You are here

Notes #70


I read an article recently by one of my favourite writers, Brian Bethune. He talked about the importance of friendship.

        Loneliness kills and friendship preserves.
"Nothing matches the positive effect on mental and physical health as having friends."

For me, the last two years with the pandemic and being cut off from work colleagues, close friends and family members, I honestly didn't think the isolation was really having much of an effect on me. After all I still had my wife, my daughter and grandchildren (we had all been in the bubble since the very first day of the declared pandemic), and I managed to golf twice a week (outdoor sport) all summer with some very talkative and opinionated great guys. So you can see I still had a fair amount of contact with family and friends despite the COVID-19 pandemic. 

I saw my pandemic life as not being so bad. Okay, there were no cursory hellos and no chitchat in the hallways at the workplace. In fact, no workplace, no breakfast get-togethers with my guy friends, no family get-togethers around the dining room table at Christmas and special holidays, but I was still doing okay - better than many because of my semi-retired lifestyle - yet I still I felt there was a big hole in my life. People were definitely missing from my life and it did have an effect on me.

Robin Dunbar, a British psychologist states, "Friends mean close relationships. For most of us, the inner five, the shoulders-to-cry-on friends, are made up of two friends plus 2 extended family members, with the fifth sometimes being a friend and sometimes kin."

Dunbar goes on to say, "Family is simply there, usually from birth, and is capable of withstanding long periods of neglect, benign or otherwise, without loss of mutual sense of obligation. Friends require hard work to gain and keep-30 minutes a day on average, which is why intimates are so few in number. The issue is the sheer amount of time involved."

Susan Pinker, author of the Village Affect: How Face To Face Contact Can Make Us Healthier and Happier states, "In-person contact is essential for touch or non-verbal communication, personal contact, that little pat on the arm. Getting together signals a willingness to invest the time. If you don't sustain a friendship, then it melts away- unless it's with your intimate family members."

Before the pandemic, the technology invasion (computer, smart-phone, tablet, social media) was definitely leading us away from contact with people. However, I do believe after the last two years of isolation we are learning that we need people, that we need that touch. We need human (and animal) touch and interaction. Otherwise there is a tendency to lapse into melancholy/depression/anxiety.

          So go hug a friend or family member today
                   (It's not only nice but also imperative to your health.)

Continuing next week--more on Friendship!


Being Mad Doesn't Make You Right 

I don't know the person who wrote the following article but I can't find much to disagree with....
I hit a new level of frustration a few weeks ago. Mostly because I was following the events of the trucker convoy that settled in Ottawa. I talked to a number of supporters of the convoy. I listened, and for the most part refrained from responding to a rhetoric that had, in my experience, absolutely no basis in reality, or for that matter, totally lacked in common sense. Thankfully, just before I exploded into a messy, emotion-laden tirade, Jack's email arrived.  
 I don't know who wrote the following 8 points but the message is succinct and "I definitely approve of this message". 

1.     "We're fighting for everyone, all Canadians." Nope, you sure aren't! I don't recall having a say in this. I do recall having the opportunity to vote for our elected leadership, which I did. I assume you also did, because otherwise I don't know what makes you feel you have the right to try and stage a coup now or change any division's policy. The opportunity for change came with your municipal, provincial, and federal elections - all of which happened in recent history. I'm sorry you're not happy with the outcome(s), but that's democracy. I know you feel like you're being a hero right now, but to a lot of other citizens who want these things think you're just being an asshole. 

2.     "We're standing up for truckers who lost their livelihood over medical autonomy." If this is your position, you have been grossly misinformed. Full stop. No jobs were taken away from anyone as a result of the border crossing vaccine mandate. Truck drivers were given a delay to the rule to give time to get vaccinated. Most of them did so. The exemption period expired. The few drivers who chose to not vaccinate were re-routed to Canadian routes. That's it. A change to their job, but still their job. Also. NEWS FLASH.... the border has two sides to it. *Gasp* Even if we dropped the vaccine requirement to cross the Canadian border - fun fact - they wouldn't be able to get into the United States to begin with because there's a vaccine requirement on that side., yeah. Next? *Edited to add: The VAST majority of protestors and supporters are not "truckers". Very few of them are. Most are general random Joe's who are taking advantage of the proverbial bandwagon because of their own frustrations. 

3.     "It's really just about freedom of choice." Nope, sure isn't! It's really sweet for you to think that. I truly wish this were the case. I'd be on board with this! If it were truly about freedom of choice, we wouldn't have countless reports of "freedom fighters" harassing citizens choosing to be vaccinated or to wear their masks in any situation. And don't even come at me with a defense that most of you support the choice because there are enough documented examples of this type of harassment to prove that "it's really just about freedom of choice" is not a factual position for the movement as a whole. For some of you it is really just about freedom of choice, and I do respect that perspective. But. BUT. For some of your group it's a desire for NO masks or other protective/preventative health measures at all, for anyone, even those who personally choose them. That division makes it quite obvious that this is not about freedom of choice. At least, not for anyone who chooses differently than some of your loudest supporters. 

4.     "We have the right to protest." Yup, sure do! BUT. This wasn't/isn't a legal protest. I won't get into the full list of reasons it isn't. I will however point out that many of the current participants and supporters were super quick to call out "illegal protest, shut it down" as soon as a First Nations protest recently blocked a single road or railway to protect their own land. For some reason that was very bad and illegal, but blocking off a full capital city as well as all lanes on major highways across Canada is just and necessary, because, white people...? Also, it's a counter-productive protest. See #2 for the border vaccine part. Mask requirements and business entry requirements are provincial rules, not federal, so......what exactly are you trying to accomplish here at a Parliament that isn't even in session? You keep saying things about Trudeau not listening to you but YO, THAT'S NOT EVEN HIS TO LISTEN TO. 

5.     "It's full of love and unity." Nope! Just, nope. I know that there are many images floating around making it look like a big ol' love fest (including bouncy castles and saunas, because, yeah that's normal for hardcore victimized freedom fighters) - but no. There are too many accounts of intimidation, bullying, harassment, vandalism, arson, death threats, racism, etc. etc. You can try and spin the narrative all you like with pictures of protestors serving up meals and picking up garbage. The best-case scenario is that those photo-ops are legitimate and true. I'm not convinced, but, let's say they are. I'm not giving you points for picking up your own garbage. You're not a 6-year old collecting a gold star for your chore chart. Also, you SHOULD be feeding each other, so please stop glorifying that. And if you also happen to be feeding homeless people in the area, it's literally the least you can do after eating at their shelter and keeping them up all day/night for 10 days with traumatic horns and music. You had no choice but to make things look full of peace & love after those other atrocities were publicized. My dog's on his best behaviour after I catch him eating shit he's not supposed to, too! But even if those lovely moments were genuine, great, there are too many people using your situation to get their not-so-lovey messages out there and do some truly awful things. So no, it's not FULL of love and unity. 

6.     "The media isn't giving you the right information." Alright, hold my drink for this one. First, it was "why isn't the media covering this", now it's "well they're not covering the right thing" and "don't watch the media". Pick a lane, guys. (Bad joke? Too soon?) It's pretty evident that the "why isn't the news covering this" folks got their wish and just didn't like how the general population reacted. That doesn't mean the news is wrong, but it might mean that you are. If your only source for "real facts" is someone like super trustworthy Zello user "cumsitonmybigrig" (actual user name), or the Maverick Party political separatist party leader Tamara Lich (who tried to use your cause for her own political financing, I might add), or the documented white supremacist Pat King, etc. etc. etc. you may want to give a real hard look at how easily you can be manipulated. If the guys who didn't finish high school and the most ignorantly racist POS disgrace of a Canadian I've ever heard (lookin' at you Mr. King) are saying different things than everyone else, I do agree that there's probably a conspiracy with different motives at play. We just disagree on which side it's likely to be on. It's not just media, though. For the past week I have been following along with some of the Zello channels with the convoy participants and supporters. Y'all are just telling each other things, and believing it. It's actually mind blowing how you can hear Pat "Anglo-Saxon Cleansing" King say things like 90% of Canadians are with you (hahaha no) and that 50% of Ottawa police resigned instead of opposing you (also no) and you blindly take it as gospel fact, but something like hospitalization rates is fake news. 
7.     "It's really good people with good intentions, there are always just a few 'bad apples so don't judge the whole movement on that." And here, people, here's where we have a MAJOR disconnect. Yup, definitely some good people supporting this. But here's the thing - doesn't matter. You can be the kindest, highly educated, most altruistic person, with the best intentions supporting this. That does not take away the fact that an alarming number of extremists are leveraging your platform to validate their actions. From Neo-Nazi symbolism, to homophobic vandalism, terrorizing women and children for wearing masks, burning Canadian flags (on video), knowingly blocking ambulances with passengers, setting fire to a populated apartment building and taping the exit shut, pissing on monuments, flying flags with death threats, etc. it is NOT all good people with good intentions. I know that many of you truly do mean well and feel you're fighting the good fight, I know that. But when you find yourself in a situation that aligns with those other people you might want to check yourself. Your platform is giving them a voice and a doorway, enabling and even encouraging their actions. When you find yourself in a situation where people like that are aligning with you, it's probably time to check yourself and reconsider. 
        8.     "Enough is enough, we can't live like this forever." Okay, yes, this one on its own is one I can get on board with. To a point. You're frustrated with restrictions. I get it, so am I. This isn't the solution. I do agree that after two years of this, we need to get on with living our lives instead of waiting for a magic button type of solution. I think most people agree with that to varying degrees. Where we disagree is what that means or looks like. For "freedom convoy" supporters, it's going back to doing whatever you want because you want. For many other members of our collective society, it means acknowledging that science and viruses exist and making some minor changes to maximize benefits for the general population. Sometimes this means doing things like wearing a mask to protect immuno-compromised people. Some do it because of a mandate, but some do it as a personal choice, and their choice is just as important and valuable as yours is. If anything, I'd suggest that the choice made by someone considering the needs of others over needs of self has more value and weight to it. In any case, learning to live with an endemic is important but may require some changes. We brush our teeth because we learned gross and bad things happen to your mouth if you don't. We wear seat belts because we learned that driving a vehicle has risks. We wear things like helmets and condoms because we learned that certain activities warrant an extra layer of protection. I can go on forever, but all of these things and behaviours only became a part of life when we as a society learned and decided they were necessary. I'm not definitively saying that masks or COVID19 vaccines are the next seat belt, simply stating that learning to live with something is necessary but may require some adaptation to your daily life, as we've done countless times in the past. 

Wow, you took the words right out of my mouth-well said whoever you are!
              (Thanks Jack for sending this on to me.)


Mildred the church gossip and self-appointed monitor of the church's 
 morals kept sticking her nose into other people's business. Several members did not approve of her extra-curricular activity, but feared her enough to maintain their silence. 

She made a mistake, however, when she accused Frank, a new member, of being an alcoholic after she saw his old pickup parked in front of the town's only bar one afternoon. She emphatically told Frank (and several others) that everyone seeing it there would know what he was 
 doing! Frank, a man of few words, stared at her for a moment and just turned and walked away. He didn't explain, defend, or deny, He said nothing. 

Later that evening, Frank quietly parked his pickup in front of Mildred's house ... Walked home ... And left it there all night. 
         You gotta love Frank!