The beauty of secularism

The beauty of secularismIt’s disturbing to learn that someone in the same profession was murdered while walking home from work. Samuel Paty, who taught a curriculum similar to mine, was beheaded by an extremist outside of Paris on Oct. 16. Paty presented material in previous weeks as part of a study of freedom of speech that some found…

Shedding the destructive legacy of the baby boomers

Someone said, ‘Greed is good’ and we repeated it. But the only thing that matters when you die is your legacy

Shedding the destructive legacy of the baby boomersI have to apologize to the youth of the world for the state we find ourselves in. Yes, great things have happened in my lifetime. We watched the fall of the Berlin Wall and we have taken some steps in the progress of human rights. But the legacy of the baby boomer generation leaves little…

The people versus Donald Trump

When a leader suggests he will subvert the democratic process, voters have recourse. We’ve seen it in the Philippines and elsewhere

The people versus Donald TrumpAn apocryphal story circulated in the Philippines in the early 1980s of a dinner party conversation between President Ferdinand Marcos and Catholic Bishop Jaime Sin. Marcos reportedly said, “I really admire those Americans. They know the results of their presidential elections the day of the election.” In response, Sin reportedly said, “Well how about us…

It’s time we all stood up for Julian Assange

What message do we send dictators and the people who live under their tyranny if we don’t have the courage to live up to our own ideals?

It’s time we all stood up for Julian AssangeIt’s very rare to hear Fox News commentator Tucker Carlson and scholar Noam Chomsky agree on anything but a largely underreported topic brings both ends of the political spectrum together: the Julian Assange affair. In a recent interview, Carlson’s guest Glenn Greenwald pointed out that efforts to silence Assange go back to the administration of…

We are witnessing the demise of the American empire

We are witnessing the demise of the American empire“We are witnessing America as a failed social experiment,” Ivy League philosopher Cornel West has said. West is not alone in this assessment. Numerous scholars are expressing similar concerns, including University of British Columbia professor Wade Davis, who recently published The Unraveling of America in Rolling Stone magazine. Are we really seeing the end of…

Finding the truth when the media has an agenda

Finding the truth when the media has an agendaDeception and dishonesty aren’t new. When sending his disciples out into the world 2,000 years ago, Jesus gave the following advice: “I am sending you like sheep among wolves; therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” People have always told lies to promote their agendas and to protect their economic interests.…

Diversity of ideas leads to better solutions

The great are those who strive valiantly, those who are willing to learn from their mistakes and try again

Diversity of ideas leads to better solutionsIt’s a myth to think we’re only successful if we achieve our goals. The key to happiness is not only to have goals that are significant to us, but to dare greatly to achieve them. Former American president Theodore Roosevelt said: “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how…

Racism is arbitrary and pointless

We don’t have to look hard to realize many of our relatives have been victims of racism. If we live in comfort and freedom, it’s only because we’re lucky

Racism is arbitrary and pointlessI’m outraged as I write this. Yet another Black American, Jacob Blake, was shot in front of his children, in broad daylight and in cold blood by a white police officer. Miraculously, he survived, but it’s unlikely he will ever walk again. I’m also very inspired by the myriad of professional athletes refusing to play;…

Laughing in the face of despair and tragedy

Humour breaks down walls that divide us and builds empathy and understanding. It’s one of the most amazing, enriching aspects of being human

Laughing in the face of despair and tragedyHumourist Paul Lowney said, “Laughter has no foreign accent.” I recall listening to Polish friends banter in their own language. Although I didn’t understand what they were saying, I found myself smiling. When one of them asked why I was laughing and whether I understood what they were saying, I simply said, “No, but you laugh the…

The dangers of uncritical media consumption

Do we really believe that deception, dishonesty, manipulation and lack of accountability lead to peace, happiness and meaning in life?

The dangers of uncritical media consumptionIf we look honestly at the media that much of the world consumes, we shouldn’t be surprised that we’re living in a time of crisis. One of the goals of education is to develop the capacity for critical thinking in young people. This doesn’t mean we condemn anyone else, but it does mean we learn…

Celebrity status can be a catalyst for change

NBA and WNBA players show what happens when talented people from all over the world come together in an environment of mutual respect

Celebrity status can be a catalyst for changeIn times of crisis, true leaders step forward. While effective political leadership has largely been absent, professional athletes – primarily players in the National Basketball Association and Women’s National Basketball Association – have demonstrated that celebrity status, when embraced with a sense of responsibility, can be a catalyst for global change. The examples of selfless…

Looking on the bright side of self-improvement

Don't blame yourself for your problems, just recognize your giftedness and the responsibility that this entails

A song popularized by Monty Python tells us to “Always look on the bright side of life.” But is this always the best advice? A study published by the Association for Psychological Science says this strategy only helps bring happiness if we're dealing with a situation we have no control over. In situations we do…

The quest to find the essence of your being

There’s infinite potential in each person and we’re at our best when we’re learning from one another

The quest to find the essence of your beingAuthor and motivational speaker Simon Sinek tells us that as individuals, groups or corporations, it’s essential we start by understanding our why. This isn’t simply a question of why I go to work. It’s not a question of what I do. It’s a quest to find the essence of my being. I’ve always loved teaching…

Why does the culture of impunity persist?

When words that demean others are spoken with impunity, they lead to further infringements on our dignity and rights

Why does the culture of impunity persist?The greatest danger to our way of life is the culture of impunity we’ve created. It’s an assault on truth and human dignity. This became very clear in a discourse between two members of the American House of Representatives. Ted Yoho verbally accosted and demeaned Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for expressing her views on controversial issues and…

Stop jumping on the WE-bashing bandwagon

The charitable organization has done a great deal of good. And there are plenty of other issues that are far more problematic

Stop jumping on the WE-bashing bandwagonIt’s time to end the sensationalism about WE Charity. It’s true that the administration of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government showed a lack of judgment by handing the responsibility for a government-funded volunteer program to an organization that several members of the government and their families have been involved in. The federal Liberals have not…

How to put the legacy of John Lewis to good use

Seven simple words help to understand the strength of a great man: humility, honesty, respect, courage, truth, wisdom, love

How to put the legacy of John Lewis to good useThe world recently said goodbye to lifetime civil rights activist and long-serving member of the United States House of Representatives, John Lewis. In one of his most famous quotes, Lewis stated, “When you see something that is not right, not fair, not just, you have to speak up. You have to do something.” Lewis lived…

We can forgive but we should never forget

Regardless of how a survivor processes their trauma, simply speaking the truth is what’s most important

We can forgive but we should never forgetDuring the 2015 trial of former SS guard Oskar Groning, as presented in the documentary The Accountant of Auschwitz, Holocaust survivor Eva Kor forgave the man she was testifying against. The response to Kor’s statement was extremely varied. Some praised her, others were shocked and some even reacted with scorn. Forgiveness is one of the…

Facing up to racism in Canada and around the world

The whitewashed fences of racist lies, hidden behind the pages of history books, are collapsing when exposed to truth

Facing up to racism in Canada and around the worldOn June 30, the 60th anniversary of the independence of the Democratic Republic of Congo, King Philippe of Belgium expressed regret for the “acts of violence and cruelty” committed by his ancestor King Leopold II. The day also saw the state-sanctioned removal of another statue of this forgotten villain of history. Leopold II was the…

Fight, flee or learn to manage stress

It may be that the impact stress has on our health has less to do with its cause and more to do with how we think about it

Fight, flee or learn to manage stressSocial science seems to have found the secret to a long and happy life. Psychologist Kelly McGonigal tells us, “Go after what creates meaning in your life and then trust yourself to handle the stress that follows.” In recent years, however, we’ve looked at stress as our enemy, seeking instead to live in complete ease.…

Canada’s foreign policy isn’t what it used to be

Unfortunately, the list of ethical failures by the current Liberal government is very long

Canada’s foreign policy isn’t what it used to beCanada recently failed in a bid to become a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. It’s something neither Stephen Harper’s nor Justin Trudeau’s government has been able to achieve. The last time Canada was on the Security Council was when Jean Chretien was prime minister in 2000. Before that, it was during the…

Do we choose chaos or community?

It takes true courage to hear another person’s point of view, admit we were wrong, shift our beliefs and move forward

Do we choose chaos or community?One of the most important qualities of a good leader is the ability to listen. It’s very easy to jump on a bandwagon and it’s easy to jump to conclusions. It takes true courage to hear another person’s point of view, admit we were wrong, shift our beliefs and move forward. To be honest, my…

Resisting the chaos in search of peace

Just as in his reality show, Trump’s need to crush opponents and win at all costs leads to chaos. History shows us how to defeat him

Resisting the chaos in search of peaceI admit Donald Trump is a lot smarter than I thought he was. In fact, he’s quite cunning. I also once thought that the U.S. president was very unpredictable. I just couldn’t make sense of what he was doing. The guile of Trump came into clear focus in a statement by Michael Nutter, the former…

We all need the moral courage to confront racism

We need to acknowledge the impact of racist myths. There is no good or bad race of people, there are just people

We all need the moral courage to confront racismA video is circulating on social media of a white woman in New York City calling 911 to report being threatened by “an African American man.” The truth is that the woman was allowing her dog to wander in a bird-watching section of Central Park and the man asked her to put her dog on…

Celebrating the human spirit can change the world

The Specials helped calm racial tensions and drew broad attention to the unjust imprisonment of Nelson Mandela

Celebrating the human spirit can change the worldIt has long been debated whether you can change the world with a song. If it’s not possible, one band came incredibly close. The Specials (or The Special AKA) rose to prominence in England in the late 1970s and achieved international fame in the early 1980s.  Their sound fused the music of Jamaican immigrants with…

Be brave enough to fulfil your potential

If we have an awareness of our inherent greatness, we really don’t mind looking foolish. From there, all it takes is time and hard work

Be brave enough to fulfil your potentialThis phrase has become popular in the last several months: “Be brave enough to be bad at something new.” As a teacher, it would be easy for me to impose this philosophy on my students. We’re always telling our young people to try new things, be it a sport, school subject or art form. By…

Labels just hurtful in search for Middle East peace

Trudeau insinuated that if you support the rights of Palestinians, you must be anti-Semitic

Labels just hurtful in search for Middle East peaceI like to think I’m not easily offended, but a recent speech by Justin Trudeau at the Yom Hashoah Virtual Holocaust Remembrance Day Commemoration pierced my spirit. In this ceremony, Holocaust survivors and their descendants not only remembered the crimes committed against the Jewish people, they celebrated who they are and the beautiful traditions that…

Don’t sacrifice truth for illusion of security

Very few people have ever had the freedoms Canadians enjoy today. May we always be mindful of this

Don’t sacrifice truth for illusion of securityLike many of my generation of German descent, I’ve had to grapple with an uncomfortable family history. Though I know he came to regret his decision, my grandfather was a member of the Nazi Party and was part of the populist movement that brought them to power. I could make excuses for his decision and…

Hang on to your compassionate ideals

Doing good is not only vital to humanity and to the planet, it’s one of the key ingredients to living a happy and fulfilling life

Hang on to your compassionate idealsBecause there are no sports on television right now, my favourite movie, Field of Dreams, has been getting a lot of airtime. Near the end of the film, the main character meets his father as a young man and comments on his appearance, saying, “My God, I only saw him years later when he was…