As I am writing the city is reverberating with the sounds of fireworks to celebrate Canada Day. All over our country similar festivities attracted large crowds in honour of this nation. Many thousands joined the ranks of Canadians in special citizenship ceremonies, grateful to have found a new home in a country still ranked as the most desirable place to live the world over. Despite sharply rising poverty and homelessness, despite human rights violations, we are still number one. We who have lived here for so long already and know all our shortcomings have perhaps forgotten what it is like in other countries of the world. We take for granted the many privileges we have. We might even be a bit too blasé about our rights and freedoms.
With these rights also come responsibilities and that means participation and interaction with all facets of society. It saddens me to still hear ethnic slurs or jokes that are designed to hurt. They are by no means funny. It saddens me to hear that we are still drugging our children in schools to make them into perfect little zombies. It is upsetting to hear that the literacy level in this country is low, that youth crime is on the rise and that politicians, parents and teachers alike seem to have no workable solutions to these problems.
Again and again I hear: Well, that is the system, that’s the way it is. Nothing we can do about it. I dare to differ!
There is always something that can be done and it starts at home! The teaching of good values, good manners, good habits, whatever you want to call it, starts at home, not at school, not out on the street - at home! It is the place where not only the customs of our heritage should be taught but also the place where we practice all those skills that let us get along with everyone.
I recently spoke with the mother of a young boy who is afraid to go outside to play with his schoolmates. She thinks it is because he was taught in school that too much crime happens there, that children get kidnapped and killed by strangers. We know very well that in most instances this is not true. In most such cases the perpetrator is either close to the child or has been known before by the child.
Her little boy is now withdrawn and shy, whereas he was lively and playful before this school lecture. It has been suggested to put him on a drug to alter his condition. This in all likelihood should not be necessary and is certainly not a good solution.
You have heard me discuss the dangers of Ritalin and other drugs before. I asked you to inform yourself more thoroughly on these substances, and not only from sources that might have a vested interest in selling drugs. Now I can give you an address where you can get more information about these substances. Do not believe that they are harmless. They do have side effects that can cause serious damage and in some instances have cost lives.
Our children are our future, the only future we have, or so we believe. Why would we not do every thing possible to protect them and ourselves from needless dangers?
It does not matter so much what else is wrong with Canada as long as we take care of our children first, as long as we make sure that they do have a future in which they can fulfill their chosen paths happily and freely, and with a clear head. Then, and only then, could we proudly agree to be the number one place to live in the world!
You can make your inquiries at the "Action Committee for Drug free Schools" in Toronto under the telephone Number (416) 222-6375, or you can contact them by Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
But now to much more pleasant matters. We are still receiving congratulatory notes for our 10th anniversary, which makes us very happy. It is good to know that we are so appreciated. Like our well-wishers we hope for a successful and interesting future. We hope that you like our newest insert, which will be a regular feature. Alternative health methods are of great interest to most of us these days, but educating ourselves to all the possibilities is important.
We had hoped to bring you a lengthy report on Austria after we met with the Austrian Ambassador to Canada for an informal round table talk. Further research into the matters at hand are underway and will still make good reading in a future issue. Let it just be said that despite the recent political uproar over Austrian politics the small alpine nation is doing well. The important statistics are all rising. Austrian exports to Canada for instance rose by over 10% in 1999. That is good news.
In the meantime let us enjoy the summer. In Canada it is always too short to squander.
Until next time