I Know You’d Want One But Should You Get One?

Dog
(Photographer Unknown To Me)

“I believe in second chances. I’m not sure everyone deserves one”

Therein lies the dilemma. I want to believe that everyone should have a second chance to do the right thing or to change an action or an event that happened as the result of a regrettable impulsive decision. But then how do second chances get meted out? Who decides who gets that chance and who doesn’t? Based on what? Does it matter the severity of the event? Are there degrees to consider? I’m a black and white thinker most of the time. I’m not saying that is a good thing or not but that’s who I am. I agree that it is not always the best way to be nor is it always the most fair way to be but it is how I see the world I live in. I try to be as fair and as unbiased as I can be but that isn’t always possible or enough.

How do you do things when it comes to second chances? What criteria do you use? What standards do you employ? Would you want to be treated as you treat others-by the same measures?

Here are a few scenarios to consider and I would appreciate hearing your thoughts and comments about what you would do-second chance or not: (Remember this is about giving someone another chance to right a wrong. It is not about what is fair according to your idea of right or wrong)

1. John Doe murders someone in a rage because the victim was thought to have sexually assaulted his child. He says he’s really sorry for what he has done and should have let the law do it’s duty but the anger and outrage took him over and he lost it. He asked for a dramatically reduced sentence with the promise of never doing that again. He didn’t have a record of violent behaviour. He had no legal involvement at all. John Doe was a model citizen. (It later turned out that the person who died didn’t do what he was accused of doing but that was not known at the time.) Does he deserve another chance to live his life with some purpose? Wouldn’t most respond as he did because it involved his child?

2.You hear of someone who beats his/her partner because they got drunk and angry about something they did and as a result of the beating inflicted serious head injuries and permanent damage. The person who did the beating pledges to get help with the drinking problem and given another chance will dedicate his/her life to helping others who have similar problems. His/Her point was no one knows a drunk like another drunk and he/she could help others. He/she was impaired and not responsible-right?

3. A man is caught breaking into your home in the middle of the night. You later find out that the burglar was an unemployed man who had just been cut off his benefits and had a young family to support with no means to do so. However, he didn’t get to take anything and was very remorseful and stated that he would never do that again. Does the court punish him or should the court let him off with a warning and community service?

4. How about the politician who gets caught using his/her power and position to, fraudulently, access public funds for personal gain. He’d been a faithful and dedicated public servant for a lengthy time and had a spotless record of public service. He was not only apologetic for his actions but wanted to run again and promised to donate half his salary to a local charity. His riding could really benefit from his experience and the charity could help more people in need.

5. What about the smoker who has to have a lung replaced because it is cancerous and life threatening. He had learned about the dangers of smoking from his doctor and knew it in plenty of time to avoid the eventual need for a transplant. He vowed to cut down his smoking but would not commit to quitting altogether. Does he get the operation?

6. How about the father who walked away from his family for a variety of reasons but was seen as someone who was a ‘dead beat’ dad. He was not able to pay what the court suggested he had to pay for support and therefore was banned from seeing his son until he made restitution. He found that the grass wasn’t greener and wanted to come back and try to rebuild his damaged relationship with his child but was forbidden to do so by the other parent. Should he have the right to be involved again? Hey he left once–he’ll probably run again when he gets the chance. He made his choice that’s it.

These are but a few of the scenarios that we are faced with most days as a community. They are often managed with inconsistency which creates an on-going under the surface resentment and anger among citizens. Anger and resentments mostly come from a feeling or a sense of injustice so perhaps when our systems find a way to be more consistent and fair we will experience less stress and violence in our everyday living.

So what is fair? Who gets to enjoy a second chance at turning their life around? Based on what? A big part of me wants to revert to that black and white thinking and say sorry for what is going on for you but the law is the law and there are no second chances. Would these folks have felt the same had they not been caught or otherwise held accountable for their actions–likely not. If there is no consequence for our actions then what do we learn? SHould another chance be tied to the amount of money one has?

This would be a great exercise to do with your children so that fairness and consistency could be highlighted. A great ‘teachable’ moment. Would you treat your kids the same way as you would treat the strangers outlined in the scenarios or would they ‘deserve’ different treatment. What makes it right for yours but not right for others?

Anyways, that’s how I see it, Jim

Please send along your thoughts and comments on what you would do–would you grant second chances or not and why?

I look forward to hearing back from you.

How Can Anyone Feel Good About This Happening ?

Owl In FLight-

Photo Credited To ‘Hurricane-thoughts.blogspot.com’

A little while ago I wrote a piece and titled it ‘What were they thinking’? It was about what was happening on some of the university campus’ and some of the truly dumb decisions and behaviours that were being demonstrated-they were head scratchers and it was difficult not to ask yourself or anybody for that matter–‘What were they thinking?’Over the past three days two instances presented themselves and I couldn’t decide which one I would choose to comment on so I wrote about them both. I promised to keep them short (shorter) so perhaps you might comment back to me what you think about the dumb things that are going on out there.

The first is about, no surprise here, government short sightedness and lack of imagination. Now if something is happening with this situation that I am not aware of I would gladly stand corrected. This program is called “Ontario Christian Gleaners” and the people involved with this program have dedicated their time to help feed at risk people in parts of the world where decent food is hard to find. Click the link here and a three minute video will help explain it much better than I. Note that all the produce used here is donated by growers and is considered to be ‘surplus’ food that would otherwise go to waste.

So I’m thinking that instead of just throwing money at countries who struggle to feed their own, we call it ‘foreign aid’, and knowing that substantial portions of this money never gets past the greasy hands of the government officials that run these countries, we could build plants in this country creating jobs for our unemployed construction workers, we could hire people to work in these plants and have their wages paid for out of the very program that we already have in place. That would be the one called ‘foreign aid’. By doing so we would be reducing our own unemployed numbers yet still using the same money that we would otherwise throw away by giving it to folks who don’t share it with those it is truly meant for. The bonus would be saving the dollars that we would otherwise be paying out for unemployment benefits. We could also help build fresh water wells which are required in the process and we would know that thousands upon thousands of men, women and children are being fed healthy balanced meals everyday. It’s a win-win.

So the obvious question is: “What are they thinking about’? “Why wouldn’t someone-anyone who collects a political salary be looking at this program and say-“Hey–we could do that”.

The other example, and perhaps more concerning in differing ways, involves stepping back 5 decades to a time of discrimination that was pretty sick stuff. The adults involved in this situation, if there are any, have no thought or consideration of what this lunacy says and indicates to their children. What lessons are to learned from this. If the salient points are in deed accurate the following information seems to be the crux of the discussion. And I thought that discrimination was finished in this country. I thought that we welcomed ‘newcomers’ to our fair land and everyone was treated equally based on who they were and what they were. I guess I had that wrong. In New Brunswick English speaking students and French speaking students are not allowed to ride on the same school bus together. Sounds a bit like the Southern States a few decades ago. The name Rosa Parks comes to mind. New Brunswick faces a 68 million dollar bill for transporting 90,000 students and much of that high cost is due to duplicating services for English and French students. They are in the midst of trying to figure out how to deal with a 500 million dollar problem funding the Education ministry and they won’t consider saving over 33 million dollars by treating their own citizens with some semblance of respect. This is all in the face of the people whose children are involved saying that using the same buses is OK by them. It’s the politicians who are the pain in the ass here. It appears that it is more important for kids to ride on different buses than it is to preserve the jobs of the teachers some of which could lose their jobs due to budgetary cut backs. HELLO! Is anybody home over there? If this doesn’t demonstrate blatant discrimination I’m not sure what does. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck–you know the rest I’m sure. They, the politicos, are trying to hide behind the 2000 Supreme Court Ruling regarding Summerside, PEI that, among other things, stated school buses and transporting kids to school is not part of the legal decision. In other words it doesn’t affect transporting students from different cultural backgrounds to school using the same bus.

Mr.Rouselle, the current Education Minister, needs to grow a pair and show some leadership instead of trying to protect his generous pension. It’s always interesting to see the spin boys at work but it is hard to see how this whole idea of multi-culturalism is being dismantled right here within our boundaries and no one will call it for what it is–a disgrace, shameful, petty and embarrassing.

That’s how I see it anyways–Jim

Comments are always welcome when respectful. I can be contacted on my web page: jamescloughley.com OR jim.lifechoice@gmail.com

Please pass this along to others who may benefit in some way.

As Canadians Are We Really As Free As We Think We Are?

Soon But Not Yet . . .

Photographer Unknown To Me

Just recently I was involved in a conversation with 7-8 others about a topic that many of us seldom speak about: the extent to which we feel “free”. I must confess that I am or was one of those people who was born into freedom. As many of us did, I had family relations go to war in it’s name and am reminded of the value of those freedoms fought for and won every November 11th.

So my thoughts/questions to you are: How free do you feel considering how you live your life each day? Fine isn’t an answer. You need to be able to share, at least with someone close to you, what it means specifically.

I love this country. There is no greater country to live in than Canada. And yes we are free to do most things. We can travel anywhere we want at any time we want and with anyone we want. We can vote for the candidate(s) of our choice in free elections. We are free to practice the religion of our choice. We are allowed to speak our minds in public and protest, in a peaceful manner, our government without penalty–I think? I am free to write about things that displease me or that I find contentious and I can be critical of others if I want to be. I can buy what I want from whomever I want and I can sell whatever I want to whomever I please. I am free to smoke, drink and be merry anytime I want. I am free to love anyone I choose and to marry the love of my life regardless of their gender, race or religion. We are free to assemble and we have a free press and language rights. On the surface I agree that this sounds like a really good deal and for the most part it is. However, I’m very concerned that many have begun to forget how important it is not to take our freedoms for granted. And yet, those precious gifts of freedom are being eroded by folks who have other agendas and those agendas are not all that honourable.

Basically what I outlined above is true but not accurate. The Charter Of Rights And Freedoms provide for the entrenchment of our rights but there are now laws either passed or soon to be passed that would compromise those very rights. There are exceptions, consequences and penalties attached to some of these ‘freedoms’now. The untouchables have been touched. Just because we believe these freedoms can’t be taken away from us does not make them forever.

We maintain that we are free to do whatever we want. But freedom of speech does not allow one person to defame or lie about another in order to slander them or implicate them unjustly in a crime. There are penalties for that and so there should be. So there are limits as to what freedom of speech allows and means. When considering voting it’s true we can vote for anyone on the ballot without coercion or threat. Any of us can seek office if we meet the criteria to run. We are free to smoke, to drink and be disruptive and obnoxious in public but only in certain places. Again I agree that this is for the greater good. Free press and media is ruled more by political correctness now than at any other time so they aren’t quite ‘free’ to write or do what they want if staying in business is a priority. This is where it starts to get a bit contentious for me however. We are said to be free to practice the religion of our choice, for instance, and yet that is not true. While others are free to openly pray in public, Christians are not. If we do then we are sanctioned. That is not freedom. While major pieces of legislation are being run through parliament we don’t have much of a say, really, in whether that legislation passes or not. When was the last time your federal member stopped by your house to ask you what you thought about capital punishment, going to war or raising taxes-again. Mine either. How then is this true democracy and yet democracy is outlined as a must in the charter. The proposed anti-terrorist legislation will give the government many many opportunities to spy on us and to monitor phone calls, emails, web site surfing all in the name of our national security. I don’t trust them with that sort of power. They have proven themselves untrustworthy. I’m all for stopping terrorism and terrorists from gaining a foot hold in this country but at what cost to us as citizens? How much liberty do we sacrifice? What’s the old saying: “Power is always dangerous. Power attracts the worst and corrupts the best”–Edward Abbey. Legislation, once passed, is nigh on impossible to undo.

And then there is freedom of speech. How free is it–really? If the following is true Mr. Harper needs to answer for his statement in a public forum. He seems to have forgotten that he works for us and not the other way around. If this statement is true then he is nothing but a bully. Bullies don’t lead they threaten. If the quote is accurate then perhaps Mr. Harper doesn’t concern himself with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms after all. So much for free speech. The following contains a quote from a memo that, apparently, was attributed to Mr. Harper: “You’ll never believe what a leaked RCMP memo from last week says about you (as a citizen). If you oppose the furious rush to build pipelines and expand the tar sands like I do(says the writer of the article), then you’re considered to be a “violent anti-petroleum extremist.”

**The memo literally says that those of us who oppose pipelines should be seen and treated as potential criminal and security threats. I honestly could not believe what I was reading.’

So with a Prime Minister who feels that way about freedom to speak your mind the question is: Are we really as FREE as we think we are?

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

Comments are always welcomed: jim.lifechoice@gmail.com OR jamescloughley.com

Which Box Best Suits You?

A Wooden Box
Credit for the image to youtube.com

“A box is just a box”

Perhaps because I’m getting older I see these kinds of pronouncements with a great deal of skepticism. ‘A box is just a box’ has a different meaning to me than most I guess and it’s not a place that I feel very comfortable in. I don’t like being told what I have to do and what I need or don’t need and I certainly don’t like being told what I should think.

Zbigniew Brzezinski is a Polish American, a political scientist, geostrategist and scholar who has served many Presidents including Lyndon B. Johnson, Jimmy Carter right up to Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. The point is he is a man who still thinks ‘outside the box’. He is a visionary who, had people of influence paid more attention to back then–had they been more receptive and willing to look at a ‘different’ picture, could have helped to design a much different world than we have now. At least from a political point of view. Better? Worse? Whose to say for sure but it would have been different from the world that we see falling apart around us and are seemingly at a loss to determine how to fix. Last week I wrote about the comparison to other major empires of history and how we are on the same course as they were. This week my message is one of more hopeful solutions and possible outcomes. What did Zbigniew Brzezinski do differently? He thought and worked ‘outside the box.’ This is where I hope we go for our answers instead of depending on the same old approaches that have not proved very fruitful.

In our world today we still try to solve our domestic and worldly problems by throwing money at them and by ‘studying’ them to death. After a while studying things becomes a convenient political way of not making a decision or taking a stand on or against anything. It’s almost like saying ‘we don’t have any other ideas’. Studies are often a time and resource thief more often used for political purposes than for the good of the people who fund them. We let time decide many of our challenges rather than our ingenuity and creativity. We have become reactionary rather than proactive. Global warming has to be a leading example of that.

Our system has become one that is more and more dependent on ‘in the box’ thinking with a whole lot of hope tossed in the mix while our political and business leaders continue to gather wealth and power.

If we consider our education system, for instance, we see that we operate our schools using a very old, weary, unproductive and unchallenging grading system that actually hinders a child’s progress. Thinking outside the box would mean allowing a student to advance at their own speed studying topics and interests that excited them. Instead we tell them what they should be interested in and can’t understand why some don’t succeed. We punish them for being brilliant at something by holding them back from what they are passionate about. Our system is geared to teach those in the middle of the pack and ignore the students who are brilliant or fall short of the IQ needed to handle the subject matter. We need to get away from the ‘talking head’ at the front of the room and begin to take advantage of the teaching benefits of hands-on technology. Learning needs to be fun and for too many it is not. For some in this fast paced technological age school is downright boring and poses no challenges.

We are told that we are more free now than at any other time in our history and yet we have produced more laws to shape behaviour than at any other time. There is an illusion of freedom but our courts are full of frivolous lawsuits and petty complaints that could be handled outside the court system by a three person panel designed to select only those suits or complaints that actually suggest a legitimate need to be heard. Too often the courts are used by those hoping for a huge settlement that would guarantee an early retirement. A triage system comes to mind thereby freeing up valuable court time on matters that really have merit. We have more laws which, by their very nature, curtail our freedoms in the name of political correctness. Certainly our safety and our rights need to be safe guarded but can we actually be told and punished because we don’t wear a helmet? Common sense would tell us that wearing a helmet is the right thing to do but we make it a law.

We are told what side of the street to park on; we are told to shovel our side walks; we are told and our kids are told when and where and how to play in the ‘public’ park and what we can’t do there anymore.

We are told we cannot pray at school and many other public venues and we cannot speak our minds if that ruffles some feathers a little bit. Yet other groups are allowed to do what we are not allowed to do all in the name of political correctness. We are punished for non-compliance even though we have not had a say in how some of these ‘laws’ are conceived.

We spend millions of dollars housing a seat of government to impress who? to do what? Outside the box thinking suggests that, with technology today our representatives should be in their constituency office taking care of business instead of the paying public having to deal with an assistant. I voted for someone specific so I want to see him/her face to face when I got something that needs to be dealt with. Our representatives can deal face to face with their counterparts in Ottawa or wherever they are seated by Skype or emails. It would save hundreds of millions of dollars because our members wouldn’t have two housing allowances to cover plus all of the other expenses that includes things like security and housing costs hydro, gas, maintenance and so on. Sitting members have assistants who do much of the work behind the scenes anyway and ‘Question Period’ in the House is not only a waste of time but a true embarrassment as well. They can vote by encrypted email. It is no more dangerous than the robocalls people received during the last federal election or the discrepancies at some of the polling stations. In fact it may be more beneficial (meaning honest) this way.

Our families are becoming dangerously close to being irrelevant. Children can sue their parents and be ‘divorced’ from them. What does that mean anyway? The legal system, especially, when it deals with the rights of family, parenting and custody issues needs a dramatic overhaul and a new vision of what it means to be a part of a family. The family structure is close to defaulting. We need to be thinking outside the box when considering absentee fathers, for instance, and instead of punishing them when they can’t afford to pay support by jailing them or restricting their contact with their kids we need to come up with some ways to help mom make ends meet and also encourage dad to remain in touch with and accessible to his children. Perhaps tax credits at the end of the year to put some money back into dad’s pocket so he can afford to see and provide for his kids.

Pharmaceutical companies are telling us what drugs we need to take for all the new ‘diseases’ we are contracting. Meanwhile the side affects of these medications are lengthy and often worse than the illness they are supposed to be treating. Outside the box thinking might be as simple as having a regulatory body that doesn’t actually gain financially with the release of every new medication. The DSM5R, unless there is a newer one, is the ‘newest’ revised edition of the ‘bible’ that the psychiatrists use to determine whether a mental health diagnosis is warranted or not. Over the last few years mental health illnesses seem to have grown at an enormous pace to the point that most of us have some kind of mental health disorder according to this book. And make no mistake-there is a medication to treat it somewhere. There cannot be a virtually incestuous relationship that exists between the pharmaceutical industry and the medical treatment monopoly. Yet they do function in this manner, hand in hand and almost independently. They govern and discipline their members ‘in-house’ for instance. Outside the box thinking would allow chiropractors and health food/supplement producers to become recognized, legitimized and regulated as part of the bigger medical treatment system that would provide more options and at a lesser cost for governments as well as the public who don’t have medical insurance plans or any other coverage.

There is the media which has almost carte-blanche these days to put anything on the screen in prime time that supposes to provide good wholesome entertainment for our youth and younger ones. It really is about slaughter and mayhem dressed up in someones rights to produce it. At least have the good taste to put it on during the hours that our little people aren’t as exposed to it. The more ‘T and A’–blood and guts that can be jammed into an hour the better I guess.

We as citizens-as voters-as caring parents need to start thinking outside the box when we are deciding what kind of civil society we want to participate in. We can either continue to be ‘boxed in’ and told how to live our lives or we can decide to think outside the box and seek new approaches to old problems that haven’t been solved as yet.

WHAT KIND OF BOX SUITS YOU BEST? . . . LET ME KNOW.

Anyways, that’s how I see it–James

Please send me your comments pro/con. You can contact me at jim.lifechoice@gmail.com

OR through my web page at: jamescloughley.com

If you are interested in knowing more about fatherless sons and what you can do to re-build those damaged relationships you can find out more on my web site as well. My book is called: ‘A Man’s Work Is Never Done: A Novel About Mentoring Our Sons’

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

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