Posted in Islam & Interfaith Subjects, Social Issues & Politics

The Hypocrisy of Islamophobia

Not pleasant topics by any means, but certainly important ones, and that’s what we’ll be talking about today. But mostly hypocrisy. I’m going to tell you a story of something that happened a couple of days ago…

So, I was browsing my Twitter feed the same way I usually do almost every day and came across an older tweet about human rights (the Women’s March, I believe) and began reading the discussion going on. The rest is of the backstory irrelevant, I came across some hateful Islamophobic tweets by an account belonging to Mindy Gray so I clicked on her page to report the discrimination and move on to the rest of the thread when I got quite the surprise.

It turns out that this person does social work, much of the same kind that I care about too! I was appalled that in one tweet Mindy preaches the love and compassion of Jesus Christ and then turns around and posts the things that I’ve taken screenshots of below! (Click on them to see the entire thing.) Please tell me where in the world Jesus gave you an idea like this one! What I’d really like to ask her is what would you do if you picked up a Muslim in that hope coach vehicle? Which Mindy would they get? The one who loves Jesus or the one who hates Muslims? Because these two vastly different people cannot be the same one, right? Hypocrisy is something I will never understand.

After reporting to Twitter, I also wrote to the real Phoenix Rescue Mission that she is said to work at, or at least volunteer for. Why? Because there’s no way that I believe that the PRM is an Islamophobic organization that preaches hate. If one of them employees or ambassadors or whatever else you want to call it preaches hate under the name of their compassion and legitimate and important message then they should know about it. People like her make their work look bad or seem illegitimate. Hypocrites like her sadly reflect on organizations like PRM the same way that Donald Trump makes conservatives look like Nazis. I wouldn’t want somebody doing bad in the good name of my organization, would you?

It’s no different that those police officers who were fired because they are members of the KKK. Law enforcement officers are supposed to serve and protect with equality and justice. Here it might be on a much lesser scale but the denominator is the same. Big or small, this kind of stuff smears the good name of good organizations. PRM responded saying that Mindy never worked for them, yet I found this on their Facebook page, but what the hell. It’s not up to me anymore.

facebook

Whatever they do (or not do) now is not up to me, but I can only hope that at some point somebody will stand up and do something instead of passively endorsing discrimination and prejudice. Twitter has policies against this and it’s the responsibility of every individual who wishes to enjoy this community to honor them. I’m not saying that you should go out and be the moral police — that won’t get you many friends nor is it your job to begin with — what I am saying is that if you stumble across something that violates the clear policies like I did during your daily activities for God’s sake report it! They have a button for that, make use of it! The community guidelines weren’t put there for nothing! Read more about Twitter’s policies here and here but to sum it up:

Freedom of expression means little if voices are silenced because people are afraid to speak up. We do not tolerate behavior that harasses, intimidates, or uses fear to silence another person’s voice. If you see something on Twitter that violates these rules, please report it to us.

You don’t even have to engage with the other person, but if you do make sure that’s it’s by saying something respectful and constructive and not emulating their own behavior. Proving them wrong isn’t your job either, but by being part of a certain community it is your social obligation to honor their terms of service to create a good social atmosphere for all to enjoy the same way you do. If you stand by and do nothing you are as much of the problem as the person spreading the hate. Treat others the way you want to be treated, why is that so hard to understand?

I would be one hell of a hypocrite, equally a hypocrite as the person in question, if I went around preaching human rights and then silently standing by as my own people are victimized. I don’t go out looking for trouble or drama, but I am a responsible citizen and Twitter user who will take a stand when needed. I’m not going to uselessly argue or get emotional with people like this (that generally doesn’t amount to much) but I won’t stand by the heartache of the ummah either. We need to pick our battles and act appropriately and accordingly, and the moral of this story is social responsibility. When I think of social responsibility the first thing I think about is the following poem.

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It’s also important to bring up the issue that there is a big difference between criticism (or difference of opinion) and discrimination. There’s always going to be somebody who doesn’t agree with you or who gets angry about an alternate point of view but this is completely different than targeting a group or individual to harass them, put them down or entice prejudice against them. We can all share different viewpoints while remaining respectful and engaging positively. That’s also something that I hope will be taken from this story.

Lastly, why did I not blot out names you ask? This person is not a minor. This person knows what they are doing and they chose to post this kind of stuff publicly under their own identity. You choose the behavior, you choose the consequences. These were not isolated incidents of a lapse in judgement or in a limited context. These posts happened time and time again over a period of time and promoted the fear and hatred of Muslims. This is not a smear campaign nor does anything in this post promote hatred or harassment of the person in question or anyone else. I know it’s tempting to launch an Antifa-style social media smear campaign — and it’s not like I don’t often think about it when I see vile things in my feed — but it won’t accomplish much.

I won’t collect and publicly shame hypocrites or Islamophobes here either (nor do I encourage anyone to do so), however I chose to use this incident as a cautionary tale and to bring up important matters that too often get swept under the rug.

Posted in Books & Stories

Lost Thoughts — Volume One: All She Wrote

I knew it had to be today. I never wanted to part ways like this. Evelyn and I were never really close but having to see her drive away was a very hard thing to go through. I hadn’t known her for long and sincerely didn’t like her all that much but she was a nice girl and I would miss her. We had ended on bad terms the last time we spoke, four days ago. She was a nice girl but I couldn’t ever get along with anybody. I had a hard time living with myself. I had avoided Evelyn at all costs up until this morning.  I would have felt extremely bad not saying goodbye to her. Even if he had a small brush I still didn’t want us to be on permanent bad terms. She had always been nice to me and she didn’t deserve to be treated like an animal by me.

I trailed behind Eve and the others to the bus waiting outside. I didn’t have the guts to walk next to them. I would probably break down crying if I did. I swallow my saliva and take a deep breath. I walked down the stairs to the lobby and put my hands in my pockets. I looked down as I walked into the blowing snow without a coat. I didn’t feel the cold. I keep my distance as one by one they board the bus. None of them really wanted to get on, especially Eve. I could see her looking at me from the corner of her eye. I didn’t want to look at her. I couldn’t. I watched them one by one board the bus looking back at us with tears in their eyes. Vivian was crying beside me to see Elka leave. I almost felt like doing the same.

Evelyn was one of the last to board the bus and just before she did I approached the door. Our gazes were locked and there was no escape.

“I’ll see you again someday.” I whisper.

“Yes.” She whispers giving me a little hug.

She boards the bus and I walk out of its path and back to where Vivian and I were standing not too long ago. I really wanted to cry now. I think many of us did. We all stared at the bus through our tears. None of us wanted to part ways. It was still too soon. The bus started its engine and made sure all passengers were on board. As the bus started rolling away everyone waved at each other but I turned around so my back would face the bus. I didn’t want to see this. I’m sure Eve was waving and hoping that I would look back but I didn’t. I start walking towards the entrance of the building and feel a small piece of paper fly by my head and land in the snow right in front of my feet.

Every time I see a sunset, I wish you were here.

These few short days have gone by so fast, where did that time go?

I cannot stop thinking about the times we’ve spent together, and oh, it’s  been so long. Where did you go? Where did I go? I lost my head in a whole and I’ve lost my heart and my soul. There is not a single day that goes by without me thinking of the good times we’ve had, and then again I’m here alone. Where did I go wrong? How did I get here?

All I’ve ever wanted was a place to call my home and to amend the hearts of everyone who feels alone. So I lie down and look up at the sky. If I could fly, like the angels do, I’d be long gone out of here looking back at you. You’re still with me in my dreams. In my dreams, you’re still right here. Right here sitting next to me on a rooftop. The night sky over the city is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Do you remember that night? I wish it could’ve lasted forever. And now the wind blows cold.

Now I’m sitting here alone, the wind blowing through my hair and only the overcast skies watching over me. Such powerful energy washes over me when I think of you. Where are you? I breathe in the cold air. Summer is almost gone. With every breeze that goes by, I wish I could fly. I wish I could go up there and touch the clouds. I want to hug them like you hugged me. I close my eyes and I drift away. Up here Earth is a mystery. There is nothing for us to worry. You’re right here with me again, right where we began. The angels lift me, are you ready?

With ever drop that starts to fall down, my being begins to shatter. I don’t want the rain to stop falling down. I want it to wash away the pain to where it can’t be found. With every gust of wind, I’m flying. You’re holding my hand as we fly over the city. The only thing we can see are the city lights and the airplanes that are like shooting stars in the night sky. I’ve never seen such beauty. You’re the most beautiful individual I’ve ever seen. This could be the night, the night to remember.

With another gust of wind, I suddenly come back to reality.

I’ll see you in my dreams.

Maybe our perceptions of each other had been wrong all along but it didn’t really change a thing because she was gone.

And that was all that she wrote for me.

Posted in Books & Stories

Lost Thoughts — Volume One: Evaporation

Only the sound of my pencil endlessly rattling against my desk as my hand wouldn’t stop literally bouncing from side to side in a vain attempt to entertain myself. I titled my head and looked up at the holes in the ceiling. Even they seemed to be emptier than usual. Would anyone notice if I left? Would they miss me? They wouldn’t miss my pencil rattling against the desk that was certain. I’d have to write that damn short story eventually.

The air left my lungs and I rubbed my tired apathetic eyes. I stretched my sore and aching muscles and sat up on the edge of my bed. It would be the last time I slept in it. It was never really my bed though, it belonged to my foster family. One of my many foster families over the last five years. How many homes had I been in? At least seven that I could count right off the bat. My brain still wasn’t completely awake but I knew very well that number eight was just around the order. I only needed to get dressed, make the finishing touches to packing my bags and head over to court so lawmakers could award me to yet another group of strangers.

Nobody would adopt me. I was much too old now. I knew that this would probably be my last home because I was already seventeen and who would want me now? My own mother never wanted me to begin with.

When I really put my mind to it I could indeed write something worthwhile, but the problem was that I didn’t want to. Blah, scratch that. I crumpled up my piece of paper and shoved it in the recycle bin. I let out a deep sigh, my creativity wasn’t working. All my thoughts did were evaporate. I took another page out of my notebook and attempted to write a second story.

A lot of people regard me as just another part of the body. In fact, most people treat me this way. I’m a lung, I’m responsible for one of your most vital functions, breathing. For seventeen years I was in the left side of a girl named Jane’s chest with my partner on the right side but now I’m alone in the body of a sixteen-year-old named Britney. She had lung cancer, that’s right, at her age. Both her lungs were slowly dying from the inside out and she was hooked up to an oxygen machine 24 hours a day. Even all the machines and the pills and the steroids couldn’t sustain her forever though, she really needed some new lungs but the waiting list for a donor was long.

Inside Jane’s body I’d say that I did my job pretty well. I could send the much needed oxygen throughout her body to fuel those cells while she was running and jogging and I could hold her breath for minutes at a time underwater. My partner told me that one of Jane’s eyeballs told him that Jane became compelled to be an organ donor when she walked in to the doctor’s office to get a flu shot (sounds harmless enough huh?) and noticed a lung disease support group going on in another room. The heart told me himself that he though he was sink down all the way to the diaphragm upon hearing the eyeballs’ initial report! During that same trip to see the doctor Jane informed herself about organ donation and what she could do to help. That’s around the time she decided to give me up along with the right kidney and some blood.

It didn’t all happen at once though. Jane had to undergo a lot of tests to see if I was really functioning properly and in my right mind as the brain would say. As it turns out I was very healthy and my tissue was of a very close match to a girl named Britney waiting on her deathbed for a transplant. So a few months later I literally went under the knife. Jane was sound asleep under the bizarre effects of something the ears told me was called anesthesia. Removing me from Jane’s body was fairly easy, I said goodbye to everyone just in time for two big hands to literally scoop me out! Afterwards I was stitched to Britney’s blood vessels and airways. It sounds a lot more horrific than it actually was. I didn’t feel a thing, and from what I hear the other organs tell me, they didn’t either.

In Britney’s body I did my regular job like I always did, and for the first few days there we were all hooked up on tubes and machines to drain air, fluids and blood in order to let me fully expand. The other organs were very welcoming to me and the only thing I really miss about Jane were her ears letting me listen to Avicii all day. Gangnam Style isn’t really my thing you know? But as it turns out Britney’s body responded very well to me and there were thankfully no complications! Thanks to me and Jane’s big heart (not literally the heart) Britney is now able to do simple things such as walking up the stairs instead of taking the elevator that she couldn’t previously do. Can you believe that, couldn’t even walk up the stairs?! And during that time we were all running a marathon!

The other organs tell me that Britney became so compelled after receiving me that she signed her organ donor card too. I guess I might be getting, or losing, neighbors soon!

That was just gonna have to do and if the teacher wasn’t happy with that she’d have to deal with it because my ambition had also evaporated along with my creativity a long time ago. School did not help anyone with thinking, it fact it only made my braincells die. It made them evaporate along with everything else.

Posted in Books & Stories

Lost Thoughts — Volume One: Mr. T (Unfinished Story Part #2)

When it comes to my job though there’s something I didn’t tell you. The LCBO is my second job. I got fired from the one at the deli because I threw some condiments at somebody that I didn’t like one day. I guess you can’t understand unless you’ve been through it yourself but when this person pushes your buttons at school day in and day out and then just expects you to serve them in town, you snap. That’s all. There’s really nothing more to it than that. It doesn’t have to be complicated!

And on the other hand, it made for a pretty good show for all the bystanders that were around too. I sure became the talk of the town after that one! That poor kid Karl that also worked with me in the deli got a bit of sauce on his uniform when I squeezed the bottle and swung it at the same time but he wasn’t the only one covered by the time I was done. The chickens he’d just taken out of the oven were decorated, the coffee maker was decorated, the walls were decorated, there was a stripe on the floor and that bitch Gabriele never spoke to me again.

But my story doesn’t end there. Whether you believe in God or karma or the law of attraction or any of that other stuff where you get out of it what you put into it, well I got my payback too. No, I don’t regret for one moment doing what I did even after the consequences (getting fired wasn’t one of them, really it was a relief to get out of there and for once I had a valid excuse for not showing up there anymore) and I would probably do it all over, but I sure got served what I deserved by the universe afterwards.
The short version of the story is that the Russian boys took me out to Tim Horton’s (out of all the places they could’ve picked) and I scored myself a pretty serious case of food poisoning. It was so bad that I was sent to a hospital in Ottawa. I felt like I was dying, or maybe I would’ve preferred to die than to continue suffering like that, but I got a very interesting roommate in the hospital. He wasn’t Russian, I don’t know what he was really, he looked just as human as anybody else and everybody called him Mr. T because they couldn’t pronounce his actual last name that looked something like Tljbwefkwebszk (c’mon Polish people don’t even have names that sound that bad!) and they called me V because it insults me when people can’t pronounce my last name correctly.

I also hate being called Miss V or Misses V (despite that I’m not married) because it makes me sound too damn old! I was just a teenager damn it! We became V and Mr. T in that little room up on the seventh floor.

While I was seriously sick in bed and could hardly move, the doctors wanted to release Mr. T because he was in optimal health according to all the tests he’d taken but he was convinced beyond any doubt that he was dying.

“We’ve done every medically possible test at our disposition and you’re not sick Mr. T!” the doctor tried to convince him one last time, “You’re not dying! We can’t keep you here if there’s nothing wrong with you!”

I came to be considerably annoyed at the same charade every day so I finally decided to put my foot down one day. Well, I didn’t actually get out of bed but I did sit up in my bed and after I vomited some bizarre yellow liquid on the floor between our two beds and tell him what was on my mind once and for all.

“Listen to me Mr. T!” I grumbled in a hoarse voice through a sore and burning throat, “You are not sick! I am sick! They’ve done everything they scientifically could for you and there’s nothing wrong with you! Go home already! If I could get out of here I’d be happy to sleep on the sidewalk tonight if I could just leave! For my sake go away!”

The next morning he was gone when I woke up. I found out several years later that I had somehow “helped” him. I don’t know if I simply knocked some sense into him or if hearing me speak had some type of healing effect on him, but as far as I’m concerned the guy went on to live a healthy life. So did I. I recovered after almost two months and despite the terrible ordeal, I walked out the door into a big beautiful city full of new adventures just waiting for me to discover.

Posted in Books & Stories

Lost Thoughts — Volume One: Natalie’s Granny (Unfinished Story Part #1)

“What’s your name child?”
“Natalie Vaillancourt.”

“Oh, you must be Yvette’s granddaughter.”

That’s usually where the conversation ended. Unless that person had never crossed onto my grandmother’s bad side, but my grandmother was generally well liked in the community. You got out of her what you put into her. You’re nice to her, she’ll be nice to you. Over the course of my interesting life I’ve witnessed her set straight a handful of asshole neighbours and and a few landlords. Growing up without much money and on the wrong side of town we often didn’t have a choice but to bounce from one run-down place to another, just seeking something better for ourselves.

One time in March several years ago William, the landlord, seemed like a sympathetic guy and I was really looking forward to finally having peace of mind. It took quite a bit of cleaning up when we moved in since the house had been left in terrible condition by the previous tenants but the place was spacious and it would be quiet. The previous tenants had left a lot of messes and broken appliances in the house but William had a friend who was a plumber that fixed it up nicely when we moved in.

At first William didn’t give us any trouble. You’d see him once a month when he came to pick up the rent money and you wouldn’t see him again after that. I thought that he was an okay guy. There was nothing about him that would set him apart from any other property owner. Rumours went flying that he had cashed in a considerable inheritance which he had used to purchase the house. He had lived in that house about three months before renting it to three young men. He told us that we could stay as long as we wanted, and we had been looking forward to settling in nicely and finally having peace of mind.
The roof leaked a bucket of water a day next to the patio door and after a while the wood on the doorframe expanded and it was impossible to open the doors to access the deck in the backyard. We had to take down all the security cameras and the crazy wiring attached to them. Whoever had lived there before had an extreme case of paranoia and I would later learn why when the cops came pounding on the door during a lazy summer evening, but for the most part I really enjoyed living there. I had never lived in an actual house before and even though I still suffered from insomnia, at least the nights were peaceful at last.

None of the doors inside the house would properly close since the floor was crooked but it never bothered me until I finally managed to close the bathroom door and got trapped inside. I freaked out while it was happening but looking back I can’t help but laugh. Each wall in a room was of a different colour and the floor on the first floor was severely crooked to the point where we’d need to cut out small pieces of wood to place under the furniture so it would be on even ground. Despite everything that was wrong with the house I was as happy as I’d ever been in my life up to that point. But like everything else that had happened previously, it got real sour real fast.

Within just a few months we began to have trouble with William, our landlord. We hadn’t ever had trouble with him in the past. He asked us if we were interested in buying the house when he came by to pick up the rent money one month. Even if my household had wanted to buy the house, neither one of us was financially capable to making such a large purchase, plus the house needed to be repaired too. So much for staying as long as we wanted.

“Then I’ll have to put the house up for sale,” he told us that day.
“Why would you want to sell the house now?” my grandma asked him, “You have good tenants, and you told us that you bought this place as an investment. We haven’t even been here a year!”
“I want to buy myself a new truck, and I need some quick money. This investment just isn’t working for my anymore.”

At first we bought his story of needing a new truck because he did have an old truck and if nobody fixed up the house it would lose its value over time as well. We were rightfully disappointed and angry but on some level we understood his situation. He hadn’t put up the house for sale but a few days after that he came back with a young woman who was apparently interested in buying the house but we would soon learn that it was all a setup. William told us to move out because this girl wanted to “try” the house for a few months and then maybe buy it in the summertime if she liked it. He told us that she had already made the $10 deposit too!

“William,” my grandma told him sternly, “I can pull $10 bills out of my ass! It’ll take a lot more than that to kick us out.”

He probably thought we were stupid enough buy his crap because in his mind we were three quiet and defenceless ladies, but he was wrong. My old lady got in his face and he got lucky that Vladimir didn’t live with us at the time because he would’ve had the same taste of wrath Anton did. He never bothered us after that, but eventually the house came to be falling apart and we had to find another place to live anyway.

At school I was a terrorist. Not only had I never cared about school, I thought that all my peers were idiots. One time they pushed my buttons a little too much and when it came to settling the score I took after my grandmother. I taught them what they needed to learn to put them mildly. Of course I was sent to the principal’s office for that offence and that idiot wasn’t about to scare me by attempting to call my parents, something that usually worked on kids from “normal” families, whatever the hell that meant anyway. Since my mother was at work, it’s my beloved grandma who showed up that afternoon.

“Did they piss you off?”
“Yes.”
“Did you set them straight?”
“Yes.”

The principal looked completely devastated as my grandma and I burst out laughing on our way out of his office. I had an amazing sense of satisfaction that I had won again despite his attempt to try to scare me by calling my parents. What followed was me bragging to anyone who would listen about how I got rewarded for my bad behaviour. And it was true, when I acted out I was sent home, which is exactly what I wanted. So I began acting out deliberately regardless of if I was angry or not just to go home and enjoy my time off.

I ended up in plenty of petty trouble after that. Honestly, I was willing to do anything just to not go to class. Apparently making someone sit by themselves in silence is supposed to be a punishment, but in reality it gave me a great opportunity to plot what I was going to do next. My “rebellion” cost me most of the few friends I had, but once again I gained many supporters along the way. Many students hated the principal for many reasons but I hated him mostly because he didn’t do his job. He promised us things we never got, never solved any conflict in school, and never responded to any of the inquiries people made for various reasons.

At the end of the day nobody disciplined me anymore. Nobody cared if I desecrated my schoolwork anymore, they didn’t care if I even did it or not. Most of the time, I’d watch movies on my laptop in class instead of paying attention because I frankly just didn’t care anymore. One day I watched a documentary about Leonard Lake and Charles Ng in English class when I noticed the teacher standing behind me. I turned around ready to show defiance when I saw that most of the class was behind me watching the movie. I giggled and went back to watching something else.

Posted in Books & Stories, Everything Else

Verses Undone: All Parts

Visit my official website to download the free PDF version of this book as well as many others or scroll below to read the stories right here on WordPress. If you enjoy these free stories please consider supporting my writing career by buying one of my paid books. 😀

Take a roller coaster ride inside of the human heart with this short collection of 15 poems dealing with everything from love and romance to death to anger to friendship and beyond. Written in both free verse and fixed verse format, these poems will not only touch your emotions but they will also motivate you think deeper.

SaladDays

Table of Contents

Posted in Reblogged Posts

Repost: It’s a Women’s Wave Coming

Dixie O’Connell’s older brother cast a write-in ballot for Mickey Mouse in the 2016 presidential election. Fifteen months later, O’Connell marched in the 2018 New York Women’s March with a sign that said, “I’m pissed.” She couldn’t vote in 2016, but O’Connell is already doing everything she can to cancel out her brother’s throwaway ballot.…

via ‘It’s a Women’s Wave Coming.’ The Women’s March Is Turning Into a True Political Force — TIME

Posted in Books & Stories

Verses Undone: The Red

There’s nothing that’s gonna stop me
There’s nothing that’s gonna stop me
Insanity
Insanity

My blood drips on the floor
It’s red
Back where I was before
It’s all in my head
Thoughts of suicide
Hiding all the tears I keep inside

Insanity
Insanity
Crawling into me
Into my head
All I see is red
I just wish I was dead
It’s all red
It’s all red
All I see is red
It’s all in my head
Red

The calm
Before the storm
Thoughts
Of suicide
So many ways to die
Forget about me
You don’t mean anything to me

Insanity
Insanity
Crawling into me
Into my head
All I see is red
I just wish I was dead
It’s all red
It’s all red
All I see is red
It’s all in my head
Red

Your driving me insane
Your driving me insane
Corrupting my mind
Corrupting my mind
Look inside

It’s all red
It’s all red
Inside my head
You can’t stop me

Look at the red
Coming down my arm
All the scars
All the scars
From when you broke my heart

Insanity
Insanity
Crawling into me
Into my head
All I see is red
I just wish I was dead
It’s all red
It’s all red
All I see is red
It’s all in my head
Red

The red creeping into me
The red
Is all that I see
Give into the red
Give into the red
Give into the red

Posted in Books & Stories

Verses Undone: The Complete Unknown

There’s one place that I’ll never call my home
And that’s the very bottom of your soul
In my life you left an empty hole
I guess there are some things I’ll just never know

Who am I to take the blame?
You’re the one with all the shame
This is just like a burnt out flame
I guess things will never be the same

I learned the things you never showed me
Became all the things you’d never be
Maybe one day you will see
All this pain and catastrophe

I took the chances you’d have blown
You’re the one who left me all alone
So many of our stories will remain untold
And you remain the complete unknown