What Elvis Costello got right in Oliver’s Army

Neocolonialism and huge military budgets are prevalent. So is the myth that militarism means order

What Elvis Costello got right in Oliver’s ArmyIn our age of cancel culture, it seems odd to see an artist cancelling himself. New-wave icon Elvis Costello recently asked radio stations not to play one of the most popular original hits of his storied career, Oliver’s Army. He added that he will no longer perform the song publicly. The song contains the n-word,…

In defence of Bishop Desmond Tutu

Was Tutu an anti-Semite and bigot, as some claim?

In defence of Bishop Desmond TutuOn Dec. 26, the world said goodbye to Bishop Desmond Tutu, the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize winner and tireless advocate for human rights. He’s best known for his non-violent struggle against and triumph over apartheid, the white-only, racist system of government in South Africa that oppressed Tutu and his countrymen for decades. Lifelong activist Ralph…

No one in the world is safe until everyone is safe

COVID doesn’t care if you’re a capitalist or a socialist

No one in the world is safe until everyone is safeAs I sat recovering from the side effects of my third COVID-19 vaccine, certain things didn’t add up. First of all, I know a number of good, intelligent people who are choosing not to get vaccinated. Of course, there are some very unkind individuals among them who harass our health-care workers and people in the…

Building the root system for personal success

Live with integrity and gratitude, work hard, be kind to others and focus on your potential

Building the root system for personal successThe Chinese bamboo tree shows little or no apparent signs of growth for four years. Then suddenly, it can grow as much as 25 metres in weeks. That’s a powerful metaphor for the growth of successful people. Over those apparently-dormant four years, the tree actually is growing; we just can’t see it. It’s developing an…

How ordinary people can survive the worst of capitalism

We’re the 99 per cent and the one per cent is powerless without our co-operation

How ordinary people can survive the worst of capitalismAs we move into a new year, we see many problems in the world and much that needs to change. We often forget, however, that the most significant force for good looks back at us each time we gaze into the mirror. We live in a capitalist society, and capitalism has brought us many good…

In search of the perfect Christmas? Good luck

How to avoid a Clark Griswold meltdown and having a SWAT team invade our home

In search of the perfect Christmas? Good luckNational Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation has become a holiday season staple in many homes. The film, released in 1989, portrays the misadventures of the Griswold family as the main character Clark tries to create the perfect family Christmas. While the film is genuinely funny, there’s something more profound that appeals to us. Perhaps it’s the fact…

Why Santa Claus matters, regardless of your faith

If we share peace and goodwill with others, we find them growing within us

Why Santa Claus matters, regardless of your faithThough it’s technically the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ for Christians, many traditions merge to form what we call Christmas. Some traditions are indeed Christian but others aren’t. Some date from eras before Jesus was born and some are more recent. One of the most endearing today is that of Santa Claus, the…

O Tannenbaum symbolizes the entire celebration of Christmas

The Christmas tree is a universal symbol that delivers a message of endurance and light during the dark winter months

The traditional German song O Tannenbaum is often translated as O Christmas Tree. This translation is only partly accurate, however. The English version is quite different from the German: the essence of the German song is far more universal. One of the beauties of learning languages is discovering what words and poetry mean to those…

Exploiting workers is a dark and lonely path to wealth

Many powerful people have become rich by exploiting workers

Exploiting workers is a dark and lonely path to wealthMany people seem to have forgotten a basic principle of life. Broadcaster and writer Earl Nightingale called it “the law of mutual exchange.” He explained further: “We’ve got to be of service before we can expect money.” Many powerful people over the last several centuries have acted as though this principle didn’t apply to them.…

Barbados shakes off the chains of centuries of brutal oppression

Wealth can’t make what’s wrong right. It can’t make the truth disappear, and it can’t stop great people

Barbados shakes off the chains of centuries of brutal oppressionIn his classic book Man’s Search for Meaning, psychiatrist Viktor Frankl discusses the internal character that allowed people to survive the Holocaust. He speaks of an “inner greatness,” where despite the horrendous circumstance, one can choose their attitude, their own way. This is the ultimate human freedom. We recently saw this inner greatness displayed by…

How do we behave when no one is looking?

Integrity, compassion and courage are more enduring and powerful than greed

How do we behave when no one is looking?Renowned American writer Maya Angelou advised, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” In other words, before we put anyone into a position of trust in our lives, we need to examine their track record. How do they treat the most vulnerable people in our society? How do they respond…

Follow our Indigenous neighbours to a carbon-neutral future

The Wet’suwet’en are trying to preserve our planet in the face of the oil industry trying to amass profit

Follow our Indigenous neighbours to a carbon-neutral futureA major issue is getting surprisingly little coverage in the Canadian media. While we looked away to watch the impact of the climate crisis on farmland in southern British Columbia, 50 heavily armed RCMP constables raided a peaceful blockade in Wet’suwet’en territory in the north of the province. The police used helicopters and canine units…

The common bonds of humankind unite us

Why the story of the Christmas truce of 1914 still resonates

The common bonds of humankind unite usHolocaust survivor Viktor Frankl tells us, “There are two races of men in the world, but only these two – the ‘race’ of decent men and the ‘race’ of indecent men. Both are found everywhere; they penetrate into all groups of society.” His truism was discovered by as many as 100,000 soldiers in the First…

How to live with your conscience and still have money

It’s possible to live a principled life, working hard to make a better world and still enjoy relative comfort

How to live with your conscience and still have moneyGrowing up Christian in an affluent society, there was a passage from scripture that always left me perplexed: “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other. … You cannot serve God and money.” (Matthew 6:24) Did this mean that I was to sell all I owned and become…

Canada must overcome its lingering linguistic imperialism

Nowhere else in the world could a person speak only one language and be considered educated

Canada must overcome its lingering linguistic imperialismA Czech proverb says, “You live a new life for every language you speak. If you only know one language, you only live once.” Air Canada CEO Michael Rousseau got himself into hot water recently due to his inability to speak French. How he was chosen to lead a corporation that’s expected to offer services…

Ending genocide starts with recognizing our common humanity

Any attitude, word, action or law that draws us away from our common humanity steps toward genocide

Ending genocide starts with recognizing our common humanityMost people would agree that evil exists, yet very few of us understand it. We find it convenient to blame all the problems of the world on terrible but powerful individuals, or on one misguided group. In truth, there are good and bad people in every group, and there’s even good and bad in each…

Mainstream media has lost our trust in the age of COVID-19

Major news outlets have opted to focus on our more primal emotions to keep us tuned into their programs

Mainstream media has lost our trust in the age of COVID-19Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, tells us, “Trust is the glue of life. … It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.” Yet trust seems to be in short supply today. Many people don’t trust the mainstream media, the government, large corporations or the medical profession. Their trust is…

We must accept the mistakes of the past and make them right

What can be said of those who deny the past and ignore the inherent human rights of their neighbours?

We must accept the mistakes of the past and make them rightIt’s a normal human reaction not only to acknowledge when we’ve done something wrong but to seek to make reparations and heal the relationship with the person we’ve harmed. This is also true on a societal level. As I complete teaching my unit on the residential school system in Canada, I ask students to reflect…

Want justice for Indigenous children? Then demand it

Governments will only do the right thing if we, as Canadians, demand it

Want justice for Indigenous children? Then demand itI try to be optimistic and embrace the truth that “the arc of the moral universe bends toward justice.” When I examine how the Canadian government treats Indigenous children, however, it’s hard not to be cynical. I began teaching my Social Justice 12 unit on residential schools by watching Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s 2008 apology…

Systemic racism is embedded in our economy

We pass laws for unjust taxes, reward unscrupulous businesses and hold money back from our children

Systemic racism is embedded in our economyIn a 2016 interview, CBC journalist Peter Mansbridge confronted children’s advocate Dr. Cindy Blackstock with this statement regarding public funding for Indigenous programs: “Billions of dollars have been spent in trying to come to grips with the situation that so many Indigenous Canadians face. And of those billions, it’s on the record that some of…

Only truth will put us on the path to reconciliation

We must educate the many Canadians who don’t know what happened to our Indigenous neighbours

Only truth will put us on the path to reconciliationI’ve been teaching high school students about Canada’s residential schools for a number of years. Indigenous content has recently been given a more prominent place in the British Columbia curriculum, and this has had an impact. Students now come to my class with some understanding of this tragic chapter in our history, and we’re able…

Roots of happiness are found in service to others

Positive, hard workers are in high demand. And it’s easier to be dedicated to a meaningful cause

Roots of happiness are found in service to othersBengali poet and philosopher Rabindranath Tagore made a profound statement about finding your purpose in life: “I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.” This seems contradictory to much of what we hear about finding happiness. The consumption-driven media continually…

The Toronto Blue Jays truly are Canada’s team

Just like Canada, baseball has a way of bringing diverse groups together

The Toronto Blue Jays truly are Canada’s teamThe Toronto Blue Jays are often referred to as Canada’s team because they’re the only Major League Baseball organization in the country. This season they’re playing the most exciting baseball we’ve seen in years, and even though their ranks don’t include many Canadian players, they certainly look a lot like Canada. There are as many…

Yes, we’re free – free to make decisions for the good of all society

It’s terrifying to see the chaos that has ensued due to social influencers spreading misinformation

Yes, we’re free – free to make decisions for the good of all societyThere has been a great deal of controversy in recent weeks in fortunate countries where citizens have access to COVID-19 vaccines. Many feel it’s a violation of their freedom if they’re required to be immunized. Such thinking contradicts an important life principle made clear by Holocaust survivor and psychiatrist Viktor Frankl. He said, “Freedom is…

What can we expect from our leaders on Indigenous issues?

The parties' records over the last 13 years are revealing

What can we expect from our leaders on Indigenous issues?If Canadians are as concerned as they claim about the increasing number of unmarked graves found near former residential schools, the 2021 federal election will be pivotal. Each of the major political parties displays a clear track record exposing their views on Indigenous issues, domestically and abroad. The residential school apology on June 11, 2008,…

Why I can’t get enough of Ted Lasso

A silly, unrealistic comedy about real life

Why I can’t get enough of Ted LassoI’m not a big fan of fiction in any format. I prefer that writers clearly elaborate their theories or explain what’s actually happening in the world. I’ve also never been particularly influenced by the latest draw in popular culture. Given my disposition, I was surprised to find myself binge watching the hit comedy Ted Lasso…

Have faith in our children to create a better world

Giving our children the tools to move the world forward is the most valuable investment we can make

Have faith in our children to create a better worldAmerican musician and songwriter Louis Armstrong wrote, “I hear babies cry. I watch them grow. They’ll learn much more than I’ll ever know. And I think to myself, what a wonderful world.” As an educator, parent and adult functioning in our society, I can think of no higher ideal than this. It’s an empowering, humbling…

Why respectful debate makes society better

Many of us have become very defensive about expressing our views

Why respectful debate makes society betterA 2018 episode of Channel 4 News from the United Kingdom has become rather infamous. Canadian psychologist and professor Jordan Peterson is interviewed by Cathy Newman about his book 12 Rules of Life, feminism and gender identity. Peterson has become very popular among those on the extreme right of the political spectrum. He has also…

Teaching nothing less than an authentic quest for truth

If I’m not willing to risk being questioned and to even risk being wrong, then I have no business calling myself a teacher

Teaching nothing less than an authentic quest for truthI’ve always believed I shouldn’t ask someone to do something I wouldn’t do myself. This generally works very well. If employees see the boss picking up garbage, for example, they’re more likely to do it themselves. This principle also applies to teaching. I can’t ask my students to treat each other with respect if I’m…

More than ever, we need to embrace diversity

There’s no superior culture in the world

More than ever, we need to embrace diversityWe live in a very diverse world. Not only is each individual unique but, as people from different parts of the world have come into contact, it has become clear that each culture has different priorities. Do we have anything in common? I was very fortunate to have been brought up in a multicultural and…
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