Kindess is as Kindness does…

One of my favourite images from this week:


This is a wonderful example about how the content of character overrides the colour of skin – people helping people. This is what it’s all about!

Bravo to Patrick Hutchinson! And to whomever took that photo!

We have one planet people, we are ONE race. We are indubitably in this together…

Thoughts and questions on Covid-19

Hello human family!

Lately, our strange and unique world has seen some great challenges.  So many thoughts and questions have been running through my mind – and I am sure that it’s the same for many of you.

I’ve been thinking of the families who have lost loved ones due to the corona virus and it’s got me thinking about the adage, “When an old person dies, he takes a library with him.”  How many libraries have been lost in the last few months because of one little, yet incredulously powerful virus?  My heart goes out to all of you…

Yet, this sheds an astonishing light on how poorly we treat the most vulnerable people in our societies. It’s almost as though, once people reach a certain age, we “put them away” in places that could not possibly bring them comfort, which, ironically, makes them more vulnerable.

I never thought that our seniors could be so negligently and thoughtlessly ignored,  even though people are being paid to attend to their needs.   I never thought that doctors, nurses, EMTs, hospital staff, porters, food servers, janitors, cleaning staff would be even more vulnerable than the patients streaming in to hospitals.

I never thought I’d be a cheering fan of truckers, but as long as they are delivering the food to our grocery stores and supermarkets, I’ll continue cheering them on.   (thank you truckers!) and thank you to every employee of every place that sells food – without all of you, this pandemic would have been far more horrendous!

Thank you to the bus drivers, teachers (who are well underpaid!) and all essential workers for keeping things going while the rest of us shut down.

Thank you to the Canadian government and health officials who have been there for us, informing us, supporting us and giving us the truth of the situation. (So proud to be a Canadian!)  Thank you to all the anonymous, un-thanked volunteers who are delivering food to the most vulnerable.  You are heroes and sheroes too!  Thank you to the food banks who are overwhelmed with requests and under supported.

Thank you to all those following the social distancing requirements, staying home and wearing masks while you have to be out and about.  You too are an important part of this recovery process!

And thanks also to the “covidiots” who necessitate embarrassment; I never thought we would need new lessons on how to properly wash our hands or explanations of what “six feet apart” looks like.

I had long held out hope that pollution levels in India, Los Angeles and China would dissipate, and yet, look at what happens when we are forced to stay home with our families, loved ones and liked ones? Jellyfish have been spotted in the canals in Venice!  People are hearing bird song in places in which birds had disappeared and more importantly, we have had no choice but to surrender to our surrounding ecosystems.

Why (and when) did it become normal to continually and substantially harm our environments?  It took a global health crises for us to realise what was possible if we all just stopped for a bit…

People, let’s not ever go back to the previous way of environmental degradation.  We have the power to shape a new normal, so when we are able, let’s all go plant hundreds of trees.

Goodness knows, the Amazon is in trouble.  Let’s not add to it… Look at what happens when we give Nature the time she needs to repair herself.

Have you also noticed the tanking of gas prices?  I’ve written on this blog before that if all of you wanted to see lower gas prices, all you had to do was stop driving for a bit.

This is nothing new.  Given how many people have stopped driving for a month or two, we’re seeing major environmental response.  Please don’t throw that away for the sake of the dreaded rat race.  We have one planet.  There are no other options.

Moreover, when did it become normal for world leaders to publicly request that all governments globally work together to solve this crisis?  Did the fact that “we’re all in this together” not register?  Do certain leaders think that their part of the continent will be spared given who’s in charge?   Denial is a dangerous game when it comes to pandemics.  Let’s stop electing people who clearly don’t give a ****.

How many of you complained that you didn’t have enough time with your families?  How many of you wished you didn’t have to see your bosses on a day-to-day basis?  How many of you wished “that you could just slow down for a little while?”

It seems, my friends, we were all making the same wishes…

But there are lessons here for those who ponder- Only the One who Made us could make the entire world stop, answer all our wishes, show us who the real heroes are and expose the awesome regenerative power of Mother Nature simultaneously!

Take this time and use it well.  Don’t waste it on the hustle; the old rat race has run its course.  Nature is showing us what really happens when we’re not paying attention.

Speaking of paying attention, it’s been bothering me that we pay certain people so much money to act in plays or movies. We give them awards and as much air time as they want – even just for cutting their hair.  Yet, we pay our teachers less than many essential service workers.   We pay our footballers, basket ball players and baseball players more money than can be justified whilst we under-fund and undervalue teachers, janitors, porters, food servers and biological researchers – these are the people who will find a cure for cancer – and for the Novel Corona Virus.

Don’t get me wrong – GO RAPTORS! – I love a good match as much as anyone else, however, are we all not questioning priorities at the moment?  One of the Italian biological researchers said it well, “You pay Messi 1 million Euros per month while you pay researchers 1800 Euros.  You want a cure?  Go ask Messi.”

How many of you, whilst schooling your children at home, have had the thought “I don’t know how teachers do this every day…”? It’s time to show, and place, appreciation where it belongs.

And how is it that we read one article on what is happening, or what needs to happen and we become sudden subject matter experts who can diagnose one another and prognosticate as to when things will open up again?

Also, HOW do people get away with having mass protests under lock down? Because yet again, the almighty dollar reigns supreme?  Has Covid taught people nothing? Without your health, the rest of anything else becomes irrelevant.

And WHEN did it become okay to pack in a small flight without any pre-screening,  health or temperature checks? Or any instructions that masks must be worn throughout the flight?

Speaking of planes, how long will it take before I can travel again? How long before I can see my antipodean family?  When can I rush into a grocery store for a midnight milk run?  When can I sit with loved ones in a café or restaurant without fear of infection?  When will there be a vaccine and how will they get it to everyone?

I’m sure many of you have the same questions.  I think the most important fact of the matter is this: family matters.  Your loved ones matter more than the hustle, the drive, the status of how many and how much…

We have to trust that “this too shall pass,” and when we emerge from this world of isolation, let’s all be that much kinder to each other.  Do we not deserve that?

Love each other.  That’s the only real rule.

 

Hey Vancouverites,

Thank you for one of the most peaceful protests we’ve seen in a very long time.  Thank you to everyone who made signs (on recyclable and reused materials) and thank you to all the parents who stood beside their little ones.  This strike/protest matters.  You matter. Our world matters.   “One love, One heart, Let’s get together” and make this right!

Some of my favourite photos:

All photos ©Safreena Rajan

People of all walks of life attended this rally from very young to young at heart and all people in between.  The human family was well represented today.  Well done Vancouverites!

 

Kudos to the VSB for “Letting” kids skip school to attend.  I get the feeling though, that the majority of the 100,000 people in the downtown core would not have asked permission.

The Earth is in trouble people.  Let’s not leave it in the hands of those who clearly don’t care.

Thank you to everyone in every city, province, state, nation, country who walked or who supported those who walked today.  Shout out to the Policeman who directed traffic using his sandwich and coke bottle as sign posts for traffic to follow!  (Unfortunately I couldn’t get a pic, but I’m thankful I live in a place where the police have our safety first in mind and can make us laugh.)  And thankful I live in a place where signs like this result only in messages being delivered and more cardboard being recycled!

Thank you to the Climate Strike Team, Fridays for the Future, Greta Thunberg and all the lovely people who, like me, have been fighting this fight for years.  There is much to be done. Today was a fantastic start!

If it walks like a duck, and squaks like a duck… it must be terrorism

Let me preface this post by stating that my heart is broken for all those affected by the heinous act of terrorism that took place this past week in Las Vegas, Nevada.  My thoughts and prayers are with all those who have lost friends and loved ones, all those injured and all those traumatized by this event.  May God bless each and every one of you…

It seems to me that the world has been going crazy.  Every time I turn around, there is another violent, gruesome attack of some sort.  And every time I turn around, Muslims are being blamed.  A whole group of people, being blamed for the barbaric actions of a few.  I cannot even begin to tell you how wrong that is.

But what really concerns me is this:  when a “dark-skinned follower of ‘Islam’ perpetrates a hate crime, he/she is a terrorist.”  However, when a Caucasian commits a barbaric act, he is a “gunman.”  This DOUBLE STANDARD is a hate crime in and of itself.  It is a targeted, deliberate act of prejudice.  Western Media outlets have their own agenda and will only refer to Muslims as terrorists.

How many people have to be slaughtered before the person(s) committing the crime can be called a terrorist?  The challenge with how terrorism is defined in the West is that the term itself is directly correlated to a “religious” ideology rather than the very personal nature of the crimes themselves.  All we have to do is look at what Israel is doing to Palestine and one can see deliberate, political, religious acts of hatred being perpetrated in the name of “self-defense.”  The other challenge with defining terrorism is that it is tied in to a “political” ideology.   So if the ‘gunman’ in Las Vegas was settling a personal score, where does that fit in to the above definitions?

It doesn’t.   The definitions themselves have to be redefined.  Stop blaming an entire segment of the world’s population for the actions of a few.  Do your own research; don’t let the biased, bigoted news you see portrayed by Western media outlets be your entire basis of evidence.  Seek knowledge for yourself.

This man in Las Vegas doesn’t fit the “criminal profile,” of a terrorist.  However, he committed a brutal, terrifying act of violence which struck fear into the hearts of everyone in a given location.  Why is that not called “terrorism?”

Earlier this year, when Muslims in London coming out of a mosque after prayers, were rode down by a Caucasian male in a white van, it still wasn’t called terrorism, even though that ‘man’ was shouting hateful words towards the Muslim group.  Even though he said he wanted to “kill all Muslims,” he was still referred to as a “deranged lunatic.”  He committed an act of terrorism, shouted political ideology as he was dragged away by police and it took three whole days before British broadcasters began quietly using the term “terrorist.”  An off duty reporter with the BBC, who was speaking with a group of young Muslim Youtubers, turned off his camera and his microphone and said to the group, “look guys, I’m going to be honest with you.  The media outlets have their own agenda and won’t say what you want them to say.”

At least he was honest.  So here’s what I say to the Western Media outlets:
“Sac up. Grab yourself by the parts that matter and stop being biased by what your producers are telling you is truth.”  YOU KNOW BETTER.

To all the people who are so quick to blame Muslims when something goes wrong in the world, stop.  If you want to know Islam, speak to a Muslim.  If you want to know the truth about how Muslims are treated, look at the Rohingya.  As of 2015, 61% of hate crimes in Canada were against Muslims.   (as per the Canadian Human Rights commission.)   If you really want to know what prejudice feels like, speak to a member of the First Nations.

What the world needs to do is love.  Love is the key to all things.  Love is stronger than hatred.  Love is stronger than bias.  Love is stronger and more powerful than darkness.  We are one human race.  We share one planet.  And the same God made us all.

We must be louder than those who make headlines by their acts of hatred. We must call out acts of intolerance no matter how small, because even small acts can embolden the hatred and anger that lead to devastating consequences. Our diversity is our greatest strength.”
~ Marie-Claude Landry

 

 

 

 

 

To the Moon and Barack!

I wanted to send a personal thank you to American Voters for re-electing President Barack Obama.  But I have very specific reasons for which I wanted to say thanks.

I say thank you because although many of you voted for Mitt Romney, you did not elect a deluded, farcical, “cut between an Attila the Hun in global warmongering and Jack-the-Ripper in capitalist savagery,” as Hamid Dabashi, Al-Jazeera contributor and Professor of Iranian Studies and Comparative Literature at Columbia University calls him.  Mitt Romney would have bankrupted America and taken war to an already war-torn Syria.  To those of you unfamiliar with Syria and its regional politics, Syria is not Tunisia, it is not Libya and it is not Egypt.  It is uncomfortable ground; ground which needs protection and careful, decisive, well-planned and wisely executed action.

I say thank you because you didn’t elect a President who pays less in taxes than you do and less than you ever will because of the very same tax loopholes and expenditures he talked about shutting down.  You need to ask yourself what a presidential candidate really stands for when the taxes he pays amount to “chump change,” in financial rhetoric.  You have to ask yourself if your candidate really “gets it.”  It was clear from the get-go, that Romney didn’t.

I say thank you because you didn’t elect a President who couldn’t and who wouldn’t, though asked on countless occasions, specify an economic plan which would outline exactly how and through what means new jobs would be created, the deficit and government spending reduced.  If Romney was indeed a business man who could “solve problems” then this would have been a walk in the park for him.  Instead, he couldn’t answer the question.  In fact, time and again, he and Paul Ryan refused to specify their plan.

I say thank you because you didn’t elect a President who, for the last four years has been on a personal mission to make Barack Obama “a one-term President.”  To quote Bill Clinton, “it takes a lot of brass,” to accuse someone of non-bipartisanship when that someone has been hell-bent on precluding the President from doing his job.

I say thank you because you elected a President who gets it.  You elected a man who understands that the only way to get things done in Washington is through bipartisan cooperation even when that cooperation is short-lived or outright non-existent.   Historically, the issue of health care and insurance for every American has been a very sore point in American politics, but here you have a president who is looking at the much larger picture of ensuring that when workers are healthy and don’t have to worry about health coverage, those same workers are far more productive.

You elected a man who won an unprecedented and historical presidency.  To those of you on the far right of the political spectrum, I say this: it should never, ever come down to the melanin count to determine who has the right to become President.   So when every parent, of every race looks to his or her children, and says to them that they can become anything, it will hold true.

I say thank you because you elected a President who has much work to do.  Especially when it comes to closing, once and for all, Guantanamo Bay.  When America finally holds true to international law, to the Geneva Convention, the International Convention on the Rights of the Child and the International Human Rights Declaration then it will truly be an independent nation.  I say thank you because President Obama, and whoever comes after him, needs to learn that the unfettered access to prisoners of war, without being informed of their rights and to be detained indefinitely, without trial, has to end.  This President and all who follow him need to learn that people in Afghanistan and Iraq are not going to be grateful about having their countries taken over and taken to the brink of extinction just because an American President (GW) decided that their lives were “less than.”  President Obama needs to learn that praising Israel continuously and making the protection of the state of Israel America’s number one priority is not going to help achieve peace in the Middle East.  If America is indeed a sovereign nation, then there is no reason it needs to have Israel determine its foreign policy.  Obama has work to do in stopping drone attacks because he has no right to determine who lives or dies in nations and regions which have historically been problematic.  Drones solve nothing.  Let us hope that President Obama will get that.

I say thank you because America and the world need an economically viable and stable America. Were it not for the absolute failure of George W. to recognise that banks and financial institutions require regulation and were it not for the spending of $80 billion per annum on a war that no one wanted or needed, President Obama would not have inherited the economic mess that resulted in a near world-wide collapse.  You Republicans can go ahead and blame the President for this mess, but you really should hold your own accountable.  You elected a puppet who had no business being in the White House, let alone being Commander In-Chief and then you expect that President Obama can fix it in one term, with an undeniably resolute republican party blocking his every move!  That, my friends, is called impudence.

If Mitt Romney had won the election, all I would have written was this: Hide your money under your mattresses because that is the only place it will be safe.  Since we have witnessed a different turning of the proverbial tide,  I will say this:  for economic situations to rebalance themselves, there is a requirement to spend and save simultaneously.  Money is like blood flow—it needs to circulate in order to grow.  Without spending, there can be no saving and vice versa.  President Obama gets that.

You may ask why a Canadian cares so much about who is in the White House?  Because who you elect has a direct effect on my country’s relationship with your government.  Additionally, your government tells me how countries like Syria will be the recipients of dialogue and conversation rather than bombings.  People like me have friends and relatives all over the world and we want to know that the “leader of the free world,” will maintain dialogue and be thankful for the opportunity to do so.  Your country is deeply divided and has been for many years.  Perhaps if more of you were to do your homework, rather than relying on tub-thumpers like Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachman and Newt Gingrich, you would come to learn that you personally have work to do.  Being a citizen is not just going to the polls when there is something about which to vote.  You have a voice; you can choose to get educated and stop living on lies.  You can choose to have faith in your country.  People all over the world laugh at America and call you stupid.  That is because you make such a fuss over the middle name of a president when those very people who call you stupid are being shot, tortured and even killed just for dissenting against their own governments.  President Obama gets that.

I am beginning to believe that while President Obama still has a great deal to learn, there is almost nothing he cannot achieve.  He was right to run on Hope and Change in 2008.  America was in dire need of those two very indispensable commodities.  Indeed, so too was the world.

I say thank you because you elected a President Unprecedented.  Never before, in American history, has an African-American male been elected to the White House twice.

If Tupac could see this now….

No Hate, Presidential Affirmations and More….

At the beginning of this month, I had the privilege of attending a NOH8 function with a dear friend of mine.  It was a photo shoot in beautiful downtown Vancouver.  I was so impressed with the work of the NOH8 campaign and with President Obama’s recent affirmation of the rights of gay people to marry, that I just had to blog about it.

I loved the idea of people sporting a duct-taped face with the NOH8 logo on one cheek, photographed by none other than Adam Bouska in a variety of poses.  I loved that many non LGBT family and friends were there to support their loved ones.  I loved that the day after the event, I received a text from the same friend letting me know that President Obama had  affirmed his belief that gay people ought to have the right to marry.  How fortuitous that an African-American president, running for reelection, had the temerity to historically state, “…it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.”  This is of course, after stating this:  “…I’ve stood on the side of broader equality for the LGBT community….”   Would civil unions, enacted into law, been enough?  What if the proverbial tables were turned and male-female marriages were not recognised? At least a modern, sitting president was willing to accept that change is taking place whether “federalized” or not.

Whatever is happening, we have to remember two very important things here:  First, historic though it may be, a presidential affirmation does not legislation make.  Second, that the presidential hopeful Mitt Romney is in favour of a “federal constitutional amendment” banning same-sex marriage. And let’s not forget that 30 American states have passed laws banning same-sex marriage, so where does that leave President Obama’s affirmation?  Well, legally, it doesn’t have much on which to stand.  Morally, and perhaps most importantly, it has made the personal political and the political personal.
Even the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights is rather vague on this issue; it has no specific dialogue on the rights of members of the LGBT community marrying, however, given when it was drafted, its language is somewhat inclusive:

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Article 16:

  • (1) Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.

  • (2) Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the   intending spouses.

  • (3) The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.

This leaves the presidential affirmation in a state of social acceptability but not of legal acceptability.  It may yet take another twenty years for the United States to pass a law that legalizes same-sex marriage in every state and allow for same-sex divorces in much the same manner of heterosexual marriage and divorce.  Here’s what would make the most succinct difference: a constitutional amendment that does not allow for a same-sex marriage law to be repealed under any circumstance. I always question what happened in the legal process that allowed for same-sex marriages to take place and then have the courts declare that the same law was repealed, thus voiding the marriages of many a couple who thought that finally, the law had been updated to reflect ‘modern’ society.
How did we become a society that allows for people to get married and then the next day, tell them their marriage isn’t valid because some people disagree with their rights to be married?

I realise that I am a little behind in my blog this time, but I wanted to collect my thoughts because many people I love are affected by this issue.  Moreover, I wanted to encourage those of you who broke out the champagne and celebrated President Obama’s affirmation to continue keeping the hope alive, but bring out the bubbly when same-sex marriage becomes federal law in the United States.

In the meantime, wishing you all good things!  And cheers to the NOH8 Campaign!