Thoughtful Thursday – Radicalization

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The enemy wants you in a reactive state. They want you to spend so much time putting out fires that you can’t focus. They want you arguing within your group. The more divided you are, the more power they have.

This is an old battle tactic.

Musashi himself used it to anger his opponent. An angry opponent lashes out at the wrong things. The wrong people. Anger causes one to make mistakes. In battle, Musashi never let an opponent see his emotions. He won his first duel at the age of 13 because he was underestimated. His most famous duel, he rudely didn’t show up until 4 hours late. In truth, he was nearby watching as his opponent grew increasingly angry. He brought his enemy to the edge of snapping then swiftly eliminated him.

Below is just a snippet from a larger documentary. The full thing is fascinating if you have time to watch it.

Musashi wasn’t a wealthy samurai. He didn’t spend a lot of time exchanging pleasantries. Many accounts make him seem like an asshole. After defeating the best of the best, he had a bit of an existential crisis and took a break from fighting.

Calm and calculated is what we can learn from Musashi. Strategy. There has been a lot of reaction going on. We need to be in position that is proactive to win. The things they do are designed to make us emotional. Designed to wear us down.

The people always have more power than they realize. It isn’t men like him who run things. What if the water was cut off to his buildings? The electricity? A situation created where sewage backed up all over his golden palace?

There is one of him and many of you.

Only when you are calm inside can you see all the options in front of you. When your emotions run rampant, your ability to think, reason, stay healthy, etc is diminished. This helps your enemy.

Find your calm. That is where your true power is. That is what they are truly afraid of.

Ciao,
R~

Note: I don’t have a source for the above image. If someone wants to let me know who made it, I’ll gladly give credit.

Thoughtful Thursday – Helping Out

I’m revising my stance again on nonviolence. Earlier this week, I wrote a poem for a contest. I was struck with the idea to write about the history of the world in the form of news headlines. Being a person who predominately lives in the present with an eye on the future, I had to research a lot in a very short time. Violence seems to unfortunately be the only way jerks get the message to F off. 

I learned nonviolence was first proposed by the church to control those of different faiths. Then by the British as they warred with everyone multiple times. 

I learned that protests and marches likely won’t be enough. We’ll have to do more and be more. For some, that will mean bleeding. For others, that will mean supporting troops. And some will stay to keep their countries running.

I hate that this is the future I see right now because it is so far from the future I want. 

What does that look like?

Harmony. People uniting regardless of faith, gender, class, etc. Perhaps even the elimination of classes altogether. A world where respect is paramount. Where everyone has access to the things they need and want so long as another isn’t harmed. To some degree it might not be possible as the act of eating, whether meat or vegetable, necessitates the death of something else. 

A world of live and let live.

As a martial artist, now is a time where I feel training is one thing that will help me get through the turmoil one man has caused in the entire world. Martial arts trains the mind, body, and soul if you let it. I’m frustrated that my body resists. That my tendons retaliate against what I want. It will take me longer to get where I want to be.

I can also distract myself with music, language learning, reading, fiction writing, and perhaps a new job. Forcing oneself to disengage will also help weather the storms ahead. 

Self-Care will also be important. In learning to distract oneself, it will help me turn it off and get rest. Eating healthy will ensure my body performs as well as it can. 

Now is a time to figure out what makes sense for you. Maybe the answer is moving away. Maybe it’s enlisting. Maybe it’s working somewhere that supports troops. Maybe it’s reporting the real news. Maybe it’s translating communiques. 

There will be many ways that each of us can help.

Salut,

R~

Morose Monday – Sadness Abounds

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I don’t know what to say.

Why can’t all people see how beautiful diversity is? The ability to think differently is a good thing. Having diverse viewpoints solves problems more completely.

I’ve lived in Canada my entire life. Going on 36 years. I realize that this isn’t long to some, but I’ve never seen such hate. People used to just let others be. Live and let live. There’s a synagogue in my hometown of 50,000 and no one cared about it being there. It was just another church. There were many Christian churches of a variety of faiths (Protestant, Baptist, Anglican, Catholic, Born Again, etc) and everyone just did their thing. Hell, I went to Catholic school despite being the wrong kind of Catholic to take the communion host. There was a whole group of us as my first school decided to become 100% French and they sent those of us from English families to an English school. So during mass, we just sat and respectfully watched everyone else do their thing.

I even remember the first black people that came to live there. There were two families and though I was curious, having never seen one that wasn’t on TV before, I didn’t stare at them because I was taught that it is impolite to stare at someone else for any reason. I also didn’t speak unless spoken to. My parents are quite old as you might imagine from that particular rule. So I simply delivered their Sears catalogue and went on my way.

It never occurred to me that there were other people that hated others because of superficial things like skin colour or religion. Or that didn’t see them as human. I didn’t know then about the Holocaust, the Crusades, the Inquisition, Salem, etc.

I can’t even recall much violence other than bullies before high school. It was junior high that the drug dealers came, but most only dealt marijuana. Having worked at the police station there, I know there wasn’t a lot of violence happening despite having members of various gangs in the community. The cells usually either had people that were off their medication and causing disturbances, or 19 years olds that couldn’t handle their liquor. During my 4 years working there, only two murderers were ever held there and one was from another city.

So I can’t understand the need to kill another person, except for a dictator to free his people or someone who is actively trying to kill me.

People praying in mosques are not harming anyone. Neither are people praying in churches, synagogues, temples, groves, etc.

The only thing that needs killing is hate.

Salut,
R~

Fortifying Friday – My Stance on Violence

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Image from quotationof.com

Today, I feel like I just want to be a kid and let an adult take care of the mess. But I can’t do this. I’m the adult. So I started the day with dishes. I hate dishes and laundry the most of all house chores. They’re never ending like an MMORPG that isn’t fun, but is only a grindfest.

Lately, I’ve been struggling a lot as my newsfeed fills with disturbing information pertaining to Trump’s America. I know I’m not the only one.

I’ve been struggling to find words at all for this, let alone the right ones. I’m unsure if I’ve found them or not, but I’m trying.

Largely, I’m a believer in peace. I believe life is precious. Maybe because my mother was told to abort me. Maybe because during my childhood, I attended my first funeral at age six and nearly every year after that I lost another family member and sometimes more than one. I’ve experienced the deaths of friends who should’ve had many more years as well. I’ve witnessed bloody disputes in high school and at parties. I’m talking heads cracked open, blood dripping on the school floor, kind of violence.

I understand fighting back. I understand the need. Even more so after reading this. But everytime I’ve fought back in a violent way, injuring another person has filled me with emotional pain. This is not me telling anyone else not to use violence. I’m simply stating how it makes me feel to do so.

A friend suggested to me that no one actually supports mobs singling out a man, beating him, and stealing his car. That no one supports trashing a home and setting children’s beds on fire. Or other such acts. I hope that’s true because the alternative scares me.

All of the different protests are more complicated for me as I have friends on both sides of the debates, though I don’t *think* I am actually friends with any Trump supporters.

On Black Lives Matter

Here’s a place where I have difficulty. I worked at a police station early on in my career. Yes, I know many cops are huge fucking assholes. But there are good ones too that I would hate to see harmed. My friend’s dad is a police officer. I don’t want anything to happen to him either.

I have many friends on the other side as well. I don’t want them harmed either.

I can’t fully pick either side because it is asking me to potentially choose the death of someone I love.

On Women’s Health

I’m a woman. I have both benefited from and been harmed by birth control. If not for birth control, I might have a 17-year-old right now with someone who I don’t believe will ever make a good parent. I might never have gotten my degree. I might never have left an abuser had we had children either.

There is a vast number of women, including myself, who have also had a lot of trouble with birth control. It tends to magnify depression and mental health symptoms for some. I haven’t found a pill or patch that hasn’t been a problem for me. The shot was good in terms of not affecting my mental health, but I kept bleeding on it and not with any kind of regular schedule.

For some, birth control is necessary to treat things like endometriosis, which I hear is often exceedingly painful. While, I don’t believe abortion should be a default method of birth control, I do believe it needs to be an option. Given my current age and that I was supposed to be aborted, I don’t feel it an option I would pursue unless I was either raped or it was medically necessary.

The fact that they think women don’t need vaginal checkups after the babies are done being born is so idiotic that I can’t even.

The fact that men want to legislate this is ludicrous. Especially since they haven’t a clue what women face in pregnancy or throughout our lives. The fact that their wives are still with them is even more ridiculous. I bet they’ll be happy to pay for an abortion when they knock their mistresses up.

On Trump’s America

A lot of people are experiencing hardships. This is what I believe got Mr. Pumpkin Head elected. Trying to tell someone who is having trouble eating and paying bills that their experience is wrong because statistically their part of the country is better off doesn’t help them put food on the table or keep shelter over their heads. Facts are very important, but what people perceive as their reality is important too. Pain isn’t diminished by numbers in a spreadsheet. Voting in someone who plans to fix it is what rational people do in a democracy. Yes, we even do this knowing they might be lying. Every election is a gamble to a degree.

The first time Stephen Harper was elected in Canada, I was one of the people who voted for him. It was the first time I had ever voted Conservative. I did so for two main reasons. While in university taking a business degree, I took several economics courses. Harper’s platform seemed economically sound. The other reason? I was married to a man who worked for a department of defense contractor and really wanted him to keep his job, so we could keep our home and put food on the table. I wasn’t deliberately trying to fuck over anyone else. I didn’t vote for him the second time he was elected.

What I’m trying to say is that I don’t believe the only people who voted for Trump were racist, sexist, homophobic assholes. There were definitely a number of those people, but there were also regular people who believed Trump would help him. Yes, they were duped. I know a lot of us, especially those not in the thick of it, wonder how the hell the Americans didn’t see him for who he is.

If you’ve been through an abusive relationship, maybe you see exactly how it happened. Abusers typically seem like wonderful human beings. They’re charming, friendly, and great to be around. They do good work and may even be active in the community and very generous to charities. At home, they are monsters.

I don’t feel bad admitting that I thought Trump may have just been playing a sick game. That his platform seemed too farcical to get him elected. I even thought perhaps he was just saying whatever he needed to in order to get elected. I didn’t really think he was Hitler 2.0.

I am scared that more people are going to die. I’m scared they will be people I love. While I know they will have died fighting for something they believe in and that it is an immensely worthy cause, it won’t take away the pain that their death will bring. I don’t want to think of a loved one’s bloody, broken, and lifeless body lying in a street somewhere. I don’t want to think of their children trying to make sense of it all. I’m worried that the cycle of hate and violence won’t be broken because we haven’t found another way that works. I’m worried about them becoming the monsters they are fighting against.

All I want is for people to see how differences are what make the world beautiful.

We have many stories that show this, both real and fictional, yet we always end up in the same place. It feels like the same battle with different actors. As if we’re stuck until we find a way to get it right.

Then there’s the dark side of me that says people like Trump don’t deserve the valuable gift that is life. That they should face a firing squad for being an awful human. But killing all the assholes can’t be the answer either, my heart implores me, because that may have a price that is steeper than weathering The Jack-o’-Lantern judging by all the other unsolved wars on the planet.

So what now? I honestly haven’t a clue beyond continuing the current resistance efforts of sharing the information he doesn’t want out there. And those efforts give me such hope.

  • Scientists continue to solve problems. This week, advancements were made in the fight against Leukemia to the point that a cure may have been found. They’ve also been able to produce a metallic form of hydrogen.
  • People climbed a crane and hung a sign of resistance.
  • Government workers and scientists across the nation are refusing to stop tweeting and putting accurate information out into the world.
  • More marches are being organized. Hell, the apolitical scientists are going to march too!
  • The rest of the globe is proceeding with their efforts in switching to renewable energy and acceptance of all humans no matter race, country of origin, religion, gender, or sexuality.

There are at least three things I can think of that we can do:

  1. Continue making him feel inadequate, incompetent, etc.
  2. Bring those that have admitted their mistake into the fold to help.
  3. Remember to take care of yourself, so you’ll be ready to fight.
  4. If they go for the Internet, go to analog methods. There are many ways to communicate.

Long live the resistance!

Ciao,
R~

Thoughtful Thursday – Cake and Other Bullshit

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There was an article that recently came out where a restaurant claims that they can’t keep their business open because of people bringing their own cake. A shit storm has followed on social media about whether or not it is right to bring any outside food to a restaurant. People on both sides have good points. Some say those with food allergies should be exempt. Others say diners don’t have the right to expect that they can have dessert even if there isn’t something on the menu they can eat. Others say people with food allergies don’t have the right to eat anywhere but their homes (Ignorant much?). Oh, and still more say dessert isn’t necessary, so just go without or eat something when you get home because that’s what they do.

I think it’s absolutely fucking ridiculous that people are wasting their time on this for a number of reasons.

In many non-American countries, they’re happy to have you bring your own cake to restaurants because it lets you enjoy your experience to the fullest at their establishment and ensures repeat business. That was said by a lady from Scotland in one Facebook exchange I participated in until people decided to tell me that I shouldn’t ever eat out at a restaurant. I’m not anaphylactic to anything, so why wouldn’t I? Most chain restaurants don’t care if you do as they don’t make their money on cake. Also, customers usually buy more things like coffee/tea or alcohol. Some restaurants charge a fee, just as they do with wine and it’s often more than a dessert would be, but they let you bring your own cake. Cakeage fees are most commonly around $2 a person, but can be as much as 5 British pounds per person. Many drop the fee if half of your dining party is ordering desserts from them. More on this topic here and here.

But there are better topics to debate such as:

  1. A large percentage of restaurants pay their staff as little as possible and expect tips to provide the money they need to survive instead of their wages. You probably have a friend who struggles to survive regularly. Have them over for a meal? Or hey, you could also join the fight for a $15 minimum wage.
  2. There are homeless people who don’t get to eat regularly. Think of ways to help them. Maybe volunteer at a shelter in your community. In the Ottawa area there is Shepherds of Good Hope, The Ottawa Mission, and Carling Family Shelter, to name a few.
  3. There are children who don’t get regular meals. Think of ways to ensure children aren’t starving in your community. And teens. Places like Ottawa Innercity Ministries help at risk youth. And Youth Services Bureau too.
  4. There are soldiers who died so you could sit around doing nothing productive for your country discussing the pros and cons of cake eating. There are soldiers alive now who can barely afford to live. You can help out at one of the homeless shelters and campaign for mental health funding as many veterans are homeless due to their struggles with PTSD. Instead of just tweeting about mental health for a day, get involved during the other 364 days of the year.
  5. There are aboriginal people who have had poor water conditions longer than those that Flint has been facing. The Wabano Centre is a place in Ottawa that aims to improve the lives of aboriginals, so you could donate to them. You can bombard the Prime Minister’s office with letters to help too. If you’re a plumber, you could do what the plumbers in Michigan are doing and gather your plumber buddies together to fix the plumbing systems on the reserves.
  6. There are people who are beaten regularly because of who they love. Many marriages might be overturned in the coming months. If you see someone being bullied, stand up for them. Increase awareness that LGBTQ+ people are people and they deserve to live freely too.
  7. There are women who are now living in a country with a president who believes it’s open season on their vaginas. Stand up for your female friends whenever an asshole thinks it’s okay to touch her when she doesn’t want to be. Tell your friends to respect women. Help a friend get to the police or a woman’s shelter.
  8. There is a man in control of one of the most powerful nations in the world who might bring about a civil war or WWIII. Okay, this one might be overly alarmist, but still a better topic than cake in restaurants. Keep fighting for the right to live free of hate.

So how about you let other people have their cake and direct your energy to solving a real problem rather than spewing asinine bullshit like, “No one needs to eat dessert. It’s healthier not to eat it.” When you say shit like that, you are projecting your own lifestyle choices on someone else. You might enjoy not having dessert or are looking for some company while you diet, but their reality may be more like an inability to fully participate in an event.

Get off social media and find a real cause to fight for or do anything else really.

Like eat cake. Taste the spongy goodness and lick that icing like your life depends on it.

Ciao,
R~

Thoughtful Thursday – What Next?

Made using Bitmoji

Like many others, it was hard to function yesterday. I’m still upset, but I’ve had more sleep and I’ve read a lot. I’ve also seen a lot on social media, some of which includes things that have yet to be corroborated or have been debunked by sites like Snopes, but I digress.

There will be many challenges ahead. You must have courage to face them. When things seem hopeless, I find what is in my realm of control and do something about those things. This is what keeps me going.

Yesterday, I felt awful. We don’t know yet the full consequences and won’t for some time. What do we know?

We still have to eat, do laundry, and care for loved ones. We still have jobs and bills. The sun still rises.

Your goals may be harder to achieve in some ways. I find breaking goals down into smaller pieces helps me. As an example, my martial arts grading is happening at the end of this month. There are things that can’t be improved before then. I’m just not advanced enough or I’ve picked up some bad habits that I can’t break in time. That’s okay. 

What can I control? I can ensure my sword tip is in the right place by practicing putting my body under it as I move and by keeping the meaning of the kata at the forefront of my mind. I can also show confidence during my grading. I can practice my etiquette repeatedly. I can practice with a timer. I can practice all the kata as much as possible. So I don’t have to worry as much about my outfit looking right, I sewed my juban into my gi:

I can’t control what the future will bring. No matter how much I prepare, the judges are completely within their rights to fail me for just about any reason they can find.

I can control whether I put positivity or negativity out on my blog. 

I can also practice self care by taking myself out of situations that I find too stressful and by eating properly, exercising, learning new things, making new friends, decompressing with a movie, etc.

The world isn’t over. Take one day at a time. 

And when you’re ready, take reasonable actions that make a difference. Attacking the other side just increases hatred and violence. The revolutionaries of the past didn’t make change happen by vandalizing things. They stood up on a bus and said no. 

From QuotationOf.com

Being positive doesn’t mean ignoring reality. Self defense classes may be good for learning to protect yourself and loved ones while helping you deal with the stress of the future.

Art is another good outlet. Writing, painting, drawing, music, leatherwork, jewellery, pottery, rope making, knitting, crocheting, beading, smithing, photography, etc.

Read. Read things to escape. Read things to learn. Read things to figure out how to make it better.

Find others with whom to fight in a way that isn’t filled with arson, violence, and hatred. If someone damaged my car, I wouldn’t think their claims of not being an asshole were valid. The way you do things matters almost as much as the thing you are doing.

And if it gets too bad, seriously consider moving. Think about going to a swing state where you can make a difference in the future. If you do decide that Canada is the place to go, go to a smaller city and open a business. We have job shortages too. Read about places in Canada that need help. If you love snow and can do physical labour, there is an island in the East called Cape Breton that needs people. 

I will leave you with a nice video about things said by an amazing woman named Maya

Ciao,

R~

WTF Wednesday – Deeply Afraid and Deeply Saddened.

Approximately five hours ago, I cried myself to sleep out of fear for what the future holds.

Early this morning, I learned the difference between a Canadian and an American. I know. #notallAmericans

Four years is enough time to do irreparable damage to the world.
I can only hope that many of his election promises won’t be met. I can only hope that somehow, Canada can lend a cup of sugar without being dragged into a war.

To my American friends, I hope no harm comes to you or your loved ones. 

R~