Stop! Hey Someone Stole Christmas. Where Did It Go?

Nativity Scene

It was here a while ago and now it’s gone.

Honest–I’m not a ‘bah humbug’ kind of guy. What I would like to know, however, is where has Christmas gone–it’s like someone stole it and none of us noticed. What happened to the old carols–you remember the ones sung by people who could actually sing. What I hear more of these days are rappers who have done some awful things to such beautiful music. Or carols sung by people who hit notes at decibels so unbelievable that I swear they could crack the crystal in grandmas’ china cabinet. Children are in danger of forgetting what those songs mean and the significance of how they connect us to all the other folks who celebrate Christmas around the world. If there is one event in the year that has the potential of drawing us a little closer together it is this celebration and it is dying off. Lists of things are the new weapons supporting the takeover by those who see capitalism and consumerism as the new ‘Gods’. Kids, instead of being thankful and grateful for the gifts they receive are disappointed and upset they didn’t get it all. I don’t hear children talking about ‘the Christmas Story’ much anymore. In many schools it is ‘not acceptable behavior’ to publicly recite or discuss the stories of Christmas. Where has Christmas gone? More importantly why have we allowed it to go that way? It is our tradition and an integral part of our culture and our heritage and we just gave it up to people who were offended.

It has been pushed aside in favour of bigger and longer sales. Christmas is all about the money now. The shopping season starts somewhere around the first week of November with some stores having their Christmas decorations displayed earlier. Some radio stations play ramped up almost unrecognisable ‘Christmas’ music 24 hours a day. We now have the beginning of a new Christmas language. How does ‘re-gifting’ really work and how does it feel to have something you worked hard to provide suddenly become next years ‘gift’ to somebody else?? Well Merry Christmas to you too.

In Ferguson, Missouri we know that people rioted then looted from their own neighbors and business people. Some of those hard working business people will never be able to recover the losses and will likely have to close up shop. But hey–Merry Christmas.

And then we have the folks who got into a fist fight in a store, with little kids watching, where Black Friday was taking a firm grip on everyone’s nerves and sanity. It seems they were fighting over the last ‘big screen’ TV on the shelf. Outside people were physically fighting over parking spaces. Hey Merry Christmas to you guys as well.

In the Middle East the Canadian military is or was busy flying over land, that is not ours, bombing people into oblivion who may or may not be our adversaries. We killed who knows how many innocent people (mostly because bombs don’t discriminate between the good guys and the not so good guys) who had nothing else to do but find a way to live through another day in that forsaken place. Our leaders want us to believe that we are over there trying to defend the rights of the citizens who live there and to protect a non existing democracy. Meanwhile over here our government is giving away or trading away our rights in exchange for votes in the next federal election. We can no longer recite the Lords Prayer in schools or most public places. We wouldn’t want to offend anyone. Well not to offend anyone but if you don’t like our way of life why not just leave us alone. No hard feelings. If it’s better where you are from then why are you here? Oh, by the way–Merry Christmas.

So because of the combination of political correctness, greedy self serving politicians, misguided parents who are still trying to ‘buy’ their kids respect by substituting goods for real relationships and people who are centered on just what is good for themselves, Christmas has taken the hit and has, almost, been pushed off the world stage by those who could care less about tradition, culture, heritage and good will among ‘men’. Kids have, again, been forgotten when it comes to having the opportunity to share with others, to give to those who have less, to honor tradition and history, to consider the world as a bigger place then just the three feet that surround them. What a shame.

The bright spot, oddly enough, is that now, more than at any other time, the U.S. is recognised as #1 in the world when it comes to generous donations to domestic and world charities and giving to those who have little. Apparently some 65% of Americans give to support and help others. That includes food banks, shelters and supplying warm clothing for the homeless. All is not lost after all.

So how do we transfer that idea of helping and sharing to our children when we can’t seem to include it in our day to day living experiences. Perhaps we could to teach it by being a living example. Maybe we start by not bombing other people in the name of trying to help them; giving that last sale item to someone else. Really what’s the big deal or allowing that other person to have the last parking spot. Perhaps we could start by saying ‘Merry Christmas’ to everyone and anyone we encounter. Maybe it will just feel a bit more like the Christmas times we used to celebrate when we were kids. It would be a start and who knows what would happen next.

Anyways, that’s how I see it. All the best and MERRY CHRISTMAS to all that read this article.

Please pass this along to others and send any and all comments to me at jamescloughley.com OR jim.lifechoice@gmail.com

Were These Parents For Real Or Was I Just Hearing Things?

Having Kids . .. Quote

There are times when I just happen to overhear conversations between folks and I can’t resist wondering what are they talking about? Did I just hear what I thought I heard? I don’t mean to get all judgemental on people but I can’t understand the rationale of some parents when they are talking about their kids and some of the decisions they make regarding the use of alcohol and drugs. On one occasion a father and a mother were discussing a particular holiday function that their 16 year old son was hosting. The question was whether or not they should allow him to drink at the gathering since it was going to be at their home. The rationale was that they would rather have him drinking and celebrating in their own home than be out ‘there’ taking needless risks with the police and/or perhaps being in a car under the influence and running the risk of being in an accident. My inner voice was screaming “are you guys out of your freakin’ minds?

I couldn’t leave it alone and so I began to search around to see what other parents might do and, to my surprise, there were a few that saw it the same way albeit for a multitude of reasons. There were those who wanted to ‘teach’ him how to respect alcohol and not to let it get out of hand. Another person said that it would be fun to party with his son and bring him into the realm of manhood the right way. I remember this same argument a father put forth for having his son visit a prostitute at 18 in order to initiate him properly. Wow!! And then there was the mom, not too long ago, who had ordered a couple of exotic dancers to ‘crash’ her son’s party to provide a bit of ‘light’ entertainment. He was 16 I believe. We may need re-visit the whole argument around needing a licence to drive a car but how easy it is for anyone to create a human life.

So let’s look at the upside of this question. First of all there is ah-ah-gee I just can’t see an upside. My answer is quite simply NO. No it is not OK for anyone who is under age to be drinking at home or anywhere else for that matter. Especially when his/her parents are saying it’s OK.They are the adults-they should know better. What is it they want their kids to learn from this?

Why ‘NO’?

1. The obvious one is that it is illegal regardless of where it happens especially if ‘Junior’s friends’ are also drinking.
2. If anything should happen and someone gets hurt the parents would certainly be eligible for a giant lawsuit and criminal charges.
3. What kind of a message does it send the kids who attend the party? In this case 16 year olds about the reasoning and the respect for the law.
4. This relaxing of the rules of law also points out that it’s OK to defy the law as long as it happens behind closed doors and that it is OK to ignore the laws of the land if Dad says so.
5. It goes to show the parents inconsistency and hypocrisy. It says it is OK to make exceptions to the law if it suits our own needs. Dangerous for a kid to hear this message at any time.
6. How does a kid that old learn to trust his parents when the rules can be bent at any time and its OK.
7. If its OK to use alcohol prematurely then is it OK to gamble or use drugs or employ the services of a sex trade worker or be a bit more than forceful when encountering a young woman who is unsure about what she is doing or about to do? Does ‘No’ really mean ‘No’ in this case? It must be ‘OK’ if its happening behind closed doors. Right?

The part of this that I found hard to comprehend was the reasons parents came up with to allow ‘Junior’ to drink openly in the house. The one thing that most parents made clear was there could be no drug use. I guess they missed the discussion at Parents School about how alcohol is a drug as well. Parents, especially Dad, thought it would be cool to party with his son. He thought that it would be like a male bonding experience. NO it is not! What it is is a misguided attempt to stay close to ‘Junior’ and feel as though he is cool in his kids eyes and the eyes of ‘Junior’s’ friends. ‘Junior’ doesn’t need more friends. What he needs is a father who loves his kid enough to say ‘NO’ you cannot drink at the party. He needs to set some boundaries about what is acceptable and why. If ‘Junior’ threatens to go elsewhere and drink then help him understand the ramifications of that decision and that there are consequences to those decisions as well. Then Dad needs to be consistent should it come time to be so. The trick is not to make the consequences so unrealistic that a major crisis occurs but strong enough for ‘Junior’ to understand what is expected of him. He might be angry for awhile but he will come to understand there are rules for living that he needs to adhere to just like everyone else. The earlier this practice begins the easier it becomes and the more trust is likely built between sons and father/parents. Another reason I heard a great deal was the concern about being old enough to make those decisions for himself. The truth is more likely he is not mature enough to understand the nature of the situation and he likely doesn’t possess the maturity to handle the situation with anything other than self serving thoughts and feelings.

–‘Junior’ needs his parents to be his parents an not to be his friends.
–He needs consistency from his parents so that the same messages are being heard all the time–no exceptions and no ‘extraordinary’ circumstances.
–He needs to see his parents model appropriate behaviour when they are having a few.
–He needs to be encouraged to have some respect for the laws of the land. He doesn’t have to like them but he does have to learn to live with them.

Anyways, that’s how I see it–Jim

Please send me your comments whether you agree or not. I’m always interested in hearing from people who take the time to read my articles, give them some thought and then let me know how they feel about what they read. Pass this on to your friends as well–thanks

Contact me at: jim.lifechoice@gmail.com OR jamescloughley.com

What Part Am I Not Getting? Help Wanted

Young Dad Holding Baby Son

” Western thinking is failing because it’s complacent arrogance prevents it from seeing the extent of its failure”
–Edward DeBono

Here I am again–I feel like the village idiot. I’m just not ‘getting it’. This week, in Toronto, a group called C.A.F.E. or Canadian Association for Equality was opening a Center for Men and Families. I admit that I don’t know much more about this outfit than has been written in the papers. What I do know, for certain, is that I have studied men’s issues, their complexity and scope for quite some time. I also know that a place where men of all ages can go for advocacy, support and an educated ear is/was sorely needed. Then the other shoe fell and the elation that was mine turned to disappointment. At least one of the T.O. papers were quite sceptical about the ‘how, what and who’of it all. It seemed that all was not well among some of the women’s groups who thought that this was opportunistic, not really what it was purported to be and was against women’s rights. Basically a replay of the ‘old days.’ A front for a group who would use the same tactics and focus to return to a time when men were kings and women were subjugated.

In all I read I didn’t see or get that view. If there is proof of other things going on-if there is something else happening that we, the public interest, needs to know then please share it with us so that we can become better informed. If this outfit isn’t who or what they say they are then it wont take long to figure that out and most men, I believe, would stay away in droves. Donations, fund raising efforts and contributions would all but dry up. The ‘problem’ would take care of itself.

Back in the 20’s when the women’s movement began to catch hold there were accusations, tactics and comments used by groups of men who had absolutely no desire to share their spotlight with women. Women had their place, said many of these men of those days, and the public eye was not it. But courageous women fought through under the most hazardous and gut wrenching times to survive, grow and become much more relevant in more modern times. I say good for them because what they did and what they accomplished was not only good for women but it was helpful to many free thinking and progressive men as well.

What I don’t get, then, is why all this negativity? Don’t men deserve the same opportunities to health, welfare, fairness both legally and socially, equality, full custodial opportunities, learning opportunities and support networks. Why is it any less important for men to enjoy these same possibilities? I don’t want to be argumentative here. I’m just trying to understand what the difference is. We–men–are not the enemy nor are we the cause of all the unfairness in the world. Having worked in the public service as a Social Service Worker for over 20 years I could repeat stories about the unfairness of the system that favoured women as well but getting into a he said/she said and she did that too situation is just unproductive here or anywhere for that matter.

The issues that surround men and the difficulties that men are having adapting to the ‘new world’ are well known. The issues connected to fatherlessness are also well known especially where they relate to most social indicators: public violence, teen suicide rates, disproportionate mental health issues, sexual violence and assault, teenage pregnancies, learning challenges and high drop out rates, increased incidence of rape, and dramatic increases in substance use. Men are also victims of domestic violence but these incidents are vastly under-reported so they receive little if any public scrutiny. I would have thought that any attempt by men to begin to address these and other important issues which, hopefully, would improve the safety and well being of women would have been welcomed and applauded. Finally men will have a chance to talk about much of this stuff and receive a fair hearing. It is important that these messages come from other men who understand the importance of seeing and treating all human beings in an equal way. That’s the message that needs to be heard. Having these issues out in the light of day can do nothing but make it a safer and more equitable place for all of us–men AND women.

Equality always comes with a price attached to it. If we are all fighting to be heard and to be treated equally then we will all have to pay a price for the privilege. I don’t know what that price will be. I just know that it will need to be paid by ALL of us. If equality is really the goal then we should each have the same right to advocate for a fair and just system but not at the expense of gains realized by others. There is no gain if someone loses something in the process.

I confess I’m a little tired of being labelled a misogynist if I don’t agree with all the points that some of the women’s groups are putting out there. The fact is I don’t agree with all that is said. For instance the legal system needs a top to bottom overhaul when it comes to custodial and support issues. If fairness and equality are the goals and honest change is sought then this is the place to start.

In any large, growing movement there is always going to be the ‘haters’–those who are radical and militant. Both sides of this discussion have those ‘haters’ in their midst. Let’s leave them out of the effort to attain some equality, respect and good will so that the work we do will provide some change and some progress that will feed us to do bigger things.

Anyways, that’s the way I see it–all the best and thanks for coming out–Jim

Please send me your comments pro or con–let me know what you are thinking

Contact me at: jim.lifechoice@gmail.com OR jamescloughley.com

I’m Up To Here With This Stuff–Where Has Democracy Gone Anyway?

Classroom Of Young Students

Classroom Of Young Students

This effects us all–like it or not. And I try not to use this space and your time to rant about things but I’ve ’bout had it with people who are ingrates, who take gross advantage of the freedoms that the men and women of this great land have helped secure with their blood and guts. They left their families knowing that they may never see their kids grow up or see their daughters or sons marry. These were not marauders and plunderers who were invading others lands for gain and treasure. These were not the dregs of society who deserved whatever fate awaited them. These were decent human beings who fought for the rights of others. But for that reason–the right to free speech–I can’t take umbrage with those who asked that the Remembrance Day stories not be read to their children. I think that it was a classless thing to do but I would defend their right to ask.

NO. My beef is with the spineless little bureaucrats who decided that pleasing one parent in the name of being inclusive actually gave in to the request. In a PEI classroom a librarian had been told that she could not share or read any Remembrance Day stories to the Grade 1 students of a visiting class. The request was made by parents of a Jehovah Witness family and since JW’s don’t support any kind of war effort the request was honored by the powers that be. Lets say there were 25 kids in the class. How does denying the opportunity for 24 kids to hear Remembrance Day stories about our heroes–those who gave their lives and limbs, selflessly, add up to inclusiveness?? The only thing they were included in was the experience of NOT hearing the stories. I’m thinking that those numbers don’t add up well. Just so I’m clear here. None of the 25 were to hear any of the stories. Doesn’t that add up to 0%. Perhaps some remedial classes in math are needed in the Department of Tourism and Culture in PEI. And how does the Department of Tourism and Culture make the decision anyway. I would have thought that the Department (Ministry?) of Education would make the call about what happens in the classroom. To think that the wish of one parent could determine the outcome for many is not only abhorrent to me but it is dangerous. What about the wishes of the 24 kids parents’ to hear the stories because they are considered to be an integral part of their childrens understanding of how this country sees it role in the world. And what of democracy? Don’t the wishes of the majority have any juice anymore? This is kind of senseless adherence to political correctness is happening far too often and it needs to be stopped before there will be nothing left for us to cheer about. (I’m almost done)

In their infinite wisdom this distinguished group of morons missed a marvellous learning opportunity that was handed to them on a great silver platter. The teacher could have spent time talking about tolerance and acceptance and how we need to be OK with not always getting our own way. Sometimes it’s OK to walk away from a situation rather than demand certain things happen because you want them to and because what is OK for most may not be OK with you. This dissenting family could have just as easily kept their child home that day or had him/her leave the classroom during the Remembrance Day activities but oh no they had to have it THEIR way and others and their wishes or rights be damned.

I’m really tired of hearing stories of self absorbed people who feel that they are more important than the rest of us and more tired of hearing and watching our fearless leaders grant the religious and political accommodations that we Canadians have extended to our new citizens. It is no wonder that fewer Canadians want to vote–they are thinking the same as I am–what’s the point. They don’t listen anyway.

I’m not trying to recruit people over to my side of things but if you don’t have any feelings one way or the other about this incident then I’m wondering if you have a pulse.

As for PEI–you should be ashamed of yourselves for pandering to the few. By the way that spin about being inclusive–there is a saying to cover that: “That dog just doesn’t hunt anymore” meaning–Bull—-.

Anyways, that’s how I see it–Jim

If you agree or disagree-that’s your choice but send me a comment either way.

TO get in touch with me you can email me at: jim.lifechoice@gmail.com or connect with me through my web site at jamescloughley.com.

Let’s Remember Remembrance Day

Poppies Remembrance Day

We Will Not Forget

I wonder how many folks will actually take the time to be still and remember those who gave their lives so that we may enjoy our freedoms and our culture. Many think that Remembrance Day is about keeping the war in the front of people’s minds and the sacrifices. For me it is remembering that so many special people were willing to go off to a foreign land and put themselves in harms way so that freedom would not be extinguished. Where does that courage and that selflessness come from in some? The concept is lost on many now. Our young folks are losing perspective because they have difficulty referencing what they have now with those sacrifices which were made so many years ago by so many brave men and women. That’s why we need to continue to do all we can to keep the spirit of Remembrance Day alive. As the number of veterans decreases it is more critical than ever that we don’t forget.

I have included a link which I hope works. I is a song and video (about 4 minutes) created by a Canadian man–Terry Kelly who captures the it all–(If there is an ad attached to the video please forgive it, click to move by it and enjoy Terry Kelly)—Jim

www.youtube.com/watch?v=2kX_3y3u5Uo

Our Best Intentions Could Be Hurting Our Kids. See Why.

Depressed Young Man

I am unaware of any iconic member of society who has made more of a difference regarding how we parent our kids then Dr. Benjamin Spock. After an experiment of some 68 years we can, now, see some of the benefits and some of the drawbacks to his view on how kids should be parented. Parents,in general, have given way to Dr. Spock’s philosophy of ‘let them decide for themselves’. The problem is we, as parents, have not done a great job of preparing our children how to do that. Instead, parents have stepped up to protect and manage their kids lives, and by doing so actually relieve them from any responsibility for those decisions they might make. We have done this with ‘the best of intentions.’ We have worked hard at protecting our children’s supposed fragile egos by not saying “no” when “no” would have been the appropriate response. Assuredly,their egos are just fine. Actually we harm their egos by not allowing them the opportunity to learn from the decisions they make. We have done this with ‘the best of intentions.’ Our kids can be rude, they can be bullies, they can be disrespectful to others’ property, they can be lazy, they can be careless, they can disregard any type of authority and we, as parents, seem to find a way–an excuse really–that explains away their behaviour with little chance of them learning some valuable life lessons. We do it all ‘with the best of intentions’.

So I present my recent head scratcher. Inclusive classrooms. I guess this term is the latest example of ‘politically correct double speak’. I don’t understand why parents would insist on having their challenged children moved into a classroom with quote-unquote normal students or students who have not been assessed or labelled as slow or problem learners. The only plausible explanation is that some parents want to have their child exposed to a regular school curriculum but with what expected outcome?? Their child has been tested and assessed. They struggle with understanding or participating in the same way as other kids. To demand that they need to be situated in the same learning environment as ‘regular’ students is a prime example of the ‘with the best of intentions’ idea gone awry. They seem to have little idea or understanding of how it will affect their child and the learning environment of the other ‘normal’ students. My understanding is that, not only is the teacher in that classroom now responsible for the day plan for the class but he/she also needs to prepare a day plan for each of the other students who are not mentally or emotionally equipped to process what is taught to the regular class of students. That could mean preparing five or six separate plans each day. If we consider this just from the practical side or the efficiency side of things it is not practical or efficient–for anyone including the students in that classroom. So. ‘With the best of intentions’ EVERYONE in that classroom gets short changed–EVERYONE. At the very least it provides a great deal less time for ANY of the students to get the needed help and support that is often necessary when new information is introduced.

But even more of a concern to me is the social aspect of it all. The challenged kids are in a space that is so foreign to them. They are in with other kids who may not understand the difficulties that some students have when learning. Certainly the challenged kids could become targets for ridicule and bullying. How difficult might it be for a child who is 13 years of age but functioning or learning at a 10 year old level to assimilate into the social structure of the classroom. How do they make friends? How do they share the same concerns with other classmates? How do they communicate? What do they FEEL when they realize they are treated and seen differently from the other students. It would be very difficult to build any kind of a peer support group.They could be isolated, alone, depressed perhaps. This is not a healthy set up for the kids. It may satisfy some parental need but the miracle that they, the parents, are hoping for is not going to happen. All this ‘with the best intentions.’

And what about the other students. They see a group of ‘special’ kids being treated differently. Double standards are applied in some cases as a result of their learning and behavioural challenges. It appears that it’s OK for THOSE kids but not for us is a common resentment among the ‘normal’ students. The classroom isn’t the place for teachers to spend valuable class time trying to explain the tolerance and acceptance lessons that parents need to be dealing with at home.

So where do we begin:

* We need to allow teachers to manage their work space. They know better than anyone how to do that. They have been trained to do that and we, as parents, have not. Let’s let the experts take charge of our kids learning requirements.

* Teachers need to be granted the opportunity to deliver the curriculum in a creative and innovative manner.

* Parents need to stay OUT of the classroom. Let’s let the teachers truly earn the money they deserve.

* Parents need to support the teachers and the teachers need to work in concert with the parents. Lets everyone put their egos aside so that our children receive the best experience possible.

* Teachers need to be trusted with the responsibility of restoring some accountability in the classroom instead of being side tracked with criticism and fear for their own safety-literally. In many schools students really do run the classroom and often with the support of parents who feel they are exercising their best intentions. That’s just plain wrong. It teaches them that being disrespectful, threatening and violent are superior tools to use when you want to get your own way.

* The focus needs to be on preparing our kids for the real world. Many studies will show, clearly, that isn’t happening using the current system. Not everyone ‘should get a ribbon’. Our classrooms need to model the real world complete with appropriate expectations of what they need to do to be competitive in it, to excel in it and to survive in it.

We, as a community of caring people, need to get working on a new paradigm concerning our children’s education. We need to start deciding with our heads and not our hearts. When we can do this ‘our best intentions’ will work in our children’s favour to produce the best results possible and not hinder their opportunities to be successful.

Anyways, that’s how I see it–all the best–James

Comments are always welcome. Send a response to this article or send me a response by email at: jim.lifechoice@gmail.com

You can find out more about how to purchase my book: ‘A Man’s Work Is Never Done: A Novel About Mentoring Our Son’s’ by going to my web site: jamescloughley.com

Can It Be True? . . . Who Knows Anything For Sure?

Someone Holding The Sun

“We often see what we want to see and hear what we want to hear”

I recently read an article about the Jian Ghomeshi vs the CBC mess, his unceremonious dismissal and the $50+ million lawsuit that has been threatened by Ghomeshi and his ‘people’. Now it has become about how this Ghomeshi guy is ‘getting out in front’ of all this bad press in order to skirt the inevitable outcome of being found guilty of something that may or not be true. The media sure wants it to be true, it seems, and now it’s become a David and Goliath type struggle and . . . and my freakin’ head hurts with all this posturing and rankling and accusing.

The truth is no one knows, yet, what really happened and the point is the only folks who really know are the ones directly involved. Should we not allow the legal system, the one we have chosen to live by, to do its job and gather information about the charges that have been made. Involving the public, in my view, does not ensure honesty and but rather fear. Scrutiny can and will come when the facts are produced and then the media needs to swing into high gear. Now they can go to work to prove or disprove the facts as they have been prepared and presented. The legal system needs to be free to gather evidence without pressure or bias and present that information when it can be done in a way that leaves no doubt about the need for a trial or hearing. Shouldn’t that information be presented in a court room instead of a newspaper. Papers should print the news not make the news. Shouldn’t that info gathering be done quietly and professionally thereby creating an environment of respect, dignity and protection for the women who were courageous enough to bring forth their charges instead of enduring the media frenzy and the circus that is sure to follow when the public has gotten its taste for blood in the water tweaked? In reality the public can be much more harsh on the ‘victims’ than on the so called perpetrators. The public will always want to know and believe the worst. Think about the ‘rubberneckers’ that slow down at an accident site hoping to get a glimpse of blood and gore only to say ‘Oh isn’t that awful’ when they witness death or carnage of some kind. Why do so many go to hockey games? Not always for the game itself but rather for the fights and violence that often breaks out.

According to this blog that I read the women who brought forth the charges are claiming that Mr.Ghomeshi struck them with a closed fist or an open hand, bit them, choked them, impaired their ability to breath and verbally abused them during and after having sex with them. But by making all of this ‘news’ public at this time diminishes the chances of either side receiving a fair hearing and the information being proven. It becomes a ‘he said/she said’ situation with both sides revving up the rhetoric. Of course he will deny it and of course they will claim its truth. So who knows for sure? The author of this article talks about Mr. Ghomeshis’ PR team working at full tilt thereby, somehow, suggesting his guilt. There would be no need for a PR team to be involved if the ‘circus’ hadn’t come to town but here we are. The PR guys are as bad as the media sometimes. Both salivate at something like this happening because one gets employed and the other gets to stay employed.

Another of the authors concerns is about how powerful people always seem to get away with things that the regular folks always get nailed for. Is this a personal or professional opinion? I would agree this can happen and does. But I would also say that it often doesn’t work that way. Just ask Bill Clinton, Richard Milhous Nixon and Conrad Black how their power managed to free them from public scrutiny and accountability.

The other major point to the authors article revolves around consent. Was consent given and rescinded? Was consent given at all? Was it completely ignored? There is no question in my mind that it can be rescinded at any time and needs to be respected immediately–bar no excuses or pleadings.. That’s just part of the rules of the game and, make no mistake, this is a game. A very serious one to be sure but still a game that is played out for stimulation and pleasure. Perhaps those who want to participate in the game need to be better versed about just what it is they are agreeing to. Perhaps this is no place for amateurs to tread until they know more. Perhaps there needs to be more discussion shared between what each would-be participant likes and doesn’t like so there can be no misunderstandings about what is about to happen and where the boundaries lie. This is not something that should be taken lightly nor with an attitude of ‘Oh this sounds like fun-let’s do it’.

If things got out of hand and things happened that weren’t discussed nor was there any consent to certain behaviours given then it most certainly was criminal in its essence and that is that. But no one knows for sure what happened in this case. All we have heard is what has been said by each side. However, now that the genie has been let out of the bottle there is no turning back. The reputations of all involved here are at stake. No one has more to lose than the other unless you reduce those losses to just money.

In the end isn’t it up to each of us who we decide to spend time with, doing what, when, where and under what circumstances. If we make the choice and it doesn’t work out well and laws were broken then someone needs to be held accountable for what happened. But at what point do we each become solely responsible for the decisions we make no matter how reckless or callous or risky? But because they didn’t turn out so well we can’t, then, point fingers at the other person for the choices we made. I am not suggesting that we blame any one side or that one side is more to blame than the other. As we move toward an egalitarian society part of what we need to accept is taking responsibility for what we say, what we do and who we do it with. We all have a right to pursue our freedoms and above all to preserve our safety and our right to make our own choices. Let’s just remember that door swings both ways for all of us.

Anyways, that’s how I see it–Jim

Please pass this along to friends or anyone else who might read it. All comments and feedback are welcome
jim.lifechoice@gmail.com

Three Things Our Kids Need To Learn From Us Are . . .

Group With Canadian Flag

This past week will be remembered as the time when Canada lost its global innocence. No longer will we feel totally safe and exempt from the violence that goes on in the rest of the world. We suffered the loss of a soldier in Quebec who was callously and viciously murdered by a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil. Apparently,the murderer, traded all the freedoms of this great land for a Jhadist ideology. Another soldier was injured in the same act of terror. Then there was the unspeakable tragedy that happened in Ottawa where a soldier doing his duty at the cenotaph was murdered as well. He was shot to death by an assailant who later was shot to death inside the Hall of Honor–irony strikes again. I fought the need to start flinging people out of our country. I wanted to tell them to get out and go back to the hell hole they had left. My anger was quickly subdued by the questions which arose instead. Why did this happen? How did this happen? What drove two young Canadian men, both citizens, to randomly select and then take the lives of fellow Canadians and to do so right here at home on Canadian soil? I realized that this is a home grown problem and in so many ways has nothing to do with those who come here. These were disenchanted Canadians who chose to kill their own.

I have no desire to give either of these two murderous ingrates any of my time finding out about who they were. I know who and what they were. But knowing ‘why’ is important. When I think of the last 20 years and all the horrible mass murders and shootings and rampages that have taken place I see that the vast majority of them were created and fashioned by angry, disillusioned young men and this brought me back to what I wrote about in my book. This is about fatherless boys who struggled to find their place in this society. They were not connected to much of anything or any one. They were cut loose and left to find their own way when their fathers abandoned them. The internet became their classroom. They got connected to anyone who seemed to care regardless of the message. They wanted to punish as they felt they were punished. Anger and power become a deadly combination. Outside voices saw this and took advantage of it. If you hear the same message over and over again after a while and without any thing to counter it, misplaced passion grows and converts rise up. Suddenly they believe in something and they find others who are disillusioned. They find a group out there who seem to agree that our way of life is at fault and needs to be challenged–brought to it’s knees–punished for going against the laws of nature. Terrorism is born of less.

Now our primary question becomes how do we prevent this from happening again? We need to understand that it will if we don’t recognize what we are not doing. For me it goes right back to the messages we send out to our kids–our sons in this case. What are we telling them? What are we teaching them? How are we engaging them and how do we make sure that they feel important and connected and clear about what their role is in this society? How do we in-still a sense of importance, ownership and allegiance to this country? How do they become proud Canadians?

How do we fix it? We can start at the beginning:

As stewards and teachers to our kids we can begin to demonstrate the importance of spending more time re-building our nuclear families. Unfortunately, many who have abandoned their sons either physically, emotionally or mentally can’t bring themselves to think that they may be, in some small way, responsible for harming their sons. However, once we commit to the mindset of reconciliation there are three things that our kids, especially our young men, need to learn from us:

1. We need to STOP trying to protect them from the world and all its lessons. Our kids are not fragile and they wont die because they are heart broken or disappointed. If we do our job right we can teach them how to use these set backs to their advantage so they will become better equipped mentally and emotionally to manage what comes their way. Right now many of our kids are poorly equipped to deal with most of the negative emotional states they will have to engage at some point. They need to learn from their mistakes. They need to be free to make mistakes and not be judged by them. That is how we learn. We need to stop trying to protect them from pain, disappointment and discomfort. Let them live by their strengths. They will be healthier for it.

2. We need to STOP excusing them from the consequences of their decision making efforts and we need to stop blaming others for our parental shortcomings. Our job should be to teach them how to live their lives with confidence and dedication and competency. Excusing them from the natural consequences of how they live their lives teaches them nothing and they will flounder aimlessly when they are closer to manhood especially when parents are no longer around to make their decisions for them. Give them a break and teach them how to think for themselves. Hold them accountable.

3. Teach them how to be self sufficient. Teach them how to use their given talents to their advantage and STOP trying to make them into people they were never meant to be. Teach them about respect, equality,and tolerance and how to live as men in the new world.

When we get back to doing these things with our young men we will be less likely to hear about tragedies, like the ones from this week, less often.

Anyways, that’s how I see it–Jim

Reasons For Why Dad Is So Important . . .

Father And Son Shaving

October 16, 2014

“A young man with an absent father faces a considerable and well-documented number of social, academic and emotional difficulties because of a lack of mentoring from his father guide.” A bold and troubling statement to be sure but, also, a very real one.

We read, hear and witness media reports daily concerning the unnerving, senseless and sometimes violent acts young men engage in primarily because they have not been taught much about the meaning of responsibility, duty, respect for property, for themselves, for others or authority. What is considered socially acceptable, now, often borders on what was, at one time, considered to be criminal and accountability is, almost, a thing of the past. Hedonism is fast becoming the new religion. An inflated sense of entitlement concerning most things has replaced the concept of working for your simple pleasures. Much of this, quite frankly, comes from not having been introduced to the ideas and concepts of what it means to live as a man in the world today. This is a message that can only be delivered to a young man from another man (preferably his father) who has been there and done that–he who has experienced the transition from boyhood to manhood.

Questions and confusion reign supreme and need to be answered and explained. Questions like: What does it mean to man-up? Where is my place as a man in society? What does manhood look like today? What can I expect? How am I supposed to treat others? What do I tell MY son when it’s his time? Is this generation of angry young men a consequence of our culture’s blurred gender roles? True. The world has changed and it will continue to change. Change is our only real constant. Indeed the focus and the state/sense of manhood is constantly under scrutiny and criticism but that just underscores the importance of having our sons, our young men, introduced to those messages from the get-go. Like it or not fathers are solely integral to the process of educating their sons in this regard and for fathers to NOT fulfil that role is, in my mind, socially criminal. If you look at the outcomes,the reality that is today, it is not difficult to see that by not having fathers involved in their sons lives and not leading them into a state of manhood there is some validity to my claim.

As parents, we can no longer just sit idly by and hope that things will change. This ‘phase’ will not, somehow, magically end. We must develop some new practical ideas about how to change what is happening. Perhaps getting back to a time when we actually took time out from our busy schedules to spend some regular quality time with our kids is a place to start. Getting involved in activities that are more community oriented; spending time and talking about how their lives are going; actually listening to them without comment or judgement; playing some pond hockey; perhaps a round of golf together–anything that is family oriented. These are things that we have stopped doing and these are the things that we will need to begin doing again if we are to create a different kind of relationship with our kids but we need to do it and do it now. If we want them to become good citizens in the world we have to lead the way and we cannot depend on the current educational system to address any of it.

My latest book, ‘A Man’s Work Is Never Done: A Novel About Mentoring Our Sons’, tells a story of a young man who is going through this vitally important part of his life and is doing so without the help of a male role model. I outline many different situations that mimic true life and, within the dialogue of the story, discuss solutions to what the young man is struggling with. It becomes a good resource for fathers who want to repair or rebuild a relationship that has turned cold and distant. It’s also a great resource for single moms who struggle to understand the day to day challenges that their sons are experiencing as they progress through the transition from boyhood to manhood. The post feminist world is new to many men both young and old. We all need to join together to help and support each other to understand how to live in harmony and equality without having to forfeit our true nature as human beings.

There is hope if we accept the inevitable changes in our culture and re-establish a clear and dedicated father-to-son relationship. As men, we need to take responsibility not just for being a parent to our children but also, specifically, to be mentors to our sons. It’s time for us to become the teachers and the life coaches we were not so long ago. We need to stop abdicating our responsibility for our sons social, mental and spiritual education. We need to begin to embrace what we are naturally driven to do. It must, again, be part of our reason for being here. As fathers we need to accept the opportunity to be a part of shaping another human life as the privilege it truly is.

That’s the way I see it anyways–Jim

If you are interested in purchasing this book please go to jamescloughley.com and then click on the title bar tab ‘Life Choice Books” and follow the cues.

Who Did You Say The Bad Guys Were Again?

Jet Fighter Breaking Sound Barrier

“War doesn’t determine who is right, it determines who is left”–author unknown to me

I’m as Canadian as the next guy and there is no way that I want anyone-ANYONE-to threaten the stability, safety, cultural heritage or the freedoms of my country,children,friends or my neighbours. I don’t question the decision to stand up and say enough is enough. If folks can’t sort this crap amongst themselves then the rest of the world, who seems to want a more peaceful co-existence, will do it for them. But is dropping bombs the only way to validate this statement? To listen to our PM stand up in the House and try to sell us a rancid bill so goods about how we must join the fray and do our part makes me retch. If he were the first one to jump into the cock pit of the first Canadian war plane to travel to enemy territory and hit the trigger that unleashes the first bombs/missiles of the next part of the same war I might feel differently. Perhaps if the decision makers had to send in their kids first there might be a different ‘will’ to waging war. Isn’t this the same war we declared having won-the same war that just keeps coming back to haunt us-the same war that costs us billions of dollars that we are told don’t exist or we don’t have and yet there always seems to be enough to wage war? We have demonstrated that we, the allied forces, can’t win using the strategy we have adopted but we keep trying anyway. Isn’t that the definition of insanity–to keep doing the same things over and over again expecting a different result each time? Here we have a government who can’t fall over itself fast enough to please our U.S. neighbours. I wonder if they have even thought about ‘collateral’ damage and what that means. How much or how many are acceptable?

So who is/are the enemy? Can anyone explain this to me so I can grasp what is happening? In some cases we are supporting those who are our enemies but who are also the enemies of our enemies. But then we are supporting our allies who are enemies of those we are supporting who are our enemies. Are you more clear now? And now we have agreed to fly over there and start dropping bombs–on who? Will that be our enemies or our allies who are supporting our enemies? In the end we are going to kill innocent people who just want to live in harmony and enjoy a full belly each day. But then we’ll hear that war does produce ‘collateral’damage and casualties. It can’t be helped. It’s part of the sacrifice that must be made. Really? It’s a much easier decision to make when you don’t have to worry about whose going first.

We have some of the best thinkers, planners and visionaries in the free world at our disposal and yet we can’t come up with a plan that brings us some peace and stability outside of blowing other people to smitherines. How well has that worked so far? We are fighting people on their own turf–a no-no apparently but we march ahead anyway. Fear of dying usually brings acquiescence but in this case it doesn’t seem to count for much in the Middle East.

So why don’t we ‘starve’ them out. Them/they being the ‘enemy’. Where does their money come from? Well-much of it comes from us. They use our petro dollars to finance attacks against us and we continue to do business with them. What would happen to the warring tribes and factions if the money dried up? What would happen if they woke up one day and there were trillions upon trillions of barrels of oil sitting on the docks or in pipelines going nowhere? Likely our enemies would up their purchase of oil but if THEIR supply of petro dollars was dramatically reduced how would they finance those who want us dead? What if we stopped doing business with our enemies or those who support our enemies? Where would the money come from then? I understand that big business in the free world would never abide this. Patriotism is a fickle commodity that comes with a price it seems. Multinationals are not prepared to make this sacrifice. They are familiar with making money from war not having money go the other way.

Have a look at the following photo and read the messages on the placards and then ask yourself-Are these our allies or our enemies? We need to come up with a long term solution instead of trying to bomb them into the next century. We can, however, agree on this: this group needs to be stopped before we no longer have the domestic strength to defend ourselves.

Islamic Supporters in London
Photographer Unknown-photo taken in London, England.

Like any good revolution or uprising it takes passion and fervor to be successful but it also takes truckloads of money and without money I doubt the fervor and passion would continue to manifest itself as it does currently. A bigger concern to me is what are we teaching our children–the next generation of thinkers and citizens–about how to co-exist with those who have other ideas regarding how the world should be run. The current message is ‘might is right–the bigger the problem the bigger the bomb’. We need to be teaching them about developing long term global solutions. We have a better chance to affect change if this becomes a war of money. At least we would be going to our strength. At best the current plan is a short term solution and a good number of innocent human beings are about to be slaughtered only because they have the misfortune of living in a different part of the world.

That’s how I see it anyways, Jim

Imagine you are the leader of the allied forces. What would you do to win this war? Please send your ideas to jim.lifechoice@gmail.com

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