This is our New Reality

new reality

I wanted to write about the new royal baby today. When I heard the news on Monday morning that Kate gave birth to her third child, I was excited to write about the British royal family. While I’m not obsessed, yes, I’m a fan. But on Monday afternoon I turned on the radio shortly after 2:00 pm. I was in my car, about to leave a parking lot. I couldn’t move. Horror washed over my body. I suddenly felt sick to my stomach. This is our new reality.

In the age of technology, with instant news and lives shared on social media, the details of the horror on Yonge street in Toronto spread rapidly. The world saw videos and photos, heard and read witness accounts, after a man drove a van block after block, on the sidewalk, intentionally murdering people.

I couldn’t focus yesterday, and my heart ached for the people killed and injured and their families and friends. So many questions immediately went through my head, like why did this happen? What was going through this man’s mind when he committed this heinous act? What has happened to our society?

While it did not make me feel any better, I quickly realized that this is our new reality. We often speak of how we live in a modern age, with equality, freedom and justice. In Canada children are raised to be anything and everything they want to be. We are free to speak our minds in public and protest against injustice. People walk down the street and hold their heads high, without fear.

Or not.

When I was a child, at age 5, I walked home from kindergarten most days with my brother. School was s short distance from our house, and we walked home together with a group of kids. We went to the nearby park on our own and played sports on the street. Our parents knew we were safe. When we ran off down the street to play with our friends, our parents knew we would come home. When parents kissed their children good bye in the morning, they knew they would see them that evening, after work.

But that is no longer the reality and hasn’t been for years. I’m scared to let my children out of my sight in public, and I will admit that when I say good bye to my husband in the morning, when he jumps on the subway, I often have a quick, horrifying thought in my head, what if I never see him again? What if the subway is attacked or someone drives up on the sidewalk and hits a crowd of pedestrians?

And then it happened to someone’s husband, or wife, sister, brother, mother, father or friend yesterday. Someone said good bye for the last time.  And I wasn’t surprised. I felt sick, horrified and angry, but I was not shocked. This is our new reality.

Or maybe it’s not new, it’s just evolving. Mentally ill individuals, who for any number of reasons were angry with an individual or society, have used violence on a massive scale to voice their grievances. In some cases, there is a religious motivation, but often not. There was the massacre in 1989 which targeted a group of female engineering students at the University of Montreal. An individual murdered police officers in Alberta in 2005.

And yet, yesterday’s attack was somehow different. Or at least it was different for Canadians. Driving a vehicle, intentionally, into a group of people, is not new. It is a tactic that has been employed for many years to murder innocents around the world. But it was new in Canada and in an instant changed our reality forever.

I wish I could offer some unique insights or an inspirational thought to make us all feel better. But I can’t. What I feel today is sadness, as do thousands of Torontonians. We love our city, and I believe that most of us think the best of all people. Right now, we are coming together to grieve and to pay tribute to those whose lives were lost, to those who were injured and to the first responders who did a tremendous job to help those in need.

Moving forward we need to face our new reality with our heads held high. We must show kindness to our fellow human beings and reach out and support people who suffer from mental illness or who feel they don’t have a voice. I wish that would mean our world would be a better place, but at least we can try.

I Cannot Bear any more Horrors of Gun Violence


I went to bed late Sunday night and had trouble falling asleep. I was restless and could not get comfortable. I remember that I looked at the clock beside my bed at 12:45 am, then I must have fallen asleep a few minutes later. Little did I know, as I fell into a deep slumber, in the comfort of my bed, that horror was about to strike down people a few thousand kilometres from my home. It was yet another, more fearsome and deadly than ever, episode of gun violence in the United States.

My sentiments in support of gun control go back to the fall of 2000, during my third and final semester of Journalism School at NYU. For one of my final courses to achieve my Master’s degree, I had to develop, write, produce and edit two short documentaries. The first had to be on a U.S. election issue (do you remember the famous election of 2000?) and the other was on a subject of my own choice.

I was immediately drawn to the issue of gun control for my election piece, and I spent a lot of time and energy researching the subject. As a Canadian, I knew about the strict gun laws that existed at home, but I knew little about the issue in the U.S.

As a journalist, I knew it was my job to seek out all perspectives, to speak with people on both sides of this emotionally charged issue. And I did that. I did my due diligence, and I made sure to interview gun-carrying advocates as well as those in support of strict gun controls.

But it was hard for me to keep my composure when I sat across from a mother who tearfully told me about her son’s last days, before he was shot in the head and killed by a gun. I stayed professional as I recorded the interview and gave her the opportunity to tell me her story.

I produced a fair and well-balanced story, so that anyone who viewed my 8-minute piece was educated on the issue and could make his or her own decision. But I knew where I stood then and I know where I stand now. I believe that not only is there almost no gun control in the United States but that the gun policies that exist in that country are killing its people one by one.

I am not an expert on American gun laws, but if one man can own almost a dozen guns, including a machine gun which can blow off round after round of bullets, there is something wrong with that society.

After each tragedy, where massive casualties due to gun violence have been suffered, we see government and community leaders stand up in front of the world and declare that they can’t take it anymore. They say they can’t bear to watch innocent children murdered or young couples out for an evening concert shot down. But at the end of the day the society as a whole just moves on and waits for the next tragedy.

Can we blame today’s gun violence epidemic on the U.S. Second Amendment? It states, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” This amendment was enacted in 1791 as part of the Bill of Rights, and from what I have read, this pertains to individuals. I understand why it was written, back in 1791, based on the current situation in which this young country was living.

But a right to bear arms does not mean that everyone should bear arms. Or if someone feels strongly about this right, how can this person legally acquire a pile of handguns and an assault rifle?

Guns have one purpose: to kill. A gun is not a toy and it’s definitely not art. It is a weapon designed to kill a living being, and that’s it. So, if someone insists on buying one gun, never mind ten guns, society needs checks and balances in place to keep control over those guns and those people with those guns.

Sunday’s act of savage gun violence may have killed more people than any one attack before, but it’s just one of many that have happened this year, in years past, and I am sorry to say, for years to come. Until the people of the United States look inward and understand that guns are killing them from within, they will not change.

My sincere sympathy and condolences to the families and friends of the victims of this week’s gun violence and to those who were killed from violence from guns in the past.

What has this World Become?

What has the world become


I returned home safely tonight from a wonderful few days in New York. As I have written in previous posts, I love to travel, and I also try to see the best in every person I meet. Everywhere I have traveled I have come across some of the most kind, friendly, generous people, from New Zealand to Hong Kong to New York to London.

I firmly believe that a large majority of people across the world are just that – kind, friendly and generous. They want to live and raise their children in a world where they feel safe, where they can succeed and where they can love and be loved.

But I am also not ignorant – I know that there are many people in this world who are hateful, angry and murderous. History has shown us just how terrible humanity can be, as millions of people have been killed through the centuries in the name of nationalism, racism and religion.

So why is it any different in 2017? Is it because those of us living in the West felt safe at restaurants and concerts and that false sense of security has been shattered? Is it because we live in a time with mass media, where hatred can be spread quickly and efficiently through the Internet and social media? Or do we see a new kind of fanaticism emerging in our societies, that is rooted in a twisted interpretation of sacred texts?

I don’t have an answer to this question, and I believe this and other questions are on the minds of many people across the world. How can someone blow himself up outside a concert hall that is packed with young girls and women? How can anyone drive a vehicle through a crowd of people enjoying an evening out? How can someone pull out a gun and shoot and murder people dancing at a night club?

These questions often haunt me, and if I allowed it, they would overtake my thoughts. I can’t allow it and I won’t allow it. I am going to focus on the kind, friendly, generous people I have met around the globe who, like me, are trying hard to see the best in everyone. If the majority of people can do that, then in the words of France’s new President, Emmanuel Macron, we can “make our planet great again.”