Dear America

I must admit you both mystify me and frighten me. The current administration is especially worrisome. Before I go any further, I must state I am writing the from outside your borders, so I have not extensively studied your history.

As I understand it, the United States was settled by immigrants fleeing tyranny and religious persecution in various parts of Europe. If this is as accurate as I’ve been led to believe, can you explain something please? Why is it you, in the form of your government are trying to prevent people fleeing a similar situation from entering your country? What ever happened to “Give me your poor, your tired, your huddled masses yearning to be free…”? Or does that not have an asterisk after it? Something like *”Provided those masses are white Christians”?

Since January 2017 I’ve noticed something of a paradox in your country. There appears to have been an increase in xenophobia, which is commonly defined as “a fear of foreigners”. This of course could lead to the situation described in the previous paragraph. Yet at the same time your leader seems to have no problem interfering or attempting to interfere in the affairs of other nations through threats of tariffs or other means. America has long considered itself a shining beacon in the world, worthy of being emulated. Unfortunately, in the past almost two years, the current administration has dimmed that beacon and turned that perception into one of bully and laughingstock.

On the level of the individual, I admit I am completely baffled by the way you approach politics. From what I’ve seen, both online and through personal contact, if your parents vote for one particular party, that’s the way you vote. Is this because “what’s good enough for m parents is good enough for me” or did you examine the parties and candidates and make your own decision? My sons were raised to think for themselves and to question things. One result of that is that the politics of my oldest son are nothing like mine. But he’s taken the time to look at candidates and issues and reached his own conclusions. I also cannot fathom the way many of you register as supporters of a particular party.

Another thing I and many of my friends fail to grasp is the chauvinism displayed by many Americans. Yes, we too are proud patriots, but we don’t feel the need to proclaim that by flying our national flag from our homes. National pride is a good thing, but by constantly telling everyone what a great country your have, you actually come across as insecure about that greatness.

Finally, I’ll just come out and admit it: Your President scares the crap out of me. How many times since he was sworn in on that day in January 2017 has ne pushed the world to the brink of war? People, a war with another nuclear nation won’t just affect the two warring parties. Radiation won’t magically stop at he borders of the nations involved. It will affect all of us. An analogy might be the Icelandic volcano that erupted. The cloud from that grounded all air traffic in Europe for weeks stranding thousands. Radiation from a war would spread over a much wider area. I can only hope that last night’s election results can put a leash on some of his more outlandish pronouncements and actions.

I am also deeply disturbed by presidential actions and directives aimed at the LGBT communities. Whether he wants to admit it or not, many people who stand under this umbrella are making valuable contributions to American society, such as serving in the military. Yet he wants to legislate them out of existence,

I haven’t studied political science or international relations. I’m just someone who observes then thinks about what I’ve seen. What I’ve written here is based upon that, one more observation before I close: it will take the United States of America at least a decade after the current administration leaves office to recover from and repair the internal and international damage.

Cat,

Your beliefs are your business

“and thats a bad thing to educate yourself? Id take education over an imaginary fairy in the clouds that rains out death and vengeance if you dont believe in him.”

I removed the name of the poster to protect their privacy. This was a comment left today on a Facebook posting that contained a photo of a church sign reading something along the lines of “the more we become educated, the further we move from God” which the poster found either funny or profound. Not sure which, for I found it neither as I disagreed with the observation.

Now, I have no objection if the deity you worship is called “God”, “Jehovah” ,“Allah”, “Sam” or whatever or if you profess no religion at all. I do however have objections when you choose to denigrate other people’s faith or religion. Other than your own ego, what gives you the right to cast slurs upon another’s beliefs? What exactly makes you the arbiter of how or what or who someone else should worship?

Let’s take a closer look at that posting from earlier. The person is talking about how they’d take education over “an imaginary fairy in the clouds”. Well, if they want an education, things they should pay attention to include the classes on punctuation and abbreviations. From the tone of the posting it appears obvious the writer is either an agnostic or an atheist. That being the case their comment disproves their observation about the “death and vengeance” bit or how would they be around to put up their post?

And education itself does not necessarily mean pulling away from God. Don’t know what it’s like in the States, but here in Canada, most ministers/pastors/priests seem to have at least a Master’s Degree in Theology. Some even hold doctorates. So how can higher education cause people to move away from religion when the church leaders are themselves highly educated?

As I said in the title – your beliefs are your business. Just as my beliefs are my business. Don’t slag what I believe and I’ll leave your beliefs or non-beliefs alone too,

Cat.

Je suis Charlie

The horrific terrorist attack on the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris today was an attack on free speech everywhere. Why so? Can you honestly believe the vicious nature of this attack won’t make journalists everywhere consider what they write, or in the case of editorial cartoonists draw, before submitting it for publication?

Those of us who write blogs here on WordPress or other sites are usually anonymous unless we choose to reveal our identities. Some of us use that anonymity to take shots at various institutions that others may consider sacrostant. We rely on our avatars and screen names to keep us safe from retribution and use filters to prevent adverse or threatening comments from appearing following our offerings.

The journalists and artists at Charlie Hebdo didn’t have that privilege. When you publish a newspaper, of any type, your name appears on your copy. I understand from news reports that Charlie Hebdo made a habit of aggravating the Muslim community to the extent the office was firebombed in 2011. Today’s massacre seems to have been the culmination of that aggravation, especially considering the murderers were heard yelling (in French) “we have avenged the Prophet Mohammed” and, in Arabic, “Allahu akbar”.

Like it or not, or accept it or not, we bloggers are journalists reporting on the vagaries of life around us. Sometimes we talk about major events – in my case I had great fun ripping into the former mayor of Toronto, Rob Ford and I have received much praise for my on-going series “Bring him to justice” – and sometimes it’s just the little things that irk us personally. But in any case, we are reporting on news for the benefit of others.

There have been many vigils around the world tonight in honour of the staff of Charlie Hebdo. Many people are holding up pens and signs reading “Je suis Charlie” (I am Charlie). Take a few moments after you read this to honour the memory of these people, our fellow journalists, who paid the ultimate price for freedom of speech.

Cat.

Join the 21st century, please

Other than Westboro Baptist Church, I can’t think of any organisation more vehemently opposed to gay rights and equal marriage than the Roman Catholic Church.

My computer has been down and I’m still rebuilding my bookmarks. One of those bookmarks I added today is Pinknews.co.  Today I noticed an article that said on May 2, Rhode Island signed into law a bill legalising same-sex marriage, the tenth state to so do.  Good for Rhode Island.

The Roman Catholic Church has been in opposition to anything involving the LGBT community for years as evidenced by some of Benedict XVI’s pronouncements on the topic.  The Roman Catholic Bishop of Rhode Island seems to be carrying on where the pope emeritus left off.  Following the passing of this new law, the Bishop has reportedly said that Roman Catholics should carefully consider their involvement with, or attendance at, any gay marriages lest they jeopardize their relationship with God.  Let me see if I have this straight – the Roman Catholic Church preaches that their God is a God of love, yet if Roman Catholics attend a ceremony in which two people of the same sex proclaim their love for each other,  God won’t love them anymore.  Does that sound like a fair interpretation of the Bishop’s comment?

Of course, this is the same official who stated in January 2013 that equal marriage poses a threat to religious freedom.  From various pronouncements issuing from Rome on a wide range of topics, I have the impression that the Roman Catholic Church defines “religious freedom” as following the teachings of that church blindly.

We are in the second decade of the twenty-first century.  During the twentieth century, people learned to think for themselves; to question what they are told and, if necessary, reject teachings that are at odds with their own beliefs.  The last half of the last century saw the gay community make great strides in acceptance, not only socially, but legally as well.  The days are long past when the Roman Catholic Church, or any other religious institution, can expect automatic unquestioning  acceptance of their pronouncements and instructions.  Today, the church has to learn to accept and adjust to the realities of the twenty-first secular world if it is keep itself relevant.

Cat.

They’ve done what??

Time to pick on some governments at various levels, which I haven’t done in a while.

I suppose I should start with the feds.  Ever since Stevie got his majority government there hasn’t really been much to pick on him about because there is very little Parliamentary debate on things – he just pushes them through – so we aren’t really aware of how badly he’s screwing us.  Earlier this week, Stevie announced the formation of the long-discussed Office of Religious Freedom. On the surface, this sounds as if it would be a fabulous idea.  Don’t get your hopes up.  It’s part of the Department of Foreign Affairs.  That’s right.  The purpose appears to be to ensure that people in other countries have the freedom to practice their faith.  Never mind that there are some people here in Canada who are still persecuted for their faith, Stevie wants to make sure others have religious freedom.  We get more prisons.

To give the feds their due, they have decided to shelve the internet spying bill – you know, the one of which Vic Toews said “You’re either with us or with the pornographers” – because of all the flak it set off.   I’m not sure if this is proof Stevie and the court jesters aren’t brain dead, or if it’s just a bit of early politicking.

Okay, now to cross the Ottawa River to La Belle Province – Quebec.  In the last election in that province, the voters decided to give the Parti Quebecois another chance at being the government.  Reason didn’t lose out completely, for the PQ only has a minority government, but that hasn’t stopped Pauline Marois, the leader, from reviving some of the policies from previous Pequiste governments.  The main policy being a newly invigorated language law.  This law, in its most basic form says “Francaise bon; Anglaise mal.”

There is an article on today’s CBC News site that shows just how exuberant some of these language police can be on occasion.  First, you must keep in mind that French as spoken in Quebec is basically unintelligible to the average Parisian.  Quebec French is frequently called ‘joual”, which is roughly how Quebecers pronounce “cheval”, or “horse” in English, and is not meant as a compliment.  So right there I find the idea of the government trying to preserve the purity of the French language laughable.  According to this article, the language police have told an Italian restaurant – an upscale one the article states – to change their menu because Italian words such as “pasta” appear far too often and they should find the French equivalent.  The Office québécois de la langue française (OQLF) has backed off on this and said it will look at exceptions for things such as foreign foods.  I can’t speak for how it is now, but at one time, people referred to a certain fast food item as “le Big Mac”.  Don’t know how that would translate.

So there you have it, insanity from Quebec and the feds doing things overseas while the same situation in Canada is allowed to fester.  And to think some people actually voted for these idiots.

I won’t pick on Ontario just yet because the new Premier, Kathleen Wynne, has only been in office about a week.

Enjoy your day and remember to hug an artist – we need love too.

Cat (le Chat) 🙂

Who to believe?

The Mayan long count calendar ends on December 21, 2012, which is this Friday.  According to doomsday theorists, that means the end of the world as we know it.  These theorists say it will end midnight, Friday December 21, 2012.  Notice they don’t specify a time zone.

Since it is almost impossible to turn on a television set this week without seeing some programming covering the end of the world, I’ve watched some of the more reasonable ones.   Some of the things I’ve heard and seen are very interesting.  Things such as the Mayans don’t predict the end of the world. People who are supposedly experts at deciphering the Mayan glyphs say they can find nothing that indicates the physical end of life on earth. The calendar just ends, which apparently indicates the end of the 13th baktun, a span of time defined as 144,000 days. December 22 will mark the beginning of the 14th baktun, nothing more.  The nearest analogy used was when our calendar changed from December 31, 1999 to January 1, 2000.

Remember the panic and paranoia over “Y2K”?   And what happened? People woke up Jaunary 1, swearing never to drink that much again, then went about their normal lives.  Expect the same kind of reaction Saturday December 22, 2012.  People will wake up, have coffee, then hit the mall for some full contact Christmas shopping on the last weekend before Christmas.  Even the descendants of the Mayans simply say “the calendar will start over”, which has been my view all along.

Of course, if I’m wrong, there won’t be anyone left to say “you blew it, girl”.  If I’m right, I promise I won’t say “I told you so” – really, I  promise.

Interestingly enough, there are many predictions of the end of the world, but they don’t have any date attached to them.  The legends of the Hopi describe the end of everything.  Of course, the Bible covers it, graphically, in The Revelation of Saint John, which is the last book in the Bible.  According to what I heard, the Torah and the Q’ran also mention the end of the world as do other religions.

Nostradamus, who apparently has quite a high accuracy rate, also predicts the end of the world. His prediction mention balls of fire from the heavens (pick your own description – missiles, comets, meteors, whatever), but not until the year 3797.

So, are we to believe those who predict Doomsday based on the ending of a calendar from a long-dead civilization; or those who, like me, take the more pragmatic view that the Mayan long count calendar simply marks the end of a cycle?  Personally, I’m going shopping December 22, 2012.

Enjoy the rest of your week.  Remember to hug an artist – we need love too and don’t worry, nothing’s gonna happen Friday midnight. No matter what time zone you live in.

Cat

It’s too one-sided

Following is a quote taken from an Associated Press item of today:

Algeria is proposing an initiative under the auspices of the United Nations that would limit freedom of expression in order to prevent the stigmatizing and denigrating of Islam.

I can’t speak for you, but I have a problem or two with Algeria’s proposal.  First problem is the attempt to further restrict the right of freedom of expression. This is nothing more than censorship and that it would under be the umbrella of the UN wouldn’t change that. There are already too many restrictions on who can say what to or about whom.  These restrictions masquerade under such names as racism; homophobia and many other “isms” and “phobias” you can think of without too much difficulty.  If you find the word “censorship” too harsh, try “politically correct”, which in my view is just a politically correct term meaning “censorship”.

The United Nations has lately proven itself amazingly inept at solving any problem put before it – Kofi Annan and Syria anyone? – so why on earth would Algeria think having the UN back their proposal would do any good?  I’ve read that many nations now consider the UN to be as antiquated and out of touch as a dial telephone and that attitude, if correct, means those nations probably would just ignore such an initiative.  Algeria, being a Muslim country, perhaps isn’t aware, or more likely overlooks, the fact that some countries, such as the US and Canada, have in place legislation to protect freedom of speech, which includes the freedom to criticize other religions.  Perhaps Algerians would be more amenable to a law that prevents them from speaking against Islam, but I can’t see any western country even attempting to pass such an act or amend an existing act.

Second, I find, as I said in the title, this is very one-sided.  The Q’ran tells its readers that Christians and Jews are considered “people of the book” and are to be treated accordingly, with the same respect due another Muslim.  Of course we are aware that fundamentalists in the Muslim faith, much like fundamentalists in any other religion, pick and choose which verse or sura is going to be used to justify their personal belief and that one is usually ignored.  If Algeria were truly serious, their proposal would have extended that to preventing stigmatizing and denigrating all religions.  But they couldn’t do that because many fundamental Muslims would rebel against them.

The extremists, and yes let’s be honest with ourselves and admit it is the extremists who are waging their war against the non-Muslim world, castigate Christians and Jews and even some other Muslim sects who they don’t feel are “Muslim” enough.  Not only castigate, but on occasion kill these others. Remember the song from the sixties recorded by Original Caste, “One Tin Soldier”?  It contained a line which religious fanatics of all stripes have taken to heart and seem to apply when dealing with “infidels”.  That line is “Kill them in the name of heaven, we can justify it in the end”.

Algeria’s proposal is nothing more than a blatant attempt to muzzle all criticism of a religion that appears to have been taken over by extremists and fanatics, while at the same time allowing that religion the freedom to say or do anything they wish against every other religion in the world.  It is far too one sided and if the United Nations has any sense and balls at all, it will vote it down.  But we both know that is unlikely, don’t we?

Enjoy your weekend and remember to hug an artist (that hasn’t been banned yet) – we need love too.

Cat.