Giving Thanks for Love
Updated: Jul 21, 2018
Canadians are about to sit down for delicious dinners, wine, and a celebration of family. It’s this tradition called Thanksgiving, and it means different things to different people. But, no matter whether you live in a low income household or have amassed a great deal of wealth, it’s holidays like this that strip away the modern world we’ve surrounded ourselves with, and get us back to the essence of living … love.
I, myself won’t be able to celebrate with family, as I am not at home, but I find that I do long for the gatherings we once shared when everyone lived in the same city, because it was at these gatherings that the best in those closest to me came out (except if my Uncle Sonny and mom tried to debate how the perogies should be prepared, then it was war).
Some days I wish I were a kid again, and then I ask myself whether I wish I were a kid that knew what I know today. You may jump at the chance to say “yes” but I say “no”. You see, you can’t be a kid and know what you know as an adult, because that is fundamentally a paradox. So I skip ahead to the next question: as an adult, how am I doing?
Most days I’d say I’m doing ‘okay’. My friends and family are familiar with my use of this word. It means that whether I’m great or shitty, I am okay. Often when someone asks me how I am, I respond with, “I’m always okay.” It’s my baseline, and what I strive for. Think of it as a balance. Today is not an ‘okay’ day though.
It’s 4:32 in the morning and I just finished writing a speech for a funeral after my second home was attacked, about a month after my mom had a heart attack, and two weeks removed from making one of the hardest choices in my life. I also can’t live where I want to live because of an invisible line drawn generations ago, and a President who doesn’t understand that if the rest of the world goes boom, so too does the US. Today is also not one of those okay days because as I clear my mind with THC I am contemplating the big issues like North Korea, the anthem scandal, Trump, Trudeau, and humanity itself in the face of the horrific events that have taken place in [just] my lifetime.
You see, it’s been a long life with many high’s and low’s. Just last year I was publicly accused of being something that I’m not, I broke my back suffering paralysis, and I was dealt a major professional blow. That’s when I decided that I would strive for intricate levels of positivity. I say intricate because it is not easy to be positive and aware at the same time, but if you come at each situation with a different degree of positivity, you can live a better life. I added meditation, did Ayahuasca, and have recently found a passion for yoga. Now before you go and call me a hippie, know that I love tech, eat meat, and hate getting my feet dirty.
So that said, I want to write about the biggest issue we face today. I believe that to be replacing compassion and love with controversy and complacency brought on by a lack of perspective.
For example, there is a huge scandal involving the NFL: players are refusing to stand for the National anthem in protest showing that they will not stand for injustice. It’s their platform to bring awareness to a problem. On one side, you have those that agree with the players, and on the other, you have people who can’t even watch football anymore out of anger because they feel the players are spitting on the flag and the anthem. The problem is that both sides are right and wrong simultaneously. The players are right because they feel standing up to injustice is more important that the flag or the anthem. Those that judge them are right because the flag and the anthem are most important to them. It’s a matter of perspective, and perspective has been lost.
Take Trump for instance; Republicans (that I know stood against the policy and general governance of Trump) stand behind him because the man runs their party. No other political leader could get away with the lies directly into the camera on a continual basis, or the blatant disregard for diplomacy and negotiation that keeps us safe from World War 3. If you’re being honest, you know Obama would have been out if he had started his Presidency the way Trump has. In many cases, you can’t be honest about that if you’re a Republican though, because your party comes before your perspective. To me, perspective is more important. Now, there’s “only one way” to deal with North Korea.
In Canada, Justin Trudeau leads a government hell bent on spending and acceptance. However, Trudeau is pushing a Canada that many fear because of the state of terrorism in the world today, so policy is enacted without a plan to deal with public concerns. You can’t pander to racists, or any ists for that matter, but government has to get better at figuring out how to communicate their ideas with the people of the 21st century so that a rational debate can be had. Trudeau’s perspective is to push immigration and allow refugees in at staggering rates. Half of the country have concerns about that. So, in our communities we find more defined borders in neighbourhoods that were once a mosaic. Gone are the days of large groups of citizens meeting immigrants at the train station to welcome them into the community. This has been replaced by distance, and only reinforces hate and controversy.
Probably one of the most glaring examples of losing perspective and replacing compassion and love with controversy and complacency is how accepting we’ve become of attacks. While events such as Ottawa, Orlando, Manchester, New York, and Las Vegas create community and compassion, it is only for a short time, and that time is getting shorter with each attack. We’ve allowed ourselves to think of these events in such rigid terms.
Do you remember 9/11? I mean, really remember it? The sights, the sounds, the horror that ran through your body as you watched the towers burn? It was the deadliest attack on US soil and brought monuments to the ground. I was there 2 years later, and the sense of love and compassion in the city was still quite strong. Now, many times when you speak to someone about 9/11 they either have a conspiracy theory to tell you, or it detours to hate for “immigrants”. It’s become a date and an event that polarizes, instead of brings us together. What I remember most about 9/11 was how everything stopped because no one knew what to do. News anchors cried on air, politicians cut the rhetoric, and first responders were treated like NFL players and movie stars. People the world over wept, not knowing whether they should go to work or school … unsure of how a human being should and would act.
Now, with the last few attacks on humanity, doesn’t it all feel less poignant?
Las Vegas was hit on Sunday, and a week later the memes are slowing, the compassion is retreating, and the gun debate took about 4 seconds to creep into the conversation. Somehow, many believe it’s Trump’s fault, and then there’s the baseless conspiracy theories. We have stopped looking for ways to embrace each other, only to try and create controversy.
We can move on because the Las Vegas attack wasn’t as big as 9/11. We need that escalation or celebrity involvement to stop in our tracks. The Western world cared about the Manchester attacks, but cared more because their darling, Ariana Grande was right in the middle of it. That’s not to say anything against Ariana Grande; her voice is incredible. But there were 155 terrorist attacks around the globe in January 2017 alone, totaling hundreds dead. Why didn’t we post about those attacks?
We’ve allowed ourselves to create classes of attacks. Middle East terrorism doesn’t matter because many see that region as a lost cause, but UK terrorism does because UK ideals are more aligned with the Western thought process. A lone American shooting up a country concert is heartbreaking, but the Nation’s anger only boils over when an outsider is to blame, and I’m not just talking about the US. We do it in Canada, too. When Parliament was attacked in 2014, a couple of people died … and that’s exactly how I heard the story. It was acceptable to many because it was just a couple of people. Unless there is escalation, we won’t hold onto that 9/11 compassion and love for very long.
Bad Things Happen
Bad things happen, and sometimes one guy is all it takes. I don’t know what set Stephen Paddock off; if he had mental problems, secretly hung out with ISIS, or was simply a ball of testosterone that had no outlet … but I do know that shoving conspiracies down everyone’s throats immediately is a sure sign of disrespect to the dead and injured, as well as their loved ones … and a symptom of a disease in our world.
Yes, questioning everything is key to progress and the basis of science, but creating questions that serve a selfish purpose such as recognition or attention is disgusting. How many times are we going to do this?
The second shooter theory from the hotel was easily explained by the reflective surface. When that little nugget of an idea turned out to be completely implausible it became a security guard on the ground shooting people that conspiracy nut bars hung onto to.
How did Paddock get all that gear up to his room? Same way I lugged up hundreds of pounds worth of computer gear for a convention in Vegas—with carts, suitcases, and boxes.
Then there’s the belief that somehow the government can get thousands to agree to the same ideology and carry out a plan of mass deception; really? I talked with a friend on the LVMPD who was on the scene working the concert, and is now involved in the aftermath. He can’t fathom how people can come up with these theories, and forget the human element. How can you do that? How can a human with a brain in their head look at a blurry video and pretend they have enough to create more panic, forming a theory so quickly that they pass it off as truth? How can millions of people get sucked into a conspiracy with no concrete evidence? Why can’t we use our rational minds anymore? Why are we so caught up in proving we’re smarter than everyone else by finding “clues” to a problem that likely doesn’t exist? Again, I believe in science and questions, but how many times do arm chair YouTubers have to be wrong before we wake up?
It comes back to controversy and complacency leading to a lack of perspective. So many want to believe there is more to a story because they need there to be. Controversy has become their drug of choice. In doing so, these people have become complacent to the real issues, and disregard respect for those lost or those who lost.
How do we make that feeling last?
I cried the very second that I heard Vegas was hit. I mean, c’mon, it’s Mandalay Bay … I checked out marine life there, took pictures with mom, attended parties and concerts, hit up trade shows, and stayed there a few times. It’s where I had one of my fondest breakups. The attack shook me to my core because I spent so much time right there in that spot. Then you learn you know someone that was injured and killed, and everything changes.
This is woke.
I know that we need to move on from tragedy in our lives in order to actually live, but what I don’t understand is why we don’t learn and get better at this whole living thing. I think I have a possible answer; though untested. As we continue to detach from nature and each other, we are sinking into a hole that will likely spawn more attacks and much more hatred. It’s a vicious cycle. The attacks create more rage and fear, which creates more rage and fear from the opposite, and suddenly we’re consumed with violence. One only needs to look at history to see this pattern.
It’s worse now though, because we have pseudo-relationships with people we barely know, stare at screens all day, and ignore the one’s we claim to love because some Z-list YouTuber posted a new video … and remember, this is coming from a techie. We engage in bitter debates about huge issues with bits of info, and then we often step over lines because we don’t actually have to look someone in the face to insult them anymore. And there in lies the rub … detachment from the real because it’s so easy to play a role online.
How often do you put away your phone when in the presence of the man or woman you adore? When’s the last time you introduced yourself to a neighbour? Been on a hike or drive lately just to experience the world around you? Most of you don’t even know the answer to the first question, and can confidently say “no” to the other two.
How are we supposed to show compassion and love when we’re too busy tuning each other out? Now, you might argue that online conversation has expanded our relationship circle. To some degree, yes, but in many ways, no. True personalities are hidden behind time to type and think before replying, many times we’re debating issues that we would have never bothered with before, and what about presence? There’s nothing that can replace two people engaging in person. Some don’t even feel universal compassion and love until there is a major global event to give them the feels.
We can’t possibly continue like this. That’s not to say tech is evil or the root of all our problems, but it’s a start, because after all loneliness is one of the number one triggers for disaster, and with nearly 7.5 billion people on earth, no one should feel lonely. Tech has its place, but so too do real emotions. Think about what it feels like to have love in your life, friends, likeminded people you can go to when times get tough, and someone to celebrate the wins with. Is that not the greatest feeling? I bet your body feels different if you really pictured it.
My Next Step
It’s time to cut out the people that don’t bother to find compassion and love before controversy and complacency. I can’t be associated with the negativity that is brought when someone shares a theory based on zero evidence. I do know conspiracies happen, but without something real to go on, I can’t be bothered. For example, I know why the metal in the twin towers gave out, but I don’t know why the Pentagon doesn’t appear to have more plane related debris on the lawn. That’s something that has always bothered me, but I won’t often actively engage in debate because it does nothing. If you really want the answers to 9/11, shut down the country by not contributing and not voting, forcing their hand. Or don’t vote for anyone unless the candidate agrees to declassify all 9/11 evidence. That’s doing something, but unfortunately there’s no way humans get that organized. So, you conspiracy nuts with 0 proof of the things you post from websites known to be bullshit, be gone. I know that creates isolationism, but in this case, I believe it’s alright. Most hardcore conspiracy theorists are good people who don’t need much evidence to form opinion. They’ll learn, and we can be friends again once they do. Or, if you’re going to have a theory, base it on something real; proof, scientific consensus, and be prepared to be challenged without taking offense.
I’m going to also continue my mission to bring more positivity, love, and compassion into my life. I believe it is the route to happiness, and making the world a better place. It’s not that I’ll ignore the big issues, but if you’re going to tout a theory about a second shooter, you better have more to go on than some blurry video, a reflection, and a loose idea that 2 windows being smashed means 2 shooters had to be present.
While I may sound like a dirty hippie again, I promise you, I am not. I am simply a man tired of grieving and fighting. Seek a better existence with me, and let’s change the world. But hey, that’s just my perspective.