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Monthly Archives: December 2013

Another Death and the Trolls Come Running

I was determined not to write anything before the New Year but sometimes you have to speak out because remaining silent would not only be indecent, it would be an act of cowardice in the face of those who contribute nothing but acrimony and petty partisan bigotry to our society.

Another human tragedy has brought out the social media trolls and bigots eager to feed on the misery and sorrow of others.

George Smitherman is a former Ontario Liberal Cabinet Minister. As such he was part of a government under former Premier Dalton McGuinty that did considerable economic damage to the province of Ontario.

Mr. Smitherman is also gay and was married to Christopher Peloso with whom he had three adopted children. I deplored his politics but neither his sexual orientation nor his humanity.

Mr. Peloso suffered from depression and had disappeared from the family home he shared with Mr. Smitherman and their children for a second time. He was found dead yesterday and too many among us, including some very mean-spirited and weak-minded conservatives, have continued to allow partisan bigotry to override basic human compassion. They have posted cheap, hateful comments about the sexual orientation of Mr. Smitherman and Mr. Peloso online and I cannot remain silent in the face of it.

I have personal experience with depression.

I suffered from it for more four decades during which time it went undiagnosed. Despite the damage it did in my life I consider myself one of the lucky ones. It wasn’t until my depression almost killed me and I was hospitalized for nine weeks that I was diagnosed, and received treatment, that my life changed. I was in treatment four days a week for two years and swallowed the better part of $100,000 in meds to get through my illness but in the end, it gave me the life I had always struggled to live and that depression had consistently prevented.

I wanted to know as much as I could about the illness that had controlled so much of my life so I researched it. What I learned about depression staggered me.

In 2003, the year I was diagnosed, depression had killed more than 17 million people in the United States alone (accurate numbers were not available in Canada). Many of those deaths were by suicide but not all. Depression attacks the immune system which leaves the body open to other fatal diseases and in younger people, the thymus gland. It is not, as some would have you believe, merely about being or feeling sad. Depression is a devastating illness and one in five Canadians is stricken by it.

Depression has both cognitive and physical causes but ultimately it is most often defined as “unresolved emotional trauma in the subconscious” and it shadows and drives the daily lives of those who suffer from it. We see it in the victims of child abuse, war and rape. It is found in those who have been severely injured or who have suffered severe head trauma.

Depression is not simply “Everybody has issues – get over it.” It is an illness that kills more people than heart disease and cancer combined and living with someone who suffers from depression is challenging and stressful.

To Mr. Smitherman, his children and his family, I extend my sincere condolences.

To those who look on the death of another human being, a fellow Canadian, as just one more opportunity to make hurtful comments and to express their smug self-righteous sanctimony I say this,. Your lack of fundamental values and your lack of basic human compassion contribute nothing to this society. A fellow human being has died. His family mourn and only the morally bankrupt take his death and his family’s suffering as yet one more opportunity to spit out spite and hatred.

There is no decency, let alone humanity, in taking delight in the death and suffering of others.

This isn’t only about the death of one man. It is also about the unrelenting assault on decency, mutual respect and human compassion. There has been too much of it in the past year and too many of us have remained silent in the face of it.

It’s time for Canadians on all sides of the political spectrum to remember again who we are as a people and to defend our common values rather than our petty political ideologies against those who are undermining them.

Perhaps that could be a New Year’s resolution we could all consider and perhaps if we did, something good could come from this one man’s death.


© 2013 Maggie’s Bear

all rights reserved The written content of this article is the sole property of Maggie’s Bear but a link to it may be shared by those who think it may be of interest to others

Let’s connect on Twitter: @maggsbear or send  a  friend request on Facebook to: Maggie’s Bear


Final Post

Barring some momentous event that absolutely demands my immediate comment, this will probably be my last post before the New Year. I intend to take some time to spend with Maggie who is taking two weeks holidays starting today.

We have no major plans but we intend to do together whatever comes along.

It’s been an interesting year. Canadian politics from municipal to federal has never been more corrupt, inept or unethical; Rob Ford has become internationally famous for doing exactly what we usually condemn others for doing and in the best Roman emperor tradition, many of us fiddle while the city burns. Continue reading

The Cheap Morality Play Over Prostitution Laws

If anyone had told me a week ago that two days before Christmas I would be writing about prostitution, I would have laughed at them but then, if anyone had told me five years ago that this nation would sink into sheer and utter madness, I would have laughed at them too. Continue reading

Duck Dynasty, A Pipeline and a Lot of Quacking Over Nothing

I sometimes wonder why it is that the extreme right doesn’t see itself reflected in the extreme left or is it the other way around? It’s sometimes difficult to tell them apart. Both sides are way way out there on the edges of reality mired in conspiracies and perceived threats to everything from freedom of speech to the sanctity of the environment.

This week we have two more examples of just how whacked or quacked out it gets. Continue reading

In the Bleak Midwinter

Whenever I listen to this version of this carol, I am struck by how the music is advanced by the power of voices singing in both unison and harmony. There is no polarization, no choosing of sides with one side ridiculing the other; only young and old, those who can sing and who are tone deaf, men, women and children each contributing to the power that comes from unity rather than division.

Someone wrote the music and someone wrote the lyrics but it is the voices coming together that give the carol its power to move us. It is the power that is only found in voices singing together rather than yelling at each other.

Too often, as I listen to the relentless acrimony that fills our days now I feel as if we are living in a perpetual bleak midwinter; a cold, point in time when water is like stone and what birds there are stand still as if made of iron. I often wonder what kind of society we could advance if we spent less time accusing and blaming and ridiculing each other and more time coming together to contribute to the music we all want.

It will never happen in my lifetime. I accept that but I often wonder what it would be like if it did.


© 2013 Maggie’s Bear

all rights reserved The written content of this article is the sole property of Maggie’s Bear but a link to it may be shared by those who think it may be of interest to others

Let’s connect on Twitter: @maggsbear or send  a  friend request on Facebook to: Maggie’s Bear


Scrooged: Losing Christmas and the Best of Ourselves

Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas.
Calvin Coolidge

I’ve been somewhat remiss in posting on a regular basis lately. The Maggmeister and I have been a tad busy getting ready for Christmas.

Like most people, we had a tree to set up, a house to decorate and gifts to buy and wrap. Because my back has been giving me some trouble lately, Maggie did most of the heavy lifting with that.  We also had some very nice folks over on Saturday which meant a lot of extra housework and food to prepare. Neither Maggie nor I are very good at estimating how much food and drink will be required which means that we now have enough left over hors d’oevres, baked ham and sundry Christmas treats to last until early spring.

Being busy hasn’t kept me from watching what’s going on though; it has only managed to delay me from commenting on it. Continue reading