Not All Incidents Are Created Equal: the Racism Card

John Geer, shown here in a still from a cellphone video standing at the front door of his townhouse in August 2013 as police responded to a complaint from his girlfriend. It was an almost 30-minute conversation in the doorway before one of the officers shot him dead. (CBS, from CBC)

John Geer, shown to the right, here in a still from a cellphone video standing at the front door of his townhouse in August 2013 as police responded to a complaint from his girlfriend. It was an almost 30-minute conversation in the doorway before one of the officers shot him dead. (CBS, from CBC)

I recently encountered an excellent CBC article written by Neil MacDonald, about the shooting of an unarmed man in a Virginia suburb. The unarmed man was not of an ethnic minority, was innocent of any crime at that moment, had his hands upraised, was complying with the police, and was shot by a trigger-happy cop with anger management issues.

The crux of the matter is that we are starting to use race as the pivot for just about every social injustice that we can muster with our imaginations, without really thinking through whether that description is an accurate one or not. In the example above, the poor schlepp was killed because of bad policing, not because of the colour of his skin.

Without going into the subtle nuances of race issues in the States, could it not be that some of the shootings of innocent people are not because of overt racism against ethnic minorities, but rather because the police force in the States needs to be trained up to be more professional? The issue does not seem to be relegated to small towns either, as large cities are having their fair share of the trigger and taser happy.

The issue is just larger than just bad policing (and please let me emphasize that I do believe that most police officers are excellent at their jobs. It is a few errant police officers that are causing these terrible tragedies, who spoil the reputation of the whole profession).

(from the Mirror)

(from the Mirror)

I’ve noticed an increase in the raising of the racism card in many incidents across the West. The Chapel Hill shootings of three Muslims, apparently over parking, has rallied people to denounce the act as Islamophobic, but it seems that the tragedy had very little to do with racism and much to do with parking rage….like road rage but parking spots. Without intending to sound trite, surely many of us have seen seemingly rational people lose their tempers in a parking lot because they think someone stole their parking spot (it’s an absurdity like something out of a modern King Lear):

On Feb. 10 a man in Chapel Hill gunned down three of his Muslim neighbors, two of them women wearing the head-covering. Authorities initially pegged Craig Stephen Hicks’ rampage to a dispute over a parking space, but many Muslims fear a darker motive: hate.

Hicks’ Facebook page was filled with anti-religious statements. But his ire appeared directed toward all religions, not just one. His obsession with parking spots in the apartment complex was well-known, with one neighbor stating that he showed “equal-opportunity anger.” (from the Huffington Post)

I am not denying that hate was involved as an impetus behind the crime of the Chapel Hill murders, but did that hate stem from race? What if this fellow is a pathetic candidate for an episode of Jerry Springer that went terribly awry?

Another example of this, and I can’t find the reference on BBC anymore, was of a French Muslim woman saying that everyone in her workplace was looking at her suspiciously, the day after the Charlie Hebdo shootings. It’s akin to something similar that a French bus driver shared:

“In 24 hours it changed. I’m a bus driver. People used to come on to the bus and smile, especially old Parisians. People would say what a nice beard.

“Now the same beard – they look at me strangely. Now, for them, even saying hello is difficult.” (from the BBC)

I wonder about these kinds of statements. What if that person is just an unpleasant person and nothing has actually changed in the way that people treat them except that they’ve all of a sudden developed a hypersensitivity to the way that people treat them, due to a charged media-induced atmosphere. All of a sudden, they start to think that they’re being treated differently because they are of a particular faith or cultural background? Maybe that woman has a huge chip on her shoulder and is mean, and people have always not liked her. Perhaps bus driver is actually being treated the same as he always has been, and some people are smiling when they get on the bus, some not, but he only notices the blank faces now.

I wonder if the reverse is true, whether Westerners living in the Middle East feel that all Middle Easterners look at them strangely after every Chapel Hill-type incident?

This puts me to mind of a sketch of Russel Peter’s stand-up routine relating to the portrayal of Middle Easterners by Western media (it’s about at the 3 minute mark). His comedy is culture-based, and he makes fun of all cultures with equal zest:

The short and long of the skit is that the West is portraying the Middle East by only ever showing the rednecks of the Middle East on television, and the Middle East is doing the same in reverse. Due to media manipulation, we hyperbolize negative stereotypes; however, these stereotypes only apply to the minutest minority of cultures.

I suppose it is a bit of a case that we, as social creatures, tend to only remember the worst of something, not the best. Just like the policing incidents in the States make us think that there is rampant country-wide police brutality against African-Americans, rather than remembering that most policing is sensitive and respectful. We don’t remember that Sunday dinner was great, we just remember that mom forgot to take out the dinner rolls out of the oven and ended up burning them.

Either way, we seem to be overly sensitive to racism, and the social media mob gets on the bandwagon before taking a critical look at a situation. Something terrible occurred. There are proper, unbiased, channels to investigate such incidents. Then, let us determine what solution is most appropriate.

We’re living in the twenty-first century, not the twentieth, and I think we need to take more of the example of Australia, where, during the December terror hostage taking in Sydney prompted a hyper-sensitivity reaction of a woman removing her hijab when embarking on the bus, to which a nobler society spoke and said, “I’ll ride with you.”

Racism exists. Islamophobia exists. There are many people who subscribe to these ignorant and backwards modes of thinking. However, not all incidents are cases of racism or Islamophobia, and we should be a bit more thoughtful before handing out those labels.

A Life-Saving Philosophy

I like the sentiment that perhaps our purpose here, in any given moment, is to help someone else through a difficult period. I suppose that is why I volunteered with Victim’s Services for five years, to help others in whatever small way that I could. You never know the impact that a simple outreached hand can make, and it’s always worth putting out, because there is nothing lost in the action.

Steve Rose puts this sentiment in the context of veterans, but I think the same applies to most people with depression: how to identify with the society in which we live, and it doesn’t matter if it is civilian or military; those terms are just linguistic compartments demarcating parts of society.

The next time you see someone, whether they be a stranger or a friend, who looks like they might need a hand, offer it to them. Maybe they don’t take that hand, but at least they know that someone cared enough to offer.

Finding Purpose


“If you try to do only for yourself, you’ll only get so far in life. If you reach out to touch other people, you can fix your own soul.” – Bryan A. Wood

In my previous four posts, I have tried to shed some light on why people die by suicide. In this post, I discuss what saves people from suicide. Here, I explore how the act of service to others can save oneself from the grip of suicidal despair.

This post was inspired by a comment from a fellow blogger who said this philosophy has been his salvation. He writes:

…once I’ve accepted that my life is fundamentally expendable, no longer worth living, I get on with it and do what I can, each act of generosity makes me feel better about myself, rebuilds my confidence if not my validity, sometimes it’s a long hike, a very long time…

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Prepositional Propping-Up of Pro-Eating Disorders

seafoodThe CBC posted an article about a niche but increasingly popular spate of sites that are pro-anorexia or pro-bulimia. The topic aside, I was rather amused to read the initial headline (which appears to have been since changed), and subsequent references throughout the article to “pro-eating disorders.”

Well, I don’t know about you, but I think I suffer from a pro-eating disorder, because I love to cook and to eat. The way that particular phrase is put, the wording makes the phrase sound like the disorder relates to those people who are ‘for’ (“pro”) eating. I’m all for eating. Give me bacon, or give me death (albeit, bacon may be death of me)! Today’s dinner was slow-roasted top sirloin with a marrow-tarragon reduction (thank you Heston Blumenthal!). Definitely on the pro-eating team, not the anti-eating team.

Clearly, what CBC really wanted to say was there is large amount of sites that are supportive of eating disorders.

By using “pro-” as preposition, and attaching “pro-” to the first word, “eating,” of the two word phrase, “eating disorders,” the author inadvertently makes “pro-eating” modify the “disorder,” rather than having the “pro” modify “eating disorder.” I don’t think that there is a clean solution to this unwitting endorsement of eating, save to specify the disorder: “pro-anorexia” or “pro-bulimia.”pro-eating-logo

To drive the point home, if you Google “pro-eating,” the first site that comes up promotes the World Championships of Competitive Eating. So CBC, I’m all for good (food) grammar so maybe this is not the best use of a preposition.



Word from my Brother (a Stay-At-Home Dad, Sort of)

The bottom shelves are personally dusted by my niece.

The bottom shelves are personally dusted by my niece.

My brother is the primary caregiver in his family. He lost his job just before his daughter was born, and hadn’t been able to find something until recently. My sister-in-law had a great job to go back to after her maternity leave, so she’s back at it, and her benefits sustain the family. My brother was a stay-at-home dad until just recently, when he bought a liquor store. The neat thing is, aside the fact that he bought a liquor store and we are all super excited about this, that my brother really enjoys raising his daughter full time. His daughter is not quite two years old.

In his and his wife’s mind, they are lucky enough that one parent can stay at home to be with the little one, not have to put her in daycare, or have a nanny come in to take care of her. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but my brother and his wife like that one of them is the primary caregiver. Certainly, my niece is a wholesome, cheerful, cherubic thing. Frankly, I do believe that she is better off for being raised directly by my brother, and I think that their model of raising their daughter works. And works well.

My mum stayed at home to raise my brother and I until I was about eight or nine years old, when she returned to work (teaching). She said that it was a mutual decision made by her and my dad, to sort out which of the two had the better job and which one wanted to job of raising the kids.

Anyhow, my brother recently wrote the following, and I’m sharing it as a measure of support for him as being that primary caregiver to his daughter. I’ll just add that my niece has her own bed in the back of the store, for nap time, and a shelf behind the counter with all her toys. I’m hoping that a bit of the Bordeaux influence will rub off and she learns French at an early age. She’s with her father all day, sometimes has play dates before ‘work,’ and is with her mother all evening. Weekends are nuclear family time.

I really hope to bring out some dialogue on this so if you could take a moment to share your thoughts using the form below, I would appreciate your time and effort.

“So my life is divided into two major epochs: BC and AD. No not CE and BCE but BC and AD. What is that you may ask? BC – Before Child and AD – After Daughter. I’ve notice that in BC I had more free time to fritter away on deep conversations regarding the winner of a battle between Superman or The Hulk, Batman vs. Captain America, but AD my time is a premium commodity devoted to keeping a highly active skinny mini entertained with martial arts, chasing and painting. To my friends with whom I am in a limbo here is my apology and reply;

I’m tired of hearing how mommy’s have it hard, how there are great divides in sleep training and raising your kids blah blah. Try running a retail business, raising a kid and getting the “oh your a dad raising a kid? You must be a f**k up” look from almost every mom I run into at play group, the mall at my own store.
I’m busy fixing a broken business (which is lucrative now), teaching a toddler how to run said retail operation (yes Eve sweeps, mops, dusts, stocks, counts, speaks in Polish, and helps customers carry wines to the front) and still trying to have a life (coaching mma, sparring with friends, and hiking).

Yes there are tons of parenting choices to make, tons of advice I’d love to give out, the truth is really quite simple : you disagree with someone or they decide to judge you, f**k em do what feels right for you and you can find your own path.

Best part of my day is when a new customer doesn’t know Eve and freaks out when Eve shows that person her favorite bottle of wine (Crazy Life Pinot Grigio ). And then that person comments ” My kid/ my relative / my friends kid would destroy this place, you can’t have children in a wine store”. I’ve shattered more bottles at higher price points than Eve ( Dad: two bottles of $180 cognac and $60 Amarone Eve: $21 Bourdeaux).

If your frustrated with your kids you let your kids frustrate you, that’s on you, a decision you made, I choose to make everything a learning process to get along with my midget, mood swinging, hyper active co-habitor.

To the sleeping debate: we let Eve cry it out and it worked, twelve hour sleeps, a one hour nap midday and lower cortisol levels than average kids in her age group (yes I know how to measure that, the stress hormone). Eve is throwing tantrums but those last less than ten seconds and she usually hugs me after their done and we are good.”

An Alternate Lens on the Ukrainian Civil War

I was speaking with a friend of mine, whose intention is to circumnavigate the globe on his sailboat. He lives in his boat, in a canal, in a major European city. He seems to have a balanced perspective on life, something to which I always aspire, not necessarily successfully. Given that he is in Europe, and also has the opportunity to mix with people who have strong opinions on what is happening on the eastern fringe of that continent, we had a very interesting discussion on the civil war in Ukraine.

As you know from my previous post (see “A Willful Disregard for the Dismemberment of Ukraine“) on the Ukrainian conflict, I took a more pro-Western approach, with a historical caveat: yes, Ukraine is really a modern invention, but no country (Russia) has the right to simply take back territory that was given during a time of peace. But wait, did they even take it back (a wee bit more on that later)?

Black Sea Fleet in SebastopolInterestingly, my friend shared that many of his Russian friends expressed disbelief at the anti-Russian (read: neo-Cold War) perspective in Western media. One of more interesting facts that was shared was that the largest Russian naval base on the Black Sea is on Crimea: Sevastopol. Yes, that’s right, the Russians have had a major naval base on Ukrainian territory all these years. If Ukraine were to join NATO, then this Russian naval base would potentially fall into NATO hands, and no country wants to risk its military falling into another countries hands, especially to a conglomerate of former enemies.

Azov Battalion fighters parading with the Wolfsangel banner favoured by neo-Nazis. Photo Reuters, from BBC

Azov Battalion fighters parading with the Wolfsangel banner favoured by neo-Nazis. Photo Reuters, from BBC

The other interesting bit offered up was that the best and brightest (not really) of Europe’s neo-Nazis are flocking to Ukraine in order to help protect the Motherland (whose ‘Motherland’ is an interesting question) from the Russians (wait, aren’t the Russians white too? I’m so confused about this nationalistic racist rhetoric. Oh right, it’s really about having a government-sanctioned opportunity to shoot big guns).

Both the pro-Ukrainian and the pro-Russian fronts have their right-wing nationalist extremists so, as always, it is the rednecks that become the face of any conflict.

My friend proposed that Putin really didn’t want to go into Ukraine to bail out the pro-Russian nationalists, because it is a political faux pas to invade, in these civilized days, but had to for the sake of saving face and of course, defending the Russian interests (read: naval base) on the Crimean Peninsula. Mind you, it was the inmates of Crimea that chose to realign their interests with Russia rather than Ukraine, and my friend said it was because of the strong anti-Russian sentiment (read: racism against Russians) in Ukraine. It is true that when I lived in Poland, the Russians were not highly thought of to say the least, and Russians in Poland treated a bit like second-class citizens.

Putin being dragged into a conflict he never wanted nor endorsed. An interesting thought. To the point of my earlier blog, maybe Ukraine is like Russia’s white-trash cousin as well.

My friend certainly gave me balanced food for thought. When I am reading articles on Ukraine now, namely on BBC and on CBC, I am more sensitive to that Western, anti-Russian, perspective, which is interesting to note now, and read through a different lens.

I still tend to favour the Ukrainians’ right to keep their country whole. The situation is mucky to say the least, and likely too much blood has been shed for things to settle in any easy way.


The Legacy of Social Media: Your Last Will and Testament

A recent article from the BBC gave me a bit of a start this morning:

Facebook has added a new setting that gives users the option of having their account permanently deleted when they die.

Or, if they wish, they can choose to appoint a friend or family member to take control of some aspects of the account after their death.

At first, I laughed, as I read these two paragraphs with the thought that people, once dead, could have the option of deleting their account. Mind you, it would be interesting if the dead were still able to communicate through social media in some weird Ouija board adaptation.

2014-01-27-510_Ghost-DadBut after re-reading the opening and realizing that the BBC hadn’t written up the deceased to participate in their own Facebook accounts, the article did give me pause to ponder: how will someone access all my social media accounts when I die?

Not that I have any intention of dying in the next little while, but quick tally puts me at six active social media accounts (Gmail, Google+, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, WordPress).  Then there is the slew of accounts for apps that I’ve signed up for over the years (including MapMyRun, Nike Running, LoseIt, Groupon, and others which I can’t remember anymore because they didn’t suit me for one reason or another). I’m sure I must have over twenty accounts of one type or another. So what does happen to them when I die.

Facebook’s solution has been to build options into user account settings, as noted above. I would propose something more practical, in case we forget to check social media settings because we’ve had the various accounts for so long. I think we need to think about adding a page to our last will and testament of all our ids and passwords, plus some direction of what we’d like relative to our active social media sites, so that an executor can carry out our wishes relative to the Internet of Things (I am widening the scope of the Internet of Things to include the soft side of the Internet, not just the hard technology of smart devices that link to the Internet).

That way, with an addendum to our last will and testament, the Internet won’t be cluttered with the miasma of our after-life social media and app accounts. I mean really, ten years after the fact, maybe even five years after the fact of someone’s passing, is keeping someone’s Facebook profile intact perhaps akin to keeping an urn of the deceased ashes on the mantlepiece? This comment perhaps bears more on a conversation about grieving but some clear directions, accompanied by passwords, can help avert this.

Just a thought. And this puts me to mind that I need to draw my will up.

The Internet of Things: It Sings the Body Electric

body electricI recently came across the concept of the ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) in some articles a couple of weeks ago, and it is one of those concepts that keeps popping out of the ground like Punxsutawney Phil on slow-acting acid. What is this mysterious concept? I understand the IoT as electronic devices that are hooked into the Internet, whether it be through WiFi, Bluetooth, or LANs, so that we are constantly connected to the Internet, whether consciously or not, through these devices.

I use the word ‘consciously’ very particularly here, because we have become so used to having smart devices around us, helping us, that we tend to neglect to think about the impact (read: control) that they have on us. A oft-used example of this is the smart fridge, which can tell you when your milk is low or about to expire and can help put a grocery list together based on what you have or need to have in your fridge. This feature has superb applications for people with busy lifestyles, but the implications of this amount of control of a fridge, over our lives, is obvious (I think).

Companies may eventually promote preferred vendors so that you only buy their products, and perhaps if you diligently neglect to use their vendors, make the temperature of your fridge go down so food spoils quicker. Who knows of the subtle diabolical plots that fridge manufacturers may get up to in the future?

One example, that hits closer to home for me, is the prevalence of fitness bands that so many people seem to have received over Christmas recently. Is anybody else not concerned that these bands are taking in so much personal information about us, and we’re not even really sure of the security of our information? These bands not only tell us how fast, how much, how hard we’re working out, but how many calories we’ve burned, how many more steps we need to take to fulfill our daily fitness goals, how we’re doing in comparison to friends, what our average pace is, what our peak pace was, and so forth and so on. I can completely see these bands morphing into more physically intrusive devices that will tell us when our blood sugar is dropping, what kind of salt we should be eating, when we are dehydrated etc…

Do you really need a device to tell you when you are thirsty?

Of course not, but as we slowly become used to the IoT taking our lives one bit at a time, have you noticed that you have stopped memorizing telephone numbers, that you read the news on a screen rather than in the paper, that you watch your favourite shows on your iPad rather than on TV, that you stay connected to friends via instant messages rather than real conversations. I exaggerate of course, most (caveat ‘most’) people are still good about reading physical newspapers, supporting local broadcasting, talking to friends and loved ones in person, but the memorization….I wonder where you stand on that?

Perhaps its the paranoid in me, having grown up on Sci-Fi from the likes of Assimov and Bradbury, that makes me leary of technology taking over our lives so resolutely. There are so many positive effects of the IoT but I think that there are great risks as well, and I think that we need to regulate the influence of all these devices on our lives so that we don’t lose control of our lives, without really realizing it, until it’s too late.Wall-e Humans


The IoT terminus could well be the vision in Wall-E, not Terminator, but it’s just as scary.




Unusual Comparisons

Photo Reuters, from BBC

Photo Reuters, from BBC

When I heard about the burning of Moaz al-Kasasbeh, the Jordanian pilot last week, by ISIS, my first impulse was to tweet about how much more horrific this particular act was, than the beheadings previously carried out by ISIS on American and Japanese nationals. Then the thought came to me, how could I even consider being burnt alive worse than being beheaded? Can a comparison even be made, and risk one’s ethics to even debate the issue?

We’ve all somehow been more shocked by the burning, or perhaps we’ve become slightly desensitized to the beheadings. Yes, the beheadings are horrific, but that’s what we have come to expect from ISIS. ISIS has upped their game by burning a man alive. Perhaps there is more symbolism in that act than in the beheading, but I feel a bit sick even thinking about what ISIS’ justification was to do one execution style over the other. Both are terrible, both are horrific. Full stop.

This inner debate of mine reminded me of a debate I’d had with some good friends back in Poland, when I went to visit Auschwitz: which is worse, a Russian gulag, or a Nazi concentration camp?

These kinds of debates aren’t winnable. And ISIS still needs to be stopped.

Poetry from Days of Yore (’96): aka Revisiting Old Friends

I was digging through some of my old files on my computer and came across these poems that I’d written around the time that I graduated from highschools.

Caveat Emptor: Teenage pretense of the finest variety.

Forest for the TreesSentinels

Sentinels for some camp:
Omniscient Atlases,
Unwavering in their duties.
They seemed to hold massive weapons that,
If one observed them,
Would think them able
To wipe out the existence of an entire town with those weapons.
Their rugged clothes and harsh features
Made them look like mercenaries.
But upon closer inspection,
One realized that they were only trees.

MistMist in the Trees

yawning emptiness,
filling an atmosphere;
the sieved trees
marching resolutely to a standstill,
causing a cathedral vacuum.
Fallen breaths
clattering the void;
the dulled matter
sloshing through a barrier,
disrupting a pattern:
fix the hole
that lets the war through
the smitten haze.

quietly now,
lest the silence
hear us…

A momentSpace

Stars through darkness bursting forth;
Planets turning, turning ‘round;
Comets whizzing across
In an endless darkness all around.
Where does it all end?
Here, it’s forever bound.

Canadians – Not So Pacifistic, Eh?

Last week I attended a focus group on federal policies, namely on the state of economy (choose three words from the list in front of you, or write down your own, to describe Canada’s economy: mentally, unstable, rubber boots); agreements with other countries (so we’ll be getting European cheeses much cheaper, but our own Canadian dairies will have to compete with the new products? How much cheaper will those cheeses be? This sounds like a gouda deal); and our involvement in fighting ISIL/ISIS.

A Canadian Armed Forces CF-18 Fighter jet in Kuwait is armed and ready for a combat mission over Iraq during Operation IMPACT on November 7, 2014. Photo Canadian Forces Combat Camera, DND, from National Post.

A Canadian Armed Forces CF-18 Fighter jet in Kuwait is armed and ready for a combat mission over Iraq during Operation IMPACT on November 7, 2014. Photo Canadian Forces Combat Camera, DND, from National Post.

For those of you who may not know, Canada has sent six hundred troops and ten planes to aid the US-led coalition against the nut jobs attempting to set up their own Little Shop of Houris in the Middle East. From my outsiders perspective, the impetus to start to wage war against ISIS (and war it is, even if the word isn’t bandied about yet and is the obvious elephant in the proverbial) was when that group made a move on Kobane, a small city on the northern border of Iraq and Turkey, and nestled in the semi-autonomous region of Western Kurdistan.

Again, from my perspective, we were perfectly happy to let ISIS grow like a cancer while the group appeared to be fighting the Assad regime in Syria, and even when they crossed into Iraq and started taking large swathes of that country hostage. For better or for worse, the Iraqi army was, and is, completely impotent, and the only force with any hutzpah in the area are the Kurds, who fought, and who are fighting, ISIS, tooth and nail. The Kurds have worked hard to try to re-establish a homeland and damned if they will let some rabid dogs try to take it.

Anyhow, the West seemed rather content to let the petty parties duke it out amongst themselves, but the siege of Kobane really seemed to resonate with the Western media, and hence the public, who in turn started to put pressure on Western governments to do something about the festering situation with ISIS. ISIS at this point seemed to have turned from a haphazard rabble into a quasi-organized army, who were not only taking over large swathes of Syria and Iraq, but putting all sorts of people to the sword or slavery, and of course, shackling the newly conquered areas under a completely biased and culturally imbued interpretation of  Sharia law (oh, dear ISIS, you will be surely very surprised when you find out that God really doesn’t endorse the imposition of your will in his name…just a tip, you don’t own the rights to God).

To make a long story short, the US pulled itself up by the bootstraps and put together a coalition to help the Iraqi army (or what is left of it) and the Kurds fight off ISIS, mostly through the medium of air strikes. Canada joined the bandwagon, because that is the way our Conservative government rolls.

It’s interesting though, I’ve always thought of my country as being more pacifist, and certainly, when you read the news here, there does seem to be a strong bias against taking any sort of military action unless it is peacekeeping (of which we are the originators of that idea, and,  although a beautiful concept on paper, like Communism, peacekeeping has been shown to be, time and time again, completely ineffectual). In fact, words such as ‘army,’ ‘war,’ ‘troops,’ ‘fighting,’ often are said with the disdain that one uses when mentioning dog turds.

As such, I was pleased to see that a strong majority of the twelve people (and we’ve come back to the focus group full circle now) were in favour of Canada’s military involvement against ISIS, regardless of the reason why ISIS was aggressing in the first place, and of how Canada got caught up in ISIS’ anti-Western sentiment.

A few people tried to wave the pacifist banner under the argument that we shouldn’t be involved against any military action, even if in a purely supportive role, because that would just goad ISIS into attacking Canada.

At the risk of invoking Godwin’s Law (when a reference is made to Nazis or to Hitler, an argument can then be considered finished and whoever mentioned the Nazis has automatically lost whatever debate was in progress), I see that sort of attitude not unlike saying that well, because Hitler was only targeting non-Aryans and only taking over Poland, but not directly affecting Canada, Canada never should have joined the Allied forces in the Second World War; that sort of distasteful behaviour happens in other countries and Is Not Our Problem as such.

Good lord, people, what kind of an attitude is that to say that a group like ISIS is somebody else’s problem? I just don’t fathom the sheer ignorance of ignoring the power that the hate and fear mongering of these kinds of radical groups creates in our societies.

A poster I saw put up in my building's elevator. Apparently the complex was plastered with this particular poster all day, and the moment one was taken down, another was put up in its place. I did send this to our local RCMP but was basically given the brush off. Caveat emptor, RCMP.

A poster I saw put up in my building’s elevator. Apparently the complex was plastered with this particular poster all day, and the moment one was taken down, another was put up in its place. I did send this to our local RCMP but was basically given the brush off. Caveat emptor, RCMP.

One reason why ISIS is our problem is because we’re all globally connected. There are both positive and negative consequences of being so interconnected. Most of us in the West live under the shroud of positive consequences, which are often spoofed as ‘First World Problems.’ However, our tolerance for all sorts of things has caused us to becoming overly sensitive to trying to not insult anyone, a sensitivity that radical groups (who are not in any way, shape, or form, sensitive to trying to understand somebody else’s perspective) take advantage of to propagate their skewed messaging to the disenfranchised both in their home countries and in all of our countries.

How can you expect to rationalize with someone who thinks it okay to drop people from the rooftop of a high building simply because the person is gay, or to stone a woman to death because she was seen outside her home without a male member of her family to accompany her, or who thinks that slavery is okay and a just a way of providing everyone with work?

Whew. I think I’ve covered the gamut here. At the end of the day, my people see ISIS as a very dangerous element in the world, and we’re very supportive of our government sending our military out to fight ISIS in the Middle East. We’re also okay with our troops having to return fire if they are being fired upon by ISIS militants, because our troops have the right to defend themselves when trying to help make things right in that part of the world.

Like I said, pleasantly surprised.