Is true love and happiness just the carrot dangled in front of us?

The possibility that we can find true love and happiness is the carrot dangled in front of us. It is the promise in every romantic comedy. We would be disappointed if it wasn’t. However, real life begs the question of whether we have placed our faith in fairytales. I know I have wondered this.

In my teens and early twenties I battled the fear that nobody would want to marry me. My three younger siblings were married and I found myself wallowing in longing and loneliness. Marriage and family seemed to be the missing element that would fill the void I felt. My mother was convinced it was the next thing I needed and I admit I listened to her. I even went so far as to visit a “boyfriend” in another province with whom I had a rather long long-distance relationship to let him know I was finally ready to settle down. Unfortunately I discovered he was now taken.

I watched an interview with a young woman who had every marriageable quality, namely beauty, youth, understanding, insight. She cleans houses for a living and lives frugally. Who wouldn’t want a woman like her for a wife? But like me, she expressed a fatalistic acceptance of never being married. It hit me that I know very many in their twenties and thirties like her. I wished I could open a match-making service to bring these people together.

I think what is missing is opportunity to meet a varied group of marriageable people in a setting where there is no pressure.

Someone told our college-aged group that we would marry out of our acquaintances and this jarred me. I realized that I held onto a fantasy that my prince would come riding into town one day. He was not already there, among my peers, waiting to be acknlowledged. I had tried to broaden my horizons. Nothing wrong with that. I remember a girlfriend and I went to a gathering of youth across the border, with no other intent than the hope that we might meet someone.

I wasn’t alone in my thinking. Two of my best friends also despaired of ever getting married. Like the girl I mentioned earlier, they had everything to recommend them for marriage but it was as though all hell was bent on keeping us from the alter. Recently I have begun to think there may actually be some truth to this. We cannot deny there are oppositional forces keeping people apart and preventing them from committing to another person.

Why should my girlfriend and I get married, a young man asked me. So you can have a family, was my response.

Family. Think about it. We come from a family, such as it was. We dream about the ideal, two-parent biological family. Nobody can deny it is what we need and want.

I think many people have given up on ever having either marriage or happiness. Not only is it disappointing to have neither love nor happiness, it is depressing and almost devastating to have to acknowledge that this was the elusive carrot and that we were virtually deceived and promised an ideal that would never happen.

But happiness is not tied to marriage. In fact, happiness is not dependent on our situation. It is a mindset. It is deciding to refuse to be unhappy and doing everything we know to do in order not to sink into despair. I’ve engaged in years of observation and study to find out why some people are happy and others are not. I’ve concluded happiness is not dependent on circumstances. People can be in an identically trying place and one will be happy while another will be on the brink of suicide. Each has arrived where they are as a result of a pattern of choices in how they respond to what life deals them.

Refusal to sink is a powerful weapon. It means you may go under water, but you will always rise again. It means you believe in your resilience. You get up as many times as you fall down.

It also means looking out for the things that make you buoyant and strong.

At the root of happiness is a personal integrity. You value your life.

It follows that if you value your own life, you will value the lives of others. And if you value the lives of others, you will live your life so as to make the world a better place. Integrity is being the same person on the outside as you are on the inside. It also means cleaning up the mess inside.

It means dealing with your anxious feelings, with your tendency to become easily annoyed, with your constant worrying, with your fearfulness, with your difficulty coping. It means facing the truth that the best thing you can do for yourself is to become a stronger, better adjusted person.

An interesting thing happened at the time in my life when I was afraid I would never get married. I increased my happiness level.

I had not wasted my time while I was waiting for my prince. I had worked at becoming marriageable. It struck me one day that I needed to become the person who would attract the kind of person I wanted to marry. Once I had this revelation an amazing thing happened. I began to have options. I also turned down unsuitable prospects because I valued myself and knew what I needed.

I was still unrealistic, however. I might not marry a “handsome prince.” Looking back I see that I had a sad pattern of always falling for a stereotype. Yes, the tall, dark, handsome type. I married a ginger.

As I thought about who I wanted in my life as a life partner, I decided that I wanted someone whom I would enjoy sitting across from me at the breakfast table for my remaining years.

Happiness has not come easy for me, but the pursuit has been rewarding. I think we find happiness in the pursuit because our eyes are opened.

Lately I have had more of a struggle maintaining a happy spirit. I awaken at night with dismal feelings, even feelings of doom. I don’t think it is possible to be truly happy unless your soul is at rest. This is where I believe the Christian faith shines. Not only does the example of Christ inspire, we are offered forgiveness. This is such a unique and profound concept. That we can start anew. That we can be restored in our relationship after having failed. That we can offer this hope to others.

A life of integrity is a life lived with the quiet assurance that we have done our part reasonably well. This is what helps us sleep at night. It is also a life that is not naive and can face with courage the evil and devastation in the world. Let’s be honest, there is evil and devastation. The longer we live, the more we see. This is the reason for my feelings of doom. It is the reality we live with. The only response I have found to lift me out of this place is prayer. Prayer is an aspect of virtually all religions. But prayer is only a placebo if the entity to which we are praying is a figment of our imagination. On the other hand, if we believe in a Creator of the universe, then it follows that this Creator and sustainer of life cares. Every day we have a new sunrise. Every day the birds are fed. Every day plants grow. This simple observation is enough to lift me out of despair every time because it is evidence that my Creator lives. My only reasonable response is awe and worship and gratitude.

When I awake with feelings of doom in the middle of the night, I begin to pray for the world. The beauty and the order I see in creation, the intricacies of the balance of nature, inspire me to pray for the same thing among human beings. In other words, I pray “Thy kingdom; Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

I consider myself the most fortunate person on earth to have grasped this understanding. Prayer for me is not a placebo. It is a powerful coming into unity with the one who created me and sustains me. We have been done a serious disservice by being taught to put our faith in the theory of evolution. We have been told to believe in a “theory.” In fact the qualifier, “theory” has been mostly erased. In university we are stigmatized if we do not “believe” in evolution.

This is more critical than people realize. I propose that the real purpose of the introduction of the theory of evolution was actually an objection to belief in a Creator. However, looking at the laws of the universe will quickly dispel the theory. Seeing that there is no evidence of the “in-between” and “imperfect” stages of development disproves the theory. Yes, there are similarities between species that could point to giving rise to superior species and development from simplicity to complexity. But there are components that need to be in place simultaneously and so many components that evolution never attempts to explain. This proposition merely depends on our ignorance and inability and unwillingness to open our eyes and see and reason.

Why is this relevant to marriage and happiness? Every species propagates. Propagation is part of purpose. If we cannot propagate, we can support others who can. Do you see how evolutionary theory opposes propagation? It cannot have a worldview of blessing and sustenance by the Creator. It totally depends on personal effort. Well, we are doomed when we exclude a Greater Power.

This is why faith can be threatening. It truly engages a Higher Power. It is also why faith and religion have not only been maligned but have been distorted and destroyed from within and become unrecognizable as a source of goodness and strength. It is what the Bible refers to as damnable, the “holding of truth in unrighteousness.” The perfection we see in creation around us is meant to be mirrored in our lives. Yes, there is forgiveness offered when we fail, and we all fail. But we are called to a higher place. A place where rivers of living water flow out of our belly. A place of fruit-bearing. A place of hope and joy and peace.

You will see that this flies in the face of popular culture. This is because God has a real adversary and people can choose with which side to align themselves.

Whenever I pray for the whole world when I have a personal need, I feel the burden lift. But it is not a victory without a battle. There is a relationship we can have with our Creator that exceeds the beauty and fulfillment of a marriage. I have lived this for decades and I have found “joy unspeakable and full of glory.” It is the glory of God we are seeking, even more than marriage and happiness. When we experience the glory we will not be satisfied with anything less. We will have a “continual feast” and it will make us the kind of people in whose company others desire to be. It will also give us patience during the times of waiting. And much of life is waiting.

I am amazed at how confrontational these simple observations are today. We have moved so far from the simple understanding of believing in a life-giving God and living a life according to godly principles in the way we were intended to live. All of nature around us is an example of the beauty and simplicity of a life lived according to the original blueprint.

The Real Reason Why Vaccine Mandates Were Not a Good Idea

I am trying to imagine a scenario in which vaccine mandates would be a good plan and it’s difficult to actually come up with any situation. If people were dying so rapidly that everyone knew we were doomed, and only those who were vaccinated lived, a mandate would not be required because people would be desperate and lining up and demanding the vaccine. Unfortunately, if we were in this dire situation, it is unlikely that a vaccine could be produced in time to save the planet.

Event 201, held in October of 2019 and hosted by The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security in partnership with the World Economic Forum and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation proposed a response to a theoretical pandemic. One part of the strategy to ‘diminish large-scale economic and societal consequences’ of a pandemic was to focus on the control of misinformation.

I think this part of the strategy has seen abuse. Information around the pandemic has been tightly controlled to the point of being misleading because of what has been omitted.

So much effort has gone into controlling the dialogue during the COVID-19 pandemic that people’s thoughts, if they have been following the media, are not truly original. We’ve been programmed as a result of a pre-determined narrative that has been fed to us, relentlessly.

My husband and I don’t have TV and Cable but we went out for his birthday to a restaurant with several TV’s on display and while we dined, every few minutes there was an image of a person having a needle put in their arm. First of all, it is an image that I find disturbing, but more importantly, I thought about the people who have seen this many more times than I have. I can’t imagine how many times this has come across the screen in the past couple of years, never mind the funding that has gone into this advertising.

When literally “everyone” is getting sick, regardless of vaccination status, it becomes increasingly difficult to push the vaccine as the solution to a pandemic.

What we are seeing now is new information coming out which doesn’t match the mainstream narrative and is creating confusion both among people without medical backgrounds and medical professionals. Questions are arising. Until now these were squashed pretty effectively but when literally “everyone” is getting sick, regardless of vaccination status, it becomes increasingly difficult to push the vaccine as the solution to a pandemic. Thankfully we do not see people dying at unprecedented rates. Some may say this is due to the vaccine, but even that is coming into question.

There are psychological and sociological reasons why vaccine mandates are a bad idea.

This brings me to the point of vaccine mandates.

There are psychological and sociological reasons why the vaccine mandates are a bad idea. I’m going to use a somewhat crass illustration. We take our dogs to the vet to get castrated. We don’t ask them. We do it for their good, or so we tell ourselves. Actually we are doing it for our convenience because we don’t want the responsibility of more dogs to care for, but none the less, we make the decision for them because we are the ones who know what is best for them. Ultimately, we are in a position to decide this on their behalf. We feed them, provide a home for them and care for them. We decide what sort of life they should have which is ultimately the kind of life we want for them. We don’t want a house full of dogs, because puppies grow up. So we implement the solution. And after a few days the dog gets over the pain and it appears that life for out pet goes on as normal.

A vaccine mandate is a little like that. It ignores the will of the people. It assumes a kind of unquestionable superiority.

This is not how people in society like to interact with one another. We have an aversion to bending unquestioningly and without options to the will of the other.

When one has the right to apply force, and the other is left without choice we understand this as victimization. It is not pleasant to be backed into a corner and threatened. It is definitely not good for the relationship.

If you have raised children you will have somewhat of an understanding of the dynamics here, but even if you do not have children, you will remember being a child. As a child, your parents tried to make decisions in your best interest. As children we accepted the decisions of our parents, sometimes reluctantly, but mostly we could see they were making choices for our good. Unless we were raised in a severely dysfunctional or abusive home, we knew they loved and cared for us and we could trust them.

The government and health authority assumed they could play the role of loving, caring parents and make decisions for us. However, the fact remains that these people are not our parents. They are our peers.

Peers consult with one another. Peers are open to alternate views. Peers respect each other’s choices. If you have a strong sense of self and healthy boundaries you quickly move on from a friend who thinks they can control you or make your decisions for you.

Dialogue and negotiation go into maintaining a trusting relationship. If you can sense there is a forgone conclusion being forced on you then dialogue begins to look like manipulation. Psychologically that is an abusive relationship. Most of us can sense this.

Many people are naively trusting. This is the majority that the government has relied on during this pandemic. These people do not spend time listening to alternative sources because they feel there is no need to do so. They trust the government. They trust the health authorities. They are afraid and need someone in charge to make decisions for them. They’ve been told that certain sources promote “misinformation” and believe that listening to them is potentially harmful. Rather than listening and determining this for themselves, they simply take the word of others and believe that these sources cannot be trusted and that they have malign motivations that are not in the best interests of the public.

I’ve listened to many sources during the pandemic and have tuned out many, but I’ve also thought to myself that if there was a grain of truth in among all the chaff then I wanted to find it. So I compared what I heard and weighed it. Fortunately I have more time than most, as a writer, to do this kind of “research.” Someone said to me, “Do you think you have some secret information?” Actually, I may have accessed information that others have not noticed, simply because I allowed myself to look.

During a pandemic people are afraid and typically we have a fight, flight or freeze response. There is really a very small percentage of the population who end up taking leadership roles or who end up seriously questioning the status quo. As a result, there is a small number of people who end up making decisions on behalf of the majority during a pandemic. Globalization and the WHO has meant we are much more on the same page than we might have been even a few decades ago. Someone I spoke to pointed out to me how all the world is saying the same thing, implying that this was evidence that the narrative was reliable. Maybe so.

I went back this week to why I have become suspicious even when all the voices are saying the same thing. I have a keen interest in parenting and so a number of years ago I wanted to know what the research showed regarding children and corporal punishment. It turns out that the research shows that mild, carefully and thoughtfully administered spanking positively affects children. I went back to the original resource to find this information, because all the news sources and articles, and there were probably hundreds, reported a different story. They all copied an article that had misinterpreted/misrepresented the actual research. If any of these journalists would have taken the time and effort to actually read the research they would not have written their articles in the way they did. That was the day I learned that we cannot simply gullibly accept what we are fed.

I’m sure you can’t have helped noticing how news sources tend to parrot one line. It is because they often have one source. Let’s say that source is the WHO. The whole world has access to what the WHO is communicating, so, understandably that will be the message that most of the world hears. And as I’ve already demonstrated, journalists can be lazy about doing research.

There is a comparatively small number of people, leaders in their own right, who don’t swallow everything. For some reason they don’t entirely trust the “step-parents” so to speak—the ones who have stepped into the parental role. We see this in about, what? 15% of the population?

People are waking up to the possibility that allowing pharmaceutical companies to make decisions for us far into the future in terms of an indefinite number of boosters might not be a good thing.

Initially we were comforted by news from our government leaders and directives from health officials whom we saw as legitimately working on our behalf to mitigate a bad situation. But now, after two years, we have so much more information to fit into the picture. People are waking up to the possibility that allowing pharmaceutical companies to make decisions for us far into the future in terms of an indefinite number of boosters might not be a good thing. Clearly something is not working as advertised. And to add to the suspicion is the fact that the definition of vaccine was broadened mid-pandemic. Here is the comparison:

From 2015 to August 31, 2021 a vaccine was defined as “a product that stimulates a person’s immune system to produce immunity to a specific disease, protecting the person from that disease” and vaccination was “the act of introducing a vaccine into the body to produce immunity to a specific disease.”

The new definition for the vaccine now reads, “A preparation that is used to stimulate the body’s immune response against diseases,” while vaccination is “the act of introducing a vaccine into the body to produce protection from a specific disease.”

Epoch Times

The real reason mandates are not a good idea is that they can end up creating the worst scenarios in a society. The worst scenario is when we report our neighbours and when this means we turn on one another and can no longer trust those who desire to live peacefully beside us.

I’m going to use another analogy. If your neighbour is playing loud music, at first you tolerate it. Then you decide you can no longer tolerate it and you deliberate what you will do about it. Maybe wait it out. Maybe there is a birthday party, a one time occasion and you can let it pass.  But then you realize there is no party, so you go over and ask if they might turn the sound down a little. You ask in your calmest tone. We’ve done this on a number of occasions and the result has always been positive. People are accommodating because they are neighbours too. We’ll all do better if we get along.

Now if you went over and told your neighbour you didn’t like their choice of music and demanded that they stop playing it, then they would look at you like you were crazy. And you would be the crazy one because in our society people have the freedom to play whatever music they choose.

Asking people to wear masks is like turning down the music.

Social distancing is like turning down the music.

Even staying home when you’re sick, is like turing down the music.

A harmonious society is important to the world. It is probably the most important thing in the world.

But vaccine mandates force people to change something very basic about themselves. Vaccines will change what happens inside their body. We are not the same after taking a vaccine and that is the whole purpose of the vaccine. Medically speaking, it is the desired outcome that the vaccine will have a long term “protective” impact. While some people are ready to change their music, others are not. Some are more concerned about the impact on their body than receiving “protection.” I believe we need to respect this. If we sacrifice a few for the good of many, where do we draw the line? I do not see this as a good idea. Maintaining respect for individual music choices is very important to a harmonious society and a harmonious society is important for the world. It is probably the most important thing in the world. We do not become more harmonious by picking on one another and singling out people, turning people against others and name calling.

We live in a condo and have seen interactions between neighbours that have not always been acrimonious. We have been the go-between at times. We’ve employed various means of communication and suggestions for adaptation. One neighbour in particular was a source of agitation for others since they are recently immigrated and don’t understand the culture fully. The people beneath them complained persistently about thudding noise to the point where restraints were put on communication as the relationship became increasingly tense. One day the neighbour appeared at our door and wanted us to see what he had done in his suite. He had put a large plush carpet on the floor. This suggestion had been made at one time. He had a broad smile on his face and to see him happy to have come up with a resolution in his own time was very satisfying, after literally years.

Mandates do not meet the ultimate end goal of good relationships….Mandates have given people justification for turning on each other.

The reason why mandates are not a good idea is mandates do not meet the ultimate end goal of good relationships that are essential in a well-adjusted society. Ask any coach what makes a good team and they will tell you cooperation. Mandates have given people justification for turning on each other. Rather than negotiating, we make “demands.” In the case of the man who installed the carpet, patient understanding brought about a positive outcome.

Wounds of a Friend or Kisses of an Enemy

I am writing a more personal post this week. I watched the movie Emma and was struck by her lack of self-awareness. This of course is the theme around which the story revolves. I’ve been doing some soul searching. How unaware am I of the impact of my words?

The movie was timely as I was just brought up short by someone who corrected me with what I am to consider as a ‘loving rebuke from a brother.’

Rebukes are those double-edged swords. They can wound and heal or they can destroy. In the movie Mr. Knightley soundly rebukes Emma for her insensitive remarks to Mrs. Bates.

Mr. Churchill initiated a game requiring everyone to say three very foolish things. Laughing, Mrs. Bates self-deprecatingly says she is sure to say several foolish things if she opens her mouth. Emma then responds that the difficulty for Mrs. Bates would be to limit herself to three things.

So simply and beautifully done by Jane Austin.

Emma has mis-stepped before, but how her character flaw is laid bare before her friends. Mrs. Bates fumbles a little and mutters, “I see. I see….I will try and hold my tongue. I must make myself very disagreeable, or she would not have said such a thing.”

Emma changes when the full impact of her actions dawns on her. She heeds Mr. Knightly’s rebuke, as spoken by someone who cares.

Mr. Knightley points out that Mrs. Bates is below Emma’s station in life and will continue to sink and this is why Emma’s behaviour is so disgraceful. He reminds Emma that Mrs. Bates has known her since infancy and that when she was younger “her notice of you was an honour.” He says others will take their lead from her in their view of Mrs. Bates. To her credit, Emma comes to deeply regret her words and determines to make amends.

Wounds that heal. Mr. Knightley is greatly relieved to see that he has not ruined his chances with Emma, and that deep down her character was what he hoped, not what he feared.

As authors and journalists, we have to hold ourselves to a gold standard that refuses to stoop to ridicule and chooses to see the world as it “could be.”

I watched a brief clip by Jordan Peterson in which he says, you don’t want a partner who will just pat you on the head; you want someone who will push you towards who you could be.

As authors and journalists, we have to hold ourselves to a gold standard that refuses to stoop to ridicule and chooses to see the world as it “could be.”

Comedians have recently come under fire. While I agree with the importance of having the liberty of free speech, I’ve been of the opinion that a good comedian makes us laugh, collectively, at ourselves, our lives and the dilemmas we face. ‘Collectively’ is the key word here. We may be embarrassed but we can laugh at ourselves without feeling we are a target.

It’s easy to go with the flow, and laugh even when we know something is hurtful to someone. There is a verse in the Bible that says, “Better are the wounds of a friend than the kisses of the enemy.” Do we really want the approval of the enemy? A true friend looks for fairness to all and is guided by kindness, while an enemy harbours malice.

Someone who does not like you when you are real will not like you if you fake it to go along with them.

I found a saying when I was young that went like this, “A fool convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.” Someone who does not like you when you are real will not like you if you fake it to go along with them, either. You become subservient when another can make you change outwardly and your outward behaviour no longer matches your inner convictions.

There is tremendous power in words to wound. There is also power to influence others for good or evil. It is much easier to tear down than it is to build.

In today’s society trashing a person’s life seems to be some sort of sadistic sport: Let’s see whose life we can destroy this week.

In Canada thousands of caregivers risked their lives during the worst part of the pandemic and have now lost their jobs, on top of it all, due to vaccine mandates. Some provinces have decided against firing health workers as we approach the “endemic,” and the journalistic response has been disturbing. Chris Selley covered the surprising attitude in a recent article entitled, Canadians are enjoying firing the unvaccinated far too much.

Kudos to our local school boards and unions who have decided to continue business as usual rather than lose teachers.

I’ve led a sheltered life and cruelty always comes as a shock to me. It may be because I’ve stayed off Twitter. (Smile.) The real reason why I am not on Twitter is because of how much of my valuable time it would consume. But there is another reason. I would find it too hard to resist firing off those zingers in the moment. I need a Mr. Knightly in my life to hold me to a higher standard.