Values & Beliefs: How Do We Make Decisions? – pt 1

Have you ever noticed that the longer we travel along this journey called life, there are moments from our past we can now distinguish as significant turning points in the direction our path leads.

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     In hindsight, I get the sense that we can see crystal clear how such seemingly meaningless events and its ensuing decisions can significantly alter not only our focus, but also the created thoughts and meanings otherwise leading to different possible life-altering actions and results.

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Except for the time I heard the Backstreet Boys’ angelic voices when I was rushed to ICU for my heart surgery, no trumpets or violins are heard to tempt the moment, no kind of aural sign to put the instant in perspective – just a somewhat nondescript decision to do ‘this’ instead of ‘that’. Those quiet moments, without fanfare or forewarning. Yet, as we become aware of those defining moments; we etch them in our mind for future references. (This is where my “Meaning-Making Machine” takes over.)

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We generally tend not to give much thought to our many decisions we make, don’t you think? And here’s where I think we get ourselves into trouble – not always a bad trouble, but a trouble none the less.

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So, now I am faced with a lot of questions that may challenge my current value/belief system I hold so dearly and strongly to my heart. Some things I now pose is:

1.   What does this say about fate or destiny? Does it negate these?
2.   Is there anything we can do about it?
3.   Can we benefit from knowing about this?
4.   So what?

In this post, I first want to look at the “so what” because it may help me/us understand the answers to the others.

***

We make thousands of decisions a day – from deciding to turn left or right at a corner to deciding whether to pee now or hold it for later. For the most part, these are small decisions that make little or no difference in our everyday efforts.

Still, these decisions are based on our priority goal of that moment.

So, sometimes subconsciously through habit of pre-defined thought and action, or trust, or because you are fulfilling your goal, we decide which way to turn on the street because you have to buy something before you can get home to pee.

Therefore, we decide to hold our bladder. You see, quite trivial and seemingly meaningless (sounds funny, huh?); yet they are based on what and how we make all of our decisions. Yes – the small ones and the BIG ONES!

If we consider that we don’t pay attention (having awareness) to own decision-making process, we can lose the power to make better and healthier decisions, and then miss out on making those decisions that further our life in a positive way.

To be continued …

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Values & Beliefs: Humanism As A Religion?

I read an article on the American Humanist Association blog “Brainstormin” about God coming to Earth and finally showing himself to humankind.

I was really confused how the conversation centred around
how atheists and believers (religious people) would have quite a go.

I didn’t quite understand all the rukus about someone else’s beliefs – especially since we Humanists tend to not bother with those kind of problems and just love people regardless.  Anyway, the following is my response to the article (and some other people’s comments):

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As a recent self-discovered Humanist, I am confused.  I am (and always have forever been) a lover of people – regardless of who they are.  I almost get a sense there is a bigger question (with very interesting answers) this article brings that may need to be addressed – if we truly are Humanists.

Keep in mind that, as mentioned, I recently discovered my philosophical leanings towards Humanism; so I may raise a very basic ‘tenet’ of Humanism. For the past 30 years, I had always considered myself exclusively an Existentialist (without knowing it) operating in the world as a lapsed Catholic using all the good parts of Christianity without believing the magic.  I have worked in several industries, including government and the military; and I always found myself coming back to social and human services.

***

My most recent college studies as a community developer, I found Humanism; and I realized I had a philosophy with which I could identify and consider part of my ‘belief system’.  And what made Humanism even better was the implicit understanding that we love and believe in each other as human beings – regardless of our personal foibles, problems, and ways of expressing ourselves.

The more I am cognitively aware of my Humanistic practices in my everyday doings and beings, the more I realize how difficult it is to live the philosophy.  I sometimes have a private chuckle to myself when I make the comparison between Christianity and Humanism in my daily activities.  When I am doing something easy (such as being friendly to someone I want to speak with), I congratulate myself for my Humanism and openness with others.  When it is a difficult decision (such as choosing not to speak with someone because they have a shady past), I catalogue it under my former Christianity because I could easily excuse it for some kind of reason – any reason that sounds plausible intellectually.

Yet, in my Humanism, I feel empty.

          I have come to understand that as a Humanist, we love people.  Regardless of ugliness of humanity we are fed every day (media, entertainment, etc) and conditioned to accept as the default behaviour of people as a whole, I always thought we moved beyond the noise of civilization and stayed focused on what mattered – people and life and living and loving – without conditions.

So please forgive my ignorance for the following questions:

Why are we concerned with “what” others believe in?

Wouldn’t it be more fruitful and in line with our Humanism to try and understand what it is about the magic of religion that have them believe in the unbelievable?

When I think about the above scenario, my first thought is “so what?”.  I am not going to go gaga over a spiritual being who has a reputation of being all powerful and loving yet lets the world go to hell.  If anything, I would question his motives.  My second thought would be to try and figure out how to persuade him/her (if in human form) to cure the human physical illnesses of the world as the first priority.  The pain and suffering of cancers, etc are truly ‘ungod-like’ and sinister.

The next, and most important thought I would have, is to be in dialogue with God to have her/him convince the world of how organized religion has ruined his/her intentions in giving us this ‘love moral’.  The God would convince the world that S/he is actually a Humanist and used that philosophy as the blueprint and purpose of all Humanity from the outset

S/he would have to convince the world that when religion became organized (because the founding leaders discovered the power of belief), it became bastardized.  As soon as the human frailty, paternalism, and powerlessness emerging civilizations got added, the goals and results of their teachings became part of the problem of civilization – not the solution.  Hence, we have different religions that all purport to have the answers with ‘their’ solutions.  Sad, isn’t it?

As I said above, religion IS a Humanism.

Only when it is used as a religious practice does it become skewed because it takes the focus away from loving and praising all there is that another human can offer to focusing on worshipping ancient objects and metaphors that were meant for teaching purposes only.

I stay away from religion as a belief system, but it doesn’t mean I stay away from the people who worship Gods.  Heck, I sing in a church choir (and not even from the denomination of my past) for the sole purpose of singing. I don’t participate in the service.  I just love singing.  I like the people because they love singing too.

To end this diatribe, I would ask this:

As Humanists, can we forget about the noise of what people are doing and just love them?

Can we get beyond dealing with the results of actions and focus on the causes?

Values & Beliefs: Shila – My Mistress of Endeavour

or “How To Succeed Without Trying”

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In hindsight, the story of how I come to meet Shila Murti seems more mysterious than the actual happening at the time.  It wasn’t a smoke-filled den into which I happened to wander, to find an ancient sage nestled in a cozy dent in the corner.

Neither was it the voice of an enigmatic soul emanating magnetic vibrations to draw me closer.  Still further, a raspy and quiet voice didn’t draw me to put my belief in a stone that can guarantee everlasting peace and serenity.

It would have been so much easier if it had, though!  Instead, as I wandered into a new living space and was trying (once again!) to get settled, I attempted to focus my energy and efforts on completing at least one task of the many I was sorting out.  You see, over the past few years, I have been searching.  Not sure exactly what It was I was seeking – only that I had building towards something – something bigger than me, and I was feeling like an octopus.  I had my arms going in all directions reaching out for something to anchor onto.  At that time, I ran into another tenant, Art Seligman.  As he briefly introduced himself, he informed me he had a gift for me – just be patient.  I thought it was very kind of him to offer me a ‘housewarming’ gift; and I was looking forward to his generosity.

______  .  ______

On an ordinary day just a few weeks back, I was pulling at loose ends on the next stage of my new life (you know, the usual things) and writing on my computer.  (Even though I live with four disabilities, I’ve never let it be an excuse for not making a contribution.)  And having a fertile mind, I was trying to work on five or six projects all at the same time – just picking away and updating information as the creative thought came to me.  Yet, I was feeling frustrated because I neither felt like I was accomplishing anything, nor did I feel was I making good use of my time.  Of course, again in hindsight, I realize the untruths I was planting in my mind. Grrrrrr!

I was on my way outside to get some air, and I happen to meet with Art in the doorway.  I was six inches of not having this meeting.  So, Art introduced himself more fully and we seemed to have a real great conversation.  He decided to give me the gift he had promised.

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I will say this about myself; I’ve met 1000’s of people over my travels.  I’ve heard of everything and experienced much more.  My homes and travels, which brought me across Canada several times, allowed me to be exposed to situations I never would have been privy to had I stayed in my little shell of a corner.

So, naturally, I’m a whyz-guy – I have this desire to ask “why” about everything and anything.  I’ll read anything and try anything as long as it doesn’t hurt me physically.

Having said that, I was naturally a bit skeptical about what Art was telling me as he handed me the gift.  Besides, it’s not the first time I heard something like this before.  I looked at the gift and saw it was 2 dark rounded stones.  And not just any stones: but Shila Murti stones.  I was told to carry one with me at all times and keep one in a safe place at home.

I held the Shilas in my hand and they felt warm.  I was given the background of the stones and the “energy” they held.  As a scientific-based thinker, I had my doubts; yet I do have enough understanding about the world to know everything is made of energy – it is a scientific fact.  So I listened and stayed tuned in without disbelieving.  I was told there were benefits from carrying this stone as long as it was with me at all times.

______  .  ______


The reason I went ahead with this ‘experiment’ was based on one thing that was actually quite profound in the events that took place.  It was this:  At no time did Art ever ask me to believe in anything, or follow something, or do anything (other than carry) that would make the energy ‘work’.  All he said was to carry it around with me and I will notice a shift in my life that will help me become more focused, accomplish more, and experience my life with others on a different level. (Actually, that’s what I heard in my head – they may not be his exact words.)  I thought that was easy, so I complied.

Well, what happened (starting almost immediately) was completely beyond my comprehension of the way the world worked.  I was, after all, a former military soldier, worked for 3 governments, worked in social services, and had my own businesses – – – and, in all my years of working experiences, the speed and quality of accomplishments I experienced over the next few weeks (to today) were transformational compared to any other period in my life.

Without doing anything other than carrying around Shila in my pocket, my life is taking on a new purpose.  I have, without any real effort, laid the groundwork for me to not only understand the direction in which my life is heading, but to take concrete actions that fill in the cracks of previous accomplishment.

Having re-established relationships from my past, both long-ago friends and mended loves with family members, I have been given a new and empowering feeling of certainty and love for the work I am doing.

Now that I have met with lawyers and professionals to help me sort out my long-term hurts that have impeded my true growth for decades; I have been given validation for my skills and talents and the work I put into them while overcoming barriers I can resolve.

______  .  ______

Because I am sharing in people’s lives more intimately (without even asking), and engaging in conversations that now leave us both alive and invigorated rather than sad and depressed aftwards; I now see the world on a different level:

  • I now have a closer relationships with life (mine and others’), giving me greater hope,

  • I am re-energized and more active because I have a better understanding of the value in the work I am presenting to the world,

  • I am more confident because all life indicators are directing me on the right path, and

  • I am truly happier, because I am expressing myself and the essence of my very being.

______  .  ______

Keep this in mind because this is very important:

I didn’t do anything with the intention of having it happen – things just did.

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The only difference I see now is in how I approach anything that happens to me.  This is the real key (I think) that has the Shila Murti become so valuable to me.  It is very subtle and I only notice it after the fact.  It is this:

  • In a lot of things in my life, I always question myself or decide on something after I check in with my feelings. Now I notice I just instinctively go up to someone (even strangers now!) and have a conversation with him or her about something.

    • For example: to talk to someone I know on the street.  I want to talk to them, but something inside of me tells me not to (for whatever reason). So, I don’t speak, and I miss out on a conversation either I needed to have or wanted to have. Now, I don’t hold back the energy inside of me; and instead, I just acknowledge the other person – and usually we share a comment or short (and even long) conversation with others.
    (After meeting a stranger at McD’s one afternoon, I ended up being invited to his home to show me an invention he and his wife created. We discovered I had the skills he needed to help build his Business Plan, and we traded cards. We may enter into a business relationship. All because of a bird flying overhead!)

______  .  ______

As I said, there was no intention in anything I was doing to substantiate the value of Shila. These things are just changing on their own.

And the best thing – I find the more skeptical I am about the stone, the more effective it is.  I look for holes in the possibility.  I look for downsides to this phenomenon – and I can’t find any!

Imagine That!

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Values & Beliefs: Why Tolerance is NOT Acceptable

Can somebody be given the power to choose who/what is tolerable and who/what isn’t?

If you think ‘yes’, then you need to read this post and see if you are missing some information about Tolerance.

 If your answer is ‘no’, then we probably have a lot in common regarding how tolerance is perceived and used in society.  I haven’t heard a call for Tolerance in some time, so maybe it is gone out of fashion and out of acceptability by the masses.

The way is in my experiences and learnings are explained on how I see Tolerance and why it is not acceptable.

There are some who hail Tolerance as an optional path towards unity and human happiness.  The fact that someone would still use this thought pattern has his head so far up his own butt (yes, I specifically refer to ‘his’) that he deserves the misery he inflicts upon himself.  Yet, some people think it is okay.  How this can be accepted is quite confusing, and it has me question my interpretation of Tolerance as it is viewed by societies at large.  It begs me to ask:

What the Heck is Tolerance?

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Through my life experiences (even though I am a white guy in a white racist society), I have been on the receiving end of Tolerance.  If you can relate to the experience, then you know it is something that is felt more than said.  Of course, when it is said, it is usually done in a joking way or an aside comment.  Here’s an example of one of my recent experiences in college:

I was tutoring a student with visual impairment.  We went to the college library to book a room.  The ‘system’ of the college took precedence over common sense; so when my student showed her student card to the staff, because there wasn’t a green dot on the back of the card (signifying a disability – get that, huh?), she could not book the room.  Though I don’t look or act disabled, my student was obvious in her sightedness.

Neither I nor my student (both with the Disability Office) ever heard about this oppressive ‘green dot’ policy.  We had to be assertive and somewhat insisting on the rights of students and the accompanying accommodations.  Until we were able to get the attention of the Management were we able to gain access to the room.  The closing comment by the staff was something like “well, we will let it go this time.”

It was a moment of realizing that it was possible that staff member was Tolerating differently-abled, or “diff-abled” students.  And maybe, this was her way of trying to overcome her own sense of powerlessness – by inflicting it upon another through displaying both her Intolerance and Tolerance.

The most interesting thing happened later on.  I went through the complaint procedure and ended up getting a meeting with Management (and there another issue needed to be discussed).  It was professional and cordial and the necessary explanations and excuses were made to justify their actions.

When we left the meeting, we were walking casually and off-the-record, and he came around to saying to me (I am paraphrasing), “You know how young students are?  They are irresponsible and don’t listen.”  It was said so casual, like a “nudge-nudge wink-wink, know-what-I-mean, eh?”  (Thanks, Monty Python.)

So, after I wrapped my mind around that remark, I realized that comment could be understood to mean (to me, anyways, because he did acknowledge my mature status as a student):

1 – that ALL young students are the same,

2 – YOUNG students are irresponsible,

3 – they are being Tolerated,

4 – I should feel the same way he does given our ages,

5 – I should Tolerate the students too, and

6 – I should now understand the REAL reasoning behind their oppressive actions.

***
Back to my wonderings.

Is the Tolerating (and dominant) person/party
implying there is something wrong
with the differences over whom they feel superior?

In my search for answers to this and other questions, I also wondered why we have to use “othering” (or the symbol of their group) and put them down in order to achieve some kind of superior/powerful position.

This is the story in my head (from the ‘Meaning Making Machine’) about the way I see Tolerance:  It is an act by someone who ruthlessly allows somebody or something to “be” in spite of that person’s own perceived objections.

In other words,
the person doing the tolerating
is telling or implying to the person being tolerated
that s/he does not meet their standard.

***

It is not hard to see the possibility of Tolerance as an issue of power?  I sometimes get the feeling that when Tolerance is spoken or acted upon, it is no longer tolerance – it becomes arrogance.  Tolerance is divisive, exclusive, and laced with hidden prejudice.

I sometimes see Tolerance as a political tool.  Why the destructive nature of Tolerance is used this way (reasons/excuses) causes me to question the ignorance of people who accept it.  All Tolerance does is delay the journey towards understanding of others and ourselves.  It does not foster understanding, and it is not respectful.  It is just a grab for power over another.

The way Tolerance is expressed is so flexible,
that it can be anything between subtle sub-text in a conversation and
overt actions of obvious discrimination.

Everybody inherently knows this.  We know it is lip-service.  We know Tolerance doesn’t work and we all know someone still ends up feeling disempowered.  Yet, there is a lot of us who pretend to be humble when using Tolerance.

To accept Tolerance as an affective tool or way of being towards fostering a harmonious society is to both stunt the growth of this quest and do MORE harm towards our fellow human beings.

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NEVER ACCEPT TOLERANCE!

***

Benni’s Dirty Secret

From his darkened bedroom window in the attic, Benni poked his head out into the snowy and shadowy night of winter and wondered if he would survive falling three stories to the cold ground below.

His worst-case scenario would be to have him end up living through the sudden impact of hitting the concrete below rendering him helpless and crippled. The last thing Benni wanted was to possibly survive become further dependent upon the very person he had come to despise.

Not cognizant of the significance of yet another beating at the hands of his father, Benni felt a wave of desperation overtaking his thoughts. He could not understand why his father would beat him again; after all, he did nothing wrong – again. How could it possibly be wrong to just be a kid?

He would prefer to cry and get it out and over with; but he couldn’t – not any more.  It seemed like a hundred years ago when he last shed a tear. It seemed like there wasn’t a good enough reason to cry anymore.

Too young at thirteen years old to understand, little did he know that the life path he was unknowingly thrust upon would take him on a bipolar journey of constant crises that would take forty years from which to recover.  Worse still, while he continued to beat himself up, Benni didn’t know it was not he who was broken – it was the dysfunctional culture of his family; and it gave rise to a defining moment in Benni’s life that began his subconscious decision to break free and move towards a life reflecting the many he witnessed outside of his family.

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Having moved to Toronto to raise a family and seek the promise of prosperity, the Smith’s were escaping a cycle of misery and disappointment that haunted generations before them.  Their hope was to free themselves from the memories of a village where ‘less’ was the accepted norm and a humiliating handout was the grudging practice.  Dad lived with anger, and Mom with fear.  Socially under-developed, they arrived in the big city with lowered eyes and all the expected baggage: poor, uneducated, authoritarian, and waging the constant battle for power and status.

Christian leanings were strongly held and literally enforced, so it was only natural to soon begin a family with the belief that “He” will provide.  With steady jobs and a promising future, their salvation and rewards of happiness was only around the corner – or so they thought.  They didn’t realize their cultural patterns of thinking about life and living (behaviour, knowledge, and coping techniques) passed on from their parents were not left far behind in the past.

Before long, the Smith’s had babies popping up almost every second year.  They didn’t count on the incessant struggles increasing with each newborn; so by the time the final and eighth child was born, life was a living hell of diapers, debt, and desperation.

***

Benni was the firstborn son and much was expected from him.  Naturally bright and talented, he was seen as the great hope and source of pride for his parents early in life.  He was rewarded with choices not afforded his siblings as early as possible.  While somewhat lonely and isolated at times from being away from home so often, Benni was thankful for the opportunity to experience life away from the constant circus of sibling battles waged within the household.  Unfortunately, he did have to return to the home every day and he could not escape the toxic environment brewing of anger, frustration, and resentment.

Because of the poverty in the family, only basic needs were met.  Both parents had to work with he holding down two full-time union jobs and she working in factories not conducive to her chronic asthma.  Expected by everyone except themselves, family relationships snapped without repair, and the constant need of the children for attention always going unfulfilled.  Without the time or energy to cope, parental responses to the demands of the children became increasingly abusive psychologically, emotionally, and physically.

Fearful of his father’s wrath, Benni quickly accepted this way of life as the normal way of coping with life’s stressors.  It wasn’t long before the parental teachings of frustration management became the family norm and it profoundly affected how Benni perceived life and his behaviour towards it.

Given his extensive exposure to life at a private Christian school, Benni knew something was not right, but he chose to avoid thinking about it because it caused him much anxiety when doing so.  The only bright spot in his life was the love, inspiration, and nurturing he received at the choir school far from the asylum he called home.  This allowed him to detach himself from the stress of the family and focus on his own individual training and education goals with, of course, the demanding approval of his father.

From all his outside activities, Benni received guidance to become a healthy boy who flourished.  He grew into an academic scholar, as well as reaching a small level of virtuosity in music.  In spite of the evening crises at home, he was able to achieve a level of psychological competence and success in all of his endeavours by pretending he was just a visitor to the family home  – with the priests and church actually being his real parents and home.

In spite of the conflicting environments to which he was exposed, Benni was able to keep the daily troubles (and secrets) in the back of his mind even though he was constantly exposed to (and perceived) the ‘odd’ behaviours of love and affection he witnessed from his classmates and their families during social and school functions.  Sadly, when Benni reached thirteen years old, he was withdrawn from the school, and everything changed.  His private, secret world disappeared forever.

Living again at home “full-time”, Benni was beginning to experience the full force of his father’s brutality.  Having disappointed his father by wanting to pursue interests other than music and religion (Benni wanted to become a priest), the privileges of being ‘the one’ quickly vanished.  He was now subject to the same methods of disciplinary ‘correction’ as his siblings.  Daily beatings were expected to the point where any contact with his father automatically brought him to tears and wet pants even before he stood before that powerful force of authority.  Long-lived physical and mental scars were beginning to rupture.

Why, he wondered, does his dad never tell him he was proud of his achievements, or hug him, or smile when something was done to his strict level of satisfaction?

Benni was beginning to understand now why his siblings often lied; after all, when truthfulness was punished, “what was the point?”  Flurries of questions were soon to follow.  Was all the piety and goodness he modeled from the priests and other leaders nonsense?  “Was there really goodness, or were the priests lying to me all along?”  “Why was I being punished for laughing too loud?”  “Why, all of a sudden, was I beginning to wet my bed at night and chew my fingernails?”

Benni quickly re-learned the brutal social norms and values of the house (not home).  Along the way, stress, higher competitiveness, lower perception of control, and fewer feelings of ability to make choices were beginning to take hold of his consciousness.  It was no longer safe to invest his time or interest with his own family – and this concerned him greatly.  The only option available was to find some kind of escape from the madness because everything he knew was no longer valid, and the assimilation of new information was slowly changing his beliefs in ways in which he didn’t like.

Gone was the joy of life.  His vitality was being sucked out of him and feelings of depression were beginning to creep into his mind.  The house was a constant war zone and Benni never won a battle.  There was never enough of anything from basic needs and security to affection and trust.  A culture of various abuses was accepted and internalized in this family of ten; and as a result, dysfunctional secrecy became the norm that was successfully thrust onto his generation.

One day, after spending the weekend at a friend’s house without his father’s knowledge or approval, Benni was banished to the attic – after a severe beating and a broken collarbone, of course.  His father said he didn’t want to look at him any more.  Benni was labeled a disgrace for asking his friend to have him over, and “that kind of behaviour (begging) was simply not tolerated”.

Benni knew this was just another reason for his father to beat him up.  His father was always angry now, and everyone disappeared like roaches in the light when even a hint of his presence was felt.  The mother was always sick and she was fearful herself, so any assistance from her was non-existent.

As for moving his bedroom to the attic, Benni actually felt relieved as he finally found his tiny respite from the pain.  He was already emotionally detached from his family and he had nothing in common with any of them.  All that interested him now was listening to hockey games on the radio under a small spotlight in the darkened room and exploring his newfound talent for painting.

Emotionally and psychologically, the attic was taking its toll.  Solitary living, although a choice at the time, was sucking the life out of Benni.  Loneliness was a constant companion and the isolation drove him to a world where his only joy was reading and re-reading motivational books by Dale Carnegie, Napoleon Hill, and Norman Vincent Peale he stole from the local library.

***

Soon, Benni’s search for meaningful friendships outside of his bedroom walls was completely gone.  Endless days and nights brought lots of time to think and ponder about the meaning of life – his life; and somehow he felt this wasn’t something he should be concerned with at that stage in his life.  Not knowing it, but Benni was not developing normally as a young adolescent was supposed to become.

Everything was confusing and nothing seemed real as it appeared as if there were two alternative worlds in his same existence.  A part of him felt stuck and lost, yet the other felt as if he was going to become someone great and important.  A part of him wanted to meet new friends (but he didn’t even know how any more), and the other part didn’t want the emotional hassle with relationships.  Benni wanted to be a part of his family, but couldn’t bring himself to have anything to do with them.

He didn’t even know who he was anymore.  He wanted to believe in something positive again.  Breaching his teen years, he couldn’t quite articulate the feeling of a deep personal crisis forming in the base of his chest.

Benni went to the attic windows overlooking the street far below, opened them wide and invited the cold wind to choke back his first deep breath, and then fell to his knees.  Unable to cry, he looked to the sky and asked for help.  He then leaned over and exposed his head and shoulders to the frigid beast of fear.  With a long deep breath inhaled through his nose, he closed his eyes and wondered …

Values & Beliefs: The Evil of Graham James’ Criminal Sentence

With the sentencing of the pedophile Graham James, is this an indication of the Canadian justice system not understanding the true effects of sexual abuse against boys?

At least to me, there seems to be a huge void within the official government system in coming to grips with the true reality of the effect of this kind of abuse – against anybody!

How this act of ignorance by the justice system is still allowed to continue is beyond me.  In all their history and education, do they not truly hear and feel the effects on victims when their stories are shared?  Do they not have information from medical and psychological experts that worked with victims?  Do they not have access to cold statistics from agencies that show the cost to society?


The government of Canada is not short of information and resources
to know
the evil and life-long negative effects this can have on a victim.


It cannot be avoided in this day and age of wide open communication and personal expression to realize we are only now beginning to see the victims come forward with stories of heinous acts perpetrated against them.  What’s becoming more evident, is that we are only starting to see the “tip of the iceberg” on how wide-spread this epidemic will spill into the everyday walking public.  And how does the justice system deal with it?

I know one thing for sure, every organization that works, or have worked with young people going back 40 to 50 years ago are certainly shaking in their boots right now as they desperately re-visit their pasts.  And sadly, I have no doubt (given the conversations I’ve personally had with victims of pedophiles), that there will be a lot of shocking (or maybe not) news of organizations who have either made the complaints go away or turned a blind eye to the “quiet whispers” within the ranks.


Sadly still, this will not be limited to boys.
I’m sure we will hear about girls’ groups and organizations as well.

***

But back to the sentencing.

I’ve tried to look at it from different angles so I could firmly get a grip on my emotional rationale.  (Isn’t that a contradiction in terms, eh?)  Anyways, I was wondering how the public and the Justice System would react to such heinous and evil acts were perpetrated by Graham James if the boys were abused in a different way.

Now, I am just looking at the effects any particular crime would have on a victim.  I’ve considered the vulnerability of the victims and how they would relate to my following made-up scenario victims.  I’ve chosen that particular type of victim because I personally believe the same types of vulnerability relate.  They only differ in that James’ victims have an emotional/psychological disability, whereas the victims in the story below, they are physical.

***

Would the sentence be different if the boy’s lives were destroyed by James from a criminal misdeed such as this:

As a trusted community leader wielding enormous and unquestioned power (a dream coach), James promises success to blind boys who live by his every directive and hang on his every word as if he was a god. But after their work, James chooses specific vulnerable individuals who are told they must secretly drink a questionable and disgusting muscle-enhancing cocktail – or no more chances at fulfilling their dreams. They simply cannot say no. “Besides”, they think, “it’s not hurting me, and James would never hurt a blind boy trying to reach his dreams”.

After many years of increasing problems, the boys find out the cocktail was not healthy; rather, it was a poison that slowly eats away the brain. James deliberately gave it to them – on purpose – without their regard – with false promises – all for his personal and diabolical satisfaction while knowing that some day those boys would be physically broken, struggling, and never be the same again.

Some time later, James finally gets caught and admits his heinous crimes. As a serial offender with many other blind victims now living in the same shame, guilt, and pain, the epidemic of poisoning blind kids becomes more known to the public (80,000+ in Canada at some estimates).

When James go in front of the judge for sentencing, he tells the judge he’s sorry that he destroyed lives, and families, and CHILDREN who are now walking around quietly suffering without end.

***

This is what I HEARD IN MY HEAD (that other voice), what Her Honour had to say on passing sentence (interchange the real and made-up events):

“Mr. James, I believe you are truly sorry. I don’t believe you have any more now-adult blind victims out there (out of the thousands you were in contact with) who were forced to drink your poison when they were just boys.  So I’m going to be lenient.

Mr James, while statistics show otherwise, I believe someone who poisons blind boys for their own personal satisfaction usually only does it once or twice.  I believe that after attending that short program on how to stop poisoning blind boys, you have convinced me that you are honest in being cured of wanting to poison any more blind boys. Your truthfulness calls for leniency.

Mr James, I don’t see any physical issues your victims are currently facing. We can’t see how their minds are still slowly being eaten away after decades.  They are walking around and running their lives.  The issues they face can be fixed after a short program (something like yours).And finally Mr. James, forget about how their families suffered all those years as the poison quietly ate away at the victim’s brains. They don’t look like they have been or currently are suffering in trying to deal with the horrible effects and how they manifest in the victim’s actions.  Besides, all families fight, have secrets, and shame issues.  So, I will go easy on you.

Therefore Mr. James, I will only sentence you to 2 years for the following 10 reasons:

  1. admitting your actions (only after you’ve been caught),

  2. feeling sorry (only after you ran out of legal options),

  3. abusing your immense power (and getting away with it your decades),

  4. inflicting life-long pain on your victims (from which they would never recover),

  5. hiding in another country to avoid detection (hoping people will ignore or forget),

  6. being nice and coming back (to save you from a longer sentence),

  7. deceit, lying, coercion, destroying trust (on thousands of kids and adults who believed in you 100% without question),

  8. forcing the victims to risk their identity and shame by having to come forward publicly,

  9. allowing me the opportunity to totally disregard the severe and devastating impact on the his many victims, and

  10. I don’t think this crime is that much of a big deal. They were only blind kids and you only poisoned them a few times many years ago.

I trust this meets with your plea bargain.

***.

I know I am biased in my opinion when I compare these stories because I chose the scenario.  Personally, I believe vulnerable young people who are give their trust, innocence, power to an older and trusted individual, are ripe to sexual predators and pedophiles (whether against boys or girls).

.

Would you accept James’ actions if it was for poisoning instead of this type of crime (and hidden epidemic)?


After all, they provide the same result.

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Values & Beliefs: The Lobster and The Crab

This is a joke about how perception can create false impressions.  I think we do this a lot when we don’t have all the information we need to create an opinion about something.


 

A crab and a lobster are secretly dating.

Pretty soon, the lobster tires of the lying and tells her father, who then forbids her to see the crab anymore.

“It’ll never work, honey.” he says to her. “Crabs walk sideways and we walk straight.”

“Please,” she begs her father. “Just meet him once. I know you’ll like him.”

Her father finally relents and agrees to a one-time meeting, and she runs off to share the good news with her crab sweetie.

The crab is so excited he decides to surprise his beloved’s family. He practices and practices until he can finally walk straight!

On the BIG day, he walks the entire way to the lobster’s house as straight as he can.

Standing on the porch, and seeing the crab walking towards him, the lobster dad yells to his daughter…..

“I knew it! Here comes that crab and he’s drunk!”

Thanks to
Dr. David J. Baxter, Ottawa, Canada