Archive for the ‘Current Events’ Category

Ecclectica Ruminations

Posted: March 13, 2021 by Ty in Current Events, Spirituality
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Up until my early 20’s I would go to the barbershop to remove what was left of my hair, and when the shift happened that it was no longer a simple $5 shave, but due to the popularity had moved into the $20 range, well…it was time to shift praxis. Which brought it in line as a moment of mindfulness in my life, a time of pausing, focusing on the simple act of shaving, release (recently the rapidly graying). Practice learned in my Buddhist days, but as Franciscan, as the joke went I was follically ill-equipped for a tonsure (not sure if I was missing the ton or the sure).

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The Franciscan Tonsure, a sign of vocation and entering into a new relgiious life. Though in my tenure as the Youth Friar at one Anglican church, the fundraiser to end the child sex trade in Calgary did have me with a fuscia goattee for a while.

It is the moment, of being able to pause, and gives a time of mulling, ruminating, and sometimes epiphany moments (or perhaps I am overthinking and over spiritualizing you decide).

For tonight though, it is looking at almost a year (362 days) I have some odds & sods outside of work to accomplish next week around checking on applying for school funding, when spring textbooks will be ready, oh and those fun things called taxes, but there are other thoughts. As the polarization of political and religious life begins to bleed into everyday life. Leaving the secularized or uninitiated to disengage, become apathetic, or wonder aloud why nothing changes or look for the lurking bogey monster– which all is what we have put out into the world to be responded to, or that which at least social media, main stream media and alternative media share. What is missing is the local community stories of hope.

Where do those come from though? From the bystanders not accepting the status quo. From the bysander not defaulting to the loudest mob voice in the crowd. From the bystander wanting honesty, transparency, accountability, and the courageous safe space. From the bystander not accepting the narrative that perpetuates the polarized bully pulpits of the public squares. From the bystanders (which they are far more of) removing the sound system and podiums, and amplifying their stories. For the Dr. Seuss being cancelled story, no, a published decide to not re-invest in non-selling properties to correct issues with them, like many other forms of printed works there circulations ended. Pepe Le Pew? C’mon, he was the bathroom/snack break cartoon in Looney Tunes, what sadly will be missed is what sounded like an amazing teaching moment for the younger and family audiences on consent in the film, for the Potatoe Heads? It is an imaginative building toy with many disguises, one should be more angered by the fact that most come with only one or two sets for looks that fit in the butt of the toy, not the bucket of pieces it used to come with. Some recent examples of what happens when the polarized rhetoric is stripped away… but I digress.

Stories of Hope, that show divergent core values can actually come to the same services, and community provisions because a better world is what is wanted. Stories of Hope, that show discourse/dialogue creating healing space, and changing the systems that perpetuated the old harms and isms, because in the courageous safe space of discourse, where the hard conversations happen, the intrinsic value of the human can be affirmed, all wanting a better community to live in, can be affirmed, and explored…beyond that, plans can be struck and action begun.

But it takes the bully being silenced.

Aiding the bullied, and the bystander finding their voice (thanks to Barbare Colorossa’s book on the Bully, Bullied and Bystander that everyone in public life should read to understand what the term do better actually entails). Why have we lost so much traction on ending bullying in our schools? It can be due to a misapplication of Trauma informed work that some can point to as a removal of accountability. But that is short sighted, as understanding has grown, what is happening is healthier communites designed around restoration and healing measures.

No, it is more insidious, it is about the deep root of individualism, and the belief that what one says or does, cannot affect another. Also, couched in the polarized self-righteous belief systems that it is impossible to be a bully if you are within your ideology for you are truly in the right. Our children see this, the parents take this into our schools. This is the systematic thought that needs to be broken to bring about the proper bridging of the chasm to end a toxic practice. A system that is more boldy perpetuated through our alternative media, the shift to 24-7 mainstream news into newsfotainment (as true journalism is slow and not really designed for a 24-7 cycle) of talking heads, and behaviours on social media that creates echo chambers where how many likes negative behaviours get are seen as “holy home runs” within movements. As well, we have lost the understanding that extremism in any vein creates a perfect circle (I learned this in graded public school social studies). The extreme on the right politically goes into authoritarian/fascism/Naziism, on the left goes into dictatorship/Stalinism which behaviours, genocides and hatreds overlap. In religion, doesn’t matter which is put before extremists/terrorists the outcomes of intolerance/hate/supremacy are the same and usually deadly. For all those in the giant swath of the middle though, you can still be toxic, even standing on attempting to do right and end harm.

And yes, regardles if you are the good or the bad or the undecided, your behaviours can still cause harm and be toxic (this where personal reflection factors rather hugely into a healthy life, not only what we are doing wrong, the balance of daily examine, where we look at what is meh, what is going well, what we are learning, and where we need to provide space to heal).

Why have bystanders fallen silent?

It is draining to constantly be the thumb in the dam against the flood while the Hurrican level tropical storm continues pelting you on the other side. Yet as the bystanders, it is time to reclaim the silenced voice, not to demand better from the existing scream-bullies, but rather to shatter that dark mirror and step into what needs to be.

To simply- be and do.

To connect, create space for the courageous discourse, discovery of action tools.

The key, that which the polarized remove though, is to create…

authentic belonging*.

*(Accessibility is being able to get physical access to a space, inclusion is there is a spot for you-note this is where bystanders lose the voice and power, but belonging is the key. Belonging is when you are heard, known, accepted, purposefully part of community, and if you were to no longer be heard or seen, would be missed).

An Ecclectica

Posted: February 21, 2021 by Ty in Current Events
Tags: , , , ,

Ah the polar vortex has lifted, and if not an official chinook arch, the other extreme of climate change has settled in where it is plus 6 celsius on Feb. 21, day 342 of C-tine as I type these words and ponder the state of my province. And wonder, where oh where did the ability of dialogue and critical thought go?

First off, a quick PSA for Albertans to educate yourselves on our Covid-19 restrictions, and how many of our neighbours are in mourning (read here). For the dualistic thinking political ideologue that wants majority party control Federally, and believe you are either Conservative or Liberal– may I point out the Parliamnets that bring the best shifts for citizens (the Constitution Act, 1982, clause of Peace, Order and Good Governance) have been robust minority parliaments, and our pandemic has been no different. I live in Alberta, and know what the Conservatives would have done federally for Canadians (nothing, sorry, neighbour, any aid we have had has come from the Federal level–heal your cognitive dissonance and pitch the anger at the right first minister, our Premier). I also hold, that we would not have seen the same response, if it had been a Liberal majority. I do think the NDP-Greens aided in guiding the response.

A few quick thinks to note on the Federal scene. The media is stoking the Liberals want an election, currently from polls it would be a dicey dice roll that may simply return the status quo of now. If they truly wanted one, it would have been in the Fall of 2020 when they were riding high at close to 50% popularity. So the theatrics of NDP Leader Singh demanding that PM Trudeau not call an election, is simply that theatrics. Yes the PM can go at any time to the Governor General to dissolve Parliament and go to the polls (or currenlty without a GG as we are, to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court), but it is also a minority Parliament, so any time a confidence vote is moved/lost on a bdget matter we go to the polls. Currently, that means the other 4 parties have much more promising to do than the governing party on us going to the polls. What I would say is that Harper & Scheer have both underestimated PM Trudeau in elections (he has a Chretien knack on the trail for connecting), and O’Toole is falling into the same trap. Personally, if the other parties trigger an election during this pandemic because they cannot work it out, I will, for the first time in my life, default to a party vote in my area. If the other parties wanted to be innovative, and truly do not think our current Prime Minister is qualified or has the confidence of the House to govern. Then use the Westminster system, put forward a motion for his resignation and for the Governing party to bring forward 3 names for the house to vote on. But alas, they won’t, because it is not about public service– it is all about power for some in the House (you can decide which, though seeing the filth spewed by Conservative MP |Gallant recently–O’Toole has quite a bit of house cleaning to do before he can say the CPC is a renewed party).

But I digress, as this year Albertans are going to the polls, not to vote on our failed populist experiment perpetuated by anger & denial, that has allowed for rampant individualism, overt racism, oh and tiki torches in the capital with Freedom March organizers sharing images of Charlotte’s nazi march in their propaganda. No, that is another piece of polarization to touch on. We head to the polls for municipal elections, this time around (and I know I say this every time around) it is important to cast an informed vote.

There will be many smoke and mirror isseus brought up to deflect from what actually is necessary. See the smoke & mirror argument coupled with polarization is being leveraged to drive even more voters away. To let apathy shrink the voter support one needs to secure the civic seat, and once secured it is very hard for an incumbent to be unseatedYou will see the polarization/dualist arguments of this candidate or that candidate being a UCP or Lefty slate candidate (which is important to pay attention to, as our polarized lens of the politically) but the deeper question is the character of the candidate. What has their actions show us and their neighbours? The next, is the gun rights (and the new office in Alberta to such), it is a deflection especially rurally, because it removes one from seeing the legislative drive to bankrupt our counties, towns, villages, hamlets and farmers. With all the government money in the O&G basket, our other biggest (and still going) economic engines of farms are being left behind (as well as technology, tourism, education, trades, arts, and the list goes on). Unforutnately it has hit rural Alberta hard, the war on doctors before and even during this pandemic is seeing doctros leaving, which is adversly affecting access to Health Care, the cultivation of division and anti-science is being seen in the rising numbers of Covid cases in an already strained rural hosptial system. The UCP government has said they will not close hospitals as Klein did, yet if there is no staff for them, they cannot function. Discussion on how to attract and retain are a community discussion. How to get the abandoned wells cleaned up, and recoup the lost corporate taxes from the oil companies that our provincial government has said is up to each county to get, or they should just give a by too. The loss of the provincial portion of paying for the RCMP, which adds more costs to the local residents. Plus, the exponential (300-500%) increase in property taxes. A smoke and mirror argument rural neighbours have been sharing is that those in urban centres are seeing the same increase, The new funding formula for public schools gives a slight funding bump to rural schools, if they can retain students but the freedom of choice in education can have private and charter schools move in to take that way, leaving a major hub of community closing (as many communities in Calgary have seen which I will touch on ideas a bit later), we are not, if we were there would be something seriously awry in our system. The question that needs to be asked deeply:

who benefits if our rural neighbours systems go bankrupt? If the hamlet, village, town and county revert back to provincial control? And why does it matter?

In urban elections I am going to come down to the Calgary level. We are already seeing the smoke & mirror B.S. (belief systems) perpetuate. The argument on rampant property tax increases, the cyclical snow removal argument, and the plebiscites (let the incumbents deflect with flouride). We elect councils to make decisions, not to run plebiscites. What will not be discussed at the civic election level, for they do not want full on citizen engagement, what scares incumbents more than anything at the civic level is voter turn out and engagement. The snow removal question is a systems issue. We need a plurality of candidates to win that are pushed to do a complete and independent systems audit of City Management. What roles are necessary? What roles are extrenous? What roles/responsibilities within management can be combined? The fallacy of zero-sum budgetting needs to be removed. It may not be the right term, but with the life that government budgets function like household budgets, it is the practice that unspent money in a budget line from one year leads to the reduction of that budget line the next year. Which truly means that there is no ability to save money. An excellent example, is snow removal, under spending one year should not mean less money the next, it should mean an emergency kitty built up for when–blizzards, Snowmageddon in Septembers, etc. so there is more money to use. As well, has anyone discussed why the city has sold off our equipment to the private sector (a sector that is contracted out for just one pass over a road for clearing, when most in the work know it takes more to do the job properly)? Who believes that when crisis hits the private sector will come in at cost or lower to do the work? We need innovative project leaders in key management roles in the city that can point to the equipment, and envision how it can be used off season, but also know you need to budget for preventative care. Who know, a robust public sector, is actually more accountable to doing the job right, than the private sector. If you have had complaints around roads improperly cleared, or the huge drifts in front of entry points of your block, watch the name on the truck, as I have found with calling in to 311 over the last several winters it is the private contractors. Same with pouring roads, there is a certain way they need to be done for longevity, the private companies that have done and redone and redone and redone 32 ave the last several years show that they are working to contract not to standards.

See what deeper conversations are needed? At the community level we have to discuss what we need from our civic taxes to create robust spaces for connection of the generations, cultivating belonging, and removing socio-economic barriers. How do we as citizens work together and use our money to create healthy community? The greatest prevention for things such as addiction, crime, gangs, racism, ableism, sexism and homophobia? These are the questions we need to engage the candidates with. Ones that are not easily answered with a Quote Tweet. Asking them to actually articulate their core values, and how those values align with the communities they are seeking to represent?

There also needs to be a serious discussion around downtown Calgary. Let’s be honest, the big companies are realizing the towers are not necessary. I can see pop up work spaces in communities (many religious groups and community halls looking for rental income on weekdays, this is a great opportunity post covid), but companies realizing the cost of real estate to have someone do something they can from a now established home office? Nope. What I can see the companies retaining- a key office or two on a top floor with 3-4 conference/meeting areas.

What does this mean? We need a way to use space that mainatains tax revenue, but also solves some other societal ills…things like homelessness, disconnect, day care, food security, and in-home supports for our most vulnerable (as well as universal design). What if the downtown core was re-imagined as multi-purpose buildings. Mixed affordable and market purchase aparments from studio to 6 bedroom (yes families need space, and htose need to be some of the key affordable mortgages). The main floors can have effective access to public washrooms, diners and coffee shops. The next floor up, community space, including playgrounds, the 3rd floor a 24 hour day care/pre-school– why? Not everyone works banker hours mate. Then the rest housing. Oh and the 24 hour day care model needs to be expanded city wide.

You can also look at some buildings that are taller and incorporate schools into them. I would also explore the idea of green energy within the buildings to diversify our grid, and vertical farming for food security. As well, part of the mix of units would need to be for our vulnerable populations- those exiting homelessnes, persons with disabilies, mental illness, and our seniors. As you can see some of the ideas for building use, many connecting points for volunteerism within the rejuvanted core (purpose and connections). As well though, each building can also have a support office, where staff are connected to the tenants who need support, and as they age in place, they are not moved from home to a manor or a lodge or longer term-extended care to palliative, rather the teams move to their homes to remove that stressor from their system. Oh and each diner that is licesned for each building– for those over 65 years old or with disabilities (PDD/AISH) are provided a free meal 3 times a day to aid in food security.

As well, our canidates need to have strong ethical and moral character. We have seen the uncontrolled sprawl in Calgary and the unhealthy impact it has had on core infrastructure, with land developers and their deep pockets to fund campaigns. With the new donation limits and PACs allowed civically and disclosure not enshirned until after the fact, we as citizens have to demand transparency. Candidates need to real time be disclosing who is donating, we need to know what machinations can happen after e-day. I would go as far to say, if a canidate isn’t doing this, community has to organize to shut them out of being platformed. Following the money for control has to be a key tenant of engagement.

A lot to take in isnt’ it? But important discussions, instead of being in anger or denial of our changing world, let’s look at the opportunities that abound…

Same within the school boards. It abhors me the disconnect on this one. How many times I hear from folks, well my kids are not in school so it does not matter, or I don’t have kids– yeah but this is the hub for our society. This is the system that prepares the next wave of support within our society. This is where character is key. Will we have Trustees willing to make the hard calls? Risk being fired by the province to stand on values? Aid in educating the citizens on the reality in the classroom or not have our educators back? A board that truly invests and believes in every student, or simply uses the non-upper class students as props when it sutis them to garner favour? I mean we have a crisis in city high schools of no space, yet we are talking about closing under utilized schools? Where is the innovative leadership? Where is the plurarity of candidates willing for the non-partisan systems audit to create a resposnive and innovative system that is needed? That will remove superintendents that refer to children with disabilities as “its” and that families should be happy with what they have (and a despicable eugenics statement). Why can’t we look at low use schools, and the need of the community to use the other space for revenue? What about looking at the empty space for high schools while we a wait more than the cycle of announced builds from the province?

It takes innovative leadership beyond quote tweets and passing an ideological purity test. It takes actual belief that every child matters. That public education is the place to cultivate belonging and connection, discovery of passions and purpose. A space where we need to have locally a robust liberal arts education with core subjects so each students passions and drive to complete schools at the graded level is there.

It ripples up to the braoder conversation of the adoption of the failed American education funding and choice movements. We need to look to the other provinces here, do private and charter schools exist? Yes. Do they receive tax money? No. Home schooling needs to be tied to the public board to ensure those students can easily go on to post-secondary if they have the passion (University, Vocational College, Tech & Trades Schools). Then we need to have the very tough discussion on merging the Separate (Catholic) and Public boards. I say tough, because when you move beyond the polarized assininess, you realize there is a deeper discussion in the divide, where we can easily get there, but the extremes need to be deplatformed. For this is about our children now, and our provicnes future.

A qucik touch on thoughts for 2023 and the key discussions that need to be had. For us to move beyond anger, hate, denial and polarizations. Here are some key observations and tough discussions, open to any party or independent candidate to adopt:

  1. We need an HST to solve a revenue issue. A simple 2% (Federally, they truly do need to raise back the GST to 7%). This would make a provincial HST 7% (5% GST + 2%).
  2. A robust and fully funded public education system.
  3. Full Universal Health Care (including disability and adaptive devices, Dental, optical, Mental Health) and Pharmacare
  4. UBI needs to be on the table.
  5. Raising the Corporate tax rate back to 14% (and tehn indexing higher rates to market share of the company, for many small businesses are incorporated so we have to understand that nuance).
  6. Investment in R&D and implementation of alternative energy sources for Canadian climates
  7. Econimic Diversification
  8. Paid sick time for the worker
  9. Affordable daycare, the idea of sliding scale from 0-$25/day dependent on income, or better yet simply free, plus a tax break for families that can or need to have an adult at home for their child (oh and we truly need this system to be 24-7, as it needs to align with the economic world it is there to support).
  10. All these things being shown to corporations that it removes these costs from the business’ bottom line so it is more profitable to do business in Alberta.
  11. The biggest discussion, as many over 45 years old are shut of the labour market due to liability, we need to have a robust, fruitful and action oriented discussion around the atrocity that is the Worker’s Compensation Board, how to dismantle it, and what to replace it with that supports employers and employees equitably (and perhaps, a more effective partnership with EI disability).True Red Tape reduction.

To have these hard conversations, we have to move beyond polarization where our side can do no wrong. We have to question within our own movements, we have to engage the scholarhsip and thinkers on the other side(s). We also need at least 3 minotirty legislatures in Alberta to get the work done for new vision and dream casting. With the current known leaders, the best Premeir for the minority in my opion is Ms. Notley, but remember we have the other parties: Alberta LiberalAlberta Party , Green Party of Alberta , Communist Party of Alberta , Wildrose Independence Party , but it still comes back to the local candidate and their character, will they share who they are and why they want to be in public service- not simply be an electoral college vote for the leader (and yes I liked what CPC MP Michael Chong’s bill on reform had federally a few years back, we need to move that provincially and federally as a beginning point).

Just some thoughts, but with your cohorts, start the important conversations and blow clear the smoke, and wipe clean the mirror.s


Since I was allowed to stay up late on Tuesday nights as a little gapher to watch the re-runs on CBC, Star Trek has been a part of my life. The stories, the social commentary, the inclusivity, the knowing of a better future to come. Watching as the technology I have seen on the screen has slowly and then rapidly become a reality. Think of what our Smart Phones (even flip phones) are like communicators, and sometimes tri-corders (and the body scans we can do now, like their med-beds), during C-tine, our video calls I do feel like asking for hailing frequencies to be open on screen. As each new era of the first book of my life emerged, readers know certain stores have resonated from the original, to the Next Generation to Deep Space Nine (DS9) to Enterprise to Voyager, enjoying Discovery, Picard and Lower Decks (looking forward to Prodigy and Strange New Worlds). Yet it is the underlying theme of all belonging, and freely being able to pursue one’s passion as purpose that resonate at the core of the storylines.

Which is why, as this section moves towards a close, this Reading Week as an instructor has been intriguing for what has come into my feeds. Clicked on Crave to watch the next episode of Season 3 of Discovery, and there was a documentary “Woman in Motion” about Nichelle Nicholls (who originated the character of Uhura) and her work with NASA.

I encourage viewing for everyone, but I also encourage discussion and dreming after viewing. The documentary shares the story of Ms. Nicholls, whose Dad never believed in the word, can’t. She shared of being a teenager, and singer with Count Bassie’s orchestra. How the lead singer, a sultry siren, was no longer there, and she got the nod to take the lead imitating her predecessor during the set. At the end, Bassie came to her, and bluntly asked what she was doing? As well, to knock it off, she had actual talent, so sing. Could you imagine the same advice being given to a young woman in the music industry today?

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The story of her beginning to work with Rodenberry with a role on one episode of his show, “The Lieutenant” around racism, that was so controversial it has never aired. What began that day though was a friendship of deep discussions on importnat issues of justice. Rodenberry promising he would have something for her. What was that? In a show idea known as “Wagon Train to the Stars” that would become Star Trek. The character? One Ms. Nicholls would help name, Uhura, and create. For the command crew of the Enterprise, represented the mosaic of humanity plus a Vulcan. Though during the first season she would see her role continue to shrink to a simple catch phrase “hailing frequencies open” to the point of resigning. It was during this time, at an event, a fan wanted to meet her. She was tired, and did not want to, but the hosts kept pushing, The Fan- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the message, you can’t resign. The retort, who are you to tell me how to run my career. The rationale by Dr. King, it is the only show he allows his children to watch, that he makes time to watch with his children. She stayed, an African American Lieutenant, the commander of communications.

The story shifts to the convention era, where she met a person from NASA, as they were moving from the Apollo era to the shuttle era, and Ms. Nicholls, once again challenged the norm, for she pointed out she could not see herself in the astronauts. A visit to NASA revealed the rainbow that made space flight possible, but the actual astronauts had a selection bias, and there was 4 months left to go in recruiting for the program…and Ms. Nicholls was hired, one caveat, she did not want to be a mascot. She took in astronaut training so she knew what she spoke about, she also did not have NASA folks with her when she went on her recruiting talks, filmed her PSA’s for television and radio. 4 month, criss crossing the country, receiving threats of harm when she spoke out, challenging the military recruiting process, as she recruited civilians (and those in the military overlooked) to thousands of applicants to the first 35, adn the friendships she cultivated in there to the Challenger in 1986…\

But her message was simple, she saw something that wasn’t right, and wanted to make it right.

An underpinning of Star Trek, in spite of the Prime Directive. Striving for IDIC (Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations), a true courageous space for inclusivity. To move beyond the societal “isms” that were explored in Star Trek Deep Space Nine episode “Beyond the Stars” where Sisko, is back in time as a writer in the 1900s:

Sisko was the writer Benny Russell, who the readers believed was white. The world was very much polarized by colour, at least in the powerful money hands. This is the world that the bridge of Uhura challenged. This is the world that Star Trek in its IDIC continues to challenge, while cultivating critical and ethical thought processes.The shared extended metaphor of Bajoran-Cardassians, in the age of Reconciliaiont, of Settlers-Indigenous. And inspiring folks to discover their passions and pursue them. This is how I shaped the episodes and movies to be used in my teaching with youth and young adults, from exploration nights in youth groups, youth centres, young adult studies, discussion nights, oh and one fun confirmation cycle. It was a pleasure on Friday February 19, 2021 during a video conference out of Costa Rica linking the world (very Trekkie) to be able to thank one of the actors, who states she is a storyteller, Nana Visitor (played Major Kira Nerys in DS9) for the stories that inspired and have been used to inspire so many.

May be an image of 1 person and text that says "TeC ”R Rica Tecnológico de Nana Visitor Friday February 19, 2021, 6pm Costa Rica AORNN SPACE"

A friend and former colleauge in journeying with those in life recovery and exiting homelessness to home, is now at home in Costa Rica cultivating his own passions around space exploration and community building as a teacher. This was a conference part of TEC. The exciting news that kicked off was Costa Rica adopting their own Space Agency (after a long history of working with NASA, and some excellent books co-authored by my friend, Bruce Callow). Their initiatives around education and STEM that has seen them in schools outside of Costa Rica (including Calgary), and having cameos with the books at the last Vul-Con before c-tine (and as rumours/bills from the Town Council of Vulcan the last focused event such as that).

We then shifted to an incredible and inspiring talk by our storyteller. Ms. Visitor shared about those great moments of entering The Flow. That is that moment when everything aligns, and it no longer feels like struggle or work, just going and what amazing things happen within a team when that moment is realized by a team. I have had the pleasure of experiencing those moments in my own writing and teaching, but also in community builidng and spiritual direction with the teams and communities we were a part of, an dyes it is powerful. The challenges thrown out that the way work is done needs to change, understanding work as a person with nothing outside the work is unhealthy and wrong. We need to cultivate a world that allows for healthy balance with work and life, and watch the miracles roll out, just think we have gotten this far with the broken system, how much farther could we go with an unbroken system?

Of course, there was talk of the power of representation within Star Trek, Ms. Visitor sharing when she first read the character of Kira, she thought it was a man, because rolls like that did not exist in the early 90’s for women. And when she found out it wasn’t, she wanted it. She shared on her Women of Trek project, interviewing the actresses who have played the powerful roles. The hope of Ms. Nicholls health holding so after c-tine she will be able to interview her in person for the book/documentary. This was one of the greatest moments, as there was the allusion that inclusivity also involves mental health and disabilities for pursuit of passions. As the character of Tilly in Discovery was brought up, for she is brilliant, yet can be crippled by anxiety, and she is important to show, that we can still be who we are in experiencing the world, and chase our passions.

Which leads us into a reflection for this first weekend of Lent,

If inclusivity was the norm

If you could live your dreams/passions

Who would you be?

*Guess what– that’s who Creator made you to be.

For more on Nana Visitor, read Bruce Callow’s article here.

My Facebook message after the event:


It could be my 335th edition of ecclectica in all its itirations in life, but truly, it is reflecting more of the 335th day of the current exisence. Some days to bring together thoughts, and things of life in the here and now. Before we shift into what life should be through some reflections I just want to share something cool from a friend, and a former colleague, a dreamer living life building community. During c-tine many have been discovering Star Trek Deep Space Nine on streaming services and being astounded they did not know about the complexity, characters, and discussions that leap from every episode, and so compelling and applicable to our curent world. Bruce Callow, as part of his work in Costa Rica and science/space education was able to sit down and interview Nana Visitor (Kiera Nerys) from the show, read the Costa Rican Times article here.

Our road map as a photo collage, we have touched on living dreams to make the world better, and understanding how life experiences shape a person with our interview with Ms. Visitor. Now we move into the ecclecitca, which includes touching on different topics. The highest streaming in North America is of course, that a President whose words, actions and machinations that incited an insurrection where 5 citizens died could be acquitted at his second impeachment trial. It is some what of a commentary on our world, where accountability is only for some, and not reserved for those who scream “persecution” the loudest.

It has become a staple within the Right to Al-Right to Fascist to Neo-Nazi end of the political spectrum. As the right moves further along the spectrum (which when I was a public school student, was taught in school, but currently is not taught as teachers fear being labelled ideologues and lose their job. The result: a less critical thinking electorate and citizenry). The left which goes from Left to Socialist to Communist to Dictatorship to Stalinist is pulled further into the right end of the spectrum, for nature abhors a vacuum, and so does our political ideological entrenching, the chasm being created is one where many are left politically homeless. Where those left politically uninspired either become apathetically complicit for not voting, or do to the rage on one side or the other enter into a highly dualistic co-dependent relationship with an extremist ideology, that has to be completely good as the other side has created that it is evil, and then we are in the shouting match that with a simple match, the tinders can incite violence.

This was a chance in history, for the supposed leader of the Free World, to re-assert the need for healthy dialogue, for holding to account hate and extremism. Instead, they collapsed under the pursuit of power, and shoring up territorial biases and bases. It was a commentary touched upon recently in Canadian politcs by the Rt. Hon. Joe Clark (read article and link to podcast here), where some key points to be extrapolated is that our political leaders of all stripes have become more social media performers, than thought leaders. We as a nation need to demand better, we need to move beyond territorial entrenchment, and party-colour belonging, to push all our national parties to actually be pan-Canadian, to look at what is needed for our nation as a whole. To vision cast, to move beyond the tweet-byte, lay out a vision/dream. To take seriously the character of the local representatives that are running and serving, do they serve all Canadians and their constituents? If it is only serving the party line, then it is a systematic failure. It creates group think, that makes accountability only faux-shows, where parachutes are aligned after the smoke and mirrors. Or accountability is non-existent as we see in Alberta with MLA Barnes & Pitt joiing the Anti-Lockdown Caucus propagated by the People’s Party Maxine Bernier, a party known to overtly affiliate with the Neo-Nazi’s of Canada, and to be blunt the politicians that affiliate are creating streams of disinformation, and wreaking havoc on governments (many they are in the governing caucus’ of) to get traction on a pandemic (and we shall touch on the epidemics of opioids, meth and homelessness in a second).

Which the silent complicity of party leaders not kicking these members from caucus, leads to non-accountability as we saw on display this past Saturday Feb. 13 at CF Chinook Mall with anti-maskers marching through the mall hoping to spread covid, and comparing restrictions as making them the “new Jews” which opens up a whole lot of “WTF” in my mind that we have allowed once again mainstreaming of anti-semitism and the hate that perpetuated a holocaust only 80 years ago (the lifespan of many that are losing their lives in our pandemic currently). Yet, no ticketing, no arrests. Why?

We have created a world, where the smoke and mirrors of personal rights and performance creation of victimhood/persecution lead to 0 accountability. We have stripped the interdependence, as we make each side the other, and the villain. Instead of entering into dialogue. Having said that, I do state clearly when it comes to where the spectrum connects on Facism/Naziisms-Dictatorship/Stalinism, that needs to be called out. Though, we truly need to understand what that is when it is called out, so that the authentic is placed in the cell of silence it belongs in, and the impact of those terms are not destroyed by screaming it at every point we do not agree upon.

Which brings me into the reading of Irshad Manji’s (2019) Don’t Label Me, as a queer-Muslim writer, she has a dialogue with her beloved pup, Lil, about the state of the world. The challenge being revealed, is that we lose ourselves in labels which perpetuate stereotypes, and do not allow us to meet the person to see who they actually are. It is within her words she shares about moderate Republicans she has met who do not hold to the MAGA/Q Cult. She also shares about her own journey in faith, and the push back from other progressive quarters of atheism that do not want to hear the word faith even on things as innocuous as Facebook, taking offense that someone should not share that for fear of offense. It really is a call to keep ourselves safe, but also to get to know our neighbour and understand the anti-fascist, anti-rascist movements in the light of the impact on the other they have. There is a great story she shared of two friends in Missisipi and the move to change the flag, one a hip-hop artist, who speaks their truth to the symbology and the pain it brings, another, a man in the Confederate lineage that does not see a problem with the flag on their part. But then astutely shares, the hip-hop artist is their friend, and it causes pain, so “I have a choice, to take action to remedy, or not be a part of the change conversation and play the victim afterwards”. A proactive entering into discussion.

As a writer, I appreciate labels and stereotypes. When working a work of fiction they allow for a quick visual or quick reference words to create a word image for the viewer, yet we are living in this world where everyone is defined by the labels and no one wants to move beyond the label to meet the person underneath. Would we be able to shift our world to a better place if the more moderate on the spectrum connected and found the common ground once more? Built the bridge across the chasm that has been created by the extremists?

For it is the fear induced by the extremists that continues to perpetuate the hate and systematic racisms/injustices in our society. For the purity test on the other extreme just leaves them to default to where they are okay with the norm, instead of creating space to accept in the journey of life a person learns and grows and changes.

This is the message that resounds in the closing chapters of DC Comics’ New 52 Superman. In his final days, where a perfect tri-fecta has left him dying, he sets out to live the hope of his symbol until his last days. To try to lay the groundwork for it to continue. My question though, is do we have to wait until we are in a dire circumstance? Until the match has been lit again and people are dying? Until we are in the last days of life, to understand what it takes to create a legacy? Or can we simply leave each day knowing we have a story, and others we meet will have a story…

This is the challenge when individuals look to government policy as the silver bullet or cure solution. The challenge being in our current world of entrenchment, and each side needing to be able to claim the “holy and good” side, or to the spoils go the victor, much is missed. Framing the idea of ending homelessness. It is a broad and hard topic that hits the grieving of change vectors of individuals and communities. The first challenge is one has to understand how we have done as a society, has been okay, but in the first part of the 21st century decisions made have left many in poverty and homelessness and this is not okay. It is okay to admit we have made a societal mistake and want to move on. It is about being able to bring fresh eyes/heart to something like UBI, where many trip up thinking it is another layer of government entitlements added to the system and this is what trips up on costs of– it is a replacment for the piecemeal approach to support, it is stripping away the money wasted on disproving claims and the appeals process, it leverages technology to simply be. It removes space for individual grants if one has a dream for a small business, and gives space to let that happen, for artisans to flourish, and create new dynamic spaces for meeting, discussion, critical thought, it provides the top up for minimum wage jobs so they become living wage, as the pandemic has shown, each role is necessary for our society to function. The fist step though, is allowing permission to admit the bias and misunderstanding, and accepting that all can change. To shift the discussion from yes-no, to how. But first we have to allow the ability to acknowledge mistakes and change at the individual, the instittutional and the system level.

Permission to acknowledge mistakes is one of the things missing from public discourse. It is what leads to the unaccountability for actions. See, mistakes happen, some big, some minor, and we have to accept the accountability for those actions whether they were intentional or unintentional. I teach my students, each time I pushed the boundaries of the rules or broke them, I fully and rationally understoon what I was doing, and knew that worst case scenario it could lead to unemployment, and I was okay with that. Each person needs to be. Unfortuantely this quest for profit and power over people, has created a world where we do not expect accountability (good or ill) for our actions. We also have created a world where we cannot openly admit mistakes, or when we struggle.

That ties into a blessing I received for a Christmas gift. The complete CBS series of Elementary on DVD. I am a Sherlockian (I belive that is the right term), as I was introduced to the stories first through the ol’ Basil Rathbone movies on PBS, then reading Doyle’s stories, and the comics, enjoyed RDJ’s Sherlock Holmes movies, and Cumberbatch’s Sherlock. But there was something about this imaginging of Holmes in the modern world, with his sober companion Dr. Joan Watson into America. Holmes as we meet him is a recovering addict (the usage is part of the original stories, but was always on the fence for the reader if it went from simple Subtance Use/Social Use to Misuse/Substance Abuse). There is a beautiful scene opening up the first episode of Season 2, with Holmes in a meeting, and he openly talks about his usage, and that he feels he was born 100 to 200 years late, as the world would have been so much quieter, and perhaps then he would not have been an addict. This is also the episode where we meet his brother, Mycroft, and begin to understand the interplay of family in recovery, and what happens for both sides to see the other in their new reality, with new hearts. This is the beauty of Elementary it’s authentic portrayal of addiction, recovery and reconnection. The use of not only purpose in the process of being a part of community, but authentic belonging.

As the life and discography of Johnny Cash would illustrate, purpose is about what resonates deep within us. Belonging is those authentic folks who we connect with. For Cash it was about the music, his faith, and more, the story of his wife, and how that connection turned his life.

This is where we miss the mark in society on our march to end homelessness. We hold it is about upper-middle class developer housing- a house or a condo or an apartment. It goes deeper than that. It is about belonging. The government monies and policies speak to capacity and stock in the system to allow one (or family to be housed), same goes for the donations to non-profits. Decades ago I helped in writing policy for the now non-existant Federal PC Party, that spoke of all types of housing stock to have 10% put on an affordable sliding scale to aid in the stock on affordable housing, which very few took up as it was seen as to out there as what would your neighbour think finding out they are paying this and you are paying that (what does it matter what each of us pays, as long as we are all in community in a healthy way). By providing safe housing, that is designed for the needs of community members, we remove external stressors on their determinants of health, by providing a UBI, which allows for housing and food security, we remove layers of stressors/traumas on one’s healthy that actually burden more expensive systems of care on the emergency response end. As one ages in place, the costs on the system align with other neighbours.

Then it becomes more complex, as it is about moving beyond labels, for what to do with neighbours that may be provocateurs? Disruptors? If they are breaking by-laws/laws, it does not matter if they have lived next door for 20 years, moved in from another community or exited homelessness. This is where accountability for actions matter. What is needed in community is free options for neighbours to connect and get to know one another, so we are able to know what is typical behaviour, and when they need us to be present. This is why public libraries are so amazing, it is the one space left in our Western World where you can exist without having your bank account value checked. It is why I love seeing religious groups opening their doors for community meals, space for neighbours to meet together. A universal approach where there is no means test to access, simply saying come and break bread together. What if community associations created the same space? Are there volunteers out there that would share their skills for knitting circles? Meals? Book clubs? A space for those that live in community to use to connect based on hobbies and interests?

What if this allowed for funding from municipalities so that the halls were not constantly driven for rental incomes, and become spaces to cultivate getting to know one another beyond labels?

Think as we head into our civic elections in Alberta this October, what dream is there for a healthy and robust community beyond NIMBYISM, beyond labels…what does it look like for authentic belonging for all? For connecting? For purpose that is not tied to simply work?

I bring this up because it is one of the quick arguments of some, as to why we have a means test and work so hard to keep people from accessing Alberta Works and direct to day jobs in construction (which devalues the actual skill set it takes for what is classed as unskilled casual day labour, trust me, if my Dad, a general contractor and Master Electrician is aiding me on a DIY in house, it works, to my own skill set not so much). I am an Albertan and do not believe this ludicrousness. The entitlement is there for those in need. Not once they have cashed out all their savings and retirements then help. It is there for help. Say what we will on the back end of sorting out CERB and the possibility of taxation for those that made too much, at least those who needed it got it. See what shifts when we look at supporting one another in need? Not simply, trying to root out a fraudster?

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Same in our systems of housing, of care– why so much added trauma and stress to access the supports needed for physical, developmental or mental health?

Why not a robust system to allow for thriving, where we trust the family doctors and specialists that what is being asked for is needed?

Imagine how different our world would be?

See, Johnny Cash, found his belonging in his faith…

Others find their belonging through hobbies, interests, politics, philosophies, their faith. As we have moved into more commuter communities we have lost the local connection. We scream shop local currently, but miss a deeper point for health on the other side of c-tine:

Live Local.

For when we live local. When we connect, and know one another’s stories and journeys. It becomes truly hard to stigmatize, or live in fear. We can move through the grieving of change together. For it is in moving forward in understanding root causes we can truly make a difference.

It is in being present, that we live out the evidence.

For in that prescence with one another, we have to see the intrinsic value of our neighbour. The instrinsic value in human life, no matter what path brought you to that shared point of view with so many. Which shifts the discussion then from either or in solving our substance abuse epidemics of opioids and meth, to focus on the person behind the substance and their story. It leads us to understand for some the path is abstinence, for some it is harm reduction in the healing. It is a necesary spectrum, for as each person has intrinsic value, and are the protagontists of their own story, so too does each have a path of healing that touches on the tools of systems, theories and practices we try to create our own silos and chasms with. Instead of understanding, oh so simply, regardless of the theoretical label placed on the tool, it can be adapted for the person before us. The neighbour only finding away to numb the pain or silence the chaos.

Connecting.

Belonging.

Purpose.

Ideals that overlay so many things in our lives. That when truly sought, we can begin to accept the different paths to the same community. When sought healthily so many underlying causes can have truth spoken into them, space held, and reconciliation lived into.

Yet, it begins with you and me, not as an I, but as a We.. Your decision. Your choice. Your voice.

Become…

Our reconciliation. Our dialogue. Our decision, Our choice. Our voice.

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Today our church took us back to the Exodus (the service video if you wish to contemplate on what was shared there can be viewed here). Anyway, it is the start of a series on overcoming fear, which is pertinent within this moment and time when you are seeing the extremist fear reactions we are seeing. These types of reactions do open one up to being susceptible to conversion (radicalization) with the worst outcomes being seen this past week on Capitol Hill in the United States of America. This post is not about the service this morning, but rather using the story from the Hebrew Bible within some reflective and spiritual practices to aid one in understanding themselves in change.

The root though, is the discomfort and fear of the unknown. This is precepted by change, I encourage you to look at the U Theory diagram and see where you are in the process of the change our world is currently undergoing, or to simply hold onto this diagram (and explore it more through resources like Senge’s Presence), as well look at it now and become cursory familiar with the concepts, for it will flow into the next steps:

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Now we are going to take up a text that is illustrative of the struggle within change, that is Exodus 14:1-31 (The Message), we will be reading this 3 times, but there will be times of reflection between each reading. Take a moment and sit comfortably, as straight up as possible, close your eyes and take deep diaphragmic breaths. Counting up slowly to 10, then back down to 0, do this as many cycles as it takes for you to feel relaxed and disconnected from the cacophony of the household, social media, and world around you. Know that we are in the Exodus story of the Hebrew Bible (you may be familiar with it through such movies as the 10 Commandments, Prince of Egypt, even Veggie Tales). It is a time of slavery, when a person with a disability is called forth by God to go into Egypt and set the people free from an oppressive Empire of the Pharaoh, after many back and forths, 10 plagues, they are free and on the run. Much like a bully who has been confronted though or a leader not knowing when time is up, Pharaoh decides to pursue. The Israelites are now surrounded on two sides by mountains, to move forward is to drown in the Red Sea, and to go back is to either be slaughtered or once more into slavery depending on the ruler’s whimsy. Ever felt like this when a challenge of change arises? Or when a change of life is forced upon us either through enforced retirement? Health (mental or physical) crisis? Layoffs? Loss of life? Or Covid-19 restrictions to keep ourselves and neighbour safe? The fight-flight-freeze response, what emotions are driving this within ourselves? Sometimes we can pinpoint core or raw emotions (i.e. sadness, anger) but there is usually more at play. This is where we are in change as we enter the three hearing cycles and space for contemplation, have paper and pencil/pen/crayons/pencil crayons before you:

First Reading/hearing (if you’re in a household of more than one, take time to have someone read aloud, if not read aloud on your own or use a speaker phone or video call) Exodus 14:1-31, The Message:

1-2 God spoke to Moses: “Tell the Israelites to turn around and make camp at Pi Hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea. Camp on the shore of the sea opposite Baal Zephon.

3-4 “Pharaoh will think, ‘The Israelites are lost; they’re confused. The wilderness has closed in on them.’ Then I’ll make Pharaoh’s heart stubborn again and he’ll chase after them. And I’ll use Pharaoh and his army to put my Glory on display. Then the Egyptians will realize that I am God.”

And that’s what happened.

5-7 When the king of Egypt was told that the people were gone, he and his servants changed their minds. They said, “What have we done, letting Israel, our slave labor, go free?” So he had his chariots harnessed up and got his army together. He took six hundred of his best chariots, with the rest of the Egyptian chariots and their drivers coming along.

8-9 God made Pharaoh king of Egypt stubborn, determined to chase the Israelites as they walked out on him without even looking back. The Egyptians gave chase and caught up with them where they had made camp by the sea—all Pharaoh’s horse-drawn chariots and their riders, all his foot soldiers there at Pi Hahiroth opposite Baal Zephon.

10-12 As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up and saw them—Egyptians! Coming at them!

They were totally afraid. They cried out in terror to God. They told Moses, “Weren’t the cemeteries large enough in Egypt so that you had to take us out here in the wilderness to die? What have you done to us, taking us out of Egypt? Back in Egypt didn’t we tell you this would happen? Didn’t we tell you, ‘Leave us alone here in Egypt—we’re better off as slaves in Egypt than as corpses in the wilderness.’”

13 Moses spoke to the people: “Don’t be afraid. Stand firm and watch God do his work of salvation for you today. Take a good look at the Egyptians today for you’re never going to see them again.

14 God will fight the battle for you.
    And you? You keep your mouths shut!”

15-16 God said to Moses: “Why cry out to me? Speak to the Israelites. Order them to get moving. Hold your staff high and stretch your hand out over the sea: Split the sea! The Israelites will walk through the sea on dry ground.

17-18 “Meanwhile I’ll make sure the Egyptians keep up their stubborn chase—I’ll use Pharaoh and his entire army, his chariots and horsemen, to put my Glory on display so that the Egyptians will realize that I am God.”

19-20 The angel of God that had been leading the camp of Israel now shifted and got behind them. And the Pillar of Cloud that had been in front also shifted to the rear. The Cloud was now between the camp of Egypt and the camp of Israel. The Cloud enshrouded one camp in darkness and flooded the other with light. The two camps didn’t come near each other all night.

21 Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea and God, with a terrific east wind all night long, made the sea go back. He made the sea dry ground. The seawaters split.

22-25 The Israelites walked through the sea on dry ground with the waters a wall to the right and to the left. The Egyptians came after them in full pursuit, every horse and chariot and driver of Pharaoh racing into the middle of the sea. It was now the morning watch. God looked down from the Pillar of Fire and Cloud on the Egyptian army and threw them into a panic. He clogged the wheels of their chariots; they were stuck in the mud.

The Egyptians said, “Run from Israel! God is fighting on their side and against Egypt!”

26 God said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the sea and the waters will come back over the Egyptians, over their chariots, over their horsemen.”

27-28 Moses stretched his hand out over the sea: As the day broke and the Egyptians were running, the sea returned to its place as before. God dumped the Egyptians in the middle of the sea. The waters returned, drowning the chariots and riders of Pharaoh’s army that had chased after Israel into the sea. Not one of them survived.

29-31 But the Israelites walked right through the middle of the sea on dry ground, the waters forming a wall to the right and to the left. God delivered Israel that day from the oppression of the Egyptians. And Israel looked at the Egyptian dead, washed up on the shore of the sea, and realized the tremendous power that God brought against the Egyptians. The people were in reverent awe before God and trusted in God and his servant Moses.

This is the time in the quiet, to feel what is bubbling up for you in this moment of change in your life, what emotions are raw and under the surface or at the boiling point? Take time to draw, scribble, colour, write out what you are feeling. Use the emotion wheel below then to find the emotions that come up, and see what others are connected to them, anything else to add to/discern about your feelings, once we know what our heart/soul song is, we can work forward:

Take the most present and precise emotion forward with you as you enter back into the story, taking a rotation count of deep diaphragmic breaths counting up to 10, then back down to 0 as you are an Israelite in the moment on the shore.

This is the moment in time we are in, on the banks wondering what is going to happen? Where will we be? Are we ready to step forward? As the Red Sea parts, and it becomes like an aquarium for the lie thriving within, you have a choice to step into the passage, stay on the shore, or turn back to Egypt (what is known). Reading/Hearing #2 Exodus 14:1-31 the Message:

As you slowly come out with the emotion you took with you, reflect on the U Theory and where you are within it at this point and time in your personal story.

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Take time to reflect and write-draw-scribble-colour why you are where you are on the U? What is holding you there? What past story is holding you in place, what story will move you forward? Is there a new emotion present you would like to take with you into the third hearing?

As we prepare for the final hearing/reading, take a moment to re-centre yourself. Take the deep diaphragmic breathing count up to 10, then back down to 0. This time take into the story where you are on the U, what you are feeling. As you hear the third hearing, focus on the collapsing waters on the old way, the washing out of the pursuers, that which calls you back to “how it has always been done”, or puts qualifiers on love of neighbour. As we enter:

Third reading/hearing Exodus 14:1-31 as the waters crash behind you as you fearlessly take the step into the unknown…what is being washed away?

Take a moment to draw and write these out. This is what is holding you back now, take a moment to reflect on these “guardians” that have carried you through your life to this point. Honestly thank them, then destroy them as a moment of release.

For crossing through the Red Sea, is about releasing that which enslaved. Now the question arises, what is the below and above surface work you need to accomplish to be in the Promised Land? For it is about the journey….


It has been a unique ride for my family over the last several years. Times of discussion, lament, counting blessings, defeat, staring death in the face, and wondering what happens when a key identifier (work) is removed from the chess game of life? What happens when something sideways crops up after a clean(ish) bill of health. To enter into an epilogue of book one of three in life, feeling not like being fully housebound and 3 weeks later to being, well house bound.

It is the beginning thoughts that ruminate, much like when we were given some Russian peppermint cookies (baked with ammonia, sadly no honey icing), and being frozen on trying them as my mind wanders more the concept of the chemical used and the pulp adventures I write fiction wise. What a fun way to off somebody? A dash of another chemical and boom chlorine gas? Or some nitrate and kablewy?

This type of mind wandering can be what it feels like to be in time of c-tine. Distancing from others, connecting via internet calls, mourning away from those lost, there was times of less restrictions, when we could cohort or travel to see folks within our province. Though my Spidey sense from too many years responding to and living through human systems crafted crisis to not realize that the libertarians’ way things were handled in first wave, meant a winter quasi-lockdown (it is not a lockdown Alberta, we have restrictions, but seeing how others are right now, if you are making allusions to the 60’s scoop, Nazism, or any other horrible time in history due to this, you are on the wrong side of history). Predictions, hypothesized, tested and proven, Even the height of priviliged disdain played out into the most recent (and still unfurling) Alohagate of a caucus not held accountable for actions, really the epitome of adolescence lived out in governance that was even called out by Pope Francis. It is hard not to feel disappointed and mourn the simple losses of trips, time with extended family, our usual New Year’s winter camp trip to Countess and time with my Dad and his wife (my kids Poppa and Grandma), and then to have the government of Alberta literally slap you in the face for doing what you are asked to care for neighbour.

It can be said at this time, to feel like 2020 was horrible, yet is this true. I still think, and lean on my faith (it is not a physical building, our fam-jam has been online worshipping as our quartet, now quintet with Rose the Wonder God-yes all of us take communion, her with her treats-I’m a Franciscan soul what can I say) and look to what it means when Brother Jesus in the Gospel of Mark told us the Kingdom was near.

That is just through the thin space, and what it means to transfigure our world that has created the mess we’re in, into one where all know and are loved, where each person understands the ideal self is hear and to come.

It was a conversation this morning after church as we discussed and the above resonated out of the writing of Paul, from prison, to the church of Philippi:

27 Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel, 

-Philippians 1:27 (New King James Version)

The goal, is to live in a transformative and transfiguring way to create a better world now. Not to simply freeze and await the future alleged Second Coming (I believe it was the Colossae Heresy in the early church), or for a more colloquial expression, so heavenly minded no earthly good. For it is when you slip into this colloquialism it becomes easy to shift gears and see people (neighbours) as human capital, and creation as nothing more than a charge card that you, sadly, do not believe will ever come due (because you are ignoring the prophetic warnings abounding on climate shift and change), in other words, slip into the apathetic acceptance of theocracy and dominionism, which if one remembers the Hebrew Bible stories of Judges & Prophets, does not end well.

Yet this rabbit trail while enlightening, does leave me wanting to cultivate a healthier entry into 2021, and that is by pointing out what 2020 has given each of us. A simple practice we began working with our second child, the idea of gratitude/blessings when the world around was becoming overwhelming. A simple act of journaling. Begin with 10, then each day add 3, when you are feeling overwhelmed it gives you something to look back on, and have the practice of enjoying the simplest things to the miraculous.

For instance in 2020, this what I experienced as blessing:

a. Both my kids being able to have summer camp, as it was online and removed the accessibility barriers.

b. Being able to cohort with my daughter’s best friend’s family (until the new restrictions) so she had the connection, then adult priviliged stripped that away (but Mental Health am I right?)

c. My son being able to continue in in-person classes to receive all the supports he needs to thrive in life.

d. An exciting epilogue added to an almost completed for Book one of my life adventure.

e. Being accepted back to seminary to complete a Master of Divinity.

f. Rose the Wonder Dog

g. Time together with my family and seeing each of them becoming more of who they are meant to be.

h. J grooving into their true interests, and learning new things such as cos-play.

i. L working to save up his allowances to accomplish his goal this year of a personalized hockey jersey.

j. J excitedly starting a new book, that they love because it is so descriptive and needs to read it so they can learn for their own stories (not saying this sounded like me at their age, but maybe).

k. That J is able to continue schooling safely online, and is thriving with their teachers that see who she is as a person.

Multiple times of fun drives into the mountains sharing the camera to take pictures of what we see, bouncing to Vulcan before the second wave for some family fun in our geekiness, and exploring new movies, stories, crafts, interests, creating time to sing together and discuss faith. That even when times may appear or feel lonely, we can always start anew in the morning.

2021 is starting, as 2020 entered, there is vaccines out there, and possibility of shift. Many have shown us that we are not in this together, yet to bring the transformation through the thin space it was not having everyone in it together, but rather a tipping point of those that refused to be beat down by the negative of the world. Where willing to continue forward.

In 2021, are you willing to resolve to continue forward to a better corner of the world you inhabit?


Ah the argument of rights, conspiracy theories such as the Barrington Declaration and the Great Reset, anti-maskers, “marches for freedom” hiding white supremacist resurgences, and a health system teetering on the brink while governance tries to down play those that die. Pretty much sums up where we are in Phase II of re-opening, and the new restrictions announced (read those here). As noted for me this is day 257 of working from home.

We like to scream for our independent rights, not knowing that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in Canada regardless of iteration from the historic Red River Resistance up until the Charter of Rights and Freedoms enshrined in the Constitution Act, 1982 that these rights, are enshrined with the understanding of corporate responsibility.

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It is the stumbling block that has made Alberta, the most Americanized and ideological divisive province gain traction during this time. But then beginning of the week the new restrictions were announced, why? Our system is over run. Contact tracing (which provides the data of transmission for targeted approaches in containment and how the virus is mutating. Our system collapsed and the hospital system is training with increased risk to others who may not be able to access for other needs and emergencies. This happened while ignoring real time science it appeared, with a leak of the response being more about control and politics (read here), government issues managers online going after private citizens sharing thoughts and opinions, and the ongoing governmental attack on front line workers in industries they clamored needed to stay open for the economy and a sustained attack on doctors and nurses. As the message became a black and white response of lockdown or business, missing the nuance that properly sourced evidenced based practice can bring.

Then something happened. Yet, here we are in the ideological divide. Screaming about confusion. Asking why this and not that in the restriction list. Continuing sowing confusion on those who are contemplative about compliance to not, confirming those who would never follow through not to. And continuing to sow the divide in the province. Think of some key pressure points- why are churches allowed to stay open? Why aren’t rural in the mask mandate? Why only grades 7-12 home and online? Confusing orders in regards to students with disabilities, and private/charter schools. Why casinos but only VLTs? How to enforce the social gathering order. All this is still a political game.

Each of these questions are valid. Each and everyone should be asked. The level of discourse needs to be where it has not been in Alberta since the beginning of the merger road between PC/Wildrose. It needs to be civil, bullies put in their place and punted. For it to be effective and pragmatic there needs to be data. Yes, we have 7 months of data, yet it went of the rails rapidly (though predicted if the provincial government would allow for transparency on modelling). The fact so much time was wasted on “personal responsibility” requests that have historically known to be ineffective (I am old enough to remember the seatbelt debate), to continue to pander to the Americanized heart and mind of a province. Question, wit the first qualifier being we’re following through on them.

Now we are nearing the end of week 1 of 3, and as of today shattering records of new cases, deaths continuing to increase. Teetering where what our province has never had, will probably be the only way to regain any sense of sanity heading into 2021, and needing to bend the curve back so a vaccine would be most effective. Yes, those two words that scares our premier (the third possibly being leadership):

Lock Down.

I do not like typing those words, but unless citizens actually engage in being responsible, following through, holding each other accountable, even in the confusion of the restrictions to adhere…there is not many options left of the table with a system that can only track the rates of infection, death and hospitalization and soon probably not even that with the fatigue over running.

So yes, if you think your neighbourhood church is not adhering to restrictions, call them in. Let the fine bankrupt them, they deserve it. When you are asked to wait because the store is at 25% capacity, do so graciously. Because for the economy only libertarian ideologue, you know what hurts the economy? Rolling isolations and quarantines, overrun stress, and constant grieving. Mental health is not just a catch phrase, it is real, and it needs to be properly funded (what is our government’s record on cuts to this again?) and not just used as a proper to do nothing while people fall ill, and die.

Yes, this also means that if you neighbour is breaking the social gathering law–guess what? You need to be a responsible citizen. Also, even if not mandated in your area, mask up. Simple things can make 2021 better. I didn’t want to say to many that “I told you so” when I saw the writng on the wall with crisis management back in June, but I told you so.

Now, we need to decide if we are going to continue with the every one for themselves mindset of destruction or pivot, to our historical roots on the Prairies, of everyone together.

For indivdiual rights to flourish, take corporate responsibility to one another.

Are we responsible enough to bend re-flatten the curve?


It could be a rant, but truly at this point it is an earnest question. Born, raised and continue living in Alberta seen and read about many social conservatives (out of Christendom and other religions) politicians and governments within my province, and the base rock for Federal. Yet at this time of C-tine, the question is in my mind, how is it possible (even with some rust on the buckle), that Canada’s bible belt equivalent province struggles so much with love thy neigbour?

34 But when the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. 35 Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?”

37 Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

-Gospel of Matthew 22:34-40 (New King James Version)

To love our neighbour as we love ourselves and love God. I have written many times unpacking this passage in different ways, so I am not going to deep on that now. Yet, here we are as a province with pandering to anti-mask/anti-vax/anti-science bases, over-dramatized to downright untrue stories from our governance around issues, and basically a sentiment began from our Premier and shared by many that those who are dying (now 500+) are past their best before date or had co-morbidities so it is all good (those of low human capital, a favourite term of our current provincial government).

Which raises many questions on the humanity of the religious who claim freedoms in our province? For it was not the call to the individual, but to the communal freedom, love and belonging.

Let’s re-humanize our statistics, have the releases signed not to share age, region, gender and they had co-morbidities, but rather, age, region and name. I mean, how many even know what co-morbidity is? They believe it is a death sentence to begin with, no these are two or more occurring chronic (ongoing) conditions? Do you know someone with two conditions? Mental, physical or neurological health? High blood pressure? Depression? Anxiety? Cystic Fibrosis? MS (that we lead Canada in)? Cancer? How about those covid 20 that you can’t shake? Epilepsy? PTSD? OCD? Substance Abuse/use disorder? Carpal Tunnel? The list goes on an on…

The term coupled with age, is used to de-humanize the disease and reduce severity so the base is appeased. It is like the 1991 Star Trek The Next Generation episode, “Half-Life” (S.4,Ep.22) that created an ethical discussion at the time in my school, but also with parents. The crux is Timicin (played wonderfully by David Ogden Stiers), whose species at age 65 end their own lives as “their time is up” or “they are past their best before date”. In the episode this becomes a debate as he develops an intimate relationship with Betazed Ambassador, Lwaxana Troi (mother of Ship Counsellor Deanna Troi), and it ensues about quality of life, purpose and belonging. I encourage you to have a virtual watch party with friends outside your household, and watch within your household to discuss the key points of this with our current situation. As this can create a different lens to look at how we view life and death, and what matters. But this is not the only challenge facing us, in those hard conversations we need to have around the dinner (or communion) table.

The other, with current restrictions announced due to lack of concern for anyone outside your own skin (Alberta’s public health emergency restrictions can be found here) in an attempt to bend the curve back down, find out trackable data (as we have 85%+ cases on traceable) over the next three weeks. Has led to much llama dramas on line. Some throwing shade about religious organizations allowed to stay open at 1/3 capacity, and why on businesses, most being about big box vs small businesses closing open (conflating restrictions of other provinces with our own). Are these restrictions perfect? No, but even though I do not support that the UCP has the moral or ethical right to governance (ongoing criminal investigations), I will follow through for care for my family and neighbour.

What is saddening and maddening is the many religious sharing posts about Alberta being 70 years rat free so don’t become one on your neighbours now, or don’t snitch. Like the stereotypical “snitches get stitches” . Seriously, when did we as grown ass adults begin acting like pre-adolescents enamoured with faux hip hop culture?

Or as I shared on Facebook today:

“It’s not about not “snitching” on your neighbours at the holidays for the social gathering, that is being gaslit like in an abusive relationship. Seriously, it is about our neighbours having enough care and respect to follow the rules so we do not have to call 311 to have a healthy AHS that can respond to our current pandemic, epidemic, emerging epidemic, and outbreak. But hey, let’s continue giving those that can’t follow rules a pass.”

And as one friend pointed out, how easily we compartmentalize and pick and choose what we will call in our neighbour on. Noise complaints? Speeding? Parking? Loud or at large animals? Not shovelling snow? Think about what happens to our society, if we do not hold one another accountable?

This doesn’t even go deep into the neighbourhood watch to prevent crime, which if my neighbours do not have discernment and care with these how can I trust them if my car is being stolen or house being prowled? Starting to see how the “not my problem” begins to flow?

This is not even with jumping on the not mandatory vaccine discussion the Premier opened up to pander to his slipping away base. Which, I am sure my stance on that will lose even more “Facebook friends” but for those able to take the vaccine (any vaccine) it is a care of neighbour, why my kids both got the HPV one.

As I sit, having wrestled with the new restrictions, and lowering our house into more of a shut down (my one kids cohort with her best friend has come to an end, I miss their giggles and joy and it has only been one day), we are here because of a provincial quorums of adults that refused to adult. As I watch the video feed of the 200 person “freedom march” -anti-mask rally in Calgary this morning, I do hope that they are all levied the $1000 fines to send a strong message. Reading in the paper that due to lack of corporate care at CF Chinook yesterday in limiting to 25% capacity city police had to be used to evacuate people and I know these restrictions are supposed to be re-looked at on Dec. 15.

Where I am at now?

Christmas is different this year. Looking like my household, as we find new joys, way to share love, and know we are doing this, because many may not see us as “believers” or “Christian enough”, but I can honestly tell you it is about following through on love of neighbour.

The question for our “Bible Belt” is do you get it?

Because I am tired of your Pharisee ways.


Ah 2020, what a way to show us the meaning of hindsight being as clear as 20/20 vision. The journey and trajectory or society into entrenched ideologies where we cannot have discussions-debates of discovery to move forward in healthy ways as a community. How do we know this? The rise of populism in the last 10 years that has not been matched since the 1930’s, whether you fall on the right or the left. I still remember the political spectrum exercise of public school social studies, that illustrated so clearly populism on the right becomes fascism, on the left, goes through communism to Stalinist dictatorship which connects clearly with Fascism as the same point—that is extremists are extremists—anger, hatred, dehumanization, inability to see the other–the continuing discussion on dualism, for one’s side to be correct the other has to be completely evil (looking for a villain or an enemy every under every bushel).

As I continue exploring ending the false myth of the protestant work ethic evolved into neo-liberalism and by continued evolution, capitalism of 2020, and getting back together the writings of Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks have been informative. His latest, being 2020’s Morality: Restoring the common Good in Divided Times. Where in five parts he takes the reader through an exploration of the philosophical-sociological-historical-political and religious paradigms that have brought us to this point in history.

As Sacks works through his theory and thoughts, it builds to a pertinent epilogue on our divided times and hyper-individualism had negatively impacted the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic and social distancing measures. As an Albertan, I would say the myth of hyper-individualism continues to impact our effectiveness in stemming the covid tied, but also in our ability to destroy public institutions that aid the common good such as public education and health care.

How does Sacks get us to these ponderances? He takes us through the history as noted. He lays out the philosophers, sociologists, and anthropologists. As well he explores the role religion plays in morality, but also what it means and how religions’ has been used to shape societal understanding. At the example level out of the Hebrew Bible he touches on the story of Korach in the book of Numbers, more broadley, he also looks at the Reformation and the shift away from works in Christendom to a Pauline individual grace. This begins the slide slowly, which has accelerated in recent years with the addition of social media and the internet to not only connect us 24-7-365, but let’s be honest, to make it easier to share false information more rapidly before fact checking can disprove, and as such, the falsity takes root in some as the truth.

That is even before we explore (as I have written about many times) the algorithms that aid in keeping us in a an echo chamber of our own belief systems. This is the piece that explored what it means to have an ethical market. But to combine those thought processes, as the trust level of politicians continues to devolve, what is our role of citizens in accountability with this? Do we demand and expect a higher level of character within those seeking office? Are we working to end it as the drive of personal ambition, power and money? It has been a steady shift from 2005 forward in Canada within our political landscape, as the hyper-vigilance towards individualism and privatization of crown corporations and government responsibilities continues to march forward. The concept of collective or common good, public service (regardless of whether we trusted the policies) to serve citizens being the goal and calling.

This is but one snap shot for reflection.

As we look at a moment in time when we can continue into the fallacy of “I” (how independent are we? Building our own cars? Pouring our own roads? Growing our own food? Refining our own oil? And no, this is literally asking about in your own home are you able to do all this?). How did you get where you are today? What pieces were at play in the interdependence of community? How is your purpose cultivated? What is belonging and identity? How does it happen in the vacuum of “I”?

What it doesn’t? It happens in the labyrinth of “WE” and yes you are correct.

So how, do we, move forward in creating a new reality as we emerge from c-tine…

How do we as a household live into we? As a collection of households known as a community live into we? As a collection of communities that make up a city or county live into we? As a collection of cities or counties that make up a country live into we?*

And as we live into we—how does that change the character, passions and skills we look for in our elected representatives? Those that are servant leaders of our communities?

Are you ready to answer the call out of I to We?

*The narrative on household to country came from my friend John, rewriting community narrative, he shared it over coffee and had to adapt it to this post.


I was attempting to not have to do the whole re-education cycle of why plastic straws matter. Historically they were created for safe use in medical settings for patients, and for many with disabilities it is why they do not require feeding tubes. During the pandemic, single use plastics have been a literal life saver (hence why the Canadian Government is holding off until the end of 2021 to institute the ban).

With the announcement has brought forth the same ableism I addressed many times on this page (and my own social media), when the City of Calgary was exploring such a ban. There are a few key points to consider on the single use plastic ban, that I want to ruminate on before actually tackling the straw.

First up, is the plastic bag. Yes, they seem easy and that not much impact will be had. In Calgary, Calgary Co-op has switched to a compostable bag, Sobey’s-Safeway has paper bags, and every other store as an alternative has re-usable bag (starting at $1-$20 at more bougie locales).

Here are some things not considered. The increased use of paper- have you ever seen what paper plants are like? What about recycling it? Now many will scream – Hemp- and I am with you on that one. BUT, and this is a big “b”, where in Canada are stores using hemp paper products? How wide spread is it? Will we see that shift or are we just trading one impracticality on the environment for another (and yes paper straw (the most useless device ever) advocates I am looking at you as well)- much like in the 1980’s when environmental populists caused fast food restaurants to shift from containers that could be used in fertilizer to an unrecyclable paper product (know and learn from history).

Also the cost of reusable bags create an undue hardship upon many Canadians and households (it is a certain socio-economic bracket solution). I have also reached out to many jurisdictions that have banned about the impact on food banks without these bags to use, and no one has ever looked it (or would not answer) the impact on those in need. Plus, many will have the bag do double duty for garbage or their baby’s diapers (which yes the compostable option or a hemp paper still allows for, same with the food banks). We as a society just cannot trust that corporate Canada will do what is best for the consumer, and not the profit line.

Now onto the straws. I like in a province where UCP populism has been tapped, where former Reform Party leader, and son of a former premier, Preston Manning has warned against tapping this vein for the path it can take you down and all you are left with is anger and hate. What is also does, like environmental populism is create an echo chamber of re-enforcement, and seeing it as okay to attack programs to support those with disabilities as they have little human capital. I see a connection with environmental populism here, and their ableism in ignoring the need for the plastic straw, and unwillingness to explore creation of a product that meets both needs. Or to be more blunt– just listen to those it impacts, and create dialogue, held space, and let them lead the solution finding phase.

See for many in the disabilities community as I opened up with it ticks all the boxes for physical safety they need and independence. Also it is socio-economically viable, compared to the cost of the many re-usable options they are pelted with. They do not have to worry about the straw being sanitary, as lack of support staff (or funding for such), dexterity, or dropped cleaning implement (or sadly, socio-economics) can all create barriers for usage even with not touching on things such as teeth breaking, harm to mouth, jaw, choking, etc from other variants.

Yet, we are to hold that it is up to the one in need to find the solution, and to accept the solutions being pelted. If not, then it is simply being seen as obstinate or not wanting to work for a solution.

Nope.

It is simpler than that.

See the full humanity of the other person. What that person needs to thrive and enjoy life.

Then enter into conversation as equals about any changes that are plausible and possible.

Without that,

it is just another form of oppression being driven by populism- regardless if it is political or social justice, an empty, inhumane echo-chamber.

Let’s move forward together, as one community, seeing neighbour as full people instead, eh?

Other articles on/around this topic from me:

https://tyragan.wordpress.com/tag/plastic-straw-ban/

https://tyragan.wordpress.com/2018/07/07/people-need-straws-calgary-sun-7-7-18/

https://tyragan.wordpress.com/2018/07/07/foot-in-door-technique/