This Is So Easy To Teach And So Tough To Do . . .

Father & Son Golfing

“Being a parent is like being a golf pro. Parenting is the easiest skill to teach and the hardest thing to do”–Jim.

Over the years I have had hundreds perhaps thousands of conversations about this very topic. Parenting. As I have said in previous articles I make no apologies for focusing more on young men and how they are struggling in today’s world. I know a great deal about being male. I know very little about being female.

For some, parenting is or was a very challenging activity. We want to do it right because we may only get one try at it. Others may have several shots at it. Many were seen as successful and others struggled mightily. For me I always wondered what makes a successful parent and what doesn’t? How do you assess that? Is it by the ‘product’ that grows up in the world and what he/she does as an adult? And who judges that in terms of importance?

As a man in the world and as a parent to two beautiful human beings who I have judged or assessed as being outstanding citizens of the world I have come to the conclusion that I had something to do with how they turned out but I think that it was more about what they did with what I tried to teach them. I did not tell them who or what they should be. Each of our children will figure out for themselves how to apply the lessons taught and that is how it should be. So the following are the five things that I thought most important for my children to know about, to understand and to practice so that they could demonstrate how they, in turn, wanted to be treated by others-what they would accept and what they wouldn’t. I believe that it is the extent of feeling connected to others that is more likely to ensure the continuation of the human species than any thing else.

In no particular order of importance:

1. About Money: How to use it for the better good, not to hoard it or collect it beyond what is needed to have and enjoy a safe, secure, healthy, comfortable life style and to help others attain the same for their families. So many believe that they will be judged by how much they have instead of what they did with it once they had it. Is a guy worth a million a better person then a guy who is worth ten thousand? The disparity between us has caused resentment and anger and not because people don’t want to work for their dreams but rather because the opportunities to earn it are very limited and often by those who have it.

However, the point here is about being willing to earn it and not expecting it to come freely. It’s about doing the work it takes to earn what you need to support your dreams but not at the expense of others and their dreams for their families. To me it starts young. Giving an allowance for good behaviour or ‘helping out’ to our kids,for instance, is not a great idea to me. Our kids need to understand that their good behaviour should be given because they are a part of the family and not as a reward for pitching in. They get what they need when they need it and not what they want when they want it. This is the consequence of being part of a family. They don’t get rewarded for working around the house but rather they work around the house to enjoy a nice home and that is their reward. You want money–go earn it.

2. About Respect: Our kids need to have this message sent to them daily and parents need to support a system that supports this and not downplay its importance by supporting kids who don’t respect others. An example of that would be how seniors are treated or spoken to or how deplorable teachers are treated for example. We are to respect others. We respect their rights, their freedoms, their possessions, their homes, and their property. We have no right to endanger or threaten or anything else in order to get our own way because we are bored or know there are no consequences for our ignorant behaviour.

3. About boundaries: Just because you want it doesn’t mean that you are free to go and take it. When someone says ‘No’ then that is what that word means–friggin ‘No’. This one is pretty clear.

4. About Free Rides: This is similar to ‘go earn it’–there are no handouts–no free rides. There is no ‘entitlement’ that is granted to anyone just because. . . . You are entitled to be treated in the same fashion as you treat others. If you are treating people like they are second class citizens then you will be accorded the same treatment. You are not entitled to anything without working for it and those opportunities need to be available to everyone.

5. About Mother Earth: We need to help our kids not only understand but we need,also, need to demonstrate that treating Mother Earth with respect is the only option we have. To do otherwise will, eventually, bring us devastation and extermination. It will take a while but it will happen. Just look at what the science is telling us now. Listen to what the so-called world leaders are saying now. Our children deserve better than what we are handing them. Teach them to respect the very entity that is providing them with life.

I understand that we get all caught up in our own ‘truths’ but our guidance concerning our children’s values and focus has become suspect. We need to get back to helping them understand what it means to be a good citizen.

These are my five and I’m sure there are many others that are just as important. Please share them with me as I want to understand how others see this most important experience. Send your comments to jim.lifechoice@gmail.com

Thanks for reading this article. Please send it along to your friends, neighbours, family members and anyone else you think might be interested in commenting–all the best–Jim

A Different Kind Of Relationships Book-A Must Have For Any Parent

“This book clearly lays out issues that, not only young men but adult men as well, struggle with regularly.The step by step approach within the context of a story, more than held my interest. This is a must read for single parents, co-parents and young men who question their place in today’s society. Teachers and professionals who want to learn how to support and assist young men in this time of uncertainty will learn valuable tips”–Phil Durrant, MSW,RSW, Niagara College, Ontario.

Greetings to all from Lifechoice. May 4, 2014

Finally a resource for single moms and dads
Finally a resource for single moms and dads

Some folks have asked if I’m doing any book related events in the summer so the following list outlines what I’ll be up to and where:

Influence Hybrid Publishing Group, which is the publishing house that I am part of, have arranged for me to participate in a BC book tour, along with 8 other authors, beginning on May 15th, 2014.

May 15-from 6:30-8:30pm—Book signing at Black Bond Books, 1-15562 24th Ave., Surrey, B.C.

May 16-from 6:30-8:30pm—Book signing at The Book Warehouse, 632 West Broadway, Vancouver, B.C.

May 17 & 18-from 2-4pm—Book signing during both days along with a Q & A panel at Chapters Victoria, 1212 Douglas Street, Victoria, B.C.

May 30-from 11-2pm-Book signing at Indigospirit Book Store (Chapters), 600 University Ave., Mount Sinai Hosp, Toronto, On (just me)

May 31-from 12-4pm-Book signing at Chapters Book Store, 55 Bloor Street West (Near Bay St), Toronto, On. I will be joined by Carol Teed who has written a wonderful book called “The Secret Language of Cats”.

November 13-16 at the Toronto International Book Fair at the Metro Convention Center

If you are around any of these places please drop in to visit. Love to see you . Please tell your friends as well—with thanks–Jim

***********************************************

Books make great gifts at any time but especially for birthdays, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, or for just any day.

For more information on the book and how it can be used as a professional resource, a learning tool, to offer teaching points on how to re-establish damaged relationships especially between fathers and their estranged sons, a more broad based look at the journey from boyhood to manhood that faces all of our young men or if you are looking for a story about how human beings exist in relationships with others please connect by either e-mail or type my web site into your browser.

jim.lifechoice@gmail.com

jamescloughley.com

Hope to see you at one of the events, all the best, Jim

Let’s See How Hard And How Fast This Gets Dealt With. . .

Donald Sterling Shaquille O'Neal

So Donald Sterling decided it was his turn to be an idiot and admitted to saying some horribly degrading and utterly unacceptable racist statements about black folks. Unless you have been living under a rock you have likely heard about all the things he had said in confidence to his girl friend and how it managed to find it’s way ‘out there’ through TMZ. Just to sum it up: The NBA responded with light speed (once it was confirmed that Donald Sterling, had indeed, spoken those racist words to others) to mount a campaign justifying and satisfying a call for this guys head on a platter. And rightly so. It amazes me how someone could amass a fortune of over a billion dollars and yet be so stupid as to utter these thoughts so callously. And this is not the first time either. He has, apparently, been sued on at least two other occasions once by the Justice Department for housing discrimination and once by Elgin Baylor (ex- NBA great) for employment discrimination based on race and age. Now he is being fined 2.5 million dollars for this little faux pas–chump change to him really–and is being banned for life from any NBA business or personal activities connected to The Clippers. They are even trying to force him to sell his team. I doubt that could happen but his colleagues could refuse to do business with him and ‘squeeze’ him out that way. Who knows?

My point here is lets stop talking about this. Jesse Jackson has climbed out of where he has been to get his two cents into this. Nice photo op Jesse. The real message needs to be about needing all people to stop going around doing this to other people. But the longer we give this thing life the longer we are talking about the negative side of this ugliness. We need to be talking about the other side–the side that says the sooner we accept each other with grace, respect, and see each other through the lens of equality the less this will happen and the better off we will be as a society. As long as we keep talking about how awful this has been–and it has been just that, we also fuel the fires of anger, resentment and revenge. It polarizes us. Donald Sterling has been heard, tried, convicted and sentenced in the public court of opinion–as he should have been. Lets move on to other matters and stop giving him the spotlight he doesn’t deserve. All it is doing now is adding value to his franchise. He stands to make about a half billion dollars if and when it sells. Let’s not reward him for his ignorance and his no-lo class act.

However, that door swings both ways and so it should. It is not only ‘white’ folks who are guilty of racial remarks and no-lo class behaviour. There are many who seem to feel it’s OK to disparage ‘those’ people who are collecting welfare or who don’t want to work and would rather be homeless for instance. There are the groups who feel it’s OK to have and use pet names for white folks and have no trouble using those terms anywhere and at any time. The question does come up time and again as to why it is only ‘white’ folks who are racists or bullies?

Enter Shaquille O’Neal who is about to become or needs to become one of the ‘dumb-ass two’ that head this page. This is an event of similar, if not greater magnitude, if that’s possible, than the Donald Sterling episode. However, very little has been said about it in the media or anywhere for that matter. Apparently, on Shaq’s Instagram account, there was a picture posted of a young African American man who suffers from a disease called ‘ectodermal dysplasias’ which leaves the sufferer with reduced ability to sweat (which among other things helps people to cool off when overheated, missing teeth (which add to the problem of facial distortion), and fine to sparsely patched hair. If you view the picture below the face on the left is Shaquille O’Neals and the other picture is the young man with the disease. It is quite obvious that Shaq is mocking the young man’s appearance. I think that this action trumps Donald Sterling’s utterances hands down. True it appears that Shaq has since apologized to the young man but does he really believe that by apologizing all would be made right? Would he have called Mr.Binion if his public relations folks hadn’t told him that he needed to get out in front of this before it went any further? If the Donald Sterling mess stays front and center Shaq’s mess may not get the attention it deserves. That would be the most tragic outcome of all.

Donald Sterling’s behaviour has no place in our society. But what Shaq did was bullying-clear, plain and simple. It might not have been the intent but it sure was the outcome. It was also hurtful and childish. Perhaps Rev.Jackson will rush in again and be publicly critical of Shaq’s behaviour. Where is Oprah anyway? I thought she would weigh in on this one for sure. The biggest challenge now sits with the commissioner of the NBA–Mr. Adam Silver. Fair is fair. Mr.Silver was very quick, decisive and forthright in his previous response concerning Mr Sterling. Regarding Shaq will he be as quick, decisive and forthright? Should there be a life long ban on him from the broadcast booth? Should he have to give up his part ownership of the Sacremento Kings franchise? How about not being able to attend another Kings game? What is fair for one needs to be fair for the other. Otherwise the whole discussion around racism, bullying, what is good/appropriate for society and what is appropriate for an NBA star player is nothing more than protecting political correctness. Again. Or will it just be the ‘white’ guy who gets slapped down?

Jahmel Binion

“If, as adults, we cannot demonstrate an appropriate standard of conduct for our children to model then how can we expect any more from them than what we are currently witnessing”–James Cloughley

Anyway, that’s how I see it, Jim

If you feel like sharing this article please pass it along to your friends–with thanks.

If Only Some Dads Could Read This Before They Leave . . .

Friday, April 25, 2014

As I have mentioned before there are some things-some messages that only another male can deliver to a son.

Lately, I have read more and chatted more about this than in all my years working in the field of Social Work. The ‘this’ is the importance of fathers being in their son’s lives. The ramifications of not being there are simply too incredible to comprehend and yet fathers are opting out of the responsibility in record numbers. I wonder if they only understood what is happening because they are not taking an active role in their son’s lives if that would make a difference in their decision to not be present either physically or emotionally? Would they choose to do anything different? Then the question begs the answer to “why father a child if you are not going to stick around to be the parent the child most definitely will need?”

So I thought that, instead of rambling on I would post a couple of web sites and a really great video (a short one) that outline the importance in a far better way than I could using fewer words than I would and perhaps they will get it and step up. However, I will say this before I go. If fathers don’t get involved or stay involved in some way right from the start of this child’s life then they will be directly responsible for what many of these young men and women will do that society will likely have to clean up because they didn’t do the right thing when they had the chance. That’s not meant to be a guilt thing. That’s just the plain clear truth of it.

Anyway, that’s how I see it.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/niobe-way-phd/what-boys-really-want-from-their-fathers_b_878709.html

http://life.familyeducation.com/boys/fathers/55299.html

(This is a great video of a young father doing what he has to to help calm his baby to sleep. If you have seen it before it is worth another watch. This is what it is about-being a father)

This is NOT the time for fathers to be doing this but rather the time to step and do the right thing.

Labels: mentoring our sons, social indifference, parenting, relationships, being a dad,

I Would Have Asked Him This Question. . .

“You can’t let the fear of dying interfere with the excitement of living”–JC

I didn’t know the man. I had never seen him or talked to him or met him and yet I respected him. Of course I’m not alone here but I suspect my respect for him is based on something quite different than many.

Jim Flaherty was 5’3″ tall but cast a huge shadow as a human being and as a man. And he was an Irishman. On another day I would have something smart to say about that but today I think it’s enough to say that his heritage had something to do with why people enjoyed being around him and admired him. Many found him stubborn (in a positive way), intelligent, well spoken and when he talked apparently it was difficult not to listen. Most of those who did know him well have said that he was thoughtful to those around him, always had a good word for those he met, was straight forward without being aggressive, knew what he wanted and dedicated himself to getting it. He was a man of conviction in that he believed that he was always acting in the best interests of this country–a country, I might add, that he loved almost as much as he loved his family. He sacrificed much to serve and when it came time to put it all on the line for his country during the recession he did so with little reservation. As the man who controlled the purse strings history will recognize his great clarity of reason and thought when others wanted to procrastinate or go with which way the political winds were blowing.

I did not care for his political views much of the time but he was, in my mind, a great politician. He demonstrated to us what we have a right to expect from our elected officials. Among those attributes would be class and integrity. Again in short supply right across the board and from the very top to the bottom in my view. Unfortunately few paid much attention to how Mr. Flaherty carried himself. Many were too busy getting caught with their hands submerged in the public purse to learn the basics of what political life should be about.

Having said all that my question to Mr. Flaherty would have been this: “Sheamus–When you look at your life and celebrate what you managed to contribute to making this a better place for all of us, are you content–are you indeed pleased with what you are leaving behind. In other words are you pleased to take stock and accept that you are leaving Canada and your family in a better place than when you first entered it?”

By all accounts ‘Sheamus’ James Flaherty was a great politician and a good man. It’s the ‘good man’ part that interests me the most because that is an assessment that we really don’t have any say in. We do what we do because of who we are. Most men that I know would say that their main goal in this life would be to leave it a better place and to be remembered by their peers and their families as being a good man–one who will be missed and one who will be valued not by his possessions but rather by who he was and what he did–his legacy–his mark. I believe that he was successful.

My hope is that Mr. Flaherty had a chance to understand this before he left us.

May the Good Lord bless him on his journey–Jim

That’s how I see it, anyway

Jim Flaherty

This Is Too Important To Trust The Government To Do the Right Thing . . .

Homer And A Joint

“Society has gotten to the point where every body has a right but nobody has a responsibility”—Unknown

Of course I’m going to weigh in on this discussion. I am of Irish heritage and we have an opinion on everything. Just ask us.

To begin I can say that I have had an extensive and in depth relationship with cannabis and related products beginning in the late 60’s and continuing until the late 80’s at which time I straightened up long enough to realize what I was NOT doing and so changed my lifestyle to one of providing service to those others who wanted to salvage some meaning to their lives. I went back to school and trained as a Social Service Worker specializing in alcohol and drug treatment. I have spent over 23 years in service to others including families. That should qualify me.

If you are a parent, single mom, single dad, a grandparent, someone who works in the legal field, social services, if you work for a school board, FACS, Big Brothers, are a counsellor-private or public (I know I’ve left out a few areas) you really need to read this article and watch or investigate the two links that I have included at the bottom of this page. I’m referring to the ongoing debate and the governments’ on again off again position regarding the decision to legalize pot. No big deal say some. On the contrary it is a huge deal. The following information is just the tip of the proverbial ice berg that passively lies in wait for our ‘titanic’ to sail by oblivious to the perils that lie before us.

I need to state clearly that I am all for anyone using cannabis as a legitimate medical aid. That should have happened years ago. Again our decision makers let their electoral success outweigh the obvious benefits to their constituents and now it has become yet another vote getting gimmick made with little common sense and minimal solid information. Two things come to mind here for me: Governments have finally realized that they cannot win the so called war on drugs, as it is being waged, no matter how many billions of dollars they throw at the problem. Dah! By legalizing cannabis they will save boat loads of money. They will also harvest a great deal of money from the sale and taxation of the product to the public. I believe the phrase is it is a real ‘cash cow’. The timing is suspect as well. Just before the coming election the government of the day will give us back some of our own money and then tell us what great managers of the public purse they are. All this will assist short term planning without a hint of any thought going into what the long term ramifications could well be from legalizing pot. That includes the increasee stress on the ailing health care system. It is simply a decision of convenience and expedience.

Lets look at just a few of the negatives of legalizing cannabis here:

1. We would be introducing yet another mood/mind altering substance into our daily lives which adds exactly zero to the quality of family and community life.
2. The legalization of pot is often suggested as a way for us to get in line with what other countries are doing or have done. Well, personally, I don’t care about what other countries are doing. We have our own culture and belief systems here. Our civility is built on a different foundation. Other countries allow euthanasia, for instance, as an option for dying with dignity and yet we won’t even consider a proper discussion to take place. All of a sudden we want to be different from other countries. I’m already confused.
3. According to Dr. Bernard Le Foll, Chief Addiction Researcher at the University of Toronto and a prominent Research and Treatment official at CAMH in Toronto, there is much that is not clear about the long term affects of frequent, consistent cannabis use and until that research and science provides more definite results we should not be moving forward with this idea of making cannabis more accessible. We need to develop definitive, specific treatment programs like we have with alcohol, tobacco and opiate use before we go any further. There needs to be clear regulations around the distribution of this drug. For years it was an illegal substance and now all of a sudden it’s OK to make it legal?? What gives with that? What has changed?
4. There is enough evidence to indicate a possible relationship between consistent cannabis use and the onset of psychosis, depression, schizophrenia, anxiety, a reduced ability to retain/maintain focus (great if your driving a car), diminished reaction time and response time in crisis situations, more difficulty correlating facts and information (don’t folks have enough trouble with this now?), also believed to negatively effect rational thought process (decision making). Then there are some of the health problems like the connection of consistent cannabis use to possible increases in certain types of cancer–head, neck and lung cancer (increased health care costs), lack of motivation/decreased energy levels, apathy, reduced immune system functioning, may lead to the development of cardiovascular and respiratory systems problems and, believe me, the list goes on. (For more on this check out those two links I enclosed)
5. Many folks want to compare cannabis with tobacco or alcohol–really? How many people die each year of alcohol related deaths? More than the deaths from most other drugs combined. As for tobacco–it kills nearly 50% of those who use it regularly. Not a glowing recommendation.

We don’t know near as much as we need to in order to make an informed decision. I have worked in this field long enough to know that this drug has the potential to destroy lives and not just those who use it but those who have to live around it like families and children. I’ve witnessed so much of the agony and misery that surrounds the addiction to this particular drug.

Your FIRST line of defence here is to become better informed. Check out these two articles (links below).

The next point is that this is much too important to let the government have the final say in what happens next. I DO NOT TRUST THEIR MOTIVES OR THEIR RHETORIC IN THIS MATTER. IT IS MUCH TOO IMPORTANT ESPECIALLY WHEN CONSIDERING THAT MOST OF THEM WON’T BE AROUND WHEN THE REAL MESS HITS THE FAN IN ABOUT TEN YEARS.

At the very least this issue should be on the ballot during the next election–a referendum needs to be called. This is a monumental decision that will have adverse effects on folks that live coast to coast and one best not left to politicians. A true majority needs to decide–one separate from party politics.

That’s how I see it anyway–all the best–Jim

Is marijuana dangerous? Should it be legal?

http://whataboutweed.org/?page_id=16

PLEASE PASS THIS ON TO OTHERS WHO YOU BELIEVE CARE–THANKS

Male Smoking A Joint

Are All Dead Beat Dads The Same? I’d Say . . .

Parents and gun

Would you say that the guy in the picture is a ‘dead beat’ dad? I would and I bet you he actually lives with this child.

I wrote this article to encourage folks to think a bit differently about the labels we put on people. In this case it would be the moms or dads who may or may not have the financial means to contribute to the care of their kids as we think they should. My views have stayed the same over the years: If you have participated in creating a life or bringing a life into this world then you had better assume that that life is as important if not more so than your own. Step up and do what is necessary for that little human being to make sure that he/she has the best possible chance to thrive and succeed. If it can’t be with money it can be with your time, interest, your love and energy. It can be by demonstrating a desire to be an integral part of your child’s life and to help them feel valued whether you live in the family home or elsewhere.

Here’s where it gets to be more tricky unfortunately. Often times the law gets involved and sends the egregious parent to jail or levies some kind of sanction on him making it more difficult to earn money to pay what he can’t pay. This logic escapes me. If he can pay and just chooses not to certainly that is a different circumstance which requires a different response.

Having said that I, for one, am tired of hearing about all the ‘dead beat dads’ out there as if there aren’t any ‘dead beat moms’. How about dead beat parents?

What is a dead beat dad anyway?
What does a dead beat dad look like?
Are all dads dead beat dads if they stop paying or can’t pay support?

I’m not suggesting that dads can just run off when the going gets tough, hook up with another partner and forget about what they left behind. Similarly, there are those instances where single moms get involved with other partners, often move them into the home expecting ‘junior’ to get along with the new guy. The new guy has all the rights and privileges of a permanent fixture. He may contribute to the fridge and the cable bill-maybe-and ‘dad'(the real one) is stuck supporting a life style that he can’t afford for himself. Should he continue to pay? Or lets say mom gets married again and finds true happiness. Does the ‘real dad’ still need to pay as much? Perhaps the ex and her new man get to go to Florida in the winter for a ‘break’ and the ‘old’ man gets to live in a three room walk up with rattling pipes because that’s all he can afford after paying alimony and child support. What if all he can do is see his kids once a week for an ice cream cone and a walk in the park. Is that enough if that’s all he’s got to give or does he still qualify as a dead beat dad?

Emotions, often raw ones, can get involved in the decision making process especially around how the kids will be treated.Yes you can see them or no you can’t–screw you can be a common refrain. How this goes often depends on how the relationship ends between mom and dad and who was responsible for the break up. In either case those emotions need to be put aside for the betterment of the children left behind instead of “I’m going to clean him/her out of every red cent they have”. Acrimony is a poor substitute for responsibility.

What about single mom’s who become dead beat moms–(taken from a site called: Canadian Children’s Rights Council a few years back). Apparently dead beat moms exist as well. Using just a percentage figure there are more dead beat moms out there then there are dead beat dads (don’t shoot the messenger). According to this study 57% of moms out there who are required to pay child support actually do pay some or all of what they are responsible for. That compares to 68% of dads who are required to do the same.

The point is there is enough bad news to go around for the children who are most affected. Dead beat parents are just that. They are those who, for whatever their reasons, choose not to support their kids financially. But for me, money is just one way. There are other ways of providing for our children besides dollars and cents.

We know what is NOT working well and we need to understand that we cannot legislate morality. We cannot force people to do what they don’t want to do or at least not without spending a great deal of our dwindling resources.

When considering certainties we know that as long as we are content to vent our anger and our self-righteousness, or to judge and label others with this or that instead of encouraging those ‘bad moms or dads’ who may not be able to pay but are willing to be a part of their children’s lives in some way, the kids will continue to suffer big time. That, for me, is the real tragedy here.

That’s how I see it anyways, Jim

Pass this along to friends, clients, family or anyone else you think may benefit from considering this.

I Asked The Wee People And They Said . . .

Mother Nature At Her Best

Having some Irish blood running through me, this week was significant in a few ways. Most significant, though, was a conversation that I had, at least I think I had, with Seamus and Fergus. Let me explain.

This past Monday(17th), after putting in a rather busy but productive day, I sought some relaxation time. I sat down, put my feet up and just let my mind wonder where it would. The next thing I knew was I was strolling down this beautiful lane that stretched off into the distance with shrubs and hedges down each side and a canopy of flowering branches over top. The smell of the blooms was almost overpowering. Light streamed through the leaves and warmth enveloped me. It was perfect.

As I strolled along I noticed a little Inn. Being inquisitive I ventured in to see what was what. The place featured an old wooden bar with a wooden planked floor and held about 15 folks. All the tables were full with the exception of one table in the corner that offered one unclaimed chair. As I started to move toward the chair I noticed that the two fellas sitting there were engrossed in a conversation so I wondered if I should make my way over to ask if I could join them or not. I didn’t want to interrupt but I was hungry and tired so I took a chance. “Would it be OK to join you fellas”, I said. “I’d just like to sit for a bit and enjoy the atmosphere. I’m new around here and I can’t stay long so I’ll try not to bother you any.” “No problem”, they said. A few seconds went by and the man on my left introduced himself and his companion. His name was Fergus and the other fellow was Seamus. Seamus went on to say that he and Fergus were just discussing the state of things as they saw them and would I care to chirp in with my thoughts. I asked what they were chatting about and Fergus went on to explain. They were talking about this little town not too far away called ‘E-Nuff’. Apparently once a year this little place has a town meeting where everyone gets together to talk about what they have had ‘enough’ of over the past year. They go on to say what they will try to do to change things a bit. Then they create a list and post it in the town square to remind each other what they had talked about. The towns people spend the rest of the year trying to change as much as they can to eliminate things from the list. The following is a list of the things that came up during the town meeting in E-Nuff. Some of the things on the list came from the conversation that went on between Fergus, Seamus and I.

1. Greed–Fergus pointed out that the sandbox was big enough for ALL to play in. The rich could keep their wealth but they needed to be sure that those who went hungry and struggled to put food in the bellies of their families had more opportunities to earn money to do that. Not charity–opportunity.

2. Anger, racism, bias and resentments. Seamus pointed out that every moment spent hosting any one of these emotions was a minute where joy and peace could not be experienced. Fergus and I both tipped our glasses. (poi–I don’t drink alcohol so mine was ice tea)

3. Lying and selfish self centered politicians. It’s seems they are everywhere now. There was a time when politicians were appreciated and looked up to. People trusted them. Now they are a great source for late night TV comedians. My how the mighty have fallen.

4. Seamus brought up Rob Ford and A-Rod. It seems as though they have created a world wide reputation and not one to be proud of. “These dog and pony shows are really getting old.” Seamus and I tipped our glasses.

5. Sense of entitlement–“you owe me” is a common refrain. The world owes you nothin’. Go earn it and stop whining.

6. Exploiting those who have no power. They need a voice not a kick in the teeth.

7. Political correctness. What can any one say about this one? IT IS KILLING US.

8. Vampire movies. It’s time for something else–anything else.

9. Reality shows. Really? Are we that starved and bankrupt for ‘entertainment’?

10. Stupid, insulting and inane commercials especially on TV.

11. Political attack ads and the Parliament Hill Bully. You know the one with the pasted on, phony, insincere smile. Fergus and Seamus knew who I meant somehow.

12. Video games that show the senseless slaughter of people. These are the ones that supposedly pass for computer and brain skill development resources. Have we become that gullible or have we become that sick?

13. People who use their cell phones while driving. TAKE THEIR FRIGGIN’ LICENCE AWAY–What’s a life worth these days anyway?

14. Governments that dig far too deep into our pockets expecting them to be bottomless. Surprise!

15. CEO’s who are constantly rewarded for mediocre performances when the workers are told there is no money for them and their families. A bonus should be tied to profits and performance. If your company losses money the CEO bonus is less to match the % of the loss.

16. Men walking away from their families.

17. 2 tier court systems. There are laws for the rich and then there are laws for the rest of us.

18. Those who literally get away with murder–especially when the victims are children.

19. War. How about folks take care of their own mess if they don`t like what is happening.

20. The obscene amount of money dedicated to developing better ways of killing more people quicker and easier with less effort and less resources needed.

21. Arrogance. Do we really know more than the other guy? Our system may work for us but it may not suit them.

22. 2 tier medical system. Is my child’s life less important because I may not be able to afford the best treatment?

23. Blaming teachers for what the parents refuse to do or fail to do. Either way take some responsibility for what your kids are doing. They represent you out there in the public eye so what do you want the public to see?

24. Hypocrisy.

25. Poverty/hunger. There are far too many going to bed with swollen bellies while we toss out a weeks worth of food because we are gluttons but can’t eat any more?

I glanced at the clock that hung along side of a shillelagh only to see that three hours had passed in the blink of an eye. So I bid my farewell to Seamus and Fergus and picked up the list I had made. I tucked it in my shirt pocket and went out the door into the cool evening. Before I knew it a warm hand was gently nudging me and I opened my eyes to see my wife smiling down at me. She mentioned something about me saying goodbye to someone but didn’t recognize the names–Seamus and Fergus.

I grinned at her and said I would explain it later. As I walked away I happened to touch my shirt pocket and lo and behold I found a piece of folded paper. I pulled it out and started to read what was written there. It appeared to be a list of things starting with the word ‘greed’.

That’s’ the way I see things anyway

All the best, Jim

jamescloughley.com
jim.lifechoice@gmail.com

PLEASE PASS THIS ALONG TO FRIENDS AND FAMILY AND ASK THEM TO DO THE SAME.

Is The Pen Really Mightier Than The Sword? I Still Think . . .

Blue Eye Perspective

If you believe in the adage ‘there is certainly strength in numbers’ you might be persuaded to believe that the pen is mightier than the sword. But it is said (somewhere) that a soldier with a sub machine gun could kill a hundred people before he himself becomes vulnerable. That sure is a lot of folks when you stop to contemplate the numbers. So I guess the above question would depend on the context it was a part of. If we could think about it in everyday goings on with no special circumstances attached that would do.

In another life I was involved with training dogs until I found out what some do to ‘train’ their dogs or their clients dogs. What I did learn,though, was that you can ‘train’ a dog to do most anything if you have the patience and the skill. But in this age of ‘now’ many trainers were content to coerce desired behaviour rather than instil desired behaviour. Beat an animal long enough and he/she will do whatever you want it to. It will also go for your throat at the first opportunity. Are human beings that different? If, for instance, the desired outcome was to have a child act or respond in a certain way many parents would threaten, bribe, beat, use negative reinforcement and generally intimidate their offspring until the desired outcome was attained. I guess the thinking is ‘might is right’.

We are reminded of this way of doing things all the time–one country invades another or one country threatens military options if the other guy won’t do as he is told and so on. The fine art of negotiation has been all but forgotten. Blood letting is still the preferred option for too many people unfortunately.

We do see the ‘pen’ used, albeit negatively, in our political system. No one is better at it than the Harper election machine. They use it to spread doubt and fear in people as opposed to telling folks why they are better off voting for them. I guess they have no faith in their own people and this is the only way they can hope to win.

I believe that words–aka the pen, are much more powerful than the sword. If you strike a child , for instance, what you are likely to get back is anger, resentment and a ‘screw you’ attitude. He/she may give you what you want immediately but rest assured you are in for a long haul if you think you have won anything. To make a point trying to get your child (children) to do what you want them to can’t be about power and control or winning. It needs to be about teaching them and encouraging them to learn things that are important for them to know–things that will enrichen their lives, help them be better citizens and things that they can pass on to others. Verbal encouragement is so powerful because it builds a sense of utility in our kids and that is a prime ingredient in their quest for a positive sense of self.

So we need to be so careful what we say and how we say it to our children, to our friends and families and to the folks out there that we don’t know yet. Lets not go to the place where we think that shaming and blaming will somehow spur people on to greater things or the ridiculous notion that reverse psychology will somehow win the day. These efforts don’t do anything for anyone except destroy their desire to do what it is you hoped they would do in the first place. That certainly includes our kids. Folks, generally, do not do well trying to live down to lower expectations.

The pen, in my mind, is truly more powerful than the sword. The skill involved in wielding a sword is much more demanding and what ever is taken by the sword must be kept by the sword. Speaking to others with respect, integrity and honesty is much easier and longer lasting because it helps people to feel good about what they have heard and how they were treated. And it doesn’t cost anything either–bonus.

Please click on the link that I have provided here. This 2 minute video has been around before but I’m not sure that we could see it too often. It’s a couple of minutes long but it’s message could last a life time. As it ends it says “Change Your Words–Change Your World”.

http://www.youtube.com/watch_popup?v=Hzgzim5m7oU&vq=medium

If you want to know more about spreading a positive attitude and doing great things check out a site called ‘Me to We’. Just google it and then go to the wikipedia site and it’s all there.

That’s how I see it anyway, Jim

PLEASE PASS THIS ALONG TO ANY ONE YOU KNOW WHO MAY BENEFIT FROM IT OR APPRECIATE IT–THANKS–JIM

If You’re Asked If You Are A Racist What Would You Say?

“Never assess the many by the few”–Jim

What would you say if your son walked up to you and asked you point blank, “Hey Dad are you a racist”? I’m imagining most people would say ‘no’ and be rather uncomfortable even thinking about it and yet it really is an honest question. But as a parent you are duty bound to give him an honest response. Until we figure out how to treat each other with dignity and respect and at the same time honour each others way of life, this issue will remain with us. The underbelly of this beast is all about ‘being treated with fairness’. What is happening in our country, and many others it seems, is not fair. If I were a finger pointing person that finger would be directed at those who were elected to make sure such unfairness doesn’t happen. Political agendas should not play a part in this but unfortunately they do.

When I think about it I don’t consider myself a racist. I love people for who they are and the wealth of knowledge and experience they contribute to our society be they non-Canadians, First Nation Canadians or those who been here for awhile. I accept the idea that we are all brothers somehow and that we share certain identities and heritage. I’m good with that until the demands, expectations and ideals of someone or some group threatens MY very way of life and does not honor the history, heritage, sacrifice, customs and values of the people who founded this country. My country. The only country and way of life that I have ever known. Now it is my natural cultural identity that is being threatened by those who have no stake or claim in the struggle, sacrifice and pain it took to build and protect this country from those who would do her harm. So, as anyone would, I would fight to keep what is rightfully mine. It is not so much the demands to discard or negate our customs and values but rather the willingness of our own government to grant those demands with little or no concern for those of us who live here. This esteemed group has granted customs and values that have little to do with our founding fathers visions for our country. Sadly this golden opportunity to learn about all the other groups of people that inhabit the planet with us has been perverted into something other than what multiculturalism was meant to be. It has become political and hateful based almost completely on unfairness and simple-mindedness. If these thoughts and words make me a racist then perhaps I need to rethink what that word really means.

The colour of people’s skin seems to be a problem unfortunately. If I call a black man-a black man-I’m a racist and yet I am called a white man and that’s OK?? I meant no disrespect and I’d like to believe that the person who called me a ‘white man’ didn’t mean any disrespect either. If we celebrated a White History Month we would be branded as racist but Black History Month is applauded. Why can’t we each celebrate our race if it is important to celebrate it? There are clubs, groups, special days, organizations, beauty pageants, scholarships, colleges, universities and banks to name a few that have been dedicated to specific racial groups only. People with white skin are not welcomed to join, participate or be a member of any of these. If white folks did that we would be called racists in every instance. Why is it that only white people can be racists? If I question ‘why’ certain things happen the way they do does that mean I’m a racist? How very confusing it all is and how unnecessary.

If people who have difficulty assimilating into our way of life don’t like being here because it is uncomfortable for them perhaps they need to re-think their decision to stay here. Perhaps there are other places to live with customs and values that are more suited to what they are looking for. I’m assuming people come to this great country because of the freedoms and opportunities that are offered them. Perhaps these are not available to them in their native country. Fair enough–welcome–come and enjoy all that we have to offer. We are a generous and sharing people. But if it is not what they hoped it would be then they have the right to change their minds. They are free to come or go. It is not OK for our elected officials to give away that which is not theirs to give away in order to entice people to stay. I speak of my ways of living–my cultural identity–my values and my beliefs and my freedoms and my customs. I don’t see that as being racist but I do see it as me fighting back to retain my cultural identity because once we lose that–we have lost it all.

So when your son asks you if you are a racist sit him down and talk to him about what it means to be a man in this world today. Help him understand what is expected of him and how important his values, customs and beliefs are. He also needs to understand that they may need to be fought for and protected and honoured in order to maintain them. That said we need to make sure that we aren’t taking away someone else’s right to celebrate their culture as well.

That’s the way I see it anyways, Jim

Father & Son Golfing

LET ME KNOW WHAT YOU WOULD SAY IF YOU WERE ASKED THIS SAME QUESTION. PLEASE SEND THIS TO YOUR FRIENDS–I’D LIKE TO HEAR FROM THEM AS WELL–THANKS

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