Uninspired, but Educated

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I’m not feeling well-inspired these days. Life’s been rough for weeks now.

It’s challenging to live with a chronic illness, as many that do, know so well. It robs you of your energy. It robs you of your abilities. It robs you of your freedom.

Yet, there are positive aspects to the experience of disease. It’s taught me about what’s really important in life. It’s taught me about gratitude. It’s taught me that even though I don’t have a post-secondary degree in anything, I still have much to offer.

One of the experiences RA disease is giving me is the opportunity to live in poverty. Living in poverty has forced me to reach out to agencies and groups in the community.

When I worked full-time, the network of community supports just wasn’t on my radar at all.

I had no idea that people on social assistance received $599 per month for housing and food and the people on disability received $1,064. Nor, did I know that the affordable housing wait-list is six years long and the majority of the food available at the food banks is either canned or packaged.

Living in poverty is an educational experience.

As well as being educational, it is giving me an opportunity to participate in community work and to develop skills in areas such as advocacy, public speaking and writing articles.

In addition, I’m learning about the various levels of governments and the procedures in which they operate.

I’m mostly involved with a group called, Awareness of Low Income Voices – ALIV(e). We have a website and a new blog.

ALIV(e) is a collaborative group of individuals dedicated to bringing an active and positive voice to individuals and families who are experiencing or who have experienced poverty level living in the Waterloo Region.

ALIV(e)’s goal is to educate the public about the impact of poverty on peoples’ lives, to inform the public about changes in policy as it applies to those who live at poverty level, and to share information on available resources that may not be well known to the general public.

On the blog’s “About” page we state;

Poverty (for the most part) is not a choice. Many of the people who live in poverty experience challenges and barriers that create obstacles to rise above their situations.

Societal attitudes, social policy issues and systematic barriers, as well as low wages, disabilities, psychological or emotional factors, illness, single-parent families are among the challenges faced by those who live in poverty.

My personal story is an example of how someone who once had a full-time job ended up in poverty through a debilitating illness.

Others end up in poverty due to mental health issues, undiagnosed learning disabilities, psychological and emotional disturbances or disability due to accident.

All want to work, but find it hard to do so without considerable outside supports which, by the way, are non-existent.

From time to time, I hear comments from those not living on social assistance. Some of the comments are things like; they’re lazy, they get “free money”, they’re ripping off the system, they’re deadbeats…

I have to say, this makes me sad.

The majority living on assistance are truly needy individuals who deal with significant challenges.

It’s equally sad to see that when governments have cuts to make, they tend to target the social assistance programs. Why? Because they can.

After all, it’s the poor. They have no high-powered lobby activists to make deals on their behalf. They have no bargaining power.

It seems, quite frankly, the poor don’t have rights.

It seems, they don’t have the right to live with dignity and respect. It seems, they don’t have the right to a hopeful future.

Poverty is growing in cities and rural areas all over the world. Yet, many of us want to ignore it because it doesn’t affect us. Many of us still have our jobs.

It is wonderful to have jobs and hopefully governments will help create more jobs. The more jobs, the better. But, let us not forget and leave behind those who deal with significant challenges and barriers to employment.

I urge people to look into the social assistance policies in their cities and countries to see if they will adequately meet the needs of one who is unable to work.

And if one is fortunate enough to “have it all covered”, maybe rallying around those who “don’t have it all covered” will be the push that governments need to create policies that provide adequate safety nets for those in need.

Please visit the ALIV(e) blog to read my article, “Exploring Social Welfare Abroad”.

Thank you very much for reading and leaving your comments. Wishing all a wonderful weekend!

Stand Up, Put your Hands Together and Let’s Sing!

A Facebook friend shared the video “Stand By Me Playing For Change Song Around the World“. The video brought tears to my eyes as I listened to the voices and watched people from around the world singing and playing as One.

The video is full of Love. See if you can feel the love too.

Did you feel the Love? If so, please share and invite others to do the same.

Find out more, visit Playing For Change.com.

Hope you enjoyed this inspiring musical interlude. Thanks so much for visiting.

“After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.” Aldous Huxley

One Day Love Will Rule

Today was a day for incredible heartwarming love stories.

A Facebook friend posted an amazing video called “Dog Saves Dog” (click title to view video).

It happened on a busy highway in Santiago, Chile. Homeless dogs running loose. Unfortunately, one got hit by a car. The incredibly amazing thing that happened is that a rescue dog came along and literally dragged the hit dog from the middle of the road to the median. Watch the video to see what I mean.

In “The Story Behind This Video”, Sonny Melendrez writes, “…it is obvious that, for the most part, we are one with our respect for life.” After watching the video, I would include the rescue dog in that statement.

Another Facebook friend shared the incredible love story of Emmanuel Kelly. Emmanuel and his brother were found by their adoptive mum in an orphanage in Iraq. They were born in the middle of a war zone and found in a shoe box by the nuns in the park. Please watch the video to hear their story and hear Emmanuel’s beautiful singing voice.

And the same Facebook friend that shared Emmanuel’s video also shared the 9/11 Boat Lift story during which 900,000 people  were evacuated from Manhattan by boat during the tragic and heartbreaking event of 9/11. Please watch this 11 min. video narrated by Tom Hanks.

The last two video’s are from Dr. Erica Goodstone at Create Healing and Love Now! There is so much good happening in the world.

Thoughts about the Japan Crisis

This morning, I turned my computer on to find my inbox full of news from the crisis in Japan. Most of the news talked about the world-wide effect of the situation, warning people to protect themselves from contamination.

Initially, I panicked. I must warn my loved ones and friends, I thought.

As the day unfolds and I read news articles and watch videos from BBC, CBC, MSNBC, CNN etc. etc. it became obvious that there is no protection from something like this.

Story after story relates devastation beyond belief with no immediate relief in sight. Hundreds of thousands of people suffering unimaginable conditions. Thousands upon thousands of people putting their lives at risk and working to help in every aspect of recovery. One BBC article reads, “Japan crisis ‘worst since WWII’

My heart weeps for everyone affected by this awful, awful tragedy. I am sure that my sentiments are felt by millions upon millions who watch, as the crisis unfolds.

No. There is no protection from something like this because each one of us is affected no matter where we live in the world.

Every single human body on this planet collectively contributes to the living organism called “humanity” just like every single cell in the human body collectively contributes to the organism called “person”.

What affects one cell or group of cells in the body, affects the whole body. And so it goes with humanity. Whether we want to recognize it or not, what affects one human or group of humans affects us all.

So let us help one another, have compassion for one another, respect one another and pray for Japan.

Support the Middle East

The essential message of a TED talk given by Wadah Khanfar, Director General of Al Jazeera, the Arabic-language news network headquartered in Doha, Qatar is,

support the Middle East.

In a very inspiring 14 min. talk, Mr. Khanfar speaks of

values of democracy and freedom of choice sweeping the Middle East.

 and

a new generation, educated, connected, inspired with universal values and global understanding has created a new reality.

We are seeing,

Middle East countries trying to see and discover how could we imagine a future which is magnificent and peaceful and tolerant.

 
At the end of the talk, Khanfar expresses ways for people in the west to help.

Show you care about their transformation.

I, for one, think this is absolutely magnificent. A grandeur/grander vision of life. A movement done by the people for the people. Lovely!

How about you? Can you imagine a peaceful tolerant world? Let’s all try. Right Now.

Visit Al Jazeera and express support and find out what you can do. Kudos to you, Wadah Khanfar. Very inspiring!