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Tuesday, December 15, 2015

WHAT IS ON MY MIND: A NEED FOR COMPASSION

It has been a long time since I last posted anything on CONVERSATIONS WITH MYSELF.  I got busy with my travel blog or my writer's blog or, most importantly, getting a major novel published.  But today I knew I had to start writing here again.

This blog is mainly for my own rants, for family stories or general observations. That's why it's called "Conversations with Myself". These are my opinions and thoughts, separate from  my writing and travels blogs.

When I went to the pool today for waterfit, my mind was troubled with all the turmoil and nastiness that is going on in the world right now. To add to the horrid wars in the Middle East instigated by that evil group who call themselves ISIS or ISIL and proclaim they are acting on the words of the 'prophet', there is another equally evil and trouble-making person spouting the same kind of hatred below the border of Canada in the United States.. It was bad enough when we had the mis-informed, radical right wing so-called "Christian" Republicans spewing their nonsense, now they are joined by this man, Donald Trump, who has to be the worse individual since Adolph Hitler. In fact, he's very much the same. Hitler was determined to rid the world of Jews.  Trump would like the rid the world (or at least the US) of Muslims. And in doing so, by spewing his nasty rhetoric, he is playing right into the hands of ISIS, creating dissention in the States (and worldwide) causing HATE to raise it's ugly head.  And unfortunately too many ill-informed people are buying it.

I came from a family who were 'immigrants'. (In fact, didn't we all, other than the aboriginal people?) My father was a Welsh coal miner who was forced to immigrate after he lost his mining card due to standing up for the rights of the poor miners. He came to Canada as a farm worker and later became a Baptist minister. My mother's family immigrated from Nottingham England. Their roots could have been Saxon.  My children's father was the son of Ukrainian immigrants. If I could trace his family tree back far enough it would include the genes of the Genghis Khan. In my family tree now, as I trace it down the line, it also includes (through marriages) Chinese, Korean, and Haitian and (through adoption) First Nations.

When I was a child growing up on the Prairies my parents were always feeding, clothing and helping poor migrant workers. I became interested in the First Nations people then too and used to wish I was one of them, not knowing for years what a terrible life they were leading, how their children were taken away and put into residential schools. (It is only now with our new government that something is really being done to investigate and hear their stories for Reconciliation.)

 When WWII broke out and my dad went overseas to act as chaplain in an army field hospital in Holland, I learned all about the hatred of  Hilter and Mussolini and watched in total shock, after the war, when news reels were released of starved, skeletal Jews behind the barbed wire of internment camps, and worse...the piles of bodies from the gas chambers.  This is what hatred does! We fought the war to stop it and we were just lucky that we won.

I didn't know til I was 12 and moved to the Coast about the internment of the Japanese. I learned about that later when realized that my junior high school chum, a young Japanese girl, must have only just been released from an internment camp.  I didn't know about the head tax on the Chinese, either, until much later. How when the men came across the Pacific to work on "Gold Mountain" (as they called BC) they were taxed and were not allowed to bring their families here. Even back in the late '40's and early '50s when my family first arrived here there were lots of lonely Chinese bachelors wandering around the designated areas known as Chinatown ( The Japanese area had been destroyed during the war!)

Now this loud-mouth buffon, DT, is preaching to the gullible Republican right (and any other bigot who cares to listen) that he wants to block all Muslims from entering US, including keeping out those who have been away visiting and making those who live there wear ID badges.  (Just like Hitler did with the Jews!!!)
And unfortunately a great many small-minded gun-toting bigots are listening to his rants and agreeing with him. This man has become as much of a danger to the States as Hitler was to Europe. He must be stopped! In other countries (such as Canada) he'd be charged with hate crimes.  In the States, however, they do nothing. I keep waiting for one of those zillion 'permit to carry guns' folk will do America a favor and pop him off and put the States out if its misery. Of course who wants to die in the electric chair for killing a bad guy?  It seems in the States only the good men like Martin Luther King or the Kennedys or John Lennon get assassinated.

People need to educate themselves about race and religion.  We need to learn understanding, compassion and trust.  These virtues seem to be missing these days. When I was a child I began writing stories about the First Nations people.  At the age of 12 my first published story was about a Dutch refugee girl who was rescued from a camp by a Canadian soldier after WWII. During the 50's I had a  friend who went to the Korean War and came back obviously PTSD. During the '70's I lived with American draft dodgers and army deserters who protested the VietNam war. Later, as a senior supervisor in a daycare I took in children of VietNamese boat people.  Learning how to teach English to kids enabled me later to get work in Greece as an ESL teacher. And during the 70's when I first started to travel outside of Canada and  US I learned so much about people of other countries, cultures and religions. This included trips to Mexico and Central, living for a short while in Guatemala, my first journeys to England and  Turkey. Since 1979 I started travel writing and began traveling regularly to Greece, ending up living there during the '80's and part time in the '90's as well as visiting other countries in Europe and also to Malaysia (a country that is 50% Muslim) South America and more recently to Egypt.

I have had close relationships with Turks, Egyptians, Moroccans, Palestinians, Syrians and Greeks and have been good friends with people from Sudan and South Africa and other parts of Europe and South America and Asia.  And yes, some of these people were Muslim. And all of them were wonderful, kind, intelligent people. I can tell you stories I learned last year from a Syrian friend in Athens about how her niece was dragged off a school bus, raped and murdered and her cousin was seen in a video kneeling, holding out the cross he wore around his neck while he was executed. (Her family are Syrian Christians). Some of her family escaped to Jordan, some escaped to Canada but the rest were still there trying to find safety. I haven't heard the latest news about them. I could have gone to Syria to visit her family back in 1994 but I chose to stay in Greece. And now, I can never go as their beautiful historical country has been destroyed.

So I grieve what has happened to all these people -- the Syrians who are drowning on the boat crossings to Greece, the thousands who are stuck in refugee camps, and other who are trying desperately to escape.
I am so proud that Canada has begun giving them refuge, just as in the past we gave refuge to the people from other countries (In the 50's when the Estonians were fleeing the Russians and came here, my dad let them use his church and we became good friends with many of their families.) It makes me sad and most of all ANGRY to hear the racist, bigoted commentaries being spewed out over the airwaves, in the media and on-line by the likes of Donald Trump and his right-wing supporters.  And then to find people I know -- friends -- putting up the same kind of misguided propaganda on FB or in emails is very disturbing.

I pray for peace.  And right now I pray that Trump is stopped and the wave of hatefulness is stemmed in the States and elsewhere and that soon the evil ISIS can be defeated.  So long as it is allowed to continue the situation will worsen and for sure there will be many, many retaliations by those who Trump has incited in his Race/Religious War.

Thank God I live in Canada.  But I cry for those in the countries that I love, the people who I love, who are being torn apart by this strife.

 


2 comments:

Colleen Friesen said...

Well said Ruth.
I share your fear and frustration with the fascism that is being spouted south of the border and in parts of Europe. Why, oh why, can we not learn from history? Trump and the rest of his ilk have so much to answer for. He has released a very dark and evil genie that is bewitching the ignorant and angry.

Wynn Bexton said...

Thanks for your response Colleen.I am appalled that this man is getting away with this. What is going on in the brains of those people who are his followers? And why hasn't something been done to stop him?