Monday, October 16, 2006

Predator: Shapeshifter Extraordinaire

I was reminded of something important not long ago: People who are 'powerless' are faced with potential bullying from many angles. A bully is a predator, seeking that which is perceived to be weaker or easily overtaken.

But what does a predator look like?

To know the answer, maybe we should understand its prey, for surely we are more familiar with that. Anyone who feels powerless can fall victim to those who hunger for power. Desperation can strip people of power within their own life; therefore, those without adequate shelter or food can become easy prey for people looking to take advantage, because their need is so great. Same can be said for someone who has lived through abuse, who now struggles with substance abuse to dull painful memories. Individuals with mental health issues or intellectual disability have been historically kept on the outskirts of society because of the challenges they face. Many of us are aware of these marginalized people groups and are committed to social change so that every person regardless of their life story can know that they deserve equality, community, relationship.

But I realized recently that even a healthy child living in upper middle class society who has been taught to respect their elders can fall prey to power-craving adults. It is hard enough for an adult to halt the unhealthy behaviors of another adult - how can a child stand up to such bullying?

Perhaps we don't think that the little snarky remark we throw at a child will do anything more than guilt them into stopping from doing something we don't like, or that little tap to the cheek wasn't that bad, because it convinced the student that when you said to sit still, you meant it.

Adult manipulation of children is a rampant, widespread and acceptable method of bullying in today's society. But we need to recognize this behavior - even verbal manipulation and shaming - for what it is: evil.

Caregiving occurs in the moment. In each small moment that we enter, we have opportunity to strengthen the relationship we have with the kids in our lives, or weaken it. Those small moments are the cement that forms a child's moral memory, teaching them who they are to us, whether they are of value, and whether we can be trusted.

So, what does a predator look like? The truth is, we are all capable of acting in a predatory or bullying manner to those who are perceived 'beneath' us in pecking order. When it comes to the children in our lives, we must remember to take care that every moment linking to another is an opportunity to speak value into that child, to reinforce that they are safe with us, and that we honour them. If our words and our actions are not speaking that, then we must look in the mirror, and from the perspective of a child, or a person with a disability, or any marginalized individual, ask the question again.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Is it out yet? Is it out yet?

No, the magazine has not yet launched. It is tiresome to watch something take its time coming into existence, isn't it? But hey, that's the birthing process and we all know that it takes a little patience. The mag is still not technically past due, as we aimed for an October launch. But apparently we're feeling the pinch of a shortage of qualified workers in the province and are having a hard time finding good salespeople to sell ad space. Whatcha gonna do? I feel like I'm developing a good stable of writers, so editorial is on track. .. which takes care of over 60% of the magazine. But we can't go anywhere without the other percentage. Really, the ad sales position is perfect for some semi-retired individual who's not looking for a lot of work but would like to fill some time here and there. But what do I know, I'm not a sales-type person and this is not my stress factor. I'm so open-handed on this project, it's ridiculous. I enjoy it, but it is not consuming my time or my head. Hurrah! If it never gets beyond the first issue, I'm fine. As long as I and the writers are paid for our work (and I have received assurance on both fronts, for what that's worth), it's all good.

Friday, October 06, 2006

make it stop!

Sinuses.... the pressure.... nasty.... I'm thinking sinuses are too close to brain tissue, because it is way too hard to think straight when one is battling a sinus cold.

Reminds me of Grade 2, in a class with a fella named Brian, who... shall we say.... struggled. He wrote his name B-R-A-I-N. Ironic. Good ol' Brain. He brings a smile to my sinus-addled brian whenever I think of 'im.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Home again

I really thought the jet lag would be worst on the way there, as we lost 8 hours. Turns out, it is far worse coming home for some reason. I'm still fighting hunger at 3 a.m. and nodding off by 6 pm - this is crazy.

Belgium is beautiful - at least Ghent is. Ghent is untouched by war and is so medieval, with nuttin' but cobblestones and tourets everywhere you look and a beautiful canal running through the city. In a city the size of Saskatoon, they have 6 universities, yet the entire city pretty much closes down by 9p.m. It's very quiet. We stayed in a monastery converted into a hotel, complete with an inner and outer courtyard, nooks and crannies galore. The conference was really fulfilling. It's nice to know that, in a world full of selfish people stepping on the weak to get to their goals, there are people out there with genuinely good hearts, being a voice for the voiceless and working for social justice on a global scale. It was humbling to be a part of it all. We have genuine friends from all over the world - it's really neat to know that. As for pigeon on couscous, horsemeat stew and rabbit appetizers... turns out, I like rabbit. Who knew!

France probably has nicer areas than Paris. I still haven't figured out how to sound positive about our Paris experience. I can say that we stepped foot on some very historical cobblestones and earth. We saw some very significant art, drove around on the square where Marie Antoinette was beheaded, tasted the finest of cheeses and pates, browzed through Versace, and handled merchandise in Louis Vuitton down the Champs. There is the neatest little 2 block radius in the Latin Quarter filled with unbelievable food and atmosphere - very bohemian, probably because it is so close to the Sorbonne. I can say it was a once in a lifetime experience. We definitely know how we prefer to holiday, and where. Group tourists we are not. Favorite days included meandering alone through undiscovered neighborhoods only to trip into the Luxembourg Gardens and St. Suplice - which is a more impressive church than Notre Dam, IMHO, it had an inkling of genuineness to it that so many of the big museum churches lack. The beauty of the big churches like Sacre Coure, and the dining room of the kings recreated in the Louvre are shockingly gluttonous. The Eiffel Tower is really beautiful lit up at night from a boat on the River Sienne... but Tim and I couldn't help notice the shanty town lining the river and wonder...