Sharing with you things that are on my mind...Maybe yours too. Come back to Wrights Lane for a visit anytime!

31 December, 2010

A PASSION STIMULANT FOR THE NEW YEAR

MAY 2011 BE HAPPY, PROSPEROUS AND FULFILLING.  HERE'S TO YOUR GOOD HEALTH, DEAR FRIEND!

Note: You might want to view this video on full screen.

30 December, 2010

A LOOK AT THE ROLE OF RELIGION AND FAITH IN INCREASING GLOBALIZATION

Globalisation (or globalization) describes the process by which regional economies, societies, and cultures have become integrated through a global network of political ideas through communication, transportation, and trade. The term is most closely associated with economic globalization: the integration of national economies into the international economy through trade, foreign direct investment, capital flows, migration, the spread of technology, and military presence. However, globalization is usually recognized as being driven by a combination of economic, technological, sociocultural, political, and biological factors. The term can also refer to the transnational circulation of ideas, languages, or popular culture through acculturation. An aspect of the world which has gone through the process can be said to be "globalised". --Wikipedia

News Flash:  While demographics are changing, religion is not dying.  In an era of the aforedefined "globalization", the world is in fact more reliant than ever on the reason, compassion and progress represented in its various faith communities.

It is interesting to note that the number of people proclaiming their faith worldwide is growing, particularly in the Islamic world where the population is expected to double in future decades.  Religion's largest growth at present is in China and there is a huge evangelical movement in Brazil and Mexico.  In Canada and the United States, of course, faith remains a vital part of people's lives.  Even in Europe, the numbers confessing to a belief in God remain high and there are hundreds of millions of Hindus and still solid numbers of Sikhs and Jews.

Wonderful work is done around the world thanks to "faith" organizations active in combating poverty and disease.  In any developed nation, selfless care is being provided to the disabled, the dying, the destitute and disadvantaged.  Common to all great religions is love of neighbours and human equality.

Quite disturbingly, on the other hand, religion can be used as a negative motivational force.  It cannot be dismissed that religion has the potential for promotion of extremism and even terrorism.  Faith can be a badge of identity in opposition to those who do not share it -- a kind of spiritual nationalism, if you will, that can be dangerously explosive.  To a degree, this is a threat that has always existed and is not going away any time soon.

The pressure of globalization, however, offers a unique opportunity to push the world's population ever closer together as technology advances and shrinks the globe.  Growing up 50 or 60 years ago, children in North America would rarely meet someone of a different culture or faith background.  Today, our children and grandchildren are growing up in a myriad of different languages, faiths and colours, requiring  mutual respect and understanding.  Such a world upends traditions and challenges old thinking, literally forcing us to choose consciously to embrace it -- or not.

In the words of Tony Blair, the former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, "...and there is the rub:  For some this force is a threat that menaces deeply conservative societies.  For those for whom religion matters, globalization can sometimes be accompanied by an aggressive secularism or hedonism that makes many uneasy."

Blair, admirably, is demonstrating a commitment to making sense of how the world of faith interacts with the compulsive process of globalization.  Bothered by the "extremism" he sees in the world, he has created the Faith Foundation with the ambitious goal of promoting greater understanding between world faiths.  His reasoning is simple...Those advocating extremism in the name of religion are active, well resourced and whatever the reactionary nature of their thinking, brilliant at using modern communications and technology to the tune of billions of dollars a year to promote their view of religion.

Durham University in England is the leading hub of Blair's Faith and Globalization initiative.  The university program, designed to take religion out of the sole preserve of divinity schools and to start analyzing its role in the world today, is underway in nine countries.  Another program links high school students across the world through interactive technology to discuss their faith and what it means to them.  There is an action plan too, through which young people work with those of another faith to raise awareness of the Millennium Development Goals, a United Nations-led program to combat world poverty.

In a period when former world leaders opt for writing profitable books and garnering outlandish fees for guest speaking appearances, I have deep respect for the Tony Blairs and Jimmy Carters (Habitat for Humanity) who after retirement from politics use their considerable weight and influence to promote world betterment.  

"We are just one organization, there are a number of others starting," Blair wrote in a recent article, Faith in a Globalized Age.  "But governments should start to take this far more seriously.  Religious leaders must also accept a new responsibility to stand up firmly and resolutely for respecting those of faiths different from their own."

Aggressive secularists and extremists feed off each other and together they do constitute a real challenge to people of faith.  Blair is totally accurate with his contention that we must demonstrate the loving nature of true faith; otherwise, religion will be defined by a battle in which extremists seize control of faith communities and secularists claim that such attitudes are intrinsic to religion. 

It is in this era of globalization that faith can truly represent reason and progress.  Heaven help us...the world needs faith, the tie that binds us all.

The role of religion in a globalized age is a complex subject, almost beyond the grasp of an ordinary mind.  So, what can you and I do from the insignificant little grain of sand that we occupy on this earth with our limited singular resources and minimal attachment?

Answer: We can support religious initiatives, pray for enlightenment -- and above all, have "faith"! 

24 December, 2010

ENJOY "THE BREATH OF HEAVEN"



In keeping with my belief that music is synonymous with the Christmas tradition, bringing to life the true meaning behind everything we celebrate, I post the following with thanks to Inspiration Manifestation of which I am a subscriber.

Songbird Amy Grant sang for years in church and in her school. When she was 15 years of age she took a simple job at a Nashville recording studio sweeping floors and demagnetizing tapes. Soon after that, a friend helped her to duplicate a tape of her original songs.

As chance would have it, a “Word Records” producer heard the tape. He then played it over the phone for some company executives and just before she turned 16, Amy Grant signed her first recording contract.

Aside from the fact that Amy was the first Contemporary Christian artist to reach platinum sales status and the first Christian artist to win a Grammy for Best Pop Gospel Performance she is credited for something much larger.  Contemporary Christian music was making headway in the mid-’80s, however, she was the first Christian artist to crossover and achieve success in the secular genre. Her Christian audience at first didn’t take kindly to that, but her longevity has proven that it was meant to be as more and more Christian artists and songs continue to grace the airways and the televised music award shows.

This song “Breath Of Heaven” was written by Chris Eaton. He has penned songs for the Who’s Who of recording artists. Along with being a recording artist himself, he is considered to be one of the most influential Christian artists.

When Amy heard this song she immediately wanted to record it. Ironically she was expected her own baby at the time and asked Chris if she could change a lyric in the chorus to reflect her feelings which she felt might have paralleled Mary’s experience of expecting her baby “Jesus”. Chris agreed, but only for Amy's version.

Another meaningful contribution to the world of music and an even greater gift to those who find special significance in it. 

23 December, 2010

SELDOM-EXAMINED PERSPETIVE OF JOSEPH

The last thing I want to do in this post is to put a wet blanket over the celebration of Christmas, but just for a moment let's take a closer look at one aspect of the story.

Have you ever had that struggle of faith when life presents you with a dilemma in which you’re not sure how to respond and you wonder where God is in all of it? You’re faced with whether or not to accept it and move ahead in faith or reject it as being too preposterous. That’s the position in which we find Joseph as we examine the Christmas story from his often overlooked perspective.

W. H. Auden has pictured Joseph at home that night, in an empty house, sitting there in the dark. He hears everything; the drip of the bathroom tap, the creak of the sofa spring, the wind against the window. And he hears Mary, again and again, telling him about the angel, about the message, about the Messiah. But who would believe it? Who could believe that God would choose to invade space and time via a *scandalous disgrace?

   *(Scandal:  n. something shameful or disgraceful.)

Who would not blame Joseph for following through on an impulse to quietly divorce and walk away from his wife-to-be who was telling him that she was pregnant with a child that was not his?  Can you imagine Joseph explaining to his friends that Mary was pregnant with God's baby?  Think of the predictable reactions.

The more I ponder on this story, the more I meditate on the few brief verses of this incredibly poignant Bible passage regarding Joseph and Mary, the more I think maybe scandal was precisely the point. Maybe the circumstances surrounding the Christ child's birth were meant to tell us what following Him would really mean. Maybe following the Messiah would mean the same thing for us that it meant for Joseph -- scandal, being frowned on, losing friends.

After all, life does not follow a perfect script for any of us.  Things do not always work out for us as ideally as we would hope.  We face one dilemma after another and either we accept them or we don't.

So what is God trying to tell us in this little bit of Christmas trivia? The message to me is that like Joseph, we can accept scandal and difficult circumstances by replacing initial panic with trust.  Joseph did not have answers to his dilemma but he put his trust in the only One who could give the answers.

There is always a message and an answer for every challenge in life.  Sadly, for many of us, the real scandal is in our attempts to pretend that there is no scandal.



*Click on the "Watch on YouTube" line (above) to view after activating the video.
"Mary Did You Know" was written by a very young Mark Lowry who I first got to know through The Gaither Hour, one of my most favorite musical programs on TV.

When Mark went off to college in 1975, he intended to graduate with a degree in business. However, after feeling that God was calling him to a music ministry he graduated in 1980 with a Youth degree.  He immediately began performing at churches around the country. In between songs, he would talk about his life and to share his testimony with a unique sense of humor that has become his trademark.

Mark soon realized he was on to something and an entertainer was born. He began performing for churches all over the country with his music/comedy act.  In 1984 something happened that would establish him as a songwriter. After his church asked him to write a Christmas play, he wondered what it would have been like to be the mother of Jesus.

He turned his questions into lyrics but it would be six years and two other song-writers later before Buddy Greene would put music to Mark’s lyrics.  The rest is history, or should we say “fate”, as Mark’s song is now popular not only at Christmas but throughout the entire year.

19 December, 2010

STORY BEHIND THE RED-NOSED REINDEER

A man named Robert L. May, depressed and brokenhearted, stared out his drafty apartment window into the chilling December night.


His four-year-old daughter Barbara sat on his lap quietly sobbing. Bob's wife, Evelyn, was dying of cancer and little Barbara couldn't understand why her mommy could never come home. Barbara looked up into her dad's eyes and asked, "Why isn't Mommy just like everybody else's Mommy?" Bob's jaw tightened and his eyes welled with tears. Her question brought waves of grief, but also of anger. It had been the story of Bob's life. Life always had to be different for Bob.

Small when he was a boy and only five feet tall as an adult, Bob was often bullied by other kids. He was too little at the time to compete in sports. He was often called names he'd rather not remember. From childhood, Bob was different and never seemed to fit in. Bob did complete college, married his loving wife and was grateful to get his job as a copywriter at Montgomery Ward during the Great Depression. Then he was blessed with his little girl. But it was all short-lived. Evelyn's bout with cancer stripped them of all their savings and now Bob and his daughter were forced to live in a two-room apartment in the Chicago slums. Evelyn died just days before Christmas in 1938 which just happened to be my first Christmas.

Robert L. (Bob) May with the original creation of Rudolph.  He passed away in 1976.

Bob struggled to give hope to his child, for whom he couldn't even afford to buy a Christmas gift. But if he couldn't buy a gift, he was determined to make one - a storybook. Bob had created an animal character in his own mind and told the animal's story to little Barbara to give her comfort and hope. Again and again Bob told the story, embellishing it more with each telling. Who was the character? What was the story all about?

The story Bob May created was his own autobiography in fable form. The character he created was a misfit outcast like he was. The name of the character? A little reindeer named Rudolph, with a big shiny nose. Bob finished the book just in time to give it to his little girl on Christmas Day. But the story doesn't end there.

The general manager of Montgomery Ward caught wind of the little storybook and offered Bob May a nominal fee to purchase the rights to print the book. Wards went on to print Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer and distribute it to children visiting Santa Claus in their stores. By 1946 Wards had printed and distributed more than six million copies of Rudolph. That same year, a major publisher wanted to purchase the rights from Wards to print an updated version of the book.

In an unprecedented gesture of kindness, the CEO of Wards returned all rights back to Bob.  The book became a best seller. Many toy and marketing deals followed and Bob May, now remarried with a growing family, became wealthy from the story he created to comfort his grieving daughter. But the story doesn't end there either.

Bob's brother-in-law, Johnny Marks, made a song adaptation to Rudolph. Though the song was turned down by such popular vocalists as Bing Crosby and Dinah Shore, it was recorded by the singing cowboy Gene Autry. "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer" was released in 1949 and became a phenomenal success, selling more records than any other Christmas song, with the exception of "White Christmas."

The gift of love that Bob May created for his daughter so long ago kept on returning to bless him again and again. And Bob May learned the lesson, just like his dear make-believe friend Rudolph, that being different isn't so bad. In fact, being different can be a blessing.



18 December, 2010

WE CAN ALL "STAR" IN OUR OWN MOVIE

Has the thought that life is sort of like a movie ever crossed your mind?  It certainly has for me.

In fact, if you look around, you start to notice that we all play certain roles in life.  This can be good or bad depending on the role that we've been "cast in" by life.

But wouldn't it be nice if you could play the role that YOU WANT?  I'm talking about being the person YOU want to be.

Maybe you want to be outgoing and fun or possibly make a major contribution in some way, shape or form.  Or maybe you'd rather be financially comfortable.  How about just being a better person?  We can all think of a long list of roles we would like to play in our own life movie, I am sure.

I have studied positive thinking and the art of turning dreams into reality for many years and for some reason I have never fully been able to master the techniques.  Maybe it is simply because I am just more comfortable living in my harmless little, fanciful dream world rather than taking the steps necessary to make certain things happen.

The thought of being a "star" in my own movie production was introduced to me the other day and it kind of impacted my thinking in a new way.  Quite simply, we all have the ability to see ourselves as the persons we want to be and there is nothing stopping us from taking on that role and playing it through to a happy (Hollywood) ending.

So for me, while there are still a few yards of unexposed film remaining on the old movie reel, it's "lights, action -- camera!"

...Coming soon to a theatre near you! 

13 December, 2010

LET'S REJOICE IN DIFFERENCES AND PUT THE MERRY BACK IN OUR CHRISTMAS

I am the first to admit that I was slow to warm to the idea of an increased emphasis on multiculturalism in Canada.  I just didn't think that it was warranted.  Typically, I was thinking from a singular mind.

Needless to say, my attitude has softened and my understanding has grown proportionally in recent years. 

I appreciate multiculturalism now as a celebration of each other's culture and religion, not denying, avoiding or re-inventing it.  After all, Id is Id, Dewali is Dewali and Hanukkah is Hanukkah, which leads me to the point of this post...Why do Christian Christmas greetings become "Season's Greetings"?   

I agree with Clarence McMullen of Richmond Hill who suggests that a culture that denies its own traditions can never truly appreciate and celebrate other cultures, let alone their own.  In Clarence's words: "It is nothing less than hypocrisy to say 'Season's Greetings'; or even worse 'Holiday Greetings'," correctly pointing out that "holidays" are traditionally in the summer months.

He explains that he is a Christian who was raised in India.  "Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs would come to our house on Christmas to wish us well, have tea and cake, and even sing a few carols with us.  During other festivals, we would join family friends to celebrate with them as well.    We continue to do this in Canada and again the majority of people who come to our Christmas celebration are Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims.

"Should I be offended at what people of other faiths call their festivals?  Or should the true expression of my faith be to celebrate these occasions with my neighbours and to share their happiness?"

Right on, my friend Clarence.  But you are forgetting that we also "celebrate" something else in Canada these days and it is called "political correctness" which apparently applies only to Christians who are all too willing to sacrifice some of their traditions by watering down something so innocent as Christmas greetings.

Christmas is what it is...What's not so correct about that?

Merry Christmas, everyone!  No apologies from this traditionalist who recognizes the common roots of other religious festivals and the right to celebrate them without compromise.


10 December, 2010

FLASH AND IT'S THE SOUND OF MUSIC

This flash mob took place in a Belgium train station and amazingly, the accoustics there sound like a world class performing arts center.  It’s easy to imagine the excitment this surprise performance evoked as the dancers just kept showing up and the audience seemed to revel in the moment.  Julie Andrews' voice is crystal clear as she sings the infamous song Do Re Mi and it can’t help but bring back memories of The Sound of Music.  You just can't help but smile and love it.

08 December, 2010

FIVE MORE MONTHS OF THIS? YUCK!

ENOUGH ALREADY!  They say that there are still some parts of Southern Ontario and the USA where green grass is still showing. Well, not in the Grey-Bruce area, that's for sure -- particularly Saugeen Shores where almost three-feet of the white stuff has piled up in the past three or four days.  As for me, the novelty has worn off already.  A snow bank at the end of my driveway was as good a place as any tonight (Dec. 8) to take a rest. 

07 December, 2010

WE SHOULD ACKNOWLEDGE OUR BLESSINGS

Dream inspired version of what happens in Heaven

A very good friend passed the following item along to me.  It originated in the form of an email message which the unknown author hoped would ultimately receive wide circulation.   I found the writing so simple yet creative and meaningful that I immediately saw merit in posting it today.  In a world rife with agendas, cynicism and general dissatisfaction, we need such humble (Christian) offerings to remind us of how furtunate we really are.

I dreamt that I went to Heaven and an angel was showing me around. We walked side-by-side inside a large workroom filled with angels. My angel guide stopped in front of the first section and said, "This is the Receiving Section.  Here, all petitions to God said in prayer are received."

I looked around in this area, and it was terribly busy with so many angels sorting out petitions written on voluminous paper sheets and scraps from people all over the world.


Then we moved on down a long corridor until we reached the second section. The angel then said to me, "This is the Packaging and Delivery Section. Here, graces and blessings requested through prayers are processed and delivered to the living persons who asked for them."  I noticed again how busy it was there. There were many angels working hard at that station, since so many blessings had been requested and were being packaged for delivery to Earth.

Finally at the farthest end of the long corridor we stopped at the door of a very small station. To my great surprise, only one angel was seated there, idly doing nothing. "This is the Acknowledgment Section," my angel friend quietly admitted to me. He seemed embarrassed.  "How is it that there is no work going on here?" I asked.

"So sad," the angel sighed. "After people receive the blessings that they asked for, very few send back acknowledgments."

"How does one acknowledge God's blessings?" I asked.

"Simple," the angel answered. "Just say: Thank you, Lord."

"What blessings should they acknowledge?" I asked.

"If you have food in the refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof overhead and a place to sleep you are richer than 75% of this world. If you have money in the bank, in your wallet, and spare change in a dish, you are among the top 8% of the world's wealthy."

"And if you get this message on your own computer, you are part of the 1% in the world who has that opportunity."

"If you woke up this morning with more health than illness... you are more blessed than the many who will not even survive this day ."

"If you have never experienced the fear in battle, the loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture, or the pangs of starvation...you are ahead of 700 million people in the world."

"If you can attend a church without the fear of harassment, arrest, torture or death you are envied by, and more blessed than, three billion people in the world "

"If you can hold your head up and smile, you are not the norm, you're unique to all those in doubt and despair."

OK, what now, you may ask?  How can I start?


If you can read this message, you just received a double blessing in that someone was thinking of you as very special and you are more blessed than over two billion people in the world who cannot read at all.

Have a good day, count your blessings, and if you want, pass this along to remind everyone else of how blessed we all are.

03 December, 2010

PAWS DOWN, MAN'S BEST FRIEND...






 Dog's Purpose? 

Author unknown
Being a veterinarian, I had been called to examine a 10-year-old Irish Wolfhound named Belker. The dog's owners, Ron, his wife Lisa, and their little boy Shane, were all very attached to Belker, and they were hoping for a miracle.

I examined Belker and found he was dying of cancer. I told the family we couldn't do anything for Belker, and offered to perform the euthanasia procedure for the old dog in their home.  As we made arrangements, Ron and Lisa told me they thought it would be good for six-year-old Shane to observe the procedure. They felt as though Shane might learn something from the experience.

The next day, I felt the familiar catch in my throat as Belker’s family surrounded him. Shane seemed so calm, petting the old dog for the last time, that I wondered if he understood what was going on. Within a few minutes, Belker slipped peacefully away.  The little boy seemed to accept Belker's transition without any difficulty or confusion. We sat together for a while after Belker's Death, wondering aloud about the sad fact that animal lives are shorter than human lives.


Shane, who had been listening quietly, piped up, ''I know why.''

Startled, we all turned to him. What came out of his mouth next stunned me. I'd never heard a more comforting explanation. It has changed the way I try and live.


He said, ''People are born so that they can learn how to live a good life -- like loving everybody all the time and being nice, right?''


The six-year-old continued,''Well, dogs already know how to do that, so they don't have to stay as long.''


Live simply.


Love generously.


Care deeply.


Speak kindly.


Remember, if a dog was the teacher you would learn things like:


When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.


Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joyride.


Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure ecstasy.


Take naps.


Stretch before rising.


Run, romp, and play daily.


Thrive on attention and let people touch you.


Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.


On warm days, stop to lie on your back on the grass.


On hot days, drink lots of water and lie under a shady tree.


When you're happy, dance around and wag your entire body.


Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.


Be loyal.


Never pretend to be something you're not.


If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it.


When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by, and nuzzle them gently.

01 December, 2010

KIDS DESERVE EXPOSURE TO THIS ONE


*http://www.clubtuki.com/

NOTE FROM DICK:  I have affiliated with ClubTUKI.com because I believe wholeheartedly in the concept and its value to children as they become acquainted with  computers in their homes.  "ClubTUKI" is not only an educational Internet tool -- it is FUN too and an excellent means of parental control.  So I invite all my Wrights Lane followers who have children or grandchildren, nieces or nephews, to click on this site's *link above and discover something for kids that is really quite amazing.  

26 November, 2010

KIDNEY DISEASE IN THE MARTIN FAMILY

Wonderful story by equally wonderful daughter
I have written several stories about the Martin family, originally of rural Turnerville and nearby Dresden, none of which equal the poignancy of the following article appearing in the Fall 2010 issue of the Kidney Living Magazine, a Kidney Foundation of Canada publication.  It is a story that could be told only through the emotions and selflessness of Beth Martin, daughter of Lynn and Sandy Martin of Chatham. 

by BETH MARTIN,
 live related donor
The youngest of five boys, Uncle Art was born with kidney disease. As you can imagine, in 1942, kidney disease was not understood  and there were no treatment options for someone with a kidney disease diagnosis.  They did not have the benefits of the successful research we have today.  In fact, the kidney Disease Foundation of Canada would not be established for another 22 years.

BETH MARTIN

Dialysis certainly wasn't an option here in Ontario, so my grandparents were told to take their son home with the expectation that he would probably not live to see his 10th birthday.

LYNN MARTIN
When Uncle Art learned of his kidney disease, he refused to allow it to make a difference in his life.  He got into the same amount of trouble as his older brothers and defied it by playing hockey -- and he became an amazing goalie.

In 1962 -- still with no Kidney Foundation in sight -- Uncle Art's kidney disease took a drastic turn.  He had outlived the doctor's original prognosis and was now 20 years old.  Still keeping his health condition to himself, he collapsed on the ice during a hockey game.  Dialysis was still not readily available in Canada and the treatment consisted of draining the toxins from his kidneys -- an extremely painful procedure.  The next plan was to take him to Boston to undergo dialysis on a machine that was larger than some buildings.

Unfortunately, Uncle Art passed away the morning he was scheduled to leave for dialysis.  He had a great future ahead of him as a talented hockey player and an even more talented singer.  His future was taken away from him because of the limited knowledge of kidney disease.

Twenty years later, the words "kidney disease" were once again part of our life.  The year was 1980 and my dad, Lynn, now faced a diagnosis of kidney failure.  New awareness and research into kidney disease changed the outcome for my dad.  His specialists put him on an experimental drug to slow down the progress of his renal failure -- and it worked!  For many years, dad's disease was manageable without any drastic interventions.  Then about 10 years ago his kidneys decided they just couldn't do it anymore and he was presented with dialysis treatment options -- options that my Uncle Art did not have available to him all those years ago.

Dad was actually able to dialyze in the comfort of his own home, a procedure that allowed him to maintain his quality of life by continuing to frequent hockey arenas and golf courses.  You can imagine how grateful we are for the strides made in kidney disease research, dialysis advances and stellar nephrologists, compared to what my grandparents faced all those years ago.

In 2006, after three years on peritoneal dialysis, Dad underwent successful transplant surgery and today he continues to lead a full life.

I felt it was important to share this story as it spans decades of one family's journey alongside the journey of the Kidney Foundation.  The impact of his research in chronic kidney disease has literally saved my dad.  It is a "luxury" if you will, that my Uncle Art did not have all those years ago.

Our story paints a portrait of success, not only for our family, but for all those facing kidney disease today.  The advances in prevention and the ability to delay the onset of an end stage renal failure, the opportunities kidney patients have to choose dialysis methods that best fit their needs and lifestyle, can all be attributed to leading edge kidney research.  From our family to yours, thank you for your support to the Kidney Foundation (of Canada).  Research does make a difference!

NOTE:  In her story, Beth omits a very important factor in her father's recovery after his kidney transplant.  God bless her, she was the donor of that kidney.

"I am very proud of her for writing the story," commented Lynn in a note to me yesterday.  Beth's Uncle Art and her late grandparents, Grace and Jack Martin, would be very proud too -- and eternally thankful.




11 November, 2010

OKAY FOLKS, BELIEVE IT OR NOT, WE ATTRACTED WORLD-WIDE ATTENTION

In the two years and five months that I contributed to my "Wrights Lane...Come On In" web site it has had viewers from (at last count) 14 different countries and that completely blows me away.  The current  total number of viewers (well over 8,000) is shown in the progressive graph to the right of this page.  Countries included in the statistical breakdown provided by Google (as of November 10, 2010) and listed in order of total viewership, are: Canada, United States, Russia, Netherlands, Germany, Taiwan, South Korea, Philippines, Brazil, Australia, United Kingdom, Slovenia, China and Japan.

This is all the more surprising to me considering the fact that I  did not actively promote the site beyond a close circle of family and friends.  It just seemed to take on a life of its own, thanks to word-of-mouth and the extensive browser service provided by Google.

Equally astonishing is the fact that to date, my 19 other associated feature sites have attracted and additional 4,876 viewers, bringing total viewership for the combined sites to a remarkable 13,100 -- and counting.  Topping the feature site list is "Dresden: Father and Son Turn Back the Clock" with 3,250 viewers to date.

And I didn't think anyone was paying attention.  I am sincerely gratified!

10 November, 2010

MY NEW VIDEO: LEST WE FORGET!


A SPECIAL REMEMBRANCE DAY TRIBUTE.  (*NOTE: ADJUST SOUND DOWNWORD INITIALLY FOR OPENING CANNON BURST, THEN TURN UP FOR PERIODIC AUDIO NARRATION.)

07 November, 2010

THANKS TO CALVARY...


JUST SOME OF MY ALL-TIME FAVORITE GOSPEL MUSIC THAT KIND OF SETS THE TONE FOR PRESENT REALIGNMENT OF PRIORITIES IN MY LIFE.  I WANT NOTHING BETTER THAN TO SHARE THESE SONGS WITH MY FRIENDS AND FOLLOWERS AS A PARTING GESTURE OF SORTS.

04 October, 2010

SOME LAST WORDS ON DISCRIMINATION ISSUE OF THE PAST...AND PRESENT

Here I go again.  One last "housekeeping" effort in my racial discrimination tangent of the past two weeks.

I have been advocating an apology or statement of reconciliation as a symbolic gesture to finally address incidents of racial discrimination in my home town of Dresden in the first half of the last century.  My efforts culminated with a Letter to the Editor published in the Chatham Daily News (see below) this past weekend that has been greeted with typical mixed reaction.

It is my contention that, as with so many other cases of man's inhumanity towards man (i.e. treatment of Japanese Canadians during World War 11 and abuse of First Canadian children in residential schools) apologies by government bodies offer distinct mechanisms for addressing past wrong-doing in our country and facilitating ultimate humane and harmonious relations.

Generally, society today pays lip service to being colourblind and it is an honourable trend.  In theory, the motivation to be colourblind is very noble — treating people equally without regard to their skin color, race/ethnicity, or national origin. The problem is that this individual-level motivation is not reinforced at the institutional level, where people of color are still disproportionately underrepresented in positions of power (entertainment and sports the exception) and in fact, still encounter many forms of discrimination and inequality.  All of which tends to add fuel to the simmering hurts of years past -- hurts that carry over from generation to generation.

All I am suggesting is a proven official method of levelling the playing field just a bit more and dispensing, hopefully, with many of the inherited hurts.  But as you will see in responses to my newspaper letter, not everyone shares my conviction.  It is suggested that it is easy to apologize, but more meaningful to put words into benevolent action.  There is a popular belief that time will heal the wounds of racial discrimination of the past while there are those who put faith in the ability of society to learn from past wrong-doings and to "extrapolate" that to the world.  All very simple answers to what continues to be one of the most complex problems in society today.

Maybe there is a way of packaging all of the well-intended theories into an effective course of action that will be acceptable to all segments of society.  If such a magical concept is possible, it will take a super human commitment and energy to implement, far beyond my limited creativity and intellect to comprehend.

I hate to think that this is a challenge beyond any singular human being, or group of humans; but I am leaning in that direction and I admit to a degree of disillusionment.  We're talking about something very deep-rooted here and a subliminal resistance that is virtually unreachable.  In lieu of something better, all any of us can do is to follow our hearts and to let our consciences be our guide...But isn't that what we've been doing all along?...See what I mean!

I have decided to publish (names deleted) responses to the issue that I have received this past weekend.  If studied carefully, I think you will get a feeling for the differing views that exist and how complex and contradictory the matter really is.  In all cases I have offered a reply.  The fact that I have yet to hear from any Black friends may also tell you something.

 *Dick: I was not very familiar with the actual things going on in the 50's. Until I came to Lambton-Kent in the 60's, I wasn't really attuned to what went on in Dresden. As has been said many times, Dresden is a quiet town and everyone is concerned for the welfare of their neighbours but they do not have to shout it out to the rest of the world. Even though a formal apology has maybe never been uttered there have been many apologies expressed in the hugs when they were needed, the words of encouragement when things weren't going right, help with food or babysitting when there was a need. The plaque that was erected this year to honour the National Civil Rights Movement and Hugh Burnett came about with support of the families of the key players of that era. It is very easy to say "I'm sorry" but the actions of many in this community have expressed it more effectively and meaningfully than just the words. For these reasons this is why I feel you are getting little feedback.


My reply: You are right about actions speaking louder than words. Certainly you have demonstrated that time and time again in your personal life and you are to be commended for that. As a family in the 1940s, the Wrights did not have much, but we helped feed and clothe one large, needy Black family in particular and my barber dad cut Black kids' hair in the back kitchen of our home when it was not acceptable to do so in the downtown shop (Fords) where he worked. I speak now for those who were not, and have not been for various reasons, in a position to deliver the hugs and encouragement of which you speak. Maybe I'm being selfish in expressing myself publicly in this way, but it is sincere and I feel better for having done it. Lack of response does not really worry me...My hope is that there are a few individuals out there who will accept my gesture as it was intended.


*No apologies required by anyone. Most of those involved at that time have passed on. There is no doubt it was a difficult time in the old hometown back then, but I believe time has healed most wounds.


My reply: Because I am an idealist I would like to think that time does heal most wounds. The key word here is MOST. It's the lingering, simmering wounds that cut the deepest and pass from generation to generations that I worry about.


*A large part of Dresden was not even born in 1954 and aren't responsible for actions of the 30s, 40s or 50's when popular culture and laws were different. They've been fortunate to enter a period in history when blacks are able to excel in entertainment, sports, business and politics like never before. Man's ignorant inhumanity to man will continue, just change face, so the best lesson is to extrapolate what we learned from the sorry episodes you describe, to the world now and monitor ourselves accordingly.


My reply: Your unsigned message sounds strangely similar to the previous comment (re. present generation not being responsible...). The point I try to make is that, as members of a community, country or group, each succeeding generation is implicated by association and thereby "responsible" for what transpires, past and present. If mistakes are made, it behooves all of us to assume the task of reconciliation and recompense, all in the name of responsible citizenship. We should leave no stone unturned in our efforts to diminish man's ignorant inhumanity to man.


*Thanks for the hook-up to your article on Racial Discrimination. I read it and found it interesting, especially in this present-day atmosphere. I watched the little film you had embedded on your site and while watching it, I recognized my mother and her sister coming out of the post office. What a surprise. So I sat her down and we watched it again together. She recognized a few people, and she was very surprised to see herself. She doesn't even remember them making the film. Thanks for all the research you do and for all your blogs and stories. They really help piece together the times and memories of a home town that is the heart of your family.


My reply: Much appreciated ---. I know for a fact that your grandfather and uncles were very much synonymous with "heart" in Dresden for many years. Say hi to your dear mom.


*Dresden would not be Dresden if it was not interracial because when the slaves went there it only got bigger. People may disagree with me but I have never been a racist and never will.


My reply: Good for you young man. At least I have made you think about how you relate to other races of people. I fail to grasp your initial point, however.

*My mother-in-law's childhood friend is Trish, Hugh Burnett's daughter. Myself, my husband, my three step children, and my mother-in-law and her friends all went to the ceremony for the plaque unveiling this summer. It was a nice ceremony and I was blessed to meet some very interesting people and share in some good food. There was music, speakers and native costumes. My husband and I went there to support Trish but also to expose the kids to the past and let them get a taste for what happened so long ago. I hope they learned something. I'm glad that I went. My father was born in Dresden but didn't grow up there, yet I still feel a strong tie due to a lot of my ancestors being buried there. They obviously dealt with these issues as well. I have no idea if they took part in any of this but I definitely feel bad if they did. I think it's terrible to be judged for the colour of your skin. It's truly what's on the inside that counts.

My reply: You are truly someone who cares. I am sure your support and friendship was most appreciated by the Burnett family and others. Your children, too, will be the better for having had the exposure.

*Thanks for the courage of your convictions Dick. You've got guts to find the words to express what has been on my mind since we were classmates but have been unable to adequately express. With your experience, I am sure your are prepared for some backlash because there will be those who fail to understand your point, I'm sorry to say. Your position is valid. Do not be deterred.


My reply: I hoped I would hear from you ---. We had talked before about how we could deal with this issue long after the fact. I know of your sincerity and interest in the welfare of your fellow man. I am glad that you approve of my public expressions but doesn't it all seems so very insignificant now? At least we tried. I'm sleeping a little better at nights...How about you?


A CONCLUDING NOTE:  I do not want to beat this subject to death and for now will not be publishing any further comments or reaction. I will be taking a blogging break for a while, but owe one last apology -- this time to my wife for my being so neglectful and distracted these past few weeks as I immersed myself in a period of history that I was unable to influence 60-65 years ago and am still not able to influence today.
 
I now have a somewhat better feeling of what it is like to be in a minority -- to be insignificant and inconsequential.
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My published letter has also drawn some reaction from detractors on the web site of the Chatham Daily News and I am left a bit disappointed that somehow I have failed to make my point understandable. I get the distinct impression that there are those who  would deny me, and be critical of, my right to express myself on an issue of such historical importance. Is there something wrong in planting a conciliatory seed and to offer a challenge? I would never think to dismiss someone else's personal, heartfelt expression because it does not necessarily apply to me as I perceive life today. I respect and validate opposing views and have always tried to look at both sides of an issue and seriously consider circumstances as they have unfolded with due compassion and understanding. I am disillusioned by many of the views expressed in this awkward debate where personal idealism, generalities and irrelevancies have prevailed. I honestly felt that, as Canadians, we were capable of owning our past, acting on that past and moving beyond the past. Sorry to say that the more things change, the more they have remained the same. Buying in to the philosophy of several who would have nothing to do with ownership of the past because of where we stand today, I might well say to Black friends, "We (Whites) have created a more accepting world where you can and do excel. Of course it has taken years of struggling on your part, litigation, legislation and overcoming untold obstacles and belittlement, to get to where you are today. But aren't we wonderful for extrapolating experience and allowing you to gain a semblance of your rightful equality in the world. We've never told you openly, but as God is our witness, we apologize in our hearts every day for the injustices that you and your forefathers have endured over the years. And in case you haven't noticed, we have been acting differently too. We have never actually asked you, but we are sure(?) that you and those who have gone before, have put aside more than a century of deep hurts and resentments and that you are now as proud of yourself as we are of ourselves." I speak, of course, with forked-tongue. But heaven help us, generally we could never reveal ourselves in that way. We are too aloof and superior, too caught up in self-righteousness. We think that our actions, real or imagined, speak louder than words and that's where we get into trouble. None are so blind as those who cannot see...and are unable to speak with the courage of convictions.

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ANOTHER NOTE FROM A FRIEND
HI DICK: For what it is worth, be assured you have a vote of thanks from me for all your efforts. I think you have done a great job of making a difference. Thank you for giving us in Dresden your thought-provoking insights the last few years. I have enjoyed them a great deal.

Well done, Jarv C.

02 October, 2010

RACIAL DISCRIMINATION: MY LETTER EXPLAINS CALL FOR AN APOLOGY

Count me among the majority who at one time felt it absolutely unnecessary to apologize for the many
transgressions of past generations, particularly when it came to matters of physical abuse at the hands of those in authority, denial of rights and blatant racial discrimination.


I justified my almost hollier-than-thou attitude with the fact that I never physically abused anyone, actively denied anyone of their rights or knowingly discriminated against anyone.  Heck, there have even been times when I went out of my way to be humane in the treatment of others and demonstrably charitable when the occasion called for it.

If a particular situation was bad enough, let those responsible apologize for it if need be, but leave me out of it!  I'm alright, Charlie!

But, you know what?  I was not raised that way.  While it is very easy to distance myself from the wrongs of the society in which I live, I confess to the constant necessity to remind myself of the Christian themes of mercy and forgiveness and the very real need for genuine compassion toward others.

We are not disconnected from history or the rest of the world.  There is no escaping the fact that we are part of a world-wide community and as such we must accept full responsibility for what that membership entails -- both good and bad. 

There is no out of sight out of mind excuse than can work for mistakes and injustices of the past. The connection to wrongdoing is there and if we have compassion at all for those who have been adversely affected, we will take responsibility to apologize if not make amends.

I, and so many of my school chums, were innocently privy to something that would later in life be labelled as racial discrimination in my hometown of Dresden in the 1940s and '50s.  As a White kid, discrimination was never an issue in the classroom, the Boy Scout hall, the ball diamond or skating rink.  I cannot speak for my Black friends, however, because it was a different story for them and members of their families who were being denied certain civil rights which have been well documented in recent Wrights Lane posts and extensive news reports of the period.

It was not until well into my teens that I began to realize the full impact that racial discrimination was having on my Black friends.  It has taken me almost 60 years to finally act on my conscience, to say to the Black citizens of Dresden, past and present (the Burnetts, Hansons, Handsors, Carters, Wallaces, Lambkins, Cooks, Brownings, Ropers, McCorkles, Crosbys, Solomans, Grineages, Rykmans, Talbots, Scotts, Browns, Tanners, Melbournes, Travises, Dudleys, et al: "Once again, on behalf of my forefathers and respective generations, I am truly sorry!"

There are those who insist that an apology is not necessary and are critical of me for bringing this all to light yet again.  There is a prevailing misconception that apologies imply some personal culpability that is to be avoided.  One critic suggests that half the current town of Dresden today were not yet born in the 1940s and '50s, but hopefully this does not mean that we ignore, or write off, the other half of the population that lived in and through the era in question.

It is true that people of colour today live in a world of equal (almost?) opportunity and have risen to great heights in the fields of medicine, politics, religion, entertainment and sports, but the White segment of the population cannot claim any credit for the transition...Blacks have fought for every bit of what they have achieved.  To their credit, they did it in spite of us and injustices of the past.  They have truly overcome.

I took all of the foregoing into consideration when submitting the following letter to the Chatham Daily News this week (published Friday, Oct. 1st.).  I owed it to the Black folk of my generation, if none other...And to my White brethren as well. 

May we be forgiven, for we knew not what we did.  Could it be that some of us still don't?
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September 26, 2010

The Chatham News,
Letter to The Editor

Re: Thoughts on racial discrimination from first-hand experience

Dear Sir:

I noted with interest last month several historical flashback features casting the spotlight on the racial discrimination issue that existed in the Town of Dresden at one time. The articles by local historians were obviously in conjunction with the unveiling of an Ontario Heritage Trust plaque at Uncle Tom's Cabin commemorating the efforts of civil rights activist Hugh R. Burnett and the National Unity Association, some 60-65 years after the fact.

When it comes to history-related topics I have found that people tend to develop their own interpretations based on a degree of personal comfort. Current beliefs, social trends and racial background cannot help but play an influential role in how we perceive a past event or period in history. The passage of time does soften harsh reality in many cases. Then too, human nature often dictates suppression, or turning a blind eye to certain historical facts that tend to complicate or compromise beliefs and remembrances. Certainly there is a prevailing apathy and disinterest that accompanies the various traditional views of history.

I recently uncovered an old National Film Board of Canada production which sought answers to the long-standing colour-bar racial discrimination issue in my aforementioned hometown of Dresden in 1954. The 30-minute film graphically illustrated the prevailing concerns and attitudes of the period, some of which were quite disturbing by today's societal standards. As an active "blogger", I reviewed the film and asked readers of my computer web sites if they thought an official apology of some kind was due our Black friends and neighbours of that period. To date I have had disappointing, but not too surprising, minimal response from Dresden readers in particular.

It goes without saying that the racial discrimination issue was and is a sensitive subject in this small, tightly-knit community. A generation has passed, as has the colour-bar issue (thanks to legislation and litigation of the 1950s). Life has carried on, a little more freely and humanely for some; others never fully understanding what all the fuss was about in the first place. The matter is, as they say, history.

My worry is that a serious racial wrong has never been properly and publicly acknowledged by the town and that Black people of that troubled period deserve an official apology for the rights that were denied them and members of their families, many of whom have long since passed away. To me it is a classic case of man's ignorant inhumanity to man. I do not condemn nor condone the eight or nine Dresden business owners who denied service to Black people in the first half of the last century; they were otherwise good citizens who simply held fast to what they believed were "rights" of their own, as prejudicial as they may have been.

As one who was born and raised in Dresden back in the 1930s, 40s and 50s, I share the real shame with those who chose to ignore racial discrimination in their midst, who did not open their church doors and hearts, who would boycott certain businesses and issue life-altering death threats.

What I humbly suggest now to all Dresdenites and other residents of the Kent Country area, is to take a moment to put themselves in the shoes of their Black neighbours and to ask how they would react under similar circumstances if roles were reversed and what it would mean to them and the memory of late loved ones, if their community collectively said "we are sorry!" There is no better way to understand a situation than to assume the yoke of another.

Any apology which is sincere and real always makes things better, heals wounds and resentment, and strengthens and lengthens relationships. I have felt "sorry" for first-hand deep hurt and embarrassment of a teenager ever since my friend was refused a butterscotch milkshake in a Dresden restaurant one hot summer evening 56 years ago and I've never known how to convey those feelings. The typical mistaken assumption in racial relations is that if you are silent long enough, and ignore an issue long enough, the matter will eventually go away. Make no mistake about it, however, there are many "matters" lingering slightly under the surface in today's society and will continue to simmer there for generations to come.

To my friend now, and all others whose rights were similarly denied and thusly relegated to second-class citizen status because of the colour of their skin, I for one sincerely apologize. I want to help make centuries of hurt and resentment go away, if ever so minimally.

How about the rest of Dresden? How about the municipal Council of Chatham-Kent acting on behalf of all citizens of the community in issuing a long overdue and much deserved apology?

Better late than never to heal old wounds and injustices. Wouldn't we all, with our varying degrees of skin tone, feel much better for having been included in a precedent-setting act of conciliation for all the world to witness? I think our forefathers would be the first to thank us and we could all rest just a little easier.

Respectfully,
Dick Wright

28 September, 2010

EAT WITH LOVE AND AVOID INDIGESTION

I hadn't paid a visit to my alter ego, Old Humphrey, in quite some time.  Oddly enough, it was a bout of indigestion the other day that prompted me to seek him out.


"Hey Humph", I shouted, nudging my old friend out of a deep slumber.  "I've got this indigestion and nothing seems to be helping to relieve it.  Not even the old reliable baking soda remedy you gave me a while back.  Must have been something I ate, but I don't know...Any suggestions?"


"Ah huh!" came the old timer's reply.  "You've obviously forgotten what I once told you  -- look less to the food you eat, and more to the temper and frame of mind in which you eat it." 


"Well, you may be right as usual," I allowed.  "Was in a bit of a hurry when I tied on the feed bag at supper time.  Had a lot of things to do outside before dark and my wife was agitating about a couple of inside chores that I'd been neglecting as well...It all got me kind of stressed."


As Humphrey shifted his weight and leaned forward on his front porch swing, I knew there would be more sage advice forthcoming and I was not to be denied.  "So long as you are in a hurry, pressured, or in a bad mood, you may dine in vain on the finest roast of beef, the thighs of woodcocks and the breasts of partridges.  Nothing will suit your indigestion; the tender will become tough and the light will lie heavy on your stomach.  Understand what I'm saying?"


I understood and waited for the best yet to come.


"Let love, joy, peace and goodness abound in your heart as you are eating and take my word for it young fella, you will ere long be able to eat toasted cheese and barm dumplings with impunity."


"Thanks for that, Humphrey.  I was with you right up to the toasted cheese and barm dumplings.  Do you have a recipe for that too?" I added.
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As it turns out, I think I will be passing on Humphrey's toasted cheese and barm dumplings suggestion.  I have a feeling that this traditional British culinary delight would not agree with me no matter how relaxed and loving I might be.

Toasted cheese (one of Queen Victoria's favourites, incidentally) generally consists of grated cheese mixed with beer or ale and served on toast that has been buttered on both sides.

Barm is the foam, or scum, formed on the top of liquor (i.e. fermented alcoholic beverages such as beer or wine, or feedstock for hard liquor or industrial ethanol distillation) when fermenting. It was used to leaven bread, or set up fermentation in a new batch of liquor. Barm, as a leaven, has also been made from ground millet combined with must out of wine-tubs and is sometimes used in English baking, i.e. Humphrey's dumplings.

I'll simply take my old friend's word for it.