Lent: embrace change for the better

Lent: embrace change for the better
Posted by Pat Watson Wednesday March 11 2015 in Opinion

By PAT WATSON

We are now halfway through this Lenten season. Every religion has a period of reflection and penance. For Christians it is Lent, a period that follows the story of Jesus Christ’s 40-day period of meditation by himself before facing his ultimate task, which was to offer himself as a human sacrifice to redeem the sins of mankind. If there would be one person who would give their life over out of love for all of humanity, then we as humans would be redeemed.

Lent is a time to approximate an imitation of Christ. Those who follow the faith are to reflect on their behaviour toward others, to search their souls over this 40-day period and to ask God to remove from them any harmful habits that stand in the way of them being better members within the family of man. By so doing, we honour that unique gift of redemption.

This period of reflection is at once individual and collective. For those who commune with others who share this faith, their gathering together at places of worship can be a way to strengthen each other as they pinpoint harmful behaviour and thinking and commit to allowing the Spirit to guide them toward an improved way of being.

How do we know what behaviour we need to change?
– See more at: http://sharenews.com/lent-embrace-change-for-the-better/#sthash.5L64LMNn.dpuf

The TTC, the mentally ill man and the police

The TTC, the mentally ill man and the police

0

COMMENTS

76 VIEWS
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (1)

By PAT WATSON

The subway train had already been sitting for more than 10 minutes when this commuter got on. Almost immediately, there came these words of warning from another commuter already in the train: “Don’t go into the third car. Someone in there is causing a disruption and hitting people.”

 

A look toward the third car revealed no particular activity, except a man in a red jacket standing in the aisle, looking somewhat lost. Other people continued to board the detained subway train while over the loudspeaker system could be heard one of the standard announcements that there was a delay at this particular station because of a passenger disruption.

 

The TTC was having a mental health issue.

 

– See more at: http://sharenews.com/the-ttc-the-mentally-ill-man-and-the-police/#sthash.YeGSGryG.dpuf

Protests in Ferguson, Mo., a rising tide – Opinion Column

Protests in Ferguson, Mo., a rising tide
By PAT WATSON

Given past actions across the United States in bringing to justice White police officers or their proxies who shot and killed African-Americans, it should come as no surprise that officer Darren Wilson, 28, was not indicted for murder or manslaughter, but instead is now free of charges of the August 9 shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, a mainly Black suburb. Brown was unarmed and reportedly had his hands held high in the universal sign for surrender when he was shot.

It should also come as no surprise that rioting and public protests followed.

There had been a months-long wait for the grand jury decision and each day of delay increased tension. Little wonder then, that news of the decision not to indict sparked violent reaction. Yet, despite protests, this kind of police related killing will continue.

Racial classification matters very much in the United States. That is why the two-term election of Barack Obama stands out as such a remarkable occurrence. Obama’s election and re-election has been and continues to be a flashpoint for racism in America.

The shooting of Brown and the many shootings of young Black men by police officers across the United States has to be a matter of concern for us here, as there is a similar pattern of tension between Black communities and the police. Only last week, we learned that despite new directions from the Toronto Police Service Board, officers are still carrying out street stops and harassment of young Black males in numbers that exceed the general population.

There are voices that say the police are just doing their job, but the parents of Michael Brown, the parents of Trayvon Martin, and the parents of the 12-year-old Tamir Rice, shot and killed by police in Cleveland just days ago, would disagree.

In the heat of this argument following Brown’s killing, it is a moral offence that former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani would use this tragedy to talk about the rate of violence and killing among Black people in the U.S. – so-called Black-on-Black crime. Giuliani, a political conservative, is not the first to raise this argument, but it is sickening that he would add his voice to this ridiculous assertion.

That he would make such an assertion without also pointing out that most Whites are killed by Whites, that most wives are killed by husbands, is one more indication of the kind of character assassination that passes for discourse on race relations in the U.S., and shows how much further that nation must go to heal the stain of racial misunderstanding that is doing so much damage there. In fact, in a still segregated America, most killings occur among people of the same ethnicity.

The United States is home to nations living apart. When people are strangers to each other, and when they follow stories that strip the other of their humanity then these are the results.

Americans need to stop repeating ogre tales about who they are and who other Americans are. There appears to be a lack of awareness of the greater presence of humanity among large segments of that society and that is really what is doing damage.
– See more at: http://sharenews.com/protests-in-ferguson-mo-a-rising-tide/#sthash.lt7jYjty.dpuf

Abuse of women is not a game – Opinion column

Here is my latest column in Share Newspaper (Sharenews.com)

Physical and Sexual Abuse of Women is Not a Game

By PAT WATSON

Another high-profile man has been outed for his abusive behaviour involving women. The insistence by a well-known, now former, CBC radio host that his habit of choking women he invites on dates and then punching them in the head is consensual has appalled many. This individual has reportedly hired a top-notch female lawyer to defend his case as he has filed a multi-million dollar lawsuit against his former employer.

This matter of female abuse is a very emotional issue, therefore after this particular case came to public attention, a wave of female voices rose up to share stories of being the targets of abuse.

At the same time, a two-minute video showing how men sexually harassed a woman walking the streets of New York City went viral. Some hailed the video. And, it was criticized by others because of the way it racialized the males who hassled the woman. The producer of the video is male and he has stated he edited the 10 hours of footage to make his point not about race, but about the daily abuse of women on the streets.

– See more at: http://sharenews.com/physical-and-sexual-abuse-of-women-is-not-a-game/#sthash.lHNSwvK5.dpuf

Some Who Fancy Themselves Tough Guys Don’t Die Young – E-book Excerpt

The following is another compelling excerpt from the e-book In Through A Coloured Lens

January 14, 2007

Some Who Fancy Themselves Tough Guys Don’t Die Young 

Guns have been in high schools for decades, another signal of the folly and recklessness along the way to adulthood and maturity. A stable home life ups the chances a teen will be better able to navigate those deceptively treacherous years. If not a stable home life, then a strong early foundation leaves a good chance to recover from the relatively risky teen years.

I remember José (not his real name), a rosy-cheeked boy of Spanish heritage who wore a puffy Afro and identified himself as Black. He went — for a while anyway — to my high school. José was growing up in a household of women – his mother and two older sisters – where he was the only male and had no male presence to emulate or to guide him. School gossip was that his father had died.

José was one of the guys who smoked substances that were not allowed in the smoking area just outside the school building. Later, his attendance at school became irregular. After that, he would visit the school although he was no longer a student there.

I remember the day José showed me his gun. Well, showed off was more like it. He handed me a small bag that was surprisingly heavy. When I saw what was inside, I immediately handed it back to him and asked what he was doing with such a thing.

I didn’t see José again for years, until we ran into each other by chance. The rosiness of his cheeks was all gone. The baby softness, which decades before seemed so incongruous with his tough man attitude, was also gone. Now he was muscular and wiry. Of below average height, he looked nevertheless like someone you wouldn’t want to test in a fight.

He said he was living in a nearby basement apartment and that he had recently returned from one of the States out west where he had served time for armed robbery. He said something about lawyers being some of the best people in the world, and especially sang the praises of his lawyer.  Apparently, he had been able to get José off with less jail time than might have been the case, given the charge.

José said he’d learned a lot in jail about how to be a better skilled criminal. What we are interested in we study. What we study we become good at. What we become good at we practice as a skill.

José would pop up in unexpected places at unexpected times over the years. The next time I saw him was about 15 years after his return from the West Coast jails. Then, he looked like a homeless person. When I said hello, he either didn’t recognize me or pretended not to. It was hard to tell. He said he didn’t know who I was. Mental illness was evident.

The last time I saw José was on a subway train. He looked much, much older than his years. His hair had turned mostly gray and his features had become hardened. Given the previous chance meeting years before, I wasn’t sure whether to say hello or not. I looked in his direction a few times, and as I prepared to get off the train he waved and said hello. He asked how I was. I said, “Fine.” I didn’t ask how he was.

Not every youth who wants to be the bad man is killed off before he reaches 25. Some, like José, live past their dangerous youth. Then they have the rest of their lives to contend with. José didn’t study academics or a trade; he studied crime. He had come from a fine family. That’s what the gossip was. But he didn’t look like a man who had come from a fine family.   He looked beaten and worn out by his life choices.

Toronto writer and columnist Pat Watson is the author of the e-book In Through A Coloured Lens available at amazon.com, amazon.ca, amazon.co.uk

A Note On…The Latest

 Nov26aa

A note on kismet …

Just when they thought they could not only “Imagine the Freedom”, but live it, fortune threw a wrench into those 19 Bell Canada employees’ $50-million lottery New Year celebration when eight others step forward claiming they wanted in. ‘Imagine the Annoyance’ of having to wait two years for the whole mess to be cleared up. ‘Imagine the Disappointment’ of the eight whose lawyer could not convince the courts that they had a legitimate claim.

On a note of pious appreciation…

It can be so charming the way some churchgoers express their appreciation for that which the secular would view with blatant lust. As two Christian-minded gentlemen admired the bountiful curves of a pulchritudinous lady, one commented to the other with unrestrained enthusiasm, “God has really, really blessed her so very generously.” By the fourth or fifth fervent repetition of his heavenly praise, all those nearby got the message.

A note on signs of eccentricity everywhere…

The Toronto Transit Commission’s recent poster campaign to stop people messing up the subway with discarded chewing gum had one passenger pressing his finger into an enlarged photograph of a chewed wad of gum, apparently checking if it was real gum. And if it was, why touch something that appeared to be already chewed? Then in another subway car, there was the unknown person who took his or her already chewed gum and stuck it over the image on the poster, maybe for the 3-D effect. Gotta love this city’s craziness.

Toronto writer and columnist Pat Watson is the author of the e-book In Through A Coloured Lens available at amazon.com, amazon.ca, amazon.co.uk

We may laugh, but Rob Ford is a monster we created

We may laugh, but Ford is a monster we created

Fordpic

Television, it’s been said, is the medium that allows you to have in your living room people you would not otherwise invite into your home. Thus it is with Rob Ford, current mayor of Toronto, and his eldest brother Councillor Doug Ford, two politicians who are currently in the spotlight because of behavior deemed for the most part socially offensive.

But this troubling set of circumstances – evidence of a video of the mayor of Toronto consorting with criminals, spending his leisure time in what appears to be a crack den, blackmail, extortion, obscene language, and just plain spectacle, along with his enabling brother – involves not just these individuals, but all spectators.

We may allow ourselves to gawk at this show in disgust, amazement or amusement, but prudence requires some context and perspective, otherwise we may be surprised at where our participating in this whole mess will take us.

First, we have all become part of a scenario that can best be described as an alternate reality. Or if you will, some form of insanity, because soundness of mind is not what is operating at the source – that source being the Fords.

The Ford Circus creates psychic and emotional dissonance. Normally, when someone in a position of public trust breaches that agreement he resigns from that position. This has so far not been the case with Rob Ford. This leaves pundits with no formulaic answer for what is happening and what will happen next.

Part of the confusion is that Ford retains loyalty among his supporters in the face of undeniable antisocial behavior. But it bears remembering that other politicians who have been in the spotlight for scandals have seen their popularity ratings also go up, former U.S. president Bill Clinton being a prime example.

Another matter is the politics of the dollar has taken primacy. Ford repeats after just about every apology that he is keeping spending down, that he is ‘looking after the little guy’ and that he’s saved Toronto a billion dollars. All of these claims can reliably be refuted, but as the saying goes, if you repeat a lie often enough it comes to be believed as the truth. Even the liar believes it.

Politicians have made hay with economic insecurity to the extent that a significant enough portion of voters will make allowances for all kinds of oversights as long as politicians can convince them that they are looking after “taxpayers’’ money. This reaction has not happened in a vacuum.   There has long been dissatisfaction with the way money given up by everyday people to various levels of government has been mishandles or wasted.

The votes that brought the Harper Conservatives to power a decade ago came after revelations about funding improprieties by the Chrétien Liberals, the so-called sponsorship scandal in which monies were paid out to Quebec advertising agencies for work that was not done or overpayments were made. It was a $2-million debacle that eventually put the Liberals in third place in Parliament. The current Senate scandal involving inappropriate travel expense claims that saw three senators censured is also about money.

Spending baggage is also haunting Ontario’s Liberal government. By now we should all be familiar with the litany of fiscal waste attached to the current provincial Liberal legacy. Add to that the outrage fueled by right-wing media reporting on retiring municipal politician Kyle Rae’s $14,000 send-off party and we begin to see why and how an outlier like Rob Ford won through. Ford had, after all, made a reputation of railing against pretty much any government spending. No one likes having his or her trust abused. When government leaders do that at the most base level of concern – money – they are stepping deep into the public’s vested interest. So if a person with political ambitions comes along with a message that he will “stop the gravy” train, desperate people will cling to it like a life raft.

We may laugh or be aghast at Ford, but he’s not the only one creating this dystopian drama. He is but a nick-nack from our collective focus on the ‘almighty dollar’. This then is what happens when we make money our god; it turns around and makes a mockery of us all.

The preceding article is a modified version of my column in the November 21 issue of Share newspaper. Share is Canada’s largest ethnic newspaper. Visit sharenews.com

Image by Theo Moudakis  taken from the Toronto Star

Toronto writer and columnist Pat Watson is the author of the e-book In Through A Coloured Lens available at amazon.com, amazon.ca, amazon.co.uk.