Tag Archives: justice

the lies we buy

greatness

greatness awaits.

that’s the new catch phrase being used by sony playstation to promote their new gaming console. a series of scenes showing men  in medieval times battling each other with swords and battle axes, racing fast cars and leading futuristic armies against one another make up the bulk of the commercial. the men sing the late lou reed’s ‘a perfect day’ as they do all this, adding a bit of humour while alluding to the ‘connectedness’ of the on-line gaming culture.

i get it. its smart advertising on sony’s part. men have a natural inclination towards exploring and conquering. it seems to be in our genes. so in one fell swoop, sony was able to portray a product that enables its users to explore new worlds, save humanity from an alien invasion and score the winning goal in fifa world cup.  and you can do it all in one afternoon with your buddies, if you like.

smart.

i don’t want to critique video games or even the people who play them, though i must admit that’s my first inclination. i used to play video games when i was younger so i’d only be a hypocrite if i took that approach. i’d prefer to critique the motto driving this current product – greatness awaits.

video games used to be for kids and youth. today, the demographic has shifted to men in their 20’s, 30’s and 40’s. with the demographic shift has come a shift in content for games. video game companies focus more on marketing to the older crowd using war, racing and sports.

again, i get it. it’s smart to go after this demographic since they have both the money and time to invest.

smart business.

what gets me is that men are more willing to spend their hard-earned money on, invest their precious time in and build community around/within video games when real greatness awaits them outside of all this.

i agree with sony that “greatness awaits”, but i disagree where we will find it.

i like the quote by martin luther king, jr where he says, “not everybody can be famous but everybody can be great, because greatness is determined by service.”   instead of entertaining ourselves with great things, shouldn’t we be employing our gifts, talents and resources in great service to those that need them?
issues to give your gifts, talents and resources to:

a growing movement of people are standing up against all the forms of slavery in our world, but more are needed.  human rights groups estimate that anywhere between 12.3 million and 27 million people are enslaved in forced or bonded labour, child labour, sexual servitude, and involuntary servitude at any given time.

world hunger and poverty still needs a lot of hands on deck. the united nations food and agriculture organization estimates that nearly 870 million people of the 7.1 billion people in the world, or one in eight, were suffering from chronic undernourishment in 2010-2012. almost half the world — over three billion people — live on less than $2.50 a day.

how much does a video game console cost? this latest sony product is pushing $1000.

there is still a large need for big brothers or sisters everywhere. many youth are growing up without any positive role models to help them navigate their lives – education, employment, health, drugs, etc. mentoring can go a long way in the life of a child.

i could also mention the unnecessary wars being fought with corporate profits and not people in mind, or the environmental degradation and exploitation happening all over the globe, or the racism, sexism and prejudice that need people actively working against.

but these things don’t get the sexy commercials and airtime that sony money can buy.

great things do await us, but i don’t think it’s found in the escapism of video games (or any other things – alcohol, sports, tv, politics – we use for escapism) but involvement in the real issues that affect the communities we live in, the countries we inhabit and the world we must leave to our great-grandchildren.

true greatness awaits us, if we choose to pursue and sacrifice for it.

/rantover

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united as one

as much as i enjoy blogging, i love reading other people’s blogs and seeing their creative ways with words.  there are some very talented writers who fly under the radar without many readers or pub.  it’s a shame.

one talented writer i enjoy reading goes by the name Earthy Monk.  his about section reads as follows:

‘The Earthy Monk is a space for musing on God, messy grace, lavish mercy, authentic healing, wild hope, deep compassion, and social justice.’

check him out here if these things tickle your fancy.

this isn’t intended to be a plug my fellow writer as much as a segue to what i want to share with you.

Earthy Monk recently posted a quote found on the back of a t-shirt worn by a youth in washington, dc.

so far i can’t find the t-shirt online.  drats!  i might have to end making one myself.

*****

I am a Hero…no tights, no funny cape, just a Power greater than this world knows.

I was born with a Purpose.

My mission is before me: to seek Justice, to strive for Peace, to stand for Truth, to comfort the Afflicted, to defend the Powerless.  I strive for wholeness. I thirst for righteousness. I walk through darkness but I fear no evil for my glory is not my own and my strength comes from One Who is greater than me.

The world’s powers may be against me, but I am not alone. I am one among many, we are united as one!

Will YOU join us?

*****

want me to make you one too?

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waiting for what?

‘time heals all wounds’.

how many times have you heard that said?

its one of those timeless clichés that gets repeated so often little thought is actually spent considering the veracity of it.

i, for one, dont believe time has the healing properties this old adage so proudly claims. in fact, i would go so far as to say that this old saying can cause much more harm than good.

martin luther king jr. day just passed a few days ago. like most of you who also live part of your life in the social media realm, i was taken in by a few good quotes and articles about mr. king and the battle he and many others like him fought for equality. it was after reading through a few of these articles dedicated to mr. king that this idea of time healing all wounds came to the surface.

let me explain.

martin luther king was an exceptional man who trumpeted an exceptional cause – racial equality. unwilling to simply stand on the sidelines, him and others forced their way into the public spotlight demanding something be done. marches, protests, civil disobedience.

the establishment wasnt happy.

so voices from the government officials, church leaders and even leaders within their own camp pushed back and said – just wait. they were told to ‘be patient’ and allow the courts to decide what would be best for society. the courts would come to the right decision. the courts always come to the right decision, right?

right..??

‘never forget that everything hitler did in germany was legal.’ – martin luther king

theres much that can be said about this statement that i have not the time nor the desire to write at this moment. quotes by or about hitler always have the ability to open a bigger can of worms than intended so ill tread lightly here. what i believe mr. king was implying here, which speaks so relevantly to his situation then (and ours today?), was that courts have not always been a friend of the people. in fact, as mr. king points out, the courts have, at times, been responsible for the peoples basic human rights being taken and held away from them.

just wait. allow for more time. time heals all wounds.

they told him and others that they shouldnt march and protest in the streets. that was bad manners. disobeying the government is not what good citizens do. fall in line, repeat the creed and shut up.

thankfully for all of us, mlk and others didnt shut up and kept right on protesting and marching, government be damned. thankfully, mr. king and other freedom fighters didnt buy into the old adage ‘time heals all wounds’, and kept pushing for the justice they and others rightfully deserved.

time is neutral. it doesnt innately possess the powers to heal wounds. its what we do with that time that matters. if we use it for good, good things can come from it. if we use it for bad, bad things can come from it. if we blindly accept that time can heal our wounds, we are giving up our choice and right to do something about it. time will not bring about justice. WE will bring about justice.

let us not forget that.

timeheals

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giving up to gain

there wasnt much to do when i arrived at hope cottage on friday morning.  soup was on the burner warming up, coffee and tea were brewing in their respective pots, and sandwiches had all been made up for the day.  brian make quick work of the morning routine.  i found him at the back of the dining room hall nose-deep in his new book, the hunger games when i came in.  we exchanged a nod and a friendly morning grunt.  yes, we grunt when we see one another.

primitives, we are.

morning meal didnt draw much of a crowd.  gst cheques came in on thursday.  tim came into help serve and we got talking about life.  tim is only a couple of years older than i but with his grey beard seems about 20 years my senior.  i dont tell him that though.  its too soon in our knowing one another to tease about silly things like that.  tim limps a bit when he walks because of an old injury and serves coffee and tea with a giant smile on his face.

thanks for all you do, tim.

after breakfast, andrew asked me if i was interested in making soup.  having never made soup before i decided to take him up on the offer.  but first, lunch.  eggs, chorizo sausages and toast with a glass of orange juice.

mmm.

what looked and seemed like a great combination turned into anything but.  a collective belly ache came over the three of us (terry, our director joined us).  it made for an uncomfortable early afternoon.

never.  having.  that.  combo.  again!

on to soup making.

andrew got me to do most of the work.  something about learning better from doing.  sure, sure, lazy boy (kidding).  he lead me through the process.  boiling the chickens, tearing off all the meat, dicing up the meat, adding spices, veggies and rice, and voila!  chicken rice soup.
ill have to see how the crowd likes it on monday morning.  if any get sick im blaming it on andrew though.  thats legit, right?

in the midst of making soup, andrew and i got to talking about homelessness and poverty in our city.  what i learned was valuable.

a few years back, andrew went on a missions trip to the ukraine.  while there he witnessed what he described to me as the worst imaginable poverty.  it rocked his world and changed his perspectives.  upon returning back home, he felt some personal changes were in order.  he told me he felt a calling from God to give more of himself to the local poor and homeless community in halifax. unfortunately, working two jobs didnt afford him much time to do much of anything. so he did what any reasonable person would do – he quit his jobs.

with ample free time on his hands he devoted himself to volunteering at hope cottage, serving food and helping with whatever he could.  he loved it.  it filled a need in the community while also filling a hole in his heart.  that hole in all our hearts that can only be filled when we love our neighbor as ourself.

shortly after volunteering at hope andrew was asked if he wanted to be hired on as a member of the fulltime staff.  his desire to gives himself more to the local poor and homeless community lead to a completely different career. what a great example of what it looks like to really trust God with ones life; to step out in faith and sacrifice your comfort for some thing much larger than yourself.

inspiring to say the very least.

andrew is just another guy trying to follow Jesus the best he can.  im darn glad we are friends.

“human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable. every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.” -mlk

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not just a native issue

some people woke up early on saturday morning because they didnt want to waste their last day on earth.  december 21st, 2012 finally arrived.  while i cant say i shared the same mind-set as those doomsdayers, i hit the alarm button on my phone earlier than normal saturday morning.  we didnt want to be left without a good seat.  a press conference for the idle no more campaign/movement was being held in downtown halifax, at the same time hundreds of other demonstrations were being staged across the country.  it seems the latest political maneuvering by the harper government has awoken a sleeping giant.

a bit of background:

bill c-45 is a giant 400-page omnibus bill that has been forced into law by the conservative government of canada.  while the canadian public was told the bill was specifically a budget bill, it became clear that the harper government’s bill was even more keen on repealing legislation, changing laws, ‘handling’ first nations issues and repealing environmental acts.  despite hundreds of amendments introduced by opposition parties, the bill passed untouched.

so much for democracy.

the gutting of the protections offered by the navigable waters protection act is a pretty serious change.  hundreds of thousands of lakes and tens of thousands of rivers are now no longer protected federally. 97 lakes and 62 rivers will be covered by the new act — less than one percent of canada’s waterways. here in nova scotia, 3 lakes remain protected.  in a province that has more than 5400 lakes, that is quite alarming, to say the least.

first nations land, once under the authority of first nations governments (and rightly so!), has also come under threat with the introduction of bill c-45.  the bill gives the government a significant amount of control over first nations reserve land.  this means that when the government wants to send pipelines through first nations territory (see  enbridge’s proposed Northern Gateway pipeline) they would have little trouble doing so.

corporate profits before people.  where have we heard this before?

what may be most alarming about this bill is the unconstitutional nature of it and its blatant disregard for articles in the united nations declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples. a statement found on the idlenomore.com website:

‘the unilateral imposition of these bills is in direct violation of the treaties and the treaty relationship that the original peoples of turtle island made with the british crown. indigenous peoples and nations have not been consulted and therefore, the actions taken by the federal government does not reflect the international standard of free prior and informed consent.’

these actions by the harper government are illegal.

in the un declaration on rights of indigenous peoples, article 18 states:

Indigenous peoples have the right to participate in decision-making in matters which would affect their rights, through representatives chosen by themselves in accordance with their own procedures, as well as to maintain and develop their own indigenous decision- making institutions.

the canadian government is once again showing the world that it has little regard for what the international community has laid out as appropriate treatment and behavior towards its indigenous populations.

as a proud mi’kmaw man, i stand shoulder to shoulder with the idle no more movement and refuse to allow this present government to continue their deplorable actions against my people and my beautiful country.

its on, harper.

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the big OK

the ‘hope’ in hope cottage is fitting.

the area surrounding hope cottage houses a lot of people who live under the poverty line.  there are two men’s homeless shelters about 5 minute walk away.  theres a womens shelter four doors down and another one 10 minutes away.  several small and large public housing buildings dot the urban landscape.  the public row housing and duplex units are all around the cottage.

we have a policy that we only serve meals to adults.  any kids younger than 19 cant eat at the cottage.  when i asked eddie what that was, i was told it was to protect them.  there are known convicted child molesters living in the area who come to the cottage for food.  kids can get sandwiches to go but they cant stay and eat.  i understand why but its still something thats hard for me to swallow.  why should convicted child molesters get precedence over the kids in the community?  i guess if you dont know all the possible offenders then its better to air on the side of caution.
understood.

a lot of addicts come for breakfast and dinner daily.  alcohol, crack, opiates – most people fall into one or a couple of these addictions.  escaping reality and filling the addiction become the invisible shackles and chains.

invisible slavery.

im not using that word as a hyperbole either.  i mean literal slavery defined as ‘the condition of being subject or addicted to a specified influence.’

it kills me to see what some people will do to themselves and others to fill their addictions and appease their slave owners (drugs).  im sure you are no different.  most of us have had to deal with a friend or family member who had a destructive addiction.  theres a certain helplessness that comes from seeing them destroy themselves..

after talking with some other community stake holders, i came up with an idea.  its nothing original or mind-boggling but i think its some thing desperately needed in this community.  the idea is a grass-roots recovery program for addicts.  redeemed and recovered addicts helping current addicts gain the freedom they need to live their lives more abundantly and productively.

eddie, one of the main guys at hope cottage, is a recovered addict after spending a considerable amount of his life battling substance abuse.  after failed attempts at sobriety eddie explained to me that God came to his rescue.  the physical solutions couldnt fix what was a spiritual problem.

the same thing happened with my uncle, peter.  addictions, too, had plagued him and caused him to spiral out of control and make life decisions that were destructive.  God showed up to him in a powerful way and delivered him from his slavery to substance abuse as well.

both these men call the north end of halifax home and they both have a huge heart for the addicts in their community.

the director of the cottage just gave us the big OK to start a recovery group in the new year.  with the leading of God and behind the incredible testimonies of redemption from eddie and peter, i think this is going to be a powerful opportunity to see restorative justice done in our city.

all prayers and well wishes welcomed 🙂

thumbs-up

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slow down

things have been  pretty slow at hope lately.  we havent been seeing as many guests come in for meals as we normally do.  part of it is to be expected considering social assistance cheques came out last wednesday.  from my years of experience working on the front lines, a large portion of the street community disappears for a few days or a week after welfare cheques are issued.

it speaks to a few things:

one, drug addiction has many people in slavery.  we may not see the shackles and chains but they are there all the same.  its not all the typical street drugs you are probably thinking about, ie. crack, heroine, speed, meth, marijuana.  the number one addiction among the people i work with is that to prescription drugs/pharmaceuticals.

wasnt what you were expecting was it?

heres what gets my goat..

people get hurt and go to the doctor.  the hurt is causing the person to be in a significant amount of pain.  the doctor prescribes them a narcotic painkiller to help with the symptom – pain.  the person gets addicted to the ‘medicine’ and when they attempt to come off of it, the terrible pain convinces them to go back on it.

they are trapped.

i experienced a bit of that after my second knee surgery.  the ‘medicine’ i was taking caused my body to become dependant on it and, when i attempted to come off of it, gave me a pain worse than that of my swollen knee.  fortunately for me i had safeguards around me.  i had a mother who knew enough to ask consistently about my usage.  i had a doctor who wasnt in the pocket of drug companies, ie. he didnt push drugs as a remedy but as temporary help.  i also had a coach that would check up on me.

i was fortunate because theres no telling what kind of addiction i could have developed and still be mired in.

theres a lot of people who arent as fortunate.

when the doctors stop administering the drugs, people will find others way to get them.  theres really two choices – theft or street purchases.  digging ones self out of the rabbit hole is a pretty difficult at this point.  paychecks start getting gobbled up by your addiction.  the addiction starts affecting your job and eventually you lose it.  now on social assistance, you have little money to spend on your addiction so you turn to whatever means to make the pain go away.  crime often follows along with police officers, lawyers, judges, jail cells and probation officers.

welcome to the streets.

this is what life looks like for too many people.

addiction doesnt care if youre lazy or motivated, good or bad, educated or uneducated, rich or poor.  it will take you whether your skin color is black, white, purple or green.  addiction doesnt care about your variables.  it cares about being fed.

so for the first couples days after the cheques come out, peoples bellies go empty while their addiction gets to feast.  and feast it does..

now, if we had doctors who werent paid by drug companies to push their drugs more liberally than they would normally be inclined to, would we have as large a problem?  certainly not.  are greedy doctors and drug companies our only problem?  indeed a large one but not the whole picture.

see, i think the larger problem lies with the way the war on drugs is handled.   i believe that retributive justice is counterproductive and harmful to our society, while restorative justice repairs whats been broken. im frustrated with punitive steps to bring about justice.  its mechanical, lifeless and dehumanizing.  does it have a place in society?  yes, it does because some crimes require people spending significant amount of time away from society, ie. murder and sexual assault.  but for the most part, punitive justice does more to harm individuals and communities than help.

what if instead of punishing people harshly through the criminal justice system, we allowed crime control to rest primarily with the community?    what if instead of a person taking punishment for a crime they committed, they took responsibility and action to repair the harm inflicted?    what if instead of punishing community members and thus communities (by extension), we allowed communities to be the facilitators of a restorative justice?

a justice that sought the restoration of all parties involved.  thats the kind of justice that make us whole again.

all of us.

/end of idealistic rant

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