Hell of a marriage…

Standard

I recently came across an article titled “Marriage is made in Hell” by Laura Kipnis, a Media Studies professor at the NorthWestern University. She presents marriage as an outdated and in some respect constrictive institution. I hate to think that I am as cynical as Kipnis, but I found myself agreeing with her observations. I came to the conclusion that marriage must experience a major overhaul to remain relevant in our ever changing society. A report by the Globe and Mail showed that in 2008, more than 40% of marriages ended in divorce, a 2% increase from the previous year. Marriage has its advantages, some of which are highlighted by Kipnis, but it has also proven to be a prison of broken dreams and desires for many people.

     Kipnis suggest that a successful marriage requires the denial of personal desires and goals for the union. She identifies some of the sacrifices that marriage demands, and I know many women and men who have endured discomfort to honour their wedding vows. My parents are an example, as they struggled for many years to keep their union together. Being leaders in the church, they felt they had a duty to set an example and fight for their marriage. Their stubborn attempt to stay together made home a living hell, and my sisters and I had to endure many fights between our parents. When they finally separated, we experienced a side of our parents we never saw before; they morphed into real people who loved every day of their new lives. Dad bought a red car, a colour my mother hated and mom travelled to Haiti, a destination my father forbade. It was clear that being single allowed them to fulfill desires they were denied when married. I would go even further and say that the separation had released them from a match made in a personal hell.

  The comedian Chris Rock jokes that the wedding reception is a set up, as couples will never again experience “the high” felt at this ceremony; it is all downhill after this point. However the ceremony is not alone in creating a false sense of reality. Women who grew up with images of Disney princesses riding happily ever after into the sunset with Prince Charming, are given a rude awakening when the glass slipper does not fit. Men who are caught up in the world of sitcoms, where every problem is solved within 20 minutes, will also find reality to be bitter. The very idea of being husband and wife harbours unrealistic expectations. There are many instances of couples who have lived together for many years separating soon after they get married. This is an indictment on marriage, as the couple proved that they had the ability to stay together outside of wedlock, but having made it “official”, heightened expectations and ruined the union. These couples can be accused of bringing damnation upon themselves by getting married.

With marriage rates on a steady decline and divorce rising, it is safe to say that many people have opted out of this institution. Its benefits are easily duplicated, making marriage redundant. The society is changing along with our values, and marriage still holds true to its core which fits perfectly in the Victorian era. The celebration of individualism, education, capitalism and “singledom” has allowed people to aspire for more than the title afforded to them in wedlock. Is it hell? I wouldn’t go as far as saying that, but I know that unless you are masochistic, discomfort and sacrifice are not appealing…and it R the truth.

 

Ground Zero Abortions

Standard

Abortion is legal in Canada where it is considered a reproductive right. Women health clinics are scattered across the GTA and serve a diverse clientele consciously deciding to terminate their pregnancies.

It was just coincidence that I happen to notice two abortion clinics in close proximity to women’s only shelters and government funded housing. It provoked thought that this may have been mere coincidence, but the conspiracy theorist in me would not allow this rational to stick.

I did some research and came up with a shocking trend that I decided to show through mapping. The map shows clusters of shelters and government houses for poor families in Toronto. Most of them are near to clinics that specializes in abortions. Another dimension is added when consideration is given that the main demographic within these areas are First Nations and Blacks…not trying to call it strategic placing, but it does smell foul.

Take a look at the map.

365 days later…

Standard

It is a year since I have been away from Jamaica and oh, what a year it has been.

I’ve made new friendships, but still support those I created in Jamaica with phone calls, BBM, Facebook, Whatsapp and Skype.  I have been assigned the role of ambassador in social settings when my accent reveals my nationality. This is a role I’ve been happy to fill, because I have been allowed to debunk some of the myths people have of Jamaicans. I have been asked questions ranging from my relationship with my family to how Bob Marley’s music affected my life. One particular question that floored me was if Jamaicans know about Canada. I simply smiled and said yes then walked away to prevent any further interaction. To my new friends I am the official litmus in determining if a smell, sound or taste labelled Jamaican is authentic.

My assimilation into the Canadian society required me to disrobe of some of the bigoted world views that I inherited from my fore-parents. I have been confronted with other lived truths and experiences that have forced me to re-evaluate things I have held as true. I started my journey on the 21st of December, 2011 at 5:10 p.m. from my parent’s house in Jamaica and I am still travelling.

Possibly the most frequent question I’ve been asked is if I miss Jamaica. I’ve often responded with a reflexive yes, but recently it hit me that I was lying.

I don’t miss Jamaica.

I miss the familiarity it affords me.

I miss my family, friends and the memories I created while growing up.

I do not miss Jamaica.

I don’t miss the need Jamaicans have to police your behaviour, dress-code and speech.

The suffocating value system that we cloak in black, green and gold and use it to suppress expression and individuality.

Since my journey began I have pierced my ears and I am contemplating a tattoo.

I have a fire-engine red pants in my closet and a jeans so tight it requires a special dance to get into them.

There are things I have done and expressed that I was afraid to consider in Jamaica.

I surprise myself at times, but it gives me a great feeling that makes my heart smile, a rush that makes me feel like I am alive and living. The thought of shelving these inhibitions I have developed over the past 365 days scares me.

I’ve said I love you more in the last 365 days than I have in my entire life. I have cried openly with members of my family and have fearlessly exposed my vulnerability in ways I dreaded. This journey I am on has taught me more about myself than I cared to know.

I have heightened my relationship with my sisters and made me realize how much I love them. My younger sister sent me a card on my birthday which made me cry. She has never expressed the words she wrote to me and just reading them forced me to realize how much I took for granted. I also realized that had I not been away from home, I may never have read those words.

My mother is my life. Yet, I would get annoyed when she told  stories that I have heard a thousand times before. Now I long for them and laugh my ass off as if I am hearing them for the first time while listening to her on the phone thousands of miles away. I picture her warm eyes, the smell of vanilla that I attach to memories of my mother and the way she smiles while reliving these memories as only a mother can. My father and I are also different. He is no longer the man who I fought on a daily basis as a teenager, but instead has morphed into daddy. A man with his own insecurities who never grew up with a father but was required to play the role without a script. Our conversations has become meaningful since I have been in Canada. I recently saw a picture of my dad and it forced me to deal with his mortality. My father has aged so much within a year. The implications of this realization were not lost on me and all his vices seemed irrelevant in that moment. I have him now and I plan to make it count.

This journey has brought people of various faiths into my life, Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhist, Jews and even Atheist. I have been able to sit and listen to world views and lived experiences that challenged many of the things I questioned, as well as things I held as true. I grew up in church. I taught Sunday school, worked at church camps and served two years as Youth Director, but I had major issues with the tenets of the faith I was socialized with.   Surely this will cause many conflicts with family and friends, but I am ready to live with the consequences of my actions that are decided by my perception of the world.

Just a year and already I can document changes in my life. We often tell people, “don’t change, because I love you just the way you are”, yet change is inevitable, even the dead changes.

I am changing and this fact excites me. I look forward to where this journey takes me and how much growth I will experience…and it r the truth.

We are not Free….

Standard

Recently I made a declaration on Facebook, that I do not believe people choose their sexual orientation. As is typical with my status comments, it elicited  a range of responses, from support, to indifference and of course a few disagreeing with my position. However, one comment provoked me to examine my own thoughts on free-will; ‘God gives us choice in every aspect of our lives….” Simple reasoning would prove this statement invalid, as none of us choose our parents, our date of birth, or nationality, yet these seem diminutive when juxtaposed with other aspects of our lives where we have no choice.

I’ve always believed in Predetermination, the idea that every event is caused, not simply by the immediately prior events, but by a causal chain of occurrences that goes back well before recent events. For example, one’s personal characteristics are predetermined by socialization and heredity, by a chain of events going back before one’s birth. Children born in the ghetto to a poor dysfunctional family are predetermined to live a life of crime or debauchery. One could argue that some make it out of the ghetto and lead successful lives, but even this is predetermined by factors outside of that person, factors they make no decision on; opportunity, motivation, “the drive” to make things better for themselves. This  does have seriously implications on our penal and reward system, as this reasoning suggest that criminals are not responsible for their deeds, and people are not responsible for their own successes. My personal belief is that society makes criminals then punishes them for being criminals, but that is for another blog spot.

I’ve pondered on the following disposition where I love honey roasted peanuts, they are delicious. I also love peanut cake and may say it is a confection that I was addicted to as a student at University, yet I cannot put peanut butter in my mouth, the very smell of it makes me nauseous…how come? I did not choose to dislike peanut butter, neither did I try not to like it, it was predetermined by something in my genetic coding. 

With advancements in science, we are able to see that genuine dysfunctions exist that cause students to be slow at Math and other technical subjects. For years they have been labelled as slow, dunce, or just lazy, yet we realize this exist outside of their ability to control it. The spin-off due to this dysfunction that they had no control over has led many of them down unsavoury paths. So are they free, or predetermined?

I should hasten to say I think there are some points at which persons make decisions, but even the options are based on predetermined factors, so how free is there choice? There are studies to show that human behaviour is affected by so many external factors, that coupled with those based on genetics, it is ridiculous to say we have free-will.

The idea that people are free agents making decisions based on an unlimited course of action is flawed and should be examined honestly. As it relates to sexual orientation; homosexuality is as much a choice as heterosexuality and it r the truth.

 


Pro-choice vs Anti-Choice

Standard

As early as the sun rose in Toronto I was deep in a discussion around abortion. Let me hasten to say, I am not an advocate for abortion, but I think it should be an option made available to all women; there is a difference. The decision to terminate a pregnancy is not taken with the same leisure as that to shave the eye brows or dye ones hair, it must be a painful dilemma. I believe this should be respected and the woman given the opportunity to make a decision in the best interest of her and the foetus. People who advocate against abortion are called pro-life, but I really believe they should be called anti-choice, because that is exactly what they are doing; denying women options with regards to what happens to and inside their bodies. I have no issue if you are against abortions, no one is forcing you to have one, so why prevent those who desire to partake?

Let us face it, the world has almost 7 billion people, with a large percentage malnourished and suffering. You want me to think a divine creator will hold it against you because you did not add to this pool of drowning souls? We are using non-renewable resources faster than we can find a suitable replacement, because the world is overpopulated. We will not end up on an endangered specie list any time soon.

The conflict is heightened by the inability to decide at what point life begins; in the womb or after birth. Personally I believe “life” begins at birth. The foetus may be ALIVE but it is not a LIFE. If a census was done in a town that has a pregnant woman, would the foetus be counted? The argument is that the child could die before it is born, however, terminally ill patients in the hospital are also counted, they could die too, so what’s the difference? Is it that one is born and the other unborn? 

I was born a liberal to a very conservative family and many times my mother and I have clashed over this issue. I remember one heated argument we had, I turned to my younger sister and told her if she ever needed an abortion I would give her the money. Needless to say, my mother was livid…exactly what I wanted :D. In another instance she shared with me how she had talked a friend out of having an abortion; mom was so proud of herself. I pointed out to her that this woman was in her mid 40s, had seven children already, was a grandmother, she was unemployed and to make it worse her husband struggled to provide for them…this never moved my mother to see logic, instead she pointed out to me that God’s knew this was going to happen and he allowed it…0_o. Shortly after this, my mom migrated and the friend had a son… Would you believe my mother had the nerve to share with me how her friend was having a hard time catering for her 8th child? I said to her that she should be sending money for the baby and she was livid…again….exactly what I wanted :D. I understand and respect my mother’s viewpoint, but at the same time still hold firmly that the pregnant woman should decide. How many of you having voiced you opinions against abortion have actually visited a home or even given support to a family that has too many children? I have actually heard the argument put forward by some anti-choice people that women who had sex are aware of the “consequences” of this act….ahhm, at what point can we comfortably consider a child a “consequence”? When is it acceptable to view a child as pennant for bad decisions made by adults? How pitiful Consequence Pennant Jackson would be in a home where she is unwanted.

The catholic church as we know is anti-choice, they have even made an offer to women contemplating abortion to take the child to them after it is born….this raises my eye brows higher than Joan River’s hairline. Not only is the catholic church viewed negatively for how it “handles” children, but if they want to take care of unwanted children, look how many are already on the streets. What are they doing about them? Why not use the resources available to provide for those already here? What irritates me most is this is coming from a group that is against contraceptives….seriously, in this day and age.

I have also played the “what if…” game with people. They ask me what if my mother had an abortion, what if Mary had aborted Jesus or Beethoven’s mother terminated her pregnancy…I am willing to play this game with them and ask what if Stalin’s mother had an abortion, what if Charles Manson’s mother had one, how about Napoleon, Gaddafi, Hitler, damn, since we playing this game, how about George Bush… would we be better off had their mothers’ aborted them?

The debate on abortion will not cease, it is an issue of ethics and can be argued strongly on both sides. It all comes down to the reproductive right of all women, she should have the right to decide what happens to and in her body. I know I will never be faced with this decision myself, but I have many friends and family who may find themself at this cross road… My advice is to get as much information as possible and weigh your option to ensure you make the best decision…and that r the truth.