EDWISE 

EDITOR AND EDUCATION CONSULTANT

Blog

Just Peace - peaceful day

Posted on December 24, 2017 at 4:17 PM
It's a peaceful day. Significant holidays can often feel peaceful, at least in one's own universe and despite the larger contradictions and points of trouble around the world. It is fulfilling to be able to rest; a holiday is a respite for many. The underpinnings of the global and local economies remain, and some machines are still grinding; not everyone gets a holiday or can afford to take a day off. Nevertheless, the underlying ideals of a religion- or/ and tradition- based day or season of remembrance, positive values, solidarity, and celebration make one pause, whatever their situation, to reflect and breathe.

This is my first Christmas as a resettled Canadian. I missed it for nine of the ten years away in Asia, in a land where there is some deep, sedate religious meaning for maybe 20 per cent of the population, where it was a national day off yet not a big time of general celebration. I missed some of the feeling and ritual, though I could see and hear a few low-key signs of Christmas in cafes and on the face of churches. In the university semester system in South Korea, we were not supposed to travel around Christmas--the semester and school year were wrapping up and there was usually some grading and paper work to complete. As well, winter programs were just starting. (I know one or two colleagues who secretly sneaked away to return to their homelands in time for Christmas, though.) The teachers in public schools still had to be at work, many preparing winter "camp" classes to be held in January. Teachers at the after-school academies for children sometimes got five days off between Christmas and New Year, which was not much time if one wanted to escape to the US, Oceania or Europe. While I was teaching kids, I did not get time off around Christmas. No, the traveling had to wait, and it often wasn't until around Lunar New Year that the opportunity would come--not a substitute for an occasion as significant as Christmas.

Today, however, I have recaptured some of the feeling. I have been participating in the seasonal socials, doing some related errands, saying "Merry Christmas" or "happy holidays" a lot, and indulging in some of the festive food and drink. It is especially gratifying and restful not to have any visiting or shopping to do today. There is some editing waiting, but it can wait some more. 

It is the day of Christmas Eve, which has fallen on a Sunday this year. I can enjoy the luxury of staying home and doing nothing in particular. No bus trip to get to the usual choir practice; the choir is taking a couple of weeks off. I have done housekeeping tasks, of course, and cooked up a batch of homemade pancakes and one of spaghetti sauce, tasks which do not seem like big chores but are rather relaxing to me. Anyway, it is only the noon-hour here and I can hold off from other chores today. 

I have been thinking about dropping by a local United Church because that can be a nice experience on Christmas Eve, even though I am not an active Christian and generally have doubts and reservations about formal religious institutions. If you have been following my blog, you'll realize that I am somewhat of a spiritual with some belief in a greater power of the universe and other dimensions of existence. I have an appreciation for the symbolism and some of the lessons of religion, and see merits in prayer and meditation. I have some appreciation of the texts, which I largely see as educational and semi-historical mythology, and problematic at the same time.

Interesting. I just paused and turned on the TV while on a break from blogging. I happened to catch the end of a documentary segment on the History Channel called, "Finding Jesus". Historians trace the real context and figures of the story of the Bible and try to render a more substantiated interpretation of the story of Jesus. Just when I turned it on, his segment of the series happened to be addressing the efforts to institutionalize Christianity, which was very controversial. Many followers of Jesus Christ did not want it. They were suspicious of the aims and politics and ownership that the new institution might take on. This portion of the documentary serious was concluding with a summary of the story of Judas. Portrayed as a complicated character tormented by inner conflict, the man who betrayed Jesus and got him captured, flogged and paraded as a public example by the Roman authorities. The viewer can infer the significance of Judas' story when historians claim that the book of Matthew describe how he ended up: regretting having betrayed Jesus but still lacking faith, he hanged himself. It is a lesson on the importance in and life-affirming force of having faith, perhaps faith in the values that Jesus taught and demonstrated, and faith in God, or some greater goodness.

I have been more mindful of having faith in recent years, and that is partly what this blogging project is about. Faith in what? Call it goodness, the power of life, positive energy--having faith can largely mean believing that improvement will happen, that goodness is there, that negative or life-threatening and defying energies or forces can be vanquished, that there is a higher (collective) consciousness trying to guide humanity to make wise choices and defend the good or life. Those are my interpretations, and I do waver or neglect allowing myself to work it all out in my mind. I do not think there is a final answer; rather, I think there are signs, there is a feeling, there is evidence of success in making positive change and happiness happen. That evidence, those signs make me calm or make me smile at time, whatever someone is saying to me or whatever local and world events are going on.

I holiday can be a good time to reflect and affirm one's belief in the positive, however it is construed. A holiday is a moment of solidarity in this general kind of belief.

Categories: communication, living, positive thinking, just peace, teaching

Thinking and Doing It Positively

Household Treasures

11 January 2021

I heard an interviewee speaking over the radio talk about cherishing items in the home. It is one way to explore and enjoy surroundings without traveling, he said​I'll try it.


A lot of objects on display in my apartment are artifacts from my travels, ironically. They refresh my most poignant memories of precious and mind-opening explorations.


Sitting atop the filing cabinet next to my desk are to souvenirs from South Korea, where I worked and resided for 10 years. After such a lengthy stay, I have loads of memories prompted by numerous artifacts of my experiences in that country. These two are among the best reflections of cultural and historical particularities of South Korea. They are a framed photo of a hero central to the labour and national democratic struggles and an ornament from folk culture in the countryside of the southern part of South Korea.


Jun Tae-Il was a courageous student activist leading actions against the last dictatorship in his country. He represents the heart of the movement and the victory for democracy. He became a martyr when the police fatally shot him while he was demonstrating in the street in Seoul, the capitol. The ornament is an ceramic fertility fetish, an image of a penis from one of several such parks in the southern region where I used to live. This part of the country remained tribal longer than other parts, so folk traditions such as shamanism and superstitions have endured. Fertility monuments were erected (pun intended), of course, bring about more healthy children. The foreigner exploring such parks giggle at the sights. 


Next to the filing cabinet is a bookshelf. One of the most noticeable objects near the top of this piece of furniture is a tacky, plastic, white alarm clock. It is significant because I bought it to ensure I woke up on time on my last morning living in South Korea. I had an early flight. As a small travel alarm clock had recently failed, and I was not sure my phone alarm would wake me fully, I picked up a cheap clock at a local general store. I don't use it as its ticking is noisy, but I have not thought to give it away. It remains perched on the shelf, deprived of a battery, as a reminder of my departure from the ex-pat life and return to Canada. 


I also have items saved from two trips to Cuba, one in 2003 and one in 2019. Both trips were organized political events. The first took me there with a political choral group to meet Cuban choirs, learn some of their songs, perform with Cubans, attend the May 1st rally, meet labour associations and tour the island for two weeks. I am looking at a typical replication of a sketch of Che Gevarra which one can find easily in street markets. Our choir, supportive of the Cuban revolution, valued the Cuban revolutionary democracy, social arrangements and political principals which that image, the most famous in all the world, represents to millions of people. It inspires and gives hope. I remember strolling through the streets, visiting markets and restaurants, chatting with locals and attending all the meetings on our hectic schedule. I have other little treasures such as a ceramic, hand painted ashtray, photos of our Cuban comrades, and an African-Cuban, wooden statuette.


Above my desk hang a pair of water colour paintings in wood frames. They portray sites in southern Manitoba in the general area where my grandparents met, married and bore my mother. They feature two views of the banks of the Red River, a river highly important to Canadian history. There were battles against invading Americans launched there and a key struggle of the Métis nation. The city of Winnipeg lies nearby, which used to be the industrial hub of Canada until the Panama Canal opened up and undermined the Canadian railway system. I have only passed through Winnipeg by car. This area is not one I remember, for I have never visited it. 


On the floor near my desk lies a wicker hamper. I have mixed feelings about it, but it has been very useful, so I have kept it. You see, it belonged to my father's second wife. My father remarried this odd, older person rather quickly after my mother passed, which denied her children necessary time to adjust. I carried resentment about her, but chose to avoid them rather than say anything or show my negative feelings. As I said, it is a practical item for it holds linens and Christmas stuff and allows aeration through the woven stems.


I originally bought the filing cabinet to organize research, not academic information but information found in the course of activism and stabs at political journalism. It therefore stores records of several international and regional conferences. Though I purge it once in awhile, there are still clippings, leaflets and pamphlets. They cover issues such as Canadian mining firms abroad, human rights cases, privacy rights, student concerns and transportation. I have been replacing old articles and folders with my own writing pieces. Among them are also old, self-published newsletters addressing local and international issues, some of my published articles and unpublished poems. 




Conversational News

10 January 2021

It is so good to be able to express myself and have contact with readers through this blog again. The loss of the access to my blog along with other aspects of confinement and restrictions really affected me. There were added unsettling restrictions due to circumstances, even including access to my games when Adobe Flash Player was removed. I was feeling the mounting stress of rising COVID cases and the awareness of the damages inflicted by this disease as well as the damage inflicted by states that remain focused on helping profitable enterprises more than addressing the disease and health care and financial interventions fully and equitably. Most such as Canada are handing the responsibility of pandemic management to individuals. Very unjust!


I had been handling the conditions of the pandemic fairly well, but emotions were catching up to me in December as I personally began to feel tired and stressed. I started to feel irritable and alarmed. I looked forward to two weekends at home over Christmas and New Years, but the employer wanted me to work on the Saturdays. Saturday being the heaviest work day for me with five hours straight teaching and two hours travel, I had been wanting relief to get a chance to rest and calm down. I ended up taking the Saturday following NY Day off, which certainly helped. I am much better now.


I did not carry through with my usual practice of personal assessment and planning in December as is my habit. I was too agitated. I did not want to reflect on this past year, actually. Not then.


Anyway, there is not any change in my goals. I generally carried through with financial, livelihood, social, family, health and growth goals. However, the social and family goals were frustrated by Covid-19 rules. However, there are elder relatives with multiple health problems whose mental health was being upset by the situation, so I have been visiting with them in cafes and such. They are better now. I have also been aiding an elderly neighbour whose health, already in decline this year, was getting worse partially because of Covid-related restraints. (Her degrading sight and hearing, as well as shaking and loss of balance, caused her to stop driving permanently, and skeletal issues caused her to stop regular exercise. She is worried she will be forced to consider entering a facility while many care homes are in crisis!) My exercise regime was also compromised. The local fitness center remains open but I perceive it as risky, so I do not go there. Aside from some hiking and walking to accomplish transit and errands, I haven't been exercising much until recently. Now I do some yoga, lunging, stretching and weighted arm raises sometimes. I am prevented this week because of an inflammation (hemorrhoid caused by lengthy sitting!).


 One big factor affecting stress and anxiety levels is news reportage. State and private corporate news services, like most enterprises today, try to streamline by relying more on tech and web browsing to find news topics. There are fewer reporters and there is less extended, investigative reporting. For the past decade at least, such services have resorted to "conversational journalism." It is an adjustment to distrust of news and official authorities during a trend of democratization, I feel. However, it tends to keep popularity and viewer or reader stats in mind. Topics can be sensationalized by rehashing events and speculation. Commentators are brought in to discuss as are senior reporters, but the discussion is not very productive in that it does not lead to increased knowledge. Rather, it keeps generating more questions. Conversations often entertain unanswerable questions, particularly because there can be no resolution. They just push the topic and stimulate possible answers to stir up controversy and alarm in order to improve ratings. Pertinent information might be omitted if it actually answers a question. Once audiences abandon a thread, they turn to some other topic and start over. It is really unconscionable because of the innuendo, speculation, rumour, omission, lack of investigation, assumptions and biases.


The COVID coverage is a clear case in point. Partial information is supplied, such as a medical official's announcement that is partly based in some truth. The announcement is questioned. Opponents are recruited to present the false arguments. Sideline topics are raised to create more friction. Proper sources are ignored. Questions are recycled and spin round and round with no conclusion. The affect is understandable: alarm, anxiety, fear, stress, accusations, complaints, etc.


I follow a couple of doctors who produce daily videos to update viewers on scientific developments and explore reasoning behind government and medical decisions regarding the pandemic. I rely on Dr. John Campble and Doctor Moran. Find them on Youtube. Campbell is the most digestable, for he uses plain English, which Moran is more technical. The latter seems to be addressing people in the medical field. By following Campbell, in particular, I can see the gaps in the regional and national news reporting. I can see that they are lagging behind the news by ignoring or failing to search for reliable information.

We're Back

07 January 2021

Apologies to my followers and viewers. You have been very supportive and encouraging for many years. I might have disappointed some of you who were looking for new entries from me. 


Let me explain. VISTAPRINT changed its platform last year. When they did that, the method for making blog entries changed. I had no information from them about what to do. It simply appeared that I know longer had any blogging service. 


However, I just spoke to a VISTAPRINT rep who guided me. I can now write blog entries, as you can see.


It was a strange year all the way around. Things seemed kind of more chaotic than usual. I felt agitated and stressed last month for no definite reason. I had trouble sleeping. I felt exhausted.


My general astrology reading asserted that the pulling away of Jupiter, one of my planets and a very powerful one, from Saturn would make Sagitarians feel exhausted by the end of December. Despite the restrictions imposed because of the pandemic, it does indeed feel like I worked and accomplished a lot (activism, teaching, writing). Things are supposed to get easier for us Sagges. 


There was added stress because of the effects of the pandemic. Not only that but worse, state aggression seemed to increased around the world, causing civilian mass responses. Though I had handled it pretty well until the end of 2020, I guess it finally got to me and I started soaking up some of the stress and anxiety emitting from my region and beyond.


2021 is starting out a bit weird, too. Just look at yesterday's events. U.S. Whitehouse invasion. Solar flare sending rays that caused several storms, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. More lockdowns. 


I wish all my readers well. I will resume entering focused pieces when I have more time. Please stick with me. Thank you for your comments to date.


Ed Wise

TEST

15 January 2020

THIS IS A TEST OF THE NEW PLATFORM FORMAT AND BLOG ENTRY SYSTEM.

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