Do too many laws infringe on our right to life, liberty, and happiness? Are we creating outlaws out of good citizens?

Are we creating outlaws out of good citizens? Do too many laws infringe on our right to life, liberty, and happiness?

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Most bad government has grown out of too much government. Thomas Jefferson

Yesterday I saw a post on Facebook. The Philippines is bringing in a law that says to graduate, students must plant ten trees. Some are applauding this law. I am not. The idea of encouraging students to plant trees seems a good one. Making students who can’t, or don’t have access to land to plant trees on, or the resources to get the trees, or a way to get to the place the tree planting can take place makes criminals of good students. If every student plants ten trees it won’t take long and finding places to plant trees will be harder and harder, more students will be criminalized. Instead of building up the society which is the aim, it may get torn down by the unintended consequences of a bad law.

Was it a laudable goal to keep our kids from taking drugs? Did making them criminals help? Did putting kids in prison for nothing more than pot possession make sense?

We want to make society better, but are more laws the way to do it? Dueling was outlawed in France in 1626. There were still more than 10,000 duels resulting in more than 4,000 deaths from 1685 to the end of King Louis X1V’s reign in 1715. It is believed the law was ineffective because it went against established norms of the time. We would be shocked to be challenged to a duel; we wouldn’t even think we were compelled to show up.

How do we change our society for the better if we don’t bring in laws to make people behave the way we want them to? Who gets to decide what is acceptable, and what is not? The broken window theory says when we take a permissive attitude to small crimes more crime develops. When law enforcement cracks down on seemingly unimportant things, it criminalizes too many people. When the greater society doesn’t agree with the effects of what they feel are unjust laws, they no longer work with police to enforce them. We need to realize there are unintended consequences to laws that are brought in.

What are we to do in a society?

The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Ayn Rand

Is it great when the privileged whose lives we think are made of simple choices put constraints on the poor whose lives are made of tough choices? Do rich women ever have to think of prostitution to feed themselves or their children? Do rich kids ever have to choose to sell drugs because that is the only option open to them to make money?

There is a law on the books that it is illegal to drag your dead horse down Toronto’s Yonge Street on Sundays. A strange law but why only Yonge Street, and why only on Sundays, or why such a crazy law at all?

Using profane and abusive language in publicly owned green spaces can get you a fine of over $200.00.

It’s illegal to climb trees in Oshawa. How would I pick my cherries?

It’s illegal to build snowmen taller than 30 inches in Souris, PEI. Who gets the job of measuring the snowmen?

Until 2009 it was illegal In Petrolia, Ontario to yell, hoot, whistle, and sing at all times. What a good thing they repealed that law before the Raptor’s won the basketball championship. The 2009 bylaw which replaces the old one in Petrolia sets a $250 fine for anyone who yells, shouts, whistles or makes another noise for the purpose of selling or advertising.

Many towns try to outlaw spitting, cursing, and other “Unseemly behavior.” Tabor, Alberta is one such town, as well as Whistler, B.C. Has it worked? Is it developing social norms that work? What do we do if we want to live with a certain degree of civility and our neighbors don’t? Whose rules do we enforce? Whose culture takes precedence, the quiet folk, or the ones who want to have a good time and party?

I love that I can eat in a restaurant without being assaulted by someone else’s smoke. It is good that most of us do not drink alcohol and drive. It makes sense that our rights stop when they infringe on someone else’s rights, but how much can they infringe on their rights? Smoke which may eventually kill us and driving drunk which may also kill us makes sense. Is hearing a curse word too offensive, what constitutes a curse word, and what is “too” loud?

If we bring in enough laws aren’t we all outlaws? Is creating outlaws the goal?

I often wonder whether we do not rest our hopes too much upon constitutions, upon laws and upon courts. These are false hopes, believe me, these are false hopes. Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women; when it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court cans save it; no law, no court can even do much to help it. While it lies there it needs no constitution, no law, no court to save it. Billings Learned Hand

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Small changes, big effects. Can we make changes in our life that would have a big impact?

Can we make changes in our life that would have a big impact? Small changes, big effects.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. Margaret Mead

When we hear stories from friends, acquaintances or family about what people they know have lived through, survived, endured or suffered we question if we could be as brave, enduring, long-suffering, or courageous.

When I listen to my mom and how she dealt with being widowed with three children at twenty-five it is about dealing with what is, and getting through it one day at a time.

What if all of life is the same? Instead of sighing, and wringing our hands over what we can do about the environment we need to just get in there and do it.

We had friends over last night and the topic of plastic in oceans came up. Tampon plastic waste is one of the worst contributors; some people are calling them “beach whistles.” We don’t need plastic in our tampons. Women, we can do this, we can buy the tampons without plastic. Do we really need everything individually wrapped? If they need to be wrapped can’t they be wrapped in paper?

We women do most of the household purchasing, we can effect change by how we shop. Plastic straws are now out, paper straws are now in. Plastic tampons can be out as well. We need to be careful about what we flush down the toilet. It seems the plastic tampon products are being flushed, and ending up in our oceans because of it.

Tampons have been a great invention for women. We need to be responsible that our bodily functions aren’t such a big part of the world’s pollution problem.

How much plastic can we get rid of that is not recyclable? What are the changes we can make in our purchasing that will have an impact?

Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones that do. Rob Siltanen

I have to admit I’m not as good about taking reusable bags to the supermarket as I should be. One of the things I am proud of is I used cloth diapers. It wasn’t a big deal, and I didn’t have to cringe at the store every week buying more diapers. I’ve never figured out what the cost would have been for two children in disposable diapers but it would have been quite a lot.

We know but don’t seem to really think about the fact that everything we throw away has to go somewhere, has to be dealt with in some way.

Disposable diaper companies are setting their sights on the poorer countries I’m reading. It might not be possible to get rid of many disposable products. Can we have them manufactured so they can be disposed of with the least environmental impact? Can we make products that have less environmental impact attractive to consumers?

Have you used the new paper straws? They seem okay to me.  Could it be even better if we don’t use so many straws?

An article by David Roberts states “We could shift to sustainability and save 26 trillion. Why aren’t we doing it?” According to him, we could save $26 trillion by 2030. That’s real money. The costs of the status quo keep rising: and the cost of the sustainable alternatives keeps declining.

Maybe we have to take a look at our practices and habits, what do we purchase that could be more sustainable, and less polluting? Purchasing tampons with cardboard instead of plastic or no applicator at all isn’t a huge inconvenience. Taking my reusable bags to the grocery store instead of buying bags is doable; I just have to do it.

Planting trees, and other plants and not using pesticides and herbicides is doable in our own gardens.

If we each start looking around will we see what we can do, what we can purchase that is better than another choice? Can we recycle and reuse more? Can we waste less? If we look after the little things will some of the big things take care of themselves?

We are all in this together. Our choices collectively will leave the planet better or worse. If we each do our part, can we be part of the change that makes things better?

Be the change that you wish to see in the world. Mahatma Gandhi

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Deceit and Denial: The Deadly Politics of Industrial Pollution Paperback – Oct 10 2002

by Gerald Markowitz (Author), David Rosner (Author) 5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews


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Finding faith by asking questions. Be courageous, ask questions.

Be courageous, ask questions. Finding faith by asking questions.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Faith isn’t about having everything figured out ahead of time; faith is about following the quiet voice of God without having everything figured out ahead of time. Rachel Held Evans

Some of you may have read Rachel Held Evans book A Year of Biblical Womanhood. Sadly she passed away at the age of thirty-seven.

What an idea for an author to come up with. What an experiment to live for a year. Camping in the front yard on one’s period would be difficult especially here in Canada from October to April. Do we get extra credits for the climate?

Rachel pursued a different virtue each month. She grew out her hair, made her own clothes, covered her head, obeyed her husband, rose before dawn, abstained from gossip, and remained silent in church.

Rachel was a strong-willed and independent woman who couldn’t sew a button on her blouse before embarking on this radical life experiment.

Whatever subculture you are/have been a part of, think of the person who spoke truth to power about the more messed up elements of it. That’s who Rachel was. Anne Helen Peterson said on Twitter.

Living life with humor and passion is how we should live our life. Looking at photos of her as she pursued her year of biblical womanhood it is evident she was full of life and was looking for all the humor in the situation she could find.

It was a brilliant idea; I wished I’d thought of it. Ideas are all around us, we need to grab hold of them and bring them to fruition. Some people say an idea may visit you but if you don’t do something with it, it will move onto someone else.

This may be why we notice certain movies are made and they are similar although they are written by different authors, and directed by different people. The idea for certain stories come into our brain but not only our brain.

A poet, writer, or songwriter wrote that she would see an idea coming like a whoosh, sometimes she could grab hold of it and write it down, and sometimes it eluded her grasp. Haven’t we all had that happen, we had a thought about what would make a great painting, song, story, invention, we know we had a thought, but we can’t remember the thought, but we know it was a good one. This is why people keep a pen and paper beside their bed to record their thoughts when they come to them, because they know if they don’t record them, the thought is gone.

I told them we’re tired of the culture wars, tired of Christianity getting entangled with party politics and power. Millennials want to be known by what we’re for, I said, not just what we’re against. We don’t want to choose between science and religion or between our intellectual integrity and our faith. Instead, we long for our churches to be safe places to doubt, to ask questions, and to tell the truth, even when it’s uncomfortable. We want to talk about the tough stuff – biblical interpretation, religious pluralism, sexuality, racial reconciliation, and social justice – but without predetermined conclusions or simplistic answers. We want to bring our whole selves through the church doors, without leaving our hearts and minds behind, without wearing a mask. Rachel Held Evans

If you like me haven’t read her books yet it might be time to get to know Rachel Held Evans. She sounds like someone I wish I’d known someone with courage, wit, humor, character, and substance. She made a difference, she left a legacy. She will continue to make a difference, many who haven’t discovered her books will discover them over the years. She looked at Christianity through fresh eyes, she asked questions, and she found by asking questions she was closer not further from God.

What if we find that questioning our faith, strengthens it, instead of weakening it? What if that is what we are supposed to do? Seek and ye shall find. What if we aren’t supposed to just swallow without contemplation? What if we are to meet people where they are, love them how they are, and become the best us we are to be. Instead of expecting others to be better, what if we are to become better by getting in the trenches with them? What if we are to understand their struggles without judgment? What if judgment truly is to be left to God?

What if our job is to question everything? If we start asking questions in every area of our life we may find answers, or maybe only more questions? What if what was meant by “a little child shall lead them” is the wisdom of asking questions is more important than thinking we have the answers? When we are with little children, everything is why, why, why? Maybe this is what we need to get back to?

Seek and ye shall find, knock and the door shall be opened. Are we doing enough seeking, knocking, questioning? Or do we know all the problems just need to be fixed by someone else behaving better?

I have come to regard with some suspicion those who claim that the Bible never troubles them. I can only assume this means they haven’t actually read it. Rachel Held Evans

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A Year of Biblical Womanhood: How a Liberated Woman Found Herself Sitting on Her Roof, Covering Her Head, and Calling Her Husband ‘Master’ Paperback – Oct 29 2012

by Rachel Held Evans (Author) 4.1 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews


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Wealth and scarcity. Having more isn’t always the answer. What we do with what we have is.

Having more isn't always the answer. What we do with what we have is. Wealth and scarcity.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Health is the greatest gift, contentment the greatest wealth, faithfulness the best relationship. Buddha

What does it take to consider ourselves wealthy? Is wealth just money? According to Dr. Jim Muncy author of One Door Two Locks, wealth is having what we need to fulfill our purpose in life.

If we go with this definition then adding things to our lives that don’t help us achieve our purpose is not necessarily a step in the right direction. Everything we add takes a chunk out of our life. When we go to the gym that’s a chunk of time we can’t spend somewhere else. Belonging to community groups, taking roles in the Church, starting a side hustle, hobbies, time spent with family, friends, watching TV, going to sports events everything takes time away from something else. Owning a larger home, a second and third property, these take chunks of time to maintain.

I’ve watched parents spend so much time coaching a sport after their child no longer plays it that their child appeared deprived of the time they needed with their parent. The parent was so busy being the volunteer of the year they didn’t see how much their child needed them.

It is easy to be so busy helping others we deprive our families of what should be theirs. The other day a pastor was talking about how his marriage was falling apart because he was looking after the Church flock but his wife felt neglected and last on his list. The members of the Church always needed him, and he was always there. When his wife needed him he wasn’t. Even when he set aside time for his wife the members of the Church would need a ride somewhere and they were going that way so the date or weekend they planned had a parishioner in it. The Pastor’s wife never complained because she was a Pastor’s wife. His wife signed up for a shared ministry but she was on the sidelines.

Jim Muncy says wealth comes from having what we need and not being distracted by what we don’t need. Poverty comes in two forms. There is a poverty of scarcity, which happens when we don’t have what we need. There is also a poverty of bondage when we are tied to things we don’t need.

True wealth is not of the pocket, but of the heart and of the mind. Kevin Gates

There is a book I picked up in Indigo one day and I can’t remember the title. The author was talking about abundance and scarcity in relation to hornets and honey bees. When you look at the hornets’ nest they have an abundance of materials to make their nest out of so they are not elegant. The premise of the book is how we live more elegant lives with less, and cluttered wasteful lives with more.

We live in a wasteful society because we have an abundance. When we didn’t have abundance people did more with less. If we watch documentaries of the Victorian Age everything was used. Even bones were sold after they had been used in every way within the household.

There’s a blog called The Zero-Waste Chef she asks how can colonizing another planet that cannot support life be easier than mitigating a crisis on a planet that can and does support life?

It is an abundance that is causing most of our modern problems. It is abundance creating the plastic garbage disaster in our oceans. It is the abundance of food around our waistlines causing most of our health problems. Our healthcare costs are skyrocketing because we are killing ourselves with our knife and fork.

What would it take to consider ourselves truly wealthy?

Gross National Product counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage. It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for the people who break them. It counts the destruction of the redwood and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl. . . . Yet the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country. It measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile. ” — Robert F. Kennedy

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One Door, Two Locks: The 7 Keys to Unlocking the Door to Success in All Areas of Your Life Paperback – 2009

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The way we see things colors our life. Sometimes we need to look with different eyes.

Sometimes we nee to look with different eyes. The we we see things colors our life.

There is only one way to look at things until someone shows us how to look at them with different eyes. Pablo Picasso

Wayne Dyer said, “When we change the way we look at things, the things we look at change”. Hearing this we think it applies to negative thoughts versus positive thoughts.

It happened to me lately. I bought a pair of orange and white capris last summer. The only color I could wear with them was white. Every time I bought something orange these capris came out to see if this was the “right” orange. Finally, when I bought the last orange top that had to be orange enough, I took a good look at my capris. The fine orange line was not orange, it was red.

I put a red top with it, bingo perfect match. As an artist I work with color, I take shades and compare them to each other before I paint. How could this pattern fool me? They were orange in my mind, and I never took a really good look. The pattern was small and the trick of color when you put two colors together we call optical mixing.

How many other things in life aren’t as we see them? We meet people and only see them in the situation we meet them in. They aren’t only a cashier, mother, athlete, doctor, lawyer, accountant, or teacher. Everyone has more to them than what we see. We often are more than what we see as well. All our gifts, strengths, and talents aren’t used every day, some are never used.

We hear of people who met someone that changed their lives. Often these are people who saw something in them they didn’t see in themselves. Yesterday I was listening to a podcast on personal finance. The podcaster said he went to University and met the only black professor he’d ever seen. That professor became his mentor and encouraged him to get his Ph.D. in finance.

No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world. Robin Williams

In 2005 I went to the 100th celebration of my town and province. I chatted with my French teacher. She said, “I thought you’d be doing something more creative.” I was at that time dabbling in painting and had started writing. It was encouraging she saw me as a creative person. There was an art display and it made me think mine could one day go on display too. That hasn’t happened yet. I have taken photos of some of my paintings and posted them on my blog.

I only started hanging my artwork on my walls five years ago. It was as if I woke up one morning and gave myself a shake. My son has been the one over the years asking me what I would do with my novel when I finished it. “Are you going to publish it?”

The funny thing with questions is, as we ponder them, they don’t sound so farfetched. Each time he asked if I thought about publishing my novel it became more doable in my own mind. Why couldn’t I be a published author?

When he started encouraging me to write a blog that also took time. Finally July of last year I said, “Let’s do it.” I worried about what I would say. It seems I didn’t need to.

Sometimes we have to get out of our own way. We have to say yes to life. We have to listen to that still small voice, the one often imperceptible with all the noise going on in our life. That voice that tells us we aren’t orange capris we are red ones. The voice tells us when one door closes another opens, and we should go through it.

The voice that tells us we can make things better. We can find new interests, we can make new friends, we can unearth our talents, and we can rekindle our relationships. If we want change in our lives, usually the change needed is within our self. We can spend our lives waiting, hoping, expecting other people to change, to give us what we want.

Sometimes they would give it to us if they knew what we wanted. We don’t know, how can they? Only when we accept the challenge of becoming whatever we are to become can we change, grow, and develop.

It is great to encourage others, but sometimes the person that needs encouraging is our self. We need to take off our blinders, a world of possibilities awaits.

Life is what we make it. We need to bloom in our own gardens. Improve our relationships, develop our talents and give our best to the people in our lives. We have small circles of influence that can become bigger circles of influence. We need to find balance if we are to keep our balls in the air.

Is there something in our life we aren’t seeing right? Is it other people, or our circumstances we think are holding us back, which we could change at any time. We need to examine ourselves, what we think about our self and others; situations, what can be changed and what must be accepted.

There are a lot of thoughts, beliefs, misconceptions we hold onto. We need to examine them; they aren’t always what they seem. Is there something in our life that upon close examination isn’t what we think it is?

Sometimes we look for those thunderous things to happen in our life for our lives to change or go in the other direction. We seek the miracle. We seek the parting of the seas, the moving of the mountains. But no, it’s a quiet thing. At least for me it was. Ben Vereen

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Pro-activity beats reactivity. Not everything can be fixed. We need to know when to hold and when to fold.

We need to know when to hold and when to fold. Not everything can be fixed. Pro-activity beats reactivity.

Don’t approach life’s challenges by being “reactive” be “proactive.” Prepare for the possibilities before they arrive. Unknown

Today is the Sunday before I go visit Mom. I’ll be away for ten days and I’m putting up posts to be published the days I am away. My son asked me yesterday how many I had written. I said none.  He said, “Pro-activity beats reactivity.”

How many of us spend our lives reacting instead of being proactive? Often we don’t even know what proactive looked like until we have something we are reacting to. I’m renting a car while I’m visiting Mom, is it proactive to pay for the extra insurance so I don’t have to react if they say there is a larger than golf ball ding on the car?

Can we start looking for a job while we still have one when the news of layoffs hit? We can wait and maybe we will be safe, this time. Can we find a new job, retrain for something we aren’t likely to be laid off from, something we’ve always wanted to do, or start our own business. We can start a side hustle so we are not so dependent on our main income.

Can we exercise and eat well so we don’t have to react to bad health caused by poor diet and lack of exercise?

Our families need our time and attention so we don’t wake up one day and our relationships have fizzled, because something else was more important, or maybe it was just urgent. We have to be careful with letting the urgent but unimportant take up the time the important but not urgent requires.

We need to make time for friends even when there isn’t a lot of time for them, so when there is time, we still have friends.

Between stimulus and response, there’s a space, in that space lies our power to choose our response, in our response lies our growth and our freedom. Viktor Frankl

Life is a balancing act, the more balance we have the more stable our life is.

Last night my husband and I watched An Interview with God on Netflix a movie about a journalist who is interviewing God. It is thought-provoking leaving more questions than answers, but it answers two questions. Is there anything we can do God cannot forgive? No. Can everything in life be used for good? Yes. It also tells us we have more power than we think, and sometimes the miracle needed is us.

The big message is there are not always signs when people are in the depths of despair. The people themselves may not even realize how close they are to the edge until they look down the top of a building and think, “Why don’t I just jump?”

I’ve had people tell me they had those thoughts, and said to themselves, “What am I doing?” They went home and changed the situation that made them feel like ending it all.

That is being pro-active after they realize how reactive they are. When they got the wake-up call they acted. They turned their life around and started going in a new direction.

If we only react to what life throws at us, we might need to take a look and see if there weren’t signs we didn’t see or didn’t want to see. I was listening to a podcast the other day and the narrator was saying he was visiting someone whose dog was moaning. “What’s wrong with your dog?”

“He’s lying on a nail, but it doesn’t hurt enough for him to move.”

That is how we don’t want to be. When we know we have something to deal with, we shouldn’t wait until it gets to be a disaster before we change things. We need to find a way to be pro-active.

A flood has occurred not far from here because of ice jamming. They’ve been watching it, thinking there could be a problem but nothing was done. When the problem occurred it was fast and furious, now many families are out of their homes because of flooding. Could some pro-active measure been taken?

None of us will live a life where we are pro-active in every situation. We won’t even know how often we were because disaster prevented doesn’t strike.

If we have situations in our life that are like the dog and the nail we need to take a good look at them. Can something be done to make them better? Do we have to live with an uncomfortable reality? Not everything can be fixed, we need to learn and discern when to hold, and when to fold.

 There are three types of people. People who make things happen. People who watch things happen. People who wonder what happened. Unknown

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Seven Habits of Highly Effective People/Cassettes Audio Cassette – Jun 1991

What is truth? Do lies tell truth and does the truth tell lies?

Yellow rose stock photo

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We are instinctively blind to what is not relative. We are not cameras. We select. Robert Henri

What is the truth? Is it the quality or state of being true? Is it that which is true or in accordance with fact or reality? Is it a fact or belief that is accepted as true?

Jesus said, “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”Henry David Thoreau said, “Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth.”

Today we hear about “alternative facts.” Fake news is not new. Mark Antony heard the rumor that Cleopatra had committed suicide, and then stabbed himself in the abdomen – only to discover that Cleopatra herself had been responsible for spreading the rumor. He later died in her arms.

Psychology Today says: The mind does not perceive reality as it is, but only as it can, filtering, distorting and interpreting it. In modern times it has been argued that truth is largely constructed by social and cultural processes, to say nothing of individual desires and dispositions. There are categories and constructs regarding, for example, race and sexuality which may not reflect biological let alone metaphysical realities.

Some people feel if something works, it may well be true; if it doesn’t, it most probably isn’t. Some things work for me, but not for you. Is it possible there is no “truth” only “perspective”?

The greatest thing a human soul can ever do in this world is to see something and tell what he saw in a plain way. Hundreds of people can talk for one who can think, and thousands can think for one who can see. To see clearly is poetry, prophecy, and religion all in one. John Ruskin

How can we know if we are lying to our self? Of course, self-deception is hard to distinguish from the truth. If it wasn’t we would never deceive our self. We usually don’t believe we are lying to our self, deceiving our self or in any way not dealing with what is. It is so easy to take credit for the good and find someone else to blame for what goes wrong in our life. We can do our best to bring radical honesty into our lives. If we will unflinchingly look at the reality of our life, our relationships, finances, and all other areas of our life and take 100% responsibility for the situation we find our self in. We can then look outside our selves and see the truth residing there as well.

If we can tell the truth, or at least don’t lie. We can try to look at the many sides of something to determine the truth of it. It is a good exercise and the more we practice the better at it we will become.

Psychology Today says, “truth is constructive and adaptive, while lies are destructive and self-defeating. So how useful is a self-deceptive thought or reaction going to be to you? Are you just covering up an irrational fear, or helping to create a solid foundation for the future? Are you empowering yourself to fulfill your highest potential, or depriving yourself of opportunities for growth and creating further problems down the line? Is the cycle simply going to repeat itself, or will the truth, at last, make you free?

Truth is something I question as a writer. At my Writers group, we were discussing true stories versus fiction. My belief is there are no “true stories”, that are absolutely nothing but the truth. There are always three sides to a story and only one is told by whoever is doing the telling. History was written by the victors. It wasn’t the truth; it is “his story”.

At least fiction doesn’t pretend to be the truth as it gives us the motivations behind the actions. It is in fiction we learn about ourselves. As the author not constrained by facts can delve into the heart of who we are, what motivates us, how we think, how our biases cloud our thoughts and actions. It is in fiction where the real truth of who we are is told. Not facts, not deeds as they happened, but the truth of who we are as people. It is in fiction we find ourselves. Fiction can go deeper into the heart of situations because it is not constrained by facts. Most of us do not know and understand ourselves and our deepest motivations; reading about characters and their motivations helps us see our self.

Is fiction the lie that tells the truth? Isn’t it through fiction we get to the motivations behind the actions and realize the motivation behind what is bad, isn’t always bad, and the motivation behind what is good, isn’t always good? Don’t we get to know characters better than we know real people? Isn’t it through those characters, we begin to understand our self and others better?

I believe in not quite knowing. A writer needs to be doubtful, questioning. “I write out of curiosity and bewilderment…I’ve learned a lot I could not have if I were not a writer”. William Trevor

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Considerate or manipulative? Straightforward or a jerk?

Swan photo taken by Errol Thomas

Photo taken by Errol Thomas.

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Everybody has the ability to be manipulative, to be hateful and deceitful. Neil LaBute

Yesterday I came across an article on what a healthy person is:

Don’t we love to read these and see if we qualify as a healthy person?

Here’s the list:

Open to feelings (meaning we’re able to experience and express emotions).

Warm (meaning we’re friendly, affectionate, and able to form close relationships).

High in positive emotions (meaning we experience a lot of happiness, love, and other good feelings regularly).

Straight forward (meaning we’re genuine and not likely to manipulate others).

Confident in ourselves.

Emotionally stable (meaning we’re generally not too depressed or anxious and aren’t particularly predisposed to getting angry or responding negatively to situations).

Fairly resistant to stress.

The one I question is straightforwardness.

So today I looked up straightforward and it says “Straightforward means direct in your approach.”  Then I read; sometimes straightforward people are misjudged as impolite or impatient. There’s the rub.

When I am not being straightforward for instance, is if I am going to Toastmasters and I don’t know if my husband wants to go to the gym. I will ask him if he plans to go to the gym instead of asking directly to use the vehicle. My thinking is if I take the vehicle, he can’t go to the gym, but if he drops me off at Toastmasters, and I can get a ride home we both win. If I can’t get a ride then he can pick me up. If he isn’t planning to go to the gym, I won’t ask my friend for a ride.

Women are often accused of being manipulative, but if we want to know if someone has plans to use what we were planning to ask to use, then we won’t ask, is not being manipulative it is being considerate.

Manipulation, fueled with good intent, can be a blessing. But when used wickedly, it is the beginning of a magician’s karmic calamity. T.F. Hodge

When I want to use any of the three vehicles in our household I ask first if they plan to use the vehicle before I ask to use it. If they have plans to use it then I don’t ask. If it is going to be sitting in the driveway during the time I want to use it, then I ask. This is not being manipulative, it is being considerate.

Manipulation would be if I wanted them to not do what they were planning to do, so I could use the vehicle to do what I am planning to do. When I had my own vehicle I didn’t ask, I just got in my vehicle and away I went. Now, I have so little need for a vehicle it isn’t worth paying for a second vehicle to sit in the driveway most of the time just so I am not considered manipulative when I ask to use someone else’s.

There’s a fine line between straightforward and manipulation. We can be manipulative when we use telling it like it is as an excuse for being mean and putting others down, and call it being straightforward. We can also be manipulative when we dance around the issue waiting for someone to give us what we want.

How do we know when we are being manipulative? The answer lies in whose best interest is it in. If it is in our best interest then we may be manipulative. If it is in the other person’s best interest then we are not being manipulative.

Living in truth and honesty means looking at how we interact with people. Not just what is said, but what is behind what is said. If we understand t the only improvement we have a right to expect is our own. That living in denial is not a good way to live. Everyone will not see things how we do, and we can’t expect them to. Is our goal to live our life to the best of our ability? Do we understand we won’t be perfect, we will make mistakes? Are we willing to accept responsibility and own our mistakes and our successes?

If we deal with others truthfully and honestly to the best of our ability and keep in mind what is best for them as we build a life that is best for us. Isn’t that’s as good as it gets?

Do we get accused of being manipulative when we have someone else’s best interest at heart? Is being called manipulative, manipulative?

The basic tool for the manipulation of reality is the manipulation of words. If you can control the meaning of words, you can control the people who must use the words. Philip K. Dick

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Ask more questions. Set more goals.

Ask More Questions - butterfly photo taken by Belynda Wilson Thomas

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Fear is a question. What are you afraid of and why? Our fears are a treasure house of self-knowledge if we explore them. Marilyn French

This morning my daughter asked me if I made a New Year’s resolution. “To be happier,” I said.

“Does that mean you aren’t happy now?”

“No, it means I intend to do things that make me happy so the little things in life aren’t so irritating. The happy wife, happy life idea is… then her phone rang, she had to run, my motherly advice would have to wait

Last night my sister in law asked my son if he made resolutions. “Those are for people who want to virtue signal,” he said. “I’m going to lose ten pounds and give more to charity. Do you see what a good person I am?”

It may be virtue signaling, it may be coming up with something to impress someone. It could also be a chance to make the changes we want to make in our life to be the people we want to be.

Nothing changes until something changes. The New Year is a good time to decide to make changes. It is a time to think about our life, what we want, what we need, what we’ve done to get where we are, and how we can make it better. New Years as a catalyst is better than a diagnosis of cancer.

The unexamined life is not worth living is an ancient quote credited to Plato and quoted by Socrates at his trial. Socrates we are told believed that living a life where you live under the rules of others, in a continuous routine without examining what you actually want out of it, is not worth living.

When we examine our life we can see how one action leads to another.  We can see the ones that lead us to something we want and those that lead us to something we don’t want. We reap what we sow and once we know which actions make our life better and which actions make our life worse we can actively choose to do actions which better our life.

January resolutions can be part of an examined life, or they can be jumping on the bandwagon to fit in. It isn’t always what we do but the intention behind it that is important.

The marvelous thing about a good question is that it shapes our identity as much by asking as it does by the answering. David Whyte

What do we do with the knowledge that psychology suggests some of our better decisions are instinctive rather than reflective. Some of us reflect so much we are stuck, afraid to move forward, because what if that is the wrong decision. The nonreflective take action, jump in and sink or swim. Maybe we need both to form ourselves in virtue, honesty, and courage and believe in ourselves enough to make quick decisions and actions when they are warranted.

If all advice is valid, but much of it contradictory, we need discernment to know which advice to listen to at which time. If all we do is analyze our life we may feel paralyzed, but a continual exercise of this may also make us quick to figure things out.

Asking questions gives us answers. Asking the right questions is an art we can develop over time. Effective questions are powerful and thought provoking, they stimulate, inform, and inspire.

When we are asking questions of our self or others we can keep in mind, why, what is the issue, what do we not know, what is the outcome we want, what action can we take. By asking questions tremendous breakthroughs are made, conversations are started, better questions get asked, and better answers are found.

Resolutions are nothing more than goals. We all need goals; we need to replace old goals with new goals. If we ask our self where we want to go, can we put a plan in place to get there?

Are there questions we should be asking our self? Are we afraid of the answer? Can we ask more and better questions? Inventors, scientists, problem solvers of all types, fiction writers, and entrepreneurs ask questions.  What would our life be like if we asked more questions, and we set more goals?

We get wise by asking questions, and even if these are not answered, we get wise, for a well-packed question carries its answer on its back as a snail carries its shell. James Stephens

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Marijuana is legal. Will it change your life?

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Live and let others live. Goethe

As my daughter left for work this morning I said, “Marijuana is legal today; pick some up on your way home.”

I’m joking, we don’t know where to go and get it if we wanted some today. I typed in pot is legal and what comes up? Pot is legal, but is it safe? We need to get back to the idea that your freedoms stop where they infringe on my freedoms. We need to quit taking all the joy out of life because there is some danger.

Society is not getting better because we don’t have merry-go-rounds in play grounds any more. I loved it as a kid when we found a play ground and got to play on a merry-go-round.

We love pushing the boundaries of our skill, endurance, athleticism and other things as well. This is who we are as people. Should kids smoke marijuana? It shouldn’t ruin their life if they do. It isn’t the marijuana that ruins their life it’s the entanglement in the legal system.

Someone on the radio asked the question would you be more worried about your fifteen year old and marijuana now as marijuana becomes legal. The only thing I ever worried about with marijuana and my kids was the legal system.

Is marijuana benign? It shouldn’t have to be benign to be legal. We want to protect people from themselves. Everyone has to fix themselves and if we could let them fix themselves without turning them into criminals while they do it the world would probably be a better place.

The older I get the more I understand that it’s okay to live a life others don’t understand. Unknown

Same goes for prostitution. If it is legal then it’s a legal choice and we can get rid of the predators out there. If someone wants to pay for sex, and someone wants to sell it why is the law part of the equation? Girls and women could leave prostitution at any time if it was legal. It would be just like going from working at McDonalds to working at the bank.

Live and let live, we don’t all have to make the same decisions. We don’t have to see life the same to get along. As long as someone is willing to buy something someone will fill that market. When we make it illegal we give it to the criminals. We make it harder for the people the criminals prey on to stay away from their clutches or get away from those clutches. We always do it in the name of making it better, but we don’t make it better.

The war on drugs has made nothing better. The war on prostitution has made nothing better. There are men out there who are likely only ever to get sex if they pay for it. Let them pay for it to women who willingly take money for it.

My kids could buy drugs when they were underage easier than they could buy liquor. If men went to a club for prostitutes they would be of legal age, we wouldn’t have predators pimping out our teenage girls.

We can be civilized about things. The first recorded laws dealing with prostitution in Canada were in Nova Scotia in 1759, although as early as August 19th 1675 the Sovereign Council of New France convicted Catherine Guichelin, one of the Kings daughters with leading a “life scandalous and dishonest to the public,” declaring her a prostitute and banished her from the walls of Quebec City under threat of the whip. Following Canadian Confederation the laws were consolidated in the Criminal Code.

From 1892 to 1972 the offence under 175(1)(c) was

A vagrant who: being a common prostitute or nightwalker is found in a public place and does not, when required, give a good account of herself.

In 1985 C-49 – made it illegal to communicate in a public place for the purposes of prostitution.

In 1988 C-15 – made it an offence to obtain or attempt to obtain the sexual services of a minor, increasing the maximum penalty to 14 years for anyone convicted of living off the avails of a prostitute under the age of 18 years.

In 2014 C-36 – the protection of communities and exploited persons act came in.

The advocacy group POWER, an advocacy group for prostitutes argues that C-36 not only reintroduces laws deemed unconstitutional in a unanimous decision by the Supreme Court – it actually makes them worse.

There are those who believe that when we try to make things better we often make them worse. I believe C-15 in 1988 makes sense and I support it. If adult women willingly get into the sex trade they have the right to make that decision.

If adult people want to smoke marijuana they have that right. We need to quit micromanaging people’s lives and let them make their own decisions, we can’t protect people from making mistakes. We can make society so you can get back up, after a mistake. Criminalizing drug use and prostitution does nothing for society, and does nothing for the people caught up in drug addiction or prostitution.

We are going in the right direction by making marijuana use legal. We can hope the justice system isn’t too punitive in how they react to marijuana in our systems long after that use affects us as drivers, workers, etc.

Oh how the world today needs such simple reminders: Be kind. Treat all people with respect. Let go of hate and let others live their lives in peace. Brendon Burchard

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Drugs Are NOT The Devil’s Tools: The History of Drugs: Discrimination, Greed, the War on Drugs and Why Medical Marijuana Is Creating A New Paradigm Paperback – April 7, 2017

Why Our Drug Laws Have Failed and What We Can Do About It: A Judicial Indictment of the War on Drugs Second Edition, 2nd Edition

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