Sharing with you things that are on my mind...Maybe yours too. Come back to Wrights Lane for a visit anytime!

21 February, 2018

AN UNSPOKEN EPIDEMIC AMONGST US


Ontario PC Party Leader Patrick Brown's sexual harrasment charges the past couple of weeks have over-shadowed other similarly distasteful stories developing in Canada and the United States.
Just a for-instance:
Despite its supposed “zero tolerance” stance on domestic abuse, it would seem the Church of Latter Day Saints really dropped the ball this time. Two female members of the church – who both happen to be ex-wives of American White House staff secretary Rob Porter – claim LDS church officials tried to cover up abuse they faced at the hands of Porter.

Forced to resign last week amid the brewing scandal, Porter has continued to deny any allegations that he physically abused either of his ex-wives. With his resignation official, attention has now shifted to the Mormon church’s handling (read: ignoring) of the abuse. Church officials are under fire for putting the reputation of a prominent male church member above the safety of vulnerable female members – a grave violation of their professed “zero tolerance” policy on domestic abuse.

Jennifer Willoughby and Colbie Holderness each brought the abuse to the attention of Mormon faith leaders, desperate for help. But instead of confronting Porter or offering assistance, the LDS bishops took the side of the abuser and remained reluctant to believe the women’s stories. Most damning – they even tried to dissuade them from seeking justice, cautioning that it could hurt Porter’s career ambitions.

“When I tried to get help, I was counseled to consider carefully how what I said might affect his career,” Willoughby wrote in a blog post last year. “Friends and clergy didn’t believe me. And so I stayed.”  When she tried to bring up her husband’s anger issues, the clergy members seemed more concerned with Porter’s image than her well-being.

Holderness even documented the abuse (see photo above) – taking a picture of a black eye she insists was her husband’s doing. She says the Mormon church completely let her down.

“It wasn’t until I went to a secular counselor at my workplace one summer and told him what was going on that he was the first person, and not a male religious leader, who told me that what was happening was not OK.”

While the LDS Church has refused to directly address the claims of both women, they did release a general statement: “It is difficult to speak to specific circumstances without complete information from all involved, but the position of the church is clear: There is zero tolerance for abuse of any kind.”

But this doesn’t seem to jive with behavior patterns within the church. Julie de Azevedo Hanks, a professional therapist and fellow Mormon, explains why clergy members tend to side with the husband during a domestic dispute. “Since it is more likely that the bishop knows the husband (because they’ve been in church classes together, maybe even served together in callings),” Hanks said, “it is more likely that the bishop will sympathize with the male.”

Unfortunately, this story isn’t exactly a break from the norm. Religious institutions have a long history of engaging in, sanctioning, and covering up abuse. The most infamous example is of course the Catholic Church, which hid and then denied its own sexual abuse scandal for decades, defending scores of predatory priests in the process. But this problem runs much deeper than one single institution – it’s an unspoken epidemic.

Whether it’s battered women or helpless children, or sexual harrasment in its varied forms, these tales of abuse reveal a terribly uncomfortable truth: that the individuals we see as “most holy” in our society sometimes act in the least holy ways.

Here’s a question: If victims of abuse cannot expect help from faith leaders when they need it most, how can the church honestly claim to be looking out for the most vulnerable among us?

Now, don't get me started on charges against politicians Patrick Brown...and Kyle Dykstra...and Kent Hehr in the past few weeks!

17 February, 2018

RECENT ADDITIONS TO...

See https://mywrightstory.blogspot.ca for important up-to-date revisions to this site, including crucial new information on Henry Wright.

In support of Richard K. Wright's United Empire Loyalist certification

I was delighted to come across a 600-page Commemorative Biographical Record of Essex, Ontario, "Sketches of prominent and representative citizens and many of the early settled families," published in 1905.  The following extract is the impressive and detailed entry for the Wright family with Great Uncle Arthur as the subject:

"ARTHUR WRIGHT, a well-known citizen of Colchester South, is a worthy representative of one of the pioneer families of the township, and is of pure English extraction. Henry Wright, his great-grandfather, was born and reared in England, and in young manhood emigrated to America, settling at Rutland, Pennsylvania. There he married Mary Klingensmith. Being a United Empire Loyalist, he left Pennsylvania and removed to Canada when trouble arose between the colonies and the mother country. He had a brother, however, who remained in the States.

"Henry Wright lived for a short time at Grosse Ile, but left there as soon as he discovered that it was not English soil, and then settled at Malden, on the Big Creek, later moving to the lake shore, where he took up land. Here his death occurred and here he was buried. His children, all born before his removal to Canada, were as follows: William married Betsy Lipps (he became the grandfather of Ellis L. Wright); Philip married (first) Miss Dowler, and (second) Delilah Malott, and became the grandfather of our subject; Henry married (first) Miss Hitchcock, by whom he had one daughter, Deborah, who married Matthew McCormick, and (second) Hannah Lipps; Thomas married (first) Jennie Little, (second) Mary Leighton, and (third) Abbie Larabie; Betsy married John Brush; Mary married Asa Wilcox; Mattie married Samuel Watson; Katie married Henry Lipps.

"Philip Wright, the grandfather of Arthur Wright, was born Jan. 5, 1775, at Rutland, Pennsylvania, and came with his parents to Grosse Ile, and later to Malden, where he was first married. The daughter of this first union was Anna, born March 30, 1796, who married Capt. John McCormick. His second marriage was to Delilah Malott, who was born June 30, 1786, on Grosse lie, and they had the following children: Lucy, born Nov. 28, 1802, married Isaac Ferriss; Catherine was born Nov. 18, 1804; Peter, born Sept. 30, 1806, married Betty Snider ; William, born Nov. 14, 1808, was twice married, first to a Miss Buchanan, and died in the States; Sarah, born Nov. 12, 1811, is the widow of Charles Larrabee, and at the age of ninety- three is still in the possession of unimpaired faculties; Philip S., born Dec. 4, 1813, married Mary Quick; Theodore, born Nov. 10, 1816, married Arabella Leighton, and they reside at Ludington, Michigan; Ebenezer, born Sept. 20, 1818, is mentioned below; Mary Christine, born Oct. 16, 1820, married Thomas Leighton, and died at Wyandotte, Michigan; Susannah, born Dec. 9, 1824, married Peter Larrabee and died in the States. The father of this family died Sept. 30, 1849.

"Being of age when he came to Colchester South township, Philip Wright received a 200- acre grant of land adjoining that of his father, but for a time all lived under one roof. When he started independently he took the rear half of Lots 75 and 76, arid upon Lot 75 chose a most desirable site for his home. This spot is now marked by a pear tree, and a few rods south of the spot is located a fine spring, which is stoned to a depth of twelve feet and flows sixty-five barrels every twenty-four hours. In the log house here erected, many, if not all, of the numerous family were born. The place is further marked by a stately elm, measuring seventeen feet in circumference, which towers over and shades the spring, and it is stated on good authority that this tree was planted by the daughter Lucy. At that time it was but a small shoot, which was guarded with care; its roots were nourished by the spring which it was designed to shade, and it stands a living memento of a generation almost faded away.

"Ebenezer Wright, of the above family, father of Arthur Wright, was born Sept. 20, 1818, in the old house near the spring, and spent his life on that farm, where he died Feb. 28, 1900. He married Eliza Stockwell, born Aug. 22, 1818, who died May 18, 1881. He occupied the old French frame house that was built nearly seventy years ago, which he later moved nearer to the Potleg road, and which is still standing, although not now occupied as a residence. Some two years ago our subject built a fine modern home. Ebenezer Wright received the west half of Lot 76, and gave his whole attention to farming, reaping much success. In his political views he was a Reformer. Religiously he belonged to the Methodist Church.

"To Ebenezer Wright and his wife were born the following-named children: Salathial, who lives in Gosfield South, married (first) Lucinda Bertrand, by whom he had five children, and (second) Barbara Shaw, by whom he had two children. Annie is the widow of Sidney Patton, of Harrow, and has five children. Wesley, a farmer of  Dresden, County of Kent, married three times, and had three children. Arthur is the subject of this sketch. Burwell, a barber of Harrow, married Minnie Bingham. Erie died at the age of three years.

"Arthur Wright was born May 25, 1855, at the old home farm, where he was reared through a healthy boyhood, spent much in the open air, to a sturdy manhood. He attended the local schools up to the age of sixteen and then began to assume charge of a great part of the agricultural development of the farm. He now owns the homestead, and there are few farms in the township more valuable as to location or productiveness. Mr. Wright devotes himself to a general line of farming, and successfully raises the grains, vegetables and fruits of the climate. Politically Mr. Wright, like his father, is a member of the Reform party. Fraternally he belongs to the Order of Workmen and is a valued and useful member of the local agricultural society.  He is a practical, well-informed, up-to-date farmer, whose methods are founded on knowledge of climate and soil, and whose success demonstrates their value."

* NOTE: Here is another newspaper clipping on the death of Uncle Burwell Wright, 1858-1908, one of my grandfather Wesley's brothers and the son of Great Grandfather Ebenezer Wright. The detail in these two accounts is incredible and substantiates much of the information published on my blog site "The Wright Story".

As published in the Amherstburg Echo, July 24, 1908



12 February, 2018

PM Justin Trudeau Regrets ‘Peoplekind’ remark: "I Made a Dumb Joke"




11 February, 2018

WE ARE EQUIPPED TO BALANCE THE CONTRASTS OF LIFE

I was thinking earlier today about the contrasts in life and came to the conclusion that we fulfill our destinies through the manner in which we understand and deal with those contrasts.  You know -- haves vs. have nots, weaks and strongs, goods and bads, happies and sads, lovers and haters, the rich and the poor, the sick and the healthy.

Humans are not all the same all the time and I suspect that was by creative design. We are put on this earth to balance off each other. It is all a matter of how we manage those contrasts, just as an artist balances color and a musician balances rhythmic sound for a symmetrical effect.

I believe that God, who created heaven and earth, also invented the concept of contrast. He created opposite seasons, like winter and summer. He departs from evil and abides in righteousness. Even through His death, He gave us life. Perhaps this is why contrast is such a powerful element, because it is in the building block of literally everything we have come to know through the millennia as a race, and throughout our own lives as individuals.

The above came to mind after an on-line conversation with a very dear friend who is experiencing the devastation of an extremely sick daughter, all the while providing care and support for an aging mother, not to mention dealing with health issues of her own. "I can't see the good of such suffering as many go through who are ill but I have to trust that God has some plan I cannot see,"

My friend was echoing the sentiments of many who ask "Why is God making this happen?" or "Surely God has a plan in all of this..."

My only answer to those questions is that the most significant plan God has, and the one that we ought to pay closest attention to, is the one revealed in Romans 8:28-30, which tells us that the burden really does not rest on our ability to perceive God’s plan, but rather His faithfulness to the plan He has for our salvation, as well as His sovereign ability to bring us through to the destination he has ordained.

God, from his lofty position on high, is not up there making bad things (or good things, for that matter) happen for the 7.5 billion inhabitants of the world, rather he has gifted all of us with the necessary positives to deal with every negative in life. That's why we are given certain ability to deal with, or counter , the needs of life -- strength to deal with weak, health to deal with sickness, rich to provide for the poor, love to overcome hate. The things that make the world go around.

So, my friend, balance of contrasts keeps things in perspective for us.

We’re pulled in so many different directions—work, family, church, and so much more. How in the world can we find balance?

“How can I have a more balanced life?” This is perhaps another common question. Hidden behind the idea of “balance,” what people usually really look for is a to-do list -- the secret to getting more done, in less time, without as much stress.

The answer may be a bit shocking..."Focus less on the things (or people) you need to take care of, and more on yourself."  Balance starts with you. If you want to have more balance in your life, and hence the world around you, you need to know yourself well, manage your commitments, and steward the gifts God has given you.

In the end, with faith, we come out of it all as better people...Ready to take on the next challenge we have been equipped to face, if that is our destiny.

We are all tools of God in this maintenance job we call life.

10 February, 2018

PLEASE BE QUIET WHEN YOU READ THIS POST...

Science Says Silence Is Much More Important To Our Brains Than We Think.



















The brain is actively internalizing and evaluating information during silence





A 2001 study defined a “default mode” of brain function that showed that even when the brain was “resting” it was perpetually active internalizing and evaluating information.

Follow-up research found that the default mode is also used during the process of self-reflection. In 2013, in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, Joseph Moran et al. wrote, the brain’s default mode network “is observed most closely during the psychological task of reflecting on one’s personalities and characteristics (self-reflection), rather than during self-recognition, thinking of the self-concept, or thinking about self-esteem, for example.”

When the brain rests it is able to integrate internal and external information into “a conscious workspace,” said Moran and colleagues. 

When you are not distracted by noise or goal-orientated tasks, there appears to be a quiet time that allows your conscious workspace to process things. During these periods of silence, your brain has the freedom it needs to discover its place in your internal and external world.


The default mode helps you think about profound things in an imaginative way.
As Herman Melville once wrote, “All profound things and emotions of things are preceded and attended by silence.”


A 2013 study on mice published in the journal Brain, Structure and Function used differed types of noise and silence and monitored the effect the sound and silence had on the brains of the mice. The silence was intended to be the control in the study but what they found was surprising. The scientists discovered that when the mice were exposed to two hours of silence per day they developed new cells in the hippocampus. The hippocampus is a region of the brain associated with memory, emotion and learning.

The growth of new cells in the brain does not necessarily translate to tangible health benefits. However, in this instance, researcher Imke Kirste says that the cells appeared to become functioning neurons.

“We saw that silence is really helping the new generated cells to differentiate into neurons, and integrate into the system.”

In this sense silence can quite literally grow your brain.
I crave silence, but I never seem to get enough of it!  My invalid wife has the TV on a good 18 hours a day and it's driving me crazy.  That's why I found this subject so interesting.

In 2011, the Finnish Tourist Board ran a campaign that used silence as a marketing ‘product’. They sought to entice people to visit Finland and experience the beauty of this silent land. They released a series of photographs of single figures in the nature and used the slogan “Silence, Please”. A tag line was added by Simon Anholt, an international country branding consultant, “No talking, but action.”

Eva Kiviranta the manager of the social media for VisitFinland.com said: “We decided, instead of saying that it’s really empty and really quiet and nobody is talking about anything here, let’s embrace it and make it a good thing”.

Finland may be on to something very big. You could be seeing the very beginnings of using silence as a selling point as silence may be becoming more and more attractive. As the world around becomes increasingly loud and cluttered you may find yourself seeking out the reprieve that silent places and silence have to offer. This may be a wise move as studies are showing that silence is much more important to your brains than you might think.

Silence relieves stress and tension

It has been found that noise can have a pronounced physical effect on our brains resulting in elevated levels of stress hormones. The sound waves reach the brain as electrical signals via the ear. The body reacts to these signals even if it is sleeping. It is thought that the amygdalae (located in the temporal lobes of the brain) which is associated with memory formation and emotion is activated and this causes a release of stress hormones. If you live in a consistently noisy environment that you are likely to experience chronically elevated levels of stress hormones.

A study that was published in 2002 in Psychological Science (Vol. 13, No. 9) examined the effects that the relocation of Munich’s airport had on children’s health and cognition. Gary W. Evans, a professor of human ecology at Cornell University notes that children who are exposed to noise develop a stress response that causes them to ignore the noise. What is of interest is that these children not only ignored harmful stimuli they also ignored stimuli that they should be paying attention to.

“This study is among the strongest, probably the most definitive proof that noise – even at levels that do not produce any hearing damage – causes stress and is harmful to humans,” Evans says.

Silence seems to have the opposite effect of the brain to noise. While noise may cause stress and tension silence releases tension in the brain and body. A study published in the journal Heart discovered that two minutes of silence can prove to be even more relaxing than listening to “relaxing” music. They based these findings of changes they noticed in blood pressure and blood  in the brain.


The effect that noise pollution can have on cognitive task performance has been extensively studied. It has been found that noise harms task performance at work and school. It can also be the cause of decreased motivation and an increase in error making. The cognitive functions most strongly affected by noise are reading attention, memory and problem solving.

Studies have also concluded that children exposed to households or classrooms near airplane flight paths, railways or highways have lower reading scores and are slower in their development of cognitive and language skills.

But it is not all bad news. It is possible for the brain to restore its finite cognitive resources. According to the attention restoration theory when you are in an environment with lower levels of sensory input the brain can ‘recover’ some of its cognitive abilities. In silence the brain is able to let down its sensory guard and restore some of what has been ‘lost’ through excess noise. 

Summation: Traveling to Finland may just well be on your list of things to do. There you may find the silence you need to help your brain. Or, if Finland is a bit out of reach for now, you could simply take a quiet walk in a peaceful place in your neighborhood. This might prove to do you and your brain a world of good...and it will cost nothing.

I can't wait for the weather to improve so I can get out there to hear the sounds of silence.

09 February, 2018

THE NIGHT I LET TOMMY WHITE'S SON STAY IN THE GAME

I look for the ironies in life and you would be surprised where I find them.

Yesterday in my well-received "Autograph to Bob Massecar, 62 Years After the Fact" post on Wrights Lane, I talked about my consternation in manager-coach Tommy White taking me out of a baseball game in 1956 in favor of a pinch hitter.  Instead of announcing his intentions to me while still in the dugout, he gave me the yank after I had actually stepped into the batters' box.

The crowd and my teammates were privy to my embarrassment and deflation. It was all part of the game of baseball, of course, but the incident had an impact on a guy as young and as sensitive as me at the time.  Up to his death some 20 years ago, Tommy and I never once discussed the night he lifted me for a pinch hitter.
Tommy White
Dick Wright
 Well, jump ahead another 14 years when I myself was manager/coach of St. Thomas Empires in the Southern Ontario Intermediate Baseball League. The scene was again Pinafore Park in St. Thomas and I called the same Tommy White's youngest son Jim up from the Junior Tom Cats to pitch a few games for my Empires.  In his first starting appearance young Jim did quite well until he ran into trouble in the 7th inning.  With one out in the inning, he loaded the bases and allowed the opposition to score two runs, reducing our lead to a single run.

Fully intending to bring in a relief pitcher, I went to the mound to announce my decision to Jim.
"You're getting tired Jim, I'm bringing in Al Gibbs to replace you!" I said with as much authority as I could muster.

"No, I'm not coming out," Jim replied, punching a fist into his glove and turning his back to me.

"Come on Jim, you've got to go...I'm the manager, or did you forget?" I insisted.

"No, I'm not!" he replied, demonstrating a firm insistence I had never before seen from him.  "I can get them out, you'll see."

Feeling myself weakening just a bit, I asked: "Are you sure you're alright?"

With the words "Yes, definitely!" from Jim, I recanted and let him "stay in for one more batter."

I gave him a pat on the back and left the mound saying "You'll have something to tell your dad when you get home tonight...How you talked Dick Wright out of pulling you from the game."  No one in the park knew what had transpired between the two of us...For all anyone knew I had just delivered a pep talk.

A suddenly rejuvenated Jim went on to retire the side. We scored a single run in the 8th inning and held the two-run lead to finish out the game.  End of story.

Regardless of the outcome, I often wondered if my handling of the Jim White situation was the mark of weakness on my part as a manager. I wonder too, what would have been the outcome if his dad, Tommy White, had let me bat in the 6th inning of that fateful night at Pinafore Park in 1956.

I could have hit a home run, for crying out loud and impressed Milwaukee Braves Scout Dewey Griggs who was in the stands that night.

Knowing me though, I would have struck out!

08 February, 2018

AN AUTOGRAPH FOR BOB, 62 YEARS AFTER THE FACT


Back in the summer of 1956 I was trying to put the disappointment of an all-to-short stint in professional baseball behind me as an 18-year-old rookie member of the St. Thomas Elgins of the Senior Intercounty Baseball League.  I held my own that season but it was not without ups and downs.

I had just stepped into the batter's box in the bottom of the sixth inning of one particular game against the Kitchener Panthers at Pinafore Park in St. Thomas when I heard manager Tommy White yell "time" as he lept out of the dugout.   "Pinch hitter", the tobacco chomping Tommy announced to plate umpire Snapper Binns.

Not believing that I was being yanked so unceremoniously from the game and suddenly inflicted with a convenient loss of hearing, I stayed in the batter's box.  "You're coming out of the game Dick...I'm putting a pinch hitter in for you," said an obviously agitated Tommy.

I tossed my bat aside and walked dejectedly to the dugout.  I had never before been pulled from a game.  I was both deflated and embarrassed.

Without stopping, I picked up my glove from the bench and headed to the dressing room at the back of the grandstand.  Enroute I was approached by a young lad, about 14 years old, with a note pad in his hand.  "Can I have your autograph?" he asked politely.
Bob (then)

I was in no mood to sign my first-ever autograph and pushed past the young fellow, slamming the dressing room door behind me.  I can't remember if I said anything at the time but I do recall thinking that I was the last person he should be asking for an autograph and that it was all so unfortunate and inopportune.

Quickly changing my clothes, I left the ball park and went AWOL, ending up catching a bus for my home in Dresden where I spent the weekend pondering my future in baseball -- period.

When I returned to St. Thomas the following week I caught hell from my landlady for not letting her know of my whereabouts and then from manager Tommy for leaving the ball team unannounced.  They were both justified in their annoyance and concern.

I put the entire incident out of my mind for a good 10 years until, in fact, I was chatting one day with Bob Massecar, a fellow newspaper reporter. Conjuring up his best sad face, Bob reminded me that he was the young autograph seeker that I had so abruptly rejected during an Elgins game at Pinafore Park all those years before.

Bob (today)
I couldn't believe it. I felt terrible and apologized profusely...Bob's a good guy and I think that he forgave me.

But, you know what?  My conscience still bothers me to this day.  Young Bob genuinely wanted my autograph and had no way of knowing what was going on in my own immature mind after being pulled from that game. I thoughtlessly made my dejection his rejection.

Suddenly, the bright idea struck me this morning that it is still not too late to try to make it up to Bob.  I can belatedly send him my autograph electronically, along with this little story. Hopefully he'll get a kick out of it.

So here you are Bob...Sorry my friend!

For what it's worth, sincerely yours,

-- Dick

07 February, 2018

UPDATE ON COUNTERING FAKE SOCIAL MEDIA NEWS IN CANADA

There are nearly as many Canadians who use Facebook daily as there are people in this country who are registered to vote.

As a follow up to my last post on falsified news and doctored photos generated on social media feeds, it is prudent to report that two of the world's biggest digital information platforms say they're getting ready to roll out tools in Canada designed to crack down on so-called "fake news."

The phenomenon of false or misleading information being widely disseminated online became a major storyline in the U.S. presidential campaign, which culminated in election of Donald Trump.  It has also been happening in Canada: Conservative leadership candidate Kellie Leitch's campaign manager, Nick Kouvalis, has admitted posting false information about the Trudeau government in an effort to draw out left-leaning voters.

Kouvalis tweeted a list of "billions" of dollars Justin Trudeau's Liberal government had supposedly given to international aid organizations in the last year, including $351 million for the designated terrorist group Hamas.  He later admitted the information was false, telling Maclean's magazine that he posted it "to make the left go nuts."

So let's not get smug guys!  I have developed an eye for this sort of thing and believe me it occurs every day on Facebook alone...And people fall for it, depending on their political leanings or social biases. As a rule of thumb I take all releases from political parties or their representatives as propaganda until I have had a chance to double (and triple) check the facts; likewise any statements in isolation that are cleverly packaged on Facebook to attract knee-jerk reactions and shares.  They all do it because they can...They do it because they think the public is gullible, and for the most part they are right.

NEWS FLASH: Some of us are catching on!

Both Google and Facebook have been testing online tools in the U.S. and the U.K. aimed at helping users identify credible information posted on their web portals.  And they say they expect to provide similar tools to Canadian users soon.

Google has incorporated a "fact-check" tag into some news pages to help readers find fact-checked content in large stories. "We're actively working to bring this feature to Canada in the near future," said a source at Google who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak about it publicly.

Facebook said it was still in the early stages of testing, tweaking and rolling out tools to combat fake news.  "It is still early days, but we're looking forward to learning and continuing to roll this out more broadly soon," said Facebook spokesman Alex Kucharski.

Canadian Heritage Minister Melanie Joly is on record as saying she wants to speak with social network and media managers to see what, if anything, the government can do to ensure Canadians are viewing reliable information when they search the Internet.

The best news to date was the announcement that a classroom program "NewsWise", aimed at teaching Canadian elementary and high school students how to detect fake news in an era in which almost anyone can publish information, is under development. The idea is to enhance general news literacy among students aged nine to 19, an increasingly important skill set when so many readily accessible news accounts are unreliable or simply fabricated.

"Fake news accelerates distrust in our institutions, including distrust of the trained media who spend so much time trying to hold the powerful to account," David Walmsley, editor of The Globe and Mail, said in a statement. "This initiative provides an arena to engage a younger audience and to ensure they're equipped with the skills to identify reliable sources of information."

As I keep emphasizing, social media have become a key means for spreading news, with the difference between real, mistaken and deliberately fake information often hard to discern. Two organizations, CIVIX and the Canadian Journalism Foundation, said they would work with academics and journalists to develop the curriculum for about 1.5 million Canadian students. CIVIX, a national charity focused on getting youth engaged in civics, stressed the importance of reliable news sources to a functional democracy.

Google Canada, part of the worldwide information behemoth that has come under fire from some mainstream news organizations for making their product widely available at no cost to consumers, is also providing $500,000 to fund the NewsWise classroom program.

So all is not lost...credible news is still possible.  We just have to keep our fingers crossed.

Meantime Canada needs to catch up on analyzing and responding to these new challenges. With thanks to Edward Greenspon, president and CEO of the Public Policy Forum, and Taylor Owen, assistant professor of digital media and global affairs at the University of British Columbia,  here's where we could start:

-- A well-funded and ongoing research program to keep tabs on the evolving networks and methods of anti-democratic forces, including their use of new technologies. Government support for artificial intelligence is necessary; so is vigilance about how it is applied and governed. 

-- Upgraded reconnaissance and defences to detect and respond to attacks in the early stages, as with the European Union’s East StratCom Task Force. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has already instructed his Minister of Democratic Institutions to help political parties protect against hackers. That’s good, but a total rethink of electoral integrity is required, including tightening political spending limits outside writ periods and appointing a digital-savvy chief electoral officer. 

-- Measures to ensure the vitality of genuine news reporting; fake news cannot be allowed vacant space in which to flourish. 

-- Transparency and accountability around algorithms and personal data. Recent European initiatives would require platform companies to keep data stored within the national boundaries where it was collected and empower individuals to view what’s collected on them.

Finally, the best safeguard against incursions on commonweal is a truly inclusive democracy, meaning tireless promotion of economic opportunity and social empathy. 

05 February, 2018

THE DISHONEST WAR OF RHETORIC AND SPIN THAT PITS SIDES

I republish this distorted, photo-shopped image recently widely circulated on Facebook as an example of dishonest and misleading propaganda designed to embarrass and discredit for the edification of an unspecting public. The truth is, the photo-op never happened and is completely manufactured as is the grossly-enlarged cheque. Actual facts of the Federal Governement payment to Omar Khadr aside, the point is that proponents of any cause should not have to stoop to this level in order to influence the gullible segment of the population. We so easily forget about ethics in today's society, especially on social media. I resist the temptation to point a finger at the naive and unsuspecting individuals who find it necessary, or impressive, to copy and share this type of garbage on their timelines...We'll go easy on them here FOR THEY KNOW NOT WHAT THEY DO.

Let's face it, there are obstinate people in our midst -- the haters of the world -- those who will go to any length to spew their venom and shockingly opinionated biases.  While yet to be directed at me, I am nevertheless offended every time I see or hear the words "dumb", "stupid", "idiot", "f----ing bastard" directed at someone (private citizen or politician) with a differing view or persuasion on Facebook or Twitter.  I cannot help but wonder what they say to their enemies when they talk like that to supposed "friends"?

It is all so distasteful and uncalled for, uncivilized, reflecting poorly. Sadly, and to make matters worse, the majority of these ill-advised individuals are otherwise decent, solid citizens. Go figure!!!

One of the issues bringing out the worst in a lot of people participating in protracted and controversial social media exchanges recently has been the concocted "immigrants vs. veterans" question.  What comes to mind when you consider that phrase? Lately, it’s been like a war; rhetoric and spin pitting the two groups against one another within the mainstream social narrative more times than one can count. In the “sport” of support, the public has felt pressure to pick a side or a player, as though political talking points have become little more than fantasy football stats to be debated in a locker room.

The Journal of Politics and International Affairs in the U.S. pretty well nails it with the following statement: "This strategy of pitting two seemingly disparate demographics of the population only further polarizes any meaningful immigration or veterans affairs reform. Furthermore, illegal immigrants and veterans are not as mutually exclusive as politicized rhetoric makes it out to be."
As a general rule with very few exceptions, whenever you encounter someone arguing that “We [Canadians/Americans] shouldn’t be doing X to help those people over there until we fix Y over here for our own people,” then you have also just encountered someone who doesn’t really give two hoots about actually doing anything to fix Y over here.

We saw this rule demonstrated after the Boxing Day tsunami and the Haiti earthquake a few years ago. “Why should we be helping those people over there when we have homeless people who need help here at home?” asked tens of thousands of North Americans who had not previously, and did not subsequently, express any meaningful concern for North America’s homeless. “Why should we be helping Ebola victims in West Africa when we have people who need health care here in America?” asked the same people, before going back to denouncing the Affordable Care Act as socialist slavery.

The same thing happens every time tragedy strikes anywhere in the world and Americans and Canadians respond — whether through private charities or through governmental action. We hear this same protest and same feigned concern every time there’s a famine or a natural disaster or a wave of refugees displaced by war.

And 99.9 percent of the time these sudden, fervent expressions of concern for “people right here home” is completely and demonstrably insincere. It is almost always only said by people who have spent the rest of their miserable lives similarly protesting and opposing any effort to do anything good or fair or decent for those same “people right here at home.”  Anything that supports agenda, no matter how outrageous and inflated, has gleefully become fair game.

Those with a genuine commitment to improving life for “people right here” never make this argument. You’ll never hear a political official arguing that we shouldn’t send relief to Pakistani earthquake victims because we should be spending that money to repair and rebuild our horrifically broken public defender system. You’ll never hear anyone opposing medical aid to eradicate malaria abroad because it is a distraction from the need for trust-busting banking reform here in our own country. And you’ll never hear opposition parties suggesting that resources spent resettling refugees should be redirected to transition us from fossil fuels to cleaner, renewable energy sources.

Decent people don’t play that game. People who genuinely care about one good thing do not treat every other good thing as competition that must be crushed and stopped. They do not argue that justice for X should come at the expense of injustice for Y.

Good people devoted to and focused on a single good cause come to see — precisely because of that devotion — the connections and intersections of that cause and of other good and worthy causes. They recognize the truth of Martin Luther King’s statement that “We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny.” And they recognize that the transformations they are seeking in systems and national character are congruent with the transformations that those other causes require.

At some basic level, the kind of nation that is able to respond to earthquake victims abroad will be more like the kind of nation that is able to make positive changes “right here at home” to address our own needs and injustices. And at that same basic level, the kind of nation that turns its back on those earthquake victims, or those Ebola victims, or those refugees, will be the kind of nation that is less likely and less able to ever address the problems it has on the home front

So folks, don’t pretend you’re suddenly concerned about the common good right here at home and that’s why you oppose doing even something as depressingly minimal as sheltering 10,000 refugees. Don’t lie to me and don’t lie to yourself by suddenly pretending that you’re concerned about the welfare of homeless veterans.

That’s baloney and everybody knows it. The only people impressed by pretense and play-acting are the other pretentious fantasists on Facebook feeds who rush to “Like” blatant posturing because it allows them to join in the game and pretend that they’re also virtuous and heroic champions of homeless veterans, even though they didn’t give a damn about them last week and will go back to not giving a damn about them next week.

Pro-veteran proponents do themselves (and veterans) a disservice when they enter the "immigrants vs. veterans" frey.  It should not be an "us vs. them" controversy, rather it should be a question of how we and our government treat each group fairly and compassionately, based on merit.

Furthermore, in this case, I do not think that we are comparing apples and apples and we should not get sucked in by those with biases who distort and take liberties with the truth just because they think that they can get away with the ruse.  It makes me want to smack them, both literally and figuratively.  

03 February, 2018

THEY STAYED AWAY FROM ME IN DROVES...STILL DO!

I don't know about you, but I have a few things that have bothered me most of my life and I can't shake them.  Anxiety, persecution complex, self pity, over sensitivity, whatever you want to call it...I've experienced it all and still do for that matter.  Maybe, just maybe, if I talk about it I will feel better.

I do not intend to psychoanalyze myself in this post.  I will simply convey my issue(s) and impressions thereof to the best of my memory and in the hope of getting something persistent off my chest.
WON'T YOU PLEASE COME  IN AND
BUY SOMETHING FROM ME!

In my formative years I was painfully shy, sensitive and overly accommodating.  Influenced by my parents, I was always polite and respectful, careful of what I said and how I said it.  Somehow, however, I got the feeling that people were getting the wrong impression and not taking me serious.  In short, it was not working for me.  In later life as I found confidence in myself as a conveyor of the written word, I developed the courage of my convictions and ultimately the crustiness to be  outspoken.  That hasn't necessarily always worked for me either, but I digress.

In 1952 I began working for Don Weese in his men's clothing store in Dresden, ON as a 14-year-old high school student.  When Don sold his business to Art Bowen of Wallaceburg in 1955 I stayed on as interim store manager.  In those days Dresden, with its population of 2,000+, had four downtown establishments selling men's clothing.  I didn't think much about it at the time, but in all of those five years I can honestly count on one hand (with a couple of fingers left over) the number of people who actually came into the store specifically to buy something from me. Oh sure we had customers but they were few and far between...Quite honestly I do not know how Don and Art kept the store open as long as they did.  Certainly it wasn't because of me.

I remember a young fellow my age, Lorden Crosby, asking me if he could buy a pair of GWG bluejeans ($9.95)  "on time" and I agreed to let him have them for $1 down and a dollar a month until paid.  Another friend, Jim Simmons, bought a pair of made-to-measure dress pants from me shortly before joining the Canadian Navy.  That was it...No member of my family or other friends from school, church or sports ever stepped foot in the store, although Don Brooker and town character Dave McCracken would drop in for long chats on quiet Saturday evenings.  One Christmas my mother gave me a pair of socks that she bought from Cunninghams in Chatham.  If that doesn't tell you something, nothing will.

Things did not change much when I joined the Jack Fraser chain in 1956 after a short stint in professional baseball.  Jack Fraser management used me, then a local ball player, as a drawing card(?) for their store in St. Thomas but I'm sure that proved to be an advertising failure.  Funny how things stand out in your mind and again I can recall only two individuals who came in the store specifically to deal with me -- one a girl friend who bought a sweater for her father and another the son-in-law of my landlady who purchased a suit.  Fortunately the St. Thomas store had an otherwise established clientele, but not sufficient for me to ever meet a weekly draw against commission.

I was transferred to a store in Chatham as assistant manager in 1959 and after a 13-month stay I was completely shut out.  I didn't know anyone in Chatham at that time but I still had family and a few friends in nearby Dresden who would surely have shopped for men's apparel on special occasions if nothing else; but you wouldn't know it by me.  One very close fashion-plate cousin, in fact, was known to buy all of his substantial wardrobe from Boyes and Herd at the other end of King Street in Chatham.

Eventually I came to two conclusions...1) People simply did not like the merchandise in my stores, or 2) there had to be something about me that made them feel uncomfortable and they took patronage elsewhere. What that something was remains a mystery to me. After subsequent years as a newspaper editor, public relations practitioner and lay minister I am still self-reflecting and looking for answers, all the while coping with a culpable carryover paranoia of disrespect and resentment toward me for who I am and what I stand for, real or imagined.

In retrospect, I am left to conclude that I am not the type of guy to draw people to me. Sadly the communicator within me has somehow failed to communicate.  I am comfortable in who I am, but sometimes it gets lonely.

Pitifully perhaps, I still strive for understanding and keep coming back for more...That's how dumb I am!

...But I know no other way. The desire to make that elusive meaningful impact in some way, shape or form before time runs out, continues to drive me.

Maybe they'll come to my funeral...as long as they don't have to buy something from me -- or read something I've written.

31 January, 2018

OXYMORON: THE BIBLE IS NOT THE PRODUCT OF ILLITERATE WRITING

Last week I published a piece addressing the federal government's imposed Summer Jobs for Teens application form attestation on the principle that it violates all Canadian's right to religious freedom. In practical terms, this means an employer will have to side with the Liberal Party position on abortion, gay marriage, transgendered rights and all sorts of legislation in the House of Commons, otherwise be ineligible for program funding.  I anticipated feedback on this controversial issue and one individual did not disappoint.

Writing anonymously, and obviously an atheist, the respondent attacked the tennants of all Christian belief: "I don't believe the PM (Prime Minister Justin Trudeau) is attacking anybody or any religion with his views. He's using common sense. I can't emphasis enough that just because it (supposedly scripture) was written in a book (The Holy Bible) by illiterates hundreds of years ago doesn't make it the truth. Sadly, its quite the opposite of truth, full of lies and contradictions." He/she (I lean more toward a male) went on to reinforce "the right to abortion" by suggesting "a woman's body is her own. It's her choice if she wants an abortion, and he (Trudeau) is trying to get early 1st century thinkers to come into the modern world."

I rarely acknowledge anonymous comments but I permitted this one (see post and responses below) because I suspect it reflects the views of many others today.  The abortion matter and the Teen Summer Jobs program aside, however, I cannot allow the Bible being written by "illiterates hundreds of years ago" belittlement of Christian beliefs to pass without a response. To add further injury to insult, another bothersome, commonly heard catchphrase that fundie atheists love to bandy about is: "The Bible was written by illiterate Bronze Age goat herders!", which apparently is supposed to mean that it's full of outdated views from idiotic simple people. It's hardly a surprise that this first appeared in one of Richard Dawkins' books "The Greatest Show on Earth," although he did phrase it "Bronze Age desert tribesmen". Besides that being an unjustified, generalistic insult to goat herders or tribesmen, it is completely factually wrong, and raises the question of how illiterates could pen the best selling book in history. (A miracle?)

Scientists have discovered the earliest known Hebrew writing — an inscription on a shard of pottery dating from the 10th century B.C., during the period of King David's reign. The breakthrough could mean that portions of the Bible were written centuries earlier than previously thought. (The Bible's Old Testament is thought to have been first written down in an ancient form of Hebrew.) Until now, many scholars have held that the Hebrew Bible originated in the 6th century B.C., because Hebrew writing was thought to stretch back no further. But the newly deciphered Hebrew text is about four centuries older.


Initially, let's get one thing straight. An illiterate is someone "who cannot read or write", so it is not correct to say that biblical scriptures were "written by illiterates."  Here's why:

As a way of trying to tear down what the four gospels of the Holy Bible have to say, skeptics often launch an attack by stating that the 12 disciples were illiterate, uneducated men who couldn’t read or write. Therefore, they could not have written the four gospels and/or the epistles that bear their names, especially since the manuscripts are in koine Greek, a language they didn’t know.

Are the skeptics’ arguments valid? To back up these claims, they often quote the following scriptures (which is odd, considering they claim the scriptures are false, then turn around and assume them to be true for their illiteracy arguments):

-- "Now about the midst of the feast Jesus went up into the temple, and taught.  And the Jews marvelled, saying, How knoweth this man letters, having never learned?" John 7

-- "Now when they [the Jewish council] saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus". Acts 4

However, like they do with all the scriptures, skeptics quote such things out of context and then draw their conclusions in error. The context of both passages is of the leaders of the Jews taking note that neither Jesus nor his disciples had formal training in teaching scripture and explaining the meaning of the scripture. They had not attended the rabbinical schools of their day, yet they knew how to quote and explain scripture better than the rabbis.

If skeptics took the time to read the whole New Testament and learn about the culture of Israel, they would discover that Jesus and his disciples were not only literate, but knew Greek. When Alexander the Great conquered Israel, it became a colony run and occupied by Greeks who lived alongside the Hebrews and many Jews became Hellenists, meaning they adopted the language and customs of the Greeks. Israel became a bilingual nation. Then when Rome took over, the third language of Latin was introduced. This is why Pilate had the inscription above Jesus’ head on the cross written in the three prominent languages of that day in Israel.

But we have several places in scripture that show us Christ’s literacy and the literacy of his disciples. In Luke 4:16-21, we find that Jesus went to the synagogue in his hometown of Nazareth and stood up to read from the book of Isaiah and after he finished reading it to the congregation he told them he was the fulfillment of the prophecy.

In Acts 15, when a dispute arose in the Church about obeying Jewish customs, the disciples/apostles came to the conclusion that they would not burden Gentiles with Jewish customs and they decided to write letters to all churches throughout the Greek-speaking world about their decision (Acts 15:19-20, 23). It’s obvious they knew how to write and speak Greek. Then when you add to the fact that Matthew was a tax collector, the idea of illiteracy among the disciples is a fallacy that continues to fall like a house of cards. As a tax collector for Rome, Matthew would have to have kept detailed written records of his transactions. He would have also been required to know Hebrew, Greek, and Latin to demand taxes from the population in the district to which he was assigned and to report to his Roman bosses.

Additionally, Luke, who was a Gentile doctor that converted to Christianity after Christ’s ascension, tells in chapter 1 of his gospel that many of the eyewitnesses who participated in Jesus’ ministry had written what they saw and were the inspiration for him writing his gospel (Luke 1:1-3). So the idea that Jesus’ original apostles could not have written the gospels or epistles because they’re in Greek, is a hyped-up error by those who portray themselves as knowing a lot when they are really deceivers who really don’t know what they don’t know.

From Spoken Words to Sacred Texts

Countless generations of believers have devoted endless hours to reading, studying, and analyzing some of the most famous writings ever produced​—those of the New Testament, as the Christian Greek Scriptures are commonly called. Those writings, along with the rest of the Bible, have greatly influenced our world, framed morals and ethics, and provided inspiration for literature and the arts. Above all, they have helped millions of people ​gain knowledge about God and Jesus.​John 17:3.

It is pertinent to note that The Gospels, as well as the rest of the Christian Greek Scriptures, were not written immediately following the death of Jesus. Matthew apparently wrote his Gospel about seven or eight years later, and John wrote his about 65 years later. How were they able to record the words and deeds of Jesus?

During the past century, some have speculated that Jesus’ early disciples were not inclined to write down the teachings and deeds of Jesus but that they passed them on by word of mouth. For example, one scholar states: “There was a gap of several decades between the public ministry of Jesus and the writing down of his words by the authors of the Gospels. During this time what was known about Jesus was handed on orally.” Some researchers even argue that Jesus’ early disciples “were technically illiterate.” Further, they say that during the decades of oral transmission, the accounts of Jesus’ ministry were expanded on, adapted, or elaborated on. The result, they claim, was far from an accurate account of the events.

Another theory favored by some scholars is that Jesus’ close Jewish disciples probably followed the rabbinic method of teaching -- ​memorization by routine and repetition -- ​which contributed to the accuracy in oral transmission. Did the disciples rely solely on word of mouth? Or could writing have played a role in the preservation of the record of Jesus’ ministry? While we cannot be absolutely certain, it is possible that writing did play such a role.

Everyday Use of Writing: In the first century, people of all sorts knew how to read and write. On this point, Alan Millard, professor of Hebrew and ancient Semitic languages, observed: “Writing in Greek, Aramaic and Hebrew was widespread and could be found at all levels of society.” He adds: “That was the environment in which Jesus worked.”

Regarding the assertion that the Gospel texts “arose in an entirely illiterate society,” Professor Millard writes: “That is an unlikely picture, [as] writing would have been known about everywhere . . . Consequently, there were usually people present who could have written something they heard, whether for their own reference or to inform others.”

Apparently, waxed writing tablets were readily available and could be used to jot down information. An example of this is found in the first chapter of Luke. Zechariah, who had temporarily lost the ability to speak, was asked what name he wanted his son to have. Verse 63 says: “He asked [apparently using gestures] for a tablet and wrote: ‘John is its name.’” Bible dictionaries explain that the word “tablet” may have referred to a wooden writing board probably overlaid with wax. Someone present may have had a writing board with him, readily available for Zechariah to write on.

Another example illustrates that writing boards and their use were evidently known at this time. In the book of Acts, we read that Peter was speaking to a crowd in the temple area, exhorting them: “Repent . . . get your sins blotted out.” (Acts 3:11, 19) The expression ‘get blotted out’ comes from a Greek verb that means “wipe out, erase.” The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology explains: “The image expressed by the verb here and perhaps elsewhere is most probably smoothing the surface of a wax writing-tablet for re-use.”

The Gospel accounts also show that Jesus’ followers and audiences included people who likely used writing in their everyday work. There were, for example, the tax collectors Matthew and Zacchaeus (Matthew 9:9; Luke 19:2); a synagogue officer (Mark 5:22); an army officer (Matthew 8:5); Joanna, wife of a high official under Herod Antipas (Luke 8:3); as well as scribes, Pharisees, Sadducees, and members of the Sanhedrin. (Matthew 21:23, 45; 22:23; 26:59) No doubt, many​—if not all—​of Jesus’ apostles and disciples were able to write.

Students, Teachers, and Writers: To be Christian teachers, the disciples needed not only to know what Jesus said and did but also to understand how the Law and prophecies in the Hebrew Scriptures applied to the Christ. (Acts 18:5) Interestingly, Luke recorded one meeting Jesus had with some of his disciples shortly after his resurrection. What did Jesus do? “Commencing at Moses and all the Prophets he interpreted to them things pertaining to himself in all the Scriptures.” Shortly thereafter, Jesus told the disciples: “‘These are my words which I spoke to you while I was yet with you, that all the things written in the law of Moses and in the Prophets and Psalms about me must be fulfilled.’ Then he opened up their minds fully to grasp the meaning of the Scriptures.” (Luke 24:27, 44, 45) Later, the disciples “called to mind” the insight Jesus had given them.​—John 12:16.

These accounts suggest that the apostles and disciples must have applied themselves diligently to searching and studying the Scriptures so that they could fully understand the meaning of what they saw and heard with regard to their Lord, Jesus Christ. (Luke 1:1-4; Acts 17:11) On this, Harry Y. Gamble, professor of religious studies at the University of Virginia, writes: “It can hardly be doubted that from the beginning there were Christians, probably groups of them, who devoted themselves to the close study and interpretation of Jewish scripture, constructing from it the textual warrants [proofs] of Christian convictions and making those texts serviceable for Christian preaching.”

All of this indicates that rather than depending solely on oral transmission, Jesus’ early disciples were very much involved in studying, reading, and writing. They were students, teachers, and writers. Above all, they were spiritual men who relied on the holy spirit to guide them. Jesus assured them that “the spirit of the truth” would ‘bring back to their minds all the things he had told them.’ (John 14:17, 26) God’s holy spirit helped them both to remember and to put into writing what Jesus did and said, even lengthy quotations, such as the Sermon on the Mount. (Matthew, chapters 5-7) The spirit also guided the Gospel writers in recording what Jesus at times felt and what he said in prayer.​—Matthew 4:2; 9:36; John 17:1-26.

So while the Gospel writers doubtless made use of both oral and written sources, the things they recorded had a far more reliable and supremely elevated source​. That's why we call it "The Word of God."  Quite appropriately, "Spirit" may well replace "Word".

In the end, we are at the mercy of hundreds of translations and interpretations over the years and we believe what we want to believe as the basis for our faith...The teachings of the Bible are an undeniable blueprint for living, even in the 21st. century, whether we believe that fact or not.

I have prepared this post soley in honor of the millions (billions) of Christian worshippers the world over, who have remained loyal to their faith over the years and passed it on to future generations, including my parents Grace (1903-1994) and Ken (1899-1952) Wright.

That's all I have to say on this subject...I don't preach any more!!!

29 January, 2018

THE CHANGING MORES OF SEXUAL BEHAVIOR

I'm so glad that I am a literal nobody flying under the radar of critical public scrutiny.

You cannot pick up a newspaper these days, nor turn on the TV, without learning of another politician, entertainment personality or business leader being accused of some past sexual indiscretion or misconduct.  It has truly reached epidemic proportions, for want of a better expression.

I will not add to the muck raking by mentioning names in this piece, but I am particularly amazed by the growing number of women coming forward in recent weeks to publically accuse noted politicians of some form of sexual misconduct.  Quite honestly I think that, given the era we grew up in, there a very few males alive today with absolutely squeeky clean backgrounds.  But that is no justification...For the life of me, I cannot understand why anyone with the slightest hint of any type of indiscretion in their past, would ever gamble with their reputation by entering the field of politics.

Equally mysterious to me is why anyone would condone an individual with a known questionable past as an elected official representing their interests. But perhaps there will be some good coming out of all this ignorance and resultant humiliation with long-term devestating ramifications for close associates and family members.

At some point the torrent of scandal will wane, if only because the current tempest is unsustainable. But it seems unlikely things will revert to the way they were before. Women aren’t merely angry, they are fed up. Younger women in particular evince a growing unwillingness to shake off a man’s bad behavior as “just the way things are.”

There’s scant research on generational differences in outlook regarding sexual misconduct, but a recent NBC/WSJ poll found younger women more likely than their older counterparts to say that they had ever experienced harassment at work. Similarly, a YouGov survey of British women found that younger women were much more likely than those over 55 to disapprove of behavior like wolf-whistling and even winking. So the tide is indeed shifting.

Psychosocial forces, including a sexism that appears to have existed from time immemorial, as well as the patriarchal society we still inhabit, play a major role in this longstanding sexual oppression of women.  One question going forward is the degree to which the law will—or even should—catch up with the changing mores.

And here we could talk about the vital importance of modifying our educational system—from grade school on—so that it’s more likely to make male children and adolescents more sensitive to the opposite sex (and vice versa). Plus, better teach them the fellow feeling and empathy that so many of them lack, particularly when they hit puberty. And it’s every bit as imperative to train men in the workplace to develop greater sensitivity to issues regarding sexual molestation and harassment.

In both cases, if we’re to effectively counter males’ largely lust/hormone-inspired transgressions, it’s imperative that they learn how to emotionally identify with the abusive experiences inflicted on the opposite sex. So they can begin to experience—“first-hand,” as it were—the adverse effects of their carnally callous behavior.

Admittedly, I have offered nothing profound with this disertation...You will have to go further to the court of public opinion on Facebook and Twitter for that.

25 January, 2018

THE CHRISTIAN JUSTIN TRUDEAU: HERE TODAY, GONE TOMORROW?

This post is not in defense of pro-life advocacy any more than it is favoring abortionist theories. It IS about principles of equal rights and a government seemingly determined to tread a very fine line in imposing unfairly on an underserving segment of our faith community.
  
In his memoir, Common Ground, our Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wrote that the tragic death of his brother Michale, prompted him to "welcome God's presence into my life" and to "reaffirm the core of the Christian beliefs I retain to this day." When the Ottawa Citizen probed those beliefs several years ago, a still virtually wet-behind-the ears Trudeau explained that some of those beliefs were shaped by his attendance at Alpha, a 12-week course in Christianity.

"I was schooled by Jesuits to a certain extent and my father certainly was Jesuitical in his thinking. So I’m always up for a great theological conversation and debate," he explained at the time. "The Alpha course – the message there was: Don’t feel you have to do it all alone. Put your trust in God every now and then. Be comfortable about saying I need help. And recognize that. It came at exactly the right time. Trusting in God’s plan. For someone as rational and scientific and logical and rigorous as I am to accept the unknowable and to re-anchor myself in faith was really, really important to me. And ended up being of solace at a very difficult time. Since that moment, I still consider myself and have re-found myself of a deep faith and belief in God. But obviously very aware of the separation of church and state in my political thinking,” Justin explained further.

Now turn the clock ahead to January of 2018 and you hear an entirely different Justin Trudeau speaking. Consider the following:

In a recent town hall meeting, the Prime Minister announced his reasoning for not permitting people of religious persuasion to apply for Canada Summer Jobs. By implication he said that those who seek to restrict abortion are "not in line with society".

The Canada Summer Jobs program provides over $200 million per year to fund some 70,000 students with seasonal employment. Just before Christmas, Trudeau changed the requirements for funding which now demands that applicants and employers sign a document to attest that they support women’s reproductive rights, and the rights of gender-diverse and transgender Canadians. Of course, no bible believing Christian can sign such a document therefore the result is clear, Christians need not apply.  They can obviously lie on the job application form and in the process denounce their beliefs.

In an online post Charles McVety of the Canada Christian College said "It appears that our Prime Minister does not recognize that each and every Canadian must be treated equally before the law and receive equal benefit including opportunity for students to be employed under the CSJ program."

McVety went on to emphasize that Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedom says: Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law. "Some may argue that his discrimination is not overt in that he does not explicitly name Christians; however, his descriptions are crystal clear. Christian individuals and organizations are at the forefront of fighting for person status of unborn children and protection of children from radical sex education teaching."

One would hope that Trudeau's discrimination is temporary; however, back when he was first elected as Prime Minister, he told local Toronto pastors that "Evangelical Christians are the worst part of Canadian society."  How Trumponean was that? OMG.  You can't get much more judgemental.

Hundreds of Christian organizations and thousands of Christian students have now potentially lost funding for this year's summer jobs. Church leaders have begun to push back. If the government is allowed to blatantly deny Christian students employment, it won't be long until other Christians feel the threat of losing their jobs simply for practicing what the Bible teaches. In fact, it has been reported that this prohibition has already expanded to other programs such as the Canada Service Corps including the YMCA.  See what I mean!

Late last week in an effort to suppress a burgeoning controversy, both Trudeau and Employment Minister Patty Hajdu said that the changes were not meant to affect all Christian organizations, but rather, only those whose "core mandate" was one of suppression of abortion rights. The implication was that other religious groups should simply check the box, knowing it was not meant to target them.

It all comes down to the group or organization’s “core” mandate, she noted. Many groups, including religious ones, have varying missions like spreading the word of God, helping the poor, and working to alleviate suffering in their communities. But their (*)core mandate is the key, she said adding "If that conflicts with the Charter or with other fundamental rights, that’s when there can be a problem."

“I don’t think there’s anything conflicting in the statement that an organization’s primary mandate and that the job description (for the student) respect the Charter of Rights and other fundamental rights. Each organization will need to make a decision about checking off the attestation box “based on their own comfort level,” the minister added.

This "solution," however, shows a complete lack of awareness of what it means to be ethical. Here, the Liberals are advocating regular Canadians mimic their practice of equivocation and mutable morality, which we've seen in their about-face on electoral reform, as well as the prime minister's own ethical breaches. That Trudeau and his team are apparently so at ease encouraging conservative Christians and other religious Canadians to betray their conscience should cause many across the country great unease. Even those who are solidly pro-choice will appreciate the dangers inherent in that precedent.

Another aspect of the Liberals' reasoning should give the public even greater cause for concern.

When asked to justify holding back grant money from organizations they deem too dedicated to a pro-life position, the Liberals have implied that to give such groups funding would violate the charter and, thus, Canadian law.

Hajdu explained: "Our ministry believes in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and these are fundamental expectations of Canadians, and we stand up for those rights — and we [will] ensure that the money that we disperse on behalf of Canadians is not used in a way that violates those hard-won rights."

But here's the thing: there are no rights being violated here. 

Hajdu's nod to "hard-won rights" is a reference to the Supreme Court's landmark 1988 Morgentaler decision. But that decision didn't recognize a constitutional right to abortion under the Charter. While it did nullify Canada's existing abortion law, the Court left it to Parliament to come up with new legislation that would balance the rights of women with the state's interest in the protection of the fetus, within the bounds of the charter.

Indeed, commenting at the time of the decision, law professor Daphne Gilbert wrote, "The Morgentaler decision didn't say a woman has a constitutional right to abortion, it didn't go that far."

Canada is the only Western nation without any law regulating abortion. Successive governments have avoided crafting such legislation for fear of dividing the country, but the Liberals have discovered an easier solution: simply make people believe that a law already exists. (One, incidentally, that just happens to match Liberal ideology exactly).

Conservative Christians and those of other faiths supporting pro-life positions should not be subjected to an ideological purity test to qualify for federal funding. The beliefs they hold about abortion are completely within the bounds of the law and can be voiced upon and advocated for freely and publicly. Even organizations that are solely dedicated to opposing abortion contravene no law.

Their only "crime" is that their values don't align with those of our prime minister. It's ironic that Trudeau insists Canadians support "diversity and inclusion," when he himself does not.

All of which leads me to ask: Was Trudeau lying in his memoir when he firmly attested to his Christianity or has something happened since he took office to change his beliefs?  Perhaps he has been ill-advised...Could be that he has forgotten about separation of  church and state...Then again maybe he is just a confused, mixed up young man who does not yet know what he believes.  Surely it has nothing to do with a political death wish.

As I stated in an earlier Facebook comment, I have defended Justin Trudeau from the word go as he has adjusted to the responsibilities of the highest office in the land, but in this case he has gone a step too far and there will be consequences.  I also acknowledge that there will be those who will misread, misinterpret and disagree with my premise by going off on unrelated tangents-- it was ever thus in a public democracy where the world of electronic social media provides a platform for all and sundry.  

Personally, however, I am gravely disappointed and concerned about the future of our country.  It is doubly disturbing that in today's Canada -- and in most Western democracies, for that matter -- you can get away with criticizing or victimizing a Christian far more readily than you can for criticizing a Muslim, even if you're talking about the same social beliefs.  God, in your mercy, help us!

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UPDATE: Faith-based organizations say it’s wrong to think their religious beliefs are separate from their (*)core mandate. Some groups who don’t have a stance on abortion feel it’s wrong to be forced to take a side by signing the attestation. Others are also opposing the attestation on the principle that it violates the Charter’s right to religious freedom. It is not just Christian groups who are expressing concerns. Earlier this week, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Jewish and other organizations gathered in Mississauga (at the initiative of a Conservative MP) to discuss the attestation and consider potential next steps in speaking out against it.