Righting Wrongs and Other Hopeful Stories

It always seems impossible until it’s done.” Nelson Mandela   

I’m a sucker for hopeful stories. I love the naiveté and eagerness I imagine is at the heart of those who simply won’t accept that something can’t be done.

Seventeen-year-old Leah Denhok photographs the homeless. She has created a book that features the stories and pictures of the people many of us ignore. “I'm trying to portray two goals," Leah said of her work. "First of which is to shine a spotlight on the plight of the homeless, and second, I'd like to humanize homeless people because so often they're seen as subhuman individuals." Proceeds from the sale of her book will go to the Barrie Bayside Mission Centre.

And then there’s 17-year-old, inventor Anmol Tukrel. He has created an app called iDentifi, which helps visually impaired people identify the object in front of them, including the brand name and the text.

Amazing kids don’t you think? And there’s one more I must tell you about. You can read the entire article about the impact of Trump’s tweets on cyber bulling. It’s a fascinating read, but the real eye-opener comes near the end of the article when Parry Aftab, a lawyer who specializes in cyber-bullying and digital privacy, relates a recent experience she had with Canadian fifth-graders in Prince Edward Island. I’ve reproduced it below:

I stood in front of them and said, ‘If someone is mean to you online, you have to be meaner back,’” an almost verbatim echo of the Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ and Melania Trump’s discourse. Aftab wanted to see how the kids would respond. “This one girl with bright red hair took her books from her lap and slammed them on the floor. She said, ‘No, it’s wrong, it’s just wrong!’ And I said, ‘Well, why is it wrong? We do it in New York.’ And she looked at me and said, ‘Well, this isn’t New York. This isn’t the United States of America. This is Canada, and we’re nice to people here.’” Aftab laughed. “We need to listen to that fifth-grader and remind ourselves about what’s right and what’s wrong. … Feeding fire with fire just means you’re going to burn down the town.”

And this is where I planned to stop my blog this week. On a positive note. But the news intervened again with the story of the settlement the Canadian government recently agreed to with child soldier, Omar Khadr.

It’s high time this issue was dealt with.

The previous government, you guessed it, the Conservatives, is now crying foul, indicating they would not have accepted the decision of the Supreme Court. These are the same people who allowed a Canadian citizen, and a youth to boot, to be imprisoned and tortured by the Americans in Guantanamo Bay and would not allow him to be transferred back to Canada until he pleaded guilty in a plea bargaining deal. They are also the same people who spent millions of dollars trying to block three separate decisions by the Supreme Court of Canada, which clearly found Khadr’s rights had been violated by the Canadian government of the day. That government refused to take responsibility. Thankfully our current government won’t waste any more taxpayer’s dollars fighting a battle whose singular purpose was to cover their past wrong-headed, mean spirited decisions.

Here is Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's  full statement about the Omar Khadr case. I’ve taken a short bit of it and include it here: “The Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects all Canadians, every one of us, even when it is uncomfortable. This is not about the details or merits of the Khadr case. When the government violates any Canadian's Charter rights we all end up paying for it."


Now to the hypocrites in the previous government I will quote Ralph Waldo Emerson, what you do speaks so loud that I cannot hear what you say. And above all, I’ll quote a fifth grader. “This is Canada. We’re nice people here.”

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