War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength
George Orwell, 1984
Lord, what fools these mortals be
I remember when we were kids, we took more than just a little delight in hurling insults at those we didn’t like. Sometimes, it was a precursor to a fight but most of the time it was more an exercise in expressing the superiority of ‘our side’.
Much of the time it was pretty mundane, if hurtful, insults that bordered on bullying. If you were overweight, you could expect to be called fatty, porky or fatso at some point by someone or some group who cared less about your feelings than they did about striving to get others to like them. Sometimes, it could get quite colourful and when it did, we referred to it as ‘Doin’ the dozens’; a more formal, almost ritualized even good-natured at times approach to seeing who could come up with insults that topped the other guys (or at least, we thought they did).
Some of the more imaginative among us came up with such notable phrases as: Continue reading
The death of one person is a tragedy; the death of millions is a statistic
Like most people in the free world, I was horrified by the brutal murder of journalist James Foley. It revealed once again, the psychopathic blood lust of ISIS specifically and terrorists in general. We see it currently as a radical Islamic Jihadist issue but all terrorist groups and many political regimes have resorted to the same brutality.
Stalin, Hitler, Mao Tse Tung and others like them were responsible for the deaths of millions although those are just numbers to us now. The horror of the deaths of millions reduced to little more than numbers on historical tally sheets.
The IRA, Black September, the Baader-Meinhof Gang and Aum Shinrikyo have been responsible for the deaths of thousands all relegated to historical footnote. It is never the hundreds, the thousands or the millions that capture us; it is always the individual death. Continue reading
“Reason obeys itself; and ignorance submits to whatever is dictated to it.”
During the late 17th century, a new movement among intellectuals began to emerge. It emphasized reason as a means to challenge traditional ideas grounded in faith, superstition and convention. It sought to advance knowledge through the interchange of ideas, healthy skepticism and a scientific method. It was revolutionary using logic rather than opinion or obedience to dogma to arrive at conclusions and was unafraid to test its conclusions against newly emerging evidence.
It was called the Age of Enlightenment and Reason or sometimes simply The Enlightenment. Continue reading
“If you disrespect anybody, that you run in to “How in the world do you think, anybody’s s’posed to respect you? ”
The Staple Singers
Pretty much every day I see posts and tweets from people that attack other people in the most crude and vicious manner and most of those people they have never met and know nothing about. Nonetheless, it doesn’t stop the mob from their verbal assaults. It’s everywhere these days. We no longer debate issues on their merits, we simply demean each other with verbal attacks and countless ridiculous graphics that point out the stupidity of liberals or conservatives or Muslims or gays or Christians or gun advocates or gun control supporters or – you get the picture. The list is endless. Continue reading
Politics has often been called a blood sport although I think that’s a bit of a stretch. Politicians by their nature really don’t have the courage to shed blood other than in war and invariably it is never their blood that gets shed. Admittedly, however, politics is rough and so it has always been.
But – it has never been quite as personal as it has become in recent years.
It’s no longer just a clash of ideologies or public policy. It’s not even just a clash of egos. Lately, it has become a conflict of vested self-interest and personal prejudices devoid of much in the way of socially redeeming value or even the national interest.
Consider Barack Obama. Continue reading
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
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