Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Social Networking - How do babies learn to hate?

Yesterday CBC Radio "The Current" was interviewing people about the case of an adult women who provoked a teenage girl to take her own life by taunting her on one of the social networking web sites. The people who were being interviewed were lamenting the fact that the internet was being used as a platform for bullying and for promoting hatred. Reference was also made to the recent "Kick a Ginger" campaign launched via Facebook. Most of the discussion on The Current focused around the notion that steps should be taken to limit internet activities that might cause harm to others. I don't want to be flippant about the tragedy of a young girl dying as a result of the taunting of a malicious adult, but I can't honestly see how trying to control what people do or say on social networking sites is going to do anything to stop what humans have been doing to each other since the beginning of time. The upside of the internet being used to spread hatred is that it can be tracked (which apparently has not dissuaded some people from exposing themselves), and the "victim" can chose to log off. Irregardless, long before the internet, people destroyed other people's lives by gossipping and spreading malicious rumours - you don't need broadband to do that. Homosexuals have been killing themselves at a record pace after being outed or shamed by their families and "social networks" since the beginning of time. The image of Victorian era women sitting around in their parlours destroying the reputations of their adversaries over a cup of tea comes to mind. I think the better question is, how, as a society, do we stop teaching our children to hate? Babies aren't born as bigots, or homophobes, or racists. Their parents, or their friends, collectively known as "society", teach them to hate and to fear what they don't know. So "society" can try to police the internet; who knows, maybe cell phones and text messages should be regulated as well; but that will not stop people from bashing each other until "society" starts to teach and practice love, understanding and tolerance from the moment of conception. Do your part - go see MILK, and make a pledge to refuse to gossip, teach or spread hatred and intolerance of the diversity of humanity. You just might save some one's life.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Music and the power of positive thinking

I guess I had no idea how much music has impacted my life over the years. Just last week I downloaded some music onto my cell phone, and plugged my little ear buds into my head to listen to Willie Nelson belt out "On the Road Again". It was like old Willie was right inside my brain. I was rockin'! His voice, in fact the wide variety of human voices that have touched us and in some cases become hit songs over the years, are really a magical thing. Even more amazing is how a bunch of cells making up vocal cords can create such melodious sounds in the first place, not to mention the miracle of how a bunch of brain cells translate those vibrations into such a pleasurable experience all tied up with memories and emotions. Incredible! The inspiration for this blog was provided, (once again) by my favourite sales rep, Shelby, from my favourite supplier - CHFI, who gave me tickets to see Jersey Boys for my birthday. To be honest with you, I hadn't heard of this show, and really didn't know what to expect - probably the best way to walk into anything - but boy was I blown away. It tells a great story about Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons, and the music is incredible. Funny thing was, the theatre was packed, as were all the restaurants in the area. Yes the economy is struggling, but honestly, enough with the constant doom and gloom already. Even in tough economic times, there are hundreds of millions of wonderfully positive things happening in our world every day. I wish someone would launch GNN, the Good News Network, 24 hours of good news stories, with Rob Marciano reporting on the weather, or course. I'd watch it.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Never again

I've never fought in a war, and yet I complain because of the inconveniences we endure as a result of the war on terrorism. Last night I went to see Passchendaele and as my eyes teared up over the shear travesty of the human loss portrayed in this great Canadian film, I can't help but think that there has to be a better way to work out our differences. In the meantime, on Tuesday, at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, I plan to be giving thanks for the men and women who have given their time and their lives so that I could have mine, and I will be praying that our human race can become inspired to find a way to stop killing each other. Enter November 11th at 11 a.m. as a recurring appointment in your Blackberry, your Iphone, or your smartphone. I hope you will join me.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

People who shape our lives - George and "Q"

When you turn 50, as I did last week, it seems as though you start spending a lot of time pondering and reflecting. I suppose it may be a result of the fact that based on the average life span of the north american male (76.98 years), my life is definitely more behind me than ahead of me, so I have more to reflect on than to look forward to. In any case, yesterday I made a trek that I've been meaning to make for a while now. I drove "north of 7" to visit an old friend of mine from my youth (he refers to himself as "Q"). He and I were born 6 days apart back in 1958 and through good times and bad we've managed to keep in touch since first crossing paths at St. Margaret Mary's Elementary School in Pine Grove. As it turned out, his wife had whisked him away for a little surprise birthday escape, so my hopes of wishing him (and he me) a happy 50th were dashed when I instead was greeted by his somewhat paranoid sister-in-law peering suspiciously at me through the glass window of "Q"'s suburban home. I guess to her I looked like a mildly creepy older man to whom she had to break the news that my trip was in vain as "Q"was not expected home until the next day. Somewhat deflated, I got back in my car and made my way home. As I made my way down the 404, I decided to stop at a mega-theatre to take in a movie. I was looking forward to seeing Russell Crowe and Leonardo DeCaprio in "Body of Lies", but it was sold out, so I settled for Oliver Stone's "W" instead. Now that's funny - I had set out to see "Q", but ended up seeing "W"! "W" is a sad tale of ambition gone bad, set amidst the ruin and dysfunction of the Bush family. My advice - wait for it to come out on video and buy it on sale at Walmart for $5.00. Now, how does all this tie together, you might ask? Well, when I was in elementary school, I honestly believed that someday I would grow up to be one of three things, the President, the Pope, or the Prime Minister. Now who would put these ideas into the head of a quirky little nerd? "Q"s mother (pictured with me above) was my grade 7 teacher in elementary school. In addition to being an extraordinary teacher, she raised her 4 children, pretty much single handedly. Today as she approaches 80 years of age, she lives way up north in a cabin by herself where she chops her own wood, shovels her own snow and basically makes hockey moms like Sarah Palin look like a wusses. Looking back, I now realize what a positive influence Jeany Baby, or George, as we called her back in the 60's, was to me. She was one of those rare adults/teachers who made learning come alive, who made her students believe that they could do anything, and that life should be fun. If my memory serves me correctly, Jeany Baby drove a gold Camaro to school, (which "Q" later adopted and turned into a chick magnet mobile). Her zest for life rubbed off on her kids, and on her students. I guess I can admit that I grew up idolizing "Q". He was, and still is a very happy guy with a magnetic personality - people are drawn to him, and he is always the life of the party. A great athlete, great with the girls, and just an all around nice guy. In any case, my life has been made a little brighter and a little better because of "Q" and George. I wish them many more years of good health and happiness. Too bad George "W" didn't have a little "Q" in his life - things might have turned out differently for him.