Monday, December 29, 2014

My Non-Resolution, Resolution.


It’s my 2015 word, and likely the hardest non-resolution I’ve ever tried.

I’ve seen the idea of focusing on a few key words for the upcoming year in place of the common ‘resolution’ in a few different places.  I instantly fell in love with the idea.

For me, peace is something I have a hard time with.  I’m hot-blooded, sensitive, and unabashedly candid with what I think and how I feel.  While you will never wonder how I feel about you, there are times, as I’ve gotten older and slightly more mature, that I’ve realized honesty is not always the best policy.  People are afraid of honesty, and don’t want to hear things they don’t like.  This had led me down a path of ‘was it worth its’ and self-doubt, and pep-talks from those who know, and love me, most calming me down by reiterating what I know to be true, but sometimes forget in my knee-jerk reactions.

There are people in this world who are not willing to see anything aside from what is in front of them, and arguing to any other end is futile and a war of attrition on my own nerves.  To welcome peace into my life means recognizing these people and situations, and doing what is necessary to keep peace.  It’s not straying away from hearty debate and banter, and disagreeing and arguing politics with like-minded (although with opposing views) people, it’s a part of who I am. 

Peace in my thoughts is as easily obtained as peace in my physical body.  Which, is non-existent.  It crosses my mind as I lay in bed at night hating myself for eating chips, or whatever high-fructose overly-processed thing I have chosen to partake in.  I wonder to myself what it will take to get into bed and not overanalyze my every move, every word, every decision before falling into a fitful sleep and waking up tired.  Again.

Peace is a fragile bond I have with myself.  I own every word I speak and type and yet I can’t help but wonder how others perceive it.  And why is this considered a flaw?  Why have I been told my whole life not to worry about what other people think?  Because isn’t part of being a good person someone who cares about how others feel?  Someone who thinks before speaking or Facebooking about how those we care about will perceive and interpret things.

I feel like a mess of emotion and passion and unbridled enthusiasm through most of my waking life.  These feelings are the antithesis of peace.  Peace is something I feel only in those brief, fleeting moments when I fall into it like an old friend’s embrace.  You know, nice to see you, how long are you staying?

More often than not it’s the quiet mundane with my kids, when that dozy moment washes over me and I KNOW, I just KNOW that being a mom is something I’m good at.  Oh, mostly I’m agonizing over that too, but there are moments when I know in my heart of hearts I’m doing something really right with these three souls. 

It also happens in stolen moments at the barn.  When I’m riding, or grooming, or watching horses work and I look around and see all the moving parts; And I take it all in like a fly on the wall.  The laughter, the tears (Oh! The tears we shed at the barn.  Worse than children these animals can make you feel like a complete and total moron!), the hope, the discipline and that passion.  The passion abounds at a training facility.  The entire place is sustained on passion.

But then reality comes and the doubts set in and I’m back to longing for those peaceful moments.

So in 2015, my word, Peace, will arrive at the forefront of my consciousness.  ‘Will this bring me peace’ will be the question I pose to every decision I’m faced with. 

No, in all cases the peace won’t be immediate.  Being uncomfortable and analytical does help to grow and change a person.  But I need to walk through my life calling on something more than knee-jerk reaction being constantly at war with.. myself.

Now don’t be too worried.  My peace is likely not the Zen found in day spas and Weed shops.  No mine will be a little more manic, it can’t be anything but with my lifestyle.  Loud kids, louder music and a non-stop schedule that keeps me running.  But, it’s the inner peace, the war raging in my mind to quiet down a bit I hope to affect.  Focusing on the light and absorbing the beauty so I can be at once, both beautiful and at peace in the light.

Poets and poetry have always been a source of solace for me.  Starting in Grade Six when I discovered Emily Dickinson.  Their words at often times, seem to answer the questions I ask myself on those sleepless nights.  So for my benefit, and yours too if you want to feel the gentle massage of these words on your mind (hey your brain is a muscle, you must flex it to grow) here are a few of my favorites:

From Walt Whitman:

“Do I contradict myself? Very well, then, I contradict myself; I am large -- I contain multitudes.”

“Keep your face always toward the sunshine - and shadows will fall behind you.”

“These are the days that must happen to you”

From Rainer Rilke:

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”

“Let everything happen to you

Beauty and terror

Just keep going

No feeling is final”

Finally, my all-time favorite quote, from Paramahansa Yogananda (say that three times fast….)

“Life has a bright side and a dark side, for the world of relativity is composed of light and shadows. If you permit your thoughts to dwell on evil, you yourself will become ugly. Look only for the good in everything so you absorb the quality of beauty. “

So there it is.. my quest for peace in 2015.  A non-resolution that I hope you can find some inspiration in.    

As a little head start, I’m thinking a hot bath, a glass of red, and a rereading of Eckhart Tolle is in order tonight.  Or maybe I’ll just watch some hockey with the family.  See.. there it is again. My life messing up with my Zen Plans.  ;)

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Police in the Media Part 2

What is justice?  What is fair? Who is really looking out for us, police and the citizens they are sworn to protect, out there?

It’s been a tumultuous few weeks for police families in North America.

As far removed as we are in Canada, we have certainly been watching what’s happening in Ferguson, and as of today, in New York with bated breath. 

Will justice prevail?  What is justice? Who is right? Does anyone even care about that anymore?

I won’t speak to the specific case details, and ensuing events in Fergsuon, or those in New York.  Partially because I’m not well versed on the ins and outs of the cases, but mostly because I’m a white girl from Canada, so I don’t think I have anything really enlightening to add to the already lengthy conversation.

But, as I tend to have the propensity to do, I have SOMETHING to say, and I can’t keep quiet any longer.

The backlash to police and the overly anti-police media coverage is everywhere, and it needs to stop.  It is serving no one but the rating-hungry media who is perpetuating drama and unrest in its wake.

I try to avoid it as any police wife does these days.  Sometimes it pops up in the most unlikely places, a Facebook friend's off-handed comment, however, like a moth to the flame, you are drawn into reading it.  (Not unlike that craving you get when you smell fast-food and you think it’s a good idea until you’ve wolfed it down, only to feel slightly nauseated, depressed and certainly remorseful for your actions immediately after consumption.)

This backlash is puzzling because, while I know there are organic roots of unrest, especially it would seem in the south, I’m hard pressed to see this as less of a police issue, but more  predominantly , as a by-product of a much larger race and socio-economic disparity issue.  The media blitz on the ‘bad police’, and people's willingness to buy in has me confused because I’m not sure that the type of attention they are drawing.. news vans, choppers, breaking press conferences, is doing anything to REALLY ensure that the facts are being presented fairly, debated and dealt with in a way to move these larger issues forward.

I’m not sure that the attention the media is giving these trials is for the betterment of society.  In fact, I liken the news vans and reporters are acting as one of ‘those’ friends.  You know, those ‘friends’ your parents didn’t like you hanging around with as a teenager.  Always to the side, never getting their hands dirty, but chiding you along to make reckless decisions on the basis of little to no real information, other than what they have told you to be the truth.  All in an effort for cheap entertainment.  So they could sit back and watch the furry unfold as they remained safely off to the side, minding their business and not getting the consequences you surely know are headed your way.

I’m also not sure whether they are reporting the ‘breaking news’ to keep the viewers informed and educated, or if rather, they are stewing up civil unrest to make for some good TV.  No longer is it sufficient to get a news van to the riot shortly after it unfolds.  No!  Now that news van needs to be right there in the eye of the storm as it builds to a fever pitch.

I can hear you nay-sayers as I type. 

That obviously the media must report on these cases to bring them to the forefront of social consciousness in order to make real, positive change. 

But what has the biggest story out of Ferguson been?  It certainly wasn’t the ways in which racial and socio- economic issues have been brought forward in a constructive way to be death with.  No, it’s been looting.  It’s been the drama and it’s been the destruction in the wake of the verdict.

And no, not all police officers act within their practice of reasonable force. 

Of course, yes, justice must be served to those who deserve it. 

But, what does that even mean anymore? 

If the media is waiting for a shitstorm of emotion and human beings at their worst, who is out there looking for the stories where justice was served, where people went home alive, and where everyone quietly went about their duties in the name of what is right, and in what is just?

Because, I know that happens.  I see it every day.  People do terrible, horrible things to each other and they are arrested and put in jail, charges are laid and bad people are convicted.

Everyday police officers are shot at, yelled at, threatened and society expects them to take it because that’s their job. 

So who, exactly, does the due diligence to make sure people are aware of all the good police do, if the media won’t, and doesn’t want to report on what is, frankly, boring.

Who stands back and asks people to think critically about the cases presented in media vs the cases overall?

 Any 6th grader can pick stats off the web to make a point.  But who is the moderator that ensures that where people are getting their ‘news’ isn’t only showing one side of the story?

In all the anti-police articles and comments I’ve seen (again.. I try to stay away from any comment section, it’s rife with idiots spewing ignorance ), there is no solution.  There is not a sudden influx of men and women who have ideas, suggestions, the passion to put their hand up and say, “You know, I think I can do better than what I’ve seen.  I have ideas and solution so here I am.  Sign me up for the next training class!”

Instead, there are the same types of men and women who already make up these police forces, the types of people who are driven to make the world a better place, signing up and wondering why in the world it is so popular to criticize and demonize a profession WE as a society have proven we are in dire need of.  They put their heads down, do their work, and get crucified in the media.

Yes, corruption and wrong-doing lurk everywhere.  And most especially in policing where these men and women are permitted to use deadly force, we must be diligent to ensure justice prevails.  But in what arena can we trust that what we, the consumers and citizens who are guilty of taking these at face value, are not being fed our 'new' in a way that reinforces our already ravenous, sensational media?  All in order to court a little controversy, and make for a great scoop?  Where then, can we truly work together for a positive change?

Finally, as a Canadian, I would remiss not to caution against comparing our police to their American counterparts.  We are a different society with different societal norms.  We are not a gun culture.  Our small municipal forces do not have the funding to buy used war tanks off the military.  Our federal members are often posted in remote communities where they pride themselves on talking down a situation, and learning to live and become a part of the community they police.  
I’m not saying there is anything wrong with American police, I’m simply reminding the same Canadians who shudder when Europeans call us Americans, that we are not one in the same.
Also, as someone who has friend and family that work in Canadian media, I would also be negligent to point out that the media circus that is network news down south, hasn't quite manifested itself so far up here.  But, as social media and mobile devices become the way in which we get our news, I have a deep seeded fear it's headed in that direction.  "Newsertainment" if you will. 

I don’t want censorship, so put down your pen (or um, iphone) right now.  I just want the news in its straight-forward, unaltered truth. 

However boring that may be. 

I want the unbiased details, and if presented in snooze-worthy C-Span format, I will be ok with that.  Because it’s the facts and it’s in the details that lead to real change and a more educated population, one able to think critically and act accordingly. 

After all, the devil may, or may NOT, lie in the details.