A young child’s falsehood generates big news

By PAT WATSON

You know when you get that funny feeling that something about a news story is not right? It was the feeling that came with the report during the 2016 summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro when American swimmer Ryan Loche said he was robbed. Something about his story did not feel right.

Eventually, Loche admitted that he “over exaggerated”. In fact, he had lied about what happened at a Rio gas station in the early hours one morning. Loche and his friends got into some bad behavior and then tried to cover it with a fantastical fabrication.

Which beings us to the events of a few days ago in this city in which an 11-year-old girl made news headlines for telling a story about being approached by “an Asian man” of about “age 25” who approached her with scissors in hand twice as she was on her way to school and attempted to cut of her hijab – a head covering worn by women and girls in observance of their Muslim faith practices.

Now, there may be any number of reasons a young child might make up a story like this. And, it may be going too far to speculate what her real reasons may have been. Yet in the larger picture, the type of hostility that has been directed toward people of Muslim faith in the Western world at least since the deadly terror attacks in New York City and Washington D.C. in September 2001 has to be considered. That is longer than this girl has been alive. She was born into this hostility.

Children are living with the awareness that the faith of their families puts then under suspicion and under attack. It would not be a stretch to see how frightening news reports of other attacks on Muslim women especially could give rise to imaginative expressions of fear from the young ones.

By the way, if this were “not how we behave in Canada”, that little girl would not have the raw material from which to make up such a story. So let’s stop dragging up that nonsensical expression and instead acknowledge the presence of a significant element in Canada that either harbours or acts on racism and hostility towards so-called others.

It might not even be coincidental that the girl’s story came close to the January 29 anniversary of the worst terror killing of Muslims in this country. For, it was just one year ago that one radicalized young man walked into the Islamic Culture Centre in Quebec City during the prayer hour and proceeded to shoot six people to death and injure 19 others.

The other matter that this story raises has to do with the seeming haste with which some stories land in news media. Social media can set fire to any goings-on and sometimes news media seeking to keep pace will jump the gun. This seems to be yet another one of those stories.

Finally, this will most likely be an unforgettable lesson for one young child about the heavy consequences of falsely crying wolf.

A note on s#*/@#…

It was fascinating to observe how major news media handled reporting the top offensive remark last week from the United States’ iconoclastic president. It must have been an interesting time in editorial newsrooms as decisions were taken on how to report accurately on the derogatory comments Donald Trump made about countries including Haiti, El Salvador and pretty much the entire African continent. In reporting what Trump said, (and it won’t be repeated here) some gave a pre-emptive warning about the “vulgar” language they were about to quote, so that children would not be unnecessarily exposed. If it’s not clear yet, American politics has definitely fallen down the rabbit hole into a nether world reality. Oh, and, Trump is racist.

Pat Watson is the author of the e-book, In Through A Coloured Lens. Twitter @patprose.

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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

Faith, Belief, Spirituality are Life Rafts – E-book Excerpt

It would be hubristic to presume to have any greater notion of God or what G_d is than the next human, but I do know this about my own emotional existence: I need some Great Source in order to cope in this big, scary world.

So, do I believe in God? Frankly, the existence of G_d is not determined by my belief.

G_d either is or isn’t.

What my belief can do nevertheless is influence my relationship with the Unknown Unknown. What my belief will do is try to configure a relationship with the seemingly unknowable.

Yet I continue to look for evidence.

Because whatever conception they have dreamed up, or whatever conception they were given, usually at an early age, does not bear out in the dire ways many of our actions unfold here on Earth, some reject the existence of G_d

It is hard to reconcile the myth of a Loving, Benevolent God – a kind of Santa Claus – with all the cruelty that occurs minutely on this planet.

Then too, there’s the other extreme, a Punishing and Terrible God. Who wants to have that force to turn to in times of need?

My conclusion is that every time we define God, we lose sight of G_d. I amuse myself with the notion that G_d is just too big for us humans to see.

What I do experience when I make space to plug in my spiritual extension cord to the Perceived Energy during the course of each 24 hours is that my day is elevated, and sometimes occurrences materialize that are wonderful beyond my imagination. Or simply, I live through a day without descending into despair.

Somewhere in the Bible is the suggestion that we “seek the face of God.” It doesn’t say anything about finding. Sometimes, I can catch a glimpse.

My own experience of seeking G_d is that, paradoxically, I find my own self – I grow nearer to the truth of who I am. The answer to that question, by the way, is nearly as elusive as finding G_d.

“Everything and everyone is an experience and an expression of G_d.” This was a message that came one day from the subconscious. In response, I asked, “But what about Hitler?”

So please, take a look at the column I wrote that expands on this notion. It is one of the selected columns in my debut ebook, In Through A Coloured Lens.

Jan 20, 2005

After the Shock of the December 26, 2004 Tsunami Tragedy in South Asia, Southeast Asia and East Africa had worn off and reality took hold, some asked how could God make this happen?

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The reasoning goes that God being all-powerful could have stopped this from happening, therefore why didn’t He?

A friend suggested that perhaps the question is misleading; that in the first place, God didn’t make it happen. She said asking the question is like asking why God didn’t stop Hitler during World War II. Rather, that when such things as man-made or natural disaster occur here on Earth as they have since the beginning of time, we pause to become aware of acts of God in the midst of it.

We can focus solely on the evil that was Hitler, but shouldn’t we also keep in mind the countless acts of selflessness by the many who risked their own lives to save others? So too with the tragic loss of human life that came with that 2004 earthquake and resulting tsunamis, also came an outpouring of human kindness and compassion in response.

Some looking for evidence of God will see it there.

For many, it takes some effort to find a personal relationship with God, The Creator, The Great Mystery. We try in all earnestness to define God and yet ironically by trying to do that, we end up limiting the undeniable. We are told from childhood in our places of worship that God is kind, loving, forbearing, patient, vengeful, wrathful, terrible and so on. Then we are told that we must believe all of this. When life experiences do not match the things we have been told about God, some lose faith because the god we have been taught about does not live up to our expectations. We make our own god-idols and feel let down when they don’t do what we want.

Yet, somewhere in the Bible it suggests we ‘seek the face of God’. It doesn’t say find it. It is in the seeking that we find a personal relationship with the Great Mystery.

The older I become the more perplexing I find the consequences of human behavior. The small things we do individually in our millions lead collectively to amazing and sometimes disturbing results.

This is a world in which we experience the flip-side of everything, the better to appreciate them. That’s life. There is no day without night. And who can know joy unless they have truly felt sorrow? Or freedom without the loss of it.

When the world experiences overwhelming disasters such as that December 26 tragedy, individually we have a keener appreciation of our own lives. We begin to find more precious what we ordinarily take for granted – homes and family members still with us. We see that we have everything we really need and so much more.

So instead of asking ‘how could God have made this happen?’ the question becomes, ‘what would God have me do now?’ The answer is clear from the actions of the many who give what they have to those in need.

If another such disaster were to occur tomorrow, God knows, people would find it within themselves to selflessly reach out and do whatever was needed to help each other yet again. Count on it.