• activism,  politics,  the ethical life

    The true reason I haven’t been involved in political activism for a while: not time shortage but fear of being wrong.

    Life is complicated. I look back at so many things I used to believe and I don’t hold those beliefs anymore. The knowledge of how my beliefs have changed makes me a bit more hesitant to express my beliefs. What if I say something now, and then look back at it a few years later and think “oh, how ignorant that was?” That is, of course, the reality of life. We all should be growing, changing, and accepting that our beliefs don’t hold still and we shouldn’t let that stop us from speaking about what we believe now. Yet perhaps it still needs to shape our actions. The awareness that…

  • history,  religion,  the ethical life

    Thoughts on Reading about Medieval Religious Beliefs, Self-Improvement and Lying

    I am reading a book called Lies, Slander and Obscenity in Medieval English Literature by Edwin Craun. I can’t understand everything in the book but it raises such fascinating questions. It is fun to read about people who took questions of truthfulness so incredibly seriously. It helps put what I read about the origins of the word equivocate, in the late 16th early 17th century into context. I had read long ago (in a different book) that the word came into common use at a time where Catholics in England were being persecuted. Some Catholics wrote instructions about how to equivocate as a way of trying to be truthful without…

  • memes,  the ethical life

    Life is so much more complicated than the pro-small business memes make it sound.

    Today I saw a meme that read “When you buy from a small business, you’re not helping a CEO buy a third holiday home. You’re helping a little girl get dance lessons, a little boy his team jersey, moms & dads put food on the table. Shop local.” Let’s ignore for a moment the sexism involved in assuming the girl get’s dance lessons and the boy a sports jersey. Let’s focus on this issue of big businesses verse small. There’s an extent to which that is true. A small business owner is probably not buying a third holiday home. However, many so-called small-businesses these days are actually multi-level marketing schemes,…

  • Picture of a five year old child holding a protest sign.
    goals,  politics,  the ethical life

    Making a difference

    Sometimes I feel helpless in the face of all the problems of the world. Then I remind myself there’s lots I can do to make a difference. I can: write a letter to the editor to try to change others thoughts on an issue and to let those who share my beliefs know they are not alone. pick up garbage beside the road. reach out to a friend and let them know I care. encourage good discussion in a world where we don’t always think things through. donate to organizations that are doing good work. volunteer with organizations. stand on a street corner in support of causes I care about.…

  • history,  politics,  religion,  the ethical life

    Nellie McClung and the challenge of history

    Up until a few weeks ago, if I was asked my impression of Nellie McClung I probably would have said “oh, she was that suffragette, right? The one people say was racist and supported eugenics?” I started reading about Nellie McClung this past few weeks. I’ll still a newcomer to McClung’s story and I’ve already read bits that do suggest the darker parts of her beliefs. But what has amazed me is realizing how beautiful some of her thoughts and ideas were too. She wrote novels that promoted the idea that we are all called to serve community, love one another and by doing so to change the world. She…

  • religion,  the ethical life

    William Morris and Jane Austen: Lens for Literature

    I’m reading about William Morris, the 19th century designer and socialist. His company rejected the assembly line in favor of treating every creation like a work of art to be done by one person from start to finish. Morris learned old techniques and reinvented lost techniques. He hoped that as people saw the great quality products they would shun the cheaper mass-produced goods, but of course this didn’t happen and instead other companies produced cheap knock-offs of his work. I first heard of him years ago at university, when I was busy fingerweaving Metis-style sashes, which gave me at least a bit of a feel for the time involved in…

  • activism,  history,  politics,  the ethical life

    Optimism vs Hope

    I’m thinking about the difference between optimism and hope. One can be optimistic because one believes things will go well. In some cases optimism is good and natural. However optimism can also be due to a lack of information about the potential problems or because one deliberately rejects the facts that disagrees with one. Therefore optimism itself is not a virtue. We should not be trying to “choose optimism” when the situation does not warrant it. I picture NASA scientists preparing for a rocket launch. We want them to be optimistic because all the tests, models and simulations suggest they will be suc…cessful. We would not want them to “choose optimism”…

  • accepting criticism,  education,  parenting,  the ethical life

    treating children like rational creatures

    I was reading a philosophy book the other day, and I came across this interesting passage by John Locke: Remove hope and fear, and there is an end of all discipline. I grant that good and evil, reward and punishment, are the only motives to a rational creature; these are the spur and reigns whereby all mankind are set on work and guided, and therefore they are to be made use of to children too. For I advice their parents and governors always to carry this in thier minds, that children are to be treated as rational creatures. As I read the first two sentences of that passage, my mind…

  • communication,  goals,  meaning of life,  memes,  the ethical life

    being wrong, accepting criticism and imperfection

    “No, friendship is NOT about ‘supporting your friends even when you know they’re wrong.” That’s not friendship. That’s being an enabler. That’s being an accomplice. Friendship is loving someone enough to tell them to stop being an idiot before they ruin their lives.” I saw a text-in-a-box thing on facebook today with that text. I read it, re-read it, and thought about a time when I acted as an enabler, supporting someone as she got back together with an abuser, and how I wish I had handled it differently. I had been so scared she’d stop talking to me that I didn’t really say what I should have. If you…

  • meaning of life,  religion,  the ethical life

    making peace

    As a child one of my favourite records was one produced by the Mennonite Central Committee. It was called “I can make peace” and it had a mix of stories and songs. One of the stories was about a family getting up to go to school and how one person’s grumpiness was passed on to the next person until even a friend’s family was affected, but then the reverse happens where someone’s joyfulness is passed on person to person. One story was about an elephant family. The stories and songs start off focused on families and move out to talking about adults, including one about Muriel Lester. I don’t have…