From Child Soldiers to Peaceful People

On July 13, 2016 I attended an event that I believe will change my whole life.
I attended an information session for the Romeo Dallaire Child Soldier Initiative.

Two experts in this field Dr. Shelly Whitman and Nikita Malik from the Quilliam Foundation, spoke about the trauma that child soldiers face: abduction at a young age,  physical, emotional and sexual abuse to program them into good compliant soldiers, indoctrinated with Islamic State dogma.

The Middle east had become one of the worst places for this as the Islamic State is attempting to form themselves into a nation.  They are abducting children from families, recruiting children, and recruiting young women to breed soldiers to make an army of child soldiers.

They take a planned systematic approach to convert innocent children into compliant, obedient and well indoctrinated on the virtues of the Islamic State. These children are conditioned to see warfare as normal. This conditioning they endure causes severe psychological damage for many.

These children are put in combat situations because of the tactical advantage. Police officers and soldiers are reluctant to attack a troop of children.

Enter general Dallaire and his organization with a plan. Techniques are being developed to neutralize and disarm

Combat veterans are being trained to go out to the field and teach troops to use these techniques. Troops of child soldiers will be captured, rescued and rehabilitated. The men who sent them out to fight will have lost the tactical advantage and the weapons and gear they invested in. What was a tactical advantage becomes a disadvantage.

In the last minutes of this presentation, General Romeo Dallaire himself stepped up to speak passionately  about the horrors of the child soldier practice.  This man resigned his seat in the Canadian Senate so that he could focus on his foundation full-time. I admire this man because he cares so deeply about humans, especially the most vulnerable. He presented a copy of his recent book: They Fight Like Soldiers, They Die Like Children. The title alone brings tears to my eyes.

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I am interested in using my teaching skills to do something to restore these children programmed for war into peaceful people.  It is my conviction that each of these children, made in God’s image have multiple talents that can be developed. These children can become people who contribute to a peaceful and prosperous society.

I am excited about how I can contribute to this organization. Their goals fit in with what I am most passionate about, the development of children, peace and great human achievement.  I hope that I can apply my talents to serve Romeo Dallaire Child Soldier Initiative sometime in the near future. This work would be beneficial to my personal peace because when I work at something meaningful, I am most at peace.

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Pro-Choice, Pro-Life, Pro-Peace

This post is a sci-fi short story sharing my vision of a future where a highly debated issue has been solved through innovation by people with vision and compassion.

NOTE: This story hints at sexual assault of a minor to make a point. People must realize how important it is to pursue a solution that allows us to solve the problem of unwanted pregnancy while ending the gruesome procedure of abortion.

My goal is to inspire readers to envision a more free and peaceful future.

Astrid, a twelve-year-old girl and her mother sit in the office of doctor Chapman, gynecologist.

“Astrid, the test confirms that  you are indeed pregnant. The father of the baby is indeed the man who drugged your lemonade and assaulted you. Nurses at the prison tested his DNA to confirm.” Doctor Champan says to Astrid in a serious tone.

Astrid bursts into sobs. “It wasn’t my fault. How will I deal with this? I can’t have a baby. I have to go to school, I want to become a Doctor.”

“You do not have to carry this baby or give birth. There is a better way. I want you to meet Mark and Liz, they are eager to have another baby. They volunteer with Infant Life Choice, a great charity that helps out with cases such as yours. Here they are on screen. Your mom agreed for you to meet them and talk.” Doctor Champan assures her

Liz spoke up, “This charity was founded by people who realized that in some cases, a mother and her baby are much better off if she does not carry to term. In the past, doctors would perform a procedure called an abortion. The life of the baby was ended and its body was removed. The government kept trying to stop abortions by sending police after doctors, it just made things more dangerous.”

Mark continued. “Since your family believes strongly in preserving life, but you are not ready to raise a baby, we would like for you to agree to let us adopt your baby.”

Astrid’s mom asks, “I thought you said Astrid would not have to carry to term?”

Dr. Chapman explains, “That is what I said. We can surgically remove the baby now, even at two weeks, then place the baby in Liz, who will experience pregnancy and birth. Liz has undergone a procedure to become a human incubator. This will be the second time she carries a baby.”

Astrid gives a sigh of relief. “I think this is the best choice,” her mother agreed.

“We think so as well,” said Dr. Chapman. “Someday, you may consider coming to train with me and do this type of surgery.”

“Mark, Liz, can you come tomorrow? We want to perform the surgery at nine in the morning.”

“9 am. See you then,” Mark said.

 Innovative and passionate people who can apply their resources unoppressed and without interference and are able to accomplish great things. The pursuit of liberty is worthwhile so that we can solve these difficult problems peacefully.

Blessed are the peacemakers.

Peaceful Vybz

Last year, I made a new friend. Justice was a High School senior when he asked me to attend the first ever paid concert he was playing. He is the drummer for a local Reggae Band called Stahmenah Vybz. This was in January 2015. I really enjoyed the show.

I got invited again last Saturday, Dec 19. This time, Justice is studying music at the local community college.  He is playing drums more confidently and growing as a person. I was encouraged to see it. It was nice to catch up with him and see how happy he is studying and performing music.

I got to meet L. Garreth Warren, the founder of this band. Besides performing and recording, he operates a martial arts studio. This man has a heart for young people and it shows through his work.

The band, now reformed, consists of Garreth on lead vocals, and his gang of Music Performance students:

Justice Sanford on drums
Liam Campbell on guitar and vocals
Liam MacDonald on Keys
Stephen Weston on Bass
JJ Kent on sax.

This band is very good. Each player is quite skilled and they play well together.
Most of all, the message of the music is one of love, kindness and peace. It really shows from the lyrics. This is A Helping Hand on video from Saturday December 19:

Helping Hand
CHORUS:

Lend a helping hand everyone.
Lend a helping hand when you can.
In this war against sickness and poverty,
A lot can be change with some help from you and me.

Lend a helping hand everyone.
Lend a helping hand when you can.
In this war against poverty & sickness,
A lot can change if we show a little kindness.

I like music with a motivational message. The song above really appealed to me.

In the song below, Choices the message is educate yourself, or tolerate hard work. It is a Stay in School message.

CHORUS:

My mother raised me to have two choices
Work my mind, or work my back!
Digging ditches, you’ll hear the voices,
Shovel’s the devil. No Mercy, no slack.”

This next particular song was inspired by the story of Rehtaeh Parsons, a teen who was raped while she was intoxicated while the perpetrators caught it on camera. The young men who raped her shared the video and people tormented Rehtaeh until she committed suicide.

This story moved Garreth’s heart and he composed the song Compassion:

Compassion

Chorus:
Show some compassion. Show that you care!
Show some respect or you will get nowhere.
Show some desire, show you’ll be there
The love for one another will never disappear!

I have a photo of a mural that Rehtaeh and her friend painted at Sir Robert Borden Junior High. I hope we can remember her as more than a girl who got raped and committed suicide.

We have much to do to achieve a peaceful world. I wish to thank Garreth and Stahmenah Vybz for promoting a message of peace accompanied by great upbeat music for people dance along. I just found out they are recording right now. Check their website for album availability.

Garreth, I wish to thank you for the music and for using your talents to be a peacemaker and for the positive impact that your business has on the community.

Blessed are the Peacemakers.

Living no longer for ourselves

Some days, I get encouragement from seeing a good friend put a truth into practice and reach a conviction on his own. I was back at Dave’s garage this week getting winter tires installed and we had a conversation.

Dave has had a hobby for a few years, restoring classic cars, driving them for a while and turning them over for a small profit. Dave is a skilled mechanic, auto body technician and a welder. In his full-time job, he welds for the coast guard.

dave and cindy

Here are Dave and his wife Cindy with his latest project.

This past year, Dave and Cindy gave their lives to Christ because of the persistent prayers or their daughter, Meghan. Cindy was baptized in Spring. Dave got it done in the summer.

I have enjoyed and appreciated Dave’s charity and skills several times in the past year. Because of his generous heart and great talent, I have been able to keep working as a substitute teacher. He has kept my car on the road at times when I had no other hope.

This week, I came over to get my snow tires installed and we had a talk about our faith. I shared about my current Bible study in the book of Job, trying to make sense of my trials and struggles of the past few years.

He shared about an idea he just had (paraphrased):

You know, a guy asked me if I would sell him this Ford I just rebuilt and I had to think about it. I said :”No.” at first, but I changed my mind on it and told him to make me an offer.

I really enjoy rebuilding these old cars, but it doesn’t mean as much to me now.

What if I could buy some used cars that need a bit of work, fix them up and sell them at cost to people who need a break?

I could buy  an older car for say $1000, repair it properly. Sell it to a family or a young adult starting out for the cost of the car plus materials. They could have a good road worthy car for $1500-$2500.

I think I would really enjoy doing that.

This is a man who is maturing and is being transformed by Christ. He is no longer living for himself, but is taking interest in the needs of others. I left Dave’s feeling encouraged again. My friend, my brother has invented a new kind of ministry. He wants to use his talents to help others, equipping people in need with reliable cars. In a few short months, his convictions are changing. He wants live in a way that is a benefit to others.

I think I want to give him a hand. I could learn a few things.

It reminds me of this scripture.

Philippians 2:1-4
Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion,
then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

Christians, let us examine ourselves to see if we are applying our talents to help others. Can we invent a new ministry to meet a need that was not met before?

See what you can do. God will be pleased. I believe that a sense of peace and well-being.

Proverbs 11:25
25 
A generous person will prosper;

    whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.

Dave, thanks for your generous heart. I am encouraged.

Blessed are the peacemakers

I do not know what to say about the most recent acts of violence I have seen on the news. From Paris, to Palestine, to Lebanon, to the skies over Syria, there is more than I can take.


I want to call attention to people who are peacemakers. I have seen great examples in the past few weeks. These people each play a special role toward the promotion of peace.

First, there is Tad. He presents himself at schools to tell his story. His story is filled with shocking details of verbal abuse and confinement at home along with bullying in school.
Tad found his way through these childhood trials to become a successful professional and he also founded a charitable organization to stop bullying: bullyingendshere.ca.
Tad has a passion for the safety of youth. I encourage everyone who can to learn from his story.
Tad’s Story

On the topic of bullying a psychologist here in Canada, Dr. Gordon Neufeld, gave a great speech on the psychology of a bully and the steps required to reverse it based on his field experience and research with violent offenders. He makes it very clear that bullies are in need of inner peace that has been interrupted.
If you have an hour to spare and you care about making a change, please take time to watch this video: What Makes a Bully

Dr. Neufeld has succeeded in reversing the behaviour of bullies and wants to share this wisdom with us.

Some have made popular this quote by Mr. Fred Rogers after the attacks on Paris.

Here are some more of his quotes, a glimpse into his mind:
Fred Rogers quotes
May his message continue to help children and adults find peace.

Dr. Ron Paul ran for U.S. president 3 times.  He used the platform to promote the well-being of people by promoting freedom and liberty. He spoke against the folly of perpetuating war against other countries and many other ideas about liberty and peace.
You can become better informed on war, economy and politics by listening to his podcast:
Ron Paul Liberty Report.

If you love peace, please support his message and purchase his book.

This is Mr. R. Buckminster Fuller. He is most famous for making a giant ball out of triangles.

He is also a man of great wisdom. He shares a vision that applying advancements in technology to the benefit of humans, rather than for perpetuating war is a wiser direction to take.
Mr. Fuller, I carry your mantle. I promise as an educator to teach youth to apply their lnowledge of Math, Science and Technology to create livingry and improve the world.
More R. Buckminster Fuller quotes

Honourable Mentions:

This Girl who wants her parents to get along.

Jody Wilson-Raybould is Canada’s newly appointed minister of Justice. I look forward to her upcoming actions toward peace.

Julie Borowski is an entertaining video blogger promoting liberty and peace in an entertaining way.

These men

And finally, words from the Prince of peace himself:

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God.
Jesus Christ, during the Sermon on the Mount,
Matthew 5:7

I urge you to be peacemakers. We need to each do our little part right now.

Brotherly love, gratitude and peace

Today, I visited with Dave N. a friend, a brother at church. We spent a few hours in his garage at his home.  I left with an overwhelming sense of peace and gratitude.

Dave has bailed me out time and again, by making repairs on my old car, a rusty 2000 Subaru Legacy. He has waved his magic welding wand and miraculously pieced my car back together several times in the past few months.  His acts of service have allowed me to get on the road and continue substitute teaching during a time that our household budget is quite precarious.

This time, it was my muffler that had broken off.  I showed up at Dave’s with my muffler, 3 pieces of muffler pipe that had cost me $10 each. He cut and welded and worked his metalwork magic for an hour. I left with a muffler that was mounted solidly, a quiet car, and two sections of pipe that I could return to the store because he used only one of my pieces with a section of pipe that he had. This is a big deal on a week where I need that extra $20 for gas.

So today, I feel at peace as I exercise gratitude by thinking of the following blessings:

  • I can drive my car without worrying that police will hear my exhaust and pull me over.
  • I can turn my music or podcast down to a reasonable listening level and still hear it.
  • I no longer be disturbing my neighbours in the morning when I start my car.
  • I have many such friends, a.k.a. “brothers”, in my life who have my back when I am in need. They are all generous and have hearts to serve.
  • The church that I belong to is committed to loving one another as Jesus commanded his disciples (John 13:34-35) and carrying each other’s burdens (Galatians 6:2), Our minister had just preached a lesson about Jesus washing his disciples feet. I got my feet washed in a very figurative way.

I am motivated more than before to serve and help someone because of the peace that it can bring. I want to encourage all of you to seize these opportunities to serve someone and thereby promote peace.

If you happen to be on the receiving end of this type of service, I encourage you to accept it with gratitude, experience the peace and pay it forward.

In just a few months, Dave’s daughter will be getting married. I offered Dave to call on me to drive around, pick things up and deliver things during the days of preparation. I look forward to doing this with great excitement.

I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving, or Happy Columbus Day.
May you all have great friends who are committed to “carry each other’s burdens”.
May you be grateful if you have them because such friends are precious.
May your inner self be peaceful.