I recently learned of a 10 year old girl in Woodville that has contracted lime disease. A fundraiser has been started to help pay for the treatment which apparently must take place in Pennsylvania, at considerable expense.
This is also a topic of great frustration and anger for me. Treatments for illnesses such as these especially in children should be free, but instead doctors and medical professionals are allowed to charge huge premiums for services. I understand that in this world people must make money to survive, but is it really necessary to put the treatment out of the reach of most people? We put people in jail for murder or manslaughter, yet we allow people to die because they can’t afford medical treatment. What is the value of a human being?
You may soon regret asking me for ideas for your blog, as it seems that everyday a new issue comes to mind. I can really relate to your hermit lifestyle desire; some
days I wish I could just disappear into the countryside and turn off the world. However the only thing I have given up so far is smoking, so I guess I will just
carry on and do my best to make the world a better place one small gesture at a time. Happy thoughts. Happy thoughts.
I hope you had a great day.
Thank you so much for writing to me and telling me about this beautiful young girl in Woodville who is in need of medical treatment and whose family is in need of financial assistance for the treatment. And it is wonderful that fundraising efforts have started for the family. Where can I go to give a donation?
What is interesting for me, although not surprising, is your letter hits on two things that have been on my mind these last two weeks, both blog ideas, so thank you for the perfect opportunity to write about them☺
Two weeks ago I did a four-day training session on Compassion Fatigue at the Donald Gordon Conference Centre in Kingston. The course itself was interesting, informative and I look forward to being hired to talk about Compassion Fatigue awareness in the near future and I will write about it in a future blog. What stayed with me though was the opulence of the Conference Centre. Beyond the fact that it was in a beautiful old building in a beautiful Kingston neighbourhood, was the excellent, rich food that was served all day long. We were treated to incredible breakfast pastries and hors d’oeuvres; we had decadent snacks for both the morning and the afternoon, and lunch?! Lunch was an incredible three-table buffet of delicious, melt-in-your-mouth food and desserts. I was trying to guess the price tag for any given day if I was to order the same in a high-class restaurant and my guess is at least $100 per day (taxes not included☺).
It was a nice treat on day one to experience such delicious dining, but by day two I was starting to feel bad about the fact that I was eating such rich food when so many people were going without. By day three I was experiencing some moral conflict wondering where all the uneaten food went and I prayed that it did not go to the dump. By day four I realized that this was the bar that we set for our executive business class. This is what we train our students to aspire toward, becoming the big boss, the CEO, so one can sit in conference centres making “difficult” decisions while enjoying rich delicacies.
Two of the groups making use of the conference centre in the time that I was there was the Kingston City Council and CUPE. They were negotiating the contract between the workers and the city. They had apparently been in negotiations for three weeks and were expecting another 3 months. Now I am not mentioning them with the intention of putting them down, nor to make a commentary on their venue of choice. They likely got a super huge discount for using the facility. Nor am I trying to make a commentary on the difficulty of negotiations when the goal is to be “more right” and “stick it to the other side” versus coming up with an agreement that works in the best interest of all. I might be suggesting that maybe, if they chose a slightly less opulent venue, they might wrap up the negotiations sooner and perhaps save a few dollars that could be donated to the poorer people of the community. And I might be speaking out of ignorance here, but unless they are writing a brand new contract that is rooted in compassion and caring (at which point they could have joined our training session and we could have written the framework for them), they are likely arguing over the usual pay increase, benefits, pension, sick days, a tweak here and change in wording there. In the end none of it benefits the people who really need the help, our working poor.
This journey I am on is really putting me head to head with our unwavering belief that our goal and aspiration is money, the material accumulation of things. Stuff. More Stuff. The lives of the rich and the famous. If I won the lottery I’d buy…then I’d buy… and then I’d buy… I often asked students what would happen to the earth if everyone on the planet had a three-bedroom house and two cars in every garage. Turns out they believe mother earth would not be able to sustain it, but they want it. Why else are they going to school but to get the better jobs so they can afford the better stuff – big house, atvs, cars, boats, luxury travel, everything. And my beautiful daughters are no different. When we walk past big houses they are quick to ask my why I didn’t buy that one and how they will buy a big house when they get older. Naturally I ask them the same question as I do my students and point out the dangers, but the sad reality is they are fed an obese diet of material wealth. And they have no choice in the diet they are fed☹
It is impossible to turn on the tv, the internet, to walk around town, to anything without coming face to face with material accumulation. In schools we promote the importance of higher education so you can get the good jobs that pay more and then you too can buy buy buy. Higher education, striving to get better marks, striving to be the best, striving to be at the top are the messages sprinkled with a little lip service to mental health and remembering your neighbours. And what of the students and the people who don’t have or can’t get those “better jobs?”
There is an old saying, “Money cannot buy happiness.” And it can’t. I challenge people to look around and pay attention to the faces they see as they move about their day. Do they look happy or do they look stressed? Do they look connected and joyously interacting with the people they are with or are they complaining about something or other? And then I challenge people to ask of themselves, how do you feel as you move through your day? Do you walk with a sense of inner peace and joy, an appreciation for the steps you are taking or are you simply too busy to notice the beauty of the gentle snow falling and the sparkle of the icy trees in the sunlight?
Which brings me to the second crazy idea that came about in a car conversation with a friend and colleague. What if, in order to become a teacher or really any profession, you have to be trained as a yogi (a person who is skilled in yoga – a Hindu spiritual discipline, a part of which, including breath control, simple meditation, and holding of specific body positions, is widely practiced for health and relaxation, according to the Compact Oxford Dictionary) as well? Now I know that sounds radical and I can here the nay-sayers screaming in outrage at me, but the intention is not to promote one religion over another. The intention is to get people into a practice that recognizes that we are all interconnected and the importance of inner peace versus external accumulation!!! Although I have not done the research, my guess is that most yogis are not of the rich affluent upper class. My guess is that if one follows a true spiritual practice one begins to understand that we all depend on each other; therefore I am not going to take more than I need. I am sure that there are some very rich yogis out there, but I believe that if they are not sharing their wealth in some way to improve the planet, they are not true yogis. (And yes I too have a personal spiritual practice, but I am not a yogi).
My point and my observation is that we are missing a very key and important piece to the puzzle and I believe it lies inward, in inner peace and some form or practice of spirituality. Of late I have watched some incredible documentaries on Netflix and I highly recommend them and if I was still in the classroom I’d be finding ways to bring them all into the class: I Am, 10 Questions for the Dahli Lama, The Quantum Activist, No Impact Man, The Horse Boy, and Chasing Ice. They all talk to the importance of us as individuals to take action, to make change.
So yes Kelvin, if we as a society practiced and truly understood interconnectedness, then no professional, no worker would need to take more than needed, nor would they aspire to a lifestyle that required so much money to sustain. The advertising, media and social media would be geared to affordable living versus materialistic gain. Those very doctors would be able to provide affordable care without high overhead costs, high insurance costs, high everything costs. People would treat themselves and others with love, kindness and compassion first and foremost. And it is us, the people, that really need to change our focus.
Which means that everything you do, every kindness, every smile, every gesture makes a difference. More people need to lead by example, just as you do, and walk the talk. Believe me, there is more wealth in inner joy than material accumulation and I really do believe there is more goodness and compassion out there than we realize. Our own community of Minden is a good example. We rally together and we fundraise and we help each other. The same will be true for this young girl in Woodville.
Thank you for sharing the story and allowing me to add my commentary to yours. And good for you for quitting smoking. I know from past experience, it was one of the hardest things I’ve done in my lifetime.
Return to Cynthia Mitchell and Sweet Perspectives