About tinafriesen

I am a writer, artist, and musician. I create in the hope of making the world a more peaceful and safe place.

It’s not just statues that are toppling in Canada

Jordan Peterson: The activists are now stalking the hard scientists | National Post

Ben Mulroney steps down as host of CTV’s ‘etalk’ to make way for Black, Indigenous voices | National Post

UBC board of governors chair steps down after ‘liking’ anti-Black Lives Matter tweets – BC | Globalnews.ca

In Canada it is no longer acceptable to question or dislike violent anti-racisim protests and anti-police protests. It is apparently not acceptable to “like” Trump tweets either, or Republican talking points. And you can lose your job, simply for liking a tweet. I saw a revealing video commentary regarding the resignation of the UBC board of governors chair, Michael Korenberg, but today it appears to have been removed from YouTube.

Here is an opinion piece by Rex Murphy who has also been a target, as I wrote about recently: Rex Murphy: The right to your own opinion is a keystone of a true democracy | National Post

And another matter of concern, that may or may not be related, is this article, Why CSIS believes Canada is a ‘permissive target’ for China’s interference – National | Globalnews.ca Here is a quote:

The committee’s report named two countries — Russia and China — among those conducting “sophisticated and pervasive foreign interference activities against Canada.”

But intelligence officials and former diplomats, including Canada’s former ambassador to China, believe China is the greater threat, in large part because the country has been successful in “elite capture.”

“China is the No. 1 threat to Canada and has been for some time,” David Mulroney, former ambassador to China, said in an interview.

China has used its economic leverage to secure “the voices” of political and business leaders in Canada with “sweetheart business deals” and “various inducements,” including lucrative board positions or honours in China, he said.

This week we have seen new pressure from the media on our government to intervene on behalf of the two Michaels that are being held in China. Our Prime Minister insists that our judicial system is independent from the government. The CBC (the official, government funded broadcasting station) featured a legal expert who claims it is within the power of the government to interfere in the Meng Wanzhou extradition case. Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig were arbitrarily detained in China following the arrest of Meng who faces extradition to the U.S. on charges of bank fraud and covering up Huawei’s violation of U.S. sanctions against Iran. Meng, is “deputy chairwoman of the board and chief financial officer (CFO) of telecom giant and China’s largest privately-held company, Huawei, founded by her father Ren Zhengfei.” (Wikipedia) It is curious to me that the CBC presents a view that appears to side with China, over our Prime Minister.

While Meng is under house arrest in Canada and has every luxury, including the freedom to travel in the lower mainland during the day, with surveillance, the two Michaels sit in detention with the lights on 24/7. This is a form of torture, make no mistake. One can only imagine the psychological damage of being in confinement under trumped up charges, without contact with family, and experiencing sleep depravation and hormonal disruption for 550+ days. A simple flick of the light switch, twice a day, could make their lives much more tolerable. I’m wondering what the response would be if Meng were treated in the same way–even for a week.

The two Michaels have now been charged with espionage and stand little chance of avoiding conviction. This is clearly a very delicate situation. Kelly McParland says, We all want the two Michaels back, but Canada mustn’t give in to China.

My response to George Floyd

I don’t know if I am skilled enough to write on this subject. I’m going to make an attempt, with the possibility that this may never see publication. If you are reading this, then I am satisfied that I somewhat clearly communicated what is on my heart. It seems that saying nothing is seen as cowardly, and yet I know I am taking a risk as I write.

When I grew up my family was shunned by much of the community. I was bullied relentlessly. Before you shut me down as just another person who says they were a victim too, hear me out.

I later learned that a mistake had been made in the printing of a geneology book that listed me and my siblings as born in Mexico. As a result, everyone in the community thought our family came from Mexico. That put us in a different class.

In Junior High a family actually arrived from Mexico and the children came to our school. They lived on a property adjacent to the school. In the garage, which was separate from the house, and visible from the school, their teenage son hanged himself. I saw the rejection he faced in school because he was different but I never imagined it would end in such tragedy.

In grade five I had a crush on a native boy who was in grade six. One day the police were at the school because he had pulled a knife on a teacher.

In high school I had Chinese friends who helped me with my Math and improved my ping pong skills. After high school I worked for a Chinese boss who owned a Chinese restaurant in our town.

I lived in the Philippines where I saw racism when Filipino children were told that the missionary’s stomach was fat because he ate children. I got my hair cut in the “bakla” area of town. Our sons were taunted by children calling them that name. The NPA–New People’s Army (Communist) had skirmishes with the Philippine military. Muslims began to broadcast their call to prayer in our community and I heard their angry rants against “Americanos” on Fridays at noon. A missionary couple from our island was kidnapped along with others at a resort. Some of those kidnapped were beheaded. The missionary husband died from a gunshot wound during their rescue by the military many months later.

I am endeared to Indigenous people and Filipinos and Chinese because I have known so many of them. More recently I have made friends with people of various other nationalities as I worked at a college. I live in Surrey, BC where we have a large Indo-Canadian population. I am accustomed to seeing a representation of many different cultures around me. I’ve learned about the different nuances and values of various nationalities and I continue to observe and learn.

Being a guest in another country for five years has given me a broader understanding of racism. After an extended time of living among nationals in the Philippines, I found myself in a setting with Caucasian people and I thought I was different from them. I felt brown. I was shy. I actually had to remind myself that these were my people.

The reason why I feel less than qualified to speak to this subject is because, although I have had varied experiences with exclusion and discrimination, I do not know what it is like to be of another skin color while living in a predominantly Caucasian nation. I know that in the Philippines we always felt different. We could never escape from that fact, even if we forgot it for awhile. But we were generally treated well in the Philippines. There was enclaves of people that resented us. We knew who they were. We also knew they were dangerous. We tried not to pay attention to these groups or to go to their area of town.

I’ve been taught to love everyone equally because God created us equal. I used to say I don’t see color, but that statement has been misconstrued. When I have a friend of color, I forget that they are colored until I see a characteristic that is particular to their background. This is the same if they are white and from another nationality. I worked with Americans for years and then encountered a couple from Germany. I noticed that my Canadian upbringing and Germanic background in some ways aligned me more with the German couple.

Different characteristics of people from varying locales fascinate me. I was not born in Mexico. My grandparents were not born in Mexico. But my mother was. Her mother was adopted by a couple who moved to Mexico when she was six. My mother was sixteen when her family later moved to Canada. They were fleeing a drought that had devastated their farm. Initially they worked in sugar beet fields in Manitoba and tomato fields in Ontario. So, in a sense the community was correct in their assumption about us. Living in Mexico and immigrating to Canada shaped my mother in a way nothing else could and I deeply love her and respect who she is.

The bullying I experienced made me stronger because I sought my own identity apart from how others saw me or treated me.

I see class distinctions within every culture and some cultures are much less kind to those of a lower class. My Christian background has taught me not to prefer those of higher status or give them special treatment. We are all created equal.

I am as distressed as anyone over the unnecessary and cruel and unjust death of George Floyd. Where attention needs to be given to making changes to prevent racism and inequality, I am all in favor of making these changes.

However, there is something that is troubling me about this picture. I think it is the myopic vision, the near-sightedness, in other words. The immediate demand to “defund” the police, for instance is very lacking in vision. Think of all the people who call the police daily to come to their defense. Think of what would happen if there was no law enforcement to intervene and help settle altercations, investigate thefts and solve murders.

People are upset. I get that. It is very upsetting when power is abused and justice is miscarried.

I also get that people need to have a voice. They need to know someone is listening and taking action.

But I have a bigger concern. Without presenting a thought out plan, we could just be advocating anarchy. Who could possibly benefit from that?

The problem I have is that we no longer seem to be discerning who we should be listening to. Some messages are helpful. Some are not.

When I got married I heard a very good piece of advice. When you have a disagreement, it is not a matter of who is right, but what is right. In the heat of the moment we can make judgments that we end up regretting. That is why we need to take a breath, and take a step back, and look at the whole picture. We don’t need knee-jerk reactions right now. We need a careful analysis.

The Cornavirus isn’t so good for the drug trade

US$5M worth of marijuana seized at Canada-U.S. border the June 17 CTV News headline reads.

More than 1.5 tonnes of marijuana was found in a truck entering the U.S. from Canada, American border officials allege.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) says the 1,517-kilogram stash was seized on June 13 from a truck that had tried to cross into New York state from southern Ontario, carrying 58 cardboard boxes supposedly full of peat moss.

Another bust, eight days earlier, at the same crossing involved an excess of 800 kilograms of marijuana.

The report indicated that, “Even if the two large seizures were not part of the equation, the weight of illegal drugs seized by border guards in the Buffalo area since the closure would be nearly 20 times what it was during the same period last year. Most of the drugs seized have been marijuana.”

It appears that with less traffic there may be opportunity for more scrutiny at borders.

Other news posts note an increase in drug related overdoses during the pandemic. A June 11 headline reads, Overdose deaths spike as B.C. reports record number of fatalities in May  Tragically, British Columbia reported 170 overdose deaths in the month of May.

Cory Guest, public education coordinator at Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service (WFPS), states, “We’re not able to correlate our increase of substance use calls directly to COVID-19, but it’s safe to say we’d be naive if we didn’t think it had an impact on that.”

Isolation, the closing of services such as Narcotics Anonymous, gyms and other supports has created increased challenges for those who are drug dependent. When this is over we will look back and see that some things could have been done better. However the lockdown appears to be effective in preventing deaths from the virus.

Here is the latest, June 18, worldometer comparison of deaths per million within the Scandinavian countries that enforced strict lockdown compared with Sweden that did not.

Sweden – 500

Denmark – 104

Norway – 45

Finland – 59.

 

Canadian Conservative Leadership Debate

I watched a portion of the leadership debates yesterday and today. One thing I noted was the tag line beneath Erin O’Toole “Won’t say there is systemic racism.” I’m not sure if there were other tags, since I didn’t watch the entire debates and didn’t notice any others but I thought it strange that CBC would offer a printed commentary mid-debate.

The question of systemic racism was asked in at least four different ways of Erin O’Toole. His consistent response was that racism should not and would not be tolerated. Anyone watching understood that he was not going to say there is systemic racism, without the CBC needing to print a caption below him while he was speaking.

Whether there is systemic racism or not, it appears we now have yet another category that defines people.

Other candidates offered some well thought out responses to the same question. A periodical review of the justice system and law enforcement in Canada is a good recommendation. I’m not going to evaluate the responses of the candidates here.

 

In Defense of Journalism and Having an Opinion

Several weeks ago I told myself they are coming for Rex Murphy next. And it has happened.

There is something sinister occurring in the world. I’ve watched it for some years now.

An element of society has set themselves up as judge and jury. All they have to do is point a finger, and with magical power like the wand of a fairy godmother, the subject is transformed, only, not into an elegant beauty, but rather into a despicable, contemptible wretch. What follows is a sort of feverish glee in shifting the tide of public opinion and completing the humiliation, the shame, and the degradation.

This act of pointing is all that is needed. Once a target has been identified, sensitivity readers comb through fifteen years of Facebook history and find one comment that suffices as evidence to flay the defendant. There is, of course, no defense attorney and no jury. To assume to step up in behalf of the victim is to become a similar public pariah. All it takes is one identifiable microagression, even if it is only a quote, not an original thought, and that is enough for a guilty verdict. Microagression, by definition, according to the Merriam-webster dictionary, includes that which is said unconsciously and unintentionally.

Those pronounced guilty are placed in public stocks and made a spectacle, to the chants and jeers of the media who work the crowd into a dizzying and dangerous frenzy. J.K.Rowling is a recent victim.

The petty crimes of mis-speech and wrong-think have been elevated to criminal status equal to the act of homicide. If Rex Murphy can be indicted then we are all in danger of being caught in this irrational witch hunt where intent is irrelevant and errors are committed unconsciously.

Rex Murphy identified the bigger problem and tried to mitigate it. He tried to be a peacemaker, rather than an agitator. He tried to bring us together, one nation under God. Like a father who commends his children for their good effort. He acknowledged and praised diversity of background and thought. But the agitators would much rather stir up dissent and fan dying embers into raging flames, intent on lighting the whole forest on fire. They thrive on a brilliant show of their own making. Today is a dangerous time to be a tree.

A New Look

This week I updated my blog and gave it a new look. After about a decade, I figured it was time for a change.

If you have been following me over the years, you may have noticed that I’ve moved away from my focus on the craft of writing. This blog will still feature my writing. I’ve posted a few links to books I’ve self published on Smashwords.

Publishing on Smashwords has been a learning curve. If I sell a book for $4.99 Smashwords takes $1.49 in fees, so it’s a pretty fair deal, considering that they place my books on Apple, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Library Direct and other sites. Having said that, I’ve only earned 9.80 USD so far! But I see this as a place to start. I was so excited when I received a very positive review for Skate With Me on the Barnes and Noble site (See sidebar).

I’ve had about a thousand downloads, so at least my books are getting some distribution.

What I’ve learned over the past years is that I just have to keep at it. Keep doing something in the area of writing. I’ve tried a lot of things. I’ve had my ups and downs.

I may still post articles about writing, from time to time, but I also plan to write some thoughtful articles about current events and social issues. I use tinafriesenwriting to post personal articles.

I will write more about my process and where I am at now in another post.

 

 

 

 

If You Have a Website Then Please Put a Link on Your Gravatar Profile so We Can Find You

Quote

How many times have I clicked on the icon of someone who has commented on, or liked an article, because I want to go to their website? I am instantly taken to their GRAVATAR profile which, most often, disappointingly, does not provide me with what I am looking for, which is  a link to their website(s).

Aren’t we all blogging because we want others to read what we write? Isn’t the whole purpose of having a website so that readers will find you and read your writing?

Then, in that case, we have to leave the address to our website on the most reasonable place where people will indefinitely be directed when they click on our GRAVATAR IMAGE: our GRAVATAR PROFILE.

If I don’t find a website link on a GRAVATAR PROFILE, then I go through the complex process of doing a Google search with the scant information on their profile to see if they indeed have a website.

Your GRAVATAR PROFILE is like free advertising. It’s your “storefront.” It provides access to your websites. It gives information about you. Or it is BLANK and says “This is a dead end. You are never going to find out anything more about this person.”

Let’s start at the very beginning.

What is a GRAVATAR PROFILE?

This is from the GRAVATAR WEBSITE:

Your Gravatar profile includes your Gravatar image and name, as well as other profile details you may choose to include. To edit your Gravatar profile, log in at Gravatar.com, click My Account, and then Edit My Profile — or just click here.

Go the the HELP menu and click

How to Add Websites to Your Gravatar Profile

Follow instructions. Simple.

I admit it took me a long time to find out I needed to do this and I only realized it after clicking on other GRAVATARS and comparing them to my own. I noted that some had links to their websites and other pertinent information. THIS DID NOT HAPPEN AUTOMATICALLY. I had to physically add the information I wanted others to view. It’s very possible that there are others out there, like me, who have no idea that they need to do this. I hope this is helpful.

 

Not Alone on Easter Sunday

It is strange to think that churches are closed today and there will be no corporate Easter celebrations. I regret to admit, my husband and I have not been faithful attendees at church for some years. But I cherish memories of Easters past. As a little girl my mother would sew beautiful Easter dresses for me and my sisters for Easter Sunday. As adults we would gather after church at my grandmother’s home. She always had marshmallow Easter eggs for us and Easter Bread.

In my mind Easter is associated with spring flowers, freshly scented Spring air, birds, and robin eggs. I recall the special hymns of the season and my heart is stirred.

Yesterday I wrote a poem. It was Saturday, the day between Good Friday and Easter.

A Gray Day

An agonizing cry splits the skies,

As he hangs his head and dies.

Life lies suspended between

An empty cross

And a sealed tomb.

Doom hovers in a barren land that quakes beneath the weight.

The curtain is rent.

The sun is darkened.

While graves yield their dead.

A sunless day awaits.

Too quickly the bright rays burst,

And birds sing in chorus,

Resurrection songs of morning,

While blood-stained spikes

Lie on the ground,

A remnant of a gray day.

We move so quickly from Good Friday to Easter Sunday. Such stark contrasts. I was reminded, yesterday, of what a bleak day Saturday must have been for Christ’s followers. There is not even a hint that they looked forward to a resurrection. Although Jesus told them what would happen to him, they couldn’t grasp it. Saturday was a gray, sunless day indeed.

What gets me about the Easter story is not only that his disciples did not believe, but the fact that it was religious leaders that stirred up the mob to demand that Pilate crucify Christ. Religious leaders. Get that.

It wasn’t the prostitutes and sinners. It wasn’t the atheists. It wasn’t even the political leaders of the day, although they went after the disciples later, and had John the Baptist imprisoned earlier.

People can be cruel. We can be cruel. The other day someone said to me, “Compassion can be cruel.” I thought about that for awhile and decided he was right. In our obsession to defend one cause we can be totally blinded to another need. The religious leaders thought they were defending the faith. Their religion was being threatened. So, the correct thing to do was annihilate the perceived threat. This was completely contrary to the teaching of their faith, to love God and to love others…and not to kill. But they couldn’t handle a little bit of controversy in their midst.

We are told Pilate believed they delivered Christ to be crucified out of envy. That is an interesting thought to ponder. In the book of Proverbs we read, Wrath is cruel…but who can stand before envy…. Jealousy is more dangerous and cruel than anger.

My thinking is that the religious leaders felt they had something to lose and it was probably fairly wrapped up in their pride. As we have heard, Pride goeth before a fall.

My husband and I tried to continue to go to church but after a time we found we simply could no longer “keep up appearances.”

“Please come home,” someone begged us. That is the point. Church no longer feels like home. We no longer feel like we belong there. It shouldn’t be this way. But it is.

So, on this Easter Sunday, we are not alone. Strange thought.

Have you ever asked how this life was meant to be lived? Outside my window birds flit from branch to branch. They peck at the ground. They build nests. They lay eggs. They fly south for the winter. They return. Seems pretty simple.

The coronavirus isolation has made me see how we have complicated life. For some reason the high-rises I see grouped together, casting their long shadows, leaving streets in gloom all day, are halting my attention. I keep looking up at them. I keep thinking about them. I think about the elevators. About how complicated it is to get in and out of them now. It is as though they are symbolic of a bigger problem.

What Easter means to me is that every life is of infinite value. We must save lives. And life is worth living. Sins can be forgiven. We can have new life. And the question remains, How is this life meant to be lived?