Thursday, 19 October 2017

The Pitfalls of the Feminine

The province of Quebec just passed a ridiculous law that bans facial coverings in public settings.  The reasoning behind this was ostensibly prompted by masked protesters that caused trouble in various marches over the last year.  So, a citizen who wishes to receive government services of any type must have their face visible.  That's all well and good, but it also means that a bus driver can potentially refuse to allow someone to board if they're wearing a scarf or balaclava over their face during the winter.  How stupid does that look?

But let's call a spade a spade.  The real targets of this law are Muslim women who wear the niqab.

Recently in the U.S. there were attempts at legislation that would enable a company to fire a female employee based on her reproductive choices.  As if that weren't enough, many states have voted to defund Planned Parenthood and/or outlaw abortion.

See a common denominator here?

The Old Testament of the Bible states outright that a woman is considered unclean during her menstrual period, and anyone who touches her will also become unclean.  Some African and Asian tribes still adhere to the custom of banishing women to a separate building during their periods.

In some countries women are forbidden to have certain jobs, perform certain tasks, or even leave their homes without male supervision.  In other countries, a male child is preferred that he might inherit a family business or continue a legacy, so girls are sent to orphanages, abandoned, or even killed by their own families.

Women are constantly having to guard themselves against prejudice, harrassment, and violence.  It seems to be getting to the point that merely being female is a crime in itself.

Where does it end?

Ladies, we need to stand up for ourselves.  No man has the right to tell us what we are or are not capable of.

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Becoming Routine

An armed young man with issues walks into a school...

Stop me if you've heard this one before.

A rural high school in Washington state is mourning the loss of one of its students after another student allegedly stole his father's guns out of a safe, marched into the school and opened fire.  The suspect was known to have had troubles with bullying, and earlier had passed around notes to some of his friends which read that he was about to "do something stupid" and that he wanted to "teach everyone a lesson about what happens when you bully others".

Former U.S. President Obama said in October 2015 after a massacre at an Oregon community college: "Somehow this has become routine.  The reporting is routine.  My response here at this podium ends up being routine, the conversation in the aftermath of it ... We have become numb to this."

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

Does anyone remember when a school shooting would be live breaking news and we all sat glued to our TVs?  Now it's like, "Oh, was there another one yesterday?"  Way to go, America, making shooting school children not a big deal.

A big part of the problem is that the United States now has a different mentality.  Kids having guns is no issue to the average American.  Programs exist to market firearms to teenagers.  To us Canadians this is unbelievably irresponsible.

A friend of a friend is desperately trying to get her American boyfriend to move up to Canada with her because she fears that either of them might be shot, particularly because the state where he currently lives supports open carry.  "Me being Canadian and always having the freedom to speak my mind will get me shot there," she wrote recently.  "There's irony in that, isn't it, in the land of the free."

Another friend of a friend died in 1989 because someone decided that he hated female engineers and went to their school to kill fourteen of them.  It was mainly because of that incident that Canada has some of the strictest gun laws of any country.  Those laws have been proven to work.

I do not plan to visit the U.S. any time soon.  I don't want to be having to constantly censor what I say or be suspicious of everyone because they just might be carrying a firearm and might use it at the slightest provocation.

And I don't think I would be surprised if, at some point in the future, the entirety of the adult population of the U.S. would be armed.  Someone shoots a gun for a stupid reason... then will come the inevitable carnage.  But who will care, right?  It's routine.

Friday, 8 September 2017

Perpetuation of Hatred

Thanks to Facebook's tendency to show posts that my friends like or comment upon, a page called Cold Dead Hands was brought to my attention.  It claims to be an educational website that supports free market capitalism, freedom of association, and limited government.
Most of the people on the site are stringent Second Amendment advocates as well.

That's all fine.

The first indication that all was not as it seemed was an ad for a bracelet that would "make all the liberals turn and run": the item in question was a leather bracelet with loops made to hold bullets.

However what really upset me was a post that displayed a photo of former First Lady Michelle Obama, with the caption "If I run for President, would you vote for me?" which touched off a sickening deluge of vitriol.  Comments ran from a simple "no way" to threats of grisly death, and all types of denigrating statements in between.  Thousands of them.

How could anyone generate so much hatred?

The first reasons that come to mind are sexism and racism.  Michelle Obama is a woman, and black.  Sadly in today's society, someone matching either of those conditions is suspect and must work twice as hard as everyone else to prove their worth.  Ironically, quite a few female commenters on the site wrote that they would not vote for a woman.

Let's throw in a political reason: her husband was a Democratic President and she supports the Democratic party.  That's more than enough for some people to dislike her.

Then there's the reverse body-shaming.  The former First Lady was always impeccably dressed, and had muscles from working out and being fit.  The "women don't belong in the gym" mentality was bad enough but it also fueled accusations from some that she was transgender, prompting even more jabs from the anti-LBGT crowd.

Next is guilt by association.  They hate her husband because he was black, or many of his policies were not to their liking.  Therefore they hate her.

The biggest reason of all, I believe, is ignorance.  Michelle Obama is a person who likes to inspire others.  She is educated, classy, and morally upright.  However people who do not understand (or who refuse to understand) these qualities attempt to cover their own shortfalls by creating so much negativity that anything else is drowned out.

This why I've stopped commenting on many types of posts, because invariably I get replies from people who insist on the opposite, or wrong, point of view and will not even consider anything different.  I only end up shouting in the dark, or worse, being insulted or threatened.

As for the aforementioned page, I blocked it.  Unfortunately there are three people on my friends list were shown to have "liked" the page, two of whom I have known for many years.  I don't like the thought of having to be careful of what I talk to them about from now on, but is anyone who can like a page like that someone that I would really want to associate with?

It's little wonder I'm losing faith in humanity.

Friday, 11 August 2017

Medical Breakdown

So I wasted a few hours this morning by trying to visit our local CLSC.

For those outside of Quebec: In order to reduce the pressure on hospital emergency rooms, the government instituted the CLSC system, which is a series of medical clinics staffed with doctors, nurses, psychologists, and other specialists.  Its purpose is to treat non-urgent cases more locally so that people won't have to go to the hospital.  Each CLSC serves a particular area; ours happens to be located just around the corner.

However due to recent "restructuring" the local CSLC is no longer running the daily walk-in clinic that they used to have on weekday mornings.  Now, only people who actually have a file with a doctor there will be admitted by appointment.  So they are referring people to another walk-in clinic called Azur which is 3 km away.

I went to Azur which informed me that I have to call ahead for an appointment for a consultation.  I immediately made said call on my cellphone only for an automated system to tell me that there were no more openings for the day (this was at 10:30 AM) and to call back at 4 PM for an appointment that evening (which I couldn't do, having already had plans).  The receptionist said ruefully that the CLSC is still sending people there even though Azur asked them to stop.  So I'll have to get up before 7 AM on Monday to call Azur for an appointment.

Where are those without a GP supposed to go if they have a problem?  I haven't had a GP for almost a year; my previous one retired and I only found out after not receiving an expected follow-up of some tests.  Although I am registered on the government web site for people who have no GP, I am still waiting to hear back from them.

I have several issues that will eventually require professional intervention, but with no GP to follow up with, how will I know what I need to do?  Going to an emergency room will solve nothing as being a non-urgent case I would probably wait for 16-24 hours or longer, only to be told to see a GP that I do not have.

The current Quebec government is in serious denial about how bad things really are.  The health minister is supposedly a doctor himself, but all he has done is institute a series of draconian cutbacks that have caused hospitals to close beds and prevent facilities from being used to their fullest.  Even at the best of times, there are wait lists for months to get such things as MRI scans and biopsies.

There will come a point where people will die before needed treatment becomes available.  In fact, it's already happening. In January of 2016 a man died because a surgeon was prevented from operating on him due to a cost-cutting administrative decision a few months prior.

Perhaps that's the government's plan, to have the oldest and/or sickest die prematurely so that money will be saved that would otherwise be spent in treating them.

I've said it before: If you live in Quebec, don't get sick.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

What is Love, Really?

Many philosophers and scientists over the centuries have tried to determine what love really is.  Shakespeare wrote in The Merchant of Venice, "Tell me, where is fancy bred; or in the heart, or in the head? How begot, how nourished?"

The ongoing debate over LBGT people and whether their relationships are a threat to heterosexuals has me shaking my head in disgust.  It should be no business of anyone's to worry about what goes on in a private home between two consenting adults.  And yet LBGT people have been marginalized, threatened, and worse.

I am reminded of the Star Trek The Next Generation episode, "The Host" in which Dr. Crusher has a romance with a male Trill - a humanoid who has a symbiotic relationship with a worm-like creature inside the belly.  When the Trill is badly injured, the symbiont is forced to transfer to Cmdr. Riker temporarily, and then to a new Trill host which happens to be female.  Dr. Crusher balks at continuing their affair, saying: "Perhaps it is a human failing, but we are not accustomed to these kinds of changes.  I can't keep up.  How long will you have this host?  What would the next one be?  I can't live with that kind of uncertainty.  Perhaps, someday, our ability to love won't be so limited."

It seems that, indeed, some people are limited in their ability to love and understand others.  Homosexuality, divorce, adultery - all these "sins" have broken friendships, torn apart families, and embittered too many people to count.

It has been postulated that love is not an emotion but a state of mind.  "Because love, it's not an emotion.  Love is a promise," states The Doctor in the episode "Death in Heaven".  Blogger Karla McLaren wrote:  "Those things we've learned to equate with love – the longing, the physical attraction, the shared hobbies, the desire, the yearning, the lust, the projections, the addictive cycles, the passions – those things move and change and fluctuate in the way emotions do, but they're not love, because love is utterly stable and utterly unaffected by any emotion."

How else can people stay together long-term?  Without the stability of true love, the relationship can't last.  The emotional high of infatuation and lust is short-lived, addictive, and ultimately unsatisfying.  It's little wonder that some get bored with their relationships and seek another high elsewhere, leaving bewildered ex-partners in their wake - they couldn't stay long enough to allow love to cement.

I once overheard someone tell their relative who had cheated on his wife, "Have your fling but go back to your spouse!"  Cheating is easy but going back isn't, because it involves a great deal of work in rebuilding the broken trust and love, if there was any there to begin with.

Of course there is the other side of the coin where couples stay together "for the sake of the kids" or for other reasons, despite their unhappiness with the situation.  In such cases they need to take a close look at themselves and determine what is really keeping them together.  If there is no love, what's the point of maintaining a farce?

Here's hoping that someday we will all have a better understanding of what love is, and its relevance in our world and to each other.