All Shook Up-Wise Project 2018 #TenaciousTuesday

I have been having a hard time focusing on a single thought to play off of for this week’s blog.

Honestly there are so many ideas and events swirling around in my brain right now, who could pick just one?

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I have been spending a great deal of time on Twitter lately and as punishment for that I have to go back to my Chiropractor today to get them to work on my trick neck. I tell myself I like the news and the debate but I often question how much of my ego gets involved in these Twitter discussions. I try to keep things as civil as I possibly can, but I find more and more that people are ruining people for me. The unintelligent, insincere individuals who are seriously lacking empathy are always the loudest and that is a difficult thing to walk away from.

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For two days Twitter has been obsessed with “who bit Beyoncé?” while I have been arguing to the point that my head almost explodes with someone who lacks every single quality that is important when having an in depth debate. I truly have this belief that sometimes we need to listen more, this pertains to me as much as anyone else, I believe that everyone, even those with differing opinions have something to offer us if we are willing to put our ego on a shelf and attend to the conversation without the ultimate goal of being right. The world would be very tiresome if we only spoke with like minded people. Listening is a super power and if we learn to do it correctly we can open our hearts and expand our minds in ways in unimaginable ways.

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That being said, I got involved in a conversation that actually started when a friend shared an article about how the Parkland shooting survivors called out the media for their response to their fight for gun restrictions and noting that though the mainstream media has devoted a vast amount of time to their cause, similar student led anti-gun violence movements in black communities have been largely ignored. David Hogg, one of the Parkland survivors noted a great deal of racial disparity in the way the shooting and the events after have been covered. Not surprisingly, a white male from Western Alberta jumped into the conversation in an all-knowing, my word is fact sort of way and shook me. Until that point I had only watched the conversation from a distance but at the point that he tweeted that the shooting death of 17 year Trayvon Martin was justice for his community because he was a “punk kid” something inside me snapped. However, I calmly asked questions, I am genuinely interested in knowing how people’s brains work so I can understand the world we live in better and try to reconcile how we ended up in this place of heightened Us vs. Them mentality and the quickly diminishing sense of shared humanity. I fully admit that my ego gets involved often but I do genuinely want to learn and I like healthy engagement. What I cannot stand is people presenting their opinions and calling them fact. There is a huge difference between opinion and fact.

Opinion:

A view that somebody takes about an issue, especially when it is based solely on personal judgement.

Fact:

Something that can be proven to be true, to exist or have happened.

Most of us hold our beliefs to be true, we are fairly firm in our beliefs, that does not  make them fact and that variance is often the difference between calm, cool and collected Michelle and the other Michelle, ‘Oh hey meet crazy bitch!”

I have a lot of words to describe the person that I debated with on Twitter, it would be wrong and careless of me to use his real name and the other names that quickly come to mind are just way beneath my level of maturity, or at least I will pretend they are for this blog post. I am going to call him Gary, because I met a sleazy car salesman once that reminded me of this guy. I apologize in advance to anyone named Gary.

So, for the next day Gary continued to try to educate myself and others using what he called facts, which were actually just really horrible opinions to justify the death of 17 year old Trayvon Martin. His dialogue was not clever, it was void of empathy and his logic was completely non existent. He continued to tag me in his muddled, haphazard ramblings and I continued to respond. At a certain point I lost my cool and called him a fucking buffoon. (I stand by that statement) and I also used his love of Nickelback as a weapon against him.

So, I guess the point is I didn’t accomplish anything with Gary. I am not better from having had this conversation; in fact it consumed some of my energy and left me with an aching neck and a general feeling of disillusionment.

That being said, there were other people involved in this conversation that gave me hope; some intelligent, eloquent, funny, even angry people. I often imagine being at a party with these people and wonder who I could have the most fascinating conversation with. I appreciate people are passionate and not afraid to be heard. Though I would like to find a favorable balance on the internet I am not about to allow people like Gary to suck up all my energy. Nor am I going to get small and quiet.

I have a huge issue with people putting shitty information out into the world and calling it fact. It happens way too often and I think we have all been guilty of seeing something on the internet and sharing it because we “Assume” it is true. We talk all day about fake news while sharing fake news. I think it is wrong and I think it takes away significantly from things that should be newsworthy. We are all responsible to change that.

I am willing to accept that we will not always agree and I am willing to accept that our experiences are different and even though we could be involved in the same exact same incident our perception of that incident will likely differ.

What I will continue to be vocal about is injustice, truth and perspective and I will continue to support people that are passionate about causes and tirelessly fight and shine their lights every single day. These people are the lighthouses that we need in this often dark world. When the world gets to me and my own light is dim and my spirits are dampened it is these beacon of lights that keep me from crashing against the rocks and getting swallowed by the vicious waves.

If I can ask one thing of you today it is to be vigilant in what you post and share. If you are sharing information designed to create and heighten fear or discredit people fighting for change you are part of a huge problem. If you believe strongly about something there are a thousand ways for you to get involved, that doesn’t have to include hating on the people going out and fighting for the causes they believe in.

If you cannot do that one thing just do nothing. If you cannot help, do not harm.

 

Desperately Seeking…W.I.S.E. Project 2017/Tenacious Tuesday

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I heard an interesting phrase this weekend, “What you are seeking is seeking you!”

It is interesting on so many levels. Saturday night I was seeking low-fat vanilla frozen yogurt mixed with strawberries and shredded coconut and a couple of blocks away at Marble Slab Creamery there was a tall, disinterested teenage boy waiting to scoop and mix  yogurt and “fixins” in his sluggish and non-hurried manner. In a way, what I was seeking in that moment was also lazily seeking me.

A better example might be the night that I had just finished Deepak Chopra’s Quantum Healing on Audible and came across an advertisement on Facebook for an Evening with Deepak close by. He was the speaking guest for Edmonton’s Autism Services this year and they were seeking to fill all the seats to raise money for their charity and clearly, I was seeking wisdom and enlightenment. What I was seeking was also seeking me.

Moments like this happen all the time, sometimes they speak very loudly in the form of a 35% off coupon for your favorite online shop while you are late night internet surfing, but often they are subtle and you need to follow the trail of breadcrumbs.

Sometimes we are heartbroken about community or Global issues and struggles and seeking answers to make sense in times of despair and uncertainty. Those same issues are seeking someone like us to be a part of the conversation, to advocate for a group or cause or to play a role in positive change.

We talk a lot about change and how badly it is needed but we fail to see that we are being sought daily. Collectively we can speak up, support, educate, make a lot of noise and help break the unrelenting cycles such as abuse, violence and sexual assault that can lead to the endless pain and stigma surrounding mental health and trauma.

When author and activist Glennon Melton Doyle started the Compassion Collective in response the Syrian Refugee crisis she wrote a simple but touching narrative that merely stated, “There is no such thing as other people’s children. The idea that we can see people in pain, and just look away and not be affected by it, to keep telling ourselves that our silence will not hurt us; is easily one of the biggest lies we will ever tell ourselves.

Friday night I was dropping my daughter off to be with her friends and there were several cop cars and media parked at the Good Shepherd Church next door in our Edmonton community. Forensics was on sight and I knew immediately that something incredibly horrible had happened. I slowed my truck to a crawl and I saw a man carrying a white sheet. I pulled into a parking lot up the road and dug out my cell phone and learned that it was the body of a toddler and that the police were investigating a suspicious death. I was shaken.

Police did not know who the child was and reached out to the public to assist in identifying the child through his clothing. At that point details were very sketchy but this child automatically became the child of the community. There were no such thing as other people’s children, this baby, belonged to all of us as the hours ticked away.

As I lay awake in the still of the night refreshing my internet browser and trying to make sense of a poorly detailed story, my heart ached for the unnamed baby.

An excerpt from my Facebook post on the weekend summed up my feelings well.

“Even in those quiet moments in the middle of the night when the neighborhood is still I couldn’t shake off the extreme heaviness that had fallen across me and wrapped around me like a blanket. I do not know the beautiful soul that met such a terrible fate, I do not know his family or their circumstances, but somehow, he is not just a child of the world, he is every child. He is my child!”

That heaviness continued throughout the weekend as arrests were made in the death of 19-month-old Anthony Rain; and accounts of his horrific last days and the abuse he suffered that ultimately led to his death were revealed. The Edmonton Police said the young boy lived a terrible life of violence. His father and his father’s girlfriend have been charged with second degree murder, failing to provide the necessities of life, criminal negligence causing death and the father has also been charged with assault causing bodily harm. Social media played a large role in the arrest of the accused but whether Anthony will get justice remains to be seen.

On Saturday morning, I had felt unusually connected to this case, I felt like there was a reason that I was there at the exact moment that the lifeless body of young Anthony was being removed. At that point, he remained unnamed and I felt that I was needed in some way. A lot of community members felt that same need, that something drew them to the church yard to be there for the nameless child they felt an un-explainable obligation to. This baby that laid in the cold since early Tuesday, before being discovered by a passerby on Friday. He was strangely unaccounted for and not reported missing during that time.

Sadness, disbelief and heartbreak will surround this case for a while and then sadly as new events emerge that require our attention the memory of little Anthony will begin to fade from our incessant thought.

Unfortunately, there will be other tragedies, other lives lost, other grieving families struggling to find answers while members of the community mourn the losses of people they never met. The perpetual wheel of misfortune will continue to spin.

The last couple of days when I was glued to the computer seeking answers to the myriad of questions that arose surrounding the tragic death of little Anthony Rain, I thought what if this is one of those times that what I am seeking is also seeking me?

I visited his memorial at the church twice, left flowers, placed a teddy bear, said prayers, shared social media posts, but what if I was called upon to do something more? Certainly little Anthony deserves more than a snowy memorial of toys and flowers and Facebook condolences. His life mattered, yet somehow he was failed. What would it take to write myself into this story, and to help affect change so that another young mother doesn’t receive that dreaded knock on her door in the dark of night?

I don’t have any answers; but every story has a beginning, a middle and an end. The story of Anthony’s life ended in unimaginable tragedy but maybe the story of how his young life impacted others and influenced change is just at the beginning and maybe my community that adopted him as their own, can help tell it.

I wrote a letter to Mayor Don Iveson this morning and I am hoping that the anger and sadness that we are all feeling can in some way be redirected to help create change in our communities.

Are you actively passionate about a cause at the moment?

Do you feel drawn towards a global or community issues that break your heart?

How do you write yourself into the stories that are close to your heart and help affect positive change?

 

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”
― Dr. SeussThe Lorax