CANADA: In Search Of Hope In The Wake Of Mass Shootings

CANADA: In Search Of Hope In The Wake Of Mass Shootings

When I first came to Canada just over seventeen years ago, I was struck by the fact that every murder in Toronto made front page news. Every single one. When I heard that 2000, the year of my arrival, had seen 81 homicides in the Greater Toronto Area, I was slightly stunned.

81 homicides in Canada’s biggest metropolitan area, and less than 600 in the whole of Canada? What, in just one year? It just didn’t seem real.

To put things into perspective, I came to Canada from South Africa, which at the time was experiencing roughly fifty reported murders every day. Only the most sensational murders, such as the violent demise of South Africa’s former first lady Marike de Klerk, made national news. The rest got a three-line mention on the inside pages of the local community newspaper.

The realization that I had become desensitized to tragedy was one of the most sobering moments of my life. I felt that in losing my ability to mourn the loss of human life, I was losing a key part of my humanity.

I fear that this kind of desensitization is happening en masse in North America, specifically in the United States. We are becoming so accustomed to hearing about mass shootings that we are no longer surprised by them. What’s worse is that we actually expect them to happen. They have become an inevitable part of life in the United States.

American children are growing up in a world in which gun violence is “normal”. Their parents are becoming increasingly resigned to the fact that since gun laws are unlikely to change in any meaningful way, this is just going to keep happening.

In the wake of the Las Vegas mass shooting that killed 59 and wounded hundreds more, I am seeing some depressingly world-weary sentiments on my social media feeds.

“If nothing changed after Sandy Hook, why would we expect it to change now?”

“The right to guns is more important to lawmakers than the right to life.”

“It’s going to happen again before long.”

And the one that really breaks my heart:

“We just have to accept it.”

It seems that Americans fall into two very general camps. There are those who are spending their time trying to convince everyone else that, in spite of overwhelming evidence and common sense, guns are not really a problem. And there are those who desperately want things to change for the better, but are losing hope that this will ever happen.

The danger is that once that resignation sets in, desensitization is likely to follow. If you don’t think anything is going to change, you start to accept the status quo, and you lose the ability to be shocked by mass shootings.

My American friends, I say this to you with love. Keep the faith. Don’t lose hope, and do whatever you can to bring about the change that is so desperately needed. Educate yourself about the gun laws in your state and lobby your government representatives to change what isn’t working. Above all, use the power of your vote at every possible opportunity.

Don’t allow yourselves to get used to tragedy. Nothing will change unless we continue to feel the shock, the outrage, the sadness. We can avoid desensitization by thinking of the lost lives, the parents who have lost children, and the children who have lost parents, brothers, sisters and friends.

Shed some tears, feel the sadness, mourn for the victims of mass shootings. And for them and their loved ones, keep fighting for change, and keep believing that change is possible.

https://www.facebook.com/uniladmag/videos/3295136823842687/

This is an original post to World Moms Network by Kirsten Doyle of Ontario, Canada. Photo credit: Steve Snodgrass. This picture has a creative commons attribution license.

Kirsten Doyle (Canada)

Kirsten Doyle was born in South Africa. After completing university, she drifted for a while and finally washed up in Canada in 2000. She is Mom to two boys who have reached the stage of eating everything in sight (but still remaining skinny). Kirsten was a computer programmer for a while before migrating into I.T. project management. Eventually she tossed in the corporate life entirely in order to be a self-employed writer and editor. She is now living her best life writing about mental health and addictions, and posting videos to two YouTube channels. When Kirsten is not wrestling with her kids or writing up a storm, she can be seen on Toronto's streets putting many miles onto her running shoes. Every year, she runs a half-marathon to benefit children with autism, inspired by her older son who lives life on the autism spectrum. Final piece of information: Kirsten is lucky enough to be married to the funniest guy in the world. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Be sure to check out her YouTube channels at My Gen X Life and Word Salad With Coffee!

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WORLD VOICE: New Year, Same You

I’m not big on New Year’s resolutions. There are always things I’m working on, especially as a mother – less yelling, more cuddling; less rushing, more patience; less rigidity, more flexibility – but these feel ongoing and the work of a lifetime, rather than something I can suddenly begin to do (or not do) on a specific day. I also don’t love New Year’s Resolutions (though I know some folks find them very helpful) because I worry that they play into the mindset that we’re meant to be constantly on the self-improvement train. Always smarter, faster, better, thinner, stronger, richer, etc. If we’re not careful we can find ourselves dissatisfied with current circumstances, always grasping for the next thing.

Of course, the world is in a precarious place, by many standards. It seems that we are all going to be asked to show up in the absolute best way we can. As I think about how I’m having conversations with my kids about what that means to show up, what it means to be our absolute best, I struggle to communicate two truths:

  1. Who and how you are right now is good enough.
  2. We all need to listen and pay attention and be willing to change when needed.

It’s been my experience that I am most willing and ready to change when I feel seen and heard and understood exactly as I am. And so I know my work for my children is to really pay attention to who they are, to see them and hear them and understand them, trusting that if they feel safe and secure and loved, they will be willing to do the hard work of change and transformation for themselves and for the world.

This is what I hope to do, not only for my children, but for my entire community. To contribute to each of us feeling safe and secure enough to show up in the best possible way: strong, fierce, and humble.

The last day of 2016 this poem was shared with me. I share it now with you:

 

“Forget about enlightenment.

Sit down wherever you are

And listen to the wind singing in your veins.

Feel the love, the longing, and the fear in your bones.

Open your heart to who you are, right now,

Not who you would like to be.

Not the saint you’re striving to become.

But the being right here before you, inside you, around you.

All of you is holy.

You’re already more and less

Than whatever you can know.

Breathe out, touch in, let go.”

– John Welwood

 

May we all remember –and remind our children – that all of each of us is holy.

 

Here’s to 2017! Did you stick to your resolution if you made one?

This is an original blog written for World Moms Network by Ms. V.

Ms. V. (South Korea)

Ms. V returned from a 3-year stint in Seoul, South Korea and is now living in the US in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with her partner, their two kids, three ferocious felines, and a dog named Avon Barksdale. She grew up all over the US, mostly along the east coast, but lived in New York City longer than anywhere else, so considers NYC “home.” Her love of travel has taken her all over the world and to all but four of the 50 states. Ms. V is contemplative and sacred activist, exploring the intersection of yoga, new monasticism, feminism and social change. She is the co-director and co-founder of Samdhana-Karana Yoga: A Healing Arts Center, a non-profit yoga studio and the spiritual director for Hab Community. While not marveling at her beautiful children, she enjoys reading, cooking, and has dreams of one day sleeping again.

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An Interview with Victor Kannan. Part II

An Interview with Victor Kannan. Part II

This is part II of the two-part interview with Victor Kannan. Part I is also on World Moms Network’s blog, and some of Mr. Kannan’s own written work can be found Here and Here.

PART II:

S: When you observe today’s youth, from a child of about 8 years to early 20s, what are some of the traits you’ve noticed that seem ‘new school’ that are good and different from traditions we have had before? I know that’s a wide spectrum, but based on your own experience, what are some of the new traits you’ve seen that are good and some that seem to be detrimental to spiritual growth?

V: You know, they have to be looked at in the context of their environment. If I take a broad stroke, I’d say that on average families are smaller. On average the continuity of flow between grandparents, parents and children is getting weak, if you think of it as a river, where the water flows, where the whole thing has the flow of love and life, of knowledge, of caring relationships. There would be four grandparents present for every grandkid and maybe 15 grandchildren for every grandparent. That kind of a breadth of continuity is becoming thinner and thinner.

If you take this river as the flow of energy, of love, of knowledge from grandparents to grandchildren, that river contains less water today than it did before. And naturally what happens is the children have to look externally for their emotional fulfillment. Both of the parents work these days, and many of them are single parents; it’s like a river with very little water.

So somewhere this generational flow of the river of knowledge and love seems to have dwindled. No single person can take the blame, but it is ,unfortunately, the generation that is evolving, because of our value system and because of our excessive materialistic orientation. So, I think that these children are really starved for love and togetherness with their grandparents, and if the parents are both working, the quality of their time with the children is also limited.

Naturally, they are looking for external things and, unfortunately, or fortunately, there are plenty of them. Now, what does that mean? They get lured by the things that gave them company when parents were not available.

The children are with their parents because they are dependent. They can be from a wealthy family, where they may be hanging around for inheritance or expanding the family business. However, if they are born in a poor family, the modern generation will leave the house. There is nothing in the house for them to hang on to. So, under the circumstances, children are struggling to find their groove.

Suppose you take the so-called typical middle-class family: the children go to school, both parents work, and there is not much time, right? The time spent with the children is also compartmentalized with vacation and programs and schedules. There is no free time singing in the garden together on a Tuesday evening. So, I think the children are becoming more and more isolated. Their behavior is not rooted in some kind of value system, whether of a material ambition, or a family where they have given and taken and sacrificed; look at parents having sacrificed, the grandparents sacrificed, the wealth of upbringing, the richness of upbringing… If the children do not see these sacrifices, they take life for granted and become more materialistic in their orientation.

I am thinking that even though today’s children are isolated and feel lonely, and they are more responsive to the senses and the world around them, the situation can be changed around, by parents and schools adopting a value-oriented education system and a value-oriented relationship system, where you begin with spiritual values. You highlight the spiritual values, and not the material success as what you talk about at the dinner table. Then it will slowly change. So the children can be reoriented and possibilities exist because the 30/ 40/ 50-year-old parents today are more exposed to the science and spirituality combination. Not the religious dogmatic type of thing, or rituals without meaning.

In the modern era, due to stress in life, more and more people are adopting meditation. More and more people are beginning to realize that there is neuroplasticity; that it is never too late to grow. It is never too late to change. These kinds of established new scientific facts are giving hope to people. And again, many of these processes are trans-generational in nature, so it will take 20, 30 years before it changes the society.

So the trend for the youth today, is, that they go after what satisfies them sensorily. They lack a depth in their goals that they want to achieve for themselves. There is also a lack of a properly meshed fabric of love, care, duty, responsibility, and relationship in their lives. They are in a very nebulous, tricky situation, But the families that have spiritual values and can inculcate them into the children should be able to quickly reverse course and become stronger individuals in the future.

S: The analogy of the river was quite impressive, I must say. It helped to visualize what you were saying in a very tangible way. Thank you for putting it that way.

V: I do feel worried and anxious for them. They need direction and inspiration to sustain them. Love and care are the roots of such inspiration from parents, teachers, and role models. So when moms embrace spiritual values and spiritualized material existence, including putting meaning behind activities, and have one or two aspirational goals to shoot for and a few practical positive values they can adopt, they will create a solid foundation for their future and hence the future of any society.

S: You said you have a daughter. Does she practice heartfulness meditation?

V: Yes she does. She is also a trainer. We never forced anything on her, but she was part of what we did. When she didn’t like it, we didn’t force her, and fortunately she came back with a lot of interest, and she has expressed some of her thought and experience in articles on meditation.

S: Where could we find them?

V: If you go to heartfulness magazine, you can look for Dr. Swati Kannan. She has written two articles for the Heartfulness Magazine. So, we are quite happy. But again, I take everything with gratitude. Not with expectation. See, the other thing in our association with any type of meditation system is that expecting an outcome is a seed for disappointment. Especially when it is not rational. What I mean by that is if I go to the gym and if I have a trainer, and if I do the routine I am supposed to do, I will see results in myself. That is the correct expectation. But if I go to the gym and do exercise, and then think that I am going to find a star to marry, or that I will swim across the Amazon, that is not a realistic expectation. So in many systems, including the heartfulness system, you will come across people who say that thanks to the meditation system, or the teacher, or their blessings, “my child became a valedictorian” or similar things. I cringe when I hear that. I cringe when I hear that, because we also know that tragedies happen. In any association or group of people. Things we don’t like happen. Right? If we don’t take these things as milestones in our journey, then we have a wrong understanding of life.

Let’s think about the day. The day starts cool, it gets hot, then it becomes cool again. It starts dark, it becomes light and it gets dark again. But if we don’t accept the seasonality of a day, seasonality of life, the ups and downs, we have a wrong understanding of life, a wrong understanding of the systems that we follow to expand our consciousness. So, I don’t know which question I have answered right now, but it’s very important that we don’t have dogmatic, religious overtones to our expectations from a meditation system. In some way, as our consciousness expands we shoot ourselves in the foot less often, and that is a tangible benefit. As our consciousness expands we develop a 360 degreevision – a wider view of life in its wholeness. This makes us less volatile and reactive and calmer and better responsive. And this alone will make for growth, progress, happiness and joy in life.

S: I can see how what you just said also translates in how we raise our kids or however we live our lives, whatever practices we have and our expectations in what we want our children to do.

V: It’s like saying that if you go to temple, or a church, or a synagogue, you are a better person. But if you make that statement to the children, and they take it seriously, they will either look at others who are not doing that as bad, or they will look at parents and say, “Hey, it doesn’t work.” So it’s a problem.

S: Switching gears a bit, again: Being that you are in finance, what are three things you would tell a child, that could help a child be financially aware, or money aware. For instance, I wasn’t told anything about money. I was given a piggy bank but didn’t know about managing money.

V: Sure. Money is a means of exchange. Exchange things. Sometimes time is measured in money, and the value of products and services is measured in money. So a child needs to know that the things that they use cost money, and that to make money, one has to put in energy. If they waste things, they waste money, and they waste energy. And suppose you say that if the parents go out and put in the energy to make the money to bring in the things that they enjoy, then if they waste that money, they are wasting their parents’ energy. Then you can say that if you don’t waste, the parent can save that energy, spend that energy with the child, going out for a football game, or you know, going out to a movie, or otherwise spend time together. This is how some level of appreciation of what the parents do is inculcated in them that will, in turn, help them when they grow up. The child can tell the parents to spend more time with them and make less money for both require energy to be spent! Energy spent with the children is the greatest investment parents can make. So automatically everything gets balanced with that perspective. So saying money is energy. Save money, save energy. Spend it wisely where it is needed.

S: If you could tell your younger self, anything, what would it be?

V: I don’t know. I am quite content today as I am where I am. But if I were to go back and tell myself anything, I’d say “just think twice before doing anything”. It’s not that I have wasted a lot of time doing this, that, or the other, but I think that would be a general statement that I could make to myself. I could have avoided a few mistakes, and I could have definitely saved time, money, and energy, and that could have been put for my own personal growth, my family’s happiness as well. So that’s what I would tell myself. Think twice before doing anything. Not to procrastinate, but to pause; have a reasonable awareness of the decision that we are making. After doing the best, we accept what comes afterward.

End of Interview.

This is a post for World Moms Network by Sophi at ThinkSayBe. Photo used with permission from Victor Kannan.

ThinkSayBe

I am a mom amongst some other titles life has fortunately given me. I love photography & the reward of someone being really happy about a photo I took of her/him. I work, I study, I try to pay attention to life. I like writing. I don't understand many things...especially why humans treat each other & other living & inanimate things so vilely sometimes. I like to be an idealist, but when most fails, I do my best to not be a pessimist: Life itself is entirely too beautiful, amazing & inspiring to forget that it is!

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PHILIPPINES: A Mother Moves Out of Her Parents’ House

PHILIPPINES: A Mother Moves Out of Her Parents’ House

Our family of three recently started adapting a new normal.

We’ve finally moved in to a home of our own, something that my husband and I have dreamed of doing ever since we started on our life journey together. Here, in the Philippines, we’ve been living with family members since we were married.

To see “our home” become a reality fills us both with so much joy. It also gives us far more responsibilities than we have ever had to take on. Of course, we anticipated this, but you never really know what things will be like until you actually find yourself there, right?

2015 WMB Quote Mrs C Cleaning

Mr. C works full time, which means that the bulk of the financial responsibilities fall on his lap. I, on the other hand, am in charge of keeping house, and turning this place into a happy home. Our son’s job is to fill our space, and our hearts, with happiness and love. He is also being taught how to do chores that he can manage at his age.

It’s been four months since we moved, and I feel that we are all doing well, so far.

Of course, it goes without saying that there have been times over the last four months where it felt like we were drowning. Or at least, I felt like I was drowning.

Managing an entire household, no matter how large or small, can be overwhelming. It’s super overwhelming for me, in particular. See, our current setup is different from what I grew up with.

I’ve never had to clean the house before. When I was younger, we had several helpers who stayed with us at home. My mom took in working students, and there were at least three of them staying with us at any given time. They helped with the daily chores, which meant that my siblings and I didn’t have to.

After I became a mom, I slowly started learning how to do these household chores on my own, from cooking and cleaning to doing the laundry. I also learned how to drive, so that I could start running errands. But because we were still living in my parents’ house, it was okay if things fell through the cracks once in a while. There was someone in that household who could help me do the things that I needed to do.

Now, in our new home, we are basically on our own. No helpers, by choice!

The three of us each have to pull our own weight around the house. It’s tough, but it’s also very fulfilling. I wish I could say that I have fallen nicely into a Pinterest-worthy routine, but the truth is that I have not. The reality is that, as I type away, I have two weeks’ worth of laundry sitting in the trunk of my car, waiting to be taken to the laundromat. There are also dirty dishes in the sink, and fallen leaves in the back patio and garage.

That’s okay. Yes, it is. See, the one important lesson I’ve learned as a new homemaker is this: If you want to keep your sanity, do not sweat the small stuff.

2015 WMB Quote Mrs C Move In

These things will get done. It may take longer than you had expected, but that doesn’t mean it will never happen. I know that I will eventually get the hang of all of this. I will soon learn to do laundry on a regular basis. I will figure out an efficient way to clean the bathrooms (which, I don’t do just yet, by the way, my husband does the cleaning. Thank God for him.) I will find a routine that works, and I will manage this household like a pro. Soon.

For now, I am just enjoying the fact that I can have coffee on my own couch, in my underwear, on a quiet morning, and not have to worry that someone will walk in and see me there. This family lives in a full house no more, and I do not sweat the small stuff.

What are your daily routines like, and how you manage to do everything you set out to do? Do you have helpers in your home?

This is an original post by World Moms Blog contributor, Mrs. C. of the Philippines. 

Photo credits to World Moms Blog. 

Patricia Cuyugan (Philippines)

Patricia Cuyugan is a wife, mom, cat momma, and a hands-on homemaker from Manila, whose greatest achievement is her pork adobo. She has been writing about parenting for about as long as she’s been a parent, which is just a little over a decade. When she’s not writing, you can usually find her reading a book, binge-watching a K-drama series, or folding laundry. She really should be writing, though! Follow her homemaking adventures on Instagram at @patriciacuyugs. 

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KENYA: Online Groups Replace Traditional Motherhood Advice

KENYA: Online Groups Replace Traditional Motherhood Advice

Pumwani_Maternity_Moms-448x250

Last Sunday, my closest friend became a mother for the first time. It has been excitement galore from all the people who know her: her family, her friends, her colleagues, neighbors, acquaintances, and just about everybody.

When I visited her in hospital, I found myself giving her all kinds of advice about motherhood from breastfeeding, to weaning, to walking, to teething, all that and more.

Then I quickly told her that I would add her to some Facebook groups that would be of great help to her as a new mum. I began by adding her to a group that is exclusive to Kenyan mums who are breastfeeding. As I did so, I amused myself at how Kenyan mums have turned Facebook into their go-to resource center.

There are plenty of Facebook groups by and for Kenyan mums whose membership constitutes a certain phase of the motherhood journey.

For example, when one is trying to conceive, there is a group to join. When she conceives, she then swiftly moves on to a group for pregnant mums. Once she has her baby, she moves on to the next group –that of breastfeeding mums. After that its a group dedicated to weaning, and where nutrition advice is offered –by fellow mums.

Online Replaces African Mother Advice

Then there are also larger groups made up of Kenyan mums with babies of whatever age, a general group where everything about motherhood is discussed. From schools, to detergents, to diapers, to cooking fat, tissue paper, to the very critical issue of house girls (nannies). Everything goes. Each of these groups have thousands of members, with one even having slightly over 90,000 members!

I have been in all of these groups, and I am still members in some of them.

In the traditional African setting of the past, new mums were guided into the motherhood journey by the older women around them: their mothers, their aunts, their grandmothers, older cousins and female neighbors.

However, in today’s society some of these traditional fabrics are slowly ebbing away.

More women have to work to supplement the family income, which leaves little option for staying at home to look after the children. In fact, we are seeing less and less of the special interactions between generations of women when it comes to raising her child.

Consequently, we are turning to our friends, our online friends, most of them strangers, for advice that would otherwise have been given to us by our ‘African mothers.’ Combine that with modern technology where access to the internet in many African urban cities is growing, and accessing information and connecting with mums online becomes inevitable.

Sometimes when I think about it, I believe it’s unfortunate, especially for those of us who live in the urban towns, that we no longer have easy access to those traditional pieces of motherhood advice that we would have received directly from our mothers. But, in turn, we are grateful about how the internet has made our parenting journeys significantly easier for our modern lifestyles. Because, it truly has. But, it is only natural to wonder if we may be missing out on something lost.

How has online motherhood support played into your experience as a mother?

This is an original post to World Moms Blog by contributor Maryanne Waweru-Wanyama of Kenya. 

Photo credit of Kenyan women to the author. 

Quote image credit to World Moms Blog. 

Maryanne Waweru Wanyama

Maryanne Waweru-Wanyama, a mother of two boys, writes for a living. She lives in Nairobi, Kenya with her family. Maryanne, a Christian who is passionate about telling stories, hopes blogging will be a good way for her to engage in her foremost passion as she spreads the message of hope and faith through her own experiences and those of other women, children, mums and dads. She can be found at Mummy Tales.

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