Something Needs to Change…

forcillo-yatim-1The verdict in the case against Toronto police officer James Forcillo was handed down yesterday. Guilty, of attempted murder. It’s a verdict that has Canadians talking, mostly because they agree that while they are satisfied with a guilty verdict, they are not satisfied with the “attempted murder” verdict. Most Canadians feel that Forcillo should have been found guilty of 2nd degree murder.

There are some of course who seem to think it ridiculous that Forcillo was charged at all, but those people usually have some ties to law enforcement and are thinking with a “thin blue line” mentality. They do not believe that any cop should come under fire for drawing and using his weapon on the job. They are the people who believe our cops are above the law, or are at least privileged enough that they can do no wrong while on duty, and they are wrong. Police officers have to be held accountable for their actions, they have to be willing to own the choices they make, and to be punished according to law when they cross the line.

There are people who will tell you that Sammy Yatim deserved to die for disobeying an order from a police officer, but that is untrue. No one DESERVES to die, and what’s more, we do not give our cops license to be judge jury and executioner, that isn’t their job. Police officers are there to protect the population from harm, and take criminals off the streets to prevent them from committing further criminal acts. While from time to time that job does involve drawing their weapon, gunplay is usually the exception and not the rule.

For Officer James Forcillo however, drawing his gun seemed to be his go to move. Constable James Forcillo’s reliance on his firearm brought him to the attention of a Toronto Police early warning system the year before he fatally shot Sammy Yatim on a downtown streetcar. Forcillo testified at that review that he pulled his weapon about 12 times in three-and-a-half years on the job.

The “early intervention” process, as it’s called, is aimed at identifying officers who, “may be at risk of entering the disciplinary process.”

An officer who points his Glock .40 calibre semi-automatic gun at a person three times within a rolling 12-month period is the trigger for the early warning system to kick in and issue an alert. At the time of the alert, the 32-year-old Forcillo was working in the downtown 14 Division for almost three years. It’s unclear what happened after the alert was issued late in 2012. What is clear however is that Forcillo had an existing history of pulling his weapon inappropriately. He was a cop with an itchy trigger finger.

That said, it comes as no surprise that on that fateful day in 2013 when Officer Forcillo encountered a confused and mentally unstable Sammy Yatim on a downtown streetcar his first action was to pull his weapon. After all Forcillo was known to have an unusual reliance on his service weapon when confronting suspects. What is surprising is the fact that even after Forcillo pumped at least three bullets into the body of Sammy Yatim and Yatim lay dying on the floor of the streetcar Forcillo kept firing, and no one stopped him.

Was Forcillo justified in drawing his weapon that day? Apparently the jury thought so, but there are many Canadians who do not agree. There are many Canadians who think that drawing a weapon on Yatim was NOT justified, that the situation could have been handled differently, and should have been. There are many who feel that Yatim was a danger to himself only, and besides that, officers never got close enough to Yatim for him to present any real threat to their safety.

The shooting of Sammy Yatim calls into question the way in which police officers handle calls involving those with possible mental illnesses. No one tried to understand Sammy Yatim’s distress that day on that empty streetcar. He had hurt no one, yet was showing obvious signs of mental distress, but no one tried to talk him down and take him into custody peacefully, instead Forcillo chose to draw his weapon and start shooting.

Here we are, celebrating Bell’s annual “Let’s Talk” campaign. A campaign designed to get people talking about mental illness, so how is it, we’re not talking about Sammy Yatim, and how police handle run ins with mentally unstable Canadians? Shouldn’t that be a part of our dialogue? Something needs to change, or there will be many more Sammy Yatims in our future.

Jus’ sayin’

The Photographer

 

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Does Your Friend List Need Detox?

Well folks, here it is, the first post of the new year! As I do every year I spent the holidays looking back over the last year and trying to figure out what about my life needed to change in order for me to move forward. I needed to detox my life, but where to start?

I began thinking about the people I surround myself with. My chief goal was to figure out which ones were toxic to my well being, and eliminate them from the picture. I realized that over the past few years I had gathered a few “friends” that were creating a negative and therefore “toxic” influence on my well being. It became clear to me that these people were metaphorical boat anchors, chaining me down and preventing me from moving forward and becoming a better person, the only solution was to rid myself of them. So on January 1st, I began to detox my friend list!

Now while this may sound harsh to some of you, others are sitting there reading this and thinking “I have ‘toxic’ people in my life!” But who exactly IS a toxic person? Let’s break it down shall we?

1.) Toxic people are NEVER interested in what’s going on with YOU, their main focus is themselves, and what YOU can do for them.

2.) Toxic people are never around when you need THEM, but when they have a problem YOU are the first person they call.

3.) Toxic people never call just to talk, they always have something they want you to do for them, and they ALWAYS expect you to agree to it.

4.) Toxic people will talk about you with others if it furthers their agenda, they do not understand the meaning of discretion, or loyalty to friends.

5.) An encounter with a toxic person leaves you mentally (and sometimes physically) drained. It’s difficult to keep up with all their complaints and issues, especially when you are the one expected to solve everything for them.

6.) Toxic people DO NOT respect your beliefs or boundaries but expect YOU to respect THEIRS.

If any of the above six points strike a note for you, then you may have a toxic person in your life. So, is it time for YOU to detox your life?

Maybe so!

I’m off to detoxify my friend list!

Have a great weekend!

The Photographer

 

The Only Thing We Have to Fear is Fear Itself!

All day long I sit and think about what is going on in the world around me. The more I learn about the horrors this planet serves up the more I want to crawl into a hole somewhere and wait to die. I am an empath. No I DO NOT mean I am empathetic, that’s a different thing entirely, I mean empath, a person that absorbs the feelings and energies of those around them and feels the same way. It’s the reason that I have begun to avoid or limit my contact with other people. There is far too much pain and suffering in society these days, I can not handle the feelings, the energy that hits me when I go out into the world. It’s overwhelming! Being in a crowd is physically exhausting. There is nothing I can do about this, no switch I can flip to turn it off, it’s just a part of who I am.

Right about now you’re thinking one of two things, okay maybe three, you’re thinking;

  1. This chick is completely nuts why am I still reading this?
  2. I KNOW exactly how that feels!
  3. I’m glad I’m not her!

If you’re thinking #1 WHY ARE YOU STILL HERE? Go find something productive to do!

If you’re thinking #2 Please inbox me? I think we should be friends!

If you’re thinking #3 Some days I wish I wasn’t me!

You see the thing is, when you’re like me, when you feel energies so deeply that the feelings that generated those energies become YOUR feelings, the world is a very depressing place to be right now. People are angry all the time, angry about the economy, angry about the fact that they think their governments aren’t listening to them, angry that life isn’t what they want it to be. On top of that anger there is a current of fear. Fear of terrorists, fear of change, fear of the unknown. Anger and fear together breed hatred, hatred of races, religions, sexual orientations, gender identity, skin color, the list goes on…

Imagine how it feels to be in a crowd of people with all that hatred, fear, and anger in the air. As I said, it’s overwhelming, especially to someone who feels none of those things by choice. I am not angry about things I can not control, I do not fear what I don’t understand I strive to understand it, and I do not hate because I do not judge without reason, and without judgement there can be no hatred. When you feel and absorb all that negative energy, you have to find a way to deal with the fall out.

No, I’m not perfect…far from it. I have made more mistakes in my life choices than I have time or inclination to tell you about. My way of handling things? I simply strive to learn from each mistake, and do not judge others for the mistakes they make as if I have made none of my own.

So why exactly am I telling you all of this? Because I want to make you think of course! Isn’t that why you read this blog? Because I’m weird and make you think about things from a different angle? Well there you go! But that isn’t the only reason I am telling you this. (Of course it isn’t, you know me by now!)

I want to talk to you about the hatred I feel coming off people in waves when I go out lately. It’s tangible, and it effects me to the point of changing my mood to one of anger if I stay out too long. There is always a certain amount of hatred in the world but lately, there is more than I have ever felt.

The problem is, that now that hatred seems to have a focus, and that focus is on innocent Muslim Canadians. It’s also irrational hatred brought on by media sensationalism and recent world events. Most people are too blinded by that hatred right now to see it for what it really is, an irrational response to fear.

People are afraid, afraid that war is coming, afraid of a terrorist attack, and that fear is creating a hatred of those that they perceive as being responsible for their fear. (It’s a vicious circle really!) It is a basic human response to hate that which we fear, albeit an irrational one.

Humans fear the unknown, but instead of learning about what they fear, they instead hate what they fear. If we follow this thinking we can conclude that the only way to get over your fear and hatred of Muslims is to truly get to know what most Muslims believe. In other words instead of hating what you fear learn why you should or shouldn’t fear it. It really isn’t rocket science, it’s just rational response. Very often when we learn about what we fear we find there is no reason to fear it in the first place.

Until Next Time

Namaste’

The Photographer

 

I have lost my holiday spirit, and here’s why…

This year I just can’t seem to get into the holiday spirit. It’s no big surprise really. With everything that is going on in the world, making a huge fuss out of the holidays somehow just doesn’t seem right. You see, while we are here getting ready for our usual decadent Christmas full of presents and overabundant food to eat, there are thousands of child refugees that are scrounging for their next meal, or a warm place to sleep.

Now while some might argue that these refugee children are not Christians and don’t celebrate Christmas anyway, I still feel the way I do. These are children, they did not ask for war to come to their country, they do not understand why it has, they just know that their life has been turned upside down and they no longer have a home.

With half of North America screaming “we don’t want any refugees brought here” no one is thinking of the children.  The children of war are always innocents caught in the crossfire. When the first images of refugee children washed up on the beaches after drowning at sea were released the world took a collective breath in horror, then they went about their merry way with nary a further thought to the fate of thousands of innocent lives.

Now the Christmas season has arrived and everyone is happy to immerse themselves in holiday preparations, and forget all about those pictures of dead children on a beach as if they never saw them. Meanwhile the mainstream media is preaching at us all about how we should fear these refugees because they “might” be terrorists. I have yet to find any historical information that contains stories of baby terrorists with sub-machine guns tucked in their diapers wiping out border patrols as they are carried in arms, but apparently according to some EVERY Muslim on the planet is a terrorist. When did we become so cynical that even the life of a child is less important than our “pretend” feelings of safety?

Those feelings ARE a pretense, we are only safe until someone with a gun decides we are not. America has an overabundance of the ingredients that go into a holy war, but no one sees this because they have all convinced themselves that “war will never happen here!” But let us look at the situation realistically shall we?

America- land of the free and home of the self centered, (isn’t that the way it goes?) Well…we know that Americans have more guns than they really need, (after all it is their fundamental right to bear arms) and we know that Americans have more radical Christian religious nuts than they need. Are guns and radical religious nuts not the same reason why we are currently fighting a little terrorist group known as DAESH (I am told they hate that name) Extreme Islamists with guns = DAESH a terrorist organization, therefore how can we say that the same thing could not happen here?

America has radical Christian religious nuts, and every single one of them has the right to bear arms. What would happen if they organized themselves? If they suddenly decided their way was the only way, and got together to force the rest of us to bow to their thinking or die for being infidels, would you care then? Of course you would, but you don’t care at all about innocent children caught up in a religious war? You need to give your head a shake and get your priorities straight.

There is one little thing everyone needs to remember…it could be YOU, it could be YOUR child, and if it were wouldn’t you like to think the rest of the world would care enough to welcome you to a safe haven with open arms? I know I would!

So go ahead, celebrate your decadent Christmas, bury yourself in material goods that somehow seem to have become “the reason for the season.” I can’t stop you, and I can’t judge you, that’s a job for whatever God or higher power you believe in.

Until Next Time,

Try to remember what the holiday season is REALLY about!

The Photographer

Um…aren’t YOU supposed to set an example?

This past weekend I celebrated my 50th birthday. I had an awesome mostly pain free day, which is not something that happens often. I suffer from Fibromyalgia, so some days are better than others. Thanks to the prayers and positive thoughts of friends all over the world, the day of my outing was one of the good ones, and for that I was grateful. Thank you all!

My destination was a local historical sight St. Marie Among the Hurons, that was having their First Light ceremony. 5000 candle lanterns lit the pathways from one exhibit to the other. The effect was like stepping back in time, and it was beautiful!

Since the sight is a small one, and hundreds (possibly thousands) of people show up yearly to take in the First Light tradition, they had shuttle buses running from the local Wal-mart parking lot about four miles away. By the time we got their the parking lot was full so we were directed to the Wal-mart parking lot to park and we climbed aboard a rented school bus to be transported back to the sight. The bus ride went smoothly, and soon we were enjoying the atmosphere of the historical settlement, and the candle lanterns.

I hadn’t been to this particular museum sight since I was a child, and stepping onto the grounds brought back memories of my Father whom I lost to cancer over eight years ago. As we entered the auditorium to catch the performance of the Eastview Secondary School Choir my thoughts drifted to the last time I had been here with my Father. We had missed the beginning of the concert due to our detour back to the Wal-mart for parking, so when we reached the auditorium a section of the choir was in the middle of a song. We stood by the wall as they finished, and found a seat while the entire choir was putting themselves back together onstage before beginning the next song.

As I settled myself into my seat and the first notes of the next song began I looked at my husband with a tear in my eye, and he quickly realized that the choir was about to perform “Danny Boy” my Father’s favorite song. I knew right then that Dad was with me, celebrating my 50th right along with me. I sat in my seat tears streaming down my face while the choir sang, my mind tumbling back to a time when I was a child and my Father and I had sat in this very same auditorium taking in educational talks about Jesuit Missionaries in Canada. It was that first trip that developed my fascination for learning about Canada’s Native culture, something that still holds great interest for me.

We left the auditorium to tour the rest of the mission, but my mind was still in the past and as a result I was as fascinated by everything as a child is seeing it for the first time. We moved through the grounds taking in the exhibits and demonstrations, tasting healing teas in the tiny wooden “hospital” building, sampling hot chocolate in the main cabin, and watching the blacksmith ply his trade in the cold.

When I began to tire we returned to the main building heading into the “French Cafe'” for a bite to eat and a coffee to warm up. There was a family of musicians performing in the cafe’ and we ended up sitting there for far longer than we realized, enjoying the music and the atmosphere. The next time I looked at my watch I realized that we didn’t have much time before the last scheduled shuttle bus back to our car. Reluctantly we left the cafe’ and headed outside to the bus line.

It was at this point that my evening changed. There were hundreds of us lined up out front to board the shuttle buses. My husband and I found the end of the line and joined knowing it was going to take a bit of standing in the cold damp night before we would get the opportunity to board a shuttle bus and head to our car. If I stand in the cold and damp for too long it triggers my pain, so I knew that it would not be long before I started to feel the cold.

We’d been standing in line for about half an hour, and I was starting to lose the feeling in my toes but we were close to boarding a bus, so I shuffled my feet said nothing and waited. Just then a group of 6 – 10 seniors citizens walked right up and stood in front of us. I tapped the gentleman in front of me on the shoulder and said “excuse me, but the end of the line is back there.” pointing behind me. He turned and looked saying “why are all those people standing behind you?” (please note, he had just walked past “all those people standing behind me” and knew full well why they were standing there.) “Because you butted into the middle of the line sir.” I replied as politely as possible (which by this time, as cold and achy as I was becoming was not an easy task) “Oh did I?” was the old man’s reply (again he knew full well that he had, this was no fade brained senior) “Oh well no harm! We’ll all get there eventually!” he said and turned away from me.

Now in this line behind me I had seen Mothers with babes in arms, and at least one person in a wheel chair, but here was this able bodied senior line jumping and feeling absolutely NO shame over it!  As the line jumper and friends carried on a conversation in front of me I turned to my husband saying “You know I was always taught to respect my elders, but I was also always taught that my elders were an example of who I should be, and THAT man is NO example of how to act!”

Truth be told I was shocked by the behavior of these seniors. These people just jumped a line people had been standing in for half an hour in the cold, and thought they were entitled to do so because they were seniors. I am sure there were many people in that line (myself included) who would gladly have let them into line ahead of them had they asked, but they didn’t ask, they just assumed that because of their age they were entitled to line jump, and therein lies my problem with them.

Most of us (well if you’re my age at least) were taught to respect our elders, to be the one to offer them your seat on the bus, or hold doors open for them, and to in general be respectful. However, being old doesn’t make you special, it doesn’t mean you get to automatically assume you can do things such as line jump and everyone will be okay with it. Last time I checked, the elderly had one job, to set an example for the rest of us as to how we should conduct ourselves in public. All I could think at the time was, “if these are the seniors who are setting an example for the rest of the world, no wonder it’s going to hell in a handbasket!”

You KNOW the world is in trouble when even senior citizens start acting like entitled spoiled brats!

Until Next Time

Try a little peace and love!

The Photographer

They were “just having a laugh”

Racism, religious persecution, hate crimes, ridicule or abuse for being different or differently abled, (is that term PC enough for everyone?) all have one thing in common, someone is treated badly for being who they are. When someone is treated badly for being who they are we call it bullying. When someone is harassed or assaulted for their sexual orientation, race, religion, or physical shortcoming (again I’m trying to be as PC as possible, but since what is correctly PC changes by the second you’ll please excuse me if I have caused offense.) it’s still bullying but on a grander scale. So my question is, in a society seemingly obsessed with stopping bullying how is it we can’t seem to let go of the very thinking which creates bullies in the first place? We as a society label people, place them in categories, and then hate on them for being who or what they are. Sounds like high school bullying at it’s finest does it not?

I was bullied in school as I am sure many of you were. I have few fond memories of my school years. I never wore the right clothes, I had to be home too early, I got good grades, I didn’t have the latest running shoes, someone didn’t like my face and felt the need to rearrange it, I was Irish, I was Catholic, there were a million reasons why my childhood bullies tormented me. At first I tried to change myself, to be someone they would like so the bullying would stop. Not surprisingly, it didn’t stop, apparently I could change what I wore but if I couldn’t change who I was I’d still be a target. In high school it was even worse, and I withdrew into myself. That’s when I began a life long battle with depression.

Did my bullies think beyond the act of bullying me to the long term effects of that bullying? No, bullies seldom do, they seem to stick to a steady diet of ignorance and apathy (I don’t know what effect my actions are having and I don’t care.) Did a single one of my bullies ever stop to think that their actions would send me into years of therapy? Or that I would try to take my own life twice to avoid having to go back to school after summer break? Of course not, they were “just having a laugh.”

The thing is, bullying isn’t funny. Sure you may be having a laugh shoving the skinny kid with the pocket protector into a locker and locking the door, but what trauma is that skinny kid going to come out of the locker with? For me it was claustrophobia. I have a paralyzing fear of getting trapped in small spaces, a fear so bad that I have to be heavily sedated to have an MRI, and I have panic attacks if I watch a movie scene where someone is trapped in close quarters.

Bullying has consequences. So the next time you think about saying or doing something nasty to someone because they are different from you, stop and ask yourself if you’re aware of the consequences your actions will have, then put yourself in the other person’s shoes.

They’re just really not that into you…but they’re into your money!

Women on Facebook are noticing a new trend. This is not the kind of trend they want to embrace however, it is a trend all women with Facebook accounts should be aware of, because if you haven’t been targeted yet, you might be next. Now some of you are probably scratching your heads and wondering what I’m going on about but others have already figured out that an alarming number of men with middle eastern sounding names have begun to troll the Facebook profiles of women with corporate or government jobs that earn them a decent income and whom are active on social media.

I have been receiving several of these friend requests a week myself, but have not granted the friend requests of any males I do not know or whom have no friends in common with me. I also check the profiles of anyone who sends me a friend request to see how long they have been on Facebook how many friends they have and how active they are, and what I am finding is that these men usually have profiles that were recently set up, have no friends or very few,  and do little to no posting on their Facebook accounts. This tells me they are there to do one thing and one thing only, troll for vulnerable women.

In talking to friends online earlier today I found that while most of the women I know dismiss these friend requests by denying them immediately, some have friended them. They begin their asking for money scams very shortly after they are granted friend status. Others report their religious beliefs being questioned, and being told that their religion is wrong but they can be “saved” by converting to Islam.and giving all their wealth to the cause.

I first began getting these types of friend requests shortly after the Nigerian school girls were kidnapped by Boko Haram last year. At first I didn’t really think anything of it, but now it is happening at least once or twice a day. Is some extremist faction trolling the internet for vulnerable women and extorting money from them to fund their holy war? It’s not a stretch to think so, it’s a classic con job, one that has been going on for years. Why wouldn’t a terrorist use it to help him fund his terror plots?

Women beware and don’t accept friend requests from strange men with foreign sounding names and brand spanking new Facebook accounts, they’re just really not that into you, but they’re into your money!.

Have a great day everybody!

Remember,

You ARE a strong woman!