I Love You, Man!

love Yesterday at Costco, a place I visit far too often, the cashier handed me the receipt and said “Love Ya..“.

My wife had to take a step back.  Did she just say what I thought she said?

I know I’m not everyone’s ‘cup of tea’, but hey – beauty lies in the eye of the beholder, right?  Maybe I have that endearing look that made her blurt out that precious and coveted word, ‘Love’.  Maybe she was just from Newfoundland, where everyone calls everyone ‘Love‘.

I suppose in the big picture, I shouldn’t be surprised.  Aren’t we taught to ‘Love our fellow man’, ‘Love thy neighbour as thyself’, and ‘Give love freely’?  Okay, maybe that last one could get you in a bit of trouble. But what is it about this simple little word that scares the bajeebers out of young men, and makes young women swoon?  I guess it’s pretty much the same for not-so-young men and women, too. The three word combination, ‘I Love You’ has to be one of the most powerful phrases in the English language.

Growing up in a house of boys, you can imagine that the ‘L’ word wasn’t thrown around very much, other than in the context of general comments like; ‘I love spaghetti night‘, or ‘I’d love it if this house could stay clean for 5 minutes‘.

Love was shown, it’s its unique testosterone-soaked way, just not spoken a lot. We do say it to each other now and again when we talk on the phone, but I suspect that we all find it a bit strange – like when you go to do a hand shake, and the other one tries a fist bump, and you end up grabbing his fist awkwardly.

“I Love You” can be expected and natural at times, like a mother might say to their child in a tender moment, or in a romantic comedy movie, where the ‘best friend’ of the opposite sex says it as he crashes an impending wedding….what a jerk! BECKY He couldn’t declare his love before she booked the caterer and sent out the invitations?

Couples say it to each other – sometimes even during a fight that gets out of hand.  It can be a peace offering of sorts, or used as a form of preface before you say something negative; “I love you, but you make me crazy the way you squeeze the toothpaste”.

I’ve even heard people say it to total strangers, much like my admirer from Costco.  At a restaurant, the waitress brings you a big glass of water just as you start to choke on a dried out piece of chicken; “I Love You” seems totally acceptable in that situation, because we all see it as a ‘thank you’ when their timing is perfect.

I guess the most awkward ‘Love You’ is between guy friends who aren’t romantically connected to each other.  Typically, we like to qualify it with ‘Man’ at the end, so as to not imply any weird secret affection. “I Love You, Man!” – usually followed by a guy hug – pull him in really hard, bear-hug style, and pat him on the back.

Of course, you better reply in kind, right? You can’t just leave that hanging out there without an appropriate response.  That’s even more awkward than the failed hand shake. Proper responses may go as follows, in descending order of acceptability:

  • “I love you, too”
  • “I love you too, man!”
  • “Me too”
  • “Same…”
  • “Word!”
  • “Uh, yeah”
  • “Oh…um, yeah”
  • “Well, good seeing you…”

…and you have like a nano-second to come up with your reply.  Dead air is deadly.  The length of hesitation directly corresponds to the unwillingness to respond properly.  That’s not a ‘guy to guy’ rule either….in fact, with a spouse or other romantically connected person, you better be like Quick-draw McGraw with the ‘I love you, too’, or else!

I think that too often though, the ‘Love’ word is thrown around a little too liberally. I mean, it should be meaningful, right?  It should be a sought-after expression.  So, when people say “I LOVE this show”, it diminishes the word ‘Love’ a bit doesn’t it? Shouldn’t we look at ‘Love’ like we approach the old supply and demand rule?  The less you hear it, the more important and valued it is?  Maybe we should reserve using it for only those things that truly move us spiritually and emotionally.

No more “I (heart) NY”.  That in itself is demonstration enough to argue the point, isn’t it? Have we become so casual with the word ‘Love’ that we can’t even be bothered to say it? Now we just make this weird shape with our hands…swift Should I really believe that when the adorable Taylor Swift looks at the camera and makes that contorted hand gesture, that she loves ‘me‘?  We haven’t even met!  Maybe she secretly follows my blog….hey, you never know! See what I mean?

It’s such a beautiful word, but it’s been cheapened somehow. But then again, maybe we need to say it as a way to fight off all that negativity in the world. God knows, we could stand to love each other a bit more. Am I being cynical about reserving the word ‘Love’ for only the most important moments in life?  Should I seize every moment to tell all of God’s children that as brothers and sisters, I love them?

Maybe Taylor Swift really does love everyone – who am I to judge her?  She’s happy, rich, and has thousands of fans – what’s not be loving about?

I think maybe I should stop being embarrassed in sharing my true feelings for my friends and family.  Maybe I should tell them all that I love them.

I’m gonna start by heading back to Costco first thing tomorrow!

The Red Suit Conspiracy – believing in Santa


As a kid, I was pretty gullible.  I tended to think that what anyone told me was the truth, otherwise, why would they say it?

I also spent a lot of time getting sucked in to things.  Maybe that’s why I hate gambling so much.  Not that I have a moral stance on it, but just because I’m lousy at it.

When you’re really little, like pre-school or Kindergarten aged, Santa is like God to you.  What an incredible being, who rides around at night in a sleigh being pulled by flying reindeer, leaving presents under the tree for every kid in the world. It’s no wonder kids run screaming from him at the mall.  He’s super human!

Of course, toddlers don’t think in practical terms.  We are told about Santa, we see the gifts, so therefore, Santa is real.  Simple.

As you get a bit older, you start to see some cracks in the Santa story, though.  Mostly, it’s from older kids laughing or beating up some poor sucker who blathered that they still believe.  Who wants that kind of Christmas gift?

I remember when I lost my ‘Christmas Virginity’.  It took a while, much like my rea…..never mind.  Anyway, it started out with little things like opening the gifts with Santa’s signature on them, then going to our cousins house to see similar Santa gifts with different hand writing on the presents.  That sure seemed odd.

Then there would be Christmas Eve when we were tucked not so neatly into our beds, and I’d hear what sounded like Mom and Dad stumbling down the stairs with something big.

I spent some serious time contemplating this dilemma.  I mean, on one hand, for every Christmas up to now, the manifestation of the great and powerful Santa was clearly evident.  Shopping malls had him on display, Christmas specials confirmed his existence, and our parents and older family members assured us that he was very real.  Then, as sure as the sun would come up, presents were littered around the tree.

Being the gullible kid I was, and knowing I was gullible, meant that I had to take serious stock of things.  I didn’t want to be that kid getting beat up in the school yard for believing – especially if it wasn’t true.

So, I weighed the evidence before me.  The gifts showed up as promised every year, with no trace of them in the house before I went to bed, and all the television, radio, and adult conversation said he was real.  It’s what I was raised to believe.

On the other hand, the idea that one man could circumnavigate the entire globe in one night flying around with magic reindeer, stopping at virtually every house on the planet, and little elves making cool toys like etch-a-sketch and rock-em-sock-em robots didn’t seem very likely.

So, it came down to one key factor.  Was the Santa story a magical truth or an elaborate hoax?  When faced with this at the age of 8 or 9, I decided that the only logical explanation was that he must exist, simply because I concluded that there was no way an entire adult world could support such an elaborate ruse for that long.  Not a chance!

I was happily resolved with my results until one day when I was playing at a friends house, and he said to me, “I don’t believe in Santa.  Do you?“.  Gulp!  The acid test.  Could I stand behind my conviction?

No!  Of course not.  I blurted out, unconvincingly, “No, I don’t either.

Just then, my friend’s mother walked in and scolded us for telling the secret when his little sister was just in the other room.

Wait a minute.  I was lying when I said that I didn’t believe.  Now, this lady unwittingly confirmed my worst fear.  Santa didn’t exist after all.

I was quietly heart-broken.  All those dumb adults really could keep the secret.  So much for logical deduction!

Through adolescence and early adulthood, I was wise and smug about Santa.  I would mentally criticize parents who tried to convince their kids that the jolly old elf was working hard up at the North Pole, so they’d better be nice…..or else!

That is, until I had kids of my own.

When you have children, your cynicism about things starts to soften.  You start to immerse yourself into their wonderful little fantasy worlds.  And along with that, you begin to rethink your stance on the whole Santa conspiracy.

I took a logical approach to Santa, just like I did when I was 8. Putting aside for a moment, just who Santa is, lets look at things:

  • He still comes late at night, delivering gifts to children – CHECK
  • He works all year in his ‘workshop’ so the kids will have gifts under the tree by Christmas – CHECK
  • He brings joy and amazement to little children on Christmas morning – CHECK

I think that if you put a few details aside, like the little reindeer, and the North Pole, Santa is every bit as real as us.  I think we, in our smug, all-knowing youth, had it completely wrong.  The little kids were right after all.

Santa does exist.  There is no conspiracy after all.

Great, old St. Nickolaus, the Bishop of Myra in Turkey who is said to have given gifts to children at the time, was only the first in a very long line.

Now, those honoured enough, and who have a hint of that childhood belief, work all year long in their own ‘workshops’ (office), along side the ‘elves’ (co-workers), and deliver gifts on that magical night to their little children.

What an awesome job to have.  Being Santa Claus. If all those parents slogging away all year, then standing in line at the mall don’t believe in Santa, they are as lost to the magic as any child who stops believing at an early age.

Let me stress that Christmas is NOT about giving and getting presents, or going into debt while burning through your credit limit at the mall.  Christmas is a time to celebrate the birth of Jesus.  In that spirit, however, bringing joy to children seems like a pretty nice way to celebrate God’s love for us.

Don’t give up on Santa.  He’s real, and he’s in each of us.  The sleigh and red suit may be gone, but what he did, and what he represents is as real as ever.

Merry Christmas!

When I grow up…

There’s a commercial on TV right now, with a little boy dressed up as a pirate.  He runs around the house, chasing a turtle with his sword or doing ‘pirate things’.  He ends up in a grocery store with his mother, and sees an old man with an eye patch.  As he prepares to do battle with the unsuspecting old guy, his mother quickly rushes him out of the store.

It’s very cute.  We all love watching kids play out these fantasies in their everyday lives – little girls riding their tricycles around my neighbourhood dressed up like fairy princesses, while dad patiently walks behind them holding their wand, is adorable.

When we’re little, we dream of what we’d like to be when we grow up, and it’s usually something none of us will ever aspire to; astronaut, movie star, super hero.

You sometimes hear about famous athletes or celebrities announce during a speech or after winning a trophy of some sort, how it’s been a dream of theirs since they were a little kid.

I can kind of get that when it comes to athletes, but for actors?  Did they really lay on the grass in their backyards as little kids, daydreaming of sitting in makeup at 4am for 3 hours only to find out that the catering truck didn’t show up, so they had to wrap for the day, or taking wild swings at the paparazzi that swarm them like mosquitoes?

Something happens to us as we get older.  Belief in things like the Tooth Fairy or the Easter Bunny disappear, and along with them, other fantasies that sit in our memories.

We learn that Superman isn’t real, and the closest thing we have to real heroes now are random strangers who happen upon an accident, running into the dangerous situation that we run away from.  No capes or tights, which is probably a good thing, but nothing obvious to tell them apart from the rest of us.

I don’t remember what I wanted to be when I grew up.  We did a lot of outdoor stuff, and had an affinity to climb things.  I recall that we had a ‘Spider Man Club’ where we’d challenge each other to complete difficult obstacle courses on playground equipment.  I don’t know that I ever thought I wanted to be Spider Man when I grew up, though.  In fact, I don’t think I know very many people who have had a life-long dream, then went out and achieved it.

There is one old friend who, after suffering a back injury as a young teenager, decided he wanted to become a chiropractor after his first treatment where the conventional medical institutions could not relieve his pain.

He committed to it back then, and the last time I saw him, a few years ago, he was running one of the most successful sports injury clinics around.  Now that is following your dream!

Being in the hunt for work, I often get asked what it is I want to do, now that I’m free to chase my dreams.  In fact, it was one of the first questions I was asked by the guy charged with getting me back to work.  I stumbled over my answer.  I’m not even sure that I gave him an answer.

Mostly, I’m only able to give a list of the things I know I DON’T want to do any more;  drive in rush-hour traffic, sit in meetings all day, that kind of stuff.  If I was completely honest with myself, I’d say that for the rest of my life, my work would look like this:

Sleep in, pour a coffee, get my daughter off to school, read the paper, walk the dog, chat with the neighbours, cut the grass, go golfing, fix something around the house, do a bit of shopping, then prepare a fabulous meal for my family – Something barbequed.

Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to come up with a way to get paid to do those things.

See, here’s the problem with starting over so late in your career.  All those childhood dreams are long gone; dried up in the dusty old recesses of your mind, if they were ever there in the first place.

Even if you wanted to be idealistic about the rest of your working life, you will be tasked with verbalizing your grand plan.  Astronaut or super hero are not likely in the cards any more, and you’d more likely be sitting on a chair in a psychiatrists office than working with NASA on the next space mission if you ever brought those dreams up.

Six year old dreamers are cute.  Fifty year old dreamers are on drugs…or should be…or are Richard Branson.

I don’t know if, over years of being beaten down or having dreams dashed, that you kind of throw in the towel, or if it’s something more basic than that.  Maybe you just realize that at a point in your life, you see the kind of stress your boss is under, and know you don’t want that, and the things that are important to you have changed.  Good family, good neighbours, good friends, good health.

I know that sounds really boring, and maybe it is.  But I also think you can still be a bit of that dreamer kid you once were, just on a more practical level.  Helping someone pick up dropped groceries in the parking lot, or cutting a neighbours grass when their lawn mower is kaput.

It’s never too late to be that guy or gal you dreamed of being when you were a kid, but it may look different, and be a bit less glamorous. In the end, though, we’re really here to help each other through life.  If that’s our only accomplishment, we’ve done quite well.

It may not be leaping tall buildings or swinging through sky-scrapers on a web, saving that damsel in distress, but it’s a lot safer, and you don’t have to wear tights.  Unless you want to.

They call me Mister

From the time we’re old enough to respond to our names, we’re able to pick up on the subtle differences between being called and being in trouble.

When your mother calls you by your full name, you know you’re in big trouble.  That kind of formality is reserved for serious infractions.

We never had trouble distinguishing things with our Dad.  He only called us by name if we were in trouble.  Otherwise, we got called ‘My Boy’ which was usually accompanied by a noogy.

There were 4 boys in our family, and he would just run down the list from oldest to youngest until we responded – and we had better respond, or else!  The more mad he was, the more convoluted the list sounded.  It’s no surprise that now with his condition, not remembering our names doesn’t come as any great shock.  For half our lives, he called us by the wrong name.

Out in the big scary world, there are names given to you that can be considered either respectful or condescending, depending on the circumstance.  Case in point;  Being called ‘Sir’ can be a show of respect from a youth, although it still stings a bit, since it means that you’re old. “Will you be getting the senior’s discount today, Sir?“.  Ouch!

On the other hand, being called ‘Sir’ by a police officer has a whole different meaning.  It’s on par with your mother calling you by your proper name.

When I’m introduced to people, especially someone of a generation ahead of my own, I tend to call them ‘Sir’ or ‘Ma’am’ until they offer back a more relaxed option.  “Call me Harold.  ‘Sir’ was My father’s name”.

At home now, we generally refer to each other with pet names; honey, sweetheart, and so forth.  I know I’m in trouble or something has gone wrong when my lovely bride calls to me by saying ‘Troy’.  We call our kids ‘Boy’ or ‘Girl’, and refer to them as such with our friends.  I don’t know how that came about, but it stuck.

In my neighbourhood, there’s lots of kids.  Since we live smack-dab in the center of our street, our activities are almost always visible to curious little eyes.  This is also why we have good curtains.

The children next door to us call us ‘Mister Troy’ and ‘Missus Darlene’.  I guess our Polish last name was just too much for their little tongues to navigate.  I think it’s cute – as soon as we come outside or pull into our driveway, they compete to see who can say ‘Hi’ first.

Hi, Mister. Troy.  We’re going to the zoo today” the little boy would rush over and announce.

Somehow, even without introductions, our names are now known all around the neighbourhood, which is kind of cool.  But not today.

While I was picking up the mail, a kid who couldn’t have been more than 10 and doesn’t even live on our street was walking home from school, and as he passed, he said ‘Hi, Troy‘, with a casual wave of the hand.  No ‘Mister’ Troy, or Sir.  Heck, even ‘Mr. T’ would be better.

It came out of him with a familiarity like he was someone I had a beer with while fixing the lawn mower.  This was a little too cozy for my liking, especially from someone his age.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not one of those formal people who insists that people refer to them as Mr.  I’ve met people like that. “Hello, I am Mr. Stephens“.  Yikes!

It’s just that there’s something about respecting your elders that got lost on this kid.  You should follow a more formal introduction until offered otherwise.  Is that being stodgy or frumpy?

I know it’s not the kids fault.  He wanders the neighbourhood a lot, with little if any adult supervision, so it’s not like he’s getting a good mentoring.

Maybe ‘Mister Troy’ should take him under his wing and teach him about respecting his elders, and on properly addressing people he doesn’t know.  Who knows, maybe one day, he will be sharing a beer with me while fixing the lawn mower.  Then he can call me ‘Troy’.  But for now, he can call me MISTER!

Life Lessons from Street Hockey

street hockey
If you grew up in Canada in the ’60’s or ’70’s, it’s likely you spent a lot of time outside.  Those were the days when the big rules at home had to do with being within ‘ear-shot’, meaning your mother could yell your name from the front door and you could hear her…naturally, if you were playing hide and seek, you couldn’t give up your location, so you had to weigh the odds between being caught or being in trouble with Mom.

The other rule that got better as the summer months progressed, was the ‘street-light’ rule, which meant you could stay out until the street lights came on, then you’d better be heading home or else!  That one was a total rip off in the winter.  In Canada, the sun goes down around 4:30 in the cold months, so outdoor playtime was precious indeed.  Most of the time, though, it wasn’t all that bad on account that it was Canada and it was winter.

When we could, we would stay outside all day if possible.  Going in the house usually meant being ‘caught’ by Mom, and having to clean your room, or God forbid, vacuum the living room. Nothing was worse than that.

Because of this, we got pretty good at surviving outdoors for long periods of time.  Fluids came from a garden hose behind someones house – no bottled water for us, and nourishment was found in fruit trees growing around the neighbourhood – the trick was not getting caught.   Outdoor plumbing was never an issue…I’ll leave it at that.  Even injuries were managed outside, as long as they weren’t too serious.  There was one time playing street hockey, a kid got the butt of a stick in his mouth, which knocked out most of his teeth.  Because he was wearing a brand new set of braces though, they just kind of hung there on the metal tracks.  Needless to say, his father, who just finished paying for them, was not at all happy with us.

We loved playing street hockey.  It was a great way to live out the skills of your favourite NHL player.  Mine was Bobby Orr – the great number 4 from the Boston Bruins.  Most of the kids didn’t choose Lanny McDonald, not because he wasn’t a great hockey hero, but because none of us could grow thick mustaches.01f74-lanny

Mom liked us being outside because we burned off a ton of energy and we couldn’t break anything.

There were a lot of kids on our street, so getting a game going was pretty easy.  We didn’t have much in the way of fancy equipment like nets, or pads or anything.  We often used rocks as goal posts, and marked center ice with our hats or something else that we probably should have been wearing.  The puck was a tennis ball.  Tennis balls were as precious as gold back then.  Having one was like holding the conch in Lord Of The Flies…but of course, no one got killed.

We didn’t have blue lines on the road, so kids could stand pretty much anywhere on the ‘rink’.  There wasn’t an off-side rule but we did have the ‘Cherry Picker’ rule, which wasn’t so much of a rule as it was an insult.  A Cherry Picker was someone who would wait near the opposing goal area, hoping that the ball would make it down to them, and they’d have  a clear chance to score.  If you were brave enough or thick-skinned enough, you could be a Cherry Picker, but the other kids would yell out ‘Cherry Picker‘, like it was a terrible insult.

The most important rule in the game was the ‘car’ rule.  Because we were playing in the middle of the street, we had to always watch for cars.  If one came by, someone would yell, ‘CAR!‘.  Whatever play was going on, it would have to stop immediately, and get off the street – this was a great rule if the other team had possession of the ‘puck’.

Games kind of just happened if enough kids were around, and pretty much everyone could play as long as they had a stick.  Teams were organized in one of two ways, mostly.  The way I liked was that all the sticks would get piled up in the middle, and one of the kids, usually the oldest or most respected, would randomly throw sticks, alternating towards each net until they were evenly separated.  The other way was to have 2 captains choose their teams in alternating turns.  This wasn’t much fun if you weren’t very good, because you really didn’t want to be the last kid to get picked…’I guess I’ll have to take Troy…‘.  Either way, it was about the most fair, democratic process I’ve seen, even as an adult.

The interesting thing about street hockey was that although we were kids, and clearly unorganized, the rules of the game were strictly adhered to.  Any kid who refused to follow the rules, either spoken or assumed, was pretty much banished from all social games for a long time – kids could really hold a grudge.

We didn’t know it at the time, but street hockey was teaching us a lot of important lessons about life.  Besides being great exercise, we learned about the order of things.  We learned about leadership and hierarchy.  We knew that rules were important and needed to be followed.  We learned about teamwork and about knowing that we had to respect that we were on the street and it belonged to the cars.  It created the framework of morals and ethics for adulthood, and about hard work.

We had hero’s back then.  People we looked up to, and they rarely disappointed us.  Bobby Orr and Lanny McDonald are still stand up guys.  I don’t know if the same could be said about most sports stars today.

I’m seeing more kids in my neighbourhood playing street hockey again.  I’m glad for this, since they will learn the same important life lessons for future generations.  This gives me hope for the future.  They’ll learn about the importance of order, leadership and teamwork.  They’ll learn about not only how to follow rules, but to respect others.

They’ll probably never learn how to vacuum, though.

Setting a good example

There’s been a lot of talk about teenage bullying lately.  In the news, we hear tragic stories of young lives taken from us in a final, desperate act, unable to find the help they need to escape this seemingly unrelenting terror that is perpetrated by otherwise normal kids.  Our kids.

None of this is really new.  Bullying has, to one extent or another, been a cruel passage into adulthood for generations.  With the onset of social media, however, there are brand new ways to taunt and torture others in ways that we never conceived of as kids.  Regardless of how it’s perpetrated, it is terrible, senseless and far too often deadly.

Of course, there is some good news. We are also seeing a lot of initiatives, led by schools and governments to do their best to curb bullying, and to identify and understand why this is going on and how it can be stopped.  There are some positive signs that our children are creating a new movement of a more caring attitude towards each other.  Thank God for that!

I don’t know why some kids just seem to be a target, even when they move out of the area, leaving a sorted past behind.  For me, it was easy.  I was a small, skinny, freckle-faced ‘ginger’ who played the cello…I might as well have painted a huge bulls-eye on my back, right next to the ‘kick me’ sign.  On the upside, I learned to outrun almost anyone, while carrying that huge instrument on my back – good for aerobics, bad for self-esteem.

I believe that parents play a critical role in supporting their kids if they suspect they are being bullied, or perhaps more so if they suspect that their child might be the source of the bullying.

What doesn’t help the problem I think, is that we as adults can often be the worst example of how to conduct oneself around others.  Take a few examples:

If you live in the Toronto area, you know about its mayor, Rob Ford.  Mr. Ford is self-described as ‘330 pounds of fun’.  Some would call him a crusader for the over-taxed citizens of the city, while others would refer to him as a living cartoon-character who has no business being in the business of politics.

I’m not going to take political sides here – I think the Ford administration has created a lot of their own misery.  I also think that his detractors will stop at nothing to destroy his political career.  This is about people dealing with people.

Recently, Mr. Ford has had a number of serious conflicts which, either self-inflicted or thrust upon him by his opponents, have put him under the microscope, politically and legally.

He celebrated a birthday last week.  A few citizens even showed up with a cake, and held a small news conference.  Instead of singing the normal version of ‘Happy Birthday’, however, they added a few more words, asking the mayor to resign and leave office.  How sweet.  What if that were school children, doing the same thing to the class president?  They’d be suspended and put into counseling.

The most recent crisis in Mr. Ford’s life is an alleged video that some drug dealers had of him smoking crack cocaine, and had been selling to the highest bidder.

At last check, the auction had the selling price at $200,000, and that amount had been raised.  The video and its owners, not surprisingly, cannot be located.

At about the same time, a tragic and confusing murder case was unfolding in the media.  A man, selling his pick-up truck online, mysteriously disappeared.   Several days later, an arrest was made, and shortly after, his burned remains were discovered.  This victim was a young father, Tim Bosma, apparently targeted at random, who has left a wife and a young daughter behind.  The motive for the murder is still a mystery, but one thing is certain.  This young family is broken forever.

Some local family and friends of the Bosma’s have set up a trust fund to help support his wife and daughter who are also now without their breadwinner, and faced with huge bills.

Here’s the rub;  It took less than a week to get total strangers to raise over $200,000 to watch a video that may not even exist, to finally push Mr. Ford out of public office. At the same time, we were able to raise less than a tenth of that amount to help a grieving young wife and mother to support her family.

How sad is that.  We’re suckers for a sensational story.

Another example is the now famous Ikea Monkey, ‘Darwin’.  Darwin is a spider monkey, owned by a real estate lawyer, who has, in my opinion, an unhealthy relationship with the little primate.  ‘Darwin’ made the news this past winter, when he was found wandering outside of an Ikea store, dressed in a fancy fur coat.  He had been left in a car while its owner went shopping.  The smart little pet managed to open a window and go for a stroll around the store.

The monkey was taken away from its owner, but now she’s fighting to get him back.

On the day of ‘Darwin’s’ court hearing, another case was being heard in the same courthouse.  This one was a murder trial involving another young person, a lady, allegedly killed by a young man – they were in a relationship.  It was a terrible, gruesome crime.  The courthouse was standing room only – there was no where to park.  Even driving past the courthouse was difficult.

Why was the courthouse so full?  Not because of the murder trial, but because of ‘Darwin’.  In fact, of all the press that were in attendance, only one reporter was covering the murder trial.

Now, we can blame the media – they’re always good to kick around, but the basic truth of economics states that they’re covering it because we want to know about it and will pay to get it.

Just this past weekend a story broke about a kids soccer tournament right here in Ontario, which was cancelled after parents from both teams ended up in a brawl after a controversial call on the field.  14 people were arrested.  It was even topped off with some racial slurs.

Are these the life lessons we’re teaching our kids? Is it our hope that they conduct themselves with respect and kindness while we demonstrate the exact opposite?

It would seem that the concept of leading by example is not aligned with our expectations.  Luckily, our kids are smarter than that.  I think they understand that we aren’t perfect, and we sometimes do the same dumb things that we preach to them as unacceptable.

I wonder how would things look if we treated each situation like our kids were standing right beside us?  I think they’re worth the effort….maybe we can even learn from them.

What do you think?