companies are experts at this. Eventually we start wanting things we don’t need, like fancy cars, expensive trips to far away places, expensive clothes and jewelery, cell phones, televisions, the list goes on. We’re more than happy to go into debt to pay for these things, because we want to measure up — and what better way to demonstrate our self-importance than through the illusion of wealth?

Afterwards, we find ourselves in debt from purchasing all these products. Clearly we have to pay off our loans, but it’s a never-ending cycle because we have to constantly update all these gadgets to stay relevant in the eyes of our peers.

We then find ourselves stuck in really deplorable work environments. They want nothing more than for you to feel defeated, because a poor, indebted employee won’t cause any trouble.

You’re now their slave and they can start cutting your pay and all the perks that should come with a job, citing austerity measures, but things don’t add up because the CEO, who is responsible for the companies financial health isn’t taking any pay cuts. Wouldn’t that be something a real leader would sacrifice?

Well no. Because it’s all made up to make you feel powerless. Then you don’t vote, so the wrong people get elected. These officials are more interested in building relationships with wealthy corporations than their populus, who are a means to and end, but essentially worthless.

Then they control the media. Through the art of distraction a population becomes ignorant. Instead of leading the news hour with this uncontrollable corruption, newscasters provide the viewer with the most important news of the day, such as Kim Kardashian and Kanye West’s wedding, or the results of the World Cup match.

Look at Brazil! Millions of money has been spent on a sporting competition when over 50% of their population lives in abject poverty. Some players don’t even get paid to do what it is they love. All this for the sake of national pride! It is disgraceful, yet these wealthy individuals are able to get away with it.

At the end of every long day, after we’ve participated in the politics of work, and tolerated another badly behaved employer, and sat motionless in our cars for over an hour because of traffic, we make it home. We’re too tired to do anything but turn on the television and zombie out.

Why is that? Well, I think I just answered that question.

We’ll never revolt, because we’re more concerned with matters that are selfish and unimportant. And it’s all been designed that way.

Hot jogger confronts Rob Ford

This hot shirtless jogger confronted Toronto Mayor-in-name-only Rob Ford yesterday. It’s awesome.

Kim Campbell on Real Time With Bill Maher

Former Canadian Prime Minister Kim Campbell sat on Bill Maher’s panel a few years ago. It’s plainly obvious that Campbell is a little more informed than the men she’s debating, especially when it comes to American exceptionalism.

I thought I’d share this because her style directly contrasts that of her American panelists. She doesn’t have to yell or mock anyone to make her points, she simply knows her history. The rest speak complete gibberish.

Today marks the 25th Anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre

Whatever happened to Tank Man? That brave soul who risked his life in protest of the massacre of his people by his own government.

25 years ago China brutally murdered peaceful, student protestors in Tiananmen Square. Today the global media reflects on that brutal day, but not China. They won’t reference it at all.

Those in the Western world boast that they enjoy freedom, to some extent that is true. It’s a lot more freedom than what China had in 1989. It’s the kind of freedom that these young men and women fought for.

No one knows what happened to Tank Man. Some say he was executed days or months after his courageous display. Others believe that he is still alive and lives in a remote village. The truth is his identity remains a mystery.

Today we remember him.

The power of one vote

Vote Nobody

On the contrary, voting can bring about great social change

“If you’re not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.” ~ Malcolm X

With the upcoming Ontario provincial election I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be a member of the electorate. I firmly believe that the greatest power that we hold as citizens is the right to vote.

But few of us in Canada exercise a privilege residents of other nations have killed for. Foolishly we take our democratic rights for granted, and we shouldn’t because the framework that Canada was built on is crumbling.

Democracy is possibly the greatest revolutionary idea the world has ever seen. It gave the poor the vote. Democracy is a revolutionary idea because if you have power you use it to meet the needs of your community.

Governments know this, and in a world where 1% of the population controls 80% of the world’s wealth it’s mind-numbing that we allow them to get away with it. We could have stopped it long ago, with the vote. We can stop it now. By informing ourselves, and voting.

Corporations and governments have been working tirelessly together in an effort to demoralize the poor. One only has to look at the work force to see how this plays out.

A typical university student will graduate with an average of $27,000 worth of student loans to pay off. Then they’ll most likely get married, then they’ll buy a home. Already, in their early twenties they are shackled with debt. They need a job to pay off this looming burden, and every employer loves to employ someone with insufferable debt because it means they won’t cause any trouble.

As an employer you can get away with almost anything if all your employees are dependent on their steady pay cheque. The fear of termination surrenders an employee to almost any type of treatment, and believe me, it’s usually poor.

If you’re shackled with debt you become hopeless and hopeless people don’t vote. Keeping people hopeless and pessimistic controls them, it frightens, and demoralizes them.

And that’s what’s happening throughout the Western world. Unions are busted, pensions and benefits rescinded, salaries decreased, hours increased while a handful of people, always at the top the corporate hierarchy, who work the least, earn millions. It’s absolutely crazy that we let them get away with all of this deception.

We’ve come to believe that CEOs and board members are somehow smarter than we are. In most cases they have gotten where they are through nepotism, cronyism and because they were born with more advantages than the average person.

It doesn’t have to be this way. We have power. An educated, healthy, confident people are more challenging to govern. To get around this problem governments, now largely controlled by corporations, will do anything, stoop to the lowest level, to keep you, its people, disenfranchised. They mostly do this by controlling the media, and the news that you receive. Just look at Fox as evidence of how ignorant most Americans are.

I mean, Americans have to be ignorant for its leaders to get away with such malevolence. Maybe most American citizens are unfamiliar of their governments actions because their televised media does not accurately report the news? To get the truth they have to go outside of their own country, to news outlets like the CBC and BBC to know what’s really happening. But most Americans don’t do this because they’ve been raised on flashy screens, pharma commercials, sex-kitten-like female anchors and pundits who yell, but don’t listen to each other. They hear a good sound bite, repeat it, and think they know something.

To keep Americans in the dark the media has perfected the art of distraction. Make them feel insecure for not possessing. That way they’ll go out, buy crap, make old white men rich, and remain poor. Or it can be even more blatant, lead the news hour with celebrity marriages. Americans are more concerned with Kim Kardashian’s third wedding than the corruption of power that has repressed them.

And I don’t mean to pick on America. It is however, a nation that is run and operated by greedy corporations, more than any other country in the world. It’s a falling empire, and at the moment the world’s only superpower. Politicians are only too quick to profit along with the CEOs of these toxic companies.

Their health care is a great example of what I mean. Most Americans don’t even know what socialism is, they’ve been trained by propaganda promoted by their own elected officials, to believe that it is evil. But almost every Western country has adopted socialized medicine. And it’s far from evil, in fact, it’s loyal to what Jesus preached.

I hear American pundits trash Canadian health care all the time, but none of them have ever experienced what it’s like. As a Canadian, I can assure you that I have never had a problem with our system, and believe it to be one of the best in the world. It’s not perfect, but nothing is.

Despite all the knowledge of how effective universal health care is, Americans allow insurance corporations to make decisions for them. Who receives coverage, what procedures are covered, are all determined by companies trying to save money. That’s ludicrous! And with 30 million Americans without health insurance, it’s criminal.

Citizens allow all of this to happen out of fear. They’re afraid of socialism, but don’t know what it really is. But that’s how most of America has operated for decades now. Keep people afraid with simple repeated messages, and they’ll do almost anything. As a government, you cannot respect your citizens if you continue to lie to them.

People are being managed by their governments, to fit into the system rather than the opposite. The world is now run by corporations, not political leaders. People have become cynical and voter turn out is low in an attempt to reverse the power, and the purpose of the vote.

And that’s a shame, because with the vote comes tremendous power. A cross on a ballot ticket can destroy a government without killing anyone. That is insane when you think about it.

It doesn’t take a genius to understand that we’re not living in a real democracy. Political leaders are continually cutting corporate taxes, preferring instead to gouge the poor. How do they get away with this? It benefits them, let us not be distracted by that. Power corrupts the moment a person is elected. Anyone who covets power is corruptible. We’re electing the wrong leaders, the ones who see money as their primarily goal.

These are common sense arguments that I’m presenting. A healthy nation is in the interest of all of us. Same with education. I benefit by the training of my doctor, the bus driver, etc. Educate people, and we could solve half the world’s problems.

Rather, we commodify people. The word customer is all the rave now, you hear it being used all the time. The ticket collector on the train now calls you a customer. But you’re not, you’re a passenger. Customer is only for people who have money. And what if you don’t have money? You’re no longer a person. Economic language classifies according to our money and not our need which leads to unhappiness. It dehumanizes the poor.

But wait. You’re unhappy, so here’s a pill you can take. It’s a vicious circle that makes zombies out of all of us.

Our values are currently made up of who is strong and weak, not right or wrong. Money is not a key to happiness, it is a corruption. Its focus is to compete, and to compete you must defeat someone. The human race will not survive on this ideology, and it isn’t thriving at the moment either.

We as people need to wise up to all of this. We need to stop being distracted by shiny objects that we can possess and regain power of the world. We’re now living in the age of the working poor. People are terribly unhappy, rates of mental illness are on the rise, obesity, diabetes, and a host of other chronic diseases continue to increase because we feel beaten by our governments.

We come home, we sit on the couch, we turn on the television, we self-medicate, and we zone out. With one vote, the power of that vote, if used in unison, can change the very way our world is run. It will give power back to the people, but first we need to change our priorities and learn to think for ourselves.

Am I anti-American? Maybe…

AmericanFlag

A few of my readers have sent me emails claiming that my posts over the last couple of months have been bordering on anti-American.

Though I have no issues with Americans themselves, I am constantly annoyed by American culture. The main problem I have is the claim that America is the home of the free. You don’t even have to read the fine print to realize that this isn’t true. It’s the home of the free if you happen to be born into significant wealth, are white, heterosexual and a man.

Whenever I hear an American say that every person in America is born equal, I want to shake them and say, “Except black people, gay people, the disabled, all other minorities, and women!” I mean, who are they fooling with this statement?

I guess what irks me most are the blinders Americans tend to have in respect to other countries, and how they have achieved equality without the mud-slinging, rhetoric and hyperbole that goes on in the U.S.

Just take the gay issue for instance. Gay marriage is now recognized in over 15 countries. Hell has not frozen over, straight people are not getting divorced (no more than they used to); in fact NOTHING has changed except that their societies are more inclusive.

In specific American states, people can still get fired for being gay, are forbidden from adopting and/or fostering children; cannot marry, and therefore can’t visit their partners in the hospital, even if they are dying; can be refused service because of their sexuality and the list goes on and on and on! That’s not the end of the inequality for gay people in America. In this respect America is no better than Russia, and other nations it purports to have moral authority over.

As a Canadian we’re inundated with American culture and politics. The issues that are being fought for in America have already been achieved here in Canada. I still can’t believe that gay people don’t have equal protection under the constitution of America, I mean how is that possible? I still can’t believe that in America children are allowed to bring guns to school. I still can’t believe that over 30 million Americans (the population of Canada) are without health insurance. I still can’t believe that Americans are debating a woman’s right to choose! These arguments have been going on since the 70s, how divisive is this country still?

How can any religious country, especially America, who prides itself on its generosity, be so heartless to its own people?

Make no mistake, America is a great place to earn a lot of money. If that’s your main goal in life, then by all means, move there and try to make your fortune. But as American corporations — with the government firmly on their payroll — continue to erode the middle-class, creating an even bigger divide between the rich and the poor, your chances of finding the “American dream” are decreasing by the day.

It’s catastrophically unjust that the men who were responsible for the 2008 economic crash that ruined lives all over the world, have never once been incarcerated, or charged. Instead, and much worse, they were given bonuses, and received government bailouts, which is the same type of socialism they claim is evil.

This alone demonstrates that America is not the home of the brave, nor the free. The only country to come out of the economic crisis of 2008 relatively unscathed was Canada, due to our responsible banking regulations. The average Canadian makes more money per year than the average American. Take that!

In America, equality has a long way to go, and the fact that the American government has made gay people crawl on their hands and knees for their protection and recognition is disgraceful. Hate in America has a national televised forum, under the guise that it’s the exhibition of free speech.

So yeah, I guess I’m a little anti-American these days. Or perhaps, I’m just sick of the hypocrisy that they shove down our throats, and how they demand that we admire it.