Denial, Acceptance, Reality

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Photo by William Warby on Unsplash

I have been reading a book written by a doctor who worked with the notorious Dr. Mengele during the Holocaust, in Auschwitz.

Auschwitz – A Doctor’s Eyewitness Account by Miklos Nyiszle and Richard Seaver

Information about the Holocaust:

https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/the-holocaust

In the forward to the book, Bruno Bettelheim presents a suggestion, that the idea of the death camps was so horrendous that no one, either those victims, Jewish, gypsies, physically or mentally handicapped, aged or ill, gays, Jehovah’s Witnesses, or those on the ”outside” – those who lived in close proximity to the crematorium within the country, consciously recognized what would be their fate/the fate of the prisoners confined there.

No one could accept the horrors of the reality.

And since the Holocaust, since World War Two ended, there have been the denialists. They claim that ”six million didn’t die” as though numbers are what matter, when it is the loss of lives and the horrible way they were allowed to die that matters.

There have been claims that it never happened.

When I was eleven, in Alberta, Canada, an old man showed me the tattoo on his arm – and told me that he was in a camp.

That memory stayed with me through the years.

I know that our new way of life – of Covid – 19 – has affected all of us, some more than others.

The denialists frighten me. Despite the most knowledgeable experts in the medical and scientific communities around the world telling us what must be done to curb this disaster and loss of life, there are people who refuse to accept the reality.

Their death wish is strong, and they no longer seek life.

”According to Freud, the death-drive manifests in the psyche as a tendency toward self-destruction, or more precisely the elimination of tension, which can also be turned outwards, whereby it becomes aggression.”

https://www.oxfordreference.com/view/10.1093/oi/authority.20110803095704767

And so we have, on social media, in the group protests, and the violence towards store clerks who try to enforce the store policies of mask wearing, self destructive behaviour on the part of those who refuse to accept the reality – the threat to our lives – that Covid 19 represents.

Instead, it is easy to deny the reality.

”Covid is just a flu”

”Nobody has died except for a few old people”

”It’s the government (pick your country). They’re trying to take away our rights and freedoms”

”It’s my right to not wear a mask”

Misplaced anger, aggression and fear.

Let’s face the reality.

A child died just today, in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Under the age of ten.

Do we still want to deny that Covid is dangerous?

That we – all of us – are vulnerable?

The Covid denialists remind me of those who have denied the Holocaust all these years.

The same refusal to accept the reality that horrible things can happen. That we can all be vulnerable to sickness and to death.

That’s right. It isn’t just the ”old” that die from Covid. Not to mention that the medical community now has identified a long term and lingering effect on the health of those who do survive. We still don’t know what will happen to those people. What will be their condition in a few months, or years?

Let’s live – not in fear, as some of the anti-masker denialists say – but in hope – let us wear our masks, to protect others – let us wash our hands, because we know basic science – and let us care even more about others, not just about ourselves.

Maybe, just maybe, that is something we can all take away from this time.

Let us begin to see ourselves as part of the community, part of our locality, part of our state or province, part of our country! Part of the world.

Maybe this is the one time in history that we can all make a difference and save someone else.

Let’s try.

Give Until You Can’t

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When I was six, my mother and I lived in a lovely little town on the shores of Lake Ontario, Canada. Port Hope is known for having the best preserved main street in the province of Ontario.

https://www.visitporthope.ca/en/index.aspx

We had come from the northern reaches of British Columbia, and it was a change for me – I had spent two years in the wilds, learning about trapping and tracking animals from the man my mother worked for as a housekeeper, and then I was in a town, with streets and traffic and it was a true culture shock.

The school was okay as I loved to learn. The teacher was nice. No matter that I got lost when leaving the school the first day or so to go home, as I was used to marking my way by following the signs in nature, not streets and buildings.

Our first home in Port Hope was above a bakery on Walton Street. The delicious aromas of baked goods floated up to us early in the morning. At Christmas, the town decorated the streets with lights and beautiful holiday themed ornaments.

But…there was music – Christmas music – for hours throughout the days.

It was quite unbearable after a while.

We were poor. My mother was lame – one leg shorter than the other, and I came to her late in life. By then, she could no longer support us by working, and we lived on the small income provided by welfare.

Christmas would have been a very sad time for us except that the local organizations provided food hampers and Christmas gifts for those in need.

Can I tell you how this mattered to a six year old child?

It made our Christmas shine and the memories I have, of the knock on the door and those volunteers bringing in a box of food and some colourful wrapped presents is something that I still treasure, sixty years later.

So – my thoughts are these. If you can, give. It doesn’t have to be a lot and it doesn’t necessarily have to be dollars. You can give of your time and your good thoughts.

Because, I can tell you, that as a child on welfare, I sensed even then, the stigma of my not being ”deserving” or ”good enough” of being ”a freeloader” of being ”lazy”.

Not true. Children do not choose to be poor. Mothers do not choose to live in poverty, afraid that an abusive partner will somehow find them. They do not choose to be physically unfit to work.

Give then, of your means or of your understanding, for the next poor or homeless person you see. Please know that these situations are not by choice.

As we enter this Christmas season may you and yours have enough – enough food, enough warmth and shelter, enough love and caring – to get you through this time, when things are so uncertain.

We need each other.

That is what makes us human. What makes us able to carry on, no matter what.

And – thank you to that fraternal organization in Port Hope, in 1959, that gave my mother and me a wonderful Christmas and a special memory.

I wanted to find illustrations for this post, but I couldn’t. I searched for ”poverty” and ”childhood” and so on, but nothing seemed right. I guess there isn’t a ”just right” graphic that I can share to show the life I knew.

Success, Failure, and Aging

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I learned something new a while back.

It is entirely possible to take on a task that is too difficult and when doing so, it is important to recognize that the outcome may not be ideal.


Photo by CHUTTERSNAP on Unsplash

In fact, sometimes it is wise to give up!

Quitters…

How often have we heard, ”No one likes a quitter!” or “Keep trying! You can do it!”

You know what? It is not always true.

In my latest experience, I decided to move some very heavy furniture. Not a good plan. Turned out to be far more challenging than I expected. I did get it done – but the toll it took on me wasn’t pleasant.

I suffered with neck pain for several days. Over the counter pain relievers helped a bit, but I regretted my actions.

It is time to accept that aging can mean some things that I could do once are no longer wise.

In the case of a marriage gone bad, years ago, I stubbornly tried to stay in the relationship, but it was at the expense of my mental well being.

I had to quit.

I was a smoker. In that instance, it was a good thing to be a Quitter. I did succeed.

Rewarded for Existence?

When I hear that all the participants in some competition are handed a trophy, ”because they took part, even though they didn’t win” – well, that just seems wrong.

The idea that children, or anyone, for that matter, should be rewarded for just ”existing” – how did that become a thing?

I think that learning to cope with failure, with not being ”first”, with not be ”equal” to everyone else in a peer group is a fundamental part of becoming and of being a person.

Limitations – We All Have Them

As I age, I am learning to cope with the changes that come.

When parents tell their offspring that ”you can be anything you want to be in life!” – is that not a lie and a great disservice to a child?

To be realistic, no child is going to be smart enough, or tall enough, or strong enough, or talented enough, to become ”anything” that child might want to become.

Let’s applaud those who know when to quit, when to give up and when to change direction, if it needs to be done.

There is no shame in being honest, with others or with yourself.

Further reading –

How To Accept, Process, And Learn From Failure
by Chris Meyers Former Forbes Contributor

Featured photograph at top of page is by Leora Dowling on Unsplash