Fighting Words

The Stanley Bridge Centre is launching a new feature called Fighting Words, in which area residents offer their opinions on the issues of the day, from the serious to the whimsical. The opinions expressed on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the Stanley Bridge Centre.


Simplifying your life is apparently weird
By Michelle M Arsenault

Michelle M. Arsenault is a prolific author from Cape Wolfe, PEI, whose tenth book is expected to hit store shelves shortly.

Earlier this year I was planning to move to another province. Although I have since put off this decision so I could focus on my writing rather than adjusting to a new life in a new city, at the time it was pretty stressful. Weighing the pros and cons of every decision is especially difficult if you’re an over-thinker who tends to fixate on one point after another until it’s just one big jumbled mess in your brain.

That aside, I discovered, very quickly, that my somewhat gypsy lifestyle is thought to be weird. Not having a long-term, settled address makes people suspicious. Switching jobs, not having a lot of possessions (especially a car) seems to disturb people. In fact, many look at me sadly as if I worked my whole life for…what? Nothing? I don’t have a house, a car or family to ‘show’ for my life. I mean, sure, I wrote a few books in a short period but it’s not the kind of tangible stuff that most would consider normal.

It wasn’t always this way. In fact, up until 2010 I actually had a car, possessions like furniture and a job that I had worked at for many years; think double-digits. However, when I decided to move to Vancouver, many of these things that I needed became a huge weight tying me down. I wasn’t about to bring everything with me so I had to purge, sell and for the most part, practically give away many of the possessions that I had worked so hard to get in the first place. I was left thinking that it was incredibly ridiculous. Why do we work so hard for this stuff that really just anchors us and makes it difficult to have freedom?

When I left BC a few years later and returned to the east coast I was content to leave my furnished apartment aside, only having to purge a few items since I kept my possessions limited over the years, allowing me to never get tied down in the same way again.

So back to earlier this year. I’m attempting to move to a furnished apartment, however, it’s quickly proven a difficult process because, as it turns out, there aren’t many furnished apartments. Many that are out there are quite frankly dumps with ‘furniture’ resembling the crap you pull off the sidewalk when moving to your first apartment in college. Other places were nice but expensive. It was difficult to find anything in between and for some reason, trying to simplify my life actually became very difficult. Many furnished apartments weren’t all included and if they were, sometimes landlords weren’t getting back to me with images etc. It was frustrating.

I actually had one particularly difficult experience with a landlord while looking in Halifax who apparently thought that part of the interview process involved asking me why I moved so much. Well, why the hell not? Why do I have to justify my lifestyle choice? Why does anyone? Clearly, I was a weirdo because this particular guy grew suspicious and said he would only maybe rent to me if I was willing to drive the 3-4 hours to meet him in person and even then he couldn’t guarantee anything. Essentially he was a judgemental dick. However, he wasn’t alone.

Other things that potential landlords found weird included wanting everything included in the rent; heat, lights, along with furniture. Why? Well, here’s an interesting fact. It’s nice to know exactly what your expenses are each month with no crazy surprises in January. Why is that strange? Landlords also thought that it was strange I didn’t have work lined up in the potential cities I was looking to move. Have you ever tried to get a job in a city that you don’t already live in? They pretty much toss your résumé aside because it just seems like a big hassle. There are too many concerns that you might not actually move or find a place in time to start the job. I had money in the bank but that seemed kind of irrelevant. The fact that I have a long resume of jobs, skills, and experience moving somewhere new and finding work right away also seemed irrelevant.

The point is that we are encouraged to simplify our lives but try it; people will think you are a freak too. Get rid of all your possessions other than the things you really need and the world shakes their head. A minimalist? What the hell is that? Why do you want to pretend you’re poor? They don’t understand how you can be happy in life without a lot of stuff. Also, as I expressed, the world doesn’t exactly support this kind of lifestyle. Try finding a furnished apartment. Try to explain why you don’t have or want a car. Try to justify giving away stuff you feel weighs you down. People will treat you as if you have a psychological disorder. I promise.

It’s not fair. Why must I justify how I choose to live? Why am I required to toe the line and do what everyone else does? Why must I explain my decision to live differently?

It almost seems as if society has ideas about how we all must live and feels the need to put tremendous pressure and shame on those who don’t fit into their beliefs.

There’s a very unconventional guy that I see around and when I do, we chat. He has two homes. One doesn’t have electricity. He’s eccentric, an artist who very much marches to the beat of his own drum. He talks about how these two environments spark his creativity for various reasons. I find that fascinating. I know that some people think he’s strange and when I stand in the middle of a coffee shop talking to him, I can sense people looking at us strangely but it’s because I like him. He doesn’t feel the need to be like everyone else. He is living on his own terms. He doesn’t care what others think. To me, that takes courage.

I actually feel like when I do set out to move again and start looking for a new apartment, I might have to lie. Apparently being someone who just likes to move a lot is suspicious and weird so I will have to say something socially acceptable. Maybe I’m the side girlfriend of a rich politician who is paying my way and wants me closer by or maybe I’m an abused wife starting over. Oddly enough, these reasons seem like they would pass clearance faster than the truth. Sad, isn’t it?


Some final thoughts from the Cavendish Beach Music Festival
Story and photos by Jim Brown

Well, it’s finally over – four days of sun-splashed fun, except for a torrential rainstorm at the start to make everyone wonder if the Cavendish Beach Music Festival might actually be washed away. Here are some scattered, hopefully lucid thoughts from covering the festival over those four days.

Don’t leave the sunscreen in the car!

One thing I learned right off the start: If you bring a tube of sunscreen and lather on enough of the stuff to float away a lobster boat and then throw the container in the car for a couple of hours, it won’t keep you from burning. Take it from me, I learned the hard way. Keep it with you.

Best job in the world?

One day I was at the grounds toward early evening snapping photos of festival goers, surrounded by tens of thousands of revelers and feeling vaguely claustrophic, when a young lady looked at me, likely seeing my “Media” lanyard and badge, and with a wistful note in her voice, said: “You must have the best job in the world.”


Thirty plus years in print journalism, thousands and thousands of assignments for close to a dozen publications and I’m thinking, yep, for much of those four days it was “the best job in the world.”

But really, me? I was the editor of a non-profit website and I not being paid for my work. But then again, you can’t put a price on satisfaction. I knew, since I was the editor, every one of the photos I thought were the best I had taken those four days would be displayed by a talented artist, web designer/developer I worked with in the most attractive way possible. The Stanley Bridge Centre is a website, so photos would not have to be cropped down to postage stamp size, run at the bottom corner of a page, not run at all, or worse, run in black and white (And full disclosure, when I was the editor of a community newspaper I did all of those very things to frustrated, disheartened reporters, some of whom I assume are still sworn enemies). Yep, it was the best job any photographer could hope for over those four days.

Don’t ignore the lesser acts


You talk to the average person in the street about the Cavendish Beach Music Festival and you ask them what it’s all about and most would likely mention the names Shawn Mendes or Luke Bryan. Or maybe Brett Eldredge or Lauv. But many other talented performers toil in their shadow, and I found the music of several of those acts very compelling, especially EmiSunshine, a sensational young lady from East Tennessee who is just 14 and the Broods, a dynamic sister-brother duo from New Zealand. That’s the fun of large festivals such as the Cavendish Beach Music Festival. You go for the name acts and stay for lesser lights. And I really do believe they work a little harder on the stage for their fans.

 

Empty paid parking lots

I have to admit at the best of times I don’t carry around a lot of cash, which can be a big mistake at the Cavendish Beach Music Festival. Perhaps it’s not that shocking to everyone else but it gave me a jolt when I saw signs offering concert parking for $20 and up.

I don’t mind hoofing it a bit if I can avoid paying $20, so I ended up parking my car at least half an hour’s walk from the festival grounds. I have three parking lot owners I owe a big debt of gratitude to and I won’t reveal their names, to spare them the embarrassment of being asked by others for the same favor at a future festival. One curious thing I noticed was that most of the parking lots of businesses charging the festival fee were only one quarter to one half full. Some were even empty! But maybe they had a different idea when they posted the fees. Perhaps they were worried revelers returning to their cars well into the morning hours would be intoxicated and cause extensive property damage and they were actually happy to see deserted lots.

The deluge

I never saw it coming. Never read or listened to weather reports, so when I arrived at the Cavendish Beach Music Festival grounds on the first day, July 6, shortly before noon I could feel the sun burning the back of the neck and thinking, I’m going to be broiled even with the heavy layer of sunscreen I troweled onto every inch of exposed skin. Then the heavens opened up and a fierce rainstorm struck. I was soaked to the bone in no time at all and tents rippled with the wind and the rain. Fortunately, a compassionate volunteer found some plastic raingear for me.

I looked at the long lineup of festival goers at the entrance, and nearly every one of them was dressed in raingear. They were all in good spirits, smiling and laughing.

Of course only a few hours later all traces of the sudden summer storm had left, the sun came out and the festival resumed.

No flashes, ever

A stern warning was issued to professional photographers allowed into a pit, a narrow chasm between the stage and a fence holding back thousands of straining fans that was the sweet spot for taking photos. No flashes, or you would lose your media privileges. I had my camera set on auto – no worries, it was early afternoon, the sun was shining brightly. All the available light you could ask for. And then I started clicking away when the performance began. And my flash went off…

So where are the political slogans?

You get thousands of young people and a healthy number of graybeards who have been around since Nixon and the Vietnam war and have stretched their backsides on the baddest of Harleys and you would think there would be quite a few protest T-shirts, upside down flags or unflattering images of America’s current president. Why nothing on climate change or the environment, or society’s cruelty to poor, defenseless wildlife? Heck, I can’t even recall anyone wearing anything espousing the virtues of veganism. Was this a music festival or a corporate retreat for a Fortune 500 company?

But, then again, this was for the most part a family friendly event, so I don’t think the protest statements were missed.


It’s not someone else’s role to complete us
By Michelle M Arsenault

Michelle M. Arsenault is a prolific Cape Wolfe, Prince Edward Island based author, whose 10th book will hit store shelves shortly

I recently had a very humorous conversation with an older gentleman. Actually, I was probably the only one laughing when he expressed his concern I was still single. I mean, still single – he said it in the same tone as he probably would’ve used when saying such words as antichrist and death.

I mean, you know, they are all kind of the same thing, right?

As it turns out he had a great deal of concern for my singleness and expressed uneasiness over the fact that I had never married. He was completely perplexed and studied my face for a long time, almost as if he was attempting to find the defect that kept me single.

Slightly insulted, I mostly found the entire conversation fucking hilarious.

At one time, however, I wouldn’t have been laughing. From the day I stepped out of high school, I’ve felt immense pressure to have a boyfriend, ‘find a man’, or ‘settle down’ because apparently that was what I was supposed to do. I was always very confused by this fact because I never really got the impression any of my guy friends got multiple lectures, hints, and suggestions there was something ‘wrong with them’ when they were single.

When I hit my mid-twenties the pressure only increased. Each time I would return home for a visit relatives would ask about my love life and meddling questions quickly turned into gentle pressure with comments on how it was ‘time’ to settle down. I never handled the pressure very well and had a tendency to rebel against anyone who attempted to push their ideas on me. Truth be told, I would hide any relationships I had to avoid being pelted with questions about babies and wedding dates.

Marriage? Kids? At that time I considered it a trap. All around me I saw people who I considered way too young to either get married or have kids running out to buy wedding dresses and maternity clothes. I didn’t understand the rush. I questioned whether they wanted marriage or feared to be alone. I wondered if the marriages would work out – many of them didn’t.

In my twenties I partied as often as my body, schedule and finances would allow me to and honestly, the idea of not hitting the town on a Friday or Saturday night seemed like a complete waste of a weekend. In retrospect, it was all an escape. Entering a surreal world where everyone dressed, acted and were different people from in their real lives seemed like a good idea at the time. Of course, the interesting thing about escapes is that they eventually don’t work and real life kicks your ass.

My life has taken a lot of twists and turns since that time, and luckily, I never found myself married in my twenties because the results would’ve been disastrous. The guys I chose back then were often terrible people. Misogynistic, condescending, insecure, self-involved and controlling are just a few words that spring to mind when I visualize the lineup of losers that I picked in those days. Granted, the only reason why I was attracted to or attracting such a herd of defective men is that I was pretty defective myself and had a long way to go with my own personal evolution.

To a degree, there is a sense of isolation when you’re single. A few of my ‘suddenly single’ buddies have been shocked to discover that sometimes their couple friends will no longer extend social invitations when their status changes. I’ve had similar experiences as well but didn’t really think it was a common issue until a few of my other friends started to make similar complaints. These people have even suggested that sometimes it feels as if the world is ‘punishing’ them for no longer being part of that mainstream couple world. This wasn’t such a surprise to me.

I think that everyone’s life is unique. We all have different timelines for different reasons. My life has been about personal growth and learning some tough lessons, all of which is something I feel is essential before tying the knot.

Popular movies and television often leave us with the misconception that until we find out ‘soul mate’ we are incomplete as a person. This is absolute bullshit. Not only is it not someone else’s role to ‘complete’ us, we are also not ‘lacking’ because we are not part of a couple. Love is a beautiful thing but only when it’s real; not when it’s a life raft for those who were already drowning.


The beast is upon the land
By Richard Deaton
Richard Deaton is a Stanley Bridge resident who is sounding a loud alarm for progressive Americans. If you can, get out and seek a safe haven in Canada. He writes: “Exile in Canada is not a bad alternative. Leave for Canada now.”

The wolf is at the door. And inertia is the enemy of survival.

The announcement that US Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy will retire at the end of July means that Trump will appoint a new member to the Court, resulting in his control over two branches of the federal government. This power will no doubt be wielded in an arbitrary and absolute manner by Trump. There will be no countervailing political force to his absolutism. This is the rise of American-styled fascism.

Sinclair Lewis in his classic novel, It Can’t Happen Here, portrayed an elected fascist dictatorship in the US., wrapped in the flag of patriotism and religious fundamentalism. We have now arrived at this historical juncture and it is, indeed, happening here. This will have profound ramifications for Canada and the rest of the world. But this is the reality.

People seem to have forgotten that Hitler was elected. This is portrayed in novels by Phyllis Bottome, The Mortal Storm (1938), and Anna Seghers’s The Seventh Cross (1942). The genie is out of the bottle. Civil liberties as we have known them will become extinct, as will the employment rights of workers; unions will become a thing of the past.

The world as we have known it will no longer exist and we ignore those political changes at our own peril. We cannot live in a bubble or stick our heads in the sand (pick your metaphor).

It is no accident that the very first act that Trump undertook on Inauguration Day was to remove the black military commander of the DC national guard. The praetorian guard must be loyal to Caesar. Nor is it an accident that Trump has recently launched an attack on due process. Without due process there is no functioning legal system at any level, only arbitrary power.

During the Cold War the US Congress passed The McCarran Act (1950), aka the Emergency Detention Act, 1950. This legislation provided for the financing and construction of internment camps for radicals and subversives in times of war or internal emergency. Richard Nixon during the turbulent Vietnam War era seriously considered rounding up radicals, militant blacks, subversives, and feminists, and having them put into interment camps.

At the risk of being accused of being an alarmist I do not believe that the impending political crisis in the U.S. will be resolved through elections, but only through the politics of the street. Indeed, one can foresee a number of possible scenarios whereby the 2020 presidential elections will be cancelled. Trump will have his Reichstag moment, or claim massive electoral irregularities to justify halting those elections. And the general public will opt for law, order, and stability.

What is to be done? There is an adage to the effect that, “He who runs away lives again to fight another day.” Now is such a time. There is no shame in mounting an organized or fighting retreat in the face of a superior force. Right-wing paramilitary groups have been active in the U.S. since the mid-1960s. The right fights with fists, liberals with words. Bluntly, sometimes it is better to run away and seek a safe haven.

Within this context I unashamedly say to my friends, colleagues, family, and comrades think very, very seriously about leaving the states NOW for your sake and the sake of your families. Think of coming to Canada, rather staying in the US, to avoid the coming cataclysm. Many peace groups in Canada during the Vietnam war were able to help resisters and deserters in various ways. Canada however, may not be the last, or permanent safe haven.

We no longer have the luxury of sticking our heads in the sand and hoping the coming crisis will just go away, or blow over. Survival necessitates planning. This is no longer business as usual, and the old rules don’t hold any longer. Progressives and the left do not have the luxury of acting like stunned deer.

Inertia will result in terminal paralysis, or worse. Exile in Canada is not a bad alternative. Leave for Canada now.


Steak and Tacos: Food for Thought
By Eleanor Hora.
Eleanor Hora is a Stanley Bridge resident and an aficionado of fine dining establishments, who has some timely advice for White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders and Trump’s Secretary of Homeland Security, Kirstjen Nielsen.

My ex-husband was an officer in the Canadian military. In 1968, shortly after we were married, he was offered a plum posting – four years on a Canadian base in Germany. We were thrilled!

Since the Canadian dollar was worth four Deutschmarks at the time, some couples saw their posting there as an opportunity to live cheaply and save for a down payment on a house when they returned to Canada. For the younger, childless ones like us, the goal was different; we wanted to travel. A home base in Germany would give us the best and the cheapest opportunity we would ever have to see Europe, and we planned to take advantage of it.

So off to Germany we went, armed with our Michelin maps of Europe and our brand new copy of “Europe on $5 a Day”. (Yes, $5 dollars a day…and sometimes we actually managed to limit ourselves to that amount!).

Our first trip was a long weekend in Amsterdam. According to the guidebook, the city was beautiful, the food was great, and the people were friendly. Perfect! We didn’t speak Dutch, but we’d both studied high school German, and Holland was right next door to Germany so we figured we’d be able to communicate just fine.

It didn’t take us long to learn that guidebooks aren’t always correct. Yes, the city was fantastic and the food was incredible, but the people? The problem wasn’t a lack of communication; they seemed to understand our German, but they were the coldest, most uncooperative people we’d ever met! Still, two out of three wasn’t bad, so we focused on the sights and the food and had a wonderful time.

On our last night, we decided to treat ourselves to what the guidebook told us was the best steak dinner in Amsterdam. The restaurant was in a beautiful old building in a lovely part of the city, but the staff were downright rude. The sullen host showed us to our table, where we were met by an equally sullen waiter who slapped down warm rolls and butter, splashed water into our glasses, glared as we ordered in our basic German, and poured our wine without a word. By the time he had returned with our steaks and slammed them on the table in front of us, I was feeling so uncomfortable that I start babbling…in English… “Oh, look at the size of the steaks! And they look so good…”

The waiter stared at me for a moment and then snatched up our plates.

“You’re not German,” he said in perfect English. “Where are you from?” We told him. At last he smiled. “You’re from Canada, but when you come to Holland, you speak German? Why? What in the world were you thinking? Don’t you know history? Now I have to take these steaks back and bring new ones. Everyone in the kitchen spat on these.”

Imagine what would have happened if I hadn’t started babbling at just the right time. And I don’t even want to think about what was done to the meals we ate in the other restaurants we visited that weekend. I’m lucky I’m still alive to tell the story!

Why am I telling you this right now? Well, last week, there were two separate news stories out of Washington about women connected to Donald Trump’s White House being forced to leave restaurants before they could enjoy their meals.

First it was Kirstjen Nielsen, Secretary of Homeland Security, responsible for all those imprisoned children who crossed the Mexican/US border, who was trying to enjoy a meal in a Mexican restaurant. (What was SHE thinking?). A couple of days later, another Washington area restaurant invited White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders to leave before she could even order her meal. Both women were upset that they couldn’t enjoy a nice evening out without being harassed, and while I don’t really blame them for being frustrated, I wish I could tell them my story.

Take it from one who knows: they should thank their lucky stars that they weren’t able to hang around those restaurants long enough to eat a meal! If the entire kitchen staff in a Dutch restaurant felt angry enough to spit on my steak because I spoke a few German words more than twenty years after WW2 had ended, what in the world do they think any sensible Washington restaurant worker would do to their food today?

That night in Amsterdam, all I had to do to get a decent restaurant meal was switch from German to English. For Kirstjen and Sarah, it won’t be quite that simple.

I’d advise them both to learn how to cook and resign themselves to eating at home for a while. I don’t think any restaurant is safe for them, at least until after Donald Trump is gone for good.


Are we pissing off potential boycott allies?
By Jim Brown

When it comes to striking back at Donald Trump the Canadian government is much smarter than the average Joe and Jill Canuck.

Yes, Ottawa is SMARTER than us!

It’s not just because the Trudeau government will hit America with retaliatory tariffs worth $16.6 billion on July 1, which is exactly how much America’s unfair and unwarranted tariffs on Canadian aluminum and steel will cost those domestic industries.

No, the genius is in the details. Ottawa is micro-targeting products produced in Wisconsin, Kentucky, Texas and other so-called red states which are home to Republican lawmakers who, if their constituents suffer enough from lost jobs, could cause Trump some considerable discomfort. Imagine if those targeted tariffs could actually cause the GOP to lose the House and Senate in November. It probably wouldn’t be long after that before impeachment proceedings begin.

The EU, China and Mexico, which has already applied billions in tariffs to pork, Harley Davidson motorcycles, soybeans and a wide range of other exports, have also targeted red states and this is causing heads to snap to attention in Congress.

That’s a good start, but we should remember America has an inexhaustible supply of ammunition. The can run up the tab for tens of billions of dollars to compensate the producers of agricultural and industrial goods and they can increase tariffs by hundreds of billions.

It’s nice to have the EU and Mexico and China on our side, but will it be enough?

Not if Trump and his enabling GOP lawmakers dig in their heels. They will argue, and it’s a compelling argument to millions of Trump supporters, that all of this pain and suffering will be worth it in the end when the entire world capitulates and American goods freely flow across every border.

It’s a war we can’t win unless we find even more powerful allies.

How about Americans themselves in blue states that are just as outraged at Trump’s policies as we are? Why not join forces and co-ordinate our efforts?

Let’s take deep blue California, for instance, with a population nudging 40 million people. That’s more than the entire population of Canada. California is also one of the world’s six largest economies on its own. It is the strongest, most resilient and innovative state in the America.

Why are we lumping them in with the Trump-adoring red states of Wisconsin, Kentucky, Alabama, Texas and Iowa?

I am convinced a consumer boycott of everything American won’t work. We have to take a more targeted approach that won’t offend powerful potential allies.

And there’s also a question of how committed Canadians are to the cause. Last year, for instance, when Trump was banging his anti-free trade drum and making ominous noises about our protective trade practices, and after he slapped tariffs on our softwood lumber, visits to the US actually INCREASED!

Is it reasonable to expect Canadians freezing in the depths of another dark, miserable winter will forego their trips to sunbelt states?
But maybe, just maybe, they might be encouraged to visit California or Hawaii, rather than Florida, Arizona, or New Mexico.

And don’t forget Californians have a legitimate beef against Canada. Ontario just elected our version of Donald Trump, who has promised to send us all back into the Stone Age by withdrawing Canada’s most populous province from a cap and trade agreement that would restrain green house gas emissions. Ontario’s withdrawal will cost the province billions and hurt the progress of California’s efforts to bring about a brighter, more sustainable future.

So there’s a lot of resentment building towards the Golden State’s Canadian cousin already, even though Ontario alone was the culprit. Does it make any more sense to blame them, or Hawaii or New York State or Oregon or Washington State, among others, for what has been wrought by backward, insular red states who voted for Trump?

Let’s all work together and make an extra effort not to buy anything from designated red states such as Kentucky, which does produce some mighty fine bourbon.

We don’t have to deny ourselves the fruits and produce we crave, just to strike back at Trump.

Buy them instead from California and other warm-weather states who voted against Trump. And California does bottle some really fine wines.

Red states, many of them with struggling economies, cannot compete against such a formidable army, especially if they are fighting other American states.

Lets not cut off our noses to spite our face.


Let’s try to make this messed up world we live in a little easier for each other
By Michelle M Arsenault

Michelle M Arsenault, known as MIMA to her many loyal readers, is a prolific novelist based in Cape Wolfe, Prince Edward Island. Her ninth and most recent book, A Devil Named Hernandez, was published in February and another one will be hitting bookshelves shortly. Learn more at www.mimaonfire.com. She can also be found on Facebook and on Twitter at mimaonfire. Michelle also has a widely followed blog at https://truthdarkside.blogspot.com/2018/06/the-card.html.

She went to her doctor because she was concerned about a lump and he wrote it off as nothing; probably busy, maybe he didn’t care but regardless, the doctor brushed off her concerns as irrelevant. He didn’t bother to take the necessary test to assure her the lump was harmless but, instead, assured the woman she was fine.
It was cancer. Unfortunately, she didn’t know this fact until a year later when it was too late.

However, this isn’t a story to rip apart the healthcare system or the doctor who made this error in judgment but it’s actually a story about how we treat each other. For example, had the doctor looked into the eyes of a scared woman in the office on the original visit, maybe things could’ve potentially turned out much, much differently. He didn’t.

Unfortunately, it isn’t just an overworked doctor who makes this kind of mistake; granted, in this specific case it was a matter of life and death, but in general many of us, every day, overlook people. We forget that these people may not always be here to overlook. That’s just an unfortunate reality that we all must face.

Months before this woman’s illness was revealed we exchanged Christmas cards. She had a habit of bringing cards to many of her co-workers each year, although that particular year she revealed to me that she had cut down on her Christmas card list. She confided after seeing some of her cards tossed in the trash previously she decided that her gesture wasn’t appreciated by some.

Although I was pretty young and naive at the time, I still recognized what an incredibly rude and hurtful action this was and immediately agreed those people were simply not worthy of her kindness. After all, it takes time to fill out that many cards but I guess they thought she had all the time left in the world.

This is a story that I would recall after her death when a stream of coworkers met and entered the funeral home together. I wondered to myself which of those people thoughtlessly tossed her Christmas cards away the previous years.

And let’s be honest. None of us want that kind of person at our funeral. I think almost everyone would agree that if you weren’t there for them in life, don’t bother showing up for the funeral either. And if you do, don’t cry and make a huge production cause you haven’t earned it.

The point is that we need to start treating each other better and we have to do so now. The news proves that we, as human beings, are failing. We attack each other online, we judge, we hate and yet, rather than to change these behaviors, we choose instead to justify them. We don’t have to look much further than world leaders to see this every day. The rule of the jungle is if someone is a dick to you, you’ve got the right to lash out.

I’m not suggesting that we should save the world. I’m not even suggesting that you talk to your ex or start saying nice things about repulsive world leaders, what I mean is to just be kind to one another. Smile. Open doors. Listen, really listen, when people talk and hear them. You may not have the solutions to the world’s problems but you have two ears, don’t you? Let’s try to take this fucked up mess of a world we live in and make it just a little easier for each other, shall we?

And if someone gives you a card, even if you don’t want it, smile, be gracious and just say, ‘Thank you’.

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