Help Me Understand

I need help understanding why some are incapable of exchanging points of view without making a personal attack. Why do so many lack the ability to debate without hate? Why are some of us born with open minds while others simply switch off at suggestions of  different points of view? How is it that some people repeat only what they hear, never stopping to ponder logic or offer opinions of their own? What triggers the closing of minds –  ignites suspicion, fear, bigotry and exclusion? Help me understand.

Strong opinions from politics, religion, environment to my silly dog; I make myself abundantly clear – writing from the heart without mincing words. No intention, other than matching word to thought.. What you see is what you get; this is who I am. Along the way I’ve met people with vastly different viewpoints – people who present their side of an issue thoughtfully, concisely and without malice. People I respect and consider friends, people willing to “agree to disagree”.  This I understand.

I encounter closed minds – those wishing myself or family harm; people full of hatred. These are the people quoting opinionated broadcasters verbatim, people choosing to spew unsubstantiated rhetoric, people without an original thought or perspective to cloud their venom. Help me understand.

If I didn’t possess a fundamental belief in humanity, my ability to function without despair would have collapsed years ago. I shake my head, scrape my jaw off the ground and carry on. That said – at times the weight of closed minds becomes unbearable. Help me understand – what would it take to strip the blinders from millions of scared, angry people?

Chinook Jargon

Absorbing tid- bits of knowledge during functions, meetings or parties is a workplace perk.. But for today’s luncheon, I would  remain clueless to the importance of Chinook Jargon. As a proud British Columbian, it escapes all reason why school aged children don’t learn this chapter in Canadian history. Hard as I ponder; reasons for failing to include Canada’s first language in school curriculum eludes me.

Chinook evolved from the need to communicate; a simple tool consisting of fewer than 500 hundred words – easily mastered by Europeans, Chinese, Japanese and Polynesians. The common language of trade and commerce. A universal tongue in an increasingly multicultural colony.

Chinook jargon was one of those casseroles your Mom plunked on the table – a little of this, a little of that, crush corn flakes or potato chips on top and you had dinner. Somehow it just worked. Chinook took away barriers; people could appreciate similarities rather than differences, learn from one another and developed a sense of community. Chinook Jargon reflected the true meaning of a multicultural society. From the mid 1800’s to early 1900’s, Chinook was spoken by as many as 250,000 people.

Chinook’s march towards obscurity is understandable; the first world war, Spanish Flu epidemic, increased movement of people across the country, and changing attitudes towards “colonial” thinking. What I don’t understand is how I managed to live in B.C. for over 50 years and not hear mention of it until today. Canada is a special place, a place built on principles of acceptance, inclusion and tolerance – regardless of race.

The more I ponder – the angrier I’m getting. Angry is perhaps too strong a word – flabbergasted that we squander one of the most useful and valuable learning tools to cross my path in a very long time – a concept rich on so many levels, an opportunity to teach our kids the value of not only communication but acceptance. Not to forget how amazing it would be for kids to speak to each other at recess in Chinook. Kids would gobble it up -my head spins with possible angles to enrich young lives.

This link is to an article  The Tyee is a great place to start thinking Chinook.

“Konoway tillicums klatawa kunamokst klasa mamook okoke huloima chee illahie” – Everyone was thrown together to make this strange new country.


Most people have knowledge of Stonehenge; without question the daddy of Neolithic sites. A sprinkling know of Carnac; over 3000 carefully aligned stones – some of monolithic proportions, erected between 3300 – 4500 BC near the village of Carnac in France. Fewer still have uttered the word  Gavrinis.

Gavrinis, a tiny island off the coast of Brittany in France clung to the mainland between 3,500 and 5,000 BC., a time defined by burial tomb construction. Not more than a bumpy  outcropping of rock (750 by 400 meters) uninhabited Gavrinis slept undiscovered until 1835 when French archaeologists started poking about a sunken burial tunnel entrance. Serious excavation began in the 1930s.

Gavrinis defies explanation. Over 50 stone slabs form the entrance tunnel and inner chamber – curiously carved slabs begging for stand at attention while humming the theme from 2001 Space Odyssey reverence. Gut reaction to a mind blowing epic – Gavrinis is no ordinary Neolithic site..

Roughly half the slabs boast intricate carvings resembling fingerprints. Mathematicians  believe it’s a code of sorts. Computer analysis dropped a bombshell – patterns represent the number of days in a year, references to solstice and equinoxes, an exact longitude and latitude of the island, and the “mathematical constant Pi”.

Much as this makes me grin from ear to ear, I have to admit not everyone is on board.  Many mysteries of the ancient world find themselves living on book shelves in “wing nut” land. Irrefutable archaeological evidence hasn’t taken Gobekli Tepe or Puma Punku off the crazy shelf and into mainstream consciousness. If 16th century Turkish admiral Piri Reis could produce a map of Antarctica, precisely as it would appear without ice, yet wallow in conspiracy land – it’s doubtful Neolithic people at Gavrinis coding “Pi” into fingerprint carvings will make a ripple.

Call me a pondering fool, I don’t care.Not for a second do I entertain the notion “alien” or otherworldly intervention had anything to do with ancient head scratchers. I’m going to fall asleep with a silly little grin; content in the knowledge that ancient civilizations kicked ass.

Bottle Drives and Chocolate Almonds

I can’t take credit for this ponder. It took shape after reading a post from one of my facebook friends. At first I laughed; soon irony took hold,  forcing one of those holy crap moments – that split second when clarity replaces mirth, leaving me pondering – why not?

Obviously this isn’t a suggestion that prisoners go door to door with satchels of chocolate almonds. My “why not?” more of a “why not fund education?” Correct me if I’m wrong; isn’t education the single most important thing society can provide? How can we erase ignorance without education; without a basic frame work or point of reference on which decisions and opinions are formed?
I ponder the state of basic schooling in both Canada and the U.S. – it gives me the willies. Teachers backed against a wall – oversized classes, lacking basic supplies, drastic cuts to ESL and special needs assistants, music programs dropped, library resources trickling away when it comes down to new books or paper.
I can’t speak for America but in Canada more and more financial burden is placed on parents.Depending on which side of the tracks you happen to fall, the line between “have” and “have not” schools is unmistakeable. “Public” education is a joke – the punch line is biting us in the ass.
Bizarre, is the only word I can think of to describe our lack of education funding. I can’t wrap my head around our lack of attention to one, if not the most important issue facing society.  The cliché “knowledge is power” should be the battle cry sung from every last roof top. It simply doesn’t make sense to gloss over mankind’s first building block.