A Call for Change

Before I get too far into this post, I would like to preface it with this:

I have the utmost respect for the police, the people behind the badge, the sacrifices they make that I simply could not and for keeping us safe. Seriously. I mean no disrespect to the honour they stand for, the lives they give up to serve and the horrors that I can only imagine they have seen as first responders and the mental health weight they carry from their role serving our communities. I especially mean no slight to those that have paid the ultimate sacrifice with their lives in the line of duty.

I am not a cop, I have never been in a situation that required my response rate and ability to make life altering decisions within seconds and I have no idea what it is like to be faced with situations like this.

I would also like to preface this with not being or claiming to be God and therefore unable to truly know all of the events leading up to and during the horrific incident that occurred in LA on Skid Row this past Sunday. This is not a post about race. This is not a post against our brave men in blue. This is not a post taking a stand or a side with or against anyone.

That being said, it is a post about this:

What I have a problem with are the four, fair-sized men, armed with multiple weapons and professional training – some of the worlds best and finest as we are told – losing control of one man. One man that while/shortly after being tazed to the ground was apparently able to manage the energy and strength to wrestle an officer’s weapon from them – in some accounts he only reached for it and did not actually have hold of the weapon. What I have a problem with is the man who was fatally shot was known to officers as was his history and struggle with mental illness. What I have a problem with is the way it seems lives are ranked in order of importance in a situation such as this – determining that the homeless man deserved to die for resisting and struggling with FIVE shots being fired at him, into him. That the officers chose to shoot FIVE bullets into an unarmed man. I have a problem with this being the solution. FIVE shots. Over what one witness claims was the repeated request for the removal of his tent. Here’s where I had to ask myself; How do unarmed nurses, orderlies and doctors deal with mentally ill patients that are clearly out of control or physically threatening them or another patient? And how do they stay safe without killing them? They tactically take them down by each grabbing a limb – in ignorance of never being through it, is this not part of basic training for the police?

I do not understand where our society went wrong. When this type of response became acceptable. When this level of violence, of force was a reasonable reaction to this kind of situation. When did this story become more and more familiar as we become numb to it. And while I do understand that the media tailors the main stream news to whatever cause or conflict they would like us to be fearful over at the moment, I also understand that the role of an officer is to ‘serve and protect’ the people of a community – it seems the many kinds and characters it takes to make up said communities is sometimes forgotten, specifically the mentally ill. When a man pleads for his life stating he can’t breathe, or a child raises their hands in surrender, or a homeless man struggles with police in broad daylight, yet their lives are still swiftly taken, I cringe that this is a world where I live. That this is the reality of our society today. That we agree this is how a ‘crime’ should or even can be punished.  The extremeness of our society scares me, as it should you.

Our jobs, regardless of earthly occupation should we ever be so humbly reminded, are to take care of each other. To look after and watch over one another. For the lions to protect the lambs – may they be children, mentally ill, senior, challenged in any way, your sibling who is overwhelmed, a friend that struggles with addiction, the hungry that need to be fed. Our roles as souls, as human beings, are to love one another and help each other thrive, heal and LIVE.

Our roles are to find peace and harmony, not perpetuate and accept fear, life-ending violence and judgement.

What made this life worth less than any other?

What made this life worth less than any other?

My heart hurts because it seems there has been very little conversation about what happened on Sunday. It hurts because on the third anniversary of Trayvon Martin’s senseless death, this society seemed more interested in starting actual arguments over the colours of a dumb dress then having any real conversation about our obligation to fix what we have accepted and therefore, have broke. My heart hurts that I am even a little worried at how this post is going to be received, because I know the majority of people don’t want to hear the truth or talk about the hard shit, or deal with the reality of where we are headed as a society. We would all rather talk about the colours of a dress and pretend that what is happening is just what they show us on TV and not what is occurring in our own backyards and in the streets of our own communities as it hits closer and closer to home.

As I said earlier, I am not God, nor do I claim to be – all we have is a bit of unclear video. I was not a direct witness to the details of this past Sunday, nor do I think we will ever have all of the information, as we see in cases such as this. I do not claim to have the answers, but I do have the feeling in my soul that this level of violence and response is unacceptable and that if is not addressed, curbed and improved upon, it will only continue to evolve beyond any solution, if it hasn’t already.

~ Toni

Society, you’re a crazy breed

I apologize now.

I need to rant.

This past weekend, I helped a few of my fellow human beings, stuck in situations that could easily ruin anyone’s day. While strangers to me, these people were still people and helping them in their situations did not feel like a heroic task by any means. Remember, kindness is free.

A little kindness goes a long way

A little kindness goes a long way

Early Friday morning, I stopped at the gas station in my neighbourhood to fill up my truck and put air in the tires of my bike as I was headed off to ride the trails with my girlfriend, Chantelle.

Roughly taking about 10 minutes to fill my tank, I noticed an older woman standing beside her vehicle at the air pump, next to a few pieces of luggage, her face wrought with worry. Upon further analysis of the situation, I noticed a man with his arms struggling with the spare tire near the undercarriage of the vehicle. After filling my tank and paying for my fuel, I pulled up beside them, jumped out of my truck and did what I thought any of the other 10-15 people that had been in and out of the station would have. I asked them if they needed some help.

I will forever have a hard time forgetting the thankfulness and relief on that woman’s face. Helping her brother release the stuck spare, he looked at me sheepishly and admitted that he had never changed a tire before. Luckily, I had.

I easily showed him how to adjust his jack and remove the lug nuts, but when it came time to remove the tire, it wouldn’t budge and I didn’t want to shake the SUV off the jack. I looked around for some assistance and noticed two men sitting in their work truck, watching me. They had been fueling their truck at the same time as I had and sat their watching me wrestling with this stubborn flat. Annoyed, I smiled shortly and waved them over to help. Quickly realizing how ridiculous they looked, they came over and helped me complete the tire change.

While they finished up I got to talking with Maria – we found some common ground in nationality, she apologized profusely for the chips in my day-old manicure, thanked me repeatedly and chatted about their situation and her brother’s four hour journey ahead. And then she broke my heart as she confessed she had tried to get a few people’s attention before I came over and gripped me in a thankful hug.

What happened to our society? Are we really too busy and too important to notice a fellow human in distress, requiring a simple helping hand? It hurts my heart that my actions were the exception and not the standard.

I carried on with my day’s planned activities – tackling 24kms of trail with Chantelle, running errands in the afternoon, Maria’s thankfulness never far from my thoughts and the worry for our world weighing on my heart.

The following morning, after a pretty ridiculous and amazing morning spent in a sun rise hike of laughter with three of my favourite ladies (which I will share with you next week!) I drove my mister to work as my truck was in service for the day and I needed his wheels. On my trek home I took notice of a 90’s Saturn sedan on the side of the 401, four ways flashing, no driver to be seen. She appeared in the horizon about up 5 km further down the highway and all I could think was, that’s a long way to walk on the side of the highway any day, let alone a busy mid-morning on a Saturday.

I weighed the risks, slowed my speed, put on my four-ways, ensured I was safely pulled over, and waited as the kind-faced woman approached the window. She kept her distance at first, as she explained she had ran out of gas and was unable to use her CAA membership because the card was in her husbands name and he wasn’t with her. I asked her if she wanted a ride. Again, my desire to help taking her by surprise, she introduced herself as Kathy and climbed in the passenger seat.

She thanked me after we reached the gas station, assuming our interaction over and gathered her purse. I quickly corrected her, offering to wait and drive her back to make sure her car started. Her face lit up with a smile as she accepted, located a jerrycan, and returned to the car. Our ride back to her car was filled with conversation about our shared Sarnia connection, her girlfriend from younger years that shared my name and dark features, where she was headed and the cottages she manages in Wasaga. She thanked me a thousand times and each time I reiterated that if it was me, I would have hoped someone would have stopped to offer to help. If it was someone I loved and I couldn’t be there to help, I would hope someone would be kind enough to help them.

The point is that yes, we all have things to do, people to love that we already know, and jobs to fulfill. Yes, it is easier to pass by a situation than help, but our communities could be so much more fulfilling with a little faith in human kind and the return of a little kindness.

~ Toni

ps. Kathy left me this little token of thanks in the door when I dropped her off at her vehicle and I didn’t notice until I pulled in the driveway. Seriously brought the biggest smile to my face. Thank you, Kathy ❤

Winner no matter what!

Winner no matter what!