Sunday, 29 March 2020

A virus war story.

 A virus war story.
The country is in trouble, worse than it was when we declared war after Pearl Harbour. This is a time such as most living Canadians have never experienced in their lifetime. We are under attack from two, perhaps three fronts at the same time, and our people are becoming casualties. It is not only soldiers who are falling, but mostly civilians right at their homes, towns, and cities.
To survive the war, we will need co-operation from all of us to an unprecedented level. It will take self-sacrifice, and the ability to go on fighting even under stress, deprivation, isolation, and losses. 
A space historian recorded his impressions. He was studying primitive physical cultures close to entering the transition to a spiritual existence. He was visible to his own kind but not to earthly humans yet for those who saw him; he looked humanoid.
I saw a world of bipedal intelligent creatures who built and developed an amazing civilization. They are amazing not only in their ability to build and develop but also in working towards beauty and some ability for caring for each other. Some are great warriors but others developed humanitarian tendencies and empathy towards each other and even towards animals they share the world with. As in other worlds, humans were not all of the same mind, but generally, they displayed the potential to be a force of good. They could not see me, or my vehicle, so I remained around the planet.
Humans in a relatively short time developed great technologies, amplifying their physical power and control over their environment. Their biggest quest is to overcome a process they call on their planet “evolution.” Their bodies and brains develop competitively, dropping the less able into oblivion. They do realize that they are spirits (like us Space Travelers) but they are unable to overcome the tempting physical plenty which surrounds them.
Since the Space Historian wasn’t subjected to the planetary time, he observed humans over hundreds of earthly years taking notes. The humans, he said, are not efficient in organization. They are concerned about advancement, but constant competition leads them to provide great rewards for a few who excel while ignoring the greater numbers, leaving the majority mostly unused for the greater good. The species could have been developing much faster if all its members were utilized. I conclude that the evolutionary system of the planet is the cause.
The Historian observed humans transitioning from a mainly agrarian society to an industrial age. People learned how to use mechanical means to augment their muscles. Later they studied the environment and developed advanced weapons for fighting each other. They improved communications and traveling. Not long after, Artificial Intelligence machines and the humans managed to leave the Earth’s atmosphere and return.
The Historian made some footnotes. Humans are attempting to travel to other areas of space but have a physical barrier. They do not understand nonphysical existence yet. They made up a story about God, which leads them to believe that He is less than what he is.
As humans began using satellite communications, the Historian began gathering mountains of information. In one of his notes, he described an observation.
Humans have been experimenting with governing themselves, but failed to discover and implement an efficient, equitable way. They designed communism to rule by consensus of the masses, but failed. A Democratic Capitalist system led the species towards destroying their world. Currently, the species is on “pause” by intervention they call an Act of God, which is threatening the civilization’s ability to survive.  
Epidemics affect primitive cultures greatly causing unforeseen changes. Some immediate and long-lasting, and others only show up a long time after. The humans coining of the event as an “act of God” is true. God, whom humans envision as an all-powerful human. They designed an invisible creator who installed behaviours into creation to enhance and preserve it. Humans call it the law of nature and are just beginning to discover its workings.
I was watching the creatures build cities and optimize technology while at the same time their ever-growing population lives deprived of basic needs. Their evolutionary system is handicapped by their inability to involve a great number of individuals and is hampered by the control of a few who often are not most advanced or capable.
Almost all sicknesses and disasters meet a response from the supreme mind of the universe. As I expected, a plague, they named COVID 19, entered the humans' world atmosphere threatening to wreak havoc and demanding reaction. They are forced to use their opposing governing systems and expose weaknesses and strengths. 
In less than a month, most of the advanced nations on Earth instituted measures to isolate populations, bringing the world economy to a standstill. The reaction of the panicked populace exposed the truth that the economy was built to benefit a few at the expense of the many keeping most humans at subsistence level unneeded. Also, a new wave of sharing engulfed humanity.
An oil-based economy that made energy unnecessarily expensive collapsed when production limits were lifted plunging the most affluent energy companies into useless status. The economy that was based on creating artificial scarcity has been exposed.
People connected by Social Media began to overthrow pretend Gods like money, sports, fame, and politics. A new appreciation dawned on the value of community, family, and the benefit of caring for each other. As the casualties are mounting, there is a feeling that there is an invisible hand directing events to help humans preserve their civilization.
The space historian finished his notes and said a little prayer for the creatures he was studying. Being a more advanced creature of their own kind, he had empathy and something called LOVE in human communications. His ancestors barely survived similar trials in their history. Humbly he attributed their survival to some invisible mind called God. Could God be using a simple, nonliving or thinking virus to shape things to come?
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Sunday, 22 March 2020

Hope During a Corona Invasion?

Hope During a Corona Invasion?
Last week I predicted that my next column may be full of hope. I truly want it to be, but I am now a suspicious person and not without good reasons. I have been cheated so many times. I watched the news this morning. It was an American station. I saw the President who just two weeks ago said repeatedly that there is nothing to worry about, now saying that he knew for a long time that the pandemic was coming. Did he? Well, four senators are being accused of selling their stocks just before the market crashed. They knew.  Also, we don’t know how many in the US are infected since they don’t have enough test kits to check. Back to Canada.
Here the Prime Minister is in isolation, leading by “good example.” He is announcing some very helpful measures to keep the population alive and the economy going. I agree with pumping money into the economy. Preventing chaos and ensuring that everyone will have some money to keep commerce going is necessary. I don’t think he has another choice.
I do question when governments give billions in grants or even tax cuts to industries or corporations that are failing. This is too much socialism for me. Why Mr. Prime-minister, don’t you prepay our gas and oil bills for six months instead of giving 15 billion of our tax money to the oil and gas companies who will soon lay off a quarter of Albertans? Give the money to the oil workers, I would say. I have a good friend who believes that solutions to problems always come from big business. Now we have a major crisis and I don’t see people begging big business for solutions. I see people turning to governments demanding action. If I was the government, I would help small businesses who employ most Canadians. Instead, they are taxing small businesses and their employees and giving money to the big ones.
I watched a CBC special “Market Place Coronavirus (COVID-19)”. It’s a good show which compared our readiness for the pandemic with that of Taiwan. On that Island kids still go to school, families eat in restaurants functioning normally with a few exceptions. Per capita, they have fewer COVID 19 cases than us, and we are much better than most. How come? The Taiwan government has done its job.
Onwards, I go to review our Premier’s address from yesterday. He outlined several new measures that would make any lefty politician elated. Daycares for essential workers, expanding homeless shelters, 113 million dollars to clean orphan oil wells, paying people for self-isolation, relaxing restrictions on Unemployment Insurance, paying people’s utilities, you name it.
In his address, the Premier said that there will be more measures outlined in the days to come. This is also happening on the Federal level. There is help for small businesses, freezing taxes, injecting funds into the health care system which has been starved for years and much more.
People my age all remember the horrible first and second world wars. Humankind has never seen such a devastating horror, and tens of millions died. The suffering was too horrible for today’s people to believe possible.  The last who have seen it are quickly now joining their friends “who gave up their lives.”
Out of the ashes of those horrible wars dawned a new world. Women received equality, non-white folks had a road for success and a new middle class was born. Countries were built up enhanced by new science, technology, and billions of people were educated. Monarchies all but disappeared and religious institutions declined.
The Alberta premier gathered a group of business leaders, and a token union person,  to be an Economic Recovery Council and get us back on our feet after the worst has passed. They will be inclined to save corporations and banks, but will have to keep the labour force and consumers alive.
 We are facing a tiny invisible alien human killer that multiplies fast. Until we discover a way to combat it, we will have to keep going with the existing economy impossible to sustain. We will use money for reasons other than hoarding riches away from the taxman. Now will be the time in which people will realize that the theory of austerity is faulty. The money that governments are injecting into the lower end of the economy, where it is immediately used, will create a robust economy and save us from the predicted recession. Soon the governments will begin to issue that money in exchange for public infrastructure, free education, and other socially beneficial projects.
People took part in some experiments of guaranteed income in parts of the world. Unexpectedly, the results showed that folks found ways to be useful and productive.  The money created jobs and started small businesses. Yes, this is a message of hope.
From my isolated vantage point, I see God collecting all the cards from the table, shuffling the deck and redistributing it. I see humankind realizing that it doesn’t take much to cause devastating panic and by acting irrationally upset the apple cart. I see society doing exactly what it did after the great wars; rebuilding the social safety nets, investing in essential services, and building badly needed projects.
By the time our bodies adjust to the new virus, some of us will be gone but the rest may be ahead. Some of the old corporations will diminish and there will be a new appreciation for the workers who keep society going. The Wall-Street and other Markets who produce nothing but wealth for a few will reconfigure to be more useful for most people.
Trudeau stated that we trust in science. I trust in God, and science is a part of it.
After churches will be closed for a while, people may discover the truth as stated in John 4, 22. The brave new world after COVID 19 may be all different and we will be around to see it. 
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Sunday, 15 March 2020

Health and money.

Health and money.
We trust our leaders, doctors, teachers, mechanics, and many other people who specialize in things we can’t all know. I say it quickly, but my life depends on trusting the right people. When the people I trust disagree, I don’t have the expertize to determine who is right. This is the case now, and the walls are closing in. I am facing a situation where the medical profession and others who sustain me are on a collision course with the government, and all choices are grim.
There is a deadly virus knocking on the door and I am at the top of the high-risk group. I am desperate to retain or even improve the available medical care. The world’s economy is breaking down thanks to a lack of leadership from the one superpower in the world and “when the parents are away the kids play.” Saudi Arabia and Russia are flooding the world with cheap oil and bankrupting everyone else including Alberta.  
I have only limited knowledge of economics. All I know is that when many people are producing things and selling them to each other everyone is doing OK. Places that have many people doing it are most prosperous. If we stop the economic activity and it's not replaced, we end up with a great depression. Our productivity is just as important as our consumption.
Even before the health scare, we were heading in the wrong direction. In my desperate attempt to figure out what is going on, I turned to an article by a University of Calgary professor, Lindsay Tedds. She has been noticing the effects of the reduction of exchange with China causing a slowdown. Now, with the “oil wars”, she calls the situation a blood bath. She says we need leadership from Jason Kenney, which we haven’t seen. This is surprising when it comes from the heart of the Conservative bastion, Calgary.
I attended a public meeting about Health Care here in Blairmore. This is rural southern Alberta. The same sentiment was expressed by all who commented aside from one. People are upset that basic government services are being cut and that they gave the money from it away as tax cuts, which didn’t come back as investments. Even the editor of this newspaper suggested that we must fight back and spread the word “to five more people.” I felt elated. The wonderful community that I chose to live in is sticking together ready to fight for its life.
Austerity can be a good thing if governments go overboard spending tax dollars without providing services to people. Here we are witnessing the opposite. Billions of dollars were given away as tax cuts and are made up by shrinking services. Physical Responsibility means governments acting business like and providing more for less.
I would like my MLA to take the following message to our provincial government. Dear Honourable Premier. We all know that privatizing any aspect of our health care will cost more and leave the poor with less care. Please finance our good system adequately so we will not lose any more much-needed health care professionals. By reducing staff,  you can not provide more jobs. You will receive help from the Federal Government, ensure that it goes to those who need it, not to investors and corporations. The bulk of caring for Albertans will naturally fall on the women, so we want you to help them if they stay home.
The drop in oil prices will have an adverse effect on many Albertans, mostly on young men. We will need to sustain them through a period of retraining that your government is most likely going to implement soon. Please negotiate with Ottawa to provide both.
If we don’t maintain activity in our economy soon, the negative effects of losing health care workers, oil workers and education staff will spread throughout Alberta. We have worked hard and suffered a lot to build this province, (before your time) and we don’t want to see it becoming a ghost province. You and your team are our chosen leaders and we hold you responsible to get us out of the present crisis. This is your chance to come up with creative solutions and show true leadership. We can’t afford leaders who only specialize in fighting other leaders. It is time to build, not to blame.
At a time like this when a pandemic may come, I expect my leaders at all levels, to show preparedness. Nothing may happen or something could. Do we know what to do if people get sick and electricity, internet, water, and food chains stop working? I searched for information from my premier. One message said that he will delay the medical layoffs and reduction in doctors pay until after the pandemic scare. Really? Another Tweet talked about hereditary chiefs and a BC gas pipeline. Am I imagining this? Do we have enough beans and rice and a way to get it to isolated people? Are we ready to take care of the oil workers who will be out of work when our oil is sold for $5.00 a barrel?
Above all Mr. Premier, please realize that oil is on its last legs and not because of environmentalists but because of capitalist dictators using the market.
People suspect that viruses, including the coronavirus, thrive in warmer temperatures. That is why they go for warm human bodies.  People are concerned.
If and when the ‘stuff’ hits the fan, are we just going to give speeches about how Trudeau failed us?  
Sir, roll up the rim, and you see, angry farmers, ranchers, miners, seniors, mothers, and all who are not “investors” which you value so much. We are all investors who invested their lives in this province. We all must live even when crude prices hit bottom, when the Market dictates that it will.
Dear elected leaders, we need to see leadership. My next column could be full of praise and good news. There is always hope.
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Sunday, 8 March 2020

Musical spirit in the mountains.

Musical spirit in the mountains.
The people of “old” often associated God with mountains. I remember growing up with the sight of Armageddon from my window. The teacher told us that this was where the final battle between good and evil is destined to take place. It was not much of a mountain from our Canadian point of view, but in Israel, it was called a mountain.
My earliest memory is from the time I was three years old and people celebrated fifty years of manned flight. 1903 incidentally was also the year of the Frank Slide. In the fifties, we still used to go outside when we heard an airplane and the kids waved at the pilot.  Soon after, Dad called me out one day to see the first jet and it was awesome. Man conquered new heights and speed.
By the time I went to school humans went to space. People were glued to the radios and cheered when the Soviet Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin returned from space alive. We cheered again when the American Astronaut John Glenn orbited the earth and landed safely. In grade three I looked up at the moon trying to see the Americans walk on the moon. It looked the same. Now I see people building Highrise buildings taller than mount Megiddo, (Armageddon) which was visible from my childhood window.
I have always been feeling a special closeness to God when I am in the mountains. The stories from the Bible come to mind. Moses climbed Mount Sinai to receive the ten commandments. A Google search reveals over five hundred places where mountains are mentioned in the Bible. The one I seem to remember is the Transfiguration. The apostles were made aware that there was something unnatural about Yeshua whom they were following. Today we assume that it is Mount Tabor. The basic concentrated teachings of Christ are taught as the “sermon on the Mountain”.
 We can’t forget Mount Olympus in Greece, Mount Etna in Italy, and Mount Kailash in Nepal where the deity Shiva resides according to stories. There are holy mountains on every continent and all the religions which I am aware of have some stories involving mountains. There are also many reasons for people believing that mountains have a strong relationship with that which is sacred. Perhaps the main reason is that we feel something spiritual amongst mountains, but not everyone does.
I was thinking the other day about some success stories from the Crowsnest Pass. It was stimulated by the Music Festival organized by some blessed individual or individuals. There are a few examples of groups doing a lot of good community work in arts, sports, and entertainment. We have trail rides, running competitions and a rodeo sprinkled with swim meets and other sports competitions. There are choral and symphony performances and theatre productions. Of course, the one big example that people in Calgary are still asking me about was our Thunder In The Valley. Aside from our stories from the turn of the century and the great fire, that placed us on the map.
What do you think about having a big musical event where religious groups, choirs, and gospel singers could compete for first place in performing spiritual music? It could be hymns or even modern Christian music. We are surrounded by unique religions who often perform great music. It could include just western Alberta or even western Canada. It could be like The Big Valley Jamboree In Camrose but aimed at spirituality in the mountains.
We have people who know how to organize events. We can provide a field for a faith-oriented musical Festival and parking and busses can be available. There is space for camping and the acoustics are incredible. Mountains are great for music. Above all, we have a business-oriented leadership (Council) who knows how to get things done.
The coronavirus will come and go, and the world economy will probably suffer a setback. In short, those who are ready with projects and ideas will be first to get back on track. A small more localized test event could begin on short notice with the aim of a big event the year after. People will be hungry for good news and will look for excitement close to home. Albert Einstein said that imagination is superior to knowledge. He was right about most things.
I don’t know about most of you but I would love to see the Crowsnest Pass become a destination and be on the national news in a positive way. We live in the mountains, which are a spiritual space. That is if you ignore Geology, natural resources, and political affiliations. Only look at the natural beauty, the stars at night and the nature of the inhabitants, us.
If we drew a circle on the map around the Pass, we will find a wide variety of spiritual groups and music brings people together. I was able to find on the “Net” wonderful Hutterite singers, Indigenous spiritual music, Later Day Saints choirs, and old hymns to compete with Charismatic music. I think that there is untapped potential here for people with vision.
Being a canoeist, I believe it's best to go with the stream in the direction that the river flows. 
Image result for pictures depicting music concerts
Bottom Lounge
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Sunday, 1 March 2020

Memories are our reality.

 Memories are our reality.
Finally, I have a chance to write about memory. In my view, it is so very important to understand that we live, not in reality, but in memory. A flawed memory it is. By the time you are reading these words, they are your memory and mine as well. There is no such thing as “present” and we may sense reality differently from each other. Your eyes are looking at letters, written on “newsprint” typed on my computer, printed in Lethbridge and the light brings it to your eyes. The eyes convert what you see to tiny electric stimulations traveling to your brain, which converts the symbols to ideas and stores it in, you’ve guessed, memory.
By the time you perceive something, it is gone from the now to the past and what passed no longer exists. I think about what happened and draw it from memory, which is the way I remember it. Another person who witnessed the same event will remember it at least a bit differently.
Modern courts are cognizant of this well-proven fact and take it into consideration when using witness testimonies. Another problem is how we view reality. We view our leaders or our religions opposite to each other. Often our brains tend to create a picture more the way we want to see things than the way things are. We call it beliefs. Beliefs are just as real to us as parts of our bodies. You can hardly just remove a belief only because you want to.
The best we can do is educate ourselves and learn as much as we can about all the opposing views and how to think in a critical way. Some say that we should teach our young not what to think, but how to think. Not long ago it was most obvious to all people that the world was flat and took a lot of effort to convince ourselves that it is actually round. There is still a “Flat Earth Society” who maintains that pictures from space showing a round world are a “hoax” or “fake news.”
Beliefs are often formed around emotions. We get sayings such as “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” When did I form my feeling of what is beautiful and what is not? I don’t remember, but I do know that it was influenced by others, possibly my parents, and shaped by all the people around me. When I concluded that something is beautiful, it became my nature, and I began to identify myself around it. Now if someone said, your girlfriend or your house is ugly, I will feel like fighting them and calling them liars.
One emotion that powerfully forms our beliefs is fear. We are naturally scared of the unknown future and try to predict what may happen. We want to take pre-emptive action to avoid imagined future disasters. We always forget that the future is not here and unexpected turns will happen. There is no way to avoid all possible pitfalls.
Humans always try to shape other humans’ behaviour by introducing fears of the future and blaming each other. You see it clearly when someone is selling you security systems, safer cars, insurance, and countless other products. You get bombarded by “political messages” and they coax you to make religious affiliations to avoid eternal damnation. Some may be true, but most are motivated by someone's economic considerations.
Am I telling you all of this to make you careless about the future? Do I try to convince you not to trust your memories and what you have learned? I hope not. I am advocating to enjoy life as it is and not become a fanatic of any cause. I am recommending going through life following the mantra, “be not afraid.”
When I write, I always keep a candle or an oil lamp burning at my sight. It reminds me that there is something greater than all of what I remember and all of what I can imagine. It counts my heartbeats, grows my hair or nails and makes pictures in my brain out of the light reflecting into my eye. It converts air vibrations into sounds and delights me with beauty when I see things in proportion and my brain just loves what is harmonious. I don’t know what it is, yet it gives me a life that I enjoy and wish to protect.
Our forefathers' thousands of years ago imagined that the reality they lived in, the world, was not all there is. They tried to explain it with religions, philosophies, right to now when we use science. Our science, as good as it is, has no idea how reality relates to what the brain thinks it is. I live in a world recreated in my brain by tiny electric stimulus hopping from neuron to neuron millions of times a second. That’s the reality for me.  
I look around me and I see mountains, trees, old buildings and the most wonderful community of people one can imagine. I talk with some of those beautiful people and realize that it's not the same for many of them. My old friend Mrs. Sonia, (not her real name) says, I am surviving, thanks. She has a sad turn of events influencing her life. She doesn’t see heaven but sees hell. She wishes things were as they were at other times. It is so sad. I could count her blessings, but she will not listen. She could live in heaven, but she will not.
I pray for the sad and blind people, including myself. All they need to do is change their story a tiny bit and be happy. But that’s in memory now as well. Everything is. 
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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...