Tag Archives: politicians

how many suicides are ok, mr. minister?

last week, the british columbia government (the one that pumps millions and millions of dollars into the 2-week olympics next year) made cuts “changes” to the budgets of about 90 (ninety!) health agencies in the vancouver coastal health region alone. the changes cuts will mean no harm to services, says minister kevin falcon.

it’s hard not to think of the fox that walks into the chicken coop, smiling sweetly, “oh don’t worry, i mean you no harm.”

the cuts, falcon says, are only administrative. apart from the fact that i have it on good authority that they are not just administrative, the question remains how an organization is supposed to run without administration, especially since just about all health service agencies i know are already running on razor-thin administration, and since the government keeps asking for more and more paper (=administrative) work.

let’s look at this.

burnaby is canada’s best run city. can you imagine it without a receptionist?

4refuel in langley won a best small business award in 2006. how do you think they’d do without a bookkeeper?

the cactus club is one of the best companies to work for. are they doing that without administrative assistants?

as you know, my concern is mostly with agencies that provide services in the mental health sector, a sector that is already seriously underfunded.

let’s look at one example – suicide prevention. saving lives is not such a bad idea, is it? how much does it cost?

* $5,000 will make possible one 60 hour hotline training class for 25 volunteers.
* $1,850 will make possible one 24 hour period of crisis hotline service for the region.
* $1,000 will cover the cost of suicide prevention and intervention to save 20 lives.
* $500 will train 20 youth, parents, or teachers on suicide prevention.
* $250 will sponsor training for one hotline volunteer, who can answer 450 calls a year.
* $100 will cover 1 week of CareRing calls to a vulnerable senior.
* $75 will make possible 1 hour of crisis hotline service for the region.

now think about it. someone had to gather this information. someone had to type it up. someone had to get it on the web. someone had to put the web site together, someone needs to maintain it. who do you think is doing this? guess what, it’s someone in an administrative function.

ask any struggling social service agency what their major funding problems are, and they will invariably have “core funding” on the very top of their list – the money needed to pay for the invisible but highly necessary costs, without which the services have absolutely no infrastructure to rest on. if you’re a crisis line and don’t have a bookkeeper taking care of the payables, who will send that cheque to the telephone company, without which there won’t be any crisis line?

so how many suicides would you like to prevent, mr. falcon? 20, or, say, 10% less because the lives of those other two people aren’t that important?

the dalai lama in vancouver

last week i had the pleasure again to see the dalai lama. the topic of the talk was women and peacebuilding. i’d like to share with you my notes, taken down as closely as possible in his delightful language.

this is the third time i’ve seen the dalai lama. one of the things that i enjoy about these talks is that they always underscore the same message, but from a slightly different angle. also, simply being in the presence of the dalai lama (even when he falls asleep partway through the session, as he did this time, so exhausted from his super demanding schedule) is inspiring. not because he is grave and religious. he is the funniest head of state i’ve ever encountered; a trickster, really. you know that smile that he always shows? it’s the smile not only of happiness but of someone who delights in having fun and making jokes, and that comes through all the time in his talks. and like any true comedian, he is irreverent, he always looks at the status quo and says, “hmmmmmmmmmm ….”.

another thing i absolutely love about him is the ease with which he says, “i don’t know.” wouldn’t it be wonderful if more people in authority would simply say “i don’t know” when they don’t have an immediate answer to a question? no spinning, no ignoring the question and talking about something totally different, no pretending you know … so refreshing!

the quotes below reflect in a small way, i hope, the dalai lama’s commitment to compassion, his view on the role of anger, the importance he places on motivation, his urging us to take action, his deep respect for diversity, his global thinking, and his deep passion for the environment, the alleviation of poverty, and the central place of education.

the dalai lama will be back next year, i hear. we here in vancouver are very lucky to have been chosen by him as the dalai lama center for peace and education.

compassion practitioner

some anger also have role

harsh method does not mean we feel anger towards the person

anger immediate motivation

be content and still outraged

serious concern for wellbeing of humanity

anything that is harmful, you oppose

“what is your greatest fear?” “environment. gap between rich and poor, not only on international level but also on national level.”

frustration creates anger, sometimes violence

the female? good talk, i like it

they call me many things. god king, living buddha, monster, feminist – don’t matter

if no more dalai lama – no important

in case female dalai lama can be more effective – why not?

where is compassion? in the slums

media should pay equal attention to the positive things

“do you feel optimistic about the world?” “oh yes! our life starts with compassion! our life begin with lovingkindness”

this body go well with peaceful mind

we need motivation

compassion really also from the beginning to the time of death

human nature gentleness

whenever i meet young people, i give them hope and importance

peace starts within ourself. then that creates a certain atmosphere

will we be an extremist for love?

the facts should be written down, and then there will be a change in consciousness

everything tight, fear, distress: no creativity

there must be opportunity to express human potential

different country, different situation

whole world become like one community, then implement local situation – but same goal

i want to say yes to everything!

research and education very essential



image by elton melo

owning our emotions

friday’s child wrote a post a little while ago – i can’t find it again for the life of me – chuckling about a list of things that we are supposed to be embarrassed about. something like having your zipper down in public, if i remember correctly, is supposed to make you all mortified.

i chuckled with her. really, i got bigger fish to fry than to want to crawl under the next rock after having been “caught” with something as commonplace as my fly open.

but it got me thinking. there are so many emotions we are “supposed” to have. not emotions that well up from deep inside but emotions that are dictated by society.

maybe sometimes that’s a good thing – at funerals, perhaps. in general, though, i think it dilutes, cheapens and confuses our experience and our emotional truth.

liberace on the pianodisney is a perfect example of this; they play our emotions like liberace plays the piano – and people, there’s a reason why i’m using him as a metaphor and not, say, glenn gould. disney knows exactly how to make us laugh, get outraged or go “awwwwww”. i’ll never forget watching pocahontas, really an awful distortion of native american history (what’s next? “the happy holocaust”?) – and yet i cried and got all mushy exactly at the right spots.

most people aren’t very much in touch with their emotions anyway. people often say that that’s a new and western thing but from everything i’ve seen and read i’d say it’s a universal thing, going across time and cultures – with notable exceptions, as always. so when someone, be it a family member, a clan, or a part of society, insinuates that we “should” feel this way and not another, it falls on an untended field, ready to be worked by whoever puts some effort into it.

becoming more emotionally connected is part of the challenge of growing up, not only as individuals but as the human race altogether. i am truly convinced that the world would be a better place if people like dick cheney, maggie thatcher, pervez musharraf and robert mugabe had a better handle on their emotions.

if they understood better how much they’re driven by fear.

if they got it that underneath their lust for power is a yearning for love.

if they felt the long-lasting goodness of compassion rather than the short fire of getting high on controlling others.

now please don’t get me wrong – i’m not saying that disney turned mugabe into a monster, or that we should all turn into addle-brained touchy-feelies who can’t make a tough decision because we’re too busy going goo-goo-ga-ga over every june bug we see.

au contraire.

feeling and understanding OUR emotions – rather than the ones that someone else tells us to have – increases not only emotional but overall intelligence. paradoxically, feeling our emotions also helps us to understand that we are not our emotions, that they are just part of us. this helps us have a cool head when we need it.

(this post was mentioned in the 24th total mind and body fitness carnival)