Welcome to The Middle Ground-The Agora of the 21st Century


Life is likened unto two roads: one of fire and one of ice. If you walk in the one, you will be burned, and if in the other, you will be frozen. What shall one do? Walk in the middle.


THE MIDDLE GROUND

brings my two passions together:

mental health and religion

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THE MANY VOICES OF MENTAL ILLNESS

RELIGION IN THE PUBLIC SQUARE

WORDS THAT BEAR FRUIT

 

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I am honoured to write for Convivium

Archived  articles  Huffington Post Canada

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Read my WEB-BOOK: Words That Bear Fruit,teaching the mind, touching the soul

 

Featured Articles

  • Invasions of Sharia Compliant Funds in the West

    2014-08-21 19:21:36

    Malaysian Prime Minister Mohamed Mahathir told a banking conference in Kuala Lumpur in November 2002 that: “A universal Islamic banking system is a jihad worth pursuing.”   August 16, 2014,  David Cameron, Prime Minister of Britain, wrote: “We are in...



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  • Did Robin Williams frighten you?

    2014-08-15 13:40:53

    “So don’t be frightened, dear friend, if a sadness confronts you larger than any you have ever known, casting its shadow over all you do. You must think that something is happening within you, and remember that life has not forgotten you; it holds...



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  • The Devolution of Belgium:A view from the future

    2014-08-07 14:44:39

    Bob Schieffer, of CBS News, recently lamented on the condition of the world. It’s gone mad, he said. Then he quoted Will Durant.   “Barbarism, like the jungle, does not die out, but only retreats behind the barriers that civilization has thrown up...



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  • Death Caused by Fear of the Mentally Ill

    2014-07-30 17:56:34

    One year ago Sammy Yatim was on a bus, alone, when he was shot by a member of the Toronto Police force, one bullet after another after another. At the same time, a police officer had entered the back of the bus, behind Sammy and used his Taser to...



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  • Rallying for Peace and Freedom to Exist

    2014-07-29 17:43:42

    I was one of approximately 3000 peaceful citizens attending the Canada for Israel Rally at Queen’s Park on July 27. It was an extraordinary experience. This rally was planned a mere five days earlier by 70 organizations, including Muslims Facing...



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  • Sharia Compliant Investments in Canada. What?

    2014-07-21 15:56:09

    I discovered, quite by accident, that there is a Muslim based economy developing in Canada: Halal and Sharia Compliant Investments, with their own laws specific to Sharia law. It has been developing rather quietly for several years. I found a...



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  • Must maternal health care always include abortion?

    2014-07-16 15:59:18

    Canada is showing herself to be a country that stands for the morals, values and ethics of Western culture. Peace, order, good government that makes room for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Canada makes every attempt to balance rights...



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  • Mentally ill? Did you choose to be straight?

    2014-07-09 20:23:42

    Mental illness is without question a physical illness that plays out emotionally. The outward manifestation of mental illness is based on an inward physical condition.  It’s through our behaviour that we reveal our anxiety, depression,...



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  • Are we making fathers obsolete?

    2014-07-04 18:15:20

    Dave Meslin, activist,one of twelve people the Star named to watch for in 2012, is 40 this year, “celebrating four decades of adventure, exploration, creating, learning, growing, loving and being loved.” He has written a blog “I’d like you to...



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  • Canada Must Speak for the Rohingya

    2014-06-30 18:06:19

    Canada has lifted its ban on Burma this year and is inviting the Burmese to Canada Day celebrations.   Foreign Affairs has decided that Burma need no longer be considered a pariah state. Relations have been warming up these past few years. In 2013,...



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  • Why are our young people taking their own lives?

    2014-06-25 14:21:49

    I have been free of severe depression for some time, now. But I still have moments when I can feel the darkness come over me.  I can tell when I am falling. And yet there are times when I can’t or-is it won’t-stop the plummet. And when it begins,...



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  • Dying with dignity

    2014-06-17 13:33:14

    I remember the morning my mom called and said it was time to pack up her home and move. She’d been living there for 60 years. My father had died more than a decade earlier. But now she felt she could no longer manage alone. She’d become tired of...



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  • Father's Day and women who fight for their rights

    2014-06-11 14:04:16

    I know exactly what a father going through a divorce will tell me about access to his children: “Wednesday and every other weekend.” It is a mantra and it is the court’s default position as if fathers weren’t important and mothers know best. In...



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  • Where are the feminists? Are only white women worthy of protection?

    2014-06-03 22:25:36

    I’m getting a headache from the tsunami of blogs, articles and tweets concerning the abuse of women in Canada and the USA. Misogyny! Yet when it comes to the abuse of women in the vast majority of countries in the world, flogging, disfigurement,...



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Books I'm Reading Now

  • Rotberg:Tolerism The Ideology Revealed

    Canadian author, Howard Rotberg, a lawyer by vocation, a practitioner of tikun olam by avocation, the child of holocaust survivors, has dedicated his writings to the defense of Western culture and its foundation of ethical monotheism, what Thomas...



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Quote of the Day

Latest Articles

We Are One
We Are One Family BringBackOurBoys


Picture: Yael Karol
“The Jews are a story we tell ourselves about who we think we are. The story is the secret of Jewish survival. Without a coherent narrative, we risk disintegration.” Yossi Klein Halevei
Who are we as Jews? How do we define ourselves? 

June 19, I attended the BringBackOurBoys rally in Vaughn, sponsored by UJA and CIJA. There was an outpouring of love for the three boys, Eyal, Gilad and Naftali. We heard from Mark Adler, MP and Irwin Cotler,for whom there are not enough words to describe: a true mensch. And I was so pleased to see the Sikh community represented at this event by the Vice President of the World Sikh Organization, Prabmeet Singh Sarkaria.
 
 Looking at Sakaria, I was reminded of the IDF soldiers I had recently met on my trip to Israel. The Sikh community is much like ours. Small; like us. Maligned; too often. Family oriented. And like us, believe in caring for the other as well as themselves. I see the Sikh community as great friends of the Jewish people. 

It was glorious to see young people there; young children brought by their parents so that they can learn, almost by osmosis, of the importance of Israel and the meaning of caring for one’s brother; also the name of the operation to find our children. Because they are our children. For we, the Jewish people, are one people: Am Yisrael.

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, former Chief Rabbi of Great Britain tells us to look at Abraham to understand who we are. The Torah says that God told Abraham “Walk before me.” (Gen 17-1) The Rabbi interprets that to mean taking collective responsibility as well as moral and personal. And he tells us that “They will stumble over each other” ( Lev. 26: 36), teaches us that “all Israelites are responsible for one another.” 

Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz sees us as a family. “Throughout the Bible and Jewish literature, the Jewish people are referred to as ‘the Children of Israel’ a reference to the fact that we are all the physical or spiritual descendants of the Patriarch Jacob who was later called Israel. In other words, we are part of his extended family.”

There are responsibilities and obligations that come with being one family. As we care for each other, we also share in all our joys and sorrows, collectively as Am Yisrael, Kol Yisrael.

I recently reread Rabbi Joseph B Soloveitchik’s Kol Dodi Dofek: It is the Voice of My Beloved That Knocketh, in which he reminds us over and over that we are one. “Haverim kol Yisrael. All Israel are knit together.

He says we learn from Psalm 91:15:”I will join him in trouble” that “There is unity.” We must share in the troubles of our community, a burden that we must all carry. WE. AM YISRAEL.

He tells us in his avuncular way that “A collective ethico-halakhic responsibility devolved upon the entire Jewish people. The individuals coalesce into one ethico-halakhic unit, possessed of one conscience…all Jews are guarantors of one another.”

He said “A special covenant was made in order to effect the mutual arevut (suretyship) of all Jews for one another…From peoplehood, the covenant of mutual arevut directly followed…We are all mutually responsible for one another, we are all each other’s guarantors, as the verse states: ‘but the things that are revealed belong unto us and our children for ever, that we may do all the words of the Law‘ ” (Deuteronomy 29:28).

He is telling us that we are never alone, left to fend for ourselves. No one will be abandoned as long as we remember that we are responsible for each other: “If boiling water is poured upon the head of a Jew in Morocco, the fashionably attired Jew in Paris or London has to scream at the top of his voice, and through feeling the pain he will remain faithful to his people.”

We have been one family, held together over the centuries and the millennia by a collective sense of joy and sorrow, shame and guilt. It is in our emotional DNA. Last night, at the rally, I felt that oneness, again.

We were all at the mountain where the cloud hovered, and the Presence was felt, and the Word was given. And all of us, we, together brought those revolutionary morals and values out of the desert, what Thomas Cahill calls the Gifts of the Jews to humanity. “The Jews gave us the Outside and the Inside-our outlook and our inner life. We dream Jewish dreams and hope Jewish hopes. Most of our best words, in fact-new, adventure, surprise; unique, individual, person, vocation; time, history, future; freedom, progress, spirit; faith, hope, justice-are gifts of the Jews.”

We must never forget our eternal, absolute response to God: “We hear and we will do.” We hear the call of our Jewish family in Israel and we will do whatever it takes to BringBackOurBoys.

Originall published at http://shalomtorontoweeklynewspaper.blogspot.ca/
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Let's Bring Birth and Death Back into the Circle of Life
 

We are losing our connection to the cycle of life. Medicine has sanitized and sterilized our relationship, our intimacy with birth and death.

There was a time when we brought new life into the world at home, and we cared for our elderly and sick in their own beds. We experienced joy and sorrow first hand. We embraced all that was set before us and learned to accept that life is not fair. That what mattered was our response to the good and bad that befell us. That closeness to the smallest details of life and death, the knowledge that life and death are but a breath away from each other gave to us the sense of the sanctity of life.

We now live in a society that does everything possible to limit those experiences of pain and loss-be it physical, emotional or spiritual. And that leads to the fear of the unknown. And fear distorts reality. We hear stories of painful, prolonged death, usually in a hospital where doctors push all treatment possible because they fear failure-and death to them is failure, so we conclude that we must be able to take our own lives-for fear of that pain.

The narrative around euthanasia tends to be religious. And the non-religious say they want no part of a god telling us what to do. I agree. This is not a religious discussion. This is a value discussion. What do we value in our society? How do we in this country view life?

It is not a leap to move from valuing life in and of itself, to using it for other purposes. We know this because we are witnessing this in our world. There are millions of people in this world who do not attribute specialness to life; who do not see life as sacred in the sense that we respect life intrinsically: there is value in "being" not just doing.We have read too often of terrorists who use their children as human shields, in lieu I suppose of a Kevlar vest, or hide missile rockets in a hospital or school yard, or encourage their children to blow themselves up in a crowded street, café or mall. We have read about Boko Haram abducting girls in Nigeria and forcing them to marry their abductors; of boy child soldiers and girls pushed into prostitution in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Honour killings, by stoning of young women. In other words, we hear often of those who use people as objects rather than caring for them as subjects.

Let us always keep in mind that life is not a thing, to be used and abused, or be tossed away when it passes its "usefulness." This is anathema to our belief in the dignity and integrity of the individual.

To accept the state taking the life of those who fear death is to devalue life, not only the one who is dying but the lives of those who will remain behind. Instead of giving into the fear of a bad death, an undignified death, let us find ways to bring death home, to bring it back into its place of honour in the circle of life. Let us spend our time and money on making dying less frightening, less painful for all.

Euthanasia should not be our first response to fear of death, fear of pain and pain itself. It should be the very last. After all else is tried. We have not begun to learn about palliative care. We have not spent enough money on going gently into that good night. Let's take a step back. Let's rethink end of life, how to embrace it and return it to the organic cycle of life.

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Abusing Mental Illness to Promote Mysogyny

Toronto Star columnist, Heather Mallick, turned the case of a young man with what appears to be mental health issues into the story of raging misogyny. Little did I know that I am hated just for being female. It's almost a relief. I can think of other reasons, but it seems to pale in the reflection of misogyny. Her uninformed rant is nothing less than left wing ideology gone awry.

According to Mallick, people with Asperger's tend to misinterpret that which is around them. So Mallick has decided that Rodger, the young man who went on a killing rampage, had focused on a group of women at a party because of his desire to have sex with a beautiful blonde and tried to push girls off a cliff when rebuffed. That his leg was broken by the men who stopped him seems to be irrelevant to his focus. He killed because of the women not because of the men who broke his leg.

Mallick is busy using the tragedy of poorly managed mental health to push her men-hate-women agenda. She does it at the same time she demeans women. In her world she pictures the women that Rodger sought as "draped by the pool, always on display." To her it's misogynistic for women not to work outside the home. The desire to be a girlfriend or wife, some kind of "domestic role" is beneath her contempt. She manages to attack women who might actually choose "domestic life," raising a family, with the same brush as those with mental illness. Is she subtly suggesting these women are mentally ill? I don't know which fallacy brings me more tears, or despair.

I just read "My Life With Asperger's" by John Elder Robinson, written December 17, 2012. He wrote: "It's not a "lack of feeling" disorder. In fact, most clinicians who work with people on the autism spectrum will tell you autistic people tend to care deeply for people in their lives, and have a sweetness; a childlike gentleness - something totally at odds with what you'd expect in a cold blooded killer." Studies show that "autistic people are far more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators."

Eric Butter of Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, who treats autism, including Asperger's said "Research suggests people with autism do have a higher rate of aggressive behavior -- outbursts, shoving or pushing or angry shouting -- than the general population. .. These types of tragedies have occurred at the hands of individuals with many different types of personalities and psychological profiles."

In other words there is Asperger's and there is autism, both of which can be characterized by poor social skills, repetitive behavior or interests and problems communicating. And then there are those who also deal with some mental health problems, including depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder or obsessive-compulsive disorder. Which would explain Rodger's "obsessive" desire to be liked by young women. As if he were different from any other young man in that desire. Mallick further muddies the water by disparaging those who live well with Asperger's, autism and mental illness by blaming the parents. Where is Freud when you need him?

It's Mallick who suffers from an obsession. And she has projected that obsession on to a young man whose parents tried to provide all the help he required-including self-help books given by the father-whom she mocks as clueless- a clue to her view of men. I must ask how much she knows about caring for one with a mental illness. About providing them with therapists and books to help them learn about themselves? And according to the story, these parents watched over him, worried about him and called for help. And what happened? The police diagnosed him and chose not to listen to the concerns of family and left him alone.

Asperger's and misogyny do not go together. How sad that too often we look for simplistic answers to difficult questions, but even more worrisome is the leaps in logic made by people like Heather Mallick-respected columnists-turning a tragedy that seems to have been triggered by errors in the manner in which we treat people with mental illness into a moment of feminist propaganda. There seems to be no taboo against belittling or demeaning mental illness and then we wonder why there is a stigma.

The young men and women who died did not die from misogyny any more than Amanda Todd died from bullying. They died from our inability to provide appropriate treatment for mental health disorders.

 
 
 
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Mother's Day-A time of compassion

Mother's day is around the corner. For too many children whose families are restructuring all they want for the day to be happy is their father. They want their dream back. They want to be able to love both parents equally without guilt. We owe it to our children to put their rights, their best interests first.

As Barbara Kay wrote there is "persuasive evidence showing that the single most important 'interest' of children is to continue to love and to be loved by both their parents. Relationships cannot flourish without significant time in each other's presence." Sadly, according to sociologist Paul Millar who analysed the Central Divorce Registry, mothers are 27 times as likely as fathers to obtain sole custody of the children.

Children lose because too often fear of change from the upheaval of divorce turns to anger by one or both parents. About 30 years ago I was listening to two friends, female doctors: one a GP and the other a psychiatrist discussing the effects of divorce on their female patients. The psychiatrist said she'd felt great empathy for her patients and hurt for them. Then she found herself going through her own divorce and said that for all that she had felt for her patients, she had no idea how terrible it was to go through the process. The hurt and anger she felt. The GP pointed out many of her female patients going through divorce spoke to her about wanting their husbands dead. How much better it sounds to say I am a widow than to say I am a divorcée. At least it was back then. She recommended a book that spoke to those feelings. A book? Can you imagine the number of women who'd expressed that wish for there to be a book?

Shocked? Don't be. I recently spoke to another woman who was so distraught, so anxious and fearful of divorce that she'd wished her husband, who flew for business, would be in a plane crash. Then she felt terrible right away. The guilt and shame -- how unfair to wish a plane crash with innocents dying because she could not bear the divorce process.

And then comes the remorse for wishing the death of the spouse. Yes, it might get rid of your problem but that means wishing a whole set of problems and pain on your children-mourning a father whom they still love and need and want.

For many men and women, divorce triggers a sense of shame and guilt from failure and then fear of the unknown. That fear is come by honestly-genetically, from the days in the cave. We are the ancestors of those who respected fear of the unknown. Back then if you didn't listen to that instinctual fear coming from your soul, you could be dinner. Fear, anxiety, anger keep us alive.

The three emotions live together in the deepest and oldest part of our brain; the amygdala, the reptilian brain. Imagine feeling imprisoned in a marriage -- like an animal caught in a trap. First there's fear. Then anger, which is needed to increase adrenalin and start the fight-for-life process. In divorce, feeling trapped can do the same thing. Anger develops and you reach for the closest weapon to defend yourself. Too often that weapon is the children. They become the pawns in a battle that gets out of hand between two adults.

Brian Ludmer, a co-founder of the group Lawyers for Shared Parenting (L4SP) asks "Why do this to children who are used to seeing both of their parents every day?"

That is the question to ask yourself this Mother's Day, while you look at those beautiful children. In Hebrew the root of the word womb, mercy and compassion are the same; for a reason. Are you ready to let go of the anger, let go of the hurt, and embrace your children's love and need for their father? It would be a beautiful mother's day gift.

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Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls
*The following names are from a database of missing and murdered aboriginal women in Canada documented in Maryanne Pearce's thesis: An Awkward Silence: Missing And Murdered Vulnerable Women And The Canadian Justice System .

Veil of tears #ItEndsHere

2014-04-26-missing.jpg


The women sit in a circle with family and community as a symbolic way to show that although they are gone they are not forgotten


Although they are gone they are not forgotten

Yvonne Abigosis, Sharon Abraham, Christine Ackabee, Bridget Adams, Jackie Adams, Natalie Adams, Rachel Adams, Bernadett Ahenakew, Laura Ahenakew, Elaine Alook, Adrienne Amikons , Gertrude Anderson,Shelley Anderson,Joni Andre, Patricia Andrew, Norma Andrews, Lisa Anstey, Jessica Anuroff,Wendy Arnault,Tara Arney, Sharon Arrance, Elisapi Assapa,Cynthia Audy, Katherine August,Laverna Avigan

The veil of tears: #ItEndsHere with us the living: the knowledge keepers, the storytellers, the medicine women, the word carriers; the spirit of the Lodge.

Shelly Bacsu, MarilynBadger,Chystal Baker, Karen Baker, Alice Ballantyne, Emily Ballantyne, Jenilee Ballantyne, Marie Banks, Lora Banman, Gloria Baptiste, Jordena Baptiste, Amanda Bartlett, Immaculate Basil, Janet Basil, Chrystal Bearisto, Nadine Beaulieu, Samantha Belcourt, Deanna Bellerose5, Ginger Bellerose, Nancy Benn, Leanne Benwell, Danita Bigeagle7, Christine Billy, Angel Bird, Vickie Black, Lorna Blacksmith, Celestine Bob, Jacqueline Bob, Nancy Bob, Lisa Marie Bone-Spence, Nancy Books, Francis Boon, Barbara Bostrom, Denise Bourdeau, Rebecca Boutilier, Deena Braem, Ada Brown, Melanie Brown, Annette Bruce, Leona Brule, Dodi Brunette, Jodi Bryant, Stephanie Buboire, Maggie Burke, Caroline Burns, Chantelle Bushie, Haily Butler- Henderson,

There is a new book coming out

Vivian Cada, Constance Cameron, Joan Campbell, Roxanne Campbell, Bernadette, Campo, Carol Cardinal, Gail Cardinal, Jessica Cardinal, Joyce Cardinal Michela Cardinal, Loran Carpenter, Monica Carpenter, Terri Carson Terri Catcheway, KristenCatcheway, Chantelle Cathcart, Charlene Catholique, Annie Cedar, Chrissie Charles, Jacqueline Charles, Mathilda Charles, Chassidy Charlie, Donna Charlie, Mary Ann Charlie, Connie Chartrand, Donna Chartrand, Louise Chartrand, Tara Chartrand, Heather Chinnock, Tamara Chipman, Michelle Choiniere, Holly Cochrane, Sharla Collier, AmandaCook, Jordan Cook, Hazel Coombs, Ada Court Jaylene Crane, Laura Cross,JenniferCusworth

With 6 million words

Corrine Dagnault, Catherine Daignault, Colleen Daignault , Antoinette Daniels,Crysta David, Carol Davie, Carol Davis, Deanna Daw, Rose Decoteau,Carol Deiter, Lana Derrick, Beverley Desjarlais, Janice Desjarlais, Naomi Desjarlais, Rose Desjarlais,Yvonne Desjarlais, Karla Desrosiers, Sarah deVries, Judy Dick, MaryDick,Diane Dobson, Suzanne Dube, Nancy Dumas,VelmaDuncan, Gloria Duneult, Jackaleen Dyck, KatrinaEdwards, Roberta Elders, Adrienne Ermine, Karen Ewanciw, Barbara Eyapaise, Patricia Favel, Chantel Ferguson, Jerry Ferguson, Roberta Ferguson,Ashley Fisher, Sandra Flamond, Amanda Flett, Mildred Flett, Leticia Fleury, Georgette Flint, Elaine Flowers49, Elaine FlowersShiela Fontaine, Cheyenne Fox, Leanne Freeman, Cherish Frenchman, Roswitha Fuchsbichler, Jennifer Furminger

It is the same word over and over

Kimberley Gallup, Jewel Gambler, Julie Gambler, Martha Garvin, Sandra Gaudet Sylvia Gaudet, Lisa Gavin, Martha Gavin, Corona Genaille, Brenda George,Helena George, Marina George, Norma George, Alisha Germaine,Joanne Ghostkeeper, Helen Gillings, Hilda Agawa, Nina Akbarian, Leah Anderson, Cassandra Antone,Lorraine Arrance, Elena Assam- Thunderbird, Susan Asslin, Linda Backfat, Coral Baird, Jean Ballantyne, Sylvia Ballantyne, Lisa Bear, Geraldine Beardy, Dillon Belanger, Edna Bernard, Jane Bernard , Nora Bernard, Kyra Bighetty, Farro Bird8,Shawna Bird, Cheryl Black, Alice Black, Gloria Blackplume9, Cindy Blazek,Hilary Bonnell, Liz Bonney, Dahleen Bosse, Bernice Bottle, Eileen Bradburn,Tanya Brooks,Audrey Brown,Ella Brown, Marlissa Brown, Fonessa Bruyere, Vanessa Buckner, Marlene,"Buffalo-Hudson" Cindy Burk,

And Every Single One Was Someone

Belinda Cameron, Evaline Cameron, Robin Cameron, Loretta Capot-Blanc, Jeanette Cardinal Angel Carlick, Kim Casimer,Jennifer Catcheway, Roxanne Charlie, Sherry Charlie, Jeanette Chief , Christina Christison, Karen Cobbs, Linda Condo,Carolyn Connolly, Alicia Courtoreille- Brignall, Jacqueline Crazybull, Yvonne Crazybull, Dawn Crey31, Faith Crey, Unice Crow33, Corrine Cunningham, Sonya Cywink, Terrie Dauphinais, Maryann Davis,Stacey Diabo, Judie Dickie, Elizabeth Dorion, Cheryl Duck, Glennis Edwards, Moira Erb, Summer Fowler, Rena Fox, Lorilee Francis, Maryse Fréchette, Melanie Geddes , Ruby Genaille, Tashina General52, Christa George, Mary George, Pamela George, Michelle Ginnish, Cindy Gladue, Sonia Abbas, Patricia Abbott, Sally Abou, Aya Aboulfadl, Halina Abraham Abigail Acheampong, Anna Adams, Sherry Adams, Delphine Adamson , Clorissa Adolph, Ruby Adriaenssen, Delia Adriano, Anita Agyeman, Cindy Alarco, Wadha Albadri, Yeny Alfaro, Leila Ali, Annette Allan, Debra Allen, Isobel Allen, Jade Allen, Patricia Allen, Bibi Alli, Theresa Allore , Shirley Allwright, Victoria Alty, Comfort Amankwaah , Nuzhat Amiji, Barbara Amiri, Mary Amlin, Sandra Amos, Claudette Anctil, JenniferAnderson, Kerry Anderson, Linda Anderson, Ruth Anderson, Doreta Andrews, Teengia Andrews, Shirley Andronowich, Lien Angelis, Tatiana Anikejew, Dimitria Anmgelopoulo, Cheyenne Antoine, Eunice Antoniuk, Agnes Appleyard, Pamela Ariza, Kylie Armishaw, Krystina Armstrong, Sigrun Arnd Brigitte Arsenault-Guillemette, Kathleen Arseneault, Yasmin Ashareh Nabila Asifa , Pamela Asprey Agnes Assen , Andrea Atkinson, Tamara Atkinson, Maor Attar, Andrea Attwood, Gurpreet Atwal, Dianne Aubert, Valérie Aubin, Edith Authier, Maria Avidago, Donna Awcock, Johan Ayotte,

The veil of tears: #ItEndsHere with us the living: the knowledge keepers, the storytellers, the medicine women, the word carriers; the spirit of the Lodge.

Sereena Abotsway, Chelsey Acorn, Christina Calayaca, Shirley Cletheroe, Helen Frost, Inusiq Akavak, Teresa Aklunark, Shannon Alexander, Martha Ammaq, Ida Angotigirk, Allison Ayalik1, Michelle Ayalik, Mary Ann Birmingham, Daisy Curley, Mupaloo Eegeesiak, Oolayou Eyesiak, Elzabeth Bergen, Delores Brower, Bev B., Charlotte Baas, Terri-Lynn Babb, Seema Badhan, Sinah Baechen, Marion Bagshaw, Dawn Bailey, Susan Bailey, Rose Baillargeon, Cheryl Baines, Brittany Baird, Eva Baker, Zaniffa Balkaran, Susan Ball, Sandy Bannon, Patricia Barker, Rene Barkley, Gladys Barnard, Michelle Barnoski, Tina Baron, Donna Bartman , Cynthia Bastien, Alicia Bateman, Darlene Battistolo, Evelyn Bayoneta, Debra Beaulieu, Stephine Beck, Suzanne Bédard, Helga Beer, Pamela Behrendt, Corrine Belanger, Noella Belanger, Larisa Belekova, Nola Belisle, Amy Bell4, Patricia Bell, Ivana Belohlavova Marie-Claire Beniskos, Nassima Benkartoussa, Sabrina Benkartoussa, Samantha Berg, Geneviève Bergeron, Alma Berlin,

How do you understand more than ONE: one dead, one missing

Julie Bernier, Lillian Berube, Margaret Besteck, Carol Big Tobacco, Roxanne Bigelow, Evangeline Billy, Karoly Binder, Anne Biomme, Jocelyn Bishop, Lisa Black, Caroline Blair, Deborah Bleuge, Annette Blomme, Annette Bloskie, Gail Blunt, Nellie Bobbish, Elizabeth Bodnar, Natalie Bokeika, Vanessa Bol, Édith Bolduc, Kasandra Bolduc, Haraap Bolla, Zofia Bonder, Linda Bonette, Rhonda Borelli10, Constant Borg, Lorraine Borgford, Rose Boroja, Manijeh "Bostani-Khamsi," Marie-Pierre Bouchard, Sylvie Boucher, Ashley Boudreau , Karissa Boudreau, Catherine Bourbonnière, Manon Bourdeau, Isabelle Bourgeot, Patricia Bovin, Mary Bowen Amber Bowerman11, Diana Bowers, Reva Bowers, Lavina Bradburn, Martha Bradburn, Dana Bradley, Pauline Brazeau, Regina Brazil, Aurora Breakthrough, Phillip Bright, Annie Brissette, Nicole Brochu12, Barbara Brodkin, Lorelei Brose, Ida Brown, Lara Brown, Pearl Brown, Rose Brown, Christine Browne, Carol Ann Brunet, Carmela Bruni, Alayne Bryk, Lilawattee Budram, Carol Buggins14, Stella Burdo, Corrine Burns, Wendy Burrell, Melody Burtis16, Heather Burton, Carol Butler, Marjorie Byerly

How do you see more than One: dead mother, missing daughter

Leonilde Cabral, Susan Cadieux, Patricia Cairns, Michelle Cameron, Pamela Cameron, Louise Camirand, Fenny Campbell, Sandra Campbell, Joleil Campeau, Serena Campione, Sophie Campione, Aysegul Candir, Betty Card, Charlotte Cardinal, Lillian Cardinal, Patricia Cardle, Esther Carlisle, Treana Carlson, Leanne Carnes, Dori Caroll, Lucie Caron, Carolyn Carroll18, Marie Carson-Hill, Diane Carter, Judy Carter, Jenna Cartwright, Betty Case, Charity Cassell, Orma Cassleman Lucie Castonguay, Bonnie Catagas, Maria Catroppa, Karen Caughlin, Margaret Cedrone, Rosella Centis, Andrea Ceolin19, Norma Cervas

How do you touch the dead and missing of too many?

Sandra Chabauty, Melilssa Chaboyer, Kiveli Chadjiioannou, Rajwar Chahal 20, Stephanie Chaisson, Heidi Challand21, Jewell Challand, Lisa Chamberlain, Barbara Chapman, Marcia Charette, Michelle Charette, Barbara Charles, Pierrette Charrette, Micheline Charron, Gabrielle Chartrand, Sadie Chartrand , Tracey Chartrand, Ngoc Chau, Tuyet Chau, Vivian Chau22, Tara Chequis, Michele Chiesa Brenda Chillingworth, Donna Chisholm, Erin Chorney, Hafiza Chowdbury, Hilda Chreptyk, Marie-Claude Chrétien, Nancy Christensen25, Connie Christenson, Gabriella Christian, Gladys Christie, Carol Christou, Nybol Chuol, Kristina Cindric26, Nevenko Cindri27c, Thelma Clapham, Helen Clare, Catherine Clark Kimberley Clarke, Stacey Clarke, Martine Clément, Isha Cleverdon

You get jars

Christina Cline, Diane Clouâtre, Denise Cloutier- Guidi28, Catherine Cluney, Sara Coates Francine "Coderre-Gregoire," Florence Coffee, Eileen Coffey, Maxine Cohen, Victoria Colard, Hélène Colgan, Samantha Collins, Serena Colson, Fernanda Conceicao, Rosalinda Concepcion, Shelly Conners, Donna Connon, Shelly Connors, Leslie Conrad, Pamela Constable29, Luzmila Contreras, Claudia Cook, Kelly Cook, Victoria Cook, Joanne Cooke, Audrey Cooper, Virginia Coote, Gertrude Copegop, Jennifer Copithorn, Mary Corbiere, Katheryn Corchis30, Gaye Corley, Aline Cote, Audrey Cote, Elise Cote, Jolene Cote, Sophie Couchman, Pierrette Courcelles, Natasha Cournoyer, Katlin Cousineau, Virginia Coutt, Diane Couture, Tammy Couture, Shelley Cowell, Tania Cowell, Julia Cox, Wendy Crawford, Jennifer Creighton, Veronica Cropp, Julie Croteau, Nathalie Croteau, Allison Crowe, Key-Lee Crowell, Mary Cruse34, Shaniya Cruse, Shannon Cruse, Janice Cudjoe, Juliet Cuenco, Micheline Cuerrier, Kim Cuff, K'Leigh Cundall, Aimee Cunningham, Leanne Cupello, Donna Currier-Burns, Carmela Cusano, Maria Czibulka

And you get stones from the earth

Carla Dach, Louise DaCunha, Mary Dahlie, Darla Dahmer, Barbara Daigneault Marie d'Amour, Fiona Dario, Darji Urmilaven, Debbie Darlene, Anne Dasaulniers Candace DaSilva, Ashley Daubs, Stephanie Daubs, Victoria David, Beverly Davidson, Martha Davies, Morag Davies, Annie Davis, Kelli Davis, Fiona Davreux, Maria de Los Santos, Louise De Prater, Marion Deacon, Victoria Debes, Nelita Deboraja, Catherine Deboucherville, Alexandra Degrasse , Aliyah Degrasse, ***Delaronde, Dorys Delgadillo, Marilyn Dellaire, Wanda DeLong38, Brenda Demoor, Sereena Denesiuk, Norma Derosie, Melanie Desroches, Sylvie Desroches, Jane Dever, Deborah Devine, Sabrina Devittoris, Alexis Devlin

And then you count

Shelley Devoe, Lindsey Dibert, Jocelyn Dickson, Catherine Didluke, Thera Dieleman,Sharon Dietrich, Valerie Diner, Terisa Ditchburn, Irene Ditchfield, April Dobson, Brenda Domingo, Cimmeron Doncaster, Laurissa Dookie, Helen Dorrington, Marie Dorval, Cheri Doucette40, Reva Douglas, Victoria Doyle, Monica Drake, Dana Draycott, Valerie Drew, Karen Drinkwalter41, Sharon Drover Jocelyne Dubé, Crystal Ducharme, Patricia Ducharme, Danielle Duchesneau Gisele Duckham, Deja Ducross, Pauline Dudley, Susan Duff, Nathalie Dufresne, Alexandra Duguay, Karrie Dulmage, Jocelyn Dulnuan, Kimberlee Dumais43, Mya
Dumont, Margaret Duncan, Rhonda Duncan, Jacqueline Dunleavy, Lillian Dunsmore, Lori Dupont, Mylène Dupuis, Donna Durham, Diane Durocher, Ann Durrant, Dominika Dutkiewicz, Beverley Dyke

ONE stone for every death

Agda Easingwood, Jessica Eastabrooks, Sara Easton, Linda Eaton44, Sandy Ebrahim, Marietta Echavez, Anne-Marie Edward, Donna Edwards45, Leah Edwards, Jessica Eguia-Cornejo, Petra Eilbrecht, Jolene Einerson, Christina Eisnor, Melissa Ekkelenkamp, Darcy Elder, Jolene Eliuk46, Misty Eliuk, Chrystal Elk, Petra Ellbrecht, Louise Ellis, Diane Ellison, Laura England , Jacqueline English, Vivian Enuaraq, KarinaEsquivel, Jessica Estabrooks, Pascale Eustache, Enola Evans, Florence Fagan, Danielle Falardeau, Carmelo Fallico, Bridie Fanning, Phylllis Farquhar, Karine Faubert, Peggy Favel , Rachel Favreau, Anna Fedorio, Anna Felker, Isabelle Felsing, Ethel Fenotti, Dora Ferguson, Heidi Ferguson, Jennifer Ferguson, Maria Ferguson, Valerie Ferguson, Marie "FernandezLevesque," Anne Fernando, Vikki Ferrando, Edith Ferraz, Suzanne Ferry, Chantele Fetterly, Michelle Fiddick, Noelle Fielder, Juanita Fields, Jenny Figueroa, Mary Ellen Filer, Sophie Filion, Donna Filiszewskia

ONE stone for each of the missing

Juliette Fillion, Colleen Findlay, Margaret Findlay, Jessie Finnamore48, Alexandra Firgin-Hewie, Sophie Fitzpatrick, Maria Fitzulak, Helene Flanders, Doreen Flann, August Flatfoot, Sara Flores- Quintana, Johanne Foessl, Thelma Fokuhl, Debra Foley, Joanne Foley, Nancy Forbes, Margaret Forget, Julie Fortier, Margaret Foster, Nathalie Fournier, Kristie Fowlie, Rosemary Fox50,Sharon Fox , Lisa Francis Maria Franco, Edith Francomano, Sonia Frappier, Marilyn Fraser, Linda Fredin,Ruchael Friers, Leanne Friesen, Cathie Frost , Constance Fuhrmann, Rachael Gabriel, Arlène Gagné, Betty Gagnon, Nancy Galbraith- Quick, Paula Gallant, Karolyne Gallasz, Barbara Galway, Steffany Gardiner, Sheryl Gardner, Raymonde Garon , Brenda Garside, Hannah Gartry, Catherine Gastador, Audrey Gates, Karine Gaudreault 51, Cari Gaulton, Cindy Gauthier, Alexia Gautreau,Kiarra Gautreau, Barbara Gawby, Lydia Gayle, Natalie Gayle, Rhonda Gaynor, Claudia Geburt, Ludmila Gechtman, Nadia Gehl, Lucy Gélinas, Diana George, Lorna George, Virginia Gerlitz, Irene Gibbons, Sherry Gibson, Brittany Giese, Martine Giguère Anita Gilavesh, Edith Gilavish, Lynn Gilbank, Helen Gilby, Linda Giles, Gill Kanwaljitk, Gill Kulwinder, Chantal Gillade, Beverly Gillett, Nora Gillis, Erin Gilmour, Jeannie Gingras, Monique Girard, Lillian Giroux, Nancy Gladue

It was Rabbi Hillel, in the first century BCE, who wrote these poignant words: "If I am not for myself, then who will be for me? And if I am only for myself, then what am I? And if not now, when?"

If not now, Canada, when? When will we declare that the dead and missing women of our First Nations are our dead, our missing, our lost children.

The veil of tears: #ItEndsHere with us the living: the knowledge keepers, the storytellers, the medicine women, the word carriers; the spirit of the Lodge.


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Artist Simone Mcleod

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Tolerism The Ideology Revealed

What is tolerance?

I looked it up: “A fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions, practices, race  religion, nationality, etc., differ from one’s own; freedom from bigotry; sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing from or conflicting with one’s own; the capacity for or the practice of recognizing and respecting the beliefs or practices of others.”

 

I never liked the word tolerant. It has about it an aura of begrudging acceptance rather than inclusion or accommodation or adaptation. Now tolerance has taken on higher powers. It is now the only correct response to all beliefs, rituals, customs and behaviours from around the world. We have accepted cultural relativism: no one culture is better than another; perhaps from collective white guilt over colonization that took place hundreds of years ago.

Like anything else taken to an extreme, tolerance has taken on some traits of fundamentalism. Ideologies that become sacred in and of themselves are dangerous for liberal democracies.

September 10, 2006 the former President of Iran, Muhammad Khatami, a man who tortured dissidents and denied freedom to his people, gave a lecture at Harvard titled “Ethics of Tolerance in the Age of Violence.”  He called the West “the greatest victim of over-reliance on reason.”

This is the absurdity of Tolerism as discussed by Howard Rotberg in his book Tolerism: The Ideology Revealed.

Rotberg, a lawyer by vocation, a practitioner of tikun olam by avocation, the child of holocaust survivors, has dedicated his writings to the defense of Western culture and its foundation of ethical monotheism, what Thomas Cahill referred to as The Gift of the Jews, and Winston Churchill called

“a system of ethics which, even if it were entirely separated from the supernatural, would be incomparably the most precious possession of mankind, worth in fact the fruits of all other wisdom and learning put together on that system and by that faith There has been built out of the wreck of the Roman Empire the whole of our existing civilization.”

Rotberg is defending this ideal from Tolerism and its path into the moral abyss.

Rotberg takes us on an Alice in Wonderland ride through the hypocrisy of what he calls “the scourge of Western civilization/culture;” tolerance-tolerance of behaviours that are anathema to liberal democracies.  How else could a prestigious university like Harvard ever consider inviting a leader from Iran to speak about ethics, tolerance and violence to America? After 9/11? On the evening before the 5th anniversary of that act of Islamic terrorism in America?

He takes you by the hand down the rabbit hole and step by step explains how we allowed the left wing ideologues to resurrect a new kind of anti-semitism, while undermining and demonizing Israel and democracies around the world, by elevating moral and cultural relativism.

He attacks feminism for its lack of backbone, its shunning of those like Phyllis Chesler who choose to peel back the veil on the abuse of Muslim women by Islamism. Ms. Chesler, a Jewish woman, fell in love and ended up in Afghanistan but escaped to tell the story. Unfortunately, her story about the abuse of Muslim women wasn’t championed by the feminists. They weren’t interested. They remain silent, today. I have yet to hear a justification for their ignorantia affectata regarding the lack of human rights, let alone civil rights, of Muslim women.

We are taken on the  journey of the development  and repercussions of Islamophobia and its companion, the censorship of free speech, by the politically correct. They have no problem with Zionophobia, a word coined by McGill University professor Gil Troy which:

“singles out the Jews, holding Israel to an artificially higher standard, while ignoring Israel’s unique blend of liberal democratic and Jewish values…This double standard marks Zionophobia as a strain of a broader disease, the modern tendency to judge all western nations harshly…while absolving Third World nations of  wrongdoing…”

Deborah Lipstadt in her book Beyond Belief wrote about the many ways anti-Semitism was delivered through the culture in Europe prior to WWII: movies, books, music, the media, symbols used to incite hatred of Jews, but it never occurred to me that this was happening here, in the West. It’s all around us. And this is where, in my opinion, Rotberg shines.

Rotberg opens your eyes to the many layers of anti-semitism delivered through the abuse of language and symbols in movies and books that encourage Jew hatred and negative views of Israel, to the ever-so-gentle-so well-intentioned seconding of the lesson of evil of the Holocaust. And he leaves no stone unturned in his evisceration of the President of the United States and his advisors and their role in increasing the temperature of Jew hatred including the bestowing of The Medal of Freedom on Mary Robinson who chaired the Durban Conference which became a place of active Jew hatred.

We have become infected with the ideology of tolerance to the point that we are tolerating those who wish to destroy us, in the name of tolerance.  Robert Spencer, a man Rotberg considers one of the best students of Radical Islam wrote: “The strangest effect of 9/11 has been on balance, an accelerated campaign of accommodation  of Islam’s law in the West.” Tolerism?

When you finish reading this well researched and surprisingly easy to read book, you will know the answer to the question Howard Rotberg poses at the very beginning:

“How did we get into the mess that so many people think that Tolerance is a more important value than Justice?”

 


 
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Shame on the West:ignoring suffering world wide

n the spring of 1994, the Hutus of Rwanda turned on the Tutsis and within 100 days murdered almost 800,000 of them. "Why?" They asked. For being Tutsis?

 

They probably asked God: "Why would such a thing happen?" Is that not the universal plea?

 

The question was the same as the one asked 50 years earlier when six million Jews were murdered. "Why?" they asked. For being Jews?

 

The question coming out of the concentration camps was "Why God? Where were you?"

 

Answers were sought. How could God allow such horror? I remember one of the attempts to answer such a profound question.

 

Perhaps God lifted His gaze, just for a nano-second and looked upward, toward the future or to the other side of the universe-for just a nano-second and in that time the people were massacred.

 

Maybe that happened in Rwanda, too.

 

But I don't think so. God in His infinite compassion would never permit such a thing. It wasn't God. It was humanity. From the Nazi killing machine throughout Europe to Rwanda there was what Thomas Aquinas called an Ignorantia Affectata. "A willful lack of knowledge designed to protect one from the harm so useful that one protects it, keeps it from the light, in order to continue using it."

 

There was a lack of desire to aid Rwanda. Canadian General Dallair, in charge of the UN Peace keeping troops sent a warning when weaponry arrived in Rwanda from Belgium, France, and the United Kingdom, meant of course for good intentions.

Human Rights Watch called on the world to use the word "genocide" -- a term which would have legally obliged the UN to act. Yet, the US and UN security council voted on Day 12 of the massacre to remove 90% of the peacekeeping force in Rwanda. There were no soldiers for war.

 

Day 25 of the massacre: "Be careful... a genocide finding could commit us to actually 'do something.' US defence department discussion paper warns."

 

Day 45 the UN finally asks the US to provide 50 armoured personnel carriers. They argue for weeks over who will pay for them. The carriers don't arrive until July.

 

Day 65 as the killings continued, the French government continued to supply weapons through eastern Zaire (DR Congo). President Francois Mitterrand said, "In such countries, genocide is not too important." (Reported in the newspaper Le Figaro.)

Rather reminiscent of the world response to the elimination of Jews from Europe.

 

A desire not to know, an intentional "bystander."

 

And now we come back to the world today.

 

What have you heard about Burma, Tibet, Northern Cyprus? Even less than Syria, North Korea, Sudan and Democratic Republic of Congo.

 

Don't look. Pretend it's not happening-or pretend that efforts at peace will work-if we just give it enough time. Rwanda took more than 100 days. The Jewish people waited five years. Syria has been in conflagration for three years. Talk. Talk. Talk. Well maybe there will be talk. But then who's listening. The media? There is a certain presence of an absence in far too many hot spots.

 

We are cultivating that Ignorantia Affectata which is just a slip down the slope to the banality of evil where it becomes easier to turn away from the cries of those in places neither glamourous nor easy to access.

 

I last wrote about Burma in August 2013. According to reports in February 2014, it seems nothing has changed. Why would it when the facts about Muslim ghettos, "de facto open-air prisons" ghettos are kept hidden.

Religious intolerance against the Muslim Rohingya minority and Christians from the Chin and Kachin minorities continues despite the pleas of a dozen former Nobel Peace laureates urging "an international, independent investigation of the anti-Muslim violence in Burma" June 2013.

 

According to the The U.N Human Rights Council "from inside Tibet and from Tibetan-populated counties of Chinese provinces regularly cite cases of Chinese security forces firing on unarmed Tibetans protesting Beijing's rule, of the beating and torture of Tibetan prisoners, and of other abuses."

 

You probably haven't heard about this. There seems to be a dearth of reports from Tibet. Perhaps because "China has not complied with these requests" from U.N. human rights chief Navi Pillay to "allow special rapporteurs--experts charged with reporting to the U.N. on special areas of concern--to visit and observe conditions in Tibet."

 

Are you even aware that Northern Cyprus has been under illegal occupation by Turkey since 1974? Did you read about "systemic human rights abuses against Greek Cypriots , ethnic cleansing from ancestral homes or that 200,000 Greek Cypriot refugees have been prevented from returning to their homes and lands and 162,000 colonists have been illegally transferred to the occupied area by Turkey to alter the demography of the island"?

 

I guess this story isn't sexy.

 

And then there are the continuing horror stories out of Syria. And what is the world doing? It seems we declare red lines and then ignore them and we watch. Or not watch as the case may be. Yet, there are 2 million refugees, more than half of them children, two million others displaced within the country and an estimated 11,420 children killed. And starvation is rampant.

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Syria is another country where access is difficult. Satellite imagery is used to document the destruction: of buildings. The Global Heritage Fund's director of Global Projects, Dan Thompson said: "All of the country's world heritage sites have sustained damage, including the Unesco site cities, and a great many of the other monuments in the country have been damaged, destroyed or have been subject to severe looting."

 

And then there is Northern Korea. Slavery, starvation, mass murder. Yet we get our reports from Dennis Rodman. We all heard about Kim Jung-un's birthday party but nothing about human rights abuses until mid-February when the UN came out with its report-that took a year to collate.

 

And slavery in Sudan, atrocities in Eritrea, targeted killings in Somalia, beheadings and mass rape in Mali, starvation in Zimbabwe, "modern slavery" in preparing for World Cup 2022 in Qatar.

 

Can you imagine how these innocent victims would feel if they knew the time talking heads spend on reporting about a peace deal between a democracy and an autocratic theocracy while they suffer from war, hunger, torture, devastation of their families and homes, face ethnic cleansing, live in open air prisons, become enslaved, because too few are paying attention to them?

 

Can you imagine what they would think if they knew the Palestinian Authority had "misspent, squandered or lost to corruption" 2.5 billion euros in aid from the European Union over the last four years. And that Egypt had lost one billion euros of aid money over six years.

 

Or how they would react if they knew that Palestinian refugees receive $83 per refugee while 19.2-million refugees and asylum seekers in 116 countries receive $52 per refugee.

 

Or their reaction to the fact that Gaza and the West Bank are blessed with 5 star hotels.

 

Can you imagine how it must feel to know that the UN, EU and the USA have turned their gaze away, perhaps protecting themselves from culpability, while feeling good about another attempt at peace process between two plots on the ground that are relatively calm?

 

Do you think they ask themselves why their plight is so unimportant?

 

Ignorantia Affectata.

Sir Thomas More reminds us in "A Man for All Seasons" "silence gives consent."

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Cause of Death:Militant Atheism

We are living through a time when those who believe in God are treated with disdain.  The late Christopher Hitchens, and the lively Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins attack people who believe in God. Harris wrote in his book End of Faith that religion represents “the most potent source of human conflict, past and present.” Richard Dawkins said:

I am a fairly militant atheist, with a fair degree of active hostility toward religion. I certainly was hostile toward it at school, from the age of about sixteen onwards. I mellowed a bit in my twenties and thirties. But I’m getting more militant again now.

Interfaith

He encourages people to not only challenge religious people but to “ridicule and show contempt” for their doctrines and sacraments. He said this at the “Reason Rally” in Washington, D.C. in 2012.

I have lost track of the number of times I have heard that religion is the greatest cause of war and death. But the facts prove otherwise.

Dinesh D’Souza, the Rishwain Fellow at the Hoover Institution, wrote:

It’s time to abandon the mindlessly repeated mantra that religious belief has been the greatest source of human conflict and violence. Atheism, not religion, is the real force behind the mass murders of history.

Encyclopedia of Wars, authors Charles Phillips and Alan Axelrod document the history of recorded warfare. From their list of 1763 wars, only 123 have been classified to involve a religious cause, accounting for less than 7 percent of all wars and less than 2 percent of all people killed in warfare. It’s estimated that more than 160 million civilians were killed in genocides in the 20th century alone, with nearly 100 million killed by the Communist states of USSR and China.

Few people are aware of the religious persecution that took place in the USSR. There are many stories about the Jews, but I have not come across many about the persecution of Christians. There is a documentary in production called Martyred in the USSR, directed by Kevin Gonzales of Twelve Points Productions that takes us to the now dismantled USSR, to eastern bloc countries where religion was attacked under communism.

Dr. Christopher Marsh of Baylor University, who is also involved in the film, said:

People in Russia today also do not know of the intense persecution of Christians and Jews that occurred in the USSR, perhaps to appear more liberal or democratic to the West.

Under communism an attempt was made to wipe out believers that led to multi-million deaths including 1.9 million Polish civilians, mostly Christians. More than three million Soviet prisoners of war died and more than two million Soviet civilians, mostly Christians, were killed.

The need for this documentary comes from the desire to bear witness before memories are lost. Witness names must be attached to accounts so that, years from now when one asks about the martyrs to religion in Russia who were martyred because they believed in God in a state culture of atheism, there will be an historic account.

Vasily Vlasivich, an Evangelical Christian who refused to take an oath to the Soviet Communist Party during World War II was immediately sentenced to death but managed to escape being executed.

Nikolai Bobarykin was a pastor in a small town in the Soviet Republic. He went to the gulag twice in his life for simply being a pastor.

R. J. Rummel, Professor Emeritus at the University of Hawaii, researched the deaths of civilians under Marxist rule:

The consensus figure for those that Joseph Stalin murdered when he ruled the Soviet Union is 20,000,000.  Considering that Stalin died in 1953… it did not include – camp deaths after 1950, and before 1936; executions 1939-53; the vast deportation of the people of captive nations into the camps, and their deaths 1939-1953; the massive deportation within the Soviet Union of minorities 1941-1944; and their deaths; and those the Soviet Red Army and secret police executed throughout Eastern Europe after their conquest during 1944-1945 is omitted.

Rummel asked:

Why is this death by Marxism, so incredible and significant in its magnitude, unknown or unappreciated compared to the importance given slavery, cancer deaths, auto accident deaths?

Today, according to the organization Open Doors, religious persecution continues in states that are officially atheist. North Korea is ranked first.

John Das, a medical student, took an interest in the history of religion in the Eastern bloc and discovered:

Militant atheism was a cause for disaster in the entire Eastern Bloc leading to the persecution of millions of believers of many faiths.

He became the Lead Archivist for the film. He says:

The documentary:  is not meant to be a political film, but rather one that documents history. However, we do hope that it will cause people to think about selectively targeting religion as the scapegoat of the ills of society and that it will encourage people to stand against similar movements of militant atheism in the present, as well as in the future.

The attacks on religion as the cause of evil continue despite the facts to the contrary. How sad that people in pursuit of promoting an agenda deny the facts, even when there are eye witness accounts. Holocaust denial comes to mind.

Can you imagine how easy it would be to undo/rewrite history if we did not have people of conscience choosing to record and bear witness to evil events?

Moses Mendelssohn (1729-1786), a noted German philosopher and the grandfather of composer Felix Mendelssohn, wrote that historical truths and events are only witnessed once. We learn of them through those who pass down the information.

Hence the respectability and the trustworthiness of the narrator constitute the sole evidence of historical matters. Without testimony, we cannot be convinced of any historical truth. Without authority, the truth of history vanishes with the occurrence itself.

As John Das astutely pointed out:

We know from history that the mockery of certain ethnic and religious groups often led to their persecution.

We just don’t want to believe it.

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Native Canadian Becomes a Zionist

Monday, January 27, 2014, is the 69th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. Auschwitz was built as part of the military-industrial infrastructure for the sole purpose of gathering, transporting and incinerating Jews -- for the crime of being Jewish. Commemorations will be taking place around the world.

 

Do we still need to commemorate an event that is 69 years old?

 

Ryan Mervin Bellerose is a proud Métis from Northern Alberta who grew up on what he calls a Métis colony with no electricity, running water or telephone.

 

His father co-authored the Métis Settlements Act of 1989, passed in the Alberta legislature in 1990. Bellerose founded a native rights advocacy group, Canadians for Accountability, and then became an organizer and participant in the Idle No More movement in Canada.

 

Although many native groups encourage identifying with the Palestinians, Ryan's experiences led him to identify with Zionism. He read about the horrific 1972 Lod Airport massacre (Tel Aviv) where terrorists shot dead 26 civilians, including 17 Christian pilgrims waiting for their flights. He read about the 1985 attack by Yasser Arafat's forces on the Achille Lauro cruise ship, where an old disabled Jewish man was thrown overboard in his wheelchair for the "crime of being a Jew."

Over the years he grew to "appreciate Israel's moral integrity in the face of brutal hatred." He came to believe that "the Jewish people and Israel should serve as an example to indigenous people everywhere. It is with the Jews -- and their stubborn survival after being decimated and dispersed by powerful empires -- that we have the most in common."

 

Can you imagine Ryan's response when he was told by a member of Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights (SPHR), a man about 6'4" and 260 pounds with a smirk on his face, "I am sorry that the Nazis missed some of your family"? This was during a public Speakers Corner debate this past September in Calgary.

 

Ryan told me that "the saddest part was that when they found out I'm not Jewish some of them said sorry to me, but nobody apologized to my Jewish friend for something so patently offensive."

Another SPHR event October 2013 guest speaker Miko Peled is reportedt to have stated "Anybody who supports Israel is a terrorist, is a racist. You put feces in the drinking water of the Palestinians."

 

I want to put this in perspective. Recently Calgary United With Israel reported the hateful words of Ala'a Hamden, the former president of Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights, University of Calgary that she had posted on Facebook, for all to see, all over the world.

"I will soak a koffiah [Palestinian headscarf] with your blood and save it to show to your siblings...I will be named the mother of the martyr." ...

"This land will be proud that Palestinian babies are born men and women ready to spill their blood."

She called it "creative writing."

 

The National Post's headline writers called it "Violent martyrdom posts."

 

I have not been updated on a response from the police but the university responded. Ben Cannon, the University of Calgary's vice-president of student life told the National Post, "We believe in the right for a club to express their opinions and to keep the dialogue going on campus." SPHR is a pro-Palestinian organization that won an award for the best campus advocacy group.

 

I'd like to suggest that there are opinions and then there is hate speech.

 

Is this language of hate against the Jews any different in content or intent than the words of the revered Desmond Tutu: "Whether Jews like it or not, they are a peculiar people. They can't ever hope to be judged by the same standards which are used for other people." And: "The Jews thought they had a monopoly of God: Jesus was angry that they could shut out other human beings."

 

Or the words in the official sermon to be read in all mosques of Malaysia "Muslims must understand Jews are the main enemy to Muslims as proven by their egotistical behaviour and murders performed by them." There are no Jews in Malaysia.

Or the Christmas carol sung by the Dor Transilvan ensemble on Romanian public television TVR3 with lyrics that celebrated the Holocaust and called for the burning of kikes; the "N" word for Jews.

 

Or this. Muslim Brotherhood Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi said: "Allah has imposed upon the Jews a continuing punishment for their corruption. The last was led by Hitler. There is no dialogue with them other than the sword and the gun. We pray to Allah to kill every last one of them."

 

We have become inured to anti-Semitism. It passes the lips and enters the ears without shock. We don't name and shame anti-Jewish hatred. Ryan is a Métis. It didn't matter. The man who verbally accosted him thought him a Jew. Knew nothing about him and suggested it was sad he existed. This is anti-Semitism. And it has snaked its way into our speech, our institutions, especially the ones of higher learning.

 

It's difficult to comprehend how one hates someone or a group one has never encountered. There are 7 billion people in the world. There are only 14 million Jews. How many Jew-haters have ever met a Jew?

 

We need to wake up to the nastiness that pervades our vocabulary and those who speak it. From word to deed. We have lived this before. There is no excuse for a repeat in our politically correct inclusive, tolerant, accommodating culture.

And that is the reason we need to commemorate the liberation of Auschwitz.

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Susan Boyle and Autism

The great Scottish singer, Susan Boyle, discovered on a reality show, has been diagnosed with Asperger's, a type of autism. One in five adults over 60 has autism. We usually associate this condition with young people. Can you imagine the difficulties these adults have in their lives, not knowing why they feel or behave they way they do?

Here is her story.

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United Nations Human Rights Day

December 10 has been declared Human Rights Day.

 

This is a day for all of us in the West, in particular, to pray for those who live under autocratic, theocratic, despotic regimes who deny their citizens their humanity.

 

There is slavery in the 21st century. While we exclaim over the movie "12 Years a Slave," we ignore those who are enslaved today in Sudan and North Korea.

 

In North Korea, not only are the people enslaved, their children are beaten and starved, used as forced labourers in freezing conditions in threadbare clothes. They survive on grass and rats, watch their parents get killed and are made to act as informers against their own families.

 

These people are treated lower then animals. Women are routinely subjected to sexual violence and, if pregnant, their babies are killed.

The regime has no trouble killing its young. "A small and very hungry girl is searched by her teacher who finds five grains of wheat in her pocket. He beats her to death in front of her classmates. A teenage boy witnesses the public execution of his mother and brother. A man is made to help load the corpses of prisoners dead from starvation, put them in a pot and burn them. A mother is forced to drown her baby in a bucket."

 

Thousands of men, women and children from the southern Sudan have been sold into slavery in the north as concubines, domestic servants and farm labourers. In 2008, a member of the Sudanese Parliament in Khartoum estimated that at least 35,000 were still enslaved in the borderland of Northern and Southern Sudan. Many of the slaves are Christians taken north and forced to convert to Islam or die. Their faces were branded.

 

Today, let's think about the abuse of the Rohingya Muslims by Buddhists in Burma. According to the Associated Press: "Human Rights Watch accused authorities in Burma, including Buddhist monks, of fomenting an organized campaign of ethnic cleansing against the country's Rohingya Muslim minority that killed hundreds of people and forced 125,000 from their homes."

 

This campaign of ethnic cleansing against Rohingya Muslims in Arakan State has been going on since June 2012. October 2012, tens of thousands of Muslims were terrorized and forcibly relocated, denied access to humanitarian aid and have been unable to return home. It's a humanitarian crisis.

 

In Muslim countries women have few if any human rights. That would be approximately half the population in these countries. In Saudi Arabia "women don't have the right to drive cars and work, rent or travel without the permission of their male custodians. Some international analysts and human rights groups say that these Saudi women live the life of the seventh century. In other words, they are treated as modern-day slaves, like the foreign labor working in the country.

 

"The World Economic Forum ranked Saudi Arabia 10th from the bottom in its 2013 report on gender gap issues."

 

And let us not forget the girls in Pakistan and Afghanistan who have been denied an education. There are far too many Malalas in Islamic countries who need our support and need to feel our outrage. And we must not stop because there are those who take her story and twist it.

According to a report in the English version of Pravda, Malala's story is "increasingly become a propaganda tool of the West in the contemporary "war on terror" in the Muslim World (and beyond)." This from a country that is threatening gay athletes prior to the Sochi Olympics because of its new local laws that discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

 

Let us not forget the undermining of other human rights in Russia. Vladimir Putin has unleashed an unprecedented crackdown against civic activism. New laws restrict NGOs, undermine freedoms of assembly and expression, and discourage international advocacy. Abuses continue in the counterinsurgency campaign in the North Caucasus.

 

China considers many of their citizens as merely machines. Forced labour. A letter was found inside a Hallowe'en decoration purchased by a mother in Oregon in 2011: "Sir: If you occasionally buy this product, please kindly resend this letter to the World Human Rights Organization, thousands of people here who are under the persecution of the Chinese Community party Government with thank and remember you forever[sic]" reads the letter. Notice the year 2011. Does anyone care or are we more concerned about cheap goods than human beings.

 

China has a system that sees inmates often "sold" to other labor camps in need of ramping up production capabilities. But suggestions about dismantling the system disappeared from China's state press almost as hastily as it had appeared.

 

Let us pray for the citizens in Iran. Since the 2009 election the European Union has expressed concerns about the deterioration of human rights in that country. March 2011, EU Foreign Ministers expressed their "alarm at the dramatic increase in executions in recent months and the systematic repression of Iranian citizens, including human rights defenders, lawyers, journalists, women's activists, bloggers, persons belonging to ethnic and religious minorities and members of the opposition, who face harassment and arrests for exercising their legitimate rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly."

 

Executions take place regularly. So far, in 2013, the Abdorrahman Boroumand Foundation has collected reports of more than 500 executions. During the week of September 23rd, when President Rouhani was making headlines in New York, more than 30 people were reportedly executed. As far as it is reported in the news, the victims are, for the most part but not only, alleged drug offenders, many with minor possession charges.


And then there's Iran's attitude toward gays. Not unlike the attitude of most Muslim countries. They are hanged in the public square.

 

When we talk about human rights we tend to focus on the same people all the time. We let these other horror stories fall by the way-side. Perhaps because they are so terrible, so not-like us, that we turn away. We don't even take the time to bear witness as by-standers.

 

Let us commit to making 2014 the year we truly focus on the most forgotten human beings whose only hope rests with us in the West.

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Deconstructing the "Myth of Apartheid"

Edmund Burke said "For evil to triumph it takes good people to do nothing."

 

These words were shared by Kenneth Meshoe, South African Member of Parliament from 1994 to 2013, President of the African Christian Democratic Party since 1994, Reverend of the 3000 strong Hope and Glory Tabernacle, and a former teacher.

 

Born on Pretoria in 1954, a black man experiencing apartheid in South Africa with his parents and his 4 brothers, Reverend Meshoe learned at a very young age from his father, one does not back away from a fight with a bully.

 

It was remarkable to hear him say he won't remain silent or back down when Israel's accused of being an apartheid state.

"This ridiculous accusation trivializes the word apartheid, minimizing and belittling the magnitude of the racism and suffering endured by South Africans of color."

George Orwell said, "In a time of universal deceit - telling the truth is a revolutionary act."

 

Based on his personal experiences, Meshoe refuses to accept the apartheid designation. To him, the term apartheid makes a mockery of a grievous injustice to the citizens of South Africa and threatens to undermine the true meaning of the term. Instead he describes Israel as a miracle surviving hatred from all those around her.


Meshoe grew up in a country where a minority of whites oppressed a majority of blacks and discrimination was enshrined in law. Separation by colour: white, coloured, Indian, black, forced to live in areas based on those designations. There were government boards given the legal right to designate "colour" if someone questioned the colour of a neighbour; a child not white enough for the area. Segregated sports arenas, public restrooms, schools, stores, restaurants, and public transportation.

 

Inferior health care for non-whites, forced to enter the offices of white doctors (if they agreed to see them) from the back door for fear the white patients would be offended and find another doctor, No entering the front doors of stores; they were for whites only. Everyone else did their shopping through windows at the back.

 

Beaches were strictly segregated. Black men were not to see white women in bikinis! Stepping foot on the beach was a crime. So was sex or marriage between whites and non-whites.

 

So many of these laws bring to my mind the years of Jim Crow in the southern United States. I'd love to be present at a debate between Reverend Meshoe and Alice Walker.

 

In an attempt to make South Africa look less segregated, less racist, the government passed the Bantu Authorities Act 1951.These were Black homelands to give all tribes their own areas and a sense of independence. Except each one living in these areas lost their South African citizenship and the passport that went with it.

 

Meshoe acknowledged there's a small vocal group of people in South Africa who are against Israel. The majority are not anti-Semitic. He says fear keeps people quiet and not just in South Africa.


Fear of what? Fear of attack. He didn't give examples but here are a few.

 

In June 2006, Professor Pieter van der Horst of Utrecht University, a member of the prestigious Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences and a well-regarded senior Dutch scholar of early Christianity and Judaism planned to trace an antisemitic theme from its pre-Christian roots to anti-Jewish blood libels in the Arab world today. He was told to remove all references to Muslim anti-Semitism for fear of violent reactions. The university wanted nothing to interfere with their efforts at bridge-building between Muslims and non-Muslims even if it meant rewriting history or bringing a chill to publication.

 

Today, at Rhodes University, South Africa, there's an intellectual organization of Zionist hatred. Jews who come out in support of Israel are branded racists, Islamophobic, and apartheid supporters.


I recently learned that Rev. Meshoe and his family have been threatened for speaking up on behalf of Israel.

Free speech seems not to be so free.

 

For Meshoe, calling Israel an apartheid state exposes ignorance of the laws of the country. The Israeli Declaration of Independence proclaims, Israel will "ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants regardless of religion, race, or sex."

 

He repeated many times that the accusation of apartheid cheapens the word and is an insult to every South African who endured the inhumanity and pain of it. President John F. Kennedy said, "No matter how big the lie; repeat it often enough and the masses will regard it as the truth." Meshoe has chosen to take a stand to dispel "the big lie," what he calls "the myth of apartheid," through education.

 

He's established an organization called DEISI-Defend, Embrace Invest Support Israel in response to the damage caused by Boycott Divest and Sanction. The purpose is to mobilize high school and university students from South Africa to go to Israel, because those who visit Israel know the label apartheid is a lie, and then share their personal experiences on campuses all over the world. His other hope is to bring the energy of innovation from Israel to South Africa which is now denied because of the false accusations of the BDS movement.

 

I hear in his words a man who cares deeply for his people; a man who wants the citizens in Africa to be healthy and prosperous, have access to clean water and good crops, to media that will open the world to them; to peace from tribal warfare. He looked around and saw Israel, a small democracy surrounded by failed autocracies, that offered to provide that help and he couldn't accept the political machinations that would turn away from that outstretched hand.

 

I think truth is difficult to swallow when one has spent so much time choking on lies. But truth will win out.

 

Meshoe shared stories of people he took on tours of Israel. They'd expected to be greeted with segregation at the Dead Sea or the beaches in Tel Aviv. Instead, they saw men, women, boys, girls, all races, colours, playing together, eating together in the same restaurants, sharing the same lavatories. They were shocked by the lies they had been fed by their own government.

 

Meshoe told the story of his pastor friend who'd taken a trip to Israel with friends and ended up in an Israeli hospital. On one side of him was a Muslim patient, on the other a Jewish patient and here he was a black man in the middle. Palestinians receive world-class healthcare services in hospitals throughout the country. In the first half of 2013 alone, more than 94,000 Palestinians received treatment in Israeli hospitals.

 

Not at all like South African apartheid health care.

 

Meshoe spoke of the Knesset where Muslims, Jews, Christians were all represented.

 

Not at all like apartheid in South Africa.

 

Reverend Meshoe suggested the 1973 Yom Kippur war a turning point for Africa. He suggested that African leaders shunned Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East, in solidarity with Egypt's surprise attack on Israel. Meshoe believes Africans have suffered for that. He used Zambia as an example of a country with a healthy economy when trading with Israel, which fell apart after the ties were broken.


He sees the decline continuing.

 

Even though there's a dire need for fresh water in rural South Africa and the whole of the African continent, political leaders refuse to access Israel's technology for purifying water. The ripple effect is poorer health and reduction in productivity which adversely affects the economy. Yet, Israel is building four electrical substations and providing more than
1,400 million gallons of clean water to the Palestinians annually.

 

Then he spoke of tribal ritual initiations in South Africa, which include circumcision, that has resulted in hundreds of young men dying from complications. The technology to provide safe circumcision is available from Israel as well as doctors prepared to help. But they won't access it.

 

Meshoe told the story of young man who needed special lenses to see. His doctor ordered them. When they didn't arrive he contacted the customs officials in South Africa only to be told that they had been refused because they had been manufactured in Israel.

 

Meshoe suggested that in order to continue to rationalize the 40 year policy of shunning Israel, leaders have promoted the false accusation of Israeli apartheid. They play on the memories of apartheid which are still strong and painful. By attaching the label apartheid to Israel, these leaders can justify denying their people access to innovative Israeli technology and assistance that can lift Africa out of poverty.


Politics prioritized over people.

 

John Fitzgerald Kennedy said, "The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie but the myth, persistent, persuasive and unrealistic."

 

Perhaps, dear readers, you can explain why the "myth of apartheid" persists.

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