Could It Be Cause And Effect And Not Co-incidence?

IMPORTANT WARNING-this is NOT about recruiting new followers or converting anyone through some type of literary osmosis. This is, quite simply, about some observations that some colleagues, friends and I have wondered about for quite sometime now those being “how have we become such a lost and empty society? Truly a ‘me’ first and ‘screw you’ mentality prevails.What has happened to us over the last 50 years or so?

It’s true that there are some wonderful, kind, generous, caring people who live on the planet. But by and large we have become a society that is dominated by hedonistic principles and we haven’t responded well to the shift. We find ourselves living in a world that is selfish, troubled, violent and patently unhealthy. So what’s changed we asked?

We decided that when such a dramatic shift in life styles, belief systems, morals and values occurs it is usually down to two reasons:

1. As a society of human beings, we have stopped doing things and supporting ideas that helped to promote a more communal way of life.

2. We started to do things, see things and hear things that encouraged us to distance ourselves from those beliefs that  promoted a more caring, friendly and nurturing way of life.

We began considering the level of trust and respect that has been or not been earned by our civil servants, the legal and court systems which are inconsistent, at best, and do not provide us with a sense of justice. We could group other social systems in here as well. People are feeling alone and isolated because, in many instances, they are. All of our support systems received a failing grade with regards to serving the public interest. Few have any faith in their mandate and they are angry and frustrated because there doesn’t seem to be any recourse. Recent data suggests the incidence of petty crimes is down but the incidence of violent crimes is climbing very quickly. Parents, who in a very general sense, have stopped being parents. As a result ‘the inmates are now running the institution’ and they are not even close to knowing how to do that nor do they seem to care. They are lacking leadership.

But the biggest drop in public trust coupled with the inability to demonstrate a public persona of social stability is the church at a time when we need them more than ever it seems. The clergy have not handled their own internal issues well and have not adapted well to public need. The ramifications of this are these:

1. There is deterioration of the tenets of Christian life among young people today. They still have their beliefs but don’t feel the need to attend church anymore-they can’t trust the system. Go past most beer store parking lots on a Sunday morning and there will be more cars there than in the church parking lot.

2. Societies are judged as successful or not by how they care for their indigent-successful societies share their wealth and don’t hold their wealth hostage. We isolate our indigent and we still marginalize them in many cases. Another failing grade here.

3. Important family messages aren’t discussed or taught now. In many cases leadership is sorely lacking.

We summed up like this:

1. There is a spiritual hunger that exists in the world today. There is a longing to feel connected (which churches provided back in the day) and to feel valued–a part of something bigger and greater. But we have tossed ‘GOD’ out of our schools, homes, government offices and many of our very lives. Co-incidental with what is happening all around us?  Many are beginning to think not. One of the things that used to hold things together when things got crazy was the village church. First world countries seem to suffer this ‘hunger’ more intensely than 3rd world countries? Could it be because 3rd world countries still have a strong church based community in play? Many of our local community churches are closing their doors. Just askin’.

2. People, and this especially includes our children, are looking to fill this void in their lives but are finding that no matter how much stuff they collect or what they use to try to fill it up–cars, fancy houses many can’t afford, food, sex, gambling, shopping for things most don’t need, alcohol, drugs of all kinds and now an addiction to violence, nothing has worked.  We have become angry because we need something to heal this social cancer that prevails but find ourselves no closer. People are becoming fearful of a future out of control.

We concluded our conversation with 2 questions:

1. If there is no GOD why then do people get angry with him? Why do they pray to a GOD that doesn’t exist whenever they need a miracle?

2. If we began to do some of the things that seemed to work before could we get back to a similar way of life–one that used to create a sense of belonging and purpose amongst us?  What if we actually put the best interest of others ahead of ourselves–would that make a difference in terms of how we lived a life as a community?? Would that begin to satisfy that ‘spiritual hunger’ that ravishes us today?

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

Comments are welcome–connect with me at: jim.lifechoice@gmail.com and check out my web site  jimcloughley.com for other articles

Can You Guess What Is The ‘New’ Opiate For The Masses?

Poppy Fields

(Photographer Unknown To Me)

Karl Marx said that “Religion is the opiate of the people”. I certainly don’t consider myself an expert on any of this. But, to me, I don’t think he was condemning religion at all but rather was just stating that, to him, he saw religion and all of its peculiarities, branches and differing philosophies as an opiate–a psychological and spiritual drug which became the perfect diversion or panacea from having to live life day after day trying to sort out and deal with life’s disappointments, distractions, conundrums, coincidences, violence and it’s fears. It’s easier to place that burden, some possible solutions and the responsibility on the shoulders of a higher and more capable deity–the supreme commander of an unexplained and impossible to ‘prove’ existence in a different realm. There are many ‘challengers’vying for the chance to become the new ‘opiate’, such as Prozac and cannabis and alcohol has always been in the background yelling ‘what about me–take me.’ But the one that has shown to be the more resilient and a more powerful ‘opiate’ for the people is MONEY. People today will do most anything to acquire it, get more of it and to keep what they have of it at present. It has become the single most important driving force we have known and partly because of the power that often comes with it. We will cheat to get it, lie to those we care for to get it and we become secretive around how much of it we have. We have been known to sell our soul for it as well. Sounds like a religion of sorts.

This is only my perspective (something that we all have and exercise) of course but I believe money is the most dangerous ‘opiate’ for the people–ever. I use the word perspective here in this context. Let’s consider the word ‘hot’ for instance. Heat can be used as a good thing like using it to purify or it can be used to harm someone or something–to destroy. If we consider ‘assistance’ it can be seen as ‘charity’ and ‘enabling’ or it can be seen as ‘helping and caring’. No right or wrong. With money it can be seen as a tool for good or an instrument to gain power in order to get more money. So ones’ perspective is important when we consider ‘opiates’ for anything.

Where I am going with this is back to Parliament Hill where 40 ‘new’ Senators are being investigated for, allegedly, fudging their expense accounts. In some cases involving hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayer money. And this just isn’t Conservative Senators but Senators from all parties. Again, for me, this is just about greed and entitlement but the real concern is that they believe that what they are doing is justified–that is is OK. There is no remorse or contrition here. Even with their hands implanted firmly in the ‘cookie jar’ they stand defiant. They have no reasonable perspective–there doesn’t seem to be another view to explain their behaviour. That’s what makes it dangerous to me. Move over Pamela Wallin and Mike Duffy. This has become the new ‘opiate’. People will now corrupt themselves, work two jobs, all but abandon their families and their responsibilities to their children for the chase and the capture of money. Many have given up their ‘religious’ affiliations to pursue yet more money because they have more time and offer out less in terms of the collection plate at church. The good service work that many churches do both domestically and on foreign soil is stopping because there is a dwindling sense of purpose. Just as Marx saw ‘religion’ as the perfect diversion for many the pursuit of money has now supplanted it as the next or new ‘opiate’. No matter however much you have it is never enough and more effort is put into gaining and controlling more of it. Mr. Harper is throwing our money around like it is his. He is buying personal favour in the world following his defeat in the next election. He may be many things but stupid is not one of them. His latest bit of federal business will cost the Canadian taxpayer $528,000,000.00 in exchange for one years military service to the ‘alliance’ to bomb the hell out of people they can’t or don’t know. This ‘generosity’ comes at a time when seniors are told that their complaints about the rates of CPP and OAS are greedy and ill founded and not going to happen. Can you imagine the politicians telling US that we are greedy. The arrogance is near criminal. But this is how the ‘opiate’ works. It kills pain and it kills perspective–both casualties attributed to this group in Ottawa.

My recommendation would be this: for all and any of those who are found to be guilty of padding their expense accounts–in effect wilfully cheating the taxpayers–would be enough cause for them to lose their pensions-completely and immediately, then they should be removed from the senate, immediately’ and for there to be a referendum called and placed on the next federal ticket at election time so that the whole country gets to decide how much longer we would like to be fleeced by those who seem to have difficulty keeping their hands in their own pockets and have lost or misplaced their perspective. If fraud is committed should they not be charged just like an ordinary citizen? Actually I think they should be held to a much higher standard because they are in breech of the public trust. Perhaps a jail term of some kind would be appropriate as well.

I end this with a simple thought. What do our children learn from the adults around them and how could we expect anything different than what we are seeing from many of our kids right now. We need to be ashamed of ourselves, as adults, for letting our kids be a part of what is allowed to happen today.

That’s how I see it anyways, Jim

To make any comments please contact me at: jim.lifechoice@gmail.com OR jamescloughley.com
Your comments are always welcomed whether you agree or disagree. If you know of any others out there who may benefit from this article please forward it to them–with my thanks.

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

Feminism. What Does It Really Mean Today ?

If They Can Get Along Then Why Can’t We?

Recently I began reading a collection of blogs on a site I follow hoping to gain a greater understanding of what feminism means. I don’t claim to know more than anyone else and I will openly cop to that but it seems that the topic has become an ‘ideological football’ with teams claiming to know better than the other guys. What started out as spirited dialogue plummeted into name calling and character assassination and the points trying to be made got lost.

Feminists are on about the treatment of women in foreign countries and how awful it is. To be clear as a male in the world I, too, am horrified-really horrified-that the rest of the world accepts the brutality and the logic of beating someone who has been raped or a young girl who is held down and, against her will, is circumcised with a broken bottle or a knife. The so-called civilized nations of the world and I include the toothless tiger referred to as the United Nations in this criticism, turns a blind eye because the behaviour is said to be cultural in origin and therefore somehow is OK. Sadly, these practices and others appear to be beyond the reach of world condemnation or judgement or sanction. It is not OK. It is nothing short of barbaric and needs to be condemned in the strongest way possible by the rest of the civilized world. But the bickering, and the negative emotional energy that is being spent by feminists defending who said what about what is self defeating and polarizing. And to even hint that men don’t have any idea about what this is like is simply absurd.  While we are scrapping amongst ourselves we are not paying attention to the real issues. The feminists and those supporting feminism need to clearly define what ‘feminism’ means today because I suspect that the definition would be quite different from what it used to mean.

One strong voice speaking for all those who want to see this brutality stopped is needed but those who favour a unified voice are finding it difficult because they are not quite sure what they are fighting for any more. Can we not take ‘feminism’ and ‘masculinism’ out of the glossary of terms and just say those who care are speaking as one. There are a great number of males out here who really do support gender equality as a global concept.That concept, however, needs to include children and other men as well.

There are those women who want to rule the world and there are men who wish to do the same. Theirs is a different struggle. They are not going to be much help to any of us who hope to see the world become a more accepting, caring, encouraging and tolerant world.

Trying to affect a change in a foreign country concerning their traditions and their cultural obsessions is, in my view, beginning with a non-starter. Expending a great deal of emotional energy and valuable resources trying to do that (change the unchangeable) allows us an opportunity to vent and threaten and not much else. We have no voice ‘over there’ and we have no power or control over what does or does not happen next. But we do have some control over the people we elect to represent us and perhaps if we were to:
1. energize and organize those who support the idea of a single voice speaking for all those who value equality for everyone (it is not just a ‘feminist’ ideal) then we could work to ending global barbarism.
2. encourage them to begin voting for representatives who have proven or pledge to support efforts to end the unjust, horrid and brutal tenents of Sharia Law.
3. just plain stop doing business with those countries who don’t support our view of equality where it concerns the rights and freedoms of women AND men AND children. Perhaps the celebs could contribute to that effort with their wealth and their public statements and support for such an approach. I’m not sure how many would get on THAT bandwagon but it would go a long ways in terms of touching people in other countries because of their international face and notoriety. People around the world may not know who Steven Harper is but they know who Wayne Gretzky is. Celebs carry weight–use it wisely.

MOST importantly we cannot take our eyes off the ball here at home by allowing any discussion to gain a foot hold regarding Sharia Law and how it should be applied to members of the Muslim faith who reside on our home turf. If we aren’t careful the ‘wolf’ could and would sneak in the back door while we are guarding the front door. Don’t be naive enough to believe that that could never happen–not here. 911 could never happen either we were told.

Let’s make sure that our own house is in order and safe before we begin running off trying, with the best of intentions, to be trail blazers in other countries where we have no power. Let’s try to control what is within our power to do so. Once we do that we can encourage other ‘free world people’ to follow our lead and build a world force armed with resources and world political support. Then we would have a better chance of effecting some basic changes regarding world accepted standards for living in freedom. I would imagine that the countries who live by Sharia Law would have to pay attention to the call of the ‘free’ world if the ‘free’ world stopped doing business with them.

?????? Ever wonder how many of our commercial dollars currently go to groups who are dedicated to wiping us off the surface of the planet? Are we not financing our own destruction?

I often wonder why Muslims who live a free and prosperous life in the west or other parts of the world don’t do more to end the horrors in their own country? Why they don’t fight their own battles?

That’s how I see it anyways–Jim

Please pass this article along to friends and have them do the same.

Comments, pro/con are welcome. Connect with me at jim.lifechoice@gmail.com or go to jamescloughley.com (web page)

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