Sunday, 5 July 2020

Big and little bullies.


Big and little bullies.
The year was 1958, and the world was changing as it always does. My parents moved from the farm to a new town and I discovered bullies. I was a skinny tiny kid with a heart condition, (no running and jumping) with a name that singled me out as a minority. By the end of the first day of school, the two worst bullies in the class were already competing for the title of who will harass the new kid worst.
One day both were on me twisting and punching when a young soldier on leave from the army scattered them and lifted me up. We sat down under a tree and he gave me some advice. Those guys will not leave you alone, he said. But my mother said not to pay attention and tell the teacher, I sputtered. Does it work? My big new friend asked, and I shook my head from side to side. It doesn’t he said. They pick on you because it’s easy.
Bullies, my friend went on, will pick on you and other little kids until they are made to pay a price. But, I have a heart condition, I mumbled, and he reached over pinching the skin on my belly hurting me and said with a cold, stern voice, they must pay a price. I am small, I answered, how can I hurt them back? He answered. God will help you will find a way. There are many.
The young man stood up, and I noticed the confidence and power in him. Thank you, I started saying, and he cut me off. Don’t thank me, he said, only make a promise. When you get rid of the bullies, you will help others do the same, as I am doing here. We, the little guys, must help each other, and he was gone. My life was changed forever.
The year now is 2020. I lived my life trying not to abuse or bully others, and I always stood up to bullies and made them pay a price. To change someone’s behavior, you must first communicate in a language that they can understand. Bullies only understand hurting. After that, you can be a Christian and forgive, help, and forget. It works with humans and even with animals.
I watched a Canadian TV show interview John Bolton, the now fired national security advisor to Donald Trump. The interviewer asked what should we do about China’s retaliation for Canada arresting Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou at the request of the U.S.
Bolton replied in a way that reminded me of the Godfather who said, make them an offer that they can’t refuse. He bragged about what the US is doing for Canada, including “protecting us.” The US made us renegotiate NAFTA to give them a better deal at the expense of our people. They slapped tariffs on our products and tried to force us to spend more money on USA made weapons. What is he saying?
Looking at his eyes squint above his famous mustache, I realized. The bully is hinting that if we don’t pay for protection, (against whom?) something will happen to us. Perhaps Trump and Putin may divide Canada between themselves or even just take away the “northwest passage” which in the future could make us a lot of money. Bolton did say to think about our next step hard and long. He doesn’t remember that Canada went to war ahead of the US after Pearl Harbor.
I look at the world today and count my blessings that I am not the Prime Minister. All three major world bullies are sitting on us, each wanting us to take their side or they will hurt us. There is no-one bigger who can step in. I go back to the advice I received as a child. “God will help you find a way.”
The major powers are all being hit hard by a pandemic and their haste to save their economies set them back significantly. All have serious internal rifts with their own compromised populations.
The soldier who saved me from the bullies in fifty-eight said that the little guys must help each other and stick together. I don’t have a crystal ball, but the picture is becoming clear. It is one possibility out of many, but it can happen.
The US, European Union, China, and India who are made of many nations are all erecting borders within. The Soviet Union and the British Empire are gone. We should fear great wars flaming up, but something else is happening.
People all over the world are restlessly demonstrating against governments. I read their signs and a new reality is emerging in my mind. They are fighting now for equality amongst humans, for a cleaner environment, for freedom from oppression imposed by the old ruling elites. There is even sympathy in Canada for the native population demanding decision power over the lands we permitted them to keep.
Surely there are many who wish to keep the advantages they gained by force, but the less powerful are waking up and gaining momentum. Scores of white people are supporting “Black Lives Matter” and churchgoers are speaking for gay rights. Old religious institutions are struggling with women clergy filtering in and young people are fighting for the welfare of handicapped old people to live with dignity and receive care.
As the symbols of old-world oppression are being toppled, there is a feeling of “resurrection” in the air. People armed with new technologies, disillusioned with the consumerism fake rewards and the short-lived pleasure of vacations, are demanding a stop to the culture of bullying. There is a yearning for a solid wholesome simple life instead of a “chance” of being like the Trump family.
“But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid: for the mouth of the LORD of hosts hath spoken it.”   Micah 4:4
Here is a link to my blog: https://thesimpleravenspost.blogspot.ca/  Feel free to check other articles and comment.

Sunday, 28 June 2020

What is happening to us?


What is happening to us?
Humans are unique. We can see things through dark or rosy glasses, but we must maintain a balance. If you go “all-out” either way you lose credibility. I  see the slogan “No justice, No peace” and it scares me. A historian knows the price of revolutions and wars. There is a peaceful solution available to those who listen, not just talk. It makes Heaven available on Earth.
I go outside and look around. There are flowers in the forest, purple, yellow, white, and pink. The birds are chirping and a squirrel is running up a tree. I see a doe with two spotted fawns and another laying down on my lawn observing my wife trimming bushes. On the edge of the hill, a fox is trotting busily, going somewhere. Above is the forest crowned by mountains. I can hear a train disappearing in the distance and when it has gone, the rushing water of the river.
What I see and hear is most beautiful, but it is only a tiny part of reality. I am living in a country that most people envy. The world itself is improving as I look. People live longer than ever; poverty is being reduced and hunger is no longer rampant as it used to be. There are no major wars and technology connected us all together. I am alive to see this paradise thanks to medical advancements. Am I grateful? I say yes with all my might. The overall picture is better than I could ever even imagine in my youth.
I remember listening to a preacher some years ago. He was describing Heaven, but he didn’t have it right. His paradise couldn’t be reached in this life, but here it is. The only difference is that his was perfect with no possible improvements and ours here always leaves us with something to strive for. I think it’s good.
I blink and look again. My perfect world is threatened by a deadly virus. People are suffering and many are dying. Fear is paralyzing the economy while politicians strongly influence events to solidify or gain power. I see people around me destroying nature for profit or simply to change God’s creation to satisfy some personal needs or wants. Some people can’t leave anything alone.
Generations before me fought against slavery and genocide, while my generation battled to eradicate inequality. I observe a perfect world, but it looks as if we must fight a lot more or return to slavery and servitude. In the preacher’s Heaven, it is not so. Heaven is perfect and poses no challenge. Is that what I want?
I seek a place where people like me, born without privileges and perhaps marked by racial disadvantage could be happy and not feel inferior. Why is it not happening I ask? The word on the airwaves is “systemic discrimination.” It is most obvious when based on skin color but spreads to most people. What is it? In my mind, it is a system that favors some people ahead of others without being obvious, so people accept it. I am looking for an easy example.
I could use the example of the US breaking a peace treaty with Iran and forcing Canada to treat the Chinese as criminals for doing business there, but it’s too complicated. Let me use an example from here.
When I first saw Blairmore in 1995, it was a thriving little town. Mountain sheep and deer were wandering around, tourists were walking the streets and most downtown stores had little businesses. There was also a little indoor mall and two local newspapers. What we didn’t have were corporate franchises. Look at the town now.
We have two quaint little coffee shops owned by locals employing locals. They suffered greatly from the Corona related shut down and may survive if we support them. In comes an opportunity to help them. The Alberta government purchased too many disposable masks, out of our money, and decided to distribute some free back to us. A noble gesture, if you ask me. However, the government could have helped our private little coffee shops by letting them distribute the “free” masks and give them some free advertisement, but instead, they chose to support the Tim Horton’s chain. They forced us to wait in drive-through line ups. Most people who waited bought their daily coffee in the outlet they waited in line for.
This is just one minor example of how the powerful who are rich already receive benefits from our taxes while the hard-working family-owned businesses make do with the crumbs. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of our elected members who made the choice own  places that distributed “free masks.”
I have conflicting emotions about the News these days. The pandemic is a horrible thing that has killed some of my friends and is a great threat to me and those I love dearly. At the same time, it did some good. It showed us truths that were hidden. We can feed ourselves and keep the country going while producing much less pollution. We discovered that the primary engine of our economy are the low wage essential workers, not the great money traders and investors.
It has exposed the abuse of our seniors in care homes for what it is. Austerity measures against the most helpless often by those proclaiming to be the best Christians. Society realized the actual value of educators and childcare workers. We found out that our food is produced by foreign workers who can’t be replaced by our citizens who will not endure the low pay and poor living conditions.
Systemic discrimination is affecting most of us and must be dealt with, not by more policing but by balancing social powers. I only hope that it can be done peacefully. I wish for heaven on Earth made by our choices, not by a miracle or by force.
Here is a link to my blog: https://thesimpleravenspost.blogspot.ca/  Feel free to check other articles and comment.

Sunday, 21 June 2020

Stars above or below.


Stars above or below.
Most of the people in my social circle pride themselves on how many places in the world they visited. There is a competition to tell where you have been and where you are planning to go next. My daughter talks about holidays versus “airplane holidays.” I understand. Society shapes us from an early age and we don’t realize that we do what is expected of us, often to line the bank accounts of others with money that we borrow. Lately, we found out how much of our economy is fed by tourism.
I have another way to enjoy my time on Earth, which doesn’t cost money. I enjoy looking at the stars. Those shiny specks above me that are visible at night fascinate me. We call famous people in entertainment and sports stars, but they are far from it. Often I will look at the stars above Turtle Mountain and move my gaze to see more. There is always more.
Most of those shiny pinpoints of light are far in a hostile universe. An unprotected human can’t survive away from Earth. Seven are planets, many are stars like our sun and many more are galaxies made up of billions of stars but visible as one speck of light. Recently we the humans figured out that material which we call matter can’t accelerate faster than the speed of light. Building spaceships and rockets will not take us to the stars. Also, if we managed to go, time would work differently. By the time we would return, the world we knew would be forever changed.
I look above me and think, most of the visible universe is no longer the way I see it. It takes light so many years to travel to my eye and what I see has changed by the time I see it. If I could travel faster than light, much faster, I would not find the stars I am looking at in the same place. Are there other planets like earth somewhere out there? Possibly, but there is only one planet that can sustain the kind of life that we know exists. It is Earth and we believe (mostly) that it was created by a deity we named God.  
I couldn’t find any records of ancient humans who didn’t believe in God. The modern-day atheists talk about Karma referring to what we used to call God. We have a great wealth of prehistorical and historical records of very advanced civilizations on our planet. The Babylonians and Sumerians seem to be our ancestors and they recorded some beings called Anunakies. Those are depicted in ancient art as having wings, and our Christian angels have wings. Our most holy people are recorded ascending to the heavens above. Of course, we could say that they went down depending on which side of the earth was up. People built the tower of Babylon to get closer to heaven. It is always people trying to get higher up, to be closer to God.
Why do people who are supposed to be made in the “image” of God wish to go “up” and be like God? He, or some say she, is almighty and eternal. We are told that He creates things out of nothing. All of us would like to have those qualities without considering that we would all be God like and we are not smart enough to deal with that kind of power. In the meantime, we just work to get higher and higher like a moth flying into a flame.
The most sophisticated existing thing that we ever observed is the human brain. We know relatively very little about our brains, but we are trying to increase its natural power by using Artificial Intelligence. We know that we are consciousness and there is a power greater than what we understand that we call subconsciousness. It operates our bodies and possibly the universe. If it evolved or was created it is superior to the part of our brains, we know how to use.
Biblical stories often refer to dreams. In dreams, humans interacted with God. Primitive people were using natural substances to heighten their natural abilities and even travel out of the body. As we gained scientific knowledge, we neglected the study and even killed those who specialized in the arcane before they could pass on their knowledge. The modern “science-religion” won over the old science of Shamanism spiritualism and magic, now considered primitive. An age of consumerism triumphed. We lost important supernatural know-how in favor of owning lots of manufactured “things” and airplane trips. Was it a good trade-off?
I think that the God part that is in us permits us to create and to travel to and beyond the stars. What we need to do is shift our great potential power to another channel and work in the right direction. There is no need to own a lot of useless material things at the expense of poor people who make them. We don’t need to always be in another place than where we are either. It consumes our resources and destroys our only world.
Instead, we have the option of working towards improving the lives of all who are around us, providing what they need to simply live an enjoyable life. It will bring down the ever-increasing population numbers.
There is an option to study the human God power inside us and the mysterious consciousness which never dies. It can change as we see in dreams and hypnosis or under anesthetics, but it is spiritual, not material. The soul which is the real us can travel to the stars and we can be more conscious of it than we are if we try.
My soul, which I  call “me” is able to grow me a body, travel, and according to my religious faith, be with God. I don’t need to be dead for it to happen, but I need more effort to discover its mysteries.
Here is a link to my blog: https://thesimpleravenspost.blogspot.ca/  Feel free to check other articles and comment.


Monday, 15 June 2020

Social Rebirth.


Social Rebirth.
I feel privileged to be able to communicate with my chosen community in the Alberta Rockies once a week. I am blessed to have a limited space of half a page in a local newspaper and I hear comments from readers all the time. I don’t mind doing the work, it’s a pleasure, but I have a hard time choosing the most relevant topic.
My favorite subject has always been something philosophical or spiritual, but events hijack my focus. Politics and economics are so important yet often ignored. The state of our world, be it peace or war or environmental justice must be dealt with or there will be an end to God’s creation as we know it. It may happen in the lifetime of my precious grandchildren. COVID attacks people, the economy is in ruins and politicians are demanding air time in the name of Democracy.
My fingers holding the pen above the paper, or something like that, and I am ready to write about “towers and the holy spirit.” I have been preparing for that. NO! The hand of God waves back and forth, ordering me to change the subject. I am an obedient guy, so I switch my computer screen to news and see what the Lord may want.
The world is up in arms about a well-publicized killing of a US citizen in the hands of police. The video is horrific. It shows a very tall, muscular African American submitting to police in every way, killed slowly. No mistake here. This is police brutality. Soon there are more videos surfacing and other cases are brought into focus.
In the last few years, I watched a constant increase in civil unrest. People seem to have reached a point in which they say enough is enough. Personally, I interpret the impatience as discontent with the way things are, based largely on the obvious and ever-increasing inequalities in society. I could be wrong.
The day after President Trump’s inauguration, we witnessed the largest women’s protest ever. The Black Lives Matter has been steadily growing. A “Me Too” movement sprung up when some very influential people were named for abusing girls and there is economy based unrest. People all over the world, especially in the US, are protesting measures designed to prevent or influence voting rights and the appointment of judges is being questioned.
Here in our province, we saw a great reaction to the way the government treats education and health professionals. In Ontario, the Premier reversed course and now people are talking about the New Doug Ford and the Old Doug Ford as if they are two different people. It is obvious that people no longer believe that the regular methods of advancing social change are working for their needs.
George Floyd’s funeral was televised everywhere. Many thousands of people in other parts of the world, including Canada and America, were protesting his killing, often facing police violence themselves. Some used the opportunity to create additional mayhem by burning and looting. George’s niece, a pretty girl who looks sixteen gave an emotional speech about the gentle giant who cried for his mother as they choked his life out of him. She said in a husky teen girl voice full of tears, “no justice, no peace.” The huge cathedral was full of silent Americans. They all looked human to me and I was thinking, their lives matter, as any human life.
Later a golden casket was carried by a horse-drawn carriage through the streets of Houston lined with people. I found myself thinking, here is a man who died for $20.00. Will the billionaire now in the White House have as many people at his funeral? I remembered the words I heard on June 5th, 1970, from Apollo 13th. “Houston, we have a problem.”
“When the US catches a Cold, Canada sneezes.” It looks as if people in both countries are ready to explode. I remember the sixties and the seventies very clearly. We had what became known as the Middle Class. Then something changed. No one event riled people up, only slow change. Here we had the usual switching over between Liberals and Conservatives every few years and so did the US, but life changed. 
One day my kids were grown and starting families and I noticed a significant difference. In the seventies, working folks could afford an education, keeping up with inflation, and even saved towards retirement. Some of us even managed to work a four-day workweek and most had delightful holidays. Slowly but surely the working class lost ground while earth-shattering profits of Corporations rose. Some people tried to protest, so they equipped the police with riot gear and ordered to fight the poor. We are a land of law and order, said those who purchased lawmaker’s positions. The laws favored the powerful, not us, in the name of “jobs.” 
People were ready to rebel as soon as they would find a just cause and now they do. What could be more just than systemic discrimination, first towards minorities but also against an entire class of people? Some educated people are predicting another vast setback for the working class after the COVID crisis. Together we who work make a majority and now can all see it.
I feel sorry for the righteous people who have the job to police this mess. They are being hit from all sides. The left fights them, the far-right fight them, and they are often punished for following orders. In New York, a whole lot of officers resigned already.
The way we do policing will change now by public demand. What we need is to bring those brave men and women back into the fold. They are like us, the lost middle class. We should all be working together to fix a system that no longer serves us. I urge people in my community to step over towards any of our police officers, even if he/she gave you a ticket, and say: thank you for what you do.
Here is a link to my blog: https://thesimpleravenspost.blogspot.ca/  Feel free to check other articles and comment.

Tuesday, 9 June 2020

Fear, hope, and reaction.


Fear, hope, and reaction.
Fear is an emotion that is physically changing functions in the body and taking over the mind. I think it is a feeling that we may be harmed, perhaps seriously, but we can’t do much about it. The first time that I can remember being struck with fear happened on the farm in my pre-school days.
We lived on the farm, and it was summer. The window was open and louvered shutters were closed. I was in my bed and could see light reflecting on the wall from the kerosene lamp in the kitchen where my parents were. Outside I could hear the jackals (wild dogs like coyotes) howling at a distance. The most powerful animals in our environment were the hyenas. They are similar to a big dog and make a distinctive sound that is like a crazy man laughing hysterically. Scientists believe that the sound paralyzes nerves.
One of these beasts somehow got close to my window and howled/laughed, leaving me frozen with fear. Immediately I heard my dad opening the closet where he kept a shotgun. I heard it click and the front door squeaked and slammed shut. In seconds there was the flash and a shell exploded followed by some crunching of his feet on the gravel followed by another shot and the night was silent more than ever.  Young me had been introduced to one major human emotion called fear.
There were many more brushes with fear in my life. I learned that we can ignore fear, inflict it upon others, and use it to control humans and even animals. It is not always rational yet very powerful. Often fear is connected to our imagination. We imagine a scenario that may happen and compute the probability of its materializing. In other cases, we are just paralyzed with fear yet unable to explain it.
Fear is contagious and can easily infect enormous groups of people. I, for example, have a fear of communicable diseases. I never had one worse than the flu but I have seen movies of great plagues and I will go through great trouble to try to avoid being infected.  I remember in my childhood when so many kids were inflicted with Polio. I had a friend in school who lost the use of his legs. I know that invisible little critters can do a lot of harm to us, the almighty humans. My imagination makes fear mightier. I assume that a virus with the ability to mutate and quickly reproduce could destroy all humans.
My other great fear is that humans will destroy themselves. My parents, and all the people I knew as a child, were refugees from Europe. They survived since they were smart or lucky enough to escape the two greatest enemies that threatened humanity, both ideologies. My parents escaped both Fascism and Communism and I fear both.
I know that to avoid the two most dreadful ideologies we must keep a healthy balance. People must have a reasonable way to stay alive, be safe, and raise children while also taking care of the old. Without that, we will abandon our love of life and head towards extinction. The opposing emotion to fear is hope.
The survivors of the great war, who raised me, all had hope in common. They faced the armies of both Hitler and Stalin. Most have been in concentration camps or war prisoners’ facilities, yet they always had an escape plan or devised possible scenarios of coming out alive. They all knew instinctively that the way to beat fear is by fighting. It is the nature of humans. The other most important ingredient is sticking together. You can’t win alone but sure can in numbers.
Last week I watched with horror the President next door, acting seemingly without understanding the basics of human nature. His own people came in great numbers to make him aware of a huge social problem in his country. Discrimination against poor people, mostly visible minorities. As always, some hotheads acted criminally, but most were doing what they should, letting the government know that a change must happen.
The President first displayed fear and later came brandishing weapons, gassing and attacking. The government is a tool of the people designed to organize action that the people want. This time the President did the opposite of what is logical. He threatened to use the defense force to subdue the people. Does he not know that the army is made of people from his country?
The ruling class of the greatest country, which I admired all my life, has just deteriorated a great deal. I have friends in the US whom I care a lot about. There are Americans who live here and they are good people. Now I am helplessly watching as steps are being taken towards what could develop into a civil war. I have seen it before in other places and studied it in school. How can anyone risk taking all those wonderful people towards such a significant danger? I feel fear creeping into my bones.
I am witnessing a possible breakdown of all that I believed could not break down.  We humans reached a new point in which we demand action and improvement. We are fighting for the environment, for life on the planet, for an end to systemic discrimination, and for an economy that will sustain us instead of build empires.
With information breaking through, no longer dependent upon the official media, our dreams and hopes are now attainable. In comes, the “old guard” threatening to rule by fear and force. Consequently, we see millions of people demonstrating all over the world. The “old guard” are trying to use their laws and our armies to subdue the popular movements, but it will not happen.
Calling the armies at this point will only bring war and violent revolutions. I pray that peace and love will win the day as was predicted in the bible that Trump was holding upside down in front of the White House.
Here is a link to my blog: https://thesimpleravenspost.blogspot.ca/  Feel free to check other articles and comment.

Sunday, 31 May 2020

Seniors “just” rant.


 Seniors “just” rant.
Safety is very important to seniors and so are leisure activities. I am sitting at my window watching my pond. In the spring it is often filled with water from the Blairmore ski hill runoffs. This year it is overflowing and flooding the whole forest behind it and ducks are swimming, some nesting. Right next to it is my fireplace, as safe as humanly possible to make, but I can’t enjoy a fire since there is a fire ban. Someone in the establishment believes that we can’t have fires even if we practice all the rules of safety. It may be the same person who decided not to provide the usual training to the firefighters. Who knows?
Two years ago the pond didn’t fill in the spring. There were crews of firefighters paid by a government grant, clearing dead wood from the same forest in front of my place, and they were burning piles of branches right in the middle of the trees. What has changed?
I hope that my MLA is reading the Pass Herald and he will provide an answer. After all, nothing changed. The oil market was depressed than as it is now and Alberta had the same income. Why are we being punished? It is Seniors’ Week, and the community is honoring us. YEAH. Thanks for the praise but we are old enough to know that praise is cheap and action is valuable.
Now the Pandemic will be blamed for all economic ills, I am sure, but the dreaded Corona Virus didn’t change the big picture. It will kill a whole lot of us older folks, who become dependent on others towards the end of life.
We took care of the young and worked hard to build a good province and country. Many of us fought and died to provide for the future generations, trusting that towards the end we will be cared for.
What we failed to do is predict the level of greed that the future generations would develop and some did. Not here in this community but in the cities which filled up with people from other places who came to make money and leave. An example is the private nursing homes paid by the public. Look at the Army reports coming out of eastern Canada for details.
All of us contributed to our health care and pensions. Some of us, especially those unionized, paid sizeable sums towards additional pensions. We watched the funds privatized and governments take control over how to invest the money and use it or lose it for political reasons. The people who worked for Alberta towns just heard that their pension funds lost a third of its value by investing in oil companies who didn’t make it.

I am an old man now and I thank the Lord profusely for all the blessings, but I wonder. Why did we, the common people, have to fight for everything? Why did we have to win at great suffering, or lose ground? I was a child when we were fighting for a piece of ground to live on. When I was a young teen we, and others like us, fought for the right of colored people to be accepted as humans. Soon after, it was the fight against being sent to die in unjust wars. This we and our generation won, and we were fighting for equal pay for women and human rights for people to love each other without “guidance” from the state.
I was a young man when we gave up on fighting and tried to achieve social equality by working and studying hard. In thirty years we almost lost the middle class and all the previous gains.
Now we are seniors and should be resting from a life of hard work enjoying the fruits of our sacrifice and saving. There is no break. Greedy politicians go after our prepaid benefits, privatizing some aspects and cutting off our care. Should we be happy that there is a Seniors Week?
In my younger days, I and my friends worked hard to help our families. We did it on the farms and in the cities. No-one even considered complaining. When we got married, we labored even harder and raised families. None of my friends had their higher education paid by their parents. We bought starter homes, fixed them, and worked our way up.
Our work and ingenuity, saving, and volunteering caused the improvements we see today. Just look at a picture of Calgary or Edmonton fifty years ago compared to now and see the difference. Compare what we did it with what is available now after we contributed our share.
Now we are old and have no choice but to depend on those whom we brought up. We are happy that they did well and beam with pride, yet should we be expected to be tossed aside like useless garbage?
It is not what our kids or those around us are doing that I am complaining about. They are simply peaceful as we taught them to be. They don’t realize that you get nothing if you don’t fight for it. It is the political climate that changed.
Somehow we entered an age in which productivity increased, we built infrastructure, technology improved many times over, and there is no money for our needs. We are facing fewer doctors and nurses, fewer more distant hospitals, less public transportation, and dilapidated care in long-term facilities. If one in a couple that’s been married for fifty years falls ill, they separate us.
I hate sitting here and ranting, but I feel that the story must be told. It’s useless to praise people when they don’t do their homework or give participation trophies to those who don’t try. People who didn’t contribute as we did, organize events to honor us, give speeches, and benefit themselves and their friends out of our savings and the systems we set up. Governing is a difficult job.
Here is a link to my blog: https://thesimpleravenspost.blogspot.ca/  Feel free to check other articles and comment.

Monday, 25 May 2020

The fight between “more” and “enough.”


The fight between “more” and “enough.”
I don’t remember if I read the story or heard someone tell it, but it remained with me over the years.
A tourist stayed in a little town in Mexico where he met a man with a little boat and asked him what he did. We often begin a relationship by asking what a person does for a living. The Mexican answered. I eat my breakfast and go fishing to catch two fish. One I eat and the other I sell in the farmer’s market to buy some vegetables. I take a siesta and go for a walk on the beach. At night I meet some friends and we sing and party before going to sleep.
The tourist said to the Mexican, you can do much better. You can catch lots of fish, sell them and buy another boat or two and hire people to fish for you. You can rent that empty building beside us and start a fish canning business. The Mexican answered, why should I? The tourist answered, to make lots of money. The Mexican asked what for?
The tourist said, you can do this until you get old, sell the business and retire in comfort. The Mexican said why? You will be like me, answered the tourist. You can take a vacation by the sea, go fishing, have a siesta every day and party all night. The Mexican looked at him and said, That is what I am doing now, isn’t it?
The debate has been going on for a long time about who is right. Here in North America we measure our success by the growth of the economy while there are many others who don’t see a point in constant growth. Some people are content with what they have and don’t want more. You don’t see them in airports and they don’t work in high-rise buildings.
The two types of people can’t co-exist peacefully since those who are like the tourist in my story must use those who are like the Mexican fisherman to get rich and force them to work.
We know many people who say on Fridays, thank God it's Friday. They also watch the clocks for quitting time. People want jobs and hate their jobs. It’s not common to find folks who are happy with what they have or what they do. It is most popular to want more and those who don’t are considered lazy.
There is fierce competition for good jobs and politicians promise to create, save, or fight for jobs. No-one points out to them that as a country we have more than what we can use, that fifty percent of the food produced ends up in the landfill and that women carry the heaviest burden of this life full of consumer’s junk. We don’t realize that for everything we throw away people are working cheaply and hard in other countries. China didn’t ask us to move all of our manufacturing industries overseas, but now they want to join our club and we don’t like it. Japan did a long time ago.
I am trying to think, who do I know that is happy with what they have and don’t wish to have more. I can’t find anyone. All the people that I know at least wish to travel to other places and tell each other that they did. They all have cabins or second homes in Arizona or perhaps by a lake. I can’t find people I know who don’t desire more.
So, I stretch my imagination and look at how the world is shaping up for the future. Traveling is taking a setback, and so is tourism. There is a growing, well-based fear now that mixing up with other people may cost us our life. That is an outrageous price and those who don’t “believe” it soon will. After the wave of pandemics, every person will know someone who perished. The second wave usually arrives in the winter after the first wave.
Prices will rise. The jobs that are often done by women or less educated folks will now cost more, as society will rediscover the actual value of that under-appreciated work. Humans must have care in the beginning and at the end of life and women are those who provide it, often voluntarily. As we realize it, they will unionize and start demanding proper compensation, as they should. Immigration will slow down, and small businesses will disappear. The vacuum created will be filled with large corporations that will take advantage of the situation and increase the prices for all things. Our economy which existed on a credit bubble before COVID will come down crashing.
In poor countries, people will starve again as they were some years ago and the population will become dangerous to the affluent. Countries on mass will have to invest more in defense and what we call “terrorism” will sharply rise. Desperate people exercise desperate behavior. Even life in rich countries will change drastically. Gated communities will be in stark contrast to their surroundings. Security will demand that we will lose much of what we view as our God-given freedoms.
We became used to the idea that some people are entitled to a life of plenty and some of us believed that we can all have it if we work hard enough. Cheap credit gave us a taste of it. Now we will realize that there are limits. Time to pay the credit cards.
A most important fact to remember is that now China surpassed America in practicing Capitalism. The West is out of the race and must change to save face. After the COVID devastation, it will be the best opportunity to do so.
Our problem is that we only hear what we wish to hear and get shocked by the truth. Now it’s happening. We will have to live within our means and share fairly with those who truly work hard. 
Here is a link to my blog: https://thesimpleravenspost.blogspot.ca/  Feel free to check other articles and comment.

Monday, 11 May 2020

A world after COVED.


  A world after COVED.
When I turned six years old, it was time to go to school. We lived on a farm a few kilometers from school and an old guy was charged with the task of taking four kids from three farms to school and back. We went in a wagon pulled by a white horse. The kids all wanted to sit in front to see when the horse went poo. The old guy enjoyed talking so he would tell what he knew about the news. News came from newspapers and was passed on from person to person.
Now, people are worried about fake news and conspiracy theories. In my younger days, news reporters and editors had a code of honor and tried hard to tell the truth without taking sides. However, people often mixed into the news stories some of their personal experiences and a little bit of the stories they read in the popular fiction at the time.
The old cart driver would talk to us kids while the horse slowly hauled us to and from school. He probably influenced us more than our teachers and parents combined. He spoke with us at our own level. His favorite subject was the early space explorations, mostly by the Soviet Union and the stories of Edgar Rice Burroughs, one of the first Science Fiction writers.
At the time only a few people had radios and people treated what was said on the radio as God’s truth. I remember the wagoneer saying that scientists are planning to try to contact people from space with radio and that he thought it was dangerous.  We may bring around some creatures that we can’t fight against.
On the other hand, the wagoneer surmised, the “things” from space may be completely different from us. They may not use the radio, not even see and hear as we do. They may be a virus that just eats people from inside. Now after all those years later I remember his words.
I am sitting in my truck on a hill. The old Crowsnest Pass towns are behind me in the mountains and a prairie town is in front. The towns look like medieval cities under siege by an enemy. The streets are empty, schools and shops are closed and only a few people quickly move from buildings to vehicles. There is fear in the air. A lonely train snakes its way in fields dotted by cattle that gained a few more days of life while the meat processing plants are closed. They don’t mind.
From my vantage point, I can see mountain peaks over the border in the US. The invisible enemy is attacking both countries the same, but the response is different. Here the government is helping the people survive during the most dangerous part of the unusual health crisis, while there the push is to force the population to walk into danger or face hunger. I am so glad to be a Canadian, even though I feel that we could do more.
Everyone around us is concerned about how we will come out of the mess. Can we survive without everyone working? Those who need to work for the rest of us to survive are working. The farmers and ranchers, store employees, and postal staff risk life to keep us afloat. The health care workers and government workers who dispense money, keep us safe, and plan how to deal with the crisis are working more than they normally do. Someone is driving the train below, others are taking care of it and transport trucks are on the road.
The Canadians whose work is detrimental to society are not staying home taking government handouts. There are too many to name. We are calling them heroes but in “normal” times we try to cut their wages or working hours to save money, money that will be given away to large corporations. I look from my vantage point and consider the injustice of it all.
We need shelter, food, health care, and other essentials and we have it. Most other things we can wait for. A lot of us make a living doing things that are “nice” but unnecessary. When we spend the emergency allowance from the government, we will keep the economy going. However, the much bigger economy next to us can’t maneuver as easily as we do.
When their hundreds of millions begin to starve or walk into death traps where the jobs are, there will be a reaction. If the reaction weakens them, they will lose their ability to keep their empire together. There are others on the sidelines ready to run into the field.
We can go on very well if we forget about expanding the economy and always having MORE. There is enough room at the top to divide and keep all the people fed, housed, educated, and in good health for a while if we stop expanding and producing more junk. We can have sustainable homes, vehicles, and a few trips, but we must stop. Calgary can’t keep spreading over more farms forever.
I see the possibility of riots and disorder spreading if people find it impossible to stay alive. I see a shift in public opinion coming where people will believe science and quit politicizing genuine dangers. Above all, I see women finally becoming equal to men when they save the day. COVED will expose it.
The push towards producing more things cheaper will soon die off as the world will react to what humans are doing. People will discover that there is value to human beings that is greater than what they can make and sell.
In the Bible, it says that we are the yeast of the Earth. What does yeast do when you make wine? It keeps growing, multiplying slowly, then faster and later quickly producing heat, and eventually, spirit.
We humans are not yet at the stage in which we can comprehend a transition to spirit, but we are getting closer. 
Here is a link to my blog: https://thesimpleravenspost.blogspot.ca/  Feel free to check other articles and comment.

Monday, 4 May 2020

Life is a story.


Life is a story.
I was less than a foot tall, (a Primie) not equipped to survive even three hours without help. I couldn’t see or communicate more than scream for a brief time. Something changed. Twenty years later I could survive on my own and function in a complicated society. How did it happen?
The chief ingredient was and is what I believe. I believe what comes to me from stories. Even what I see or hear remains in my mind in the form of stories I recall and tell myself. Do I remember what happened when I was learning how to walk? Not really, but my parents told the story and I remember it slightly differently. I recall the story in my own words.
Stories shape individuals as well as societies. Stories, which are just words; create. The stories we believe are true make us who we are and even determine what we will do or not do.  There are stories that we treat as an art form while there are others that we believe to be a reality. A superb example in our age are the stories about or by science. It’s proven and we can’t doubt it. The world is a ball of magma hurling through space; we have seen it. We live on the thin surface, shielded by a little bubble we call the atmosphere.
I learned how to read early in life, perhaps around five. The first book of stories, which I still have, was a volume with translated stories by Hans Christian Andersen, a most famous Danish writer. His children’s stories more or less shaped the thinking of the North European people. 
The Little Match girl thought me compassion for poor people, The Little Mermaid was all about love while The king’s New Clothes demonstrated another life lesson. People will believe in any impossible story if they can benefit from doing so. Believing is based on proof, like science, but can be altered by a greedy mind.
The other influence that shaped me came from Old Testament Biblical stories, which I learned in school. Good stories they were until I began to read the Bible on my own. By the age of sixteen, I decided that I didn’t believe in God. Shortly after we moved to Canada and for the first time I had my personal copy of the New Testament and became a convert to my own religion. Here was a story that appealed to me.
In Canada in the late sixties, I purchased a little black and white television set which opened my mind to alternative stories. The most influential upon me was the series of Star Trek. Here was a story about humans becoming an admirable species using technology yet undreamed of. They explored worlds that offered other possibilities that we never considered possible.
Above the fascination with technology, Star Trek dealt with two other major interests of mine. First was the possibility of human beings training themselves to be honorable, curious discoverers, and willing to fight for principles above all peace. The character of Spock was extremely interesting. A superman, in a way, he was half Vulcan. His people had a rough past and learned to suppress their emotions and use logic to solve all problems.
The next aspect I was very much attracted to was the philosophical theories that were dealt with on different planets that the Starship Enterprise visited. The crew of the ship often found themselves on planets similar to Earth but where societies grew to believe in a variety of philosophies.  
I imagine the Starship Enterprise coming to a world like ours today. They discover a world of humans where an elite of wealthy humans is in the process of replacing the labor force with Artificial intelligence and robots. A deadly pandemic is reducing the poorest population who are helpless against an advanced military force beyond their ability to fight against. The elites are drowning in comfort, involved in sex, even pedophilia, and like to keep things as they are. They own the Inteligencia, which in that age are the Theoretical Physicists. The impoverished masses are looking for ways to survive.
In comes, the Starship governed by the old USA constitution trying to restore balance and save billions of innocent lives. In their story “we the people” rule themselves for the benefit of all.
Imagining a story is not easy. The author must present a problem and discover a way to solve it. What would be a reasonable way to solve a conflict of a species immersed in inequality that will destroy a beautiful world? The answer comes from the history of Humankind itself. People value most their own lifetime and life is only precious if it exists relative to all that surrounds it.
In my Star Trek story, the captain finds a few of the elites who are abhorred by the plan to replace most humans and hand the world over to a few lucky corrupt individuals. Some, more humane elites, join up with intellectuals and people of high morals to spoil the takeover attempt. They discover a cure for the pandemic and convince the armies not to fight against the common people.
My memory of the old Star Trek episodes is fading. All I remember is that there were a few that dealt with the exceptional power of faith and belief.  
In one a weapon was used which had no physical means to harm people but in the right hands, it killed. Officer Spock explained that it was similar to the well-proven placebo effect. My studies show that it is possible. My historical observations demonstrate that we are the stories we tell ourselves, but we must “know” that the stories are true. You can’t believe what you don’t know to be true or know something and not believe. 
It has been many years since I read the story about “The King’s New Clothes”.
Here is a link to my blog: https://thesimpleravenspost.blogspot.ca/  Feel free to check other articles and comment.

Monday, 27 April 2020

A letter to the Editor. Canadians in Trouble.


A letter to the Editor.
Canadians in Trouble.
Just when I thought that things couldn’t be much worst, here it is. A sickness hit the world and now is killing a large number of our vulnerable citizens, the oldest in care homes, plus others. We are locked down and people are losing their ability to make a living. Oil which made Alberta rich hit bottom and our medical people, we trust and love, are being forced to quit. (This may be changing.)
A crazed individual killed 22 people in the province of Nova Scotia. I don’t care what his motive may have been, there is no justification for what he did. Our Nova Scotia brothers and sisters have not done anything that could deserve what they are suffering. It is so obvious that the victims were innocent people. A pregnant mother, a teenage girl, a nurse, a policewoman, and so many others. I can’t look at the news without wiping tears from my eyes.
Canada is a peaceful nation and most of us love the country and its people and they feel the same about us. We are polite, welcoming people who help each other in times of need.
Now it is too late to help those who lost their lives. Perhaps I can ask our mayor to send a letter on behalf of all of us to the mayor of Portaqiue offering condolences from an Alberta town. We could publish it in our newspaper and send them a copy. Many Nova Scotians are ex-coal miners like many people here.
The incident sparks renewed calls for gun controls as if we could get rid of all guns. If I had my wish I would have liked to face the murderer with a gun in my hand. A gun in trained hands of a good person can be a blessing sometimes. We could have had fewer deaths if people could defend themselves when he came to their homes. However, that is up to the lawmakers.
We can’t let all Nova Scotians know how we feel but we can show appreciation for another group that was hurt. The RCMP lost a sister in arms, who went out to fight against a threat to the citizens she is sworn to protect. (She left behind a loving husband and two young children.) The police are all ready at a moment's notice to do the same and they are here living amongst us.
I don’t know how the people of the Crowsnest pass can show appreciation to those brave police persons in their hour of mourning but I am sure that we can find a way. Possibly through social media or perhaps in some other way.
Brothers and sisters from Nova Scotia, beloved police our defenders, and all the grieving families, we are with you. We cry and pray with you.
Avner

What kind of world is it, anyway?


What kind of world is it, anyway?
Poverty marked my earliest days. My parents survived the war, but that was all. There were no good jobs, they had only basic education and no one to provide any help. All our friends were about the same. We saw some people who had much more, even talked with them, but the only hope we had was to  move to America where “the streets are paved with gold.” 
My earliest memories include stories about aliens coming to destroy us. Some were fierce creatures from another world while others were uniformed people under a red flag, depending on the comic book. At the age of six, I was sure that the dreaded atomic bomb would destroy us. To us, humans were destined to live in poverty and watch those who had it all. It was “Romantic.” Stories about princes and heroes were popular.
When I was a teenager, my parents stumbled upon the opportunity to emigrate to Canada. My dreams were to make my riches very quick and join the upper class.  Like most of the people reading this, we know that coming to America or Canada was just the beginning. Thankfully, there was an opportunity to work hard, study, and have the most basic needs met. Very few made it higher, mostly the second or third generation.
To my mind, the world could be heaven if people use what is provided by nature and our work, equally. It seems to make sense.  We are born with nothing, buried with nothing, and should be able to live life. After all, we use the earth and its bounty by working. People always did. However,  we work extra hard to make life easier. Funny isn’t it. Work harder to make it easier? YES.
In my lifetime, the amount of labor required to obtain what we need shrank significantly. We no longer have to cut strips of newspaper and crumple them to make toilet paper, for example.
It would be nice if all people could share things equally, but it’s not in our nature. Some people make greater efforts and should reap better rewards, while others should enjoy mediocre lives and be happy. The problem starts when we introduce inheritance. That is when people who don’t make extra efforts or take higher risks get ahead of those who do. We all try to help our children without considering those who don’t have help from parents. They may work harder yet stay down.
This injustice is evident with families or even nations. A German person, for example, naturally will have better prospects in life that a Nigerian child. A white child in the US will do better than an aboriginal or African American child. Ability or determination will not make much difference. If we continue that way perhaps we should consider punishing kids for the sins of their parents, but we don’t, so let’s not reward them for the parent’s success. 
I think that the rules of the free market, based on effort and fair competition, should apply. What we should aim towards is building a social structure that will offer humankind the best chance of surviving into the future.
Now we are facing a new situation and we don’t have lessons from our past to teach us what to do. A few people own mostly everything and a large portion of humans are living hand to mouth. Some can still borrow, but it’s coming to an end. It is true for individuals as well as countries. It took a virus to expose the situation.
While we were waiting for “someone” to do something, we failed to notice the sad reality. Out of seven and a half billion people, about six billion lack much hope. They don’t even have an escape route. The streets anywhere are not paved with gold and the world reached its credit limits. Now with mass fear of death people quit working and the importance of the little workers became self-evident. The next step is scary.
The whole economic system currently in place is centered around oil, which lost its dominance. Docile large countries became a threat both economically and militarily. People are waking up and realizing that everyone need not work most of their waking hours just to fulfill the basic needs while also understanding that life is possible without consuming and throwing away so much. Life can be a blessing just by spending it with your family and neighbors, hardly wasting anything.
If the people who are not inheriting or otherwise hoarding all available wealth magically disappeared, society could function. If the workers/consumers would be gone, there wouldn’t be the “world as we know it.” If the poor people who don’t possess most of the world’s wealth march against those who do, they will not even notice when they trample them under. The brainless killer virus is a better teacher than the most sophisticated computer.
I fantasize about a world where all human beings are valued but we reward those who make an extra effort, up to a point. Humanity is not better off if Jeff Bezos owns 140 billion dollars. He would live the same and work the same if he had one billion-plus some after heavy tax. We can use the other 139 billion for everyone’s benefits. I would make it illegal to have any money or other wealth dormant. Money must work for people and be taxed for society.
If we restricted the high limits of personal wealth the richest people wouldn’t clamor to get tax cuts and sway politicians towards doing things that will destroy the world in the long run. The Earth which is God’s gift to all its creatures will continue its natural function until we are ready for the next step in our evolution. The transition to spiritual existence.  Some believe it and others don’t.
Here is a link to my blog: https://thesimpleravenspost.blogspot.ca/  Feel free to check other articles and comment.

Big and little bullies.

Big and little bullies. The year was 1958, and the world was changing as it always does. My parents moved from the farm to a new town a...