George Orwell said that “If large numbers of people are interested in freedom of speech there will be freedom of speech even if the law forbids it. If public opinion is sluggish, inconvenient minorities will be persecuted even if laws exist to protect them.”
Since I read this a few days ago it has been swirling around and around in my mind. The events that followed the recent election (to use the term loosely) in Iran is evidence of the first part; even with arrests and punishment people found a way to exercise freedom of speech. In the face of torture. In the face of death. As President Obama said “…Their [Iranian protesters] bravery in the face of brutality is a testament to their enduring pursuit of justice,…The violence perpetrated against them [Iranian protesters] is outrageous. In spite of the government’s efforts to keep the world from bearing witness to that violence, we see it and we condemn it.”
And then there’s the second part of what Orwell said. How is it possible that within a democracy so little is being said about the rights of all to have access to health care? How is it that there isn’t a larger outcry from the very same people who rallied to elect Obama to start with? Why is there so little public campaigning for universal health care? Where is the concerted, organized, rational response to the lies (thank you again to Sarah Palin for introducing death panels as a real entity) and deception that’s being perpetrated by what I will call “the right” for lack of a better way of describing this out-of-control mob? Just a few weeks ago we witnessed what I’ve heard referred to as the Million Moron March on Washington; as these photos (as police records suggest) it wasn’t a million morons after all, perhaps fewer than 70,000. That’s comforting to me because at least it suggests that there are fewer people being duped and misled into hatemongering than I worry about.
So, what are we all doing about this? Continue reading
Sometimes, living in Canada, it’s just very very hard to figure out what goes on south of our border. I’ve been feeling that way quite a lot lately and it’s truly mystifying … and distressing. True, I’m not an American although I’ve spent a part of my life living in the US and, since my sister and her family live in California, and Santa Fe, NM is one of my favorite places, I spend a lot of time south of the 49th parallel. So why am I spending so much time thinking about this? Because, in the end, I’m pretty sure there’s something I can learn by figuring out what’s going on in the land of the free and the home of the brave. And in that quest for understanding I want to pause and thank President Bill Clinton and President Barack Obama for the light they’ve recently shed on this confusion and for how they’ve both helped me deepen my understanding of what life’s all about. Continue reading
I’m sitting here in the Red Cross office in Toronto ready to respond to phone calls from people offering help to the families affected by last Thursday’s tornado. What few people know is that Ontario gets almost 50% as many tornadoes every year as does “tornado alley” in the US. Thing is, most of these hit in rural areas and there’s little damage done. On Thursday though an F2 (150+ miles per hour winds) tornado passed right through Toronto, causing some damage in the city and lots of damage in a couple of suburbs just north of the city. One 11 year old boy, Owen MacPherson, died after seeking shelter in a conservation area along with some other children who were with him at a nature day camp. The tornado picked up the park’s gatehouse and flung it into the picnic shelter where Owen was hit. 2,500 people were evacuated, and over 600 homes were affected; roofs torn off, cars tossed like confetti, trees and telephone poles careening through the air. All of this happening only a few miles from where I sat in comfort enjoying a good meal with friends. So why do I have time, sitting here, to be writing? Well, let me tell you a little about the storm and a little about what’s happened here since. There’s lots to be learned for all of us I think. Continue reading
Posted in Lessons learned, What I'm doing
Tagged awareness, care, choices, community, compassion, disaster, einstein, empathy, inspiration, obama, recognition, tornadoes
It has been a very eventful week and as I sit here today I am so aware of feeling different; actually feeling the freedom I’d hoped for in retirement. Strange, given what’s transpired in the past week or so that I feel this way now after a trauma-filled week … but I do. It’s as if some kind of weight has been lifted from my spirit (and my shoulders) that is making life just plain easier to live. After years of feeling as if my immune system had collapsed I’m back to being who I once was; able to take things in my stride and move along in life with the things that matter the most to me. Continue reading
What wonderful Passover seders we had. Okay – so we didn’t draw the kind of attention that the seder at the Obamas house did, but both nights were truly memorable and fabulous for us. Right now I’m luxuriating in the glow of having just spent meaningful time with some of the people I love the most. These are the moments – for me – when I really can experience the light and the darkness together (check Part 2 of this linked posting) and just see how much goodness surrounds me. Let me go back – though – to a few days before Passover and a startling realization I came to. Continue reading
I’ve just returned from a blissful – and very busy – week in Ottawa with my daughter and her family. Freida just keeps getting bigger and bigger and things are unfolding as they do with a new baby in the household. The inevitable exhaustion has led to colds so the cooking that I did this time just focused on an enormous pot of chicken broth (aka Jewish penicillin. By the way, if you’re skeptical about this, check out what the Mayo clinic has to say about it: “scientists have put chicken soup to the test, discovering that it does have effects that might help relieve cold and flu symptoms in two ways. First, it acts as an anti-inflammatory by inhibiting the movement of neutrophils — immune system cells that participate in the body’s inflammatory response. Second, it temporarily speeds up the movement of mucus through the nose, helping relieve congestion and limiting the amount of time viruses are in contact with the nose lining“). I also managed to reupholster a set of antique dining room chairs (which we discovered had been made by the Stratford Furniture Co Ltd in the early 1900s some time). What I didn’t do all week – partly because I didn’t read any newspapers and partly because the kids don’t have TV in their home – was keep track of what was happening in the “light” news. This means that I missed the entire build-up to the great Daily Show debate between Jon Stewart and Jim Cramer. So, once I’d unpacked and settled in, David and I cuddled up and watched the build-up that took place during the week and finally the face-off (you see, I am Canadian). In case you didn’t see it, here’s Part 1 (just click here for Part 2 and Part 3).
Posted in Identity, Making decisions, Moving Forward, New awareness
Tagged awareness, change, choices, daily show, expectations, finances, Identity, jon stewart, obama, stock market
Suddenly I’m finding myself with an awful lot to do. One of the fantasies that I’d had for a long time about retirement was how relaxing it would be. I pictured myself going through each day dripping with relaxation and with a ray of sunshine over my shoulder, just as it was last November when we drove up Highway 1 in California celebrating the Obama victory. Well, it’s winter in Toronto so I guess that I shouldn’t have been expecting sunshine! As for walking in relaxation … well, that would mean quite a personality change for me. Maybe that’s more than I should wish for in such a short time. Nonetheless, as Lao Tsu said: “A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” Continue reading
Posted in Identity, Moving Forward, New awareness
Tagged business, change, choices, discipline, expectations, financial crisis, income, Jindal, obama, Palin, time