Wednesday, May 30, 2012

In praise of Stormy Rich

I don't often pay attention to, let alone blog about, things going on in the popular media, but this story grabbed me on an emotional level and refused to let go.

A teenage, straight-As student, is branded a bully and barred from the school bus for daring to stand up for a special needs child who was being bullied.

Note, this was not a thoughtless, impulsive reaction, but someone who acted after months of watching a helpless student get bullied, and after repeated calls to the bus driver and the school authorities to do something.

The story can be found here, and on many other news outlets.

Now, I've seen some of the official responses, and claims that we can't judge because we are only hearing one side of the story.

What I have seen is a brave teenager clearly distraught at what she has seen, who went well out of her way to alert the proper authorities before resorting to talking to the bullies herself.

What I have seen are pretty lame excuses by the school authorities. So, they didn't receive a complaint in person from a special needs child who was incapable of being aware that she was being bullied. Does that make it OK?

What I notably haven't seen, amidst all the limp-wristed official bluster, is:
(a) Any rebuttal of the claims that Stormy made repeated complaints on behalf of the bullied child. So, presumably they did indeed receive the complaints.
(b) Any explanation of why they refused to take action on any of those complaints.

...Especially when they were so darned quick to act on the complaints leveled by the cowardly bullies themselves.

It steams me up when those in authority pay more attention to the "rights" of wrongdoers than to those of victims or people doing the right thing.

I may never have all the facts, but I can see well enough which side is the more credible.

Well done, Stormy.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Kreativ Blogger

I've been tagged by fellow writer, Teresa Cypher, over at Dreamers, Lovers, and Star Voyagers.

According to the Kreativ Blogger rules, I need to:
1. Thank the blogger who nominated me for the award, and provide a link back to their blog.
2. List 7 things about myself that the readers might find interesting.
3. Tag 7 other bloggers, providing links to their blogs, and letting them know.

So, thank you again, Teresa.

Now, seven random things about me. The interest factor you'll have to judge for yourself:

1. I enjoy building things. I built a tree fort, a tire swing, and a pirate ship in the back yard.

2. I can't tolerate the skin that forms on custard or hot milky drinks. The texture just creeps me out big time.

3. I have drawn and painted from the moment I could hold a pencil, but I only started writing a few years ago.

4. I am highly introverted, don't do well in crowds or parties, yet I love performing to an audience. After overcoming my initial terror of public speaking many years ago, I enjoy making presentations or facilitating meetings.

5. My wife and I got married in our living room, and did our own catering for a family reception on our lawn.

6. I have trouble picking a favorite anything - color, food, movie. I have many favorites of each, but they each become favorite in turn depending on mood and context, so to pick one over another would not seem right. It's like asking an astronomer which is the brightest star in the sky ... are you talking about visible light? Infra red? Radio? Gamma? The answer depends on the filter you apply.

7. I have just become a Canadian citizen ... in case you didn't know :)

Now to pass on the award to seven new victims:

Jean Davis, at Discarded Darlings. As well as being an inventive writer, Jean is amazingly creative and finds energy for all sorts of nifty craft projects.

Unikorna, at Why I Wake Up Every Day. A passionate lady with a stunningly visual blog and a no-nonsense attitude to life.

Gary, at Klahanie. Funny and irreverent, with whole families of wee folk inhabiting the bottom of his garden.

Katie, at Creepy Query Girl. Many highly creative ways to look at the writing process, with a refreshing hint of randomness thrown in.

Mynx, at Lizard Happy. Funny and artistic and is about to embark on the 30 Days of Creativity challenge. Pop over and wish her luck.

Lily Tequila, at Wishbone Soup Cures Everything. Has a way of describing the most mundane things in a way that brings them new life and new perspectives.

Super Earthling. The epitome of blogging creativity. 'Nuff said.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Canadian at last

I'm afraid I've been out of circulation for the best part of a week. We went camping for the long weekend (Victoria Day here in BC), which involved getting the trailer packed and ready beforehand, and unloaded afterwards, and ...

Oh yes, mixed up in there somewhere ...

Seven-and-a-half years after landing in Canada as permanent residents, and twenty-one months after submitting our citizenship application ...

We are finally proud to be full Canadian citizens.

Our ceremony was held on the naval base just outside Victoria.

The sun shone - almost too much, in fact, because by the end of the afternoon we all found ourselves suffering the effects of hours without shade. Despite that, though, the ceremony was enjoyable and moving.

There were some introductory speeches, then the important part - the oath. There were 58 of us altogether becoming new citizens. We stood up row by row, and we each had to announce our name. The children didn't have to take part, as they are still under age, but I was so proud when Matthew and Megan called their full names out, loud and clear. We all then had to recite the oath as a group. Immigration officials are very serious about this part - you must be seen to say the words otherwise you blow it.

Afterwards, there was a large and delicious cake to cut ... with a large sword and a little help ...

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The human face of bureaucracy

My family and I are about to become Canadian citizens, the final stage of which involves a ceremony where we take the oath of citizenship later this week. This is exciting for us, because the whole process has taken nearly two years, lots of paperwork, and a test last month.

Today I got a phone call at work. 

Immigration Canada.

My immediate reaction was a sinking feeling...something wrong with our paperwork...ceremony postponed...maybe the reply we'd sent to the invitation had got lost in the mail and missed the deadline...

But no, nothing like that. The official was simply asking if we were planning to stay for the reception after the ceremony, and if our children would like to take part in a cake-cutting ceremony.

What a lovely touch.

Although much bureaucracy here seems to work at a slow pace, it does get the job done, and every once in a while we get surprised by a very human touch to remind us that we are dealing with people who also recognize us as people. This isn't something I usually associate with government officials, but I'm happy to be living somewhere where I can be surprised like this.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Citizens first

I'll probably question the wisdom of this later, because after an afternoon in the sun, a barbecue, and a bottle of wine, this post is likely to be rather more random than the subject matter deserves.

But, here goes...

After my last post, I thought about some of the comments. There's a lot more meat to be picked from this particular bone in future posts, but right now I decided to ramble a bit about what I mean by "Citizens first" - what it is, and what it isn't.

First off, a few things it's not.

This is not a rant against the evils of money. I actually think money is a great invention, and essential to getting us beyond simple bartering. It is a sophisticated way of allowing us individuals to specialize in what we're good at, and to exchange what we can offer for what we need. Without it, we would not have access to the bewildering range of products and services that we have come to enjoy.

This is not a rant against greed and corruption. They will always be with us. It is part of human nature. No. This is a rant against the social, political, and economic structures that allow greed and corruption to flourish. That is a very different prospect. You have little chance of stopping people from acting selfishly, but I think you have a very real chance of arranging things so that self interest aligns with the public good.

Finally, I saw the word "politics" in the comments, and thought to myself "this is not political". However, I have to retract that somewhat. Sure, this is not about conventional politics. It is not promoting socialism or decrying capitalism. Forget the "isms". However, as this touches on government and power, I guess that does make it political.

So what do I mean by "Citizens first"?

This is a dream. A dream that we can escape from the self-serving madness that the world has become. Where we are driven to exploit the planet at unsustainable levels, not because it makes any sense, but because it yields the biggest profits. Where things are produced deliberately to degrade and need replacing because that helps sell new products, whether they are needed or not. Where our leaders are not necessarily those who will make the best choices for us, but those with the best funding, connections, and sheer ambition to win the election race.

This is a dream, but more specifically this is about some concrete and - I think - achievable ways forward. This is about manipulating our web of interactions so that the ordinary citizen is considered the most important player. This is about devising new sets of rules and rewards to incent beneficial, rather than harmful, behavior.

Back to the "Nots"...this is not wishy-washy idealism, as in - if we can all just agree to get along, then everything will be hunky dory. I don't believe that. And that is not cynicism, it's realism.

This is a call for people to take concrete action, beginning with research and understanding of how people and organizations function. It is a call to find ways to motivate people so that their actions serve themselves by helping others, rather than at the expense of others.

I don't pretend that these thoughts will have universal appeal. Not everyone will agree.

Putting the ordinary person back front and centre of society is a choice, not a given.

If you are greedy or uncaring then you will not like this direction. But if you have half a heart for your friends, your neighbors, and your children, then you might agree that enough is enough.

The question is...are there enough of you out there to wrest your world from the hands of the greedy and corrupt few?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Let's put citizens back in the frame

A few days ago, I read a heartfelt post by Katie at Creepy Query Girl, about the results of the elections in France, and worries about what this might mean for the future.

It got me to thinking. Whoops! Dangerous!

Now, I'm not going to start pitting one political ideology against another, nor am I proposing capitalism over socialism or any other "ism", and I'm certainly not qualified to talk about the prospects for France sinking into the self-destructive turmoil that's consuming Greece.

My topic is about why there is such fear underlying so many aspects of our lives. Why, for example, do so many Americans live in such fear of anything that smacks of socialism? Why do we, the "little people", feel so threatened by governments, by multinational corporations, by religions, by all these out-of-control organizations that are, when all is said and done, nothing more than collections of other individuals?

And what prompted the Wall Street Protests last year?

This is back to a line of thought I've ranted about before, but not explored in any systematic way.

My premise is simple: Early human societies developed to benefit their members. Our institutions have grown so complex that they have lost touch with this purpose. Nowadays, they seem to serve practically everyone and everything but the ordinary citizen.

Politicians and governments live to gain and stay in power. Political parties also put ideology ahead of welfare. This is dangerous, no matter what the ideology. Unthinking dogmatic socialism is just as dangerous and discredited as unfettered capitalism.

Companies exist to push their products and make profits, and to hell with the man in the street.

Even organizations we look to to safeguard our welfare are pressed by ulterior motives. Healthcare, for example, tends to be more interested in pushing drugs and procedures and cutting waiting lists than in actual, ummm, health.

The solution is equally simple to state: Put citizen's back in the frame as majority beneficiaries in our own society.

Simple to state. Finding a workable path to that goal is less so.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

More rays of sunshine

I talked here and here about winning some lovely prints over on Jenny Pearson's blog in the lead-up to the A to Z Challenge, and taking them in to be framed. It's been a while, but I finally collected them today.

Rather than arm-wrestle Ali over whose office they will go in (she'd win, anyway) we decided they needed to go somewhere more accessible, so here they are, hung in the kitchen.

Also, this week we heard that we've passed out citizenship test and have been invited to take the oath of citizenship later this month. Yay!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...