How to Snap Canadians Out of Our Complacency!

hockey rinkWe Canadians as a whole are nice folks. We’re known around the world for our niceness. Offer us a beer and you’ve got a friend for life! Travellers from a certain other country are known to put Canadian flags on their backpacks in order to ensure safe travel abroad. We take great pride in our reputation, but we don’t flout it, cause we’re modest too.

Very modest! Like when was the last time we reminded anyone about what we accomplished at Vimy Ridge (doing what the French and British couldn’t do … with all due respect)!

On the flip side, we are also complacent folks (I know, I’m one of them)! Things happen, and we go, “Oh ya, that’s too bad! Would you pass me another Sleeman’s!”

Complacency, as you’re probably aware, is not a very positive character trait. Complacency, in part, is what encouraged Hitler to march brazenly through country after country on his way to destroying a continent.

No, complacency is not something you want to be known for. Complacent people get taken advantage of … and we Canadians are being taken advantage of. Governments tax us heavily, then terribly mismanage our tax dollars … and we do nothing.  Banks jack up fees … and we do nothing. Oil companies raise prices … and we do nothing. Corporations lay off thousands of workers … and we do nothing!

As I said, we’re complacent folks!

But I have an idea! Let’s stick Canada in a hockey arena! Have you ever seen us in a rink? We’re f**king nuts! We scream, curse  and spit, and we beat the s**t out of people … and that’s just in the stands! Put on a pair of skates, hand us a hockey stick and you’ve just let loose pure insanity!

So here’s how it would look. On one team you’d have government, banks, oil companies and corporations. We’ll call them the ‘All-Conspirators’ (normally they’d be called, All-Stars, but I think you’ll agree that All-Conspirators is more fitting!). On the other side, you’d have the Concerned-(formerly complacent)-Citizens-of-Canada-Coalition.

When the ref drops the puck to start the game, the government will try to grab more tax money, but the Coalition’s center will counter by slashing government across the ankle, spearing him in the groin and butt-ending him in the face. Later in the game when banks, on the left wing, try to pass off another service fee, POW, we’ll slam them into the boards with a vicious crosscheck (did you notice how I personalized this?). Then when oil companies come into our end trying to take advantage of another Middle East crisis to raise gas prices, BAMM, we’ll knock ’em senseless with a cheap shot to the head.

And finally, when corporations try to dipsy-doodle with people’s lives by outsourcing more jobs to countries offering sweat shop labour, or by laying off workers so the CEO can take home a bigger bonus, we’ll send out our fourth line enforcer to pummel them into a bloody mess.

Towards the end of the game, with all hope lost, the Conspirators will send out their goon line in a futile attempt to intimidate us. This will prompt a bench clearing brawl with fights all over the ice, even in the stands, where a riot erupts! A real bruhaha! By this time, the Coalitions and their fans will have had enough and they run the Conspirator *sses, not just out of the arena, but clear out of town!

“Take that, you b*st*rds!” we’ll shout.

Of course, we’ll have to resist our temptation to apologize for our transgressions during the post game celebration (old habits die hard). The best way to accomplish this, of course, is to spike our beers with whiskey! A Canadian on whiskey is like a Tasmanian devil on Red Bull and uppers!

So, who’s with me? Let’s get this game going!

Hey, to ensure a satisfactory outcome, we could import a bunch of Icelanders. They seem to know a thing or two about putting government in it’s place! Or we’ll just have the All-Conspirators wear Ottawa Senators colours! That’s bound to stir up a suitable amount of hatred (all due respect … of course!)!

Have an awesomely conscientious day … and my sincere apologies for the profanity … I thought I really was at the rink!

My Favourite Canadian Rock Songs

guess whoOkay, I’m Canadian and I love Canadian rock music. Although given that my favourite band is the Beatles I guess I can’t be considered a homer.

My love of Canadian music goes all the way back to the summer of 1967. At the time, I was a naive, unworldly 12 year old living in Bala, Ontario. A friend and I were playing in his front yard when two guys from the Toronto-based rock band, The Ugly Ducklings walked by. They had a big hit called Gaslight and were playing a concert that evening at The Kee, Bala’s renowned concert hall. In any event, they had long hair, so I yelled to them, “Are you boys or girls?’ One of them turned and lifted up the front of his shirt. It was years later before I understood the meaning of that gesture!

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One of the Best Countries to Live In … O (really) Canada!

rockiesCanada is considered one of the best countries to live in. Has been for a long time. With endless lakes, majestic mountains, picturesque ocean shores, bold landscapes, northern lights and four spectacular seasons, Canada offers a stunning variety of experiences that capture the imagination and satiate the soul!

Canada has Muskoka, Banff, Jasper, Cape Breton, Niagara Falls, Algonquin Park, Vancouver Island and the Okanagan Valley, some of the most beautiful places on the planet. It also has one of the highest rates of college graduates in the world and it’s economy has been flourishing thanks to trade with China.

In the last ranking of most desirable places in the world in which to live in 2007. Canada ranked 4th, behind Norway, Australia and Iceland.

Yes, Canada, truly is an awesome place to live!

Really?

One must wonder who decided this because when you dig deep into the underbelly of this country you will find a lot of dark secrets. The kind people want to keep tucked under the pillow. Talk to any group of 10, 20, 50 or 1,000 women, for example, and you’ll find that at least 70% of them (if not 100%) have been physically. mentally and, most appallingly, sexually abused, usually by a family member or ‘trusted’ friend. Talk to any similar group of men, and if they’re will to talk (men don’t like to admit these sorts of things), you will find a shockingly high number with similar experiences.

Talk to any group of school children and you will find that the vast majority have been bullied. Talk to anyone, especially teenagers, who’ve found themselves on the wrong side of the law, and they will tell you that Canada is a police state, filled with corruption and police brutality.

Dig deeper and you will find Canadians who have been victimized in residential schools, churches and native communities.

As a whole, Canada’s treatment of natives has been shameful. After taking away their land and way of life, we allow them to live in squalor, then blindly throw millions of dollars at them, with no knowledge of what is happening with the money.

Over 500 people die each year by homicide, a small number when compared with our neighbour to the south, the United States of ‘shoot ’em up cowboy,’ but none the less, over 500 people who are dying violently. Add to that, the fact that Canada also has had more than its share of serial killers and mass murderers, plus over 90.000 impaired driving incidents reported by police each year and you’ve got a country with a lot of issues.

What is perhaps most disconcerting is the scandalous behaviour of those busy little bureaucrats who occupy certain ‘ruling’ institutions in towns and cities across the country, most notably, one that is situated on a river by the same name (you know, the one that starts with ‘O’ as in oppression and ends with ‘wa’ as in ‘wah, wah, wah,’ can we really believe anything you tell us?). If you really think Canada is a democracy, do something to cross these people.

And we live in one of the best and safest countries in the world. But best and safest for who? Surely not our women, or our school children, or our natives, or our altar boys or the people who drive on our roads, or the victims of crime. or the over 7% of Canadians who are without a job.

When I think about the people who consider Canada one of the best places to live (clearly they’ve never been in a hockey arena), I can only imagine that it is recent arrivals from Somalia or Sierra Leone or Haiti or Syria. Or perhaps it is the handful of men of who run our governments, banks and corporations … you know, the ones who managed to escape the physical, mental and sexual abuse mentioned earlier, and who weren’t downsized out of their job.

I think the important question at this point, is why am I talking about this. Certainly, it is not to depress you. Rather, it is to shock everyone out of their complacency. It is to force you to ask, ‘is this the way we want to live?’ Without some awareness of the issues, there is no motivation to fix them. There is no incentive to take action.

So, what can we do? To begin, we need to understand that these conditions exist because we live in a society that doesn’t feel good about itself. Canada, despite its reputation, is home to too many people who don’t feel loved or worthy or good enough or empowered. And if it’s like this in Canada, can you possibly imagine what it’s like in Somalia or Haiti.

Once we have an understanding of the situation, then we can take action, and the most effective action we take, is to be kind. We can’t control what others do, but we can certainly take charge of what we do. When we are kind, we don’t hurt others, we don’t put people out of work and we don’t drive drunk. And when we are kind, quite often we inspire others to be kind and it starts to snowball.

When we all start treating each other with kindness we won’t need to conduct surveys to determine which is the best place to live. They all will be. And all the spectacular experiences Canada has to offer truly will be.

Have an awesomely ‘best’ day!

More Lessons Not Learned

If I told you that 67,000 Canadians were killed and another 150,000 were wounded because one ‘guy’ from another country, on another continent, was murdered, would you believe me?

As implausible as it may seem, it’s true. In fact, nearly 17 million people from all over the world died as a result of this ‘one guy’ being murdered.

How is this possible you ask? Well, here’s what happened … the cole’s notes version.

In 1914, the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austria-Hungarian Empire (AHE), was assassinated by a Serbian national. Why this assassination took place is not important … at least not as it relates to this blog. What is important, are the events that followed this one simple, albeit, heinous act, because in response, the AHE declared war on Serbia.

A response of this magnitude (the declaration of war) would be akin to my entire family ,,, brothers, sisters, parents, cousins, aunts, uncles, etc. … marching on my neighbour’s house because their ten year old son punched my son in the nose. However, the AHE’s response had more to do with their desire to recapture lands that had been surrendered in an earlier conflict. It seems that they had been looking for an excuse to attack Serbia and the assassination was just the motive they needed.

Now, if this had been all there was to it, the conflict would have been limited and 67,000 Canadians would not have died, however, this wasn’t all there was to it. You see, Russia had an alliance with Serbia, so they declared war on the AHE, which prompted Germany, who had an alliance with the AHE, to declare war on Russia. Quite the domino effect.

If you’re still wondering how Canada got involved in this mess, rest assured, I’m getting to it, because the game wasn’t quite over.

The next domino piece to fall involved France. You see, the French had an alliance with Russia, so they then declared war on Germany and the AHE. Again, if it had stopped here Canadian lives might have been spared, but unfortunately, it didn’t. That’s because Great Britain was part of a three-way alliance with France and Russia, so that brought Britain into the fray.

I’m guessing by now, you’ve figured out how Canada got involved … and you’re right.

Canada was, and still is, part of the British empire and as might be expected of a loyal former colony, Canada declared war on Germany. After all, if your older brother got into a scrap with a kid down the street, you’d likely be in there like a dirty shirt, too. And so, as a result of something that had absolutely nothing to do with Canada, WWI ensued and 67,000 Canadians died and another 150,000 were wounded.

So why am I dredging up this insanity almost 100 years later? The answer is simple. It seems that history has a way of repeating itself because humans (aka, governments) don’t learn from past experiences. Let me explain.

In the past ten years, over 150 Canadian soldiers have died in Afghanistan. Why? Because Canada’s closest ally, the United States of America (our best friend), declared war on Afghanistan. This because the country’s ruling party, the Taliban, had been harbouring the Al Qaeda terrorists who brought down the World Trade Centre in New York in 2001.

The Taliban came into existence in the 1990s in response to a brutal civil war that had erupted in Afghanistan as a result of the power vacuum that had been created following the departure of the Soviet Union in 1989. The Soviets invaded Afghanistan in 1980 to quell a civil war that had been going on since the the late 1970s.

And what does all this have to do with 67,000 Canadians dying in Europe during WWI and 150 more dying in Afghanistan in the 2000s? Well, it seems that the original civil war that erupted in Afghanistan in the late 70s was fueled by our good friend, the United States of America. You see, the Cold War between the United States and Soviet Union was in full swing in those days, and the USA wanted to draw the Soviets into a Vietnam-type conflict, so they supplied one of the warring factions with arms in order to ensure the civil war and the Soviet’s involvement. So, if the US (aka, US government) had minded its own business, Canadians wouldn’t be dying, just like if Russia, Germany, France and Great Britain had minded their own business in 1914, Canadians wouldn’t have died.

I suppose one could argue that Canada has no one to blame but itself, because we too could have minded our own business, and you’d be right. But this creates in interesting dilemma. What do you do when one country invades another country or commits atrocities against its own people, much like what was happening in Iraq and Afghanistan and is happening now in Syria and Iran?

A dilemma indeed!

To answer this question, one need only look at the list of innocent civilian deaths from various conflicts: WWI – 7 million; Vietnam – 843,000; Iraq – 120,000; Afghanistan – 40,000. These numbers are based on estimates provided by various sources and are likely vastly understated, but I think you get the point. This is insanity!

To argue that the deaths of innocent civilians is the unfortunate cost of war, likely means that they weren’t related to you. To say that war is justified in order to topple brutal regimes is foolhardy. To claim that we learn from the past is just plain wrong. We don’t.

If war is not the answer and we can’t simply mind our own business in the face of such atrocities, then we need a different solution. We need to find a way to resolve things peacefully. If we lived in a society where people felt good about themselves we would have our peaceful solution, because when you feel good about yourself you simply don’t mistreat other beings. You don’ t create war! You live in peace!

Please understand, this is not about pointing fingers or blaming others for the hardships of Canadians. Yes, I am a Canadian and I wrote this blog from a Canadian perspective. But the same could be said from the perspective of an American, Frenchman, Brit, German, Russian, Austrian, Serbian, Iraqi, Afghan, Syrian, Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean or any other Nationality. War does not bring peace. It never has and never will.

Oh, by the way, Austria-Hungary, the empire that initiated WWI over a piece of property, suffered 1.6 million casualties, including a half million innocent civilians.

Have a peacefully involved day!

Paul Rodgers and I Have Something in Common

This morning I listened to my favourite radio show, Legends of Rock, on Toronto-based Q-107. The show profiled legendary rock vocalist Paul Rodgers. Rodgers as you may know, was the front man for several well known 70s & 80s bands, including Free, Bad Company and The Firm. He also teamed up with Brian May and Roger Taylor in 2004 to tour as Paul Rodgers & Queen.  He has been dubbed, ‘The Voice,’ a tribute to his incredible vocal talent.

Rodgers, I am also pleased to say, became a Canadian citizen in 2011 after marrying Cynthia Kereluk, a former Miss Canada.

During the radio show, interviewer, Jeff Woods, asked him what was his greatest fear. I expected the answer to have something to do with his family or career. Instead, Rodgers said his greatest fear is that there are too many people on the planet and that we’re going to drown in our own garbage. Refreshingly insightful words from someone involved in an industry better known for its lavish lifestyles and unabashed self indulgence.

I share Paul Rodgers fear. I believe there are too many people on this planet. There are already jurisdictions where the water is in short supply and the air unfit to breathe and as the population continues to grow it’s just going to get worse. What is more, we are creating far too much pollution and garbage and as illustrated in the movie, Slum Dog Millionaire, we are definitely drowning in it. This is a situation we can no longer ignore because to do so is at our own peril.

But how do you stop population growth when millions of jobs around the world, particularly in the construction industry, and the fortunes of many really wealthy people, rely on it. In his book, The Story of B, Daniel Quinn says that in order to do so, we have to halt agricultural production. We have to stop growing so much food. But who’s going to tell the farmers to stop growing crops. Who’s going to tell fishermen to stop catching fish. And who’s going to tell the food conglomerates to stop producing food. Again, millions of people would be out of work and many rich and powerful people would suddenly find themselves not so rich and powerful. It ain’t gonna happen … at least not voluntarily.

The reality is though, if we don’t do something ourselves, mother nature certainly will. To understand how, let’s take a look at deer and wolves. A deer herd living in a certain area will naturally grow in size and as long as there are few or no predators, it will continue to grow and grow until it eats all the food. At this point, starvation and disease set in. They don’t move or find ways to produce more food. They don’t voluntarily stop reproducing. They simply die off.

Wolves on the other hand, behave differently. When food becomes scarce, they stop reproducing. A pregnant alpha female will actually abort her young. Wolves instinctively understand that to continue to reproduce puts the entire pack at peril. If only we could be so intelligent.

So what do we do. Well, one option is to continue to put all the crap in our bodies that we do now…things like aspartame, sugar, trans fats,genetically modified foods, pasteurized foods, fast foods, microwaved foods, medications, etc, compromise our immune systems and slowly kill ourselves. Personally, I don’t like this option because it will take too long, plus I will lose a lot of family and friends.

I think the most important thing we can do right now is bring this issue out in the open. We need some awareness and we need some dialogue. We are going to have to make some hard choices. We can be like the deer or we can be like the wolf, but we simply can’t be like the proverbial ostrich with our heads buried in the sand.

Let’s glow like shooting stars!

Have an awesome day!

Vancouver Riot – What It Tells Us

Like most other Canadians, I am shocked and saddened by the riot that took place last night in Vancouver following the Canucks loss to the Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup finals.  It is truly a sad state of affairs when an act of violence of this nature occurs as the result of a sporting event.

In the wake of this riot, I am reminded of three things. First, that we are a society that individually and collectively does not feel good about itself. Second, that there is enormous fear on the planet as we transition into the next stage of our evolution, and this fear is manifesting itself in very destructive behaviours. Third, that in order to achieve world peace, we must first find peace within ourselves.

There is little doubt that fist fighting, the destruction of private property and the looting of stores can only be done by people who don’t feel good about themselves. When you feel good about yourself, you simply don’t mistreat other beings and you respect others property. This is a truth.

I have spoken of this many times, but it seems clear that we live in a society where people don’t feel lovable, deserving, adequate or empowered. This occurs when we grow up feeling unloved, unwanted, unaccepted and unappreciated, and this faulty self image is enacted everyday at home, at work and in the streets. Before we can change undesirable behaviour it is essential that we change the cause of it. Our challenge is to alter our self image.

Clearly, we are in the midst of change…and we must change. We cannot continue living the way we live on this planet. Earth is not capable of sustaining life at the current rate of population growth, development, global warming and increasing pollution. Change of any sort, creates fear. As the old gives way to the new, old power structures, systems and institutions cling tightly to that which they fear to let go of. The result is conflict and destructive behaviours. We can overcome this fear by focusing on love…doing loving things and performing loving acts of kindness.

World peace cannot be achieved by wishing it. It cannot be achieved through force. Each of us must find peace within ourselves. Peace of mind comes from knowing who we are…spiritual aspects of God. It comes from healing our emotional pain and letting go of ego. As each us reaches a state of internal peace, we affect those around us, creating a snowball effect that grows and grows into a beautiful, loving nirvana of world peace.

So, rather than slipping into anger and despair over the Vancouver riot, use it to inspire yourself to change…to become a more loving, compassionate, accepting soul. Use it to find peace of mind. Use this event to bring about personal and collective transformation.

Have an awesome day!