The Britannia Beach Series
Introducing my exciting new Young Adult series with HarperCollins/HarperImpulse
Add the series to GOODREADS
Add the series to GOODREADS
A friend of mine recently posted a link to a controversial article written by the wife of an RCMP officer. She examined the tendency for the public to automatically finger point and blame the police. She acknowledged that although there are few bad apples in the policing field, most members are working very hard to serve and protect and make it home alive at the end of the shift.
Many of the comments on her article were supportive. They respected that men and women in first responder professions risk their lives every day and that they are put in positions where their decisions or mistakes might have dire consequences. The author’s main point was that the public shouldn’t judge a situation that they know very little about, or automatically blame the police when they don’t know what led up to the decision that the officer made.
The other side of the comments on her article ranged from people pointing out that police brutality exists, to extremely hostile, police-bashing, angry-at-the-man type sentiments. She eventually had to close the comments when individuals threatened her and wished that her police officer husband would beat her to death.
As I read through the progressively more disturbing comments, something occurred to me.
Regardless of your opinions about the police, we can all agree that there needs to be more accountability. I don’t mean holding a person or group accountable; I mean being personally accountable.
Whether we are bureaucrats, corporation heads, teachers, parents, or blue-collar workers we can all be more accountable for our behaviours and choices – both the ones we make and the ones we don’t. This would include what we say or stay silent on, how we spend our money and time, our attitude, what we consider important, and whether we jump to blame or jump to find solutions.
We are all responsible to act the way we would if we knew everybody was watching, even when nobody is watching. We are all responsible to respect other people’s things, families, beliefs, and lifestyles as if they were our own. We are responsible to ensure the safety and well-being of our fellow humans, whether that means protecting the environment, speaking up against an injustice, or simply being honest and trustworthy.
Personal accountability is fairly simple: work hard to be a person others would admire; adhere to the law or run for office to change the law; admit when we make mistakes; accept the consequences when we slack, break a rule, or screw up; exercise our right to vote so the people we want representing us are elected; appreciate and value the people who are trained and willing to do the difficult or dirty jobs that we can’t or don’t want to do.
Everybody is where they are today because of the choices they made yesterday. If you commit a crime you will be treated like a criminal. That is the choice you made and it’s not a police officer’s fault that you made that choice. On the other hand, if you are in a position of authority and you abuse the privilege or power that has been entrusted in you, you shouldl lose that position of authority.
I’m glad there are men and women who are willing to be spit on, attacked, and threatened with weapons as their profession. Sure, some police officers are corrupt or lack integrity; some have been on the traumatizing and sometimes thankless job too long; some have personal problems that affect their judgement; and some abuse the authority they have been entrusted with. Most of them are individuals who are caring, responsible, brave, and calm in threatening situations.
If we cop bash, the type of young men and women who we need in policing will think twice about choosing that profession.
Instead of bashing, let’s all work on being accountable to ourselves first.
I was reading an article written by a recently divorced woman named Jennifer Cullen. It was a list of things she wished people would have told her about divorce – not that she thought the insight would have changed her decision to get divorced, but it would have helped her understand what to expect and prepare for.
The feedback comments she received were heated and obviously struck a cord with a lot of people. It wasn’t the content of the article per se that people were responding to; they were reacting strongly to the subject of divorce in general because even when divorce is the best option, it is still not easy for anyone involved.
Divorce is hard (and expensive). You’ve been warned, so don’t say, ‘I wish someone would have told me how hard it was going to be before we separated’.
There are numerous reasons why people get divorced. Some reasons may seem more justified such as one of the spouses is cheating, carrying out criminal activity in the home, alcoholic, or abusive. Some reasons are as simple as we just don’t love each other anymore.
Some people feel very strongly that when you make a commitment ‘until death do you part’ or some equivalent, that vow should be taken seriously and literally. Other people feel strongly that we only live once and life is too short to spend it being unhappy.
Everybody is different and it’s not fair for an outsider to judge who should have tried harder to make their marriage work and who was right to walk away when they did. Keep in mind that a lot of people are divorced who didn’t want to be. Their spouse ended the marriage and put them in a situation that they never wanted. Judging them for the situation they are in only makes everything harder.
Regardless what your personal beliefs on divorce are, we can probably agree that those who are going through a divorce will be in for a difficult transition. It will be a challenging adjustment for everyone involved, including the person who initiated the separation. Freedom from an unhappy existence comes at a price.
For example, a woman who has broken free from her verbally abusive husband may feel liberated and confident, but it doesn’t mean everything about being independent is rainbows and butterflies. The same applies for a man who leaves a loveless marriage after twenty years of trying every type of counselling available. He may feel grateful to be finally free to find true love, but starting life over has its challenges too.
When children are involved it is even more painful for everyone. Divorce may have been the best, or the only, option given the circumstances of the marriage, but justified or not, children will still be hurt by it.
Of course, there are many well-adjusted children of divorce who have been able to blossom with the love of both parents and possibly two fantastic step-parents. There are also many happy and thriving children of single parents. But in my experience, even the stable, successful children who intellectually understand that the divorce of their parents was necessary and resulted in a better environment for them to grow up in, have a tiny part of their emotional inner child that still wishes their parents didn’t have to get divorced.
Even if we all knew how to communicate respectfully and skilfully to resolve conflict, if we were all emotionally mature enough to contribute to a marriage in an equal and unconditionally accepting way, and if we were all perfectly compatible for our entire lifetime, I’m sure there would still be divorces. Why? Because we don’t have a crystal ball to predict the future and know that someone is going to become, as an example, a raging alcoholic when they are fifty years old.
Bonus warning: marriage is a lot of work. It is not all good times and you will be challenged to grow, be flexible, and to compromise. If you have any doubts about the person you are thinking about marrying, listen to your instincts. If there are any red flags, don’t brush them off. If there are already problems with respect, communication, and division of responsibility, it’s best to walk away early or work them out in counselling prior to making a commitment to marry someone or to have children with them.
When I worked as a social worker, one of the programs our agency provided was a summer day camp for children who were, for various reasons, not be able to attend community centre programs. We went to the zoo one day and one of my favourite kids was acting particularly anxious. He was running ahead, pulling at my hand to hurry us along, and on the verge of tears if the group paused to look at an exhibit.
I told him we had all day and he didn’t have to worry about missing anything, but he was desperate to get to the next exhibit. As soon as we all arrived at the next exhibit, he was off and running again. He desperately wanted to see the wolves, but barely even glanced at them before he checked the map to see what was coming up.
We all tried to slow him down so he could enjoy the moment and soak it all in, but the excitement of everything that was offered at the zoo was overloading his system. When we passed the tigers, all the other children stopped at the fence and observed as the trainer feed the big cats. My student wasn’t even paying attention to what was happening right in front of him. He only wanted to know what was next, even though he’d been looking forward to seeing the tigers.
I eventually took the map away from him, but it didn’t slow him down. Every time we got somewhere, he just wanted to get to the next somewhere. At the end of the day, when the tour was finished, he cried because it was over. He cried a lot, and he wanted to go back to do it again.
People ask me all the time to help them achieve their goals. They set their personal, work, and financial goals and assume that when they reach them they will finally be happy. People also come in all the time wondering why after they achieved all their goals, they’re still not happy.
Achieving goals is not a bad thing. Challenging yourself with novel aspirations that are slightly outside your comfort zone is the best way to learn and grow. However, it’s not the achieving that creates the happiness; it’s the striving. If we aren’t paying attention during the journey, we miss the point.
If that’s the case, why is everyone trying to rush the process?
People rush up the path assuming that ultimate success and happiness can be found there. They ignore signs and avoid the other people along the path only to be told when they reach the peak, “Okay, it’s over”. The thing they feel at that point is regret that they didn’t take more time and pay more attention to all the things that happened along the way.
It’s true that everyone is on a slightly different path. Some are paved highways and some are muddy pothole filled back country foot trails. But we are all ultimately going to end up in the same place.
If we don’t like where we currently are, we can get on or off any given path at the next intersection or fork in the road. Find a road that makes you want to meander and enjoy the scenery. Nobody knows how long their particular journey to the top of the mountain is going to take, but whether it is destined to be short or long, we might as well slow down and enjoy the trip.
I’ve written about the topic of honesty before – a lot. Apparently, it bothers me when people aren’t honest. This time I’m not going to focus on liars. I’m going to focus on people who avoid telling the truth. They are the bystanders who feel the same way as the person who spoke the truth, but they would never say anything because they don’t want to appear mean and they are afraid of conflict.
You could ask anyone what quality they appreciate in a friend or a partner and one of the top answers will be honesty. Our society is always teaching such things as, honesty is the best policy, and the truth will set you free, but the truth is very few people actually want to hear the truth, especially from their friends.
The fact that they even think being honest is mean is disappointing. Honesty among friends should never be considered mean, rude, or in poor taste. Sure, how the truth is presented is important and sometimes it’s not done with enough tact. Regardless how it is said and how much it stings to hear it, if it’s honest, you should always appreciate it because it means they care enough about you to tell you the truth.
I can agree that there are some situations where telling a falsehood does no harm and does spare someone else from being embarrassed. It’s a slippery slope into full lies though. We start with an ingenuous compliment then next thing we know we are telling doozies that are designed to protect ourselves from taking accountability for a mistake.
The reason very few people tell the truth even when they think they should is because it’s hard. People get mad at you when you’re honest about something they don’t want to know.
Thomas Sowell said, There are only two ways of telling the complete truth – anonymously and posthumously. His quote made me laugh because it demonstrates how much people really dislike the thought of having to be honest.
Most people want their friend to agree with them and empathize without making any suggestions or recommendations. I don’t want friends who only tell me what they think I want to hear, and I don’t want friends who only say how they really feel about me behind my back. If a friend thinks I’m wrong about something or that I could change something about what I’m doing to make a problematic situation better, I want them to tell me. I might not think they’re right at first, but once it sinks in I’ll likely consider it because I trust their opinion.
I don’t see how you can call yourself a friend if you can’t be honest. Truth is the foundation of trust, so without it how will you ever know what to believe or who you can really depend on? If someone prefers to avoid conflict and would rather be phony so they appear nice, their relationships will always be superficial and fake.
If you lie to spare someone’s feelings or to avoid conflict, either the truth will come out or you’ll have to live with being disingenuous. If you tell the truth from the beginning, you will only be dealing with the hurt of the truth.
I can get over the sting of being told something that was hard to hear, but I don’t think I’ve ever gotten over being lied to by someone I wanted to trust.
“If you do not tell the truth about yourself you cannot tell it about other people.”
“Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters”
― Albert Einstein
“Nothing in this world is harder than speaking the truth, nothing easier than flattery.”
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky
I’ve spent decades dehydrated. I didn’t know I was so severely parched until I started hydrating properly. The main reason that I didn’t realize how bad it was is because I very rarely feel thirsty. I’ve since learned that my body expresses dehydration through less obvious symptoms than thirst. Instead of thirst, I get a racing heart, dizziness, and I have difficulty recalling certain words when I’m talking. The symptoms go away immediately after I hydrate. Now, I just try to stay hydrated so my body doesn’t have to go through the stress.