Solve the Worlds Problems

Once a month or so I reflect on the current state of the world and have some thoughts.

Soon the world will be under the total control of the one percent, unless a miracle happens.

Watching women’s rights being flushed down the toilet on this sad day as the Supreme Court overturned Roe V. Wade. Next plan is ban contraceptives and same sex marriages. Step back into the dark ages. Once again, we must rise up and fight.

If there are no guns, or, as a comedian on Bowling for Columbine suggested, bullets were $5,000 a piece, there would be no more mass shootings.

Health care should be free and available for everyone.

Ditto for bus transportation and education.

Everyone should get basic income, especially senior citizens and the disabled, in addition to their meager pensions. That might bring them to the poverty line. Maybe. Better than always being below it. No one in this world should be impoverished. There is no valid moral reason for it.

Housing for everyone. Everyone. Not tents and cardboard shacks. Brick and mortar. Appliances. Heat. Running water. Bathrooms, kitchens. You know, decent living.

Gone, gone, long gone are the days you could earn enough to buy the things you need and want. Further gone is the notion that if you just work hard and long enough you can better your life. Or that higher education will get you a higher job. Ha! Now the process relies on supreme brown nosing, and even then, no guarantees the boss will like you and promote you. And lord, what you must do to keep what you’ve got! Rewards? How about some pens and lifesavers for 27 years of service?

Education should be about relationships with other people, history, how to handle money, how to care for and treat animals and the environment and not about how to hide under desks when an active shooter arrives at your school.

Education should also be about learning, thinking, solving problems, innovation, and most of all, having fun.

We need to stop worshiping celebrities and billionaires, and get them to pay taxes. We don’t need more electric cars, telephones and space junk.

And last of all, enough with the lame ‘thoughts and prayers’ from our leaders. DO SOMETHING.

Vehicles

Motorcycles, hotrods and trucks.

Instead of tanks and armies, these are the weapons of takeover in our society.

They are especially prevalent in the summer and impossible to police.

The strip of highway near my apartment is a perfect unpatrolled ribbon of straight road that motorcyclists and hotrods take full advantage of. It crosses a canal and a river and cuts through a park and is therefore just one big long bridge. A drag strip.

But many places in our city have become lawless avenues for vehicles. Witness the infamous trucker takeover in our downtown. Eighteen wheelers are massive and incredibly hard to move, noisy and smelly, and also pretty terrifying to encounter.

There seems to be a growing aggression in our world and the everyday man is resorting to vehicles to express their hostility. I think it is the only way to be powerful in a world bent on making us slaves and voiceless.

I have always maintained that the world is swinging to the right and violence because of the huge gap between the haves and the have nots. There is no middle class, no stepping stone from poverty to wealth. It is impossible to go from being poor to being rich. Hard work does not do it anymore. Luck and brown nosing works, but one is extremely rare, and the other, extremely costly.

There is nothing worse than not being recognized or compensated for your hard work, and to find yourself slipping farther into poverty the harder you try to get out of it. The system is rigged. Combined with our poor educational system, people cling to self serving leaders to fix things for them. Which, they won’t. The people who rage and hold others hostage with machines are undoing the good for all in the hope of bettering themselves. This will be the end of all freedoms and hope and secure the rich as rulers of our world. A global dictatorship. 1984.

Schooling

I wish that all the formal education I endured through my life had been about learning.

Instead, school was about judgement. You were either an A student or a failure, or worse, mediocre. It was never about learning and growing. The focus was on passing exams, and acing reports.

No one seemed to care if you understood the material presented. No one cared if you could use your brain to solve problems, to discover things yourself.

No one cared what your interests were. You just needed to conform. You were an outcast if you didn’t do things the way they wanted you to. You were a failure.

Students were never developed, they were beaten into submission so they could become adults working as slaves in corporations.

I don’t think much has changed in my life.

Any learning I did was through my own efforts and plenty of hard knocks. A lot of pain could have been avoided if I had of been educated properly.

Schools need to guide minds to think for themselves, to develop their interests and talents and to, get this, have fun doing so. They need to inspire you. To encourage curiosity and develop a life long habit of learning.

My memory of school, including University, is endless, meaningless homework. Assignments on mundane topics. Terrifying three to four hour exams. Continual judgement. Not much, if any, fun. And not much valuable learning. That I got on my own.

Newspaper Route

As a youngster I had a series of crappy jobs that prepared me to be a wonderful adult!

One such disappointing job was a short lived stint delivering newspapers when I was about 12. Getting up early was hard enough, I was a night owl, dawn and I were strangers. But there was something more sinister, that in my opinion was too much for a kid to bear. And that was collecting fees.

Yep. I had to get people to pay for their newspaper subscriptions. I had a little notebook that kept tabs and I had to confront some very disagreeable persons to pay up. Some were chronic offenders and wouldn’t answer the door. When they stopped getting a newspaper because of that, they’d be openly hostile towards me (it was a small, tight knit neighbourhood. Everyone knew me). To compound the affair, the newspaper itself would withhold paying me until I collected these debts. I hated this. Feared it. Truthfully, that was too great of a burden to put on a twelve year old.

The breaking point came one day, but not due to delinquent accounts.

One of the homes I delivered to was none other than one of the newspaper’s editors. He was a surly, royal sourpuss and fortunately, never awake when I delivered his paper. Except this one particular morning I was late, things happened to delay me and I was upset about it and freaking out. I hated being late for any thing and I knew people were counting on me to get their morning paper to them! Anyhow, I was late and he was awake and mad as wasps in smashed wasp nest! When I got to his door, he threw a tantrum and yelled and berated me for a good ten minutes.

I quit right on the spot.

But I shook for days.

That newspaper is now defunct.

Blank Slate

At least once every day I have a moment of sheer terror.

My brain screams: What the F are you doing? You’re going to die! You’re going to go broke! Your world is going to end! There’s not time left! It’s all falling apart! It’s all for nothing! It’s hopeless! ETC. ETC. YAWN.

Needless to say this is where I despair even being alive.

And then I either collapse and go to bed, or have a nice pity party first.

Surprisingly, this scenario plays out no matter what my current situation is. I had these moments even when I was working and well off and healthy.

But I learned a simple technique.

Today is a whiteboard, or if you’re old fashioned, a chalkboard. Whatever is written there can be wiped clean off.

Tomorrow is a blank slate. That is, every day that I am permitted to live on this earth is another chance to change my life and make what is wrong, right. What doesn’t work, work. To put new marks on my whiteboard. The rule is however, that board is always wiped clean at the end of the day.

Whatever I screw up today, tomorrow I have a chance to do better. And if I screw it up more, at least have a good laugh.

So when I fail – I overeat – I don’t exercise – I can’t write one damn word on my book – I can’t even draw a squiggly line on my latest art project – I said the wrong thing – I ate junk all day – I spent too much money – I bought crap – I forgot to do something – I failed an exam – whatever – I know that tomorrow I can write all day, I can eat properly, not spend money, pass exams, make an apology. Or not. There is always the next blank slate day.

It is ditto for successes. They are only good for a day too. Well, sometimes, maybe, okay, I can let them linger for a few days longer. But all those mistakes, errors and failures Swoosh! Gone.

I don’t need to carry my failures into the future. They are wiped out at 12:00 a.m. when the next day starts.

Let’s Talk About NOTHING

There is so much going on in the world that my head is spinning. Talk, talk, talk.

I propose that we, at least for a while, talk about nothing.

How can we talk about nothing? Everything is a subject. Everyone has an opinion. Even when we are quiet our brains are still chattering away.

I had an aunt that never stopped talking. Even if you fell asleep listening to her. She was oblivious to the entire outside world. She was locked in her own head. She would phone me and I could set the receiver down and go have a cup of tea, read a book, do housework and come back and she’d still be yammering.

The world has become my aunt. Yakkety yak yak yak.

I want to talk about nothing.

It would be so good to just discuss a fine summer day, like the beauty of flowers, bees buzzing, clouds floating by without digressing into why’s and wherefores and why nots.

At the bus stop a young man noticed I was taking pictures of clouds and had to point out that those clouds were caused by pollution. When I said they were still beautiful, he got quite annoyed and started lecturing me.

Oh, please. Just talk about nothing.

When I see some creature or plant or scenery that I can’t name the genus, species or rock formation, please don’t tell me. There is beauty in the unknown. If I find out this bug is nasty, that plant is invasive or that scenery was caused by man made blasting, it ruins the whole thing. Sometimes, I just prefer mystery. It is not necessary to know everything. It is not important.

I remember reading about a man who saw the most magnificent birds soaring over the coastline and sea. Their outstretched wings angelic white in the sunlight. And when he found out they were seagulls and people were generally unimpressed with them, it ruined the entire experience for that fellow. I happen to like watching seagulls. They are so free.

So let’s talk about nothing and just appreciate what there is. At least, for a while.

I Think I’m Gonna Be Sad…*

When I was very young, my Mother took me to see Charlotte Whitton, much to the outspoken chagrin of my chauvinistic father. Charlotte was a feisty Canadian politician who left quite the impression on me, I must say. My Mother also made sure I knew about Judy LaMarsh, who my father passionately hated.

My Mother was determined that I grow up knowing I had power. There weren’t a lot of role models then.

I came of age during the emancipation of women, burning bras and fighting for our rights. Gloria Steinem was a prominent figure in those days. I witnessed sexual freedom, equal employment rights, abortion rights. Those were hard earned.

And today, in a flash. Gone.

Make no mistake. If abortion is banned in the United States, all women’s rights will fall like dominoes, worldwide. Already there are plans to make contraceptives and same sex marriage ILLEGAL. It is the intention of many men, and women, to create the Handmaiden’s tale in this century. Many revere what is happening to women in the Taliban right now. That can happen here, and fast.

Gloria Steinem was quoted (mistakenly) as saying: If men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament.

Our society is going backwards in time in leaps and bounds, back to some very dark ages. The past is being viewed through some overly rose coloured glasses. There is not much about the 1950’s that is attractive to me, nor should it be for anyone, man or woman.

The only person who has the right to a woman’s life and body, is the woman. She has to make some pretty damn difficult reproductive decisions that men so easily avoid, consequences they can just walk away from. A woman does not make such decisions lightly. And if you think abortion is a quick fix, you know jack. If you think raising a child with zero help and resources, you know double jack.

Outlawing abortion won’t stop it. It’ll only cause many women to suffer and some to die. Outlawing sex sure as hell won’t stop it! Abstinence? Come on, get real. Banning contraceptives is beyond my comprehension. And why does that only apply to women? Why is this not a joint responsibility, since, hello, it takes two to tango.

As with so many things in this world, women have to make things right, and we have to fight like hell.

As we take giant steps backwards, I think I’m gonna be sad, I think it’s today, yeah…*

* A Beatles song that is in no way related to the topic I discussed, but reflects how I feel.

The Saint

Influenced by the TV program The Saint – do-do-do-do-dah-do, I wrote a short story in grade school that the teacher, much to my horror, chose to read aloud to our class.

As she read, I shrivelled till near under my desk, mortified. The class fell into a death like silence until you could hear a pin drop.

It was a story about someone knocking on my bedroom window at night, which turned out to be a branch blowing in the wind. I know, I know, but hey, I was in grade school when I wrote this – a pre teen.

She was nearing the end of the story when the school bell rang and everyone, including the teacher (except me) jumped out of their skin! The teacher put her hand to her chest and gasped Oh my!

Fellow classmates zoomed out of that room, and the teacher apologized to me that she hadn’t finished the story.

That day is forever etched in memory.

Punk It

When I was 15 or so, I was invited to a rather unusual birthday party. It was an impromptu, spur of the moment invite from a fellow I barely knew. But I was curious, so me and a couple of friends checked it out.

We heard music blasting a block away on a chilly spring evening and approached the ‘birthday house’ with trepidation. It was music I had never heard before, loud, angry and screaming!

We were escorted into a basement crammed with colourful characters. There were a few mohawk hairdo’s, body piercings, neon dyed hair, and strange attire.

This was Punk.

The birthday was a high energy, loud celebration that was fury, not joy.

I wondered what everyone was so mad and unhappy about, especially at a birthday party. But I couldn’t find out, I couldn’t talk to anybody, the music was louder than a rocket launch.

The fellow who invited us pleaded with me to stay at least until the cake was served.

Suddenly, the music was silenced and people burst into the traditional Happy Birthday song. I was relieved to hear the familiar tune, and happy to see smiling faces. But it was only a fleeting reprieve. A candle less cake arrived, coated in a sickly green icing with cigarette butts stuck in it – among other things.

After a polite refusal of cake, my friends and I hightailed it out of there, convinced that once the music started back up, police sirens would not be far behind.

Fast forward to today. I read a book about the 1980’s punk scene (We’re Not Here to Entertain)and according to the author, boy, was my perception wrong. To tell the truth, I really didn’t have much of any kind of opinion, other than punk was weird, unquestionably hostile and more than a bit scary, based on that single episode in my life. I never gave it much thought after that.

My teenage world was the total opposite of punk. I didn’t understand their rage. But it appears that they were disaffected youth, just like my somewhat hippie upbringing – mad at our leaders, disappointed with our government, upset with events in the world, terrified by the nuclear war threat, sickened by environmental issues, unloved by parents and peers, and feeling powerless. Punk rockers screamed their hostility, while I quietly squirrelled it away. They rebelled and I surrendered.

I could never be like punk rockers, I never fully embraced hippie rebellion either, but I have a new respect for their ‘in your face’ resistance to an unfair and often corrupt system in which we must live, navigate and ultimately, survive.

A New Way of Thinking

Recently I completed an on-line course on Environmental Law, and once again, I am blown away. I am trying to pursue subjects that I had zero or little interest in for various reasons and I highly recommend you try also.

I had no understanding of the legal process and held uninformed opinions and prejudices about laws, lawyers, etc. I thought legalese was gobbley gook that only those who could endure years of study were able to understand. That part is true, it is gobbley gook and it does take years to fully grasp it, but for a good reason. Laws have to be very precise and have universal meaning, that is, to enable identical interpretation the world over and be effective. This is what good lawyers and policy makers do, they look for weak areas, to exploit or remedy. And good institutions work hard to ensure they can enforce what they are assigned to do, in this case, to legally protect the environment. Judges ensure that all players in the game are following the rules to the letter.

But there is so much more to law than mumbo jumbo. This was a fascinating course for two reasons. First, an understanding of how laws work, the institutions developed to uphold laws, what judges really do, and how all this is applied to real world cases. And it examined some shocking environmental issues and abuses. Interesting enough. But the second, and greater value from this course was developing a new way of thinking.

When I left the administrative secretarial work force and became a medical secretary, it was as if I left earth and landed on Pluto. Everything was entirely different. They spoke a strange language. Office procedures were entirely foreign. Oh sure, you still operated a computer, typed and answered phones, but this was a whole new and much higher level of being, doing and thinking. When you first work in the medical field, your head goes tilt-tilt-tilt.

And this is what this course did for me. It took me to a whole new way of thinking. I had to not only change gears, but change vehicles.

So if you really want to expand your present awareness, to learn how to understand, analyze and interpret the world around you, take a course, read a book, sign up for an experience.

It not only adds to your knowledge, but it’ll shake up your opinions and beliefs. It’ll expand your world view. When it comes to what you think you know about life, the universe and everything, you might just find you had it all wrong.