Archive for December, 2012

Go to HELp
December 14, 2012

For those who believe that hell and heaven are places far away and dedicate their lives to avoidance and attainment in their after life, take note that today is proof that hell and heaven live here on Earth and live within us.

Today, a young man pried the gates of hell open for all of us to see and took with him the lives of twenty innocent children.

My heart bleeds. As does the heart of any parent, any teacher, anyone who paused today and will pause in the days ahead and struggle to understand, to reach out, to comprehend what could drive another human being to such monstrosity.

Hell lives here on earth. It walks among us. In the hearts of the disenfranchised, the broken, the ignored, the angry, the psychotic, the misunderstood, the bullied and the sad, the addicted, the hurt, the hungry, the cold, the confused, the dysfunctional, the isolated and the unaided. The lonely.

And it sometimes visits us too, the loved, the healthy, the included, the supported, the fed, the wealthy, the strong. We can see it in ourselves if we can witness it in others. Some dedicate their life’s work to helping. The beloved “helpers” as Mr. Rogers called them. And others assist or support those who help. Some of us ignore it too. We turn away, We dismiss. We disconnect. We discredit. Self preservation at the very least. Selfishness and fear at its very worst.

Someone knew that young man was deeply troubled. In every mass shooting, we reflect on what we knew to be true and mourn their victims anyway.

And for many idealogical leaders and, dare I say, religious and gun freedom fanatics, the  unfathomable tragedy is an opportunity to abuse, break, bully, hurt, confuse, isolate and harm even further. To whom I politely suggest  that one day, hell’s gates will extend a warm and everlasting welcome.  Perhaps then and only then will they know the wrong they did, and worst, the good they could have done instead.

But heaven lives here too. And there is good to do. It lives in the hearts of the survivors, the first responders, the congregations, the community leaders, the doctors, the nurses, the families, the friends, the neighbours, and sadly, the funeral directors and ultimately, the children who will grow up and live enough life to make up for the lives lost today.

And finally, the legislators, the lawyers, and the justice workers, and all of us who must, once and for all, come to terms with this – if hell is to have an unlimited supply of  guns, then heaven’s going to need more help than ever.

Today, those little ones didn’t get the help they needed because the gunman didn’t get the help he needed. He got a gun instead. And his hell is the one we live in now.

Go to HELp. Stay there. Never again is too soon.

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Fear Knot
December 7, 2012

This column appeared in the Friday AM December 2012 All Month Edition

Economics is many things, not the least of which is the inventor of jargon more frightening then yet another teen vampire movie.

Stagflation, austerity, unsecured debt, liability (sounds like a skin disease) and my personal fave, the fiscal cliff. Unless you’re a sky diver or a rock climber, the word “cliff” in most any sentence will strike fear in your heart.
Why must the stock market crash? Why must oil prices skyrocket? Why must the price of gold soar? Fear. That’s why. Fear is used to force the “masses” to comply and obey. It’s true. And frightening financial words don’t help people feel reassured not to mention confident or hopeful about the future.

But you and I are not the masses. We are people. We are individuals. We know what we need to earn, spend, give and save (and in some cases, like my own, borrow) and that’s okay. We’ll get through this because we’re smarter than the business numbers on the evening news think we are.

Time for a little plain language. Enough with the jargon and the fear mongering. Let’s review and demystify some of that nasty lingo.

Interest – there’s nothing much interesting about interest except it’s expensive when you owe money and attractive when you don’t. And credit card companies earn a fortune charging it. So put those plastic bad boys in your freezer. And only thaw in case of emergency no matter how many special points you can collect.

Commodities – just a fancy word for things you can sell and make money on when, in reality, your biggest asset is your ability to hold a job and earn a paycheque, not bet on the price of things. Fact.

Futures – the price of what commodities aka things, are estimated to cost in the future. Unless you’re a day trader on Wall Street or really good at poker, keep your money in your pocket and focus on today.

Dividends –  a share of profit when it sounds more like how you would cut up a chicken to feed as many people as possible. These are important for retired people and corporate Canada owes them their due. So buck up and start spending some of that dead money, please.

If you care for a healthier perspective, we are better off than the generations before us. I suspect signing a mortgage at 21.50 % in 1980 on a property worth hardly twice what you earn in a year was pretty scary. I can’t be sure but I suspect lining up at food bank in the thirties was pretty frightening. Only less frightening then sending your sons off to to war in the forties with very little certainty they would ever come home.

What does scare me (well a tiny bit anyway) is that  we now live in an economy where uncertainty is a money maker. Insurance, interest, inflation and speculation is where the dollars are. Enough already. It’s time we took charge. Demand a better rate. Demand lower fees. Demand reasonable returns. Demand a little respect and tell the speculators, whatever shape they happen to take, that the future no longer belongs to them, it belongs to us, to you and to me, the people doing the real work.

So my advice, if you’re in the mood for taking it, is a lesson from the brave men and women of WW2 – keep calm and carry on. It might just save us yet.

NHL owners “go to the box and feel shame”
December 6, 2012

This NHL thing is such a mess.

Only in Canada, would an impromptu breakdown in talks be breaking news on the national news network.

Remember the Chiefs from Slap Shot? They're behaving better than the owners.

Remember the Chiefs from Slap Shot? They’re behaving better than the owners.

The Fans should have a negotiator at the table. I’m not even a fan really – but I enjoy watching people enjoy hockey. And it’s a bummer for them.

Fans watch your games. Some fans can even buy tickets. Fans pay the parking. Fans support the local bars and restaurants nearby. Fans buy the jerseys. Fans buy the products that the advertisers and sponsors promote. In some cases, fans even build you arenas (which means taxpayers should probably have a say at the table too).

But most of all, hockey fans are hockey. They even make own their hockey players for heaven’s sake. And drive them to the rink and buy the equipment and coach them and cheer them on and volunteer for minor hockey and raise money and sell cookies and shovel sandbags and sell 50/50 tickets. And every now and then, one of those wonderfully hardworking players gets called up to the big league. It must take a village or two to get a kid in the NHL. It must.

Those are the people getting the “unacceptable” deal – and if there were no more NHL, there would still be hockey and there would still be good hockey. And generous sponsors, and happy advertisers and rinks full of fans to watch the games. And there’d still be a Stanley Cup too (doesn’t belong to the NHL) and fans could be happy again.

And then Bettman wouldn’t have a job, and neither would any of those owners. Then at least they’d understand how the fans must feel and have to find something else to do. But if they loved hockey, they’d make the deal and appreciate who really owns the game. Which is a huge difference from who makes the most money on it. In this case, it’s not the same thing. Not the same thing at all.