To All Non-Voters

I could tell you about all the soldiers, suffragettes, activists, and people who you are dishonouring by not voting ... but it seems that doesn't make a difference.  People suffered and died so you could have the right to vote, the right to influence the world, the right to matter.

But you chose not to vote.  You chose not to say anything, not to matter.  You chose to stay silent.

Remember, all it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.  Hitler was democratically elected.  Remember that.

And remember that the reason that you can still lead a good life without voting or telling your leaders what you think or what should happen is because other people voted.  It's because people like me voted to make sure you still have those rights.  Because some of us saw a problem and refused to stay quiet.

Super Human

A friend of mine is going through a bad breakup - by which I mean getting out of a domestic abusive relationship.  When she finally confided in me what was going on, I told her to go to the police.  I kept asking her what was going on, but never pressured her to talk.   All I wanted were updates.  She eventually left him and spent some time in the hospital and with her family a few hours away.

When she asked if she could stay on couch, I immediately told her of course she could.   When she asked if she could sleep in my basement for a week I told her she would be staying on the couch.  I thought I had an air mattress; turns out I do not. I tried to make the couch more comfortable, but it really is not nice.  I do feel badly about it.

She has been worried about my safety from the beginning of her leaving because I have always helped in the past when someone needed food or a place to stay.  Apparently I am the clear choice for help.

I'm flattered, truly.  My friend keeps thanking me.  I accept it, but do not fully understand.  She needs help.  I can help.  Why would I not?  To me, this is just basic human behaviour.  If I can, I will.  I also like to think that if I ever need help, someone will help me without expecting something in return.  Therefore, why would I not?

She said to me that the human reaction is to offer condolences but turn a blind eye to suffering.  She said that my willingness to help makes me super human.

But I'm not super human.  I pass people asking for money all the time when I'm driving.  I'd rather sit on my couch than go to a food pantry and help people.  I've never taken in a homeless person, even in the dead of winter.  There is so much I have not done, that I not do, but should do.  In the end, I am just a human - an ordinary, selfish human.

Bra or No Bra?

I was reading about going braless and a lot of the information I find is a bit upsetting.  Yes, larger breasts mean there's more to deal with - and therefore more room for issues to arise.

But does that mean you shouldn't go braless?  Absolutely not!  I've found a few (very rare) that promote ALL women going braless.  I know it's tough when you have larger than average breasts to forgo the support of a bra, but some people just don't like wearing them.  Just because you may have more than others in the front should you always keep them encased, especially in the summer when it's hot?

I have come to the conclusion there are two reasons women with large busts do not go braless - one is the personal desire to wear a bra (breasts are a lot heavier than they look) and the other is because society simply isn't comfortable with it.  Well, I say screw society and do what you want.   Do or don't wear a bra, but do it because YOU feel comfortable that way.

I don't get offended easily, but readying a site that started off by saying "If you are larger than a D cup, the answer is NO," meaning NEVER go braless.  Sure, the writer wrote a half-assed "no offense" type of explanation go go with it, but seriously?  What is so gosh darn wrong with embracing my body as it is and doing what I feel most comfortable doing?  Who are you to tell me what I can and cannot do?  What if I don't want to wear something that is tight and encasing and sometimes painful?

Taking the Bus

People give me sympathetic looks or respond with shock when I tell them I take the bus to work every day.  It doesn't bother me that they are silently judging me (okay, maybe a little), but I do wish they would see the advantages.

I wish I could say that I take the bus because I'm trying to be a better global citizen and want to reduce my carbon footprint, but that simply isn't true.  Yes, of course I do want to help the earth and all the people, but the primary reason I take the bus is because of convenience.  To be honest, driving and parking in a city is a huge, expensive hassle.  Second, I walk about the same distance as if I was to use the carpark.  Third, it's a hell of a lot cheaper.  And yes, I like knowing that I'm doing my part to help the world.  I'd like to think I'm an environmentalist ... but my actions don't always reflect my beliefs.

So what I would like to see is people not thinking that taking the bus is a symbol of a lower status.   I have a car - and a nice one at that - but I choose not to drive it every day.  This was a huge change for me but it's proven to be a good one.  I don't mind the commute, I have a lot less stress and anxiety to deal with, and I'm saving money as well as the planet.   How is there anything wrong with this?

To Those who Complain about Baltimore

Despite all the humanitarian issues going on around the world - the earthquake in Nepal and all the people still trapped, allegations of UN troops raping children in the CAR, migrants literally dying to get to Europe, people escaping TO Rwanda, Indonesia executing foreigners, indefinite refugee detentions, Obama never making good on his original campaign promise to close Gitmo, the school girls Boko Harem kidnapped, Syria, and that's just off the top of my head - the US is focused on Baltimore.

If you don't pay attention to the US media - good for you, it's all wrong anyways - here's what happened, in a nutshell.   Freddie Gray was arrested.   At the time of his arrest, he was alive and able to walk just fine.  He was put in a paddy wagon for transport.   When he arrived, his spine was broken and he died.

As you can imagine, people were very upset by this.  There has been a lot of attention on the racial disparity in American police actions and on American police brutality.   (I am not making a statement about whether the allegations are or are not true; there is a lot of data out there and analyses on the topics).  People decided to protest the Baltimore police and their treatment of Freddie Grey.  This started out peaceful, as civil disobedience.  Then the riots started.  It takes one stone to start a riot, and from there things get messy.   They have had to call in the National Guard and are trying to prevent "another Ferguson. "


This is what I have to say to all the people who are picking sides and focusing on how the other side is wrong:

Shut up.  Before you say another word about what is going on, I want you to answer me this question - what caused this to happen?  If you see a problem, don't just complain about it - do something to fix it!

If your answer blames someone or a group of someones, then I am going to send you back to think some more.  If your answer is the death of Freddie Gray, you are going back to keep thinking.  If you blame the police, go back.  If you blame the people who rioted, go back.

If you think Ferguson happened because Michael Brown was shot, go back and think some more.   If you think it happened because anything can be done to a young black man, go back and think some more.  If you think it happened because people are lazy, go back.

I am not saying your views are wrong or that mine are right (though we know I am right, we just don't need to say it).  What I am trying to say is find the root of the problem.

Nothing happens in a vacuum.   These deaths sparked protests - but they were just sparks.  On their own, sparks die out instantly unless they catch something.   So what was there for them to catch on to?  What gave them such fuel to do this?  That is the answer I am looking for.

If you are going to talk about the protests and riots in Baltimore, talk about this.  Talk about what built up so that the spark could catch.  And talk about what to do to fix it.  Otherwise, haud yer wheesht.

ThrustYour Bust

A couple weeks ago I realized that I have a tendency to roll my shoulders inwards and sort of hunch over a bit.  As you can imagine, this causes a bit of back pain.  So, I vowed to pay attention to my posture and try to change it.  I always try to keep my spine straight but I never thought about my shoulders.

Over the next couple of days I focused on my shoulders and tried to figure out why I keep doing this.  It did not take me long to come to the conclusion this is because I feel like keeping my shoulders back has the same effect as me thrusting my chest out - and this made me feel very uncomfortable.

Then I asked myself, why?  Why am I so uncomfortable with holding my shoulders back because it pushes my chest out a bit?  I measured the difference - it's less than an inch.  I doubt anyone actually notices that difference, but the change in posture certainly is noticeable.  Shoulders back makes a difference.  Chest out, not so much.

So why am I still so self-conscious about it?  The feminist in me wants to blame society and the patriarchy making me feel like I should hide the obvious signs of my femininity.  Part of me wants to say it is society making me feel badly about having larger-than-average breasts.  Another part thinks it is society making me feel like I should be smaller - after all, rolling inwards makes one appear smaller.

No matter the reason, this disturbs me.  I want this to change.

A part of changing this is getting a bra that fits properly.  Not all women wear bras - and there is nothing wrong with that.  Personally, I feel physically uncomfortable without one (again, larger-than-average breasts).  A friend of mine who underwent breast reduction surgery (they removed 5 lbs from each of her breasts and she could not be happier about it) told me that a proper fitting bra will make a world of a difference.  I always thought I had the proper size; I got measured, I asked if that was the right fit, and so on.  It turns out they were very, very wrong.  So, step one was to get a properly fitting bra.

Just wearing the right bra has made a difference.  Even without making a conscious effort, I found my posture improved and my shoulders were back more, chest out.  Even more so, it feels good.  This brought me to the conclusion the right bra is like armour.

The other part I need to do is focus on keeping my shoulders back and chest out.  I need to accept that this is who I am, how I am, and to be proud of it.  This will be the real challenge - and why I feel like the proper bra is armour.  It offers protection against feelings of inadequacy based on this particular part of my anatomy.  I am not walking around shoving my breasts in people's faces, nor am I trying to draw attention to them.  With my chest pushed out as far as I can, it just makes me look taller, more confident, and prouder.  The uncomfortable nature of this behaviour raises a lot of questions for me, the most prevalent being, why?

As I run out of things to say on this topic, I flash back to my old riding instructor yelling, "Thrust your bust, woman, thrust your bust!"

Human Rights for ALL

Last week the CIA's torture report was released.  If you are reading my blog, I am sure you are familiar with it already.

In response, there are a lot of people who are expressing sentiments that can be summarised as "I don't care if they torture terrorists" or even "I encourage the torture of terrorists."  Some qualify this by adding the condition it be used to gather information relevant to thwarting terrorist attacks.  Some do not.

Regardless of what information is or is not gathered from "enhanced interrogation" sessions, I am opposed to these techniques.  I am not a terrorist supporter, nor do I condone what certain individuals have done around the world.  Nevertheless, I cannot and will not condone torture of any kind.

First of all, I strongly believe everyone - and I mean EVERYONE - should have more than just the basic human rights.  This applies to alleged terrorists (let me remind you that the majority - if not all - of the detainees in Guantanamo Bay have not yet been processed through the legal system) as well as known terrorists, and all individuals around the world.  To quote the Backstreet Boys, "I don't care who you are, where you're from, what you did ...," because you still are human and still deserve human rights.

Second, to deny these human rights to ANY human being is, in my opinion, an act of terrorism.  The individual being tortured may have killed hundreds of people in cold blood through torture, but they still deserve human rights.  It really is that simple.

Third, well, actually, I do not really have a third point.  To deny anyone human rights, to torture them, regardless of what they did or did not do, is to lower oneself to that level and to become a terrorist oneself.