Category Archives: Social Commentary

Social commentary

Weinstein and Common Traits of a Sexual Harasser

Weinstein and Common Traits of a Sexual Harasser

How people respond to sexual harassment is a true test of their understanding of what it is and its impact. How people have and will respond to Harvey Weinstein’s story is a testimony to their own integrity. —————–

According to the BC Human Rights Clinic, Sexual Harassment in the Workplace can be defined by the following key elements:

  1. Conduct of a sexual nature which is gender based,
  2. Conduct that is unwelcome, and
  3. Conduct that detrimentally affects the work environment or leads to adverse job- related consequences.

Note, while women typically experience sexual harassment more often than men, sexual harassment can and does happen to men.  It can also occur between two people of the same-sex. 

As we wade through the media storm that surrounds Mr. Weinstein it becomes apparent that there were many victims and many non-innocent bystanders. If we set aside the finger-pointing that is happening right now it might be prudent to explore some of the common traits, beliefs and behaviours of a sexual harassers. I’m no expert but there does seem to be some commonality…

The Harasser has:

  1. A Skewed Perception

Their fantasy world has taken over reality and hijacked any sensibility that others may possess. Their desire plus the need for emotional and physical control over another person is so intoxicating that they are drawn to more experiences. Their perception of conversations and events can be radically different from the recollections of victims but that doesn’t mean they are delusional. They still have the ability to observe their behaviours even if they don’t want to fully acknowledge their conduct.

  1. Access to Power

Though sexual harassment can be perpetrated by anyone, at any time, it is particularly difficult when the person is in a position of power. Whether they be an Owner, CEO, Manager or Supervisor, if the individual has the ability to decide the fate of someone’s life/job there is added pressure on the victim to evaluate the situation and choose next moves very carefully. When someone knows they can, “grab’em by the pussy”, grope a breast, steal a kiss or aggressively ask for sexual favours – simply because of their position of power – then they cease to be a competent, respected member of the business team, let alone a respectful member of society.

  1. Felt Justified

Women deserve it. Despite gender evolution there are people who have failed to develop, preferring to stay entrenched in outdated thinking. There’s also an ever-increasing production of material  that will ensure men still believe that women like abuse, are weak but sexually driven and should acquiesce to the wishes of males. These men feel justified in their actions against women and when confronted they demand that others just “get over it.” In their minds women are objects and obstacles not persons. Because of that perception it is difficult to open their mind and change the story, it’s all they know.

  1. A Lack of Consequences

How many years can go by before a man like Weinstein – who committed harassment, intimidation, and assault – would be held accountable? Apparently, more years than most of us imagined. Multiple people and agencies turned a blind eye or yielded under pressure in order to protect themselves and a man who didn’t deserve an ounce of loyalty or respect. Like all predators he positioned himself (no pun intended) like a fox in a hens cage. He found ways to mask his crimes by supporting causes and individuals that make him appear to be something he’s not – a classic distraction from his truth.

Where does that leave us?

The impact of sexual harassment in the workplace is buried in a toxic soup of abuse, lies, cover-ups, resentment, anger and hurt. Good employees leave while other employees, who are willing to comply or tough it out, work in conflict and suspicion. Nobody is safe in a work culture that rewards bad or criminal behaviour. To sell your soul to the devil in business is easier for some than others but make no mistake a soul is damaged.

Our only hope of changing the tide of harassment is to start with ourselves and our children. In my next blog post I want to open up a larger discussion and hear from others about what we can do to reduce the incidences of sexual harassment.

 

Road Flaggers Injured – Dangerous Job

Road Flaggers Injured – Dangerous Job

Two road flaggers were injured in Vancouver after a woman driving an SUV appears to have deliberately run into them. Caught on video it is apparent this driver lost control of her senses and simply drove over the flagger – later down the road she struck the second worker.

This isn’t the first time flaggers have been injured or even killed on the job and each time we see quotes about how this incident raises concerns about flagger’s safety or comments like the driver was experiencing road rage. I always find it annoying to hear or read these observations because with each new case of flagger injury or death it appears as if we are incapable of finding a solution to the problem.

Yes, Road Flaggers have a necessary and dangerous job but the majority of that danger is preventable. It is time for a multipronged approach that clearly has their safety in mind and stiffer penalties for anyone who’s road rage causes harm to others.

The BC Flagging Association and other representatives need to have the applicable levels of government and the public listen to their ideas on how their members can be safe on the job. Also, our justice system should be taking the issue of road rage very seriously – it is time to be accountable!

Frustrated by the time it is taking to bring charges against this driver, some flaggers had proposed a possible blockage of major bridges in protest. I get that level of frustration. I understand that maybe this will release some angst and bring a very important issue out where it should be, highly visible. My only concern again would be for their safety.

For now, the only thing I can do to support these workers is acknowledge flaggers with a quick wave or smile as I drive through construction zones.  I can be reminded as I drive by that they are keeping me safe and they have a family that would like to see them come home.

Wounded Elephant Crushes Trophy Hunter – Karma?

Wounded Elephant Crushes Trophy Hunter – Karma?

A friend of mine told me about the story of a trophy hunter by the name of Thuenis Botha. She had seen pictures of him and his various trophy kills on Facebook but the story she wanted to share with me was about him being crushed by an elephant. It was hard for either of us to have any sympathy for him and in fact we both felt his death was just karma.

Story: Wounded Elephant Crushes and Kills Trophy Hunter

I sponsor elephants in Kenya through The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust so you can’t expect me to care for someone who knowingly goes out to harm them. For the life of me I will never understand the mindset of someone who kills a living being for sport.

The only thing I can figure is that this type of human being is at the lower end of the intelligence spectrum meaning that things boil down to a simplistic understanding of their world. They have little regard for the impact they are having on species and the environment. I also believe this type of person is obsessed with self, lacks compassion for other beings and only feels powerful when he/she can kill a defenseless animal. It is a sport based on status, a pissing contest of sorts that allows for bragging rights at the end. Useless, absolutely useless.

Make no mistake this is big business and, as we have seen in the past, extinction of animals is entirely possible when things are left to greedy hunters and corrupt governments. Hiding behind words like conservation and land management people like Mr. Botha see money through the barrel of their gun.

My mind returns to this elephant that likely saved her herd from further threat. She died in a way that if we were talking about a human being we would have called her brave. Just like a human her instinct was to protect her family and like humans her family will grieve the loss. And that’s another thing…

I find it puzzling that we like to think of ourselves as so superior and believe we are the only species that has the capacity to evolve – to become sentient beings. If we were capable of going from blobs of cells, to walking upright, establishing communication, creating family units and so on, why do we assume other species are not evolving too?

By studying other species in the wild, like primates, elephants and cetaceans, we have learned more about their evolution, intelligence, feelings and the many traits we share. One common thing in all of us is the need to protect those we care about.

Yes, I feel absolutely a sense of calm when I say Mr. Botha’s death was a good one. I don’t see his career as a big game hunter as something that should be aspired to or protected.

The grief I feel is for the elephant family that will never forget one of their own.

It is time to end trophy hunting and call it like it is— a cowardly, barbaric act in the name of sport.

 

2017 BC Elections Debate – My take on politics

2017 BC Elections Debate – My take on politics

As I watched the first British Columbia Election 2017 debate with Green Leader Andrew Weaver, Liberal Leader Christy Clark and NDP Leader John Horgan I was reminded why I didn’t explore Politics as a potential career path. BC’s Provincial Election has kicked off and with that comes campaign strategizing, back stabbing, hand shaking, fake smiling and noise making.

There is no doubt this is a big job representing the people, developing and amending policies and programs – among other things. Any decisions made can be felt far and wide and boy do we feel it! When it comes to politics it takes a special breed of people to run for election and an even stronger contingent of people willing to put their trust in their representative.

Truth vs. Fiction and The reality of certain decisions

I believe most legislators don’t have an understanding about what is really happening at the ground level. That is because they are reliant on individuals willing to contact their offices and they receive stats and second-hand information from representatives who oversee programs on behalf of the government. It’s hard to be everywhere.

In my industry alone so many of the governments decisions have negatively impacted the working environment – resulting in more workers leaving our industry and/or increased leaves of absence. It has most certainly impeded services to clients but you won’t hear a peep about that.

Instead a glowing shout out by Premier Clark about job creation will override the reality that people fall through the cracks in employment services every day.   Through this current numbers driven model of service many in our industry will argue that we Don’t have the luxury of placing people first – especially when it comes to supporting those who need it most.

Fudging numbers and spinning stories is what makes for interesting campaigns and if we don’t know better we’ll assume what our representatives are saying is the truth. The real truth is that politicians likely know – or learn rather quickly – that facts are buried in between fiction. They have figured out that people vote based on their own values and immediate needs and pay basic attention to everything else.

Sometimes it’s so hard to know what is going on and other times it’s glaringly obvious

In this debate I heard repeated reference to the NDP in the 90’s which doesn’t mean much to me now. I believe every individual,  party or company has the ability to evolve so why dredge up the past…show me what you got for 2017 and beyond!

The Green party keeps talking about corporations as if they are the bad guys. Not all corporations are bad. Yes, keep them under control as it pertains to political influence but  remember corporations provide jobs and aren’t we all grateful for that? Corporations donate to various charities so would you prefer they make less and therefore contribute less? Why not choose partnerships with innovative and responsible corporations so that you can spend less time mining my pocket to pay for things?

Here’s where I might offend a few people: I don’t think every taxpayer should have to pay for childcare. I have always felt that if you bring a child in this world you better be prepared to take care of it for the long-term. Of course, if you become a single parent raising children or the primary financial contributor to the home loses employment then that is a different story. The unforeseen often dictates changes – support should then be made available. Here again is where I think we need to be more innovative in our approach to such issues and assessment of need can be a part of that approach.

Polls, Trolls and Tripe don’t help much

Politicians on the campaign trail have still not understood that a large majority of voters hate negative campaigning. Although as we have seen south of the border, and in previous Canadian campaigns, mud slinging can happen. Getting out to vote should be made more attractive as we can’t take anything for granted.

My advice to candidates

John Horgan – Shut down the 90’s talk right away if anyone mentions it and share very clearly how the party has grown and will proceed. It’s not so much your personal reputation or presentation you have to worry about its the past mistakes that linger. No matter what you say that is the hurdle you face.

Christy Clark – Stop relying on “job loss and kids future fund being depleted”  as a threat if we vote for someone else. Give me a better reason to trust in your ability to know what’s really happening to people like seniors, youth at risk and persons with disabilities along with the infrastructure of this province.

Andrew Weaver – You are talking too fast. Slow it down, stop saying “we have a plan” and find a way to  spell it out better in the short time you have. Don’t dump on corporations because you are losing a whole host of voters that way. Find a way to make Green a word that doesn’t make people think the economy will be negatively impacted. We already know the environmental piece, focus listeners on other issues of importance.

Wow! I’m exhausted even writing about this! Yup, a future in politics is probably not for me and I still don’t know which way I will vote.

 

 

Happy International Women’s Day 2017

Happy International Women’s Day 2017

Happy International Women’s Day! The significance of International Women’s Day may be different depending on where you live, how old you are and how you are treated but its value is not diminished.

According to the Oxford Dictionary EQUALITY is, The state of being equal, especially in status, rights, or opportunities.”

Do you feel that as a woman you have attained equality? OR If you are a man reading this blog post, Do you think that the women and girls in your life have equal status, rights and opportunities?

It is because of the obstacles still positioned in front of women that such an event becomes important. History – as we are taught – has not been very good at recording the stories of women. Their role in the development of our countries has been largely ignored. With this in mind, the organization of women has become necessary since the early 1900’s.

We do have so much to celebrate in life but this is one day when women can feel less alone with their challenges. It is good to honor each other and those that came before us.

There was a time when a women’s appearance in a public space was mostly limited to being on the arm of her man. Oh, have the times changed.

There are those that will question why we would need to gather and celebrate women.

It is because their achievements – despite what has been stacked against them – need validation. It is because the faces we see today may inspire the next generation of women to reach their full potential. The testimony we hear today may shape tomorrows laws. There can be one defining moment in a girls or woman’s life when she feels most powerful and it might be TODAY that such an experience occurs.

 

Status of Women Canada

Women’s March 2017 – Wisdom needs a voice

Women’s March 2017 – Wisdom needs a voice

Women – and men who share the vision – are united today.

Women march to enhance and protect women’s freedom.

To remind those that think they are better or more connected to a higher power than women… You Are Wrong.

Because the road to anything that is worth having or protecting is better traveled together.

Because wisdom needs a voice and time has not healed all wounds.

To inject hope into the lives of sisters across this planet.

They have marched for generations because they had no choice.

A Random Act of Violence vs. The Deliberate Act to Share Violence Live

On Tuesday, November 1, 2016 a young Abbotsford, BC school girl is stabbed in a random act of violence. She died. Another girl was injured and taken to hospital where her family and strangers continued to pull for her recovery. Authorities report that this was a random act of violence perpetrated by a young man who by all accounts is suffering from a severe mental breakdown.

While the attack took place another student grabbed their phone and captured  the mayhem on video and what is likely to be the last moments of another human beings life . Within seconds a button was pushed and that horrific act of violence was uploaded to social media.

From behind a screen crimes are recorded without the viewer taking a second thought about their choice to stand idly by filming. These types of people are removed from the subject matter personally and engaged technically. The use of phones for this particular purpose has taken the device from being an instrument of distraction to a weapon of mass desensitization and destruction.

To film such events, no matter your age, and upload it to social media is despicable and an admission of ill-intent. The intention was not to document the act for purposes of sharing evidence with police but instead to be the first to upload the images to an awaiting curious and quite possibly perverted public. As the images circulate so to do the comments – stirring up a frenzy of negative energy. For the record I have not seen the video.

This is not a case of citizen journalism and in my opinion the news media that chose to air the video were wrong to do so. The community was not under threat, the suspect had been apprehended and the nature of the video doesn’t shed any more light on the issue of mental health than any other example of violence. How the video is obtained, by whom, and the impact it would have on family should have been given more consideration.

student-1397451_1280This random act of violence is truly tragic but the deliberate act to share that violence live is unconscionable.

Yes, there are larger issues that must be considered but how to set the tone for discourse and successful interventions will not be made easier when we reward those who expose such material solely because they can.

For me,

I want to understand how the student who filmed the violence came to lack decency and compassion.

I want to know if the person who committed the crime had a documented illness that was untreated and why? and What are we going to do about it?

I want to know why we say our kids our mature enough to watch so much violence via media but then turn around and say they lack the maturity to make better choices when they participate directly in violence or indirectly as an active witness?

Most of all I want to extend my condolences to the families of everyone involved and the community of Abbotsford, which I know so well.

Disability Parking and Intolerance

My sister and niece had arrived from out-of-town to spend two days at Ronald McDonald House and then enjoy a Thanksgiving weekend with family.

We decided it was time to do something fun – something we don’t get to do very often together – and that’s go shopping. We drove to one of our favourite stores at the Southpoint Exchange Mall and looked for an available handicap parking spot. After finding none available, we had to double-park.

Immediately, we received dirty looks from an older couple who were just pulling up to park in a stall in front of her. I figured they must not have seen the handicap sign hanging but my sister said, “I get those looks all the time.”

We proceeded to open the sliding side door in order to get the ramp down for my niece to exit in her wheelchair. She is totally dependent on her mother and it is not an easy process to unhook the chair, fold down the ramp and organize all the items that travel with her. Even after seeing what we were doing, the couple stared as if they were the parking police and then walked away.

After enjoying a nice time in the store we came back to a note on the driver side door that said, “Nice parking selfish.” I couldn’t believe it, but my sister could. She has experienced this time and time again.

parking-note

Despite a handicap sign clearly visible, people seem to jump to conclusions that this is just a selfish person taking up two parking spots.

Well, she is not a selfish person; she is a person who is constantly problem solving and adapting to her surroundings. If anyone is guilty of lacking consideration for others it is the mall for not providing adequate parking for persons with disabilities.

As my sister pointed out, this isn’t a low-mobility issue where one could park in a stall one or two over from handicap parking, open their door and walk – albeit maybe in some discomfort – to the doors of a store. When no handicap parking spot is available, she has no other option but to provide the space necessary to safely deploy the ramp.

To those who stare and who leave nasty notes, I say shame on you! You don’t have all the facts and have no idea what it is like to consider your every move based on accessibility.

My niece might not be able to communicate verbally, but she knows what her mother goes through. An insensitive and intolerant world is not what I want her to encounter as she grows older.

—————————————————

This was also published in a local paper under Letters to the Editor. My intention in writing this was to provide a reminder about the attitudes and challenges faced by persons with disabilities, parents of children with special needs and the impact it has on their families. I would also like to acknowledge all those who provide support and work tirelessly as advocates. The following are links to some of those services:

SPARC BC

British Columbia Support and Services Directory

Ronald McDonald House

BC Children’s Hospital

Humans vs Wildlife – The Urban Battle

The other day I saw a mother raccoon crossing four lanes of a busy street with her two cubs following quickly behind.  She looked back briefly at various points to make sure her little ones were still there. I tapped my breaks to signify I was slowing down just in case anyone was behind me, they weren’t, so I stopped. At least in this lane nothing was going to happen.

I have observed the odd idiot driver who appeared to intentionally move towards a squirrel and witnessed the aftermath of an even bigger loser who drove so fast he plowed into a family of geese, killing one of the goslings. This, by the way, was despite three signs warning of geese crossing in the area. The behaviour afterward by the two adult geese, and one small sibling, confirmed my belief that they too feel the pain of loss.

goose-977304_1280Every week I see the bodies of animals that don’t make it. They are left to be a scavengers meal or perhaps picked up by someone who makes them disappear from our landscape. Both wildlife and humans are battling for space and nobody is really winning.

Humans and wildlife are in conflict all the time. With the constant development of roads and homes, displacement is a real threat to their existence. Setting aside the mass destruction that happens when rural land turns into commercial space let’s think about our own backyards and neighbourhoods.

We claim areas that were once wildly full of waist high grass, weeds, shrubs and trees, and make it into a human friendly space. That once natural habitat was home to wild birds and animals who expect to come back to the same space where they have rested, ate, mated, nurtured their young and engaged in all manner of wild but purposeful behaviour. But this is unacceptable to some humans and their response is…HOW DARE THEY!

How dare they come out from their dens with cubs in tow, to show their young this environment, to demonstrate natural behaviour that is integral to their survival like foraging for food or worse yet relieving themselves of that food!

How dare they fly around making noise, picking up our scraps, leaving a mess by digging in our manicured grass for leather jacket bugs and other lawn pests!

How dare they eat our fruit and berries that are usually too numerous for us to consume, or mess up our pretty flower beds!

How dare they come back for more even though we trained them to trust us by leaving out treats and/or meals for our own pets.

Yes, these are desperate times for wildlife. They need to go up in trees to escape the machinery below. Move further away to find food and shelter, risking an unfriendly welcome and possibly a daily battle with others seeking the same basic needs. Displacement isn’t easy for any species.

Some people will not co-exist with animals and for those that find it particularly difficult I have suggestions:

  1. Don’t try to handle these animal problems yourself by cruel means but instead hire a proper trapper and have them removed. Know, and I doubt you care, that they will likely be euthanized or put in an area where they will be unfamiliar and challenged for territory – which also can end in death.  You will likely have to repeat this process over and over again. Set aside money or start your own critter removal business.
  2. Accept some animals, birds and insects are going to invade your territory, (possibly once theirs) or migrate your way for reasons outside of their control. Choose carefully your next steps. A well-informed next step might be in best interests or conversely the wrong next step might be a reminder that karma is a bitch.
  3. Go live in a concrete juggle with pavement all around and move into a suite on one of the highest floors. From there you can look around and see the human species in their dens, foraging for food, teaching their young and on occasion even mating. You can hear noise from their cars, music and squawking or should I say talking. Know that you don’t have to deal with any pesky wildlife as long as you stay up in your ivory tower. Unless, of course, a poor bird happens to land on your railing or hit your clean glass window.