I Don't Care How You Spell It, Honor Is Important…

Honor is an important aspect of life and society. We hear a lot about it in the movies and in books, but we don’t always lend much thought to the prospect of honour within our own lives. Most people adhere to a system of honor without even realizing it. Maybe you were raised on a system of honor and you stick to it without acknowledging that this is what you’re doing.

Honor is a very fluid word, and holds a number of different definitions depending on the context. For the most part, it means sticking to what’s right or following a code of conduct. If you look at it as an action, it means to have great respect for something/someone or hold them in high esteem. it can also mean to fulfill a previously made agreement.

“Stand Up For What’s Right, Even If You Are Standing Alone!”

Suzy Kassem

For the most part, honor is mentioned and/or covered in great detail in many of the books I’ve read; the Hagakure, The Bubishi (Karate bible), The Art of War, Bushido’s Code and The Book of Five Rings, among many others. And those are just the “non-fiction” books. One of the main characters from my favourite book series, The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan, lives his existence based on a code of honor he sticks to quite fervently.

Depending on what system or style of martial art you’ve studied, aspects of honor is covered by a number of different rules; protect the weak, never attack the helpless, follow the rules, etc… Despite an inherent aspect of violence in the martial arts (kind of hard not to be when you’re training to punch and kick), there is also an inherent peace and discipline involved, which leads to a realized practice of politeness and gentleness. Some would call this “balance”.

Maintaining one’s honor is important; not only for yourself but for your family and the people close to you. And with that honor comes a level of irreproachable honesty that should be observed as well. ☯

Meinh, It's Not My Problem…

Contrary to most people’s opinion, emergency situations of varying types are not only the norm in today’s society, they tend to happen frequently and almost daily. Whether it’s someone in medical distress or someone being attacked or harmed, it happens far more than any of us care to consider.

Although I would be far from considered the type of person to intentionally install fear in people, my field of work has given me a particularly subjective look at this type of phenomenon. And what’s worse is that if the average person knew just how much chaos takes place in their “quiet little town”, they would likely think twice about going out and/or locking their doors.

But before I get too dark and morbid, what I’m talking about is the propensity people seem to have to ignore something happening right in front of them. What I’m referring to, is a phenomenon known as the Bystander Effect.

There was a case that took place where a New York City resident was attacked and killed outside her apartment complex in 1964. There were apparently dozens of witnesses who saw the attack taking place and heard the woman crying out for help, but no one intervened despite witnessing the incident. Once the attack was over someone phoned police, who responded within two minutes.

Imagine if this was you. You’re screaming for help and despite all these people watching, no one steps in to help. It’s actually an effect that’s been documented and studied by a number of sources. I’m sure some of you may recall an incident in the early 90’s where a two-year old boy was dragged away against his will by two older boys, who subsequently killed the toddler.

Although there are a number of common sense reasons why any given person may not want to get involved in an emergent situation, the need and importance of intervening is critical. Let’s back up to that 1964 attack I mentioned earlier. That attack is said to have lasted for over 30 minutes while people watched. If someone had phoned the police right when they saw it happening, the police likely would have arrived on scene in two minutes and the victim’s life would be spared.

The biggest problem, if we examine it from today’s perspective, is that most people are more preoccupied with whipping out their cell phone to film the incident rather than help. And there’s an after-effect to the Bystander Effect known as a “diffusion of responsibility”. This is a concept that explains that the larger the crowd of onlookers, the less likely a single person will lend aid. this is because there is a tendency to believe that someone else will step in and that you won’t need to.

I’m reminded of the multiple occasions where I’ve received a call from someone stating that there was a vehicle off the road along a major highway. I’d ask the caller if there were any injuries or casualties. That question would always be met with “I don’t know, I didn’t stop…” When asked why they didn’t stop, I’d either be told that it wasn’t their problem or that it was “my job.”

I asked this question earlier on, but imagine if this was you. Wouldn’t you want someone to help? Providing aid certainly is everyone’s responsibility. If you come across something, step in and help. And if you feel the need to whip out your cell phone, take the time to dial 911. You may be saving someone’s life. ☯

Selfish vs. Selfless

Being selfless isn’t easy. In fact, most people don’t manage it to save their lives. And for good reason. Biologically speaking, humans are built to be selfish; not because we’re assholes but because it’s a survival mechanism. Don’t get me wrong, humans ARE assholes as well! But I digress…

Selfishness is a survival mechanism, because if our ancestors weren’t selfish with their food and gathering of basic needs, they wouldn’t have survived to evolve into what we are today. But considering the fact that we are a society of self-aware people who understand the difference between right and wrong, shouldn’t selflessness become the priority?

The average person with any modicum of common sense would assume so, but it’s still surprising how easy it is for people to remain selfish in the face of situations where they could and should be thinking of others instead. Allow me to provide an example…

Let’s say you walk into your Christmas staff party. You feel light-headed and check your blood glucose level to see that you’re running low. You walk over to the buffet table and notice that there’s only one piece of sugared food left. As you reach for it, someone else grabs for it and picks it up. You explain that you need it to raise your blood sugar. The other person shrugs and takes a bite. You ask if they have Diabetes, to which they reply that they do not. You explain that you need it to raise your blood sugar as you ARE Diabetic. The other person says something akin to it being your problem, not theirs and walks away while munching on the sugared food you needed.

So, who’s right? Does what that person did make sense? Sure, it’s easy to figure that it isn’t the second person’s problem and that since it’s a first come, first serve buffet, they’re totally entitled to that piece of food. But let’s consider that word for a moment: entitled. If it comes at the cost of someone else’s well-being, are we ever truly “entitled” to something? The second person really had no need of that piece of food, they simply wanted it. Even faced with someone else’s genuine need, they selfishly choose to keep it for themselves.

And no, this specific scenario didn’t happen to me (although something similar may have taken place to someone close to me recently). I’m merely using this example to illustrate a point.

In a modern world where we understand the difference between right and wrong and are able to realize when someone genuinely has a need for something, there’s nothing wrong with being selfless enough to step aside and let the other person have the moment. After all, there’s enough suffering in the world. We, as people, should recognize that it’s our responsibility to lessen that suffering. ☯

Respect Should Be Remembered, Despite Your Beliefs…

Over the years, there has been a slow decline in some of the verbal freedoms that we’ve always taken for granted. The best example would be the fact that when I was growing up, saying “Merry Christmas” was the expected greeting you gave people during the holiday season. But in recent times, it’s become almost anathema to some people, bordering on the rude, to wish someone a Merry Christmas.

For the most part, this decline in the use of a time-honoured holiday greeting has been attributed to a difference in background and religious beliefs. I’ve lost count of how many times someone has told me, “I’m not Christian and so I consider it offensive for you to offer me greetings based on a religion I don’t practice…”

I’m paraphrasing, of course. But my question to these people has always been simple and straightforward: why? This trend has reached most branches of society, going as far as retail and business locations forbidding their staff from giving a specific greeting in favour of a generic and dry greeting of “Happy Holidays”.

That’s all well and good, but doesn’t restricting someone from using a greeting based on their own beliefs violate the same freedom the ones complaining about it are trying to maintain? Seems a tad on the hypocritical side…

I was baptized into the Catholic faith when I was a child. I was raised in an environment where my family celebrated Christmas and the birth of Christ (although most scholars have indicated this didn’t ACTUALLY happen on December 25th, but that’s for a different post). But given the changes in my life and faith since then, I consider it a sign of respect for someone to use the greeting associated with their faith.

For example, if someone from the Jewish faith were to say, “Happy Hannukah” I would respond with, “Thank you so much. And Merry Christmas.” In Canada, we have the significant freedom to exercise the faith of our choice; a choice not everyone in the world gets to enjoy. So why butt head’s against each other to try and “have it our way?”

There is room enough in this world for everyone’s faith. One of the beautiful things about faith is that it doesn’t take up any physical room. So why take up room exercising it or restricting others? Let’s take a moment this holiday season to see the beauty in everyone’ faith and appreciate the fact that time has been taken to wish us well. After all, the holidays should be about family, celebration and freedom. Merry Christmas! ☯

Wide World Of Holidays…

December is almost always recognized for the celebration of Christmas. This is due in part to the fact that the Western world was populated and is heavily composed of people who follow a Christian faith, although those numbers are steadily being matched by varying faiths, even here in Canada. What many people don’t realize is exactly how many important holidays are celebrated in December.

For example, even Buddhism has a day in early December in which we observe Bodhi Day, which is historically believed to be the day that the Buddha achieved enlightenment.

One of the most popularly known holidays is Hanukkah, which is a holiday of the Jewish faith. This holiday is also called the Festival of Lights and incorporates 8 days of gift-giving. However, this holiday doesn’t always fall in December and can be observed sometime in late November and as late as January.

There are a number of holidays in December that are also not necessarily attributed to any religious faith, such as Boxing Day, New Year’s Eve, Human Rights Day and the Winter Solstice.

One of the most interesting non-religious holidays is Kwanzaa. This is a week-long celebration held by people of African descent, to honour the African heritage and is usually celebrated by way of a feast and gift giving.

December is a busy month, on top of last-minute shopping and travelling to see family! Take the time to enjoy all celebrations. Even someone who isn’t of a particular religious background will be invited to celebrate in most circles. And the opportunity to learn and better know your fellow man and woman is best taken when the opportunity knocks! ☯

The Last Of The Generation…

I received some sad news this morning. My Grandmother passed away at 6 am local New Brunswick time. If you recall reading a blog I posted less than a month ago, this would be the grandmother who fed her whole family by putting potatoes, carrots and beef cubes into a huge pot and boiling it all until it became mush. Such is the Acadian way…

My Grandmother with my brother and I (I’m the infant) in 1978

Dorina Poirier (Robichaud) was born as a U.S. citizen in the state of Maine. She moved to Canada with her family and settled in Northern New Brunswick sometime in the early decades of the 1900’s. She eventually met my Grandfather, who ironically was intended to marry my Grandmother’s sister, Doris.

My Grandparents got married shortly before my Grandfather shipped out to serve with the military in Europe during World War II. Upon his return, like most military families, they grew a rather significantly large family. They had seven children, the second oldest was my mother.

As a child, I had a very turbulent love/hate relationship with my Grandmother. As was the way of the times, she had been a harsh taskmistress on her children during their youth, some of which carried over onto her grandchildren years later.

I was also left in my Grandmother’s care a great deal as a child while my Mother looked after my brother’s medical care in Montreal. Although I’m certain this was greatly appreciated and was very cost-saving to my parents at the time, as a child I couldn’t help but feel some resentment at being left with this woman who was not my mother. Ah, kids…

My Grandmother and I in the late 80’s (no comments on my suspenders, please!)

My Grandmother’s family has spread like wildfire, considering that she happens to be a Great-Great-Grandmother with four generations of children below her, and counting.

My Grandfather also sadly passed away in 2013 at the age of 98. My Grandmother has missed him ever since and has been waiting to take that final journey to join him. She was my last remaining grandparent.

My Grandparents and I at my High School Graduation in 1996

The irony is that besides the rigours of age, my Grandmother had nothing medically wrong with her. She lived a full life, built a huge family and left her mark on the world. She was 95. She goes now to join those who loved her, to await those she loves. She will be missed. ☯