4 Questions That Keep Me Up At Night. . .

The photographer who is responsible for this photo is unknown to me. I do not claim any responsibility for this picture other than liking it and wanting to share it with others.

Like my four footed friend above I, too, seem mystified, at times, by what goes on around me. 2017 appears to be the year that many of the questions that puzzle me the most will get much of my attention.

I’m not a proponent of making New Years promises to myself either. In my mind they are a waste of time and energy and if we have to govern ourselves by an arbitrary date on a calendar then we really aren’t motivated to pursue the type of change we may be seeking. I don’t know many who have made a ‘promise’ on December 31 or January 1 to change some obvious concerns about how they are living their lives and been successful.

Many people pledge to lose 10 or 20 pounds, to stop smoking or drinking, to spend more time with their kids or to treat their loved ones with more respect and consideration. These are all worthwhile goals to strive for but if these things are important why do people wait until New Years Eve to identify them? Things like this need to be dealt with immediately not down the road. In short-New Years Eve resolutions are pledged in order to give the person who is making the pledge a little breathing space and a chance at a guilt free last hurrah. Nothing more than that.

We can, however, use New Years Eve as a benchmark to gauge how much progress we have made over the year and to determine what needs to happen next in order to achieve our goal(s). It becomes a time for reflection and growth not a time to make silly promises that 95% of folks will never come close to attaining.

If I were to admit to anything close to making a resolution I guess it would be this: Starting right now I will focus on searching out and reconciling the answers to 4 basic questions that I have about the planet I live on and some of the people that inhabit it. The following are questions that really do provoke great thought and turmoil within me and I’d like to sort them out one way or the other.

1. Why is there no room for science and faith in our lives? Why is it so important for scientists to destroy or dispel the idea that there is an afterlife or that there is something beyond this plane of existence? I say prove there isn’t an afterlife and then you ‘ll have my attention. Until you do or can-Please shut the hell up. Let those of us who believe in something have our thoughts and our freedoms.    

2. When will the civilized world (those who truly value peace, acceptance and security) gather and agree to lay out a plan to completely remove any presence of ISIS from the planet? They have demonstrated they are not interested in peace and human rights. They are blood thirsty and truly vicious terrorists who are more interested in holding the planet hostage than they are at carving our their own place to do what it is they feel they are called to do. Enough damage has been done. Enough people have suffered. The death of the innocents will only increase. It is time. Really-it is past time.       

3. What will have to happen–what will it take for the dead heads who run the planet right now to understand that climate change is real and not some conspiracy theory? Do these people not understand that all the money in the world and all the power in the world can’t and won’t beat Mother Nature. They are simply prolonging the inevitable by disregarding the warning signs instead of trying to get ahead of what is coming.   

4. What was the real message that the American electorate was trying to send by voting Donald Trump into power? This isn’t sour grapes by me. I am truly interested in knowing that. Time will tell of course but they have rewarded a narcissistic, sociopathic, ego maniac the position of resident king maker. He has not drained the swamp as he promised but rather has added to its inhabitants. He has demonstrated how comfortable he is distorting the truth and has shown he is a pathological liar. Yup. All really good qualities for our kids to learn by and the qualities we should all be proud to see in our leaders.    

Anyways, that’s the way I see things.

If you have any comments or something to add please do so by contacting me at: jim.lifechoice@gmail.com  OR  jimcloughley.com

Please send this along to family and friends-much appreciate it.

All the best, Jim  



A Week That Passed Us By . . .

A sand storm approaching in Australia

Can you imagine this thing coming at you? I can’t either but apparently they happen with some frequency ‘down under’


3 Reasons Why Donald Trump Is Not A Good Fit For The White House:

It is always easy to bash someone especially when they can’t bash you back so I made up my mind that, although it may be warranted, I would not take pot shots at DT. But–I will present three good reasons to suggest DT would be a poor choice for the office. There is no malice in my reasoning but there is a great deal of concern.

1. DT seems to have a problem with accepting that other people have a right to speak their minds especially when it comes to foreign powers who really don’t have much faith or confidence in DT and his sense of fair play. It also seems that many of the leaders heading up power nations on the globe don’t see any promise in his skills at negotiating anything let alone nuclear agreements and reductions in world wide threats and power plays. His tactics seem to be to belittle opposition and ridicule their thoughts, needs and what they consider to be important to their constituents. There is a difference in being strong as a leader and stubborn. DT is, unfortunately the latter.

2. Mr. Trump seems to have great difficulty in articulating his thoughts clearly and as a result spends a great deal of time clarifying or back peddling on what he meant to say or the fact that others have misquoted him or misunderstood him. These are not the qualities of a leader who is supposed to be decisive and taken seriously by other world leaders. How can anyone take what he says as truthful or honourable regarding any discussion if they can’t trust anything that comes out of his mouth. It always seems that his shortcomings are the fault of someone else which brings me to #3.

3. I truly and honestly believe that DT is mentally ill. I don’t mean that as a slight but rather as an observation. He never takes responsibility for what he says and more often than not just as surprised as many others by WHAT comes out of his mouth. It’s like he conjures up a thought and throws it out there before he has had a chance to assess the ramifications or the possible meaning of what he utters. Then when he is called on it he begins to back peddle or blame someone else for ‘them’ getting it wrong or not understanding what he says. He really does believe that he is the only one smart enough to fix all the problems that face the United States. Can anyone risk the thought that he knows more about ‘the generals’ than those generals who fought in the global wars for decades? He really believes that he is justified for his stance on key issues like taxes not being paid. It seems OK for him because he is smart enough not to pay them and yet others are tax dodgers and criminals for not paying taxes. He finds it difficult to accept that he needs to be bound by the same rules as every one else–he doesn’t accept that that is or should be the case. To listen to him one could believe that he sees himself as outside the rules that other need to heed. He isn’t affected by what he says about others or what he accuses others of doing and yet cannot or will not support his claims. Again a case could be made for him being a pathological liar. Things that he has said or done have been blatantly hurtful to or of others with little or no remorse or concern. To some this behaviour would smack of a narcissistic personality disorder or a bi-polar disorder. Some could make a case for exhibiting some of the DSM characteristics of a sociopath.

In any event the Americans who are voting really need to look at where they are casting their ‘X’ this election and do so asking the question(s)-is this REALLY who we want representing us??

Truth Talkin’ Thursdays: 

I have included the last two T T Thursday episodes that were unavailable at the time Jane and I did them. We believe that we have that part of the technology figured now so that each week they will be available either on Janes web site at: janeterdik.com or my site at: jimcloughley.com

(biker gangs take over highways–episode 2)

(spirituality vs religion are they the same thing?–episode 3)

Forward Thinking Program:

The ‘Forward Thinking Program’ (FTP) presents, or will present, a new paradigm concerning the need to create ways of keeping an interest in education for our children. Too many of our youth are dropping out of school at record rates and will not be adequately prepared to compete for rewarding 21st century careers.

We think we have answers to these problems but it means overhauling the whole educational system in the process. We are excited to be working on solutions that will re-ignite interest and attendance in our educational system.

There is far too much attached to this topic for me to go into here but I will provide periodic updates on what my colleagues and I are doing and more about our ‘forward thinking program’.

Anyways, that’s how I see it. All the best, Jim

Comments or questions can reach me at: jim.lifechoice@gmail.com or my web page at: jimcloughley.com

Please pass this along to family or friends and thanks for dropping by.


The Week That Was . . . See How Barack Blew It !


Oddly enough, leaders don’t often get a chance to really lead. There are favours to repay and obligations to honor. There are groups to keep happy and there are groups that you don’t want to be happy. But seldom does a leader, such as Barack Obama, who has the charisma and eloquence to hold the attention of millions, have an opportunity to be profound to the point where the world would stop and listen. He could go down in history as a true visionary. He will get his library and his place in the presidential photo album but he had a chance in the last week to make an impact on society that few ever get. Good leaders see that chance when it presents itself–Barack missed it. It was three words long and he missed it. These three simple words would have been remembered as remarkable and timeless similar to Nancy Reagan’s ‘just say no’.

The words were simply: “ALL LIVES MATTER.” This means not only Black lives but Red lives, Yellow lives, White lives, Brown lives, Hispanic lives and German lives. It was such a glorious opportunity to drive home the message that not only are black people dying but so are many others from across the ethnic and cultural spectrum. It was a time when he could have driven home the idea that EVERYONE needs to be valued and there is nothing to be gained by favouring one group over others. We cannot let parts of society and bigoted groups determine the fate of the free world by feeding the hatred of ignorant greedy people. He had a chance to show that he truly believes that ALL people deserve an equal place and that those who are afflicted with mental illnesses have a rightful place also. He did not do that. He succumbed to the hipocrisy of Black leaders who only see the problem as a black one and have written off all the others who deserve to be included. Barack Obama had a chance to stand up and tell the world that HE believes no one group has more of a right to live a life of promise and possibility than another. He needed to state clearly that in order for us to turn this corner we need to stop promoting the idea this is just a black issue. He didn’t do that–he blew it.

5 Reasons to Wait To Get Married:

Take a look at the pic at the top of the page and ask yourself is this what you want for your kids? Here are 5 things we need to teach our kids about marriage and relationships.

1. One of the biggest mistakes that most couples make is they get married far too early. We all need time to decide who we are, what we like and what we DON’T like. People need to take the time to live bit before marriage not after. Doing that personal research after getting married usually ends up seeing one or both people having to change the other persons’ behavior or thoughts to suit what they want. Pursue that course and ?–now there’s a divorce in the making. The likelihood is that the other person will end up trying to do the same thing.

2. Kids are living at home much longer than previous generations. Many young men who get out on their own do so after living with ‘mom’ for 5-10 years longer than they should. When they begin to look for a partner they are often trying to find another ‘mom’ and the rest is evident.

3. Being alone for a time before marriage is vitally important. People need an opportunity to experience being alone, the freedoms it provides and the lessons that are learned about being self-sufficient and self sustaining. Yet how many couples get married because they want a room mate and then find it difficult to ‘tolerate’ the habits of the person they are hoping to spend the rest of their lives with. There is a difference between being alone and being lonely. Learn what that difference is first then start looking for a partner.

4. Good or bad sex has maintained or destroyed many a relationship. Be sure you understand what makes you tick regarding sexual expression both giving and receiving and that takes a bit of time to “research.” Once you understand that about yourself be real clear with each other and that you and your partner are on the same page(s) here before the ring thing happens. Being with the right sexual partner is one of the great gifts of marriage-a chance to give to the other what others will never experience or understand about you.

5. Having a baby is never a good reason to get married. Couples need to ‘learn’ how to live together or spend periods of time together BEFORE they exchange marriage vows. Then they need to learn how to share the responsibility of being married and then they need to discuss what being a parent means to each of them and what are the expectations each has of the other. Once all that is done THEN get down to the pleasure and the excitement of creating another human life for the planet to enjoy.

My Music Video Of The Week:

Why aren’t these guys in the Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame??–they have been doing this for a long time and still sound great. They were ahead of their time, created instruments that other bands couldn’t or hadn’t thought of and have sold 10’s of millions of albums, Cd’s and videos–it’s time.

Radio Interview This Week:

I have the good fortune of being invited back to do another live radio interview with Annette Rochelle Aben on Friday the 15th. Annette and I will continue our conversation about father-less sons, the difficulties single moms are having trying to do the right things, how the system has all but failed to reach out to these folks. Check out Annette’s web site–Annette Rochelle Aben.com. She has authored 8 books of her own, she is a great writer with a unique style and a great communicator and interviewer.

If you want to tune in to listen to the interview please go to: annetterochelleaben.com. Once there click on the Title–‘Permission to Think with James Cloughley’.  The name of the show is “Tell Me A Story”

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


PS…….I may not get back in time to put anything together next week but I will return to this space in two weeks. I’m going AWOL and looking forward to it.

Comments about this weeks article and news letter are welcomed. Contact me at: jim.lifechoice@gmail.com


The Week Gone By . . .


Believe it or not it happened. Many have been waiting around for him to screw up and he did. Good for him I say. Our PM lost it in parliament and committed an agregious act for which he needs to burn at the stake. For those who haven’t heard or really don’t care let me provide a quick summary of events.

Apparently a rather important piece of legislation was up for a vote in the House. This was a vote that the Tories and the NDP didn’t want to come to fruition and so they did what many election losers do when they can’t have their way. They showed their disdain for the process by not going to sit in their seats and ready themselves to participate as they should have.

Apparently the whips (party leaders in the House ) need to present themselves to the speaker so that he can bless the proceedings and on goes the process. These two beacons of propriety hadn’t done that yet and our PM thought that he might hurry along the process by helping the Tory Whip find his way to the front of the chamber. In doing so he pushed his way through the audience on the floor, who should have been moving toward their seats at this point but no doubt were encouraged to follow the lead of their fearless leaders to take their time before making their move to be seated (a shining example of civil disobedience). On his way through the gathering our PM uttered a couple of directives, get the f__k out of my way was one, to those others who were, one can only assume, posing as real members of parliament who were also supposed to be finding their way to their assigned seats. On his way toward the Torie Whip or as he got there and began to turn around he unintentionally elbowed a female NDP-MP in the chest causing her some physical distress to the point where she needed to leave the chamber altogether. Does this sound like a skit on SNL to you by the way??  

Now I agree that it was a choice that, in retrospect, he wishes he could make again but done is done. However, he showed that he had some ‘stones’ almost immediately by apologizing for his inappropriate behaviour. He accepted, completely, the responsibility of making that decision and stated that he needed and expected more from himself and that this should not have happened. Unlike, I might add, any behaviour that either Thomas Mulcair or Rona Ambrose (Once someone could find her) had ever done at any time in their federal lives. The extent of their righteous indignation sickens me. At any rate, as he was trying to speak, the shining examples of all that is right wouldn’t shut up long enough to allow our PM to apologize, not only to the House but to the MP who was hurt in the exchange. When she returned Justin Trudeau showed his class by addressing her directly and sincerely .

There has been no end to the verbal barrage that has ensued. You’d think that some kind of depraved sacrificial ceremony had taken place on the speakers desk or something. Are we aware that in European government houses of parliament there are fist fights, beatings, all kinds of threats made and violence perpetuated on other members of parliament? I really don’t fear or see us moving in that direction. My goodness don’t we have much more important work of the government to take care of than to whine about our PM losing it because opposition members were acting like little kids?  Please.

I have more respect for our PM now than before this little incident. He showed us that he is human with emotions. That’s a good thing. He showed us that he takes the importance of life and death decisions and guidance seriously. That’s a good thing. And he showed us that, like his father, he does not tolerate fools easily. Also a good thing. He did what he did. He made the appropriate apologies–let’s get on with the business of the people.

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

Comments are always welcome. Contact me at: jim.lifechoice@gmail.com

Pass this along to friends and family if you wish–with thanks

Parenting Tip:

How many of us came from the school where discipline really meant punishment? We were told that “this will hurt me more than you but it has to be done”. I don’t know about you folks but I never really bought into that one. The belief was that in order to learn a lesson there had to be some physical discomfort inflicted or some kind of punishment meted out for the message to stick.

I’m no saint and I don’t wish to suggest otherwise but I, as a parent, didn’t buy into the idea that corporal punishment was a good teacher. What it did do was create a ‘fear’ of what my parents might do to me. They would never have maimed me or anything but I do remember catching the odd swat now and then.

As a parent I think it is quite possible to use discipline as a teaching tool rather than one that promotes fear. I wanted my kids to learn that what they did or what they were considering doing might be wrong because . . . . .   It was the lesson of the discipline that I wanted to stress because I knew that at some point I was not going to be here and that ‘fear’ they held would no longer be the ruler by which they made their choices/decisions. And to be honest I wanted their respect not their dismay or distress.

The Affiliate Program:

I had spoken before about trying to get some folks together to establish an affiliate program-one where all of us who had things like books and products to market would help support each other by promoting each others stuff. I must admit that I dropped the ball on that one-not because I don’t believe in it–I certainly do. I think its a great way to provide good products and services to people for a great deal less money making them much more affordable for those who would like or need them. I just got side tracked with two other projects and as I will do sometimes I found that I am only one person and I can only do so much at once. I will do the affiliate thing once these other projects are up and moving.

That’s it for now–thanks for stopping by.

Thought For The Day:

“Be sure to get the most from each day. Why-? Because you traded a day of your life for it.”

How Much Is Enough? A Million–Two Million?

I don’t know-I guess it could be a million dollars. I remember a time when a million dollars was a great deal of money but for some these days it’s ‘chump change.’

Yesterday, as I was sitting in a parking lot in the little town I live in, a man came up to me, using a walker, and struck up a conversation with me about how he was looking for work but no one would hire him. I found out later, from him, that he had lost a leg to a medical condition from mid thigh on down. He looked to be dressed in every piece of clothing that he owned (that would be my guess anyway) with a toque on and an old baseball cap under a hoodie. He had the bluest eyes I have ever seen and a white beard that had been growing for a year or two. He seemed very mild mannered and articulate. We talked a bit more and then he said-“Say you wouldn’t have any spare change would you?I’d like a hot chocolate from Timmy’s and today seems like that kind of day.” So I honoured his request and off he went. When he had shuffled out of sight I wondered what has to happen to a man-a human being-to live a life like his?

Of course my mind took me to several different scenarios but always returned to this one: I do understand that there are many folks who genuinely care about others and do what they can to make those others more comfortable on the planet. As a complete community, however, we don’t spend much time thinking about people like this man and his story. We are too busy making money or struggling to keep what we have or have made it our mission in life to collect all the money we can before we go.

Then I get to thinking about the enormous disparity between those who get paid far too much to do what they do and those who work so hard for peanuts. How does A-Rod make 25 MILLION dollars per annum to be an also ran ball player now? How does Lebron James make 30 MILLION dollars per annum to run up and down a rectangular piece of flooring bouncing a ball? How does a guy by the name of Jay Cutler-anyone else heard of this guy-get nearly 20 MILLION dollars per annum for throwing a old pig skin full of air to some guy who can run like the wind? And what do the franchise owners say?–there is no money in owning a sport franchise. Don’t tell that to Jerry Jones who owns the Dallas Cowboys. They are currently valued at 4 BILLION dollars and rising.

But the story continues. We have big pharma who has managed to inflate the costs of some life saving medications to a level that no ‘ordinary citizen ‘can afford to pay. If you can’t pay well that sucks to be you because someone else will. How about some physicians (not all thank goodness) who were caught with their little hands in the big cookie jar recently and then had the audacity to complain about being investigated. ‘He doth protest too much me thinks.’ So much for universal health care. Tough idea to sell with a healthy 2 tier system in place now.

Then we have those big Corporations who can afford the top bean counters. The best they could do was come up with the idea of banking in Panama so their employers would NOT  have to pay their fair share of taxes for the privilege of doing business in Canada. So much for patriotic gestures and a growing sense of nationalism. Profit margins are just not BIG enough I guess.

We have lobbyists in Ottawa who get paid millions of dollars to convince the government of the day to screw over the little guy in favour of the bigger guy in the name of ??? making more money while a whole group of folks are literally dying in our streets not to mention the travesty in the north with First Nations Canadians. Shame on us. It seems that for some to make a fortune there has to be those who don’t have enough. Governments have resorted to sanctioning gambling as a method of raising tax money legally. They are in competition for the public’s funds just like the casinos.

The one thing I do strongly believe is that healthcare should never-ever-be for sale. The least the government can do is to provide top level health care for everyone based on availability and possibility and not some predetermined value of what a life is worth today made by a group of people who will never have to worry about their health care plan being inadequate. What you need is what you get. Period.

Our priorities have changed and so has our perspective and, in my opinion, not for the better. At a time when churches are closing–they used to be the guiding light back in the day of ‘do unto others . . . ‘ and schools are closing because fewer folks are seeing the value of educating their kids and preparing them for the new world of business.  GREED is the new director of the day with no sign that that fact is going to change any time soon.

Anyways, that’s how I see it. All the best, Jim

Comments are always welcome–contact me at: jim.lifechoice@gmail.com  OR  jimcloughley.com

Please pass this along to friends and family and ask them to do the same–thanks–

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

How Do You Tell An Election Is Coming? . . .

“Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both”
–Benjamin Franklin

Pictured above are the ‘three wise men’. These are the people who are running for the highest office in land as we move closer to another federal fiasco. And we get to pay for it–somewhere around 300 million (estimated)dollars. And yet we don’t even have a say regarding how it goes or what it looks like. I agree we are extremely fortunate to have the right to participate in a free election system. But I do wonder about how democratic it is. If federal elections were fought with integrity, respect and adherence to ethical values I might feel differently but they are not. There was a time when being in politics was honourable. Now, however, the public perception has changed quite dramatically. Today many of us see politicians as crooks first, thieves a close second and greedy a closing third. Most of the rules, integrity and truth will be replaced by innuendo, unsubstantiated lies and false information. Not many of the candidates will answer debate questions directly. Fewer still are likely to answer questions and making comments using a form of political double speak that only shows up at election time. PR teams will make huge amounts of money putting together film clips for TV ads consisting of comments made by someone’s opponent and usually taken or used out of context. Their only goal is to discredit the other candidate(s) rather than talk about what they plan to do that is different and creative. It’s called the Socratic method meaning destroying someone’s credibility usually destroys the message they bring. They don’t campaign on their records much anymore because they don’t have much of a record to speak about.

So we have to endure watching or listening to a smug and arrogant PM, whose act is wearing thin with people and who has lost most of what little respect he had gained a few years back. He makes his way through question period by making sarcastic remarks to the joy of his backbenchers who hoot and holler like a bunch of drunken teenagers at a backyard BBQ or we witness the opposition party leader carrying on with righteous indignation about something designed to catch the PM in a lie or a slip up of some kind. Does any work ever get done in question period by the way? To think that Parliament Hill was once the legacy of what thousands of men and women gave their lives for. It’s more like a circus than a once revered political centre piece illustrating our freedom.

So what to do?
1. Attack ads need to be banned-period.
2. Political ads should only speak about what the politician is going to do to improve the quality of our lives.
3. No more cheap shots at trying to disparage or denigrate opponents.
4. No candidate should be able to publicize a montage of clips and pieces of tape put together from five or six different activities that may be, in some instances, years and years old.

I want to hear why I should vote for someone based on their platform–what are they going to do about specific issues. Otherwise shut up.

I always think about what our kids are learning about the political process. If they are old enough to be interested in politics what can we tell them about what they hear and witness when most of it is about the latest scandal of some kind. It certainly doesn’t give them a warm and rosy feeling about state security, competence or confidence in the political system that we are trying to sell them on. Perhaps these pillars of government might start to wonder about why some of our young are turning to other ideologies. Perhaps they have lost confidence in what they see.

But the two major indicators that an election is coming closer are these.
Sometime in the 8 months to a year preceding an election we usually start to see the faces of the chief candidates on television or internet with greater frequency. They are photographed glad handing in places where they otherwise wouldn’t go. All of a sudden they have lots of time to be out looking concerned or sounding tough on certain issues. They start to plant the seeds of doubt. They start talking about how much they care about this and that and how important it is to …?

The other tip off is that all of a sudden there is all kinds of money for this program and that program and they drag out the old favourites like subsidized day care, taking better care of our seniors, homeless programs and how they are going to wipe out poverty and lower taxes or at least not raise them. They promise something for everyone. They start throwing money around as if they had it. In essence they end up giving us back our own money and then tell us how grateful we should be that they can do this for us. They want us to believe that they are the only ones who can balance a budget or because of their prowess as fiscal managers they can now throw us a few bones (if they get re-elected that is). I always find it remarkable that they promise all this money but won’t/can’t tell us how they will pay for the promises. Nor will they commit to when this will happen. To me if they can’t give us this information then they should not be able to promise it. Tell us how or shut up about it. And by the way where is Justin Trudeau? Has anyone seen or heard from him?

Read the quote from Ben Franklin again and then ask yourself who just proposed that very thing the other day with the idea that this was going to make us safer–it was Steven Harper. Why wasn’t he concerned three years ago? Because it’s election time.

We are the only folks who can force a change in how we conduct our elections. It really is up to us.

That’s how I see it anyways,

All the best, James

Please contact me with comments pro/con at jim.lifechoice@gmail.com OR visit my web site at jamescloughley.com


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