Sunday, 24 June 2018

The oldest question. Am I my brother’s keeper?

The oldest question. Am I my brother’s keeper?
 My dad told me that men don’t cry, they fight. I stuck by his advice most of my life without fail. I cried when my mother died, and cried when my baby son died. Over fifty years it's not much. Now I find myself abandoning my dad’s teachings. It’s a new world we live in and a lot of new rules exist. I see men cry even for what was done before they were born and I see a country cry with them. Canada realizes that many innocent people suffered to give us the comfort we enjoy today and apologies are made.
Now I find that a sob escapes my lips and tears feel my eyes more often. Could it be that I am becoming weak in my old age? Or is it me with more life experience, starting to see the truth. It happens under two conditions. One is when I see people unjustly suffer. They are victims and they can do nothing about it. I saw a picture of a two-year-old being taken from her mom by a border patrol agent in the US. The picture went viral and became the cover of some magazines. That terrible despair…….The mother, the girl. Later I discovered that the picture was not of one of the kids now in ditention. Not one of the 2300 jailed kids. My emotion didn’t change. Some kids like the little girl are seperated from parents, or jailed with them.
Another thing that makes me emotional is a great act of kindness, one that didn’t have to happen but did. I was in Calgary last week and saw an old man climbing into a City bus. He had some books and a pile of papers; it looked like a manuscript. The white pages slipped and fell to the ground, some under the bus. A few teenage girls ran over to pick up the papers, some kneeling and getting sheets of paper from under the bus. My lips said “thank you, Lord,” and that forbidden feeling of tears running down my cheeks came. The old man was not white, and the girls were.
Am I my brother's keeper? Why is the story of Abel and Cain at the beginning of the Bible? Just like the rest of us, I have a fear that people will take advantage of me. I hate the feeling. I see people begging, and I want to go to the other side of the street. The news reports showing people, lots of people, crossing borders looking for a place to stay scare me. Why don’t they fix their own countries instead of coming to where we built up a future for ourselves, I ask?. People who look able to work but are living on social assistance worry me. Government workers who make very little effort for very good wages and good pensions upset me. I personally know some, but not many.
The stories in the bible don’t make much sense either. People working for one hour and getting full day’s wages simply upset me. How could the person who invented Christianity not see that it's not fair to just forgive someone's debts if they didn’t work hard to make money?
On the other hand, I see cruelty at times performed for the pleasure of inflicting it. I watch real wars on TV and soldiers kill a huge number of people, often for their country ’s monetary profit. Petro dollars they call it.  People are crushing the world economy simply to come out on top. Governments are making laws that will inflict poverty on many and enrich a privileged few.  I am more scared of greedy powerful institutions than of possible economic migrants infiltering western countries or someone cheating welfare. My instincts say, let things happen and let the smart people handle things. The other side of me is persisting, “you must tell the story” just in case nobody else will.
Am I my brother's keeper? Do I have a duty to ignore the need to “fit in” and fight for the disadvantaged?  My newly acquired emotions say yes. We should all persistently motivate all people to do their best to support themselves, but we should not lose our humanity in doing so. That guy from Israel they call Jesus was right. No human being exists without making mistakes, and we all need forgiveness at some point.
In my life, things mostly moved forward, from worst to better. I lived in conditions that most of you would dismiss as impossible and now I am in heaven in comparison. I worked hard and I am enjoying the results. At the same time, I witnessed many people’s fortunes go the other way, often due to no fault of theirs. A taxi driver showed me his ID one time, indicating that he was a doctor in Yugoslavia. He was happy to drive a taxi 18 hours a day in Calgary and be alive. Most of his acquaintances did not fare so well. Is there any guarantee that the same faith is not awaiting my family and I?  None whatsoever……
The only way to expect mercy and consideration is for us to show some to others and pray that the same will be shown to us in return. If we propel humankind the other way, where the strongest survive at the expense of the weakest, there will always be someone faster or smarter than we and the road to hell is open.
I may not be the smartest person, and you easily find people more qualified than I to give you advice. Therefore I don’t give my own advice but that of a person from a long time ago which survived generations. Be your brother’s keeper and love your neighbor as yourself. Do not support those who preach the opposite since you may bring disaster upon yourself. When you fight, do so in moderation and obey the rules of engagement. When your heart tells you that injustice is happening, cry. Crying is in you for a good reason.
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Photo by John Moore from “The Lily”

Sunday, 17 June 2018

Will the last word ever spoken be why?

Will the last word ever spoken be why?

This was a song by Roger Whittaker a number of years ago. Will the last word ever spoken be “why”? A few months ago I walked into the Pass Herald and asked Lisa, the owner Editor of the paper, if she would like me to write a column. I said that I am tired of people assuming that we the people of the South West of Alberta are all politically Rightwing and stated that my articles would be controversial. Lisa said that controversy is good. Done. I am writing “The Simple Raven’s post,” and it is well received. There isn’t a day that folks don’t tell me how much they enjoy my post. One said that its too long but I am unable to express my opinions in a tweet. Sorry, my friend. There are enough people who state an opinion in a sentence or two, but I am not one of them.

Last week Lisa wrote her personal opinion in an editorial about the recent Ontario Provincial elections. The Pass Herald is neutral, but the editor is a person with opinions. I like to differ with her opinion on politics. Thanks to the Pass Herald being a free paper, not owned by corporate interests, (owned by Lisa) like the big news media organizations, I can.

Doug Ford didn’t win the popular vote in Ontario. His party was better organized and won the “first to post” system which should be done away with. Doug is lying since if all his promises are priced, which he refused to do, Ontario will be in worst debt then it would have been under an NDP government.

The editorial went on to say that hopefully in a year time the Ottawa government will be changed. I agree but wouldn’t change it to Andrew Scheer. In the last three years, steps were taken by the Liberals to help Alberta out of the economic problems created by oil prices falling; steps were taken to help families with financial issues, bring retirement back to 65, and above all correct some of the past injustice done to the original inhabitants of this land. Discrimination against none-Christian Canadians stopped and the useless austerity measures based on fictitious “going into debt” reasons reversed. Our economy is growing the fastest in the G7. Our great grandchildren will not be stuck with our debts and thanks to us placing a price on Carbon may not suffocate, be drowned or burned either. Are the Northern European countries suffering from crushing debt?

On the provincial front, I have the same take. I am not ready to simply convict the Notley government without looking at the evidence. I prefer the present government to the Redford government even if I have some problems with Rachel’s direction. I do like the fact that Alberta is leading all provinces economically again, even with the lower price of oil and the lack of access to markets.  Calgary is all under construction again, and unemployment is low. A lot has been done to help with daycares and living wages for the lowest paid workers didn’t increase prices as predicted. No, Mr. Kenney, you will not get my vote for any emotional reasons, you will have to prove that businesses are leaving Alberta because we didn’t decrease taxes on corporations, not just say so.

The big question always is who is better to create an environment that will make life better for most people without killing the business initiative and without starving the poor and less able amongst us. The business is the driver of our economy and the government must ensure that we live up to our Christian moral code. In my opinion, business should take the lead for growing the economy while government must regulate how much profit business is permitted to take from workers.

If it were up to me I would not allow corporations to be equal to people. A person (Corporation) with only one directive, to increase wealth for shareholders, is an enemy of the people.  A political party that is dedicated to the well being of corporations at the expense of people, is not my party. I was a Progressive Conservative but I can no longer support the party since they abandoned my kind. If they are openly the political organization for the corporations, they will have to go without the workers and small family businesses. If they think that all Christians will join them because they restrict abortions and condemn gay people, I wish them luck. Let's count the votes on election day.

By the time Alberta votes again the country will have seen how Doug Ford will cut taxes by five billion and solve hospital waiting lines as well as improve public education without firing people or increasing the Ontario deficit. If he fulfills his promises, good, and if not, he is just another Trump. I predict that Ford will stand in front of the cameras, call us “his friends” and blame everybody else for his failure to fulfill his promises.

We have the ability to provide all of us with all the basic needs, especially if we don’t spend so much on wars. I will vote for someone who will help my community, and who cares about people. We have the teachings that say “love each other as yourself.” The only question is what motivates us to do what we do and why. Will the last word ever spoken be why?

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Unnamed internet source.


Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Waterton is back in business.

Posted in Pass Herald Waterton Addition June 20 2018.

Waterton is back in business.
For a number of years, Waterton has been my favorite quiet place. I used to be a frequent visitor to Banff in the sixties and seventies, but slowly found myself crowded out by a steady increase in commercialism. For a while, Canmore retained the “little town in the mountains” character, but it didn’t last long either. Only an hour from a city of over a million people left Canmore vulnerable to a steady push towards mega development and altered its character. The next place that offered majestic mountains, forests in natural state and lakes of fresh mountain water was Waterton. Here I could still enjoy a one of a kind natural Canadian Rockies beauty, meet thousands of international visitors and enjoy a solitary walk on a natural trail without feeling that enjoyment in life is directly related to my credit card limits.  
I live in a mountain forest and I am too old to start looking for another place even if I wanted to. As much as I try to never even think about my peaceful haven being endangered, I could never forget the warnings of those who made it their business to study major trends in the environment. They predicted that the increase in greenhouse gasses would eventually cause climate change, and steady increase in floods, droughts and forest fires frequencies. Closing my eyes and burying my head in the sand didn’t help.
One after another weather-related disasters came, each time with a qualifier that this was rare events. Calgary had a hundred year flood, the Crowsnest Pass had floods and fires and now the big one, the Kenow 2017 fire in Waterton National Park. Climate change is assaulting my home and my favorite places. I know that forest fires are an integral part of nature, but natural disasters are speeding up. My political leaders are saying that it should be ignored for economic reasons, but our well-learned experts are disputing the notion and are winning based on evidence.
Last summer we heard the warnings of the weather experts, as we do now every summer. BC was tinder dry and fires were erupting everywhere. Alberta was still recovering from the Fort Mc Murray disaster when the news splashed over the screens. A fire in Waterton Parks coming from Montana and BC. I tried to ignore it so it will go away but I didn’t have an alternate universe like the President of the United States does. The ranchers were being evacuated from what I call God’s Country, and the huge wall of flames was charging faster than any cavalry towards that peaceful, simple town that I love, Waterton.
Just like a few years prior in the Crowsnest Pass, brave Canadian men and women don their orange suits and shovels in hands went to fight for their country. Our brave pilots both helicopters, and fixed wings, worked to the point of exhaustion while churches and community halls turned into evacuees centers. Money and volunteers poured from all over and grandmas were baking for displaced families. A wall of firefighters with determined blackened faces stood their ground against a much bigger wall of flames and smoke and defended the homes of other Canadians they never met but felt a strong kinship with. Whoever or whatever attacks Canada, or any part of it, must know that they will not win against our determination, hardiness and strong sense of unity. We were not melted together in Canada; we “chose” to be one and you see the benefits in action when we face a foe.
Last week I went back to see how Waterton is fairing after the fire. Many trees are leafless and the surrounding mountains don’t look like they used to. Everywhere there are scars, but nature and people are fighting back. The lakes are still peacefully blue and the mountains remain majestic as ever. They have been through fires before thousands of times. The ancient people of Waterton, named Blackfoot after their ability to exist after fires, opened a new information center and descendants of pioneers operate the quaint little businesses in the area. Others are a testimony of new Canadians who brought interpretership from the far east and prospered under our multicultural system. You hardly find any chain stores or restaurants in Waterton. People don’t come here for the predictable and familiar, but for the unique and creative experience.
I was surprised to see the town already being under construction and even more astonished to see the number of tourists constantly driving in or even arriving in busses. There are trailers and motorhomes in the full campground and happy faces wherever you look. Just like every other year before the fire, you hear every language on earth spoken on Main Street. People are hiking and strolling about, looking with awe at the line that the fire was not able to cross. Just like in our game Hockey, the defense did their job and people are amused by our determination. Every half-burned tree right on the edge of town is a witness and the majestic hotel, the Prince of Wales, stands defiantly amongst the burnt brush as a background for the thousands of visitors who take “selfies” in front of it.

I watched a wedding party taking pictures with Cameron Falls in the background and got talking to a couple of teenagers who mistaken me for a tourist.  The girl said wise words that can’t escape my mind. She looked at her relative getting married and said: “it is more important to love than to be loved.” So Canadian and so appropriate in a place they call The Peace Park.
EDIT: Parks Canada I watched a wedding party taking pictures with Cameron Falls in the background and got talking to a couple of teenagers who mistaken me for a tourist.  The girl said wise words that can’t escape my mind. She looked at her relative getting married and said: “it is more important to love than to be loved.” So Canadian and so appropriate in a place they call The Peace Park.

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Photo Credit Parks Canada/ Ryan Peruniak.

Sunday, 10 June 2018

Who are those dangerous Immigrants crossing the borders?

Who are those dangerous Immigrants crossing the borders?
Almost every time I watch the news, listen to radio or read the paper, I observe fear. Fear is a great seller of news and a huge political motivator. The West is fearful of people invading and taking over. It is a valid concern and none of us wish to have other people take what we have. We still have collective memories of the European revolutions, guillotines and people storming the Bastille. We shouldn’t. If we are fair to people and view them as human beings, they will be more than happy to come here and learn our ways. History proves it.
I remember in the seventies when the women’s equal rights movements were starting; men were fearful of women taking their jobs. Some did and many didn’t. African Americans didn’t make life worst for us by being allowed to vote, people with turbans didn’t force us to speak Punjabi, Muslims didn’t make our courts chop the hands of thieves and most of us never seen a woman wearing a veil. At best some of us went to school with kids from China, India or the Philippines only to discover that they are humans as we are. We even learned that it doesn’t take seven Ukrainians to change a lightbulb and Newfies tie shoes with both hands.
European countries, even the ones who scream and cry about migrants, admit that their economies must have more people to grow and the US depends on immigration to keep its economy going. When Trump proposed to curtail immigration from the Orient, Silicon Valley in California, went berserk.
 I often go to visit my dad in a seniors lodge in Calgary and the staff are all immigrants and there is always a sign outside looking for more workers. I go out and visit some businesses around, and I find immigrant owners employing Canadian students and trying very hard to look and sound Canadian.
The USA is very much like Canada and doesn’t have as much natural resources. The main reason that the US are economically better than us is the fact that they have more people in the right environment. More people are working, paying taxes and consuming, providing more services causing economic prosperity. When people are given the freedom to work and benefit from their labor, they flourish. The US learned that fact earlier than we did.
This idea is not new by any means. In the 1880s Canada was advertising in Europe and the US, trying to lure people with promises of free land. It was during the Brian Mulroney era that immigration quotas increased and in 2006 the landing fee per immigrant was slashed by 50%. Both actions were taken by Conservatives who now are talking against accepting refugees since it is a popular thing to do.
In the United States today the president fights for a border wall, knowing full well that he will have to get immigrants from somewhere. His dream of getting people from Norway is not very realistic as are most of his dreams. Norway is presently welcoming immigrants and far less than 1% of immigrants from Norway come to either Canada or the US. Why would they leave a country with free healthcare, including pharma-care, free higher education, very low crime rate, hardly any incarcerated people and much more, to immigrate to North America?
People by nature fear the unknown and even try to kill it. This is obvious when it comes to insects. When I was young, you couldn’t find a person who would not kill any bee that they could catch. It took many years to convince ourselves that without bees there will be no people. The same goes for spiders (OMG) and just about any other living being, but it takes a long time to convince people of it.
Canada initially was populated by the two dominant nations of Europe at the time England and France. Not much effort was spent on inviting Francophones, but their numbers were compensated by a higher birth rate that now is rapidly diminishing. We exhausted our ability to bring Anglophones (1849 brought the most because of the Irish potato famine) and turned to other European countries. The eastern Europeans were most suitable to farming and settling our West. Those slowed down when Europe began to recover from wars and economic disasters like Communism, and we began looking farther east.
Now the dominant group is from the Philippines followed by India and China. Other war-torn countries even if you include Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and count both their refugees and legal applicants, are hardly registering on the scale. All the statistics are easily available on the internet.
The US now started to separate children from their immigrant parents in the cruelest possible way according to US Senator Jeff Merkley. Do we want to be like them or do we prefer the Canadian way?  Most of us here are immigrants, or our parents were, and we wave the Canadian flag and sing O Canada with a tear in our eyes. Do we want to support politicians who try to make us scared of immigrants or do we see ourselves as a nation that helps people in need?
I have a Nigerian friend named Chrisantus. He went through unbelievable suffering to become a Canadian and now he employs a number of Canadians and provides a much-needed service. In my opinion, he has done more for Canada in a short time than some people who are shouting on TV that we are being invaded with our government’s consent. We have a good immigration policy, obey international laws regarding refugees, and billions of people around the world use us as a good example. Be not afraid.
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An 1880 poster inviting people to Canada
Source: Wikipedia.

Sunday, 3 June 2018

Are we the victims of extortion?

Are we the victims of extortion?

I can’t remember a time in which Canadians felt separate from our neighbors in the US. Canada and the US typically trade 63 Billion dollars worth of goods and services a year. We are different from our American kin next door, but we act like one family. You can’t tell the difference between a Canadian and an American unless they tell you. I had neighbors who were American and didn’t even know it for a long time. Now (sadly) I do. I feel like I been kicked by someone I trusted.

One does not expect family or neighbors to point a gun to their head and say, give me your money, but yet this is exactly what is happening now, and the gun is pointed at us. We remember all the times when we fought, and some of us died, to help the US, but they forgot. At least their self-proclaimed great businessman President did. Canada declared war on the US enemies after Pearl Harbor before the US did.

The ruling US elite just wants the money and don’t care where we get it from. If we must put thousands of Canadians out of work in order for Trump to create jobs, and win the next elections, he doesn’t care. It's our problem.  Our little Pass community here that mines metallurgical coal may be affected.

Last week our Prime Minister was scheduled to visit the White House to sign a newly negotiated trade deal (NAFTA) and found out that the good neighbors will only agree if we capitulate on one of the main points that we negotiated, the sunset close. We can play negotiating games with them all we want, but at the end, we either give them the money, or they will hurt us as much as they can. If we don’t give them the money, they will not let their “free” businesses buy from us, and we will have to look for other customers. They do the same to all their allies, the G7 countries and to their less friendly competitors, like China. Family, friends or neighbors doesn't count for much in the new game; it is only about money.

Deals signed and believed to be binding are only binding on one side, when the once again great America, become richer and the others, like us, become poorer. Other deals faired the same. The Paris accord, the sad co-existence in Korea, the deal with Iran, the unspoken agreement about Jerusalem, the status of transgender people in the army, the regulations on banks, consumer protection laws, safety of drinking water, wildlife sanctuaries, public lands, and parks, freedom of the press, rules about nepotism, all been assailed in short order.  I can go on just out of memory and it’s shocking.

The US is a very powerful country and everyone at one time wanted to be their friends. The only country that didn’t have to ask to be their friend was Canada. Both Canadians and Americans understood that Canada is the US friend. What we Canadians didn’t understand is that we are the house slaves. The Americans want us to supply all they need or want, for the price they wish to pay and not expect anything back. It's not all Americans; it's actually the few who make big money. They are used to taking whatever they want from their own population and they view us as a threat. Some kind of big labor union named Canada. Trump truly feels that we should be taught who is the boss.

I stayed in the US for a while and always have been around Americans. Calgary is home to many Americans and even a presidential candidate in the last elections was born in Calgary. Aside from him I never yet met an American I didn’t like and “lying Ted” I never really met. They are nice people if you keep in mind that they come from a different culture. Many of them are here because they can’t stand the constant stress of their culture. Some are here to make money and some moved here to be with Canadians since they have more in common with us.

I love and respect Americans that I know since all of them happen to be nice. I used to admire how they used competitive human nature to build and invent things, but I always had reservations about how they treated others like the African Americans, the native population and many of those who immigrated like the Chinese and Japanese. I can’t blame them since we as a nation are guilty of the same. However we Canadians are now living up to it and making attempts to make at least symbolic amends. In their case, they as a nation are going the other way.

The US today is crossing the line from being good business people to becoming plain pirates. They are at war against terrorists but do not even try to hide that terrorism is legitimate in their eyes if used to make gains. The America of this generation is keeping half of their own numbers in poverty, lack of medical and educational services or even in jail as well as complete future insecurity and now they turned their gaze on us.

We build up an industry and sale them some products, they develop one of their own and force us to close down. It could be anything, agricultural, technological, whatever one can imagine. I for one am tired of being the hewers of wood and drawers of water. In my humble opinion, we should push for an end to this unfair marriage.

A country like Canada can easily support itself without depending on big brother. There are plenty of nations that we can trade with, and I sooner become used to paying for transporting goods instead of getting used to giving Trump and his panel of robbers unfair tariffs.

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...