America, what’s happening to you?

For those of us watching from the outside it’s simply impossible to process the levels of senseless violence within your borders, America. This is the country which others have looked to with admiration for generations for the opportunity and innovation you offer. But … the refusal of so many politicians to give up the buckets of money provided by the gun lobby so as to stay in power and instead abuse the intent of the second amendment to keep guns flowing and innocent people dying is simply beyond comprehension. Choosing money and power over the safety and well-being of your citizens is not what one should expect from the country that leads the free world by its “moral authority”.  There’s no moral authority in sight when there are mass shootings in a grocery store, a church, and a 4th grade classroom within a 10-day period. The world weeps with Lady Liberty.

Lady

Many passionate bloggers have written about their horror and heartbreak at these events.  Rather than miss doing justice to these tragedies of senseless gun violence myself, I’m going to let the voices of some excellent American bloggers do the talking.  They are speaking from the heart. 

America, Guns, and National Suicide, by Paul

America touts itself as being a civilized nation. Americans boast about being pro-life and congratulate themselves about valuing children.

And yet, America is killing its children. America is committing national suicide – one mass shooting at a time. Don’t think of it as simply lives lost. America is immolating whatever shreds remain of its soul, its decency.

It was only ten days between the mass murder in Buffalo and the carnage at Uvalde.

Ten days between massacres. Ten days of renewed pleas for sensible, fair legislation regarding guns and ten days of excuses, deflection, thoughts, prayers and push back from the depraved, soulless people who beatify firearms as if they’re calves of gold.

Here I am writing about guns. Again.

Why should I write about guns? Again.

Who the hell knows. Just another scream in the wilderness.

When the next mass shooting occurs, and it will, I don’t know if I’ll do a gun post. I don’t know if I’ll ever write about guns again.

What’s the point?

Ninety percent of Americans want background checks and yet the politicians who are whores of the gun lobby are holding up any legislation.

What’s the point?

In Texas, if you’re eighteen, you can’t buy a beer but you can buy a killing machine. I can’t be the only one who sees the absurdity of that.

What’s the point?

In many states you have to jump through some reasonable hoops to buy a car. Not so much when it comes to a gun.

What’s the point?

I don’t have nearly the bully pulpit of the legislators who’ve prostituted their souls. You know, like Ted Cruz.

Ted Cruz, who has taken hundreds of thousands of dollars from the National Rifle Association, came up with his own solution just hours after the Uvalde massacre. “We know from past experience that the most effective tool for keeping kids safe is armed law enforcement on the campus,” Cruz said in an interview on MSNBC. “Inevitably, when there’s a murder of this kind, you see politicians try to politicize it. You see Democrats and a lot of folks in the media whose immediate solution is to try to restrict the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens,” Cruz added. “That doesn’t work.”

Ted Cruz and people like him see absolutely no problem with turning schools into armed citadels. He actually suggests these things with a straight face.

Why stop there? Let’s include churches, movie theaters, indoor and outdoor concerts, supermarkets, department stores, parks, public bathrooms, stadiums, farmer’s markets, gyms, night clubs, restaurants, every Starbuck’s in America and the fucking Chuck E. Cheese over at the local strip mall. Chuck E. himself can pack heat.

“Law-abiding citizens” said Cruz. That’s one of my all time favorites. Well, Teddy, the kid who shot up the school in Uvalde was a law abiding citizen when he bought his two guns and nearly four hundred rounds of ammunition. Then he stopped being law abiding when he shot his grandmother and headed off to Robb Elementary.  [continue reading at https://lifeinmyyears.com/2022/05/25/america-guns-and-national-suicide/]

Continue reading

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Map Monday: The Vikings would like to dispute Russia’s claim on Ukraine

It’s been some time since my last Map Monday, one of my favourite excuses for meandering the Internet for map discoveries.  I’ve been wanting to do a map post on the Vikings for some time, but never did I expect when I started my extensive (I’m joking) research that I’d find a direct connection to Ukraine. Let’s take a look. [You can click on any of the maps for a closer look.]

It’s always occurred to me that the Vikings are purposefully and unfairly overlooked in European history, as if they were barbaric enemies of Europe, best forgotten.  Instead, for far too long we were taught all about the brave and industrious explorations of “real” Europeans, like the Spanish, French, British, Portuguese, Dutch and German.  Of course, eventually the reality of their own barbarity could no longer be hidden, and the history of the explorers hopefully is no longer written with quite such inspiring descriptions as it was when I was a school kid.

But back to the Vikings.  Sorry, other Europeans, but the Vikings were European. They looked like Europeans and they were born and lived in Europe. That counts as European! They explored the world long before other European nations/empires started, which, interestingly, continues to be never or rarely mentioned. The Vikings established a settlement at L’Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland – in what is now Canada – nearly 500 years before Columbus landed on an island in the Bahamas (which he thought was East Asia).  You can still visit the remains of the settlement at L’Anse aux Meadows today.

VikingsNA-MapsOnTheWeb

The Vikings continue to be described as heathen warriors who raped and pillaged. Excuse me, but, sadly, the fact that they had not yet adopted a Christian practice (and stop and think what this practice might have been like in the year 1000), had very little to do with trying to take over someone else’s land by rape and pillage.  That unfortunate inclination of mankind towards others when they think they’d like to take over their lands and/or riches has absolutely nothing to do with whether they believe in God (or Allah) or not. In fact, as we all know, God is used as an excuse to be as brutal as necessary/possible in many instances.  And this hasn’t changed in the past 1000 years, as we are continually reminded.  God, of course, would never condone any of these vicious things that are done in His name, but for some reason being a heathen makes it worse.  Sure. Continue reading

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Important lessons our parents teach us without even realizing it

It’s time to lighten our loads, at least for a few minutes. Daylight now lasts well into the evening, at least up here in the northern latitudes.  The hope of spring has become a reality, and greets us every morning with fresh new green landscapes dotted with spring flowers.  And to top it off, my husband has just received a new hip, courtesy of Canada’s universal healthcare system. Time for some smiles, with thanks to Marilyn for sharing these with me.

LESSONS OUR PARENTS TAUGHT US

My mother taught me TO APPRECIATE A JOB WELL DONE.
“If you’re going to kill each other, do it outside. I just finished cleaning.”

My mother taught me RELIGION.
“You better pray that will come out of the carpet.”

My father taught me about TIME TRAVEL
“If you don’t straighten up, I’m going to knock you into the middle of next week!”

My mother taught me LOGIC
“Because I said so, that’s why.”
BecauseISaidSo1

My mother taught me MORE LOGIC
“If you fall out of that swing and break your neck, you’re not going to the store with me.” Continue reading

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How little things really change – just ask Socrates

Fairly recently I started following an interesting blog that provides quotes from famous or quasi-famous people nearly every day.  Extensive collections of quotes. Wow, there are so many observations and admonitions that have been made over the years by so many wise people; you’d think that all that good advice would have made a bigger difference by now! As we know, not nearly as much as one might have hoped.

I have lots of favourite quotes from these collections, after just a few months. But I’m choosing quotes from the great philosopher Socrates for my example. Why?  Because, face it, folks, Socrates lived a very, very long time ago; the fact that what he had to say nearly 2500 years ago is still unerringly applicable is worth thinking about.

Let’s start at the beginning, in 470 B.C., when Socrates was thought to have been born in Athens, a full 470 years before the birth of Christ. Socrates was the son of a well-off citizen and inherited enough wealth to allow him to get along just fine without working, once his soldiering was done. So what did he do? He spent his time in Athens’ central gathering spot, attempting to enrich the minds of the youth (young men, of course) of his city. He did so by asking them the tough questions about life, establishing a dialogue rather than a lecture, with the intention of training them to think deeply and to reflect on their course of actions. This method of teaching by questioning became referred to as the Socratic Method. In the course of having these running dialogues with his students, his own views became widely known and reported.  But …

Socrates-AtWork

One aspect of Socrates’ famous work might surprise those of you who haven’t studied him: he never actually wrote down any of his own words.  That’s right, never. The Western world’s first acknowledged philosopher left no trail of books, notebooks, or scrolls.  No cell phone backup files, no Word documents, no post-it notes, nada. So everything we read that is ascribed to Socrates was actually written during and after his death by his former students, like, for example, Plato, and Plato’s student, Aristotle! Therefore, everything attributed to Socrates must be taken with a bit of a grain of salt as far as 100% authenticity is concerned, but its intent is quite authentic.

Just to give Socrates’ story a tidy conclusion before moving to the quotes that led me down this path, his life came to an end in 399 B.C. Yes, even way back then, people who managed to live past childhood diseases and the horrors of wars lived into their 70s and beyond. Socrates only died at age 71 because he was executed (his choice was to swallow hemlock) after being found guilty of being a bad influence on the youth. Sound suspicious?  Clearly, he had enemies, who were by all accounts his fellow elite who didn’t like the idea that their young people were being taught to question their motives and abilities?!

Some of the many, many insights attributed to Socrates: Continue reading

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Mother’s Day: appreciation, but no glorification, please!

Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers out there and all others who play a significant mothering/nurturing/supporting role for children, especially young children. Well, and especially teenagers, too!

Mother-Flowers

My husband and I have been blessed in the mother department. Both our mothers were women who provided solid, secure foundations for us, although with very different personalities. Just knowing the two of them went a long way towards showing us that there’s more than one way to do the “job” and do it well. And my mother-in-law gave us the additional gift of living to a ripe old age and demonstrating by example how to age with fun, grace and gratitude.

Our two practically perfect sons both married women who, aside from being lovely, loving and intelligent, are wonderful mothers to our grandchildren (even if the teenage grandchildren might not always agree; they’re not heavily into being mothered at the moment!) As I say, we have been blessed in the mother department.

But not everyone is able to say the same. And that’s where I have a wee bit of a concern about the continuing glorification of motherhood as the pinnacle role of a woman’s existence. I don’t want this to be a downer – it’s true that there’s nothing I’ve done in my long life that I think is more important than being a mother – but I think we need to put this day of honouring mothers in perspective.

All the cards and adverts describe a mother as basically being the one who shapes their kids. Who provides them with the love that sustains them through life, who provides comfort that nobody else can come close to. Sorry, but this may be true for some mothers – and some fathers, and some teachers, and some neighbours – but many of these Mother’s Day quotes are setting impossible expectations for women who have tried their best as mothers. We’re just human beings!

Some over-the-top examples: Continue reading

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Thoughtful Thursday: Life, purpose, and having fun along the way

Sharing more food for thought from social media posts on how to live our lives. Can you tell which ones are serious and which ones not so much so?! For those of you not ready to relate to the aging quotesperhaps you’ll be reminded of them at some point down the road and say to yourself, “Oh, now I get it!”

TT-Normal

TT-LeftUnsaid

TT-Santa

TT-AgeMountain

TT-AllAges

TTLifeIceCream

TT-NoteToSelf

TT-TimeIsPrecious

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Here’s a bucket list item for you!

Admiration, astonishment, envy, or just utter disbelief.  The quest just begun by Italian hiker and grandmother Vienna Cammarota might inspire any or all of these feelings.

As reported in several news sources this week, Vienna Cammarota left Venice on Tuesday (April 26, 2022) to begin her planned walk of Marco Polo’s Silk Road.  To be clear, this is a 22,000 kms (13,670 miles) route that goes through 15 countries, starting in Venice and ending in Beijing. To be even clearer, Ms. Cammarota is 72 years old.  OK, it’s true that she’s 4 years younger than I am – a mere stripling – but, wow! This is where the admiration, astonishment, envy, and utter disbelief start to kick in!

Vienna will be carrying Italian and Ukrainian flags with her as she makes this trek, which she has called a Walk for Peace, attempting to encourage understanding and peace among people as she travels from West to East.  As a veteran hiker (thank goodness for that at least), Ms. Cammarota has explained that one of the things she enjoys about hiking in different parts of the world is getting to know the people and their customs and culture.  She enjoys stopping and making personal connections on her treks; one way she will be doing this is by seeking out host families along the way, learning the hosts’ stories and making her connections as meaningful as possible. More admiration.

ViennaCammarota-profile

In her planning, her schedule includes non-walking time to stop and get to know people, but the mind still boggles at the distances she’s hoping to cover. She is expecting to take 3 and a half years to complete her journey, arriving in Beijing in December 2025, at which time she’ll just be a year younger than I am now!! By my calculations, to cover 22,000 kms in 3.5 years, she’ll have to cover an average of just over 17 kms each and every day. For 1280 days. Including any down time. More astonishment and utter disbelief.

Continue reading

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If I could turn back time – for peace, for love, …, for dinosaurs?

At the beginning of this year I accepted a challenge from fellow blogger John Persico, who writes the thought-provoking blog, Aging Capriciously.  I committed to writing on 3 topics of John’s choosing, and in return he’d write on 3 that I chose for him.

His first topic for me I didn’t find too difficult: What is the difference between wisdom and knowledge.  However, I have been struggling with his second topic for some time now. It’s time to at least make a start. I’m going to go through all the options I’ve thought about as possible choices so far and you can think about how you might answer this question yourself.

Challenge question #2: If you could go back in time and change 1 thing in the world, what would it be? Why would you change it? What difference would it make?

Maybe you can already see why one answer – and only one answer – to this question has continued to elude me.

You won’t be surprised to learn that the first thing I thought about was something significant that would make the world a more peaceful place for humans … and for animals, too, of course. What I really wanted to do was to think of one change that would make human beings more peaceful in nature. The only way I could think to do that would be if evolutionary forces could have been altered to make us less territorial, less suspicious and self-interested, and less violent. But I have to admit that those traits initially evolved to protect us, and I didn’t think that idea was going to fly. That is a very bitter pill for me to have had to swallow, but there you go.

Challenge-Peace

If changing the evolutionary process wasn’t going to work, how about choosing one particular war that changed the course of history that I could “redirect”. Well, after reading Margaret MacMillan’s excellent book from 2020, War: How Conflict Shaped Us, I’d have to say that it would be extremely difficult to choose just one war. Her book is a reminder than mankind has been at war continuously for thousands of years; the only thing that’s changed is the use of technology: from spears to long bows to muskets … and on to long-range missiles and nuclear weapons; from warships powered by oarsmen to warships under sail to sailing ships with rudders (!) … and on to steam- and nuclear-powered warships; from riding horses to riding horses wearing armour to riding horses with stirrups (a huge advantage) … and on to tanks; from balloons to airplanes, and then add stealth bombers, drones and satellites.  If I chose one war to skip, another just would have popped up in its stead.  Read MacMillan’s book and weep for mankind.

It wasn’t long in thinking about this topic that Cher’s hit of old, If I could turn back time, started to play in my head.  She was singing about wishing she could take back words that had hurt someone she’d cared about (although, talk about provocatively violent video images). Many, if not most, of us can think of situations in which we wish we has had held back words or actions that damaged a personal relationship, or that we had said the important things we wanted to say to someone dear to us before it was too late. It would be nice to be able to undo one of those times of missed or misused opportunities.  For sure.  But it seems like something as powerful as changing ANYTHING that happened in the world should go beyond the personal.  We should be able to take care of those omissions ourselves.

One wish I’ve thought about long and hard was to change a personal loss.  For me that would be having my parents live to be in their 80s – or at least 70s – instead of in their 50s. I can’t say exactly how our families’ lives would have been changed, but I know it would have been for the better.

One change that might have helped the world, or at least some part of it, would be to replace an evil leader (one of so many throughout history) with someone who leads with natural authority and competence but with compassion and inclusiveness.  Someone like Nelson Mandela, for example. Just consider if someone of such character were currently leading Syria or Afghanistan or Myanmar, Yemen, Eritrea, or Russia. As most of you will know, the list is far longer than that, but any of these would be a good start. Think of the changes for the good to any of those citizens.

Another thought that crossed my mind that might have significantly changed the course of history would be if the Emperor of the Ming Dynasty didn’t make the astounding decision by the 1500s to stop interacting with the outside world and cease their exploration and exporting of goods and ideas. Prior to this decision the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) had built up an enormous fleet of sailing ships. There is some evidence that Chinese ships reached the Caribbean before Columbus. Way back in the Ming Dynasty they had a large standing navy and an army of approximately 1,000,000 soldiers.  What would the world order look like now if the last Ming Emperor had not closed the Chinese borders? That would be an intriguing choice to ponder.

Challenge-ChineseShips

Of course, there are also possible changes in nature and medicine. One change I thought of was to have somehow ensured that indigenous populations in the Americas had the natural immunity to protect them from the viruses that the conquerors brought with them.  Those diseases, like smallpox and measles, are thought to have killed off up to 80-90% of the population. How different would all of the Americas be if that had not happened? We’re talking about millions of people – civilizations – lost to new viruses brought by invaders. It certainly would have changed the balance of power.

Tikal ruins, GuatemalaChallenge-Tikal

Then I got another idea for an intriguing change.  What if the dinosaurs hadn’t been wiped out???! What if that massive asteroid or comet hadn’t hit Earth all those millions of years ago? What would our world look like now? Which species might or might not have evolved? What about Homo Sapiens???  Maybe this is the change I should explore most fully for my formal response to John’s challenge!

Chalenge-Dinosaurs

What do you think? What would you choose?

P.S. John’s response to my second challenge to him can be found at Persico Challenge Issue 2: How can we save the environment.

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