Thursday, May 6, 2010

Time travel

I've just returned from our trip to Munich and Prague and am fascinated by the many feelings the experience has stirred up. It's as though I've travelled back and forth through time and space, seeing connections everywhere.

Interestingly, the timing of our vacation was accompanied by a dramatic series of international events including the ongoing effects of the Icelandic volcanic eruption; the devastation of the BP oil spill; Greece's potential bankruptcy and its impact on the global economy; the intense focus on today's British election; and commemoration of the 65th anniversary of the end of WWII.

Being in Europe during this time provided a different perspective on these events, perhaps because we were in a different environment, beyond our comfort zones, and thus paying more attention. It also reinforced how, internationally, we're all tuned into many of the same things regardless of our geographic locations and nationalities.

More than this though, being away was a reminder that despite how meaningful each of these events may seem, so many peoples and cultures have gone through so many crises over the many, many centuries. While touring parts of Germany and the Czech Republic, their rich and deep history was apparent around every corner.

Visiting noted historical sites and walking centuries-old streets and pathways stirred in me the desire to understand so much more - to look back in order to move forward.

It also ignited a desire to pay more attention to the status of democracy in our own country. We've been so fortunate to enjoy the peace and personal freedoms we do and yet I believe we've come to take much of what we have for granted. Learning more about German and Czech history indicated how political climates and landscapes can take a dramatic turn that is real, to be understood, and not just to be read about in newspapers and/or history books.

For example, and without trying to be melodramatic, right now in Canada we really must keep our eyes open regarding the protection of our civil rights and freedoms, support for the arts and universal social programs, the transparency of government, and freedom of the media.

We don't want to lose all the things that many others respect and aspire to enjoy.

PS: We did have a wonderful trip - just had to express this as it's been on my mind.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Life, there you are

It has been a while since I last wrote - a combination of busyness and finding other ways to communicate. And now it's almost scary contemplating what to say. There's so much going on in the world - everywhere. On a micro and a macro scale. Right here in front of me, in this city of Toronto, across our great country, and beyond our borders, in all directions.

Our federal parliament is prorogued again - which has caused much consternation throughout the nation. What happened to that friendly, accommodating, democratic land we lived in? Now, to prove we care, we're forced onto the streets to say yes, Mr. Harper we care. And then he flies off claiming to have discovered a brand new cause - the welfare of women and children everywhere. Wow, he may be getting the message after all.

Right over the horizon, we're hosting the Olympics. So much work and sleepless, dedicated effort has gone into the games - from way before the bid was secured, throughout the official preparation and now in the last two weeks before the opening ceremonies. 2010 is here. Go Vancouver, Go VANOC, Go Tourism BC, Go Canada!! And more than that - Go Athletes, from everywhere, as you are the heart and soul of it all. Do well, have fun, make friends and enjoy. We're proud of you already. (And hopefully you, and not the politics, will prevail - as it should be).

Then there's Haiti. It's hard to know where to begin. We've managed to pretty much ignore their plight until now, despite the number of countries involved in their business over the decades. We're all there now for the right reasons. And hopefully the immense emotional, physical and monetary support will begin to have a real impact on immediate needs first, and then help to build a sustainable infrastructure in the future.

Everywhere you look, there are accomplishments to admire, heartbreaking crises to endure, and many challenges big and small. Then, there's the recognition that we're here and able to breathe it all in. Life, there you are.