Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Occupation Force Advocacy or Public Nuisance?

As anyone that follows the News knows, the latest events dominating media coverage these days is the 'Occupy Wall St.' movement and its spin-offs in cities around the world.

I've watched the coverage on several TV networks and read numerous articles and editorials in a variety of newspapers.

I don't get it. Do these protesters actually believe Big Business is going to be swayed by their current antics? How do they think they are going to precipitate change when they don't have a unified purpose or message? Some demonstrators seem clueless about why they are participating in these events. Others appear to have joined for the sole purpose of being part of a rebellion. They remind me of the dummies that joined in the Vancouver riots this past spring.

How many demonstrators have carefully considered what they are protesting, the changes they are seeking, and the most effective strategy to realize those changes? If the movement's intention is to force banks and big business to settle for smaller profits while paying more taxes, is protesting and camping out in city centers the most effective strategy? As some editorials pointed out, how many of the protesters are using ipods, iphones, ipads, Facebook, Google, and other popular electronics in their personal lives? How many of the young folk in these demonstrations possess multiple gaming systems at home? How many credit cards would we find in people's pockets at these protest sites? How many are wearing top end and designer clothing? What kind of vehicles are they driving? Do they not realize that the toys they play with and the social media they've employed to grow their movement is earning someone a lot of money?

It seems to me that there are more effective strategies for leveraging change. If the desired result is businesses reducing their profit margins, stop buying their products and using their services. Boycotts are a tried and tested strategy. I think squeezing a businesses bottom line is a vastly superior strategy to being a loud and obnoxious annoyance.

People advocating change may want to consider developing and participating in cooperatives. Members benefit in many ways including sharing in the profits. If people object to banks earning obscene profits on their backs, perhaps they should look for alternatives. If enough bank customers start taking their money and service needs to cheaper alternatives, a stronger message would be communicated than making a mess of public places. A great place to start is with credit cards. Stop using them! If you use cash, you don't pay ridiculous fees and interest rates.

The occupiers are also clamouring for a more equitable taxation system - they want the wealthy and big business to pay their fair share. Will their demonstrations push governments to move in the direction they want? It takes more than noisy disturbances to effect change in government policy and agendas. Applying intelligent, strategic, sustained political pressure through lobbying and advocating has proven to be an effective tool. Offering well constructed solutions in addition to protesting the status quo is also a smart approach. I recall meeting with a couple of provincial cabinet ministers some years ago to address concerns we had. The politicians interrupted us very early in our presentation saying they knew what the issues and problems were. Instead of our list of complaints the politicians wanted to hear our solutions. I learned a valuable lesson in that meeting. If you want things to change, you need to do more than whine and complain. To have a chance of achieving successful advocacy it is essential to propose well thought out and workable solutions. Messing up public places won't do it.

One of the most ridiculous statements I heard from 'occupy _______' participants was that they were going to support the homeless by camping out at the provincial legislature. How their overnight stay (using expensive and warm camping gear while they listen to their 'tunes' on their ipods and iphones and stay in touch with their social networks through their wireless devices) was going to benefit the homeless is beyond me.

One editorial columnist asked WWJD and stated that Jesus was on the side of the 'occupiers' because he said it was easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get to heaven. He boldly stated that Jesus was against the rich and greedy. I think he missed the point. I don't think Jesus objected to wealth. I believe Jesus chastised the wealthy, self-righteous religious who ignored the oppressed and the poor, ignoring the principles and demand of social justice. I can support activists pursuing social justice. I'm just not sure the global occupation movement will effect the changes they are making noise about. I know I can't support their current strategy.

Monday, October 17, 2011


I feel brain dead today.

I had set myself the goal of blogging at least 5 times a week but today is the fourth day since I last wrote, and I still have no inspiration for writing.

I've been feeling sluggish for at least a week now. Are the shorter days affecting me? Possibly. Is this a sign that depression is creeping up on me again? Could be.

Part of this dragged out feeling could be my allergies. I had a severe asthma attack this past Saturday. The attacks are usually triggered by an allergic reaction to something. I made things worse by doing some heavy lifting while unable to breathe properly. Probably not a good idea, but I did accomplish what I set out to do.

I've continued to make an effort to get some exercise everyday. In fact, this past Saturday Heidi and I went out and bought ourselves a recumbent stationary bike so that we can continue biking throughout the winter. I got it all set up, and went for a test ride yesterday. Now we have no excuse for not exercising. We can even ride while watching TV or reading a book. The machine even has a dock for an ipod and a jack for an mp3 player, so listening to music is also an option.

I'm going to ride the bike this morning, and read. Maybe that will help me get some ideas and energy for writing again.

I don't like feeling listless, uninspired, tired, unfocused. Maybe I am sliding into a bit of a depression again. I have to go do something about this. Starting now. I'll try to write again tomorrow.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Political Correctness?

I read the News everyday. I frequently shake my head at some of what I'm reading. Questions pop into my head. Questions such as:

Do I have to be politically correct? All the time? Do I have to be politically correct when being so conflicts with my beliefs?

Does political correctness go hand in hand with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms? Is my lack of political correctness a violation of someone else's rights and freedoms?

Am I being politically incorrect by raising these questions? Am I straying into a virtual minefield?

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms begins as follows:

Rights and freedoms in Canada
1. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the rights and freedoms set out in it subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.

Fundamental freedoms
2. Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:
(a) freedom of conscience and religion;
(b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;
(c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and
(d) freedom of association.

"Reasonable limits... as can be demonstrably justified..."

What is reasonable? Who defines reasonable? Who determines what is required to justify setting a limit? Is political correctness a justifiable reasonable limit?

The Supreme Court of Canada is currently in the midst of hearing arguments before it makes a determination in a case involving free-speech vs. hate-speech. The defendant appearing before the court expressed his faith based opinion against homosexuality using strong, graphic language. For that he has been accused of spreading 'hate propaganda'.

Would the defendant be in court today if he had softened the voicing of his opinion by using more 'politically correct' language? Was it possible for him to communicate his belief by being more 'politically correct'? Should his freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression be limited because it offends someone else?

Is it hate and fear mongering to label someone homophobic when they express their faith based belief that homosexuality is wrong?

Is it a violation of women's rights to choose what they wear, go where they want, when they want by suggesting they give consideration to their personal safety? (see slutwalk). Am I violating someones rights by raising this question? Am I being politically incorrect?

Several days ago I came across a news article reporting on a human rights case in Ontario. Some Landlords were accused of violating people's rights by setting limits on who they would accept as tenants based on what specific population group they belonged to. The example given was that it was wrong for landlords to advertise that a space was 'perfect for students'. Religious affiliation was also a forbidden criteria... unless it was muslim. A building owner who limited tenants to only muslims was found to be within his rights by the Ontario Human Rights Commission. Is there a politically correct way to question the inconsistency here?

We live in a 55+ building. Is our landlord in violation of the Charter by imposing an age restriction on tenancy?

At what point do we put our foot down because issues of rights and political correctness have moved beyond the ridiculous to the absurd and ludicrous?

Is someone going to complain to the Manitoba Human Rights Commission because I asked these questions?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Not in my Neighbourhood

I read an article in one of our newspapers today about a group of residents that was spreading fear in an effort to block Habitat for Humanity from building 20 family homes in their neighbourhood. Among the issues raised were the concern about, crime, drinking, drugs, ``and probably pimping too``. Apparently the objections were based on safety, traffic, and property value concerns.

This is not the first time something like this has happened in our city. Several years ago an organization tried to place a group home for several adults with developmental disabilities into a quiet neighbourhood. The group home owner-operators provided 24 hour in-house support and supervision for these 3 or 4 adults. Area residents rose up in arms to block this group from moving into a house that had already purchased by the group home operators. I didn`t understand or agree with the objections. Years ago I lived on a street with a group home for 4 adults with developmental disabilities right across from us. They were great neighbours! They smiled broadly when you greeted them, the place was always well looked after, they were very quiet, the residents went to their work placements every day - in short, they were like everyone else in the community. Probably better than some others living in the area.

Several years ago citizens of another community in our province protested the placement of a Crisis Stabilization Unit for people with mental illness into their neighbourhood. This facility was intended to serve the people in that community that struggled from time to time. It didn`t matter - residents didn`t want it in their neighbourhood.

Many more stories like these come to mind.

Several days ago I read about people in another province who objecting to a plan of their government intended to assist new immigrants whose professional credentials, which they had gained in their home countries, did not meet the required standards in this country. The provincial government initiative would provide these new immigrants with the further training and skill upgrades they required to be able to practice their chosen profession here. A great hue and cry arose, claiming that these immigrants were receiving preferential treatment to the detriment of current citizens. Immigrants were snapping up employment opportunities, etc. I learned that a recent study showed that the loudest objections to more immigration came from recent landed immigrants.

Why all this resistance? Why the discrimination? Why the bigotry?

Why are people so afraid of others that are different?

Why do we think the worst of those not like us?

Why do we maintain a distance between 'us' and 'them'?

Do I need to examine myself, my preferred circle of friends, and step out of my comfort zone to engage people I prefer to avoid?

I'm not sure I want to. Things are quite comfortable the way they are.

Monday, October 10, 2011


Today is our annual Thanksgiving celebration.

Lots of food, family get-togethers and football.

One of the rituals that has evolved out of this day is the question, "What are you thankful for"?

We've gone through this ritual so often, at home, at church, at school, in our small groups, etc., that I wonder if we give enough thought to our answers.

Do we just give the quick, usual, expected responses, or do we take time to examine ourselves, our lives, and our circumstances before we answer?

Are we truly thankful or have we become complacent, living day to day with the assumption that the people and things we desire to have around us will always be there? How much do we take for granted? Who do we take for granted? Are we thankful for the challenges we face? Are we thankful for our failures, the difficult circumstances that provide an opportunity to grow? Are we thankful for the little things in our lives or are they something that we expect to be there because we're entitled to them?

How sincere are we in the thanks we raise to God and the people in our lives?

Am I the only one that feels this way?

Our kids are coming over for thanksgiving later today. Heidi has asked me to ask this question, "What are you thankful for"? We want to initiate a conversation that goes deeper than frivolous talk about 'Glee', 'Big Bang Theory', the Winnipeg Jets, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, 'World of Warcraft', etc.

How deep will we go?

Do I have more than a ritualistic response?

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Jets, Jets, Jets, Jets, Jets

Jets, Jets, Jets, Jets, Jets

Enough already!

Sure, Winnipeg is an NHL city again, but does that mean everyone in the city wants to be swamped with things Jets?

Newspapers, TV, radio, billboards, store windows - the new Jets logo is everywhere. The other day we were informed that the Winnipeg Fire Department would be flying the Jets flag on all its trucks until the end of the first game.

Seems like overkill to me.

Having an NHL team again is good news for many reasons, but surely there is more going on in our city and beyond than hockey?

I'll be glad when the Jetsmania simmers down. I've had enough of it.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Inadequate Words

In my previous post I introduced the book, A Distant Mirror: the Calamitous 14th Century, written by Barbara W. Tuchman.

As I read, I continue to find statements that provide tidbits of information I haven't encountered before. I've also observed that the author presents some of her assumptions and conclusions in very broad, sweeping generalities some of which I find to be either an overstatement or oversimplification of issues and facts. Nevertheless, my head is bouncing and spinning as I process the writer's  presentation, analysis, and conclusions. I'm still in the author's foreword. 

Tuchman continues detailing the 4 hazards to researching and writing history she encountered by identifying the barrier she found to empathizing; to entering the mental and emotional values of the Middle Ages.

“ The main barrier is, I believe, the Christian religion as it then was: the matrix and law of medieval life, omnipresent, indeed compulsory. Its insistent principle that the life of the spirit and of the Afterworld was superior to the here and now, to material life on earth, is one that the modern world does not share, no matter how devout some present-day Christians may be. The rupture of this principle and its replacement by belief in the worth of the individual and of an active life not necessarily focused on God is, in fact, what created the modern world and ended the Middle Ages.” (my emphasis).

The last sentence above intrigues me. When I first read it I wasn't sure what to make of this conclusion. Is this true? Has the author really nailed the essence of the modern world? Her description of the Middle Ages is centered on the 'Christian' world. Is her reference to the modern world limited to the west, or is this a global application? At first glance this statement seems to be a very broad brush oversimplification, but it conveys a kernel of truth that I cannot dismiss. It will most certainly tint my perception as I continue to read.

The author carries on:

“What compounds the problem is that medieval society, while professing belief in renunciation of the life of the senses, did not renounce it in practice, and no part of it (medieval society) less so than the Church itself. Many tried, a few succeeded, but the generality of mankind is not made for renunciation. There never was a time when more attention was given to money and possessions than in the 14th century, and its concern with the flesh was the same at any other time. Economic man and sensual man are not suppressible.”

Really? Our culture's obsession with 'stuff' and wealth is less than in the Middle Ages? I find that extremely difficult to believe. 

With her  statement that "the generality of mankind is not made for renunciation", Tuchman provides an easy justification for man's failure to rise above his baser instincts. Furthermore, if economic man and sensual man are not suppressible, where does that leave choice, personal responsibility, and the potential of a Christ-focused, Holy Spirit filled, God honoring life?  

I think the author has too low an opinion of mankind, and she clearly fails to grasp the need for man to strive for a much higher purpose. A purpose far beyond the limits of a desperate scramble for wealth and sensual gratification.


“The gap between medieval Christianity’s ruling principle and everyday life is the great pitfall of the Middle Ages.”

The principle in the Middle Ages referred to here (see 1st quote  above) is that the life of the spirit and of the Afterworld was superior to the here and now, to material life on earth. 

Is that the primary message the world has received from the church? Is that how the world perceives the Christian religion today? What about Christians themselves? Are we focused primarily on acquiring a to  ticket heaven, on avoiding hell, or do we reach out to the world around us, working for social justice while communicating the gospel?  


Man himself was the formulator of the impossible Christian ideal and tried to uphold it, if not live by it, for more than a millennium. Therefore it must represent a need, something more fundamental… While I recognize its presence, it requires a more religious bent than mine to identify with it.”

Man was the formulator of the impossible Christian ideal? I disagree! Man is not the formulator. Christ provided the opportunity and means for man's restoration with God; he showed the way; he set the bar, man just keeps messing it up. Man has frequently & repeatedly misinterpreted the true gospel message, and seriously misrepresented and abused the same. 

The author's use of the word 'impossible' strikes me as being an example of the negative that she railed against a few pages earlier in her foreword. 'Impossible' suggests that the pursuit is a waste of time and effort; that it's pointless.

I believe the need is to have a loving, meaningful, worshipful, restored relationship with our Divine Creator, with our God. The byproduct of this relationship is universal social justice. 

I know that my response is an inadequate, oversimplified representation of the issue, but I don't want to get into a lengthy theological discourse here. That's not my purpose; I'm just expressing a hint of the mental journey this book has sparked for me.

Am I expressing myself well enough that others can follow me? I feel my words are inadequate to clearly communicate my ruminations.

And finally:

Chivalry, the dominant political idea of the ruling class, left as great a gap between ideal and practice as religion. The ideal was a vision of order maintained by the warrior class and formulated in the image of the Round Table, nature’s perfect shape. King Arthur’s knights adventured for the right against dragons, enchanters, and wicked men, establishing order in a wild world. So their living counterparts were supposed, in theory, to serve as defenders of the Faith, upholders of justice, champions of the oppressed. In practice, they were the oppressors, and by the 14th century the violence and lawlessness of men of the sword had become a major agency of disorder. When the gap between the ideal and real becomes too wide, the system breaks down. Legend and story have always reflected this; in the Arthurian romances the Round Table is shattered from within. The sword is returned to the lake; the effort begins anew. Violent, destructive, greedy, fallible as he may be, man retains his vision of order and resumes his search.”

Is it really a search for man's vision of order; or is it man's search for something, someone, bigger than himself - far beyond what he can imagine or conceive?

Has the gap between today's ideal and the real become too wide? Is our system breaking down? If so, are we doing anything about it? Do we want to?  

Where would we start?

As I reread these short passages my mind launches into so many directions that it's a challenge for me to slow things down so I can process and analyze my racing ideas one at a time. This journey is far from over for me. But it's fun.

Am I getting too excited here?

Thoughts? Comments?

Friday, October 7, 2011

Overload of the Negative?

I began reading another book yesterday, which I find fascinating and thought provoking. At this point I haven't progressed much further than the author's foreword because it is packed with information and presents a perspective that has my mind leaping down numerous trails again - especially as I consider how the information I'm encountering applies to our society and culture today.

The book is entitled: A Distant Mirror: the Calamitous 14th Century, written by Barbara W. Tuchman.  Publisher: Random House, 1978

In her foreword Tuchman takes time to relate four ‘hazards’ of researching & writing history that she wrestled with. Describing the third one she begins:

“A greater hazard, built into the very nature of recorded history, is overload of the negative: the disproportionate survival of the bad side – of evil, misery, contention, and harm. In history this is exactly the same as in the daily newspaper. The normal does not make news. History is made by documents that survive, and these lean heavily on crisis and calamity, crime and misbehaviour, because such things are the subject of the documentary process – of lawsuits, treaties, moralists’ denunciations, literary satire, papal Bulls. No Pope ever issued a Bull to approve of something. Negative overload can be seen at work in the religious reformer Nicolas de Clamages, who, in denouncing unfit and worldly prelates in 1401, said that in his anxiety for reform he would not discuss the good clerics because “they do not count beside the perverse men.”

She goes on to say,

“ Disaster is rarely as pervasive as it seems from recorded accounts. The fact of being on the record makes it appear continuous and ubiquitous whereas it is more likely to have been sporadic both in time and place. Besides, persistence of the normal is usually greater than the effect of disturbance, as we know from our own times. After absorbing the news of today, one expects to face a world consisting entirely of strikes, crimes, power failures, broken water mains, stalled trains, school shutdowns, muggers, drug addicts, neo-Nazis, and rapists. The fact is that one can come home – on a lucky day – without having encountered more than one or two of these phenomena. This has led me to formulate Tuchman’s Law as follows: “The fact of being reported multiplies the apparent extent of any deplorable development by five- to tenfold” (or any figure the reader would care to supply).”

This is not the first time I've read statements regarding the preponderance of "bad news" that we see, hear, and read about daily. How often do we decry the absence or scarcity of 'good news'? It is, however, the first time I've been convincingly prodded to consider the resulting future historical representation of our times. 

As I considered this overload of the negative, I realized that I only have to look at how the current negative financial news and speculation is shaking the economic foundations of today`s international and national marketplace. What will the history say about that in 100 years?

Another thought; is it only on a lucky day that I come home without having experienced something negative? I hope not.

Given this overload of the negative, should I work harder at seeking and recognizing the positive? How do other people perceive me? How will people remember me? Do I communicate a pessimistic attitude and personality, dragging other people down or do I encourage people by being more positive in my attitude, and what I say and do? As I listen to other people and the media, do I allow myself to get sucked into the negative or do I strive to find a healthy balance in my attitude and outlook?

I need to pay closer attention to that.

I`m eagerly anticipating more thought provoking information as I continue to read.

Will I have difficulty sleeping tonight as my brain churns on? I certainly did last night.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

A Reflective Moment

Another incredibly beautiful fall day! Lots of sunshine; above normal temperatures; a taste of fall in the air; colourful leaves on the trees and on the ground; in short, a perfect day to spend outside.

Instead of being outside, I'm sitting in a cozy little coffee shop and used bookstore in the Wolseley area enjoying a cup of very tasty dark roast coffee and working on my blog. Wi-fi is easier to access in here than outside; it's also quite comfortable. Mind you, I did ride my bicycle here so I got a little fresh air. I'll go for a longer ride after the battery on this laptop dies.

A day like today is another affirmation that Heidi and I made the right decision when we sold our house late last year and moved into this neighbourhood.

The 55+ building we're in is clean, quiet, well-maintained, and a lot less work than the house, large garden and yard were. We have a balcony where Heidi was able to satisfy her enjoyment of gardening with a container garden; we enjoyed fresh tomatoes right off the vine; and we had a refreshingly vibrant view of  the green foliage of the Wolseley Elms from every window in our apartment. The view turned golden but the tress are now getting naked far too rapidly.

I enjoyed not having to cut the grass, fight the weeds, shovel snow in the winter, and best of all - no more repairs to do. We have more than sufficient space that is easily and quickly cleaned. Heidi and I have so much more time to spend together, relax and do the things we enjoy doing.

The only downside of having a smaller home is that Heidi has less room to place her flowers and plants as she brings them inside for the winter. The plants are encroaching more and more on my chair. They're invading my personal space and using up the oxygen. Actually, it's not that bad, I just like bugging Heidi about it. I know having flowers and plants is important to Heidi, and her happiness is a significant goal for me.

We'll be celebrating Thanksgiving this weekend; the kids will all be over for dinner on Monday - then they'll go back to their own homes.

The blessings keep coming!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Plan 'B'

I got up early this morning (4:45 a.m.) to get to my usual 6 a.m. Wednesday morning coffee and Bible study; went out to the car and discovered that I need a Plan 'B' for today's start. The car battery is completely dead.

I guess I'll blog until I come up with something better to do than last night's dishes.

There's a lot of people who have to go with their Plan 'B' today. The election results are in and the losing candidates have to decide where they go from here.

Looking at the Major League Baseball scores from the last couple of nights, there are obviously a number of players and teams reluctantly turning to their Plan 'B' now that they've been knocked out of the playoffs.

NHL training camps are over and lots of players are facing the challenge of overcoming their disappointment at their plan 'A' not working out. Are they feeling crushed or are they  confidently, and determinedly moving forward with their Plan 'B'?

As I watched the end of the election coverage on TV last night it became obvious that Hugh MacFayden, Leader of the Conservative Party, had his Plan 'B' all ready to go. After failing to lead his party to victory for the second time in the last 4 years, he wasted no time in announcing that he was stepping down as party leader. It was also very obvious that many people in that room were surprised by MacFayden's seemingly quick decision. I guess they had not yet considered the need for a Plan 'B'.

I wonder how many of us are prepared with a Plan 'B'? Do we approach our days open to possibilities and prepared to exercise different options? I'm sure we all consider a variety of options and maybe even prepare for an alternative strategy when it comes to the big stuff in our lives. But what about the little stuff, the mundane, the normal everyday routines? Are we prepared for surprises and disappointments, or do we get easily derailed? Do we get flustered, angry, panicky, etc. if things don't work according to our plans and desires or do we maintain our equilibrium and forge ahead on a new track?

Having a Plan 'B' in our back pocket as much as possible would more than likely help with reducing stress and maintaining quiet confidence and inner peace.At the very least, it helps to be flexible and open to change, and the occasional surprises and disappointments..

My preference is to experience peace and lower stress. Got to come up with a Plan 'B'.

I know! It's time for some coffee!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Perusing the News

I'm sitting in the morning sun, drinking my morning coffee, having just finished reading several newspapers. Now it is time to blog and I'm not sure what to write about. I'll start with some thoughts in response to what I've read this morning and see where that takes me.

Today is our provincial election day. I'm glad that this nonsense will soon be over. At the beginning of the election campaign the Winnipeg Sun informed its readers that they would monitor the campaign platforms and promises and then tell the readers how to vote.

Interesting statement.

I found it rather presumptuous, quite arrogant, and somewhat insulting to the reader.

First of all, is it the media's job to tell us how to vote? Does the Sun editorial department believe that its readership is incapable of making this decision on their own? In the last week the Sun referred to itself as a political entity they referred to as 'The  Sun Party". If they think they have all  the answers, why do they not have candidates running for election? I look to the media to provide me with the facts of what is going on in our community and world. I don't need the media to decide my opinions and politics for me.

By the  way - I read more than the Winnipeg Sun. I usually go online and read several newspaers from across our country. Occasionally I'll read some European newspapers. The Sun just happens to provide such wonderful fodder for my rants.

So after months of political posturing, accusations, blaming and generally denigrating politicians across the political spectrum, the Sun has directed us to vote PC today. Why? Because, according to them, it's time for a change. Seems like a very weak rationale to me. It's certainly anticlimactic.

I cast my ballot already this morning. How did I vote? I wrote 'declined' beside each candidates name. First time I've ever done that, but I failed to see any option that I could support.

I read an article about a report submitted to the Department of National Defense (DND) recommending significant changes in the way they do business. Specifically in how the defense budget is spent. In his statement to the Senate defense committee the retired General (Author of the Report) stressed the need for transformation and urged the DND to take advantage of the opportunity to be "better focused on output rather than process".

Be better focused on output rather than process!

Think about it!

When I read that statement my mind jumped all over the place. That concept could be applied in so many different areas; political, economical, personal, and spiritual. It emphasizes the necessity of examining where our resources are going and whether or not they are achieving the best results possible.

In the case of the DND, the recommendation is that less money be put into bureaucracy, and more into front line resources. That sounds very much like the noise made about our health care system for many years now. The same holds true right across the board for our federal, provincial, and municipal governments.

Reading the Globe & Mail this morning I learned that public service employees in Greece were constitutionally guaranteed their jobs for life - they could never be laid off. If I remember correctly, the Greek civil service was larger than the private sector. No wonder Greece is in a financial crisis. (I think France also had legislation guaranteeing citizens their employment for life. Riots resulted when the French government tried to make changes several years ago. I'll have to research that further.)

Businesses frequently employ consultants to review their processes and outputs to ensure maximum profitability. Not for Profit Organizations do the same to monitor and increase their effectiveness in achieving their goals and visions.

Personally, I can only grow if I am vigilant about what I'm doing, how I'm doing it and where I can improve.

Spiritually, I know that I can only maximize my output if I spend sufficient time with God; reading his word, talking to him in prayer, listening for his direction, and acting on what I learn and hear.

It is clear to me that a healthy process is the crucial element in achieving positive outcomes through effective outputs.

My responsibility is to consistently employ that principle in all aspects of my life.

Monday, October 3, 2011


It's been almost one week since my last post. The words, "You need to write", have been haunting me.

I haven't known what to write. Every day I spend time contemplating what I should write about but for the last 5 or 6 days I've drawn a blank. Even after writing something I become preoccupied the next day. Whenever I mention this to Heidi she tells me not to worry about it -  writing isn't supposed to be a stressor for me.

So I didn't write. I don't want to write just for the sake of writing, just like I don't want to talk just for the sake of making noise. I am driven by a desire to ensure that whatever I write is meaningful, carefully considered, truthful and accurate, and if possible - fun. I take advantage of this forum to explore and share my thoughts, questions, and opinions. I make an effort to ensure that my opinions are more than uneducated, judgmental biases. Even in writing for myself I want to maintain my credibility and integrity.

The importance of this hit home yesterday.

I was browsing through the kindle books at amazon.com, exploring the expansive selections available there. I began by checking out books on the history of the Middle Ages and followed all sorts of interesting trails through fictional and non-fictional books. With every book that interested me I took the time to read the little blurb that outlined the content of the book and then I went on to read a sampling of the reviews that were available - both positive and negative.

One review jumped out at me!

This may be the worst book published this year. The author is clearly ignorant of the simplest and most basic facts of aeronautics, science, history, and physics, and combines that ignorance with a total lack of scepticism to create a breathtakingly stupid book.
     - By Engineer

I love it!  

It grabbed my attention, intrigued me, and made me laugh.

The author of the book being reviewed was a person that presented themselves as an investigative reporter.What had this person written that prompted such a scathing criticism?

There were a number of enthusiastically glowing reviews by other readers. The writer had gripped their attention. They found the book informative, well written and thoroughly researched.

The number of negative reviews, however, far surpassed the positive.  Many of the critics ripped the book and the author to shreds.

Where did this vast gulf between polar opposite opinions come from? What were these negatively opinionated responses based on?

I took a closer look at the reviews and observed that the positive responses were dripping with superlatives but absent of any details that provided a foundation for the opinion. On the other hand, many of the harsh critics provided detailed, bulletted lists of errors, distortions, misrepresentations, and outright falsehoods they had found in the book. The critics provided sufficient information which allowed the reader to do their own research to verify or dismiss the opinions presented. I like that.

(I wondered, if the book was so bad, why were people still buying it? I realized that I was tempted a little bit, just so I could judge for myself. Maybe that explains why Amazon displays all the reviews, even the negative ones.)

I know that I have little tolerance for opinions that are based on erroneous, or incomplete information - especially when the person presenting the opinion is so closed-minded that they dismiss other viewpoints, refuse to listen to other opinions, and seem unable to back up their position with well researched, detailed, accurate facts.

I detest intentional misrepresentation of facts. That's why I abhor our current provincial election campaign. The mud-slinging that the three party leaders have engaged in for the past months is disgusting and makes it extremely difficult for me to go cast my vote tomorrow. I'll probably just spoil my ballot.

I get a kick out of people's theories, especially conspiracy theories, but if they're solely based on rumour, hearsay, and/or myths, I won't waste my time on them.

I am careful not to accept information and opinions just because the presenter has a lot of alphabet behind their name. If I lack knowledge on the subject matter I make a point of doing my own research. I want to satisfy my need for verification and clarification of what I just heard or read. Even when I come across new information that supports my opinions and beliefs, I like to do research to verify the new information. (A side benefit of this is that I expand my own knowledge base.)

Given my intolerance for inadequately informed, entrenched opinions and beliefs, I need to thoroughly examine myself. If I am unable to intelligently explain or defend my opinions and beliefs with detailed accurate information, I absolutely must  do more homework.

I still have a lot of homework to do.