One of the trending topics on Twitter today was ‘mention a date you will never forget’. It’s incredibly rare that a trending topic is of personal inspiration to me, so I thought I would share my answer in blog form, here. The only date that came to mind was November 09, 1989. That was the day the Berlin Wall came down.
I am of German descent, on my mother’s side. I have family in Germany. For the majority of my life, when asked where my ancestors came from, my answer was West Germany. Even though I was raised in Canada, thousands of miles away from the Fatherland, I had spent some time in Germany and always felt a deep connection to my German roots. I never thought I would live to see the day that the wall would come down.
So, that day in 1989, I found myself sitting in front of the television, in stunned silence with tears of unbridled joy streaming down my face as I watched images of the German people tear down the wall that had divided their country for decades. I sat there riveted, as families who hadn’t seen one another for a lifetime were reconnected in rapturous embraces.
The Berlin Wall falling planted the seed for a united Europe. Just as a united Europe might one day be seen as the impetus for a united world. A united Germany is proof that we can work together to improve our common future, even if we fundamentally disagree.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so I will leave you with images of that fateful day set to the powerful music and lyrics of the Scorpions singing Winds of Change… a song that instantly transports me back to that day in November, 1989 and never fails to make me cry.
I invite you to share a date you will never forget.
This week, the country of Morocco finally decided to take an ancient law off the books. A woman (or girl) will no longer be required to marry her rapist. A paragraph in Article 475 of the penal code allows those convicted of “corruption” or “kidnapping” of a minor to go free if they marry their victim and the practice was encouraged by judges to spare family shame. While it is a step in the right direction, it will, hopefully be the first of many steps to come with the end goal being equal human rights. Kudos and Brava to our North African sisters for fighting long and hard for their basic human rights amid such dangerous circumstances. This is another example of how women have finally had enough and are through accepting the status quo.
Rep. Cathrynn Brown (R),
In the United States, this week women’s reproductive rights have, yet again, come under attack. This time, in New Mexico… by a WOMAN! I cannot overstate how much of a betrayal this was, for women all around the world. A bill introduced by Rep. Cathrynn Brown (a republican, of course) who wants to make it so that a woman who is impregnated by her rapist would be forced to carry her baby to full term, or be sent to jail. House Bill 206, introduced by state Rep. Cathrynn Brown (R), would charge a rape victim who ended her pregnancy with a third-degree felony for “tampering with evidence.” The bill goes on to say, “Tampering with evidence shall include procuring or facilitating an abortion, or compelling or coercing another to obtain an abortion, of a fetus that is the result of criminal sexual penetration or incest with the intent to destroy evidence of the crime.” Her reasoning is that the bill would punish the person who commits incest or rape and then procures or facilitates an abortion to destroy the evidence of the crime.
When was the last time you heard of a case in which the rapist procured an abortion for his victim in order to destroy evidence? Also, correct me if I’m wrong, but can you not get DNA evidence from an aborted foetus? So what good is this law really going to do for the victim of the crime? This smacks of yet another republican attempt to shame the victim and reward the rapist, all in the name of religious “values”. Cause, you know the bible is all for the rape of women in order to keep them from getting all uppity.
Women in the US of A need to take a page from the women of Morocco and other countries where the fight is much more dire. Those women don’t have the luxury of introducing bills into law. Those women are too busy literally fighting for their lives. If the women of the free world (when I say free world, I mean all countries where women are free and equal, not just America) need to understand that if we allow our rights to be taken away, then we are dooming women in economically underdeveloped countries. If we let our rights go, then what chance for freedom do these women have? We must remain an example of what can be accomplished when you fight the good fight… because too much is at stake.
It seems that whenever people talk about a fallen empire, they invariably discuss the fall of the Holy Roman empire, but there have been a plethora of fallen empires throughout history and they all share a common thread. It has been said that Pride goeth before a fall, but it is not only pride, or even arrogance that preceded the fall of some of the world’s most powerful empires. The real culprit is a different deadly sin… greed.
A lot has been made of late about income inequality and for good reason. When the haves, who make up less than 1 percent of the population of a country, own more than 90 percent of a country’s wealth and the vast majority are the have-nots, who share the last few percentage points, the fall of that country is not far off. The masses will only put up with so much before there is a revolution, just look at the French Revolution (what happens when you have a pair of entitled 15 year olds ruling a country), or more recently the Arab Spring. Whether it’s a royal aristocracy, a dictatorship or capitalism run amok that keeps the people down, it is only a matter of time until the people will realize that all they need to do is band together and revolt in order to stop the madness.
Sir Edmund Burke once said, “Those who do not know history’s mistakes are doomed to repeat them.” He was right. It’s easy to look back at the causes of the declines and falls of each and every former empire and make direct comparisons to current world powers. The writing is on the wall. It is not enough to make sure that the have-nots have almost enough to live on and dangle the carrot of a lottery win, a singing career, a reality show or a game show as hope that they too can become rich. There are only so many times that a shiny object (celebrity) can be used to distract the people from the erosion of their rights. A country must provide more than just welfare and food stamps for its poor. It’s not just the impoverished, though. If a country has successfully eroded away its middle class, by union busting and outsourcing jobs to other countries, all in the name of saving a buck, they have then joined the middle class (which should be more populous than the poverty-stricken) with the poor, thereby strengthening their numbers and making themselves that many more new enemies.
China used to be a powerful empire and is the only country that actually has a chance, and a good chance, at that, of becoming a powerful empire for a second time. This time, they are building their economy by educating their children in fields like technology, science and agriculture. They are studying the success and failures of other countries and learning from them. They are buying the debt of countries that have a lot of unpopulated land, as they are quickly running out of land of their own. They are forward thinking, all the while looking to the past.
Thanks to global warming (or climate change) Russia is poised for power as well. It wasn’t that long ago (1917) that the Russian Revolution happened and Putin is ruling like he has never heard of it. The arctic will be a major resource in the coming decades and Russia owns the lion’s share of the region. It is imperative that they have a forward thinking party in power and soon if they want to be a major player in the near future.
Canadians; apologizing our way to the top.
There is a country that is on the threshold of becoming a world power player for the first time for much the same reason. The country that owns the second largest share of the arctic, Canada. Yes, quiet, polite Canada with our wealth of natural resources and our vast amounts of unpopulated land, really could be a super-power in the, not so distant, future, if we play our cards right. When it comes to social issues like healthcare and human rights, Canada is on the forefront. Canada is one of the best countries in which to live if you are a minority or a woman. The quality of our education system is excellent and not so overpriced that only the wealthy can access it. Yes, Canada is indeed a great place to live, which is why as we look forward by protecting our arctic land, we must also look around, like the Chinese are doing, at the successes and failures of others, both past and present and learn from them, so it will continue to be that great place to live. We do not want to see our rights eroded due to complacency on the part of the voting public. It is important that the people of Canada keep a watchful eye on our elected officials, so that they continue to act in our best interests and not succumb to the one thing that will spell our downfall… greed.
Last night, I was awakened by the most blood curdling sound. It was the low moan of a cat in trouble. It was 5:30 in the morning and pouring rain outside. I went to the sliding glass door and looked out onto my patio to see the stray cat who sometimes visits me when he needs to come in from the cold. His back was up and he was in a showdown with another stray tom cat. I opened my sliding glass door and shooed the stranger away. After he was sure that his nemesis had indeed fled the scene, Tabby (I have no idea if he actually has a name, but as he is a tabby cat, that’s what I call him) came in. He was soaking wet and shivering with cold, or rage, or perhaps a combination of the two. He let me towel him off and then he scarfed down some Meow Mix that I keep for just such an occasion. After his appetite was sated, Tabby joined me on the sofa and we both fell asleep, him, exhausted from battle, me just exhausted. After about an hour, the now dry Tabby, woke me up by mewing at the door and I let him back outside. He never stays long, but it seems that I am his port in a storm (literally and figuratively). I went back to bed and dreamed of sad wet cats. To me one of the most heart wrenching images is the sad wet cat. Nothing awakens my maternal instinct as quickly. In spirit of misery loves company, I thought I’d share some images of what happens when cats get wet. (Cue the Sarah McLachlan song)
When such a sad thing happens to the one animal on the planet that personifies the word dignity, one can only ask…
I have worn glasses every moment of my waking life ever since the eye doctor first strapped them to my head when I was 14 months old. I have what is referred to by optometrists as ‘special care eyes’, which basically means that I have blind as a bat-itis. I have multiple astigmatisms, my right eye has a tendency toward laziness, my lenses have a prism in them and I am far-sighted over all. I am grateful for my glasses. More specifically, I am grateful for the advancements made in the field of eyewear since that first pair was strapped to my head. No longer must I endure lenses made of glass that were so thick and heavy that they caused indentations on the bridge of my nose and on my cheeks. Frames have evolved from being a choice between horn rims or cat eyes to a veritable cornucopia of colours and styles with designer names like Chanel, Dior and Burberry. I still remember when the only famous name in eyewear was Sophia Loren. Ms. Loren was a trailblazer, taking the drab out of having to wear glasses.
Sophia made wearing glasses glamorous.
When I was growing up there was a saying, “Boys don’t make passes at girls who wear glasses”. On it’s face, this saying tells girls that you will never get a boy to be attracted to you because glasses are ugly and therefor make you ugly while wearing them. Remember the clichéd image of the plain Jane who takes down her hair and takes off her glasses and suddenly becomes gorgeous? I used to hate my glasses when I was younger, even going so far as to forego wearing them in social situations, even though I couldn’t see my own hand in front of my face, just because I wanted to be more attractive to men. When I look back at photos of myself at that age, I can now see clearly what I never could then, I was attractive with or without my glasses. If only I had the confidence to value my eyesight over my need for male attention. There’s a movie from 1953, starring Marilyn Monroe called How To Marry a Millionaire in which Marilyn’s character, Paula, who wears glasses, meanders around without them stumbling into things and even getting on the wrong plane just because she feels ugly with her glasses on. So ugly, in fact that she falls in love with the first man who tells her he likes her in her glasses. She even references the saying in a “cleaned up” 1950’s version, “Men aren’t attentive to girls who wear glasses”.
It nice to see how times have changed since then. Now celebrities are sporting their specs in public proudly. Some women like Tina Fey and Lisa Loeb have become known for their eyewear, not in spite of it.
Tina Fey is smart, funny and sexy.
Lisa Loeb looking sultry in her specs.
Last night I was watching an episode of the Big Bang Theory in which Penny puts on a pair of glasses and completely shatters the implication that glasses aren’t sexy (and proves that glasses might make you look smarter, but they don’t actually add IQ points).
I now wear my glasses confidently, with pride. I wear them like a fashionable accessory with different pairs for different looks or moods. I have come to the point where I not only need my glasses, but I love my glasses.
Women might not have evolved past our intrinsic insecurities surrounding our looks yet, but it’s nice to know that at least glasses aren’t as looked down upon as they once were.