When I realized that Cipro was the cause of my body going completely hay-wire (I didn’t know immediately because my reaction was delayed), and I saw stories on the internet of people getting worse and worse indefinitely, and/or living with pain and disability caused by fluoroquinolones, I thought that I had accidentally killed myself. I thought of writing letters to my family and friends to say goodbye, to let them know that I was gone and that I was so, so, so sorry that I had taken those pills.
In some ways, even though I survived, obviously, I think that I should have written those letters (even though they would have scared the crap out of my loved ones and probably gotten me locked in a psych ward). Because I am different now. The old Lisa is gone. I certainly didn’t die in the physical sense, but who I was changed in an instant, with those 6 pills.
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Before I got sick, my identity was formed by what I did, thought and felt. I was active and athletic. In the summer of 2010 I hiked the entire 500 mile Colorado Trail. I was a gym-rat. I’d get up at 5:30 so that I could hit the gym before work. I was trying out CrossFit gyms just weeks before I took Cipro. I took pride in being strong; in being healthy, active and fit. My appetites in all areas was larger than most. I loved food and I could pack it away (only keeping my weight in check by being as into exercise as I was into food). I liked to drink and I was good at it. I liked sex and, well, I dunno, I’ll tell you who to ask if you care. :p I had strong opinions on politics and religion and would express them willingly. I liked to travel and I was proud of my travels all over the world – I have seen and done some interesting stuff. I was a voracious reader as a kid but had slowed down a bit as an adult, but I still read The New Yorker regularly. I considered myself to be smart. I considered myself to be a good conversationalist.
All of that went away while I was sick. I could barely walk, I certainly couldn’t go to the gym, and CrossFit is a recipe for torn tendons for a Floxie. I was weak. I lost my energy. Strong is not something anyone would call me. I stopped eating and didn’t care about food in the least – it actually scared me a bit. Sex was approximately the last thing on my mind and I was scared of it too – it can lead to urinary tract infections and urinary tract infections can lead to antibiotics, and that chain reaction had gotten me into the rotten place where I was. My ability to handle alcohol was diminished. Even if I wanted to drink, and I didn’t, I couldn’t drink much and it wasn’t fun any more. I lost my reading comprehension. I lost my memory. I lost my capacity to do many mental tasks, so I couldn’t consider myself to be smart any more. I felt anxious in social situations and I couldn’t seem to find the words to communicate or connect with people, so I certainly wasn’t a good conversationalist.
All of the things that I thought made me who I was, were gone.
But I was still alive. I was still breathing. I wasn’t able to do the things that I thought made me me, but I was still a being, just now I was a being without any of the things that defined me.
So I fought to get those things that defined me back. I took supplement after supplement, hoping that the next one would be the cure that would bring me back. I scoured the internet, looking for the magic cure, whether it be in the form of a diet, a pill, a specialist or a method. Some of the things that I tried were helpful, some were harmful, most were neutral. None of them turned back the hands of time.
I started the spirituality sampler platter. I meditated. It helped immensely. I went to a Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction class. It helped me as well. I went to Buddhism classes and retreats. I read Marianne Williamson’s, “A Return to Love” and went to classes on A Course in Miracles (ACIM). I went to Hippy Dance Class / Rhythm Sanctuary / Hippy Church and felt the healing power of Hippies saying “OM” together and dancing to trance music. I learned about Chakras. I went to a Crystal Bowl concert.
Meditating, Buddhism classes and a course in Miracles all helped me to get to a point where mentally, emotionally and spiritually, I came to terms with my inability to turn back the hands of time. I started to accept what life had brought me. I started to feel okay about the fact that, even though I couldn’t run, I could still walk. Even though my memory and reading comprehension were shot (those scared me so much), I could still work (sort of). Even though I couldn’t do the things that I thought made me me, I could still breathe, love, feel and see beauty and depth in the moment, etc. With meditation, Buddhism and ACIM, I was able to gain patience, compassion, empathy, forgiveness, etc., mainly for myself, but for others as well.
Eventually I got to a place where I started to like who I was post-flox. Even though I wasn’t as physically strong as I used to be, I found out that I was a fighter. I learned that I’m a survivor. Cipro messed with my ability to communicate verbally, but I could still communicate through writing, and I became a writer. I found something that I feel passionate about, something to scream about, and I stopped hating that my world-view had changed and started to appreciate, in a strange way, that I now had a cause to fight for.
Certainly, this mental, emotional and spiritual healing was possible because I was healing physically. I had the benefit of my body cooperating with me and ceasing the downward spiral that it was intent on for a while. But it’s all interconnected. Our emotional, mental and spiritual health is related to our physical health, and vice versa.
Getting better physically was a long, slow process. Most of my issues were central, peripheral and autonomic nervous system issues. Nerves take a while to heal. They just do. Tendons aren’t fast healers either. But the jumps in my identity, the shifts in my psyche, were sudden. Just the other day, my appetite came back. I started to want food again. Dating has more appeal than it used to (I dated through being floxed, it just felt different). As I’ve been writing, I’ve started to feel smart again. I started to feel like ME again – like the old Lisa. Perhaps these changes (changes back) are just part of healing, part of my brain rewiring itself back to how it was for 32 years, but I prefer to think of it in more spiritual terms. As soon as I accepted and appreciated my new self, my old self returned. Life is interesting, strange and funny like that sometimes.
Even though some, maybe most of my old self traits are back, I now realize that all of those things, what I do, what I think and even what I feel, are transient. I am not the same person as I was before I got sick. But you know what? That’s okay. Because I wasn’t the same person as I was just before I got sick 2 years prior to that. We are all constantly evolving and changing. Nothing is permanent, except, perhaps the soul, love, God, whatever you want to call that constant that is in each of us. Sudden, painful changes that are thrust upon us from the outside are lousy ways to change, and they invite some resistance, but I truly did find peace, and even healing, in acceptance of the changes that came and letting go of resistance and fear.
I suppose that anyone who goes through a life-changing or traumatic event goes through what I went through when I got knocked down by Cipro. When you lose your health, your job, a loved one, etc., whenever something changes for the worse in a way that can’t be reversed, there is the tendency to want to claw back to where you were before the trauma happened, because where you were was good and where you are now is bad. It’s natural. But it never works. It’s impossible to turn back time. You can only move on. Part of moving on is acceptance of where you’re at. Acceptance does not mean that what happened is okay in any way shape or form, it doesn’t mean that you’re complacent and it doesn’t mean that you’re going to stay where you are, it just means that you let go of the notion that you can go backward. Moving forward, from where you’re at, can be an amazing, beautiful thing. It in no way means that you stay sick, or stay where you’re at in life. It’s just as impossible to stay where you’re at as it is to move backward, but in order to move on, to go forward, I have found that acceptance of the impossibility of going back, is crucial.
So, I guess that my closing message to anyone who is struggling with the loss of their former self, is to breathe. Cry and grieve for the parts of yourself that have been brutally taken away from you. Then, once you are done with the grief, know that you can’t go backward, accept that you can’t turn back time, and find some ways to move on, to find peace, happiness and healing. It worked for me. I will hope and pray that it will work for you.
How I Obtained A Conscientious Exemption From Mask-Wearing At School For My Child
- The Facts:
I was able to obtain a conscientious exemption from mask-wearing in public school for my 6-year old son.
- Reflect On:
Will these Covid measures and the incoming promise of mandatory vaccines serve to push a critical mass of humanity to learn about, and ultimately stand up for, their natural and innate freedom of choice?
I have studied the principles of natural law, and I am clear that the inherent freedom of choice of every individual is the ultimate foundation of life on Earth. How these principles became the basis for real-world action occurred when I heard that my school board had decided, quite of their own accord, while professing to be ‘following the direction’ of the public health office of a neighboring district, that children in grades 1-3 in their schools would also be required to wear masks in school.
I will give you the whole story of my quest for a conscientious exemption from mask-wearing for my son as I am not entirely sure which of my actions actually turned the result in my favor. I do this to empower everyone with a full understanding of what we are dealing with in terms of school mask mandates and the manner in which school boards are trying to implement them. I am in Ontario, Canada so things might be different in different countries, but I believe that the ultimate application of natural law and our natural freedom of choice can and should be pursued anywhere in the world.
My journey began with an internet search of my school board, a phone number of the communications office which undersigned the announcement of the mandate, and my phone call to that office asking how I would apply for a conscientious exemption. Through voice mail the officer said I should be in touch with the principal, who said I should be in touch with the superintendent, who said I should speak to the trustee, who said I should go back to the superintendent. This is a process that went on for two weeks and ultimately gets us to the first day of school and this letter I sent to all the trustees who, it seemed to me, made up the school board and hence collectively made the ultimate decision that was affecting me.
My Letter to the Trustees
Dear Dufferin Peel Catholic District School Board Trustees,
Here it is, Tuesday, September 8th, 2020, the day that DPCDSB schools open, and I have not received the information I need to make an informed decision on whether or not I should send my son to school. He is slated to begin the Grade 1 French Immersion program at St. Pio de Pietrelcina.
After initially voicing my concerns about mandatory masking and applying for an exemption on conscientious grounds to a school board representative I was directed to the principal of St. Pio de Pietrelcina. She was polite and took my concerns seriously, but said that she had no latitude to make any decisions on exemptions on conscientious grounds. She suggested I speak to the superintendant.
I spoke first to the superintendant’s assistant, who was polite and took my concerns seriously, and said I would have to speak to the superintendant.
I spoke to the superintendant, who was polite and took my concerns seriously, but said that they had not received any ‘direction’ from health officials about qualification for medical exemptions. When I reiterated the point that I am seeking a conscientious, and not a medical exemption, she said that I should talk to the trustee for my school’s area.
I spoke to the trustee, who was polite and took my concerns seriously, but didn’t feel he was in any position to advance my cause. He referred me back to the superintendant, who, according to him, would contact me to let me know how I can make my request for an exemption to the school board.
I understand that these are trying times and things are changing rapidly, but I still believe you would agree that I’m getting the runaround. And the school year has already started.
So I will simply make my case in this letter, and I hope this letter will be able to cut through the bureaucracy and be read by all DPCDSB trustees, to whom it is addressed. I am requesting an official response undersigned by at least a majority of the school board members, who are directly responsible for the fact that, at present, my son is being forced to wear a mask at school in order to receive a public education.
Request for a Conscientious Exemption for my son from wearing a mask in school
My fervent belief is that all directives related to ‘mandatory’ mask wearing in Canada are illegal and infringe on the rights of individual Canadians, based on the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
However, in this letter I will speak specifically to my son’s case. At present, the DPCDSB has decided to unilaterally mandate mask-wearing for Grade 1 students (this particular decision was not imposed upon them by Peel Public Health). And so my son, who is supposed to begin the Grade 1 French Immersion program at St. Pio de Pietrelcina in a few days, is being forced to wear a mask in order to get a public education.
I will cite a small portion of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and explain how it applies in this case:
1. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the rights and freedoms set out in it subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.
2. Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:
(a) freedom of conscience and religion;
I believe that forcing my 6-year old son to wear a mask may cause psychological and physical harm to him. Therefore, as his legal guardian, I cannot in good conscience allow this to happen. In mandating mask-wearing for my son, you violate my freedom of conscience as well as my son’s freedom of conscience, as he does not want to wear a mask.
Two more points, while not essential to my argument, serve to highlight my belief that the decision by the DPCDSB to mandate masks for young children in school shows an egregious lack of responsibility and concern for the health and well-being of the children who have been entrusted under their care:
1. There is NO science, meaning no randomized control trials, which suggest that wearing a mask might have any impact in reducing the spread of a virus. In fact, any studies investigating the ability of masks to stop the spread of a virus have concluded that masks are not effective at all in this regard. (source) Mask mandates are based on the ‘opinions’ of Public Health Officers (political appointees) that ‘mask-wearing may have benefits’, opinions which are not grounded in the science.
2. The statistics, which clearly show that low infectivity rates and a virtually zero mortality rate among children, would suggest that what would really be in the best interest of children’s health and well-being would be a normal return to school, without masks, distancing, cohorting, sanitizing, and any other measures. This has been the belief of many researchers and scientists in that very field of study whose views have been suppressed or marginalized in the media.
In other words, going back to section 1 of the Charter, I do not believe these measures have been ‘demonstrably justified.’
That being said, the main point of this letter is to get an answer to my request that my son be permitted to attend school without a mask, based on my conscientious objection. If denied, my son will not be going to school and I will begin to consider notices of liability to those on the DPCDSB responsible for implementing policy, who in my opinion have far overstepped their authority in attempting to enforce mandatory masking in their schools, especially for students in Grades 1-3 which was not imposed upon them by Peel Public Health and was a unilateral decision.
Now it becomes interesting, when you are going about the business of standing up for your inherent rights, to wonder what drives otherwise busy and difficult-to-reach people into responding and suddenly having answers.
It was either the same day or the next morning that the vice-principal of the school contacted me and told me he was going to send the exemption form to me and that I should fill it out. I made it clear to him that I was requesting a conscientious and not a medical exemption, and he told me that I should fill it out nonetheless so that the school authority would have on record exactly what kind of exemption I am seeking, and I agreed I would do so.
Meanwhile, one of the trustees forwarded my email to the school board’s director of education, saying that this would end the ‘runaround’ I had been experiencing. And sure enough, the director of education sent me an email the same day, saying the following:
I am aware that the school has recently reached out to you to provide you with the documentation required to request an exemption. Given that you have identified the adverse negative psychological impact of wearing a mask on your child, I would encourage you to request an exemption.
Now I was intrigued by the phrasing ‘you have identified the adverse negative psychological impact…’ given that all I said was that I believed wearing a mask ‘may cause psychological and physical harm to him.’ So in essence, she reframes my conscientious exemption as a medical exemption.
I nonetheless filled out my exemption form, being as explicit as I possibly could that I was filing a conscientious objection. In fact, reading it, I don’t think that anyone can confuse this with a ‘medical’ exemption (the part I wrote is in bold and italics).
My Exemption Request
MASK ACCOMMODATION/EXEMPTION REQUEST FORM
I am requesting an exemption for my child from wearing a non-medical face mask while at school, (which includes indoor during the school day, transportation and in any before and after school program for the following reason(s):
I believe wearing a mask is potentially harmful to my son’s psychological and physical health. I cannot in good conscience allow my son to be required to wear a mask while in school. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms indicates the following:
- The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the rights and freedoms set out in it subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.
- Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms: a) freedom of conscience and religion;
Based on the current science and current statistics I have researched (I do not include them here but would be willing to provide them if requested), I contend that mandating mask-wearing for children in school has not been ‘demonstrably justified,’ thereby liberating me to act in good conscience and demand that my son be exempt from having to wear a mask while in school.
ⅅ I have attached supporting documentation (please note that medical documentation is not required)
I sent the document and reminded the vice-principal in my email that my son would not be attending school until this exemption had been confirmed.
Lo and behold, this message from the school was in my inbox the next morning:
Kellen’s mask exemption has been approved.
His first day back at school will be Monday September 14th 2020
But this is not the end of the story. I found this email to be oddly informal for a matter of such obvious importance to me. It was not undersigned by anyone, only the school signature was underneath, and there was no signed copy of the exemption form attached, which on the second page had checkboxes indicating who had been informed of my son’s exemption (teacher, bus driver, librarian, etc.)
This was Wednesday, September 9th, and because of staggered entry my son was only to start the following Monday, having already missed his orientation day. I immediately sent a reply stating that I wanted to know who actually sent me the email, and who had approved the exemption. By Monday I had not heard back from the school, and consequently I kept my son home. The school called and left a message inquiring about my son’s absence. In response, I wrote a rather sharply-worded email explaining that I will not be sending my son to school until my questions were answered.
I received a phone call a few hours later from a very agitated principal. I got her to say that the email was ‘from the school,’ and therefore, yes, ‘from her’. As to who approved the exemption, she said she didn’t know. She said she sent the exemption form to the superintendent and was later sent a curt email that the exemption had been ‘approved’. That’s all she knew. She was not at all happy with the general lack of information she was receiving from the school board. I did my best to help bring a conciliatory tone to the conversation and noted that it seemed like the principal was more a victim than a cause of this confusion.
And so I was left to assume that the Director of Education must have approved the exemption, since the Superintendent told me that she herself didn’t have the power to approve an exemption based on conscience. I sent an email to the Director of Education, demanding to know who had approved my son’s exemption. You wouldn’t believe what her answer was:
I regret the experience you are having regarding your request for a mask exemption. The principal is the individual who has the authority to approve a mask exemption. That said, it is ultimately my responsibility to ensure principals have all the necessary information to carry out the responsibilities we task them with. I will continue to work to ensure that our principals have a fulsome understanding of the process and support them in implementation.
Where I am at Now
This email was the final nail in the coffin for me. I spoke with my wife and we both agreed that we didn’t feel comfortable having my son in an institution that demonstrated such a lack of accountability from top to bottom. We have pulled our son out of public school and have begun homeschooling him. However, I know this is not an option for many, especially for those whose children indicate that they want to go to school and see their friends. So this article is more for those parents, to come to an understanding of what they are dealing with and what their rights are.
The way I see it, these bureaucrats are all part of a top-down control structure, from the Ministry of Education through the public health offices, and down through the school boards’ director of education, trustees, superintendents, and principals. One of the necessary qualifications for these jobs is a willingness to take and implement orders from above, rather than asserting critical and independent thought. At all levels people know that opposing directives from above based on their independent thought would likely mean termination.
Consequently, I see these people are acting (and reacting) from the state of fear that they have been subjected to. I’m not really interested in continuing to investigate these people to try to figure out who is lying and who might be liable for damages. My experience confirms for me the reality that this whole interlocked, top-down system of education, as with other systems under government control, has a clear and specific agenda to augment their control and to willingly deceive people about their rights and freedoms protected by the charter.
The way they are doing it is by forcing those lower down the ladder to actually assume the legal responsibility for enacting and enforcing these measures, without giving those people any choice as to whether or not they actually believe it is good to implement them. Speaking to all levels of the school board was an exercise in a perpetual ‘passing of the buck’ where I could not find a single person willing to stand behind or take ownership of any of these mandates or the justification for them.
The good news here is that this is a situation ripe for all individuals, and particularly parents of young children, to exercise their rights of conscience and request (read: demand) a conscientious exemption from mask-wearing for their child. Of course it requires courage and persistence, and perhaps even a willingness to keep their child out of school as I did until the matter is resolved. But if you feel within you a burning desire to stand up for your rights under these circumstances, I hope my story has helped to equip you to do just that.
This article was originally published on my own website daocoaching.com.
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It’s Time Children & Teachers Learn About The Power of Emotional Intelligence
- The Facts:
Human emotions effect our physiology, state of mind as well as others around us. Modern day education does not teach children about the importance of emotion and how to regulate and deal with it.
- Reflect On:
How are children supposed to be mentally 'fit' as adults if they are not taught how to deal with the various emotions they experience throughout childhood?
What exactly is education? Today, many view it as an opportunity to learn, thrive, and excel in the world. Others see it as a necessary step toward obtaining a piece of paper that ensures one’s entrance into the professional world. Regardless of your take on it, however, one thing is certain: From a very early age we are forced into a system that demands our presence and attention for hours a day and for years of our life. Each child is required to learn an accepted version of reality in order to fit into the specific mould desired by the elite. Just like television, a large part of school is simply programming, and we don’t really learn much about the world — or ourselves.
Perhaps this is why Mark Twain said, “I have never let me education interfere with my intelligence,” or why Einstein told the world to “never confuse education with intelligence,” and that “education is what remains after one has forgotten one has learned in school.”
School these days seems less about learning and more about rote memorization. Are we critically thinking enough, or questioning enough? Or are we simply being bred to become robots, all of us entering into the same human experience, “educating” ourselves in order to further perpetuate a broken system? We learn concepts and ideas that fit within the current paradigm and structure of society, but not about how to care for ourselves and become well-adjusted adults. Are we really being educated? Or simply groomed to become ‘good’ consumers?
“I don’t want a nation of thinkers, I want a nation of workers.”
– John D. Rockefeller
Another problem with the current education model, as pointed out by world renowned education and creativity expert Sir Ken Robinson, is that it was designed and conceived for a different age. Today, new information and discoveries are constantly emerging in all fields, questioning what we once thought we knew, and that includes how people learn. Unfortunately, unless you have an amazing teacher who is passionate about our world and new information, children suffer in this system.
In fact, prior to the late 1800s, education was a private practice that took place in private institutions or through home schooling. That all changed in 1902 when John D. Rockefeller created the General Education Board in conjunction with Frederick T. Gates, a close friend and business and personal advisor. The General Education Board was responsible for funding the American public school system, and provided over 100 million dollars in 1902 while continuing their support beyond 1902. If we follow the money, it becomes clear the general education board was responsible for the creation of the American public school system. Does education not play a large role in manipulating the consciousness of human beings?
“Knowledge has to come from somewhere, and that can’t be a classroom.”
Emotions in School
School is an experience primarily comprised of learning information — rarely questioning it, but rather taking it in as fact. While we learn about many subjects, very few of them have any real impact on our lives. There are absolutely no classes dealing with human emotions, for instance.
According to sociologist Thomas Scheff, a big supporter of emotional education from the University of California, many Western societies simply view emotions as an indulgence or a distraction, and less important than other things. And he’s right — we are often taught to bury our emotions so we can be more productive, and we are made to feel as though our emotions are not as relevant or important; they always seem to come secondary, if at all, especially within an educational setting. Scheff, among many others, believes that emotions provide valuable information, and yet we are taught not to listen to them. “Just as dangerous,” Scheff said, “is the practice of hiding one emotion behind another.” He has found that “men, in particular, tend to hide feelings of shame under anger, aggression and, far too often, violence.”
Many of the issues and problems that arise in our lives stem from the fact that we really have no idea how to process or address our emotions. As a result of this lack in our education, a child who has not paid any attention to their emotional body develops bad habits and behaviours to compensate, until they learn how to properly process their emotions, if they ever do.
How Do We Go About Doing This?
The good thing about teaching emotions is, they can be implemented into any class and any grade. For example, if you were trying to teach emotions in a class with a number of kids who are about to graduate high school, a great starting point might be to illustrate just how much of an effect emotions can have, not just on a mental level, where unresolved emotions lead to negative action, but on a physical level as well. The Institute of Noetic Sciences is doing some great work in this area, creating more awareness about non-material science and how our thoughts/emotions have an observable effect on physical material reality. The mind-body connection is truly powerful, and we should be teaching people how to harness that power.
An internationally recognized nonprofit research and education organization, the Institute of HeartMath dedicates itself to helping people reduce stress, self-regulate emotions, and build energy and resilience for healthy, happy lives. HeartMath tools, technology, and training teach people to rely on the intelligence of their hearts in concert with that of their minds at home, school, work, and play. They’ve discovered that emotional information is “actually coded and modulated” into the magnetic field that surrounds all living things.
As HeartMath Director of Research Dr. Rolin McCratey tells us, “By learning to shift our emotions, we are changing the information coded into the magnetic fields that are radiated by the heart, and that can impact those around us. We are fundamentally and deeply connected with each other and the planet itself.”
All of these facts, published researched papers, and more can be accessed at heartmath.org.
Related CE Article: What Science is Telling us About The Heart’s Intuitive Intelligence
It’s called RULER.
“The Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence uses the power of emotions to create a more effective and compassionate society. The Center conducts research and teaches people of all ages how to develop their emotional intelligence.”
It’s currently being used in more than 1,000 schools in the U.S., implemented for grades k-8.
The name, RULER, is an acronym for its five goals: recognizing emotions in oneself and others; understanding the causes and consequences of emotions; labelling emotional experiences with an accurate and diverse vocabulary; and expressing and regulating emotions in ways that promote growth.
What Exactly Are the Kids Taught?
RULER teachers kids to to focus on the underlying theme of an emotion they are experiencing rather than wasting energy trying to define it precisely. Grace Rubenstein from Ted.Ideas reports:
When an emotion grips you, explains Stern, understanding its thematic contours can help “name it to tame it.” Even though anger is experienced differently by different people, she explains, “the theme underlying anger is the same. It’s injustice or unfairness. The theme that underlies disappointment is an unmet expectation. The theme that underlies frustration is feeling blocked on your way to a goal. Pinning down the theme can “help a person be seen and understood and met where she is,” says Stern.
Just taking the time to contemplate an emotion when you feel it, and think about why it might be arising, is critical for emotional health. Typing these words here and now, I still find it unbelievable that we have chosen not to deal with such an important aspect of what it means to be a human being. Emotions are something all of us experience, yet we have no guidelines or advice on what we’re supposed to do with them.
Rubenstein offers an example of how RULER functions in the classroom:
RULER’s lessons are woven into all classes and subjects. So, for example, if “elated’ is the emotional vocabulary word under discussion, a teacher would ask students in an American history class to link “elated” to the voyage of Lewis and Clark. Instruction reaches beyond the classroom, too; kids are prompted to talk with their parents or caregivers about when they last felt elated. Researchers at the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence has found RULER schools tend to see less-frequent bullying, lower anxiety and depression, more student leadership and higher grades. So why isn’t emotional education the norm rather than the exception?
Emotions are something all of us experience, all the time, every single day. They can be confusing, and hard to navigate, especially when they’re negative. By including emotional education into the school system, I believe future generations would be far less depressed, angry, and confused. They would be better equipped to handle difficult situations in their lives, and find it much easier to express their feelings in a healthy, productive way.
There’s still a long way to go when it comes to understanding human emotions, and how to teach/discuss them in the classroom at different grade levels, but RULER is an amazing step in the right direction and I hope we see more programs like this being developed in the future.
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Conspireality: Is It Time For A Serious Conversation?
- The Facts:
The mainstream and traditional media seem to be failing to have important conversations that are controversial, while at the same time perhaps there isn't enough rigor and critical thinking in alternative media communities.
- Reflect On:
Given we are deeply feeling the need to make sense of our world, is it time we begin to look at developing the inner faculties necessary to move beyond ideology, limited thinking patterns and truly begin looking at what evidence around us says?
One thing I’m noticing now more than ever before in my experience as a journalist and researcher, and as a human in general, is that people are hungry for information that is deeper than what they are getting through the mainstream media. It feels as though people are beginning to recognize that there is a degree of corruption involved in our world and that politicians and traditional media outlets have been compromised in the process. How can you weed through the confusion? What media can I trust? What is the truth? These are all big questions many are now having. Further, there is a lack of trust in many professional or societal experts due to a felt sense that they have been compromised as well. In an attempt to get answers to these questions, people have been looking for alternative information or perspectives about many current events in an attempt to make sense of the world.
I’ve worked 11 years in independent media now. I founded Collective Evolution in 2009 for the purposes of having conversations I felt were important but perhaps not widely available. Initially beginning as a platform for exploring consciousness awakening, CE ventured into current events, as I felt they often reflect the inner aspect of who we are as people – and as a collective. That said, for most of the time CE has been around, we’ve covered some sort of alternative perspective on current events as part of our job. Our commitment was to do this in a way that was as open, transparent, and unbiased as possible. Improving in our style and quality over the years, we often get feedback from a wide audience feeling that we do a pretty good job of staying neutral and open to various possibilities, while still covering what might be considered controversial subjects. Things people call ‘conspiracies.’
Calling these sometimes controversial subjects ‘conspiracy theories’ is a bit unfortunate as it’s a loaded term that brings about many connotations and a general lack of clarity. Does ‘conspiracy theory’ mean there is no evidence? It is not probable? It is not to be believed? Only crazy people who don’t think critically look at them? Was the fact that the NSA spied on US citizens illegally a conspiracy theory before Edward Snowden revealed the truth about that to the world? It was. The idea that ‘big brother’ is watching was considered a paranoid delusion by many, yet they were in fact watching and recording almost everything people in the US did.
Thus, the title of this piece includes the term ‘conspireality’ as it is my feeling that some things we often call conspiracy theories are in fact true, we just don’t know it yet or haven’t accepted it. In that same token, there is an observation I’m seeing within the space of ‘conspiracies’ that is truly important to discuss and reflect on.
Note: much of what I want to share will be written here, more will be in the video at the bottom.
The Rise of The Alternative
For decades people have felt that there is more to mainstream media narratives when it comes to current events. The JFK assassination, UFOs, MK Ultra, the real cause of wars, powerful people who control aspects of society, etc. Typically, much of these conversations remained on the fringe and were had on late night radio shows or unpopular books few knew about. But the advent of the internet and it’s subsequent popularity birthed an opportunity for these ideas and conversations to spread more easily. As time went on, people began to feel ‘alternative’ history or facts about events that happen in our world are increasingly important. While it might be common to chalk this up to some form of mental illness or misstep in thought, there is actually a large number of intelligent and well-read people who are actively exploring very credible information that tells a different, and credible, story about widely accepted mainstream narratives. A recent podcast on The Joe Rogan Experience with guest Tom O’Neil is a perfect example. Tom has spent the last 20 years of his life investigating and writing a book called Chaos: Charles Manson, the CIA, and the Secret History of the Sixties which was published by Little, Brown in the summer of 2019.
As the description of his book reads:
Twenty years ago, when journalist Tom O’Neill was reporting a magazine piece about the murders, he worried there was nothing new to say. Then he unearthed shocking evidence of a cover-up behind the “official” story, including police carelessness, legal misconduct, and potential surveillance by intelligence agents. When a tense interview with Vincent Bugliosi — prosecutor of the Manson Family and author of Helter Skelter — turned a friendly source into a nemesis, O’Neill knew he was onto something. But every discovery brought more questions.
O’Neill’s quest for the truth led him from reclusive celebrities to seasoned spies, from San Francisco’s summer of love to the shadowy sites of the CIA’s mind-control experiments, on a trail rife with shady cover-ups and suspicious coincidences. The product of two decades of reporting, hundreds of new interviews, and dozens of never-before-seen documents from the LAPD, the FBI, and the CIA, Chaos mounts an argument that could be, according to Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney Steven Kay, strong enough to overturn the verdicts on the Manson murders. This is a book that overturns our understanding of a pivotal time in American history.
As I listened to the podcast episode, many of the subjects discussed, including the United State’s government mind control program MK Ultra, and the JFK Assassination were explored with undeniable evidence and important lines of questioning. Contrary to the belief that many of these subjects are mere conspiracy theories brought on by people who only deal in circumstantial evidence and who believe anything that sounds like an entertaining theory, we’re seeing some real truth here. Truth that would completely change the public’s perspective on government and the intelligence community. The implications are huge when you really start to look at it and what the evidence clearly indicates.
This is not the only event that evidently shows coverups. Recent admissions by the US Navy has clearly indicated that government and intelligence communities have been keeping the public in the dark about UFOs for a long time. Looking at government documents and whistleblowers that have been available for decades, you can find out very quickly that much more is going on behind the scenes than people realize, and the discussion of UFOs is really nothing to be gawked at as it often is. Before public admission of the reality of UFOs, the media and many academics made fun of people who believed in UFOs as if they were crazy. Now that same media is telling you they’re real. While they aren’t necessarily saying who is manning these UFOs, the conversation is quickly turning towards admitting to so many of the things ‘conspiracy theorists’ have discussed. One could say that UFOs as a conspiracy theory became reality when the NAVY admitted to the validity of the video evidence that emerged. Do we know exactly what is going on? No, but we know a lot more. Likewise with the NSA’s ‘big brother spying’ program – it’s no longer a conspiracy theory thanks to Edward Snowden. In that sense, you can see where I’m getting my ‘conspireality’ term from – conspiracies that have become reality. The question now is, how do we have conversations about remaining ‘conspiracies’ seriously? Where we look at the evidence with an open mind and truly see what it says.
Alternative media has been covering these topics for years prior to mainstream media even opening up to the idea. Alt media has been filling a void in media that aligns with a correct intuition people have that there is more to what we’re being told – and it involves some highly controversial topics. Hence the rise in alternative media. Popularity grew because it was feeding something deep within people that they felt but could not get from the mainstream. In return, the mainstream culture seems to have taken issue with the rise of alternative media as it represents a loss of having a monopoly on narratives.
Time For A Serious Conversation?
Before I continue I want to be clear that this is a complex and nuanced conversation, and the themes I’m going to discuss don’t apply to all people, but seem to be a big part of ‘alternative’ thinking culture.
As mainstream or traditional media continues to fail to ask the right questions about what is going on in our world (whether it was due to a lack of interest in the part of journalists, direction from media directors, or perhaps a gag order from someone ‘higher up’), it can be said that alternative media may not always carry the necessary standards in reporting and conversation to be taken seriously. Yet these emerging conversations are incredibly important and needed.
One other aspect of this I want to mention, that can be founding both mainstream/traditional media and some alternative media, is the lack of ‘spiritual’ context within current events. Meaning, there are deeper questions about who we are, why we’re here and what life is about that many who are ‘waking up’ are asking and feeling – processing even, yet mainstream media doesn’t have the context to understand this nor empathetically report on it. It can be said that some of alternative media fits in this boat as well.
Lately, I’ve been grappling with this difficult topic, and I sometimes find it a bit tough to even put into words. It is something I’ve loosely discussed for years now, but am now really moving to open up a dialogue about it as I believe we’ve reached an absolutely critical juncture in time where we must begin to explore themes I’m about to present. Themes that involve anything from free speech to societal decline, division, and our potential to create a world where we can thrive. I believe much of what we’ll discuss here is critical to all that and more.
The topic I’ve struggled with lately is that I feel many people in the ‘alternative’ or ‘conspiracy’ community, defined contextually for this article as those who are often well-intended in seeking alternative narratives the mainstream does not offer, seem to have become very ideological, absolute, and extreme about their positions. The conversations being had often jump to conclusions even without evidence, and attack anyone who doesn’t agree with them as being ‘sheeple’ or brain dead. It’s creating huge divides, yet very few want to admit it. Most importantly, it’s making it very hard to have these important conversations about controversial topics that need to be had at this moment. Further, and as I foresaw years ago, it’s also inviting censorship.
Let’s get clear here. You might see a meme that shows a picture with Bill Gates and Jeffrey Epstein, and thus it automatically means we now have proof Gates is a pedophile. ‘The Deep State mass arrests are coming any day now.’ Just as they have been for the last 10 years. Yet still, if you don’t understand that these mass arrests are coming, you’re asleep. The key distinction here is the sense of certainty, the sense that it’s all so obvious, even when it’s not. The use of poor evidence, circumstantial evidence, or none at all, to ‘prove’ what’s going on has overtaken critical thinking. It almost seems like people have become more interested in the entertainment value of this controversial information as opposed to how true it actually might be or how much evidence there truly is.
Take the X22 report for example. He pulls together a ton of circumstantial evidence, matches it with Q posts and then offers an analysis. Many believe his work clearly shows facts in drawing conclusions, but in reality, it’s mere speculation. This is perfectly fine, but people are getting lost in seeing this as unequivocal fact, as opposed to mere speculation. X22 has suggested for example that Julian Assange is safe and sound and his arrest is nothing but ‘part of the plan’ by the Q patriots to save America from the Deep State. In his video, you can follow all of the evidence he proposes, why Assange had a book in his hand, what that book meant, and how it was a code for people to look deeper. This, while those close to Assange, including independent reporters and family, have been saying he is being tortured and suffering deeply in prison. So on one hand you have ‘truthers’ saying he’s fine, don’t worry, part of the plan. And then you have those who actually know him and have access to him saying the situation is bad and people need to help do something about it. Those same truthers have then said “don’t worry, those reporters and family are part of the plan too… it’s all optics.” You can see the issue here.
What I’m getting at is many popular voices in alternative media approach ‘conspiracy theories’ in a way that turns circumstantial evidence into unquestionable truth. Delivered with a sense of certainty or sweeping generalizations. They can often lack critical thinking because they match their circumstantial evidence with the overarching story they have chosen to believe as fact. In turn, many viewers of alternative media seem to have begun believing these ideas as pure truth, without applying the same critical thinking rigor to alt narratives as they would have to mainstream narratives.
This by no means is everyone who watches alternative media. In fact, I have often stated and observed that many who do view alternative media do so because they have developed great critical thinking skills and have realized that there is not much value these days out in watching mainstream or traditional media. That said, there is still a large group of presenters and viewers who make up a culture within the alternative space that does contribute to undermining these conversations. Take Jeffrey Epstein for example. A huge case that began to connect underage sex/pedophile rings to powerful people in the world. An idea that has been around for a long time thanks to survivors and whistleblowers who have told their story. The mainstream media has never done a good job of covering this, and traditional journalists have often shied away from it. Now though, this conversation is huge and ready to be had – people are listening. Then comes the part I’m trying to raise awareness about here: some people in the alternative community will undermine these conversations by aggressively positing that every politician pictured with Epstein is automatically a pedophile and involved. This among other assertions that are easy to debunk of course. This makes it easy for mainstream media or fact-checkers to begin easily debunking ‘conspiracy theories’ related to Jeffrey Epstein as bogus – and in a lot of cases, they are right. Yet, there is actually a meaningful conversation to be had here, there is truth to explore, but if people are not more careful, these conversations won’t be had because their lack of critical thinking and completely certain positions close the door for other onlookers and make it easy to bury this information as unfounded and delusional conspiracies. After all, a quick Google search will return plenty of mainstream media positions analyzing the psychological nature of ‘those who believe in conspiracy theories’ as if there is no real truth to any of them, and that people are just ‘out of their minds’ of sorts.
For myself personally in doing this work for the last 11 years, it is extremely common to have our work lumped in all other “baseless conspiracy theories” due to the fact that we’re often covering the same topics that are considered baseless conspiracy theories because they were covered poorly by others or simply because they sound similar. We become guilty by association and part of a culture of people who seem to simply believe everything without any real evidence, this, regardless of the fact that we approach these important conversations with evidence and rigor.
Perhaps you’ve had the experience where you suggest in conversation “I don’t feel Jeffrey Epstein killed himself.” And right away a friend says “oh, you sound like a conspiracy theorist.” One might assume it’s because that friend is not open-minded or was convinced by mainstream media it’s all a conspiracy, when in reality that friend may have witnessed a ton of laughable and paranoid content with weak evidence and harshly stated ‘facts’ that when researched, returned no real results. Thus the question becomes, is the ‘conspiracy’ community actually digging their own grave and just blaming mainstream media for why people don’t listen?
How Can We Adjust?
11 years ago I had a vision of creating media that approaches understanding our world in a different way. As our About Us page on CE states:
We live in a time where virtually every aspect of our society is changing or crumbling. Power is shifting and old ways of looking at and understanding our world are no longer working. New voices and ideas are emerging that encourage us to look more deeply at why our world is the way it is, and what about us creates it to be this way.
Collective Evolution is a news-media and education company that creates content to explore how humanity can shift our consciousness and way of being to evolve beyond the personal and global challenges we face. We help encourage the development of inner faculties to explore more about how we can arrive at truth as opposed to just saying what truth is. Our work encourages a greater connection to self, an increase of self-awareness and being aware of what’s around us. We encourage others to let information be as opposed to it defining who we are and developing ideology.
What do our current events say about how we operate as people? What do our societal structures and common issues say about our level of thinking (consciousness) and what type of ideas we’re bringing to the table? What if the solution to the many challenges we feel we face today is actually in changing how we think, relate to one another, and even relate to our world?
We feel this is one of the key missing factors in mainstream media, alternative media and traditional societal discussions today, and therefore we create our content to inspire personal transformation and the expansion of collective consciousness through two key avenues: news media and personal transformation content.”
We’ve always felt that bringing the inner work, inner transformation aspect into making sense of our world was key as it is empowering and actually allows each person to take responsibility for what they are creating in their life and in the world. By developing inner faculties like critical thinking, presence, self-awareness, and intuition, we can better understand our world and why it is the way it is. We can also begin to become aware of an expanded state of who we are, which may choose to create society from a completely different mindset than simply believing we are a cog in the wheel with beliefs and ideologies that are outdated and don’t resonate with us.
Thus I’m putting forth a call here, firstly, perhaps it’s time we move on from this whole idea of calling things a “conspiracy theory.” We have learned by now that if we apply critical thinking and proper journalism to many of these controversial ideas, what’s worth exploring further becomes clear quickly. I discuss these ideas much more deeply in a video I produced on this subject in relation to a few early statements made by David Icke during a London Real interview about COVID-19. David assertively states that “COVID-19 does not exist” and then proceeds to make a strong link between COVID-19 and 5G. I’m not saying David is a bad researcher or anything of that fashion, on the contrary, I believe some of his work is solid, and asks some great questions. But what I’m saying is, if you look at the aftermath of that conversation, whereby assertions are made that are certainly nothing more than speculation but not presented as such, we can clearly see what shifts need to be made in how these conversations are approached so we can do a better job of having them seriously and uniting people.
5G as a conversation was deeply undermined as mainstream media had an easy time stating there is no evidence linking 5G to COVID, and now those who look into 5G safety might be highly skeptical because the ‘crazy conspiracy’ was that 5G created COVID. Further, there are serious discussions to be had around the origins of COVID-19 and whether or not the authoritarian measures are truly necessary, yet how can we easily have those conversations when such a large portion of the community is simply saying COVID is a hoax and that it doesn’t exist? This isn’t to say that these ideas should not be explored, this is the piece many seem to miss. They want it to be a black and white conversation – who are the good guys? Who are the bad guys? Should I do this, or that? When in reality, this is a conversation about making sense of a situation that is extremely complex, and if we try and put forth one all-encompassing theory that is certain about what’s going on right now, we can’t possibly be accurate in that as we simply don’t know everything. So why assert it as such? It is virtually impossible. Yet those who don’t agree with this all-encompassing and obvious agenda…. asleep. This is the issue I want to talk about more in the video below. I also offer what I feel are some solutions and realizations people could reflect on to see how they feel for them.
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