A Sad Decision

I love tennis.  The mano-a-mano or womano-a-womano back and forth of a match enthralls me.  One of my favourite books is The Inner Game of Tennis.  Its author, Timothy Gallwey, waxes poetic about the beauty of two evenly matched players.  Far beyond the winning and losing is the epic struggle, where the best in you brings out the best in me.

The French Open (also known as Roland Garros) is on TV for the next two weeks.  This morning I watched Kristina Mladenovic from France and Laura Siegemund from Germany give it their all.

I don’t know what you know about tennis.  Usually after a player serves, the ball bounces once before the opponent hits it back.  Sometimes they hit it out of the air before a bounce.  Two bounces and the point is over – you lose.

Near the end of the first set today, the score was 5 games to 1 for Mladenovic.  You need to win six games to win a set, and the match is the best two out of three sets.  Within a game, each serve results in a point being given.  Mladenovic was within one point of winning the game, and therefore the set.  She lofted a soft shot well in front of Siegemund, who raced forward.  But not fast enough – two bounces.

The umpire didn’t notice the two bounces.  The TV world did, especially after the video replay.  The set should have been over in favour of Mladenovic.  But it wasn’t.  Siegemund won that set, and later the match.

In that moment of two bounces, what did Siegemund do?

Nothing.

What did Siegemund say?

Nothing.

I had visions of her rushing up to the umpire to complain:  “It bounced twice.  Mladenovic won the set.”  Alas, no.  And the TV commentators said zero about Siegemund’s silence.

I felt myself slump.  A huge exhale of sadness.  I still feel it.

I read a few match reports on the Internet afterwards.  The official site of the WTA (Women’s Tennis Association) wrote fourteen paragraphs about the match.  Not a word about two bounces.  Most reports did mention the umpire’s mistake, and some criticized her.  A sole Tweet gave the reader a whiff of “lack of sportsmanship” but didn’t mention Siegemund by name.

The world needs better than all this.

Damning Courage

Mitt Romney, a Republican, voted to impeach Donald Trump, citing his “abuse of power”.

Criticism of Romney poured out of many mouths:

As a Utahn, I could not express more disgust for what Romney is doing. I ask Utahns to begin a recall of Mitt Romney as a senator for Utah. The precedence being set by his vote is damning to the country and its future.

Romney is now “officially a member of the resistance” and “should be expelled” from the Republican Party.

This is not the first time I’ve disagreed with Mitt, and I imagine it will not be the last. The bottom line is President Trump did nothing wrong, and the Republican Party is more united than ever behind him.

Mitt Romney absolutely despises that Donald Trump was elected POTUS and he was not. The sore loser mentality launched this sham impeachment and corruptly rigged and jammed it through the House.

As an American, does ANYONE, REALLY want Mitt Romney on their side?

Those that believe in the competence of Mitt Romney, what do you trust in him to do?

***

Romney knew what was coming if he spoke his heart. Party loyalty was expected. Mitt knew that his loyalty needed to be elsewhere … the principles of the US Constitution. So he looked America in the eye and said his truth.

Good for him.

Math Life

The classroom day usually starts with Math. This morning Jeremy put a question up on the SmartBoard. Two graphs displayed the same data about bread: the average price of a loaf each year for five years. On the top was a bar graph. Below was a line graph. After looking at the image for a few seconds, I realized there was something very important here. The bar graph suggested there had been a moderate price increase (the bars gradually rising to the right) while the line on the line graph zoomed upwards.

But it was the same data!

Look at the scales used on the left side of each graph. The top one starts at zero and climbs in increments of fifty cents. The bottom one starts at $1.40 and climbs in increments of ten cents. There’s a little squiggle at the bottom left to show that there’s a whole bunch of information left out: from zero all the way up to $1.40. If you don’t start at zero, the climbing line appears to rise more steeply that it actually does!

Woh … there’s a lesson about life in here, not just about Math. The kids need to get this. They need to become adults who are intelligent analysts of information. What we were all looking at on the screen was how to manipulate data – how to manipulate people. If these two graphs were about crime rates rather than bread, an opposition politician could point to the bottom one and say “See? Crime is totally out of control under this government’s watch!”

As the lesson moved on to the next question, I looked over the sea of young faces. Had they heard me? Had they seen that you can’t always believe everything you read or hear or view? I pray that the answers are “Yes”.

No future bamboozling
No unexamined equating of power with integrity
No acceptance of meanness and “othering”

And if so …

No worries about passing the torch to the next generation

Senior

A few days ago, I wrote a post called “The Truth”, about Jody Wilson-Raybould and Justin Trudeau. Yesterday Justin booted Jody out of the Liberal Party of Canada.

On the CBC website last night, there were nearly 10,000 comments on this story, vehement opinions split fairly evenly. The challenge is to state what’s true for me without falling into antagonism. What values are most precious here?

It’s clear to me that government officials put pressure on Jody as Attorney General to intervene in the prosecution of SNC-Lavalin, a corporation that’s accused of bribery and corruption. Before last Friday, however, it was fuzzy – in the realm of “He said, she said.” On that day, Jody recorded a phone conversation between her and a top civil servant. It demonstrated pressure being put on her.

Is it unethical to record someone without them knowing it? Yes. Is it unethical for government officials to interfere with the impartiality and independence of a court of law? Yes. So here we have two competing values. I assert that one of these values is “senior” to the other – more important to uphold. In a perfect world, we should uphold them both but our reality is far from black-and-white.

If Jody had not recorded the conversation, there would have been no clear evidence of meddling in a judicial decision. Just innuendo. I vote for establishing clarity.

I honour Jody Wilson-Raybould. Is she a perfect politician and person? No. Did she speak the truth, knowing what the possible consequences could be? Yes.

We all need to speak the truth, without antagonism and without fudging. In today’s sports section, a soccer player, talking about a different issue, said it for me:

My reason for participating is because
I believe silence allows unacceptable behaviour to continue

The Truth

A week ago, a woman asked me “How are you?” I said “I’m happy.” It was a lie.

As my life continues to unfold, I see how damaging it is to not tell the truth. It hurts. And the pain lingers. It’s looking in the mirror and seeing far less than what’s possible.

For the last few weeks, Canadians have been following the saga of Jody Wilson-Raybould and Justin Trudeau. Jody was the former Attorney General of Canada before being demoted by Justin, our Prime Minister. It certainly appears that he and some of his colleagues put pressure on her to intervene in the prosecution of SNC-Lavalin, a Canadian corporation which is suspected of bribery and corruption. If the company is convicted, many jobs would be lost.

The rule of law states that Jody, the top judicial figure in the land, and another woman who is the prosecutor in the case, need to make their decisions impartially and independently. No political interference. Jody chose to speak the truth, despite probable negative repercussions concerning her career. In my view, she stood tall, and was not swayed by the winds of popularity polls and the coming election. Here’s a sample of what she said:

We are treading on dangerous ground here – and I am going to issue my stern warning – because I cannot act in a manner and the prosecution cannot act in a manner that is not objective, that isn’t independent. This is the about the integrity of the government … This is going to look like political interference by the Prime Minister.

This is not about saving jobs. This is about interfering with one of our fundamental institutions. This is like breaching a constitutional principle of prosecutorial independence.

I can’t act in a partisan way and it can’t be politically motivated. All of this screams of that.

Do we stand for the truth or are we searching for “wiggle room”, cutting corners, putting the truth on a lower level than other values?

Jody is an aboriginal woman, a member of the Kwakwaka’wakw nation on Vancouver Island. On Saturday, she was honoured by five hundred people at a feast (a potlatch).

In previous testimony to the Justice Committee, she said:

I come from a long line of matriarchs and I am a truth teller in accordance with the laws and traditions of our Big House [a place for ceremonies and decision-making]. This is who I am and this is who I will always be.

“Judith Sayers, the president of the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council who recently wrote an editorial about the subject, spoke with On The Island‘s Gregor Craigie about the significance of the words:”

What she’s talking about here is that area of law as the kind of person that you have to be: one with integrity, honesty and truth telling.

A lot of indigenous laws are related to our spiritual, sacred way of life.

Part of it is to do with us as people, how we treat the land and resources and our role in our communities and governance.

I believe that her role in the Big House has been to be a truth teller, which is very strong in that she has to – and she’s told – that she could never speak unless she knows it to be true.

Amen

Integrity

I’m in a worldwide group called The Evolutionary Collective.  Mostly we meet online to explore consciousness together.  For the next three-and-a-half months, I’m taking an EC program called Base Camp.  Our current theme is integrity.

On one level, the word is pretty simple – being “whole and complete” – being appropriate to life, having nothing hidden, telling the truth.  Another way to look at integrity is keeping your word, and if you break it, go to the person involved and clean up your mess.  Even though you didn’t do what you said you’d do, you can still be in integrity.

I can be out-of-integrity if I know what to do and don’t do it.  And when I fall short, it’s not about beating myself up about it – just recognize the problem and fix it.  Before Monday night’s online session, I thought I was “squeaky clean” but alas that was not the case.

I’ve asked myself “Do I need to address every moment of not being in alignment with truth, even those itsy bitsy things?”  The answer coming back was “Yes.”  Doing so releases great power to do good in the world, unencumbered by regrets.

Moment Number One

Last June, I quit the Tour du Canada after three days.  It was the cross-country bicycle ride I was on.  I was exhausted and terrified of the semi-trailers bombing by a few metres away.  I came home to Belmont traumatized.  As school opened again in the fall, I was still deeply afraid to get back on my bicycle.  One Grade 6 girl has been very curious about me, and observant, since we met a year before.  She’s wanted to know if I was going to Toronto on the weekend, and noticed when I bought new shoes.

In September, “Molly” asked me if I’d gotten back on my bicycle.  I admitted that the answer was no.  I told her that ta-pocketa, my skinny-tired bike, was for sale and that I had bought another one – with stable knobby tires.  I said it wasn’t in yet.  Molly kept asking me if the hybrid bicycle had arrived in London.  Later, when I told her that my bike guy was setting Betty up for me, I got lots of “Is it ready yet?”  >  “No.”

I didn’t want to let Molly know that I was still plenty scared to ride again.  I hid … in lies.  “The bike isn’t in yet.”  After a bit, that wasn’t true.  “The bike isn’t ready yet.”  After more bits, that was another lie.  What was true was that I was praying for the first snow, so Molly would stop bugging me about riding.

I look back now and see the psychic energy I’ve wasted.  Every time I saw Molly, Betty was right before my eyes.  After Monday night’s integrity session online, I saw the prison bars.  As far as I know, lying to Molly was my only diminishment of integrity, but it was huge.  “Clean up your mess, Bruce.”

So I did.

I went to Molly this week and told her I had lied about my new bicycle.  I told her that I was still terrified and gave her permission to challenge me again when the roads are dry and the temperature warmer.  I apologized … “I’m sorry, Molly, for lying to you.”  She didn’t know what to say but her nod was all I needed.

Just like that, I’m free.

Until this morning.

Moment Number Two

I went to breakfast at the Belmont Diner and noticed the fellow who was replacing the floor mats with new ones, taking the old ones away for cleaning.  I was backing Scarlet up in the parking lot and didn’t see how close the gentleman’s truck was.  My back bumper hit its front one – not a real smash but at least a nudge.  What did I do, given my newfound integrity?  I drove home.  (Sigh)

As I pulled onto Robin Ridge Drive, my home road, I started feeling sick, and faint.  “C’mon, Bruce.  A little bump and you’re falling apart?”  Well, actually … yes.  What has become of me when one “little” misstep is unacceptable?  It’s not unacceptable that I hit the truck, but taking off was.  I came to the roundabout on Robin Ridge and went all the way around, back from where I came.

On Main Street, I was praying that the floor mat company’s truck was still there.  It was.  I heard some noise inside.  I knocked on the door.  An assistant came out to say hi.  And then here was the boss, walking across the parking lot, heavy laden.  He too smiled as I told my story.  We checked his bumper.  Nothing was detectable.  “No problem, man.”  >  “Thanks.”

I drove home with my own smile.  I was whole and complete again.  This integrity feels like the floor on which I can dance.  So cue the music, maestro!

Standing O … No Standing O

It had been 50 years since I’d heard the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.  I played cello from Grade 6 till Grade 13.  Sadly, I told myself I wasn’t good enough to continue playing in university … and I believed me.

As a teenager, I loved going to the ancient Massey Hall to hear the TSO, and once, as a member of the University of Toronto Chorus, I got to sing with them in that classic concert hall.  Lucky me!

And now … it’s now.  Decades later, and the TSO resides elsewhere – in the Roy Thomson Hall.  And they’ve been there for 36 years!  Time marches on.

I went to hear my old friends last night, although none of the 1969 orchestra members were still playing.  The feature work was The Planets by Gustav Holst.  I sat in a concert hall that was brand new to me, set in a  circular arrangement with very steep seating.  I liked it but I wasn’t gasping.

And then the music.  The first piece was a funeral dedication from the composer to his mentor.  Such sadness in the melodies, but strangely I wasn’t moved.

Then a piece featuring a virtuoso trumpet player.  What tone!  What sublime moments!  Yes, I was moved.

After intermission, Mr. Trumpet walks to the front of the stage and says “Tonight is special.  One of our musicians is retiring.  You were very generous to me with your applause after I played for 25 minutes.  Gord has been playing for you for 41 years!”  And we stood as one to honour this man. He cried.

Finally, The Planets.  It celebrated the members of our solar system.  Parts I enjoyed, parts not.  Not once, however, was I transported to sweet worlds.

At the end of it all, many folks stood and applauded.  I sat and applauded.  Not touched, not standing.  Is there something wrong with me?  No.  Is there something wrong with the music?  No.  I stand immediately when heavens enter me.  Not this time.  And “considered” standing O’s, when you look around to see what other folks are doing? No thanks.

I learned more about me last night.  I’m glad.