Category Archives: Uncategorized

LOSS AND GRIEF

After the absence of several years I have returned to my blog.  The absence was triggered by my wife’s lung cancer diagnosis and her death three years ago from the cancer  spreading throughout her body.

 

The posts that will follow [probably on another site to which there will be a link] will deal with personal loss, grief and the difficult path to recovery. It will be my story and also talk about the tools which I learned to use to get my life together again after the loss of my wife of 46 years.

 

My hope is that  somebody might benefit from my experience and will discover that there is  life after experiencing one of the most traumatic events in anyone’s lifetime – the loss of a loved one.

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Filed under Canada, cancer, death, grief, Uncategorized

Who Owns Your Life?

Just how valuable is human life and to whom? Is choosing our own time to die an acceptable option? Or is human life sacred and the option to die is not in our hands? What about abortion and the woman’s right to her body?

Priests and politicians want to retain the ownership rights over everyone’s, including the fetus’s life, because they say there is something very special about human life and it needs to be preserved at all costs.

But aren’t we just one of many life forms that inhabit this planet? As well, as a location in this universe our planet takes up an infinitesimally small space. It is hardly dominant, perhaps hardly relevant in the big scheme of the universe, so why do we consider ourselves so special? Especially now that we have found the building blocks of DNA scattered in gas clouds among the stars and discovered solar systems perhaps not unlike our own.

Well, according to the Bible, God gave us supremacy over everything on earth. But that’s hardly surprising since in all likelihood we created our gods in our own image to begin with. Then these gods or god – regardless of what name he, she, it or they go by – told us that we were special. Some gods went further – they said that some tribes were more special than others – the chosen ones. Way back when, it was probably a reasonable way to lay claim to territory and inspire the tribe to protect it.

But even supernatural beings needed administrators and business managers on earth, so men became special because it was men who became witchdoctors, shamans and priests . And when the gods gave us “dominion” over all the beasts of the earth, the managers of the religion business included women in the general category of beasts. Now, grudgingly, we have given women some rights in the western democracies, but there are still many, many places where women are not only second rate people but even chattels, without the right to run their own lives.

Isn’t it bad enough that we literally torture someone with Huntingdon’s or Lou Gehrig’s disease until the body finally gives up and dies? We deny them the right to choose to die with dignity at a time they choose. And don’t lecture me with the “slippery slope” argument. There is always a slippery slope somewhere for somebody because it is an effective scare tactic used by those who lack a rational argument.

The “slippery slope” argument is, of course, also used by those who oppose abortion. And, oddly, most of the violent and very vocal opponents of abortion seem to be men! So are we back to the same old story that women’s rights exist at the discretion of men?

I can’t think of many things more basic than a person – man or woman – having the right to decide the course of their own life. That to me includes a woman’s right to decide what happens to her body, of which the fetus is a part. So if the woman decided for what to her are sound reasons for an abortion, there should be no law standing in her way.

Is she ending a life? I don’t know and to the best of my knowledge nobody yet has come up with a clear and logical definition of when exactly human or other life begins. So I think that any religious based definition should be left out of the equation because it is purely arbitrary. The claimed sanctity of life should apply only to those who claim it – the rest of us should be allowed to do as we see moral and ethical.

Theoretically, in Canada, a woman has the right to an abortion on request within some limitations, such as how late in the term it is. But in practice there are publicly funded hospitals and clinics that refuse to carry out what would normally be a legal procedure.

Not so long ago Dr. Henry Morgenthaler, an active abortion rights promoter and activist here in Canada, was reviled by anti-abortionists for having been granted the Order of Canada, one of the highest honors in the country. While it hardly recompenses him for the time he spent behind bars in the same Canada and not so long ago for the assistance he gave to women, it does show that we are slowly moving ahead.

I have no problem if someone believes in and practices his or her religion. It’s totally OK with me, provided they don’t interfere in my life and don’t subjugate any other part of humanity either – whether it is women, those with different beliefs, nonbelievers or just the average Joe or Joan on the street who only want to get on with their lives. And no matter if those lives are lived in Toronto, L.A., Berlin , Kabul or Baghdad.

We could arrive at a better future for everyone in only a lifetime or two if the priests and the politicians would only do what they claim to do – put people ahead of dogma and ideology.

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Filed under church, government, Leadership, politics, religion, Uncategorized

The Story of George Jr. and Benedict – Should We Trust and Respect Them?

There is an organization I know that considers their leaders to be “trusted servants”. Quaint? Idealistic? A little “churchy”? OK for the fringe but not for the mainstream? If that’s what you thought, you’re wrong: actually this is a very large and growing group spanning the continents, where the concept of a trusted servant in charge works exceptionally well. Don’t you wish that this were true of the governments and many organizations that purport to serve us?

So here are just a couple of the many questions that could be posed: how many “trusted servants” do you know in politics? In organized religions? And specifically, can you point out a few near the top of the pyramid?

True, there have been leaders over the years that demand respect. Most had faults but they all did what they thought was best for the society they were in and changed that society for the better: Gandhi, Mandela, Churchill, Lincoln and more.

Unfortunately there are many more on the opposite side of the divide. Most are somewhere in between – dogmatic and with personal axes to grind and their leadership often results in unnecessary pain and suffering. Pope Benedict XVI and the misspoken George Bush Jr. fit well into this crowd. Their influence has been huge and, if only for that reason, they stand near the top of my list of leaders undeserving of anything close to unreserved respect. President Ahmadinejad of Syria is, of course, another, but he lacks the huge audience and therefore influence of the other two. I shudder to think of the embarrassment if any one of them were a relative and asked to stay over at my house.

Now for a little digression where I want to draw a very unfair comparison – unfair to the dogs who have lived with us for many, many years. Our dogs have not only been always welcome in our house but they are family and sleep right in our bedroom. I respect their intelligence, their ability to learn, their communication skills, the fact that they have no bone to pick (lousy pun, I know) and do not have any ideologies or hidden agendas to shove down my throat. So yes, I value our dogs the way I value other family members. The Pope and George Jr. take a very distant back seat.

The reason I chose to pick on the current Pope and the recently ex-president is because these two were elected to two of the highest offices in the world, each with the power to affect the welfare of millions.
George, easily influenced by people like his daddy, Cheney and a motley crew of oil and arms related businessmen and politicians who depend on them, decided to show Saddam Hussein that George’s toys are bigger and better than Saddam’s. As a result the U.S. has sustained huge casualties, has legions of severely mutilated and damaged ex-military people in the population and has lost the respect of many nations and people of the world. Deficits soared under his regime, the economy got shoved aside, doubtful banking practices and even more doubtful securities proliferated under his watch and were probably the major reason for the economic collapse which all of us are now experiencing. Yea, George W.! What a guy! Really looked after everyone, didn’t he.

And Benedict? Actually there is one topic on which the Pope and George W. have both expressed public opinions – on opposite sides – AIDS.  And George was actually the good guy!

George W. was instrumental in starting the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), a plan which has resulted in millions of Africans receiving treatment and prevention from the disease. Definitely an unusual “A” for George.

What has the Pope done or said, referring to AIDS and the spread of HIV? I quote: “You can’t resolve it with the distribution of condoms. On the contrary, it increases the problem.” Go figure this comment by a “trusted” servant of humanity.

And then there was the case of the 9-year-old girl in Brazil who was abused and raped by her stepfather and became pregnant. The Church under Benedict XVI excommunicated the girl’s mother and the doctors who performed a life-saving abortion, all according to Brazil’s law. Not good enough for the Catholic Church, though, where dogma must rule.

But that’s not all, folks: on the very next day, on March 8—International Women’s Day—Pope Benedict stated, “Today’s date invites us to reflect on … our commitment that always and everywhere every woman can live and fully manifest her particular abilities, obtaining complete respect for her dignity.” There’s a word for that: hypocrisy and lip-service. To me it’s also very insulting to my intelligence, coming right after the excommunications.

Both probably think they are great men, but I look at them and see the Peter Principle in action. Both have risen way beyond their abilities. Both have shown abysmal judgment and lack of humanity in their words and actions.

How do you feel about our trusted servants now? Can you think of others? I can.

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Canada Must Stay In Afghanistan

Yesterday Canada lost four more soldiers in Afghanistan to Taliban jihadists.   But is that a reason to abandon the Afghan people and pull our troops out of Afghanistan?

The loss of a Canadian soldier is always an occasion for sadness.  Unfortunately, there are  those Canadians who will climb up on their emotional soapbox and demand that we bring our soldiers home.  They say we are accomplishing nothing, the war cannot be won, that the loss of life is too much to suffer for the sake of a country which they believe should be left to its own devices.  At latest count in the polls, well over 50% of Canadians think so. 

I can’t buy into the idea of abandoning Afghanistan and Afghans to the “tender care” of the Taliban.  Yes, our soldiers’ lives are precious and should never be offered lightly.  But I also believe that we made a commitment to be a part of Afghanistan’s solution and commitments must be honored.   If we can’t or won’t fulfill our promises to the Afghan people then we lose some of our humanity and certainly our right to criticize others.

We would lose our humanity by tacitly agreeing that the Taliban way is OK for the Afghans – especially their obscene belief in the total oppression and subjugation of women.  To the Taliban zealot women are no more than slaves or the livestock he keeps.  Girls must not be educated, women must be hidden behind burkas.  If this way of life is something the Afghans deserve, then I suggest you take another good look at yourself.

The Taliban held daily executions on the Kabul soccer field, forcing everyone to watch.  Do you want this  for Afghanistan?  

The Taliban invited Osama Bin Laden’s gang to train their terrorists in Afghanistan.  Do you want a repeat performance of that?  Another 9-11 or worse?

How would you like to live under Taliban rule? No?  Then how do you justify abandoning the Afghans to the Taliban? 

 There’s more, but you get the idea.

I don’t believe for a minute  that military action alone will solve Afghanistan’s problems or will eradicate the Taliban.  Yes, parts of  the Afghan government are corrupt.  It is also true that many Afghans dislike the West and its consumerism.  But so do many Westerners.

But there is also no denying that there are many Afghans who have and will give their lives for the future of Afghanistan without the scourge of the Taliban and who recognize what we and other Western nations are doing for what it is:  a helping hand to help them get out of decades of warfare, executions, reprisals and oppression of one sort or another.

There is also no denying that without exception, all Canadian soldiers  who have served in the country believe they have made a significant contribution toward a better future for Afghanistan.  They have stated  this very emphatically in many interviews.

Unfortunately our mass media trumpet every death, near disaster and disaster to the exclusion of good news that are actually plentiful  in  Afghanistan.  We don’t hear about the roads and schools that are being built or the alternatives to a poppy culture.  We seldom hear about the honest Afghans who put themselves in jeopardy  to make a difference.  All we get is the bad news.

So let’s stay the course.  Let’s keep our promises.  Let’s help the Afghans find a  future that does not include  Taliban atrocities.

 

 

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Filed under Afghanistan, Canada, politics, Taliban, Uncategorized