A Bit Trying - But Certainly Something Worth Expressing...

A challenging day to start for sure, I'm sure there are many for whom the term challenge applies much more aptly in terms of a daily struggle that takes more than attitude into account, though I almost got off on the wrong foot. 

It was close for sure. I think the best thing is to know that you'll have a vast diversity of experiences in life and not all are going to be enjoyable or even comfortable and that not all of us come built with the tools and the know-how to deal with difficulties and challenges that we face. 

Yet, that makes none of us the lesser or greater. I've had good days. I've had bad days. I'll certainly have many more and many others of a different quality and nature (as will you). Odds are that I might not handle them as well as I'd hope to. 

I think the important thing is to do your best and not to be too hard on yourself when you come up short of your efforts and that you're true to yourself and your being.

I'm very grateful that most of my challenges don't involve a major health crisis. I'm very fortunate for that as for many others, that is a huge factor in their daily dealings.

I once said to my parents, "I wish we could win the lottery".

They replied: "You already did. You were born in a place with a universal healthcare system, a well established infrastructure, a strong economy, a fair justice system and an adaptable form of Government that you can have an impact upon simply by voting, or by being actively involved in how it functions. You're free to pursue your life's passions as you see fit".

We as a people tend to take for granted that for which we don't have to fight. I don't mean physically fight. I mean struggle against something trying to take away from you. Something of which you neglect to see the true value of its nature, and only appreciate it fully when its gone.

Fighting for these things is what shapes us into who we are and what we're about, though we wouldn't otherwise know this until those aspects of our being were challenged and don't forget that there are still many people in the world for whom that fact is a part of their daily reality. One they'll never take for granted because its with them every single day.

Everything we're afforded here in this land of plenty is wonderful, but it came from the efforts of others who fought for what we have and take for granted. Many for the price of their lives. 

This includes many aspects of our rights as much so as our freedom and these are two aspects of our being that ever more encroached and not because the Government is out to get us, because it isn't. 

We're out to get us, and the moment we let down our guard is when we really will get ourselves and possibly the worst of us.

Let me explain.

How do people know us? 

I mean in the sense of us each being a distinct conscious entity, physically represented by our body which we assume (scientifically and philosophically) houses or is the receiver of our individual consciousness. 

How do people know us and distinguish who we are from others and how do we know ourselves?

By a name or title? By what we do and how we behave?

What about those aspects of our being that are stigmatizing?

For instance, I drink. Not often, but I do drink alcohol.

Let me explain why this is important to bring up in this context.

There are people who smoke. Cigarettes. Cannabis.

I used to smoke cigarettes. And cannabis.

I never really agreed strongly with cigarette smoking, yet I did it. It was definitely an addiction and habit for me.

It was a bit stigmatizing the fact that I did it, and there were some that would stigmatize me for it and justly so. I mean I could never come up with a good excuse that would justify the healthy risks.

Eventually, I got up one day and decide that I wasn't a cigarette smoker anymore. Not because of the stigma, but because of the fact that I clearly didn't agree with it and I knew that it was affecting my health (and bank roll) adversely.

Cannabis on the other hand was something that I wasn't often involved with, but something which I always believed was not wrong. Sure, the inhalation of smoke is bad without a traditional or spiritual context as it has for many Aboriginal persons, but for recreational consumption of cannabis, there were alternative methods to ingestion even when it was illegal that did not pose similar health threats as compared with inhalation. 

This is something I wasn't programmed to believe. It was just intuitive for me and something I felt for the whole time, whether I was a user of cannabis or not and that was long before its legalization.

My point being that there was something about it that resulted in many people fighting for its legalization. This isn't about cannabis itself. 

Its about people, stigmas and finding oneself.

The same thing happened during the prohibition years in the United States, when alcohol was ruled illegal for consumption. Consuming it was considered very unhealthy, stigmatizing and illegal. Yet, many people fought tooth and nail against its prohibition in the United States, and now it is legal.

I don't expect the same fate for cigarettes. Cigarettes were created for and marketed to women by the major tobacco companies as alternatives to their masculine pipe tobacco and cigar smoking counterparts. Cigarettes were not invented by the Aboriginal people. 

In fact, cigarettes to many Aboriginal Elders would be regarded like taking the wine from a Catholic Eucharist, repackaging it and selling from out of the back of a Church (which probably happened frequently in ages past). 

The only justification for the trade of Aboriginal cigarettes is a link to tradition and ancestry, as tobacco, along with furs, was the most valuable trade commodity the Aboriginal people had, though their tobacco trade did not come in cigarette form. It was sold in bulk as tobacco plants, perhaps in some cases refined in the same way the Aboriginal people would use to prepare their tobacco for the sweat lodges.

Tobacco will, due to its link to Aboriginal tradition, always exist and rightfully so as a strong part of their link to their history, culture and ancestry, but cigarette smoking will eventually die off. That's already happening.

My point here is that there's little effort in the face of medical evidence to support the negative stigmas against cigarette smoking. In other words, nobody is fighting for it in the same way that people fought for their right to drink or to consume cannabis.

Drinking can in unmoderated consumption have very negative effects upon the kidney and liver and can also lead to dependency in certain people. Yet, it is something that remains and for which people will continue to fight. This fight might die down with generations to come, who pursue their own different euphoric experiences for stress relief and relaxation. That is, despite the stigma of others labeling you as one who consumes alcohol, there are always people willing to fight to protect it. 

Cannabis too.

However, there are substances and stigmas for which most people will not fight and this difference really defines who we are and what we're about and more importantly, that for which we're willing to fight.

What about more private aspects to our life like our sexuality and sexual oppression? The right for us to have the final say on what happens with our body? 

A key right in the Women's rights movement.

In the 1800s, it was very stigmatic for Men to support the rights of Women to vote. They would be taunted as being feminine Men or even have their own Masculinity denied them by others in society who opposed Women's right to vote, yet in 1863, New Zealand was amongst the first nations in the world to ratify the Women's Vote which means that in their society, and other societies throughout the world, there were Women (and Men) who were willing to ride out the worst of the stigmatization and maintain their stance of the protection of a Woman's right to participate in the vote and their country's due process.

For a long time, homosexuality was a taboo and yet there were people who fought for it to protect it, eventually leading to a human rights movement and community in cities throughout the world. Despite that stigmatization, there were people willing to fight for it.

So consider that what defines you is what you're willing to protect for yourself and others despite the social stigmas involved.

Now I would never throw anyone to the wolves for their habits with which I disagree, yet there are many things of that nature for which I will never stand and whose stigmas I'll never carry. To do so, would to me say that I believe in those things more strongly that I do to smoke cigarettes. Considering I quit smoking cigarettes eleven years ago this coming June, that's a pretty strong statement.

For instance cocaine and crack cocaine. I strongly disagree with those things and have never defended them.

Ayahuasca on the other hand is a traditional ingredient used by South American Aboriginal Shamans for their version of the Aboriginal Vision Quest, in much the same way that Peyote and Psilocybin have been used for similar purposes by their northern Aboriginal counterparts. I'm not necessarily advocating for their recreational use, but certainly defending their part of a long standing tradition and spiritual element of Aboriginal culture.

The Poppy, I very much defend for many good reasons. For one, its symbol to veterans the world over, especially for Remembrance Day. Secondly, because when it is harvested and refined, it can be used to produce Morphine, which has saved millions of lives historically, and is still used as a pain reliever and anesthetic for crisis centers and field hospitals the world over. Once again, I am not advocating for the use of Heroin or Morphine recreationally. I am merely citing the fact that there are very good reasons for Morphine to exist that pit its use as an essential tool of pain relief, anesthesia and emergency surgery.

These are all aspects of society that need to be spoken of and dealt with. Dealing with them helps us to understand ourselves and our society as a whole.

One last aspect I'd really like to touch upon again has to do with stigma and cliche and certainly affects who we perceive we're allowed to mingle with and who we're not, all based upon stigmatization.

I very much believe in due process and our system of Government, though I don't always agree with everyone who works for those entities, but for the most part, I have a pretty good track record of having some common consensus with those employed by the Government or Infrastructure. Not always, but mostly.

I am a law abiding citizens for the most part, though dabbling in this very topic could pose a challenge in my future, but one that I'm willing to take because once again, this is something that really needs to be dealt with for all of us.

Once again, it involves stigmatization. For instance, I've had friends who work on the Police force. I've had friends who aren't that might be considered by society as being emblematic of rebellion or unlawfulness.

We have a right in Canada and one that is reflected similarly in other countries that is called the right of association, and also has a counterpart (by implication) called the right not to associate.

This right protects your right to have friends or to socialize and mingle with people who others might in a stigmatic sense, label as being rebellious or unlawful in some way due to their habits or life history.

We just arrived at the age where a person who consumes cannabis can answer their door to a Police Officer and not have to worry about the fact that they could be arrested simply for smelling of cannabis. Once again, I don't smoke at all, but there are stigmas that govern who and how we're allowed to interact with others and sometimes those stigmas go a long way to ensuring that our right of association is not guaranteed.

Police and law enforcement likely understand this aspect very well, as I'd be willing to bet they're often called upon to deal with situations where a person is stigmatically uncomfortable dealing with someone else for no other reason than the stigma of association.

My friends are my friends for reasons other than their associated stigmas and to tell you the truth, we all have stigmas. All of us. So for the stigmas my friends have that are a burden to me, I also likely have stigmas that are a burden to them.

We live in the day and age when people can learn and know our secrets, which can be used to create burden for those we know and care about. Our family and friends and in such a way that undermines our association with them despite the fact that we have the right of association in this country.

If we let people disconnect us from one another by way of the weight of our stigmas, then we all will truly be alone eventually. Also, consider the fact that this isn't the Police or law enforcement that is doing anything of this nature to us. They understand the nature of that right very well and are always the first to remind us of that.

Not wanting to deal with or carry the weight of a stigma isn't necessarily a sign that you need different friends or associates. It might be a sign that the people around you are trying to break those ties between you and others at their weakest points and despite the fact that the law clearly states you have the right of association with whom you choose as much so as you have the right not to associate.

Here's another thing too. Just because you know someone that had difficulties with the law earlier in life, doesn't mean that you can't be their friend and that you can't have friends that are also involved in law enforcement. Its not a case of one or the other. Our rights back that up and its not the law that is attempting to divide us in that way. Quite honestly, it is people who want to make it into an issue and a weapon, turning stigmatization and burden into a punishment forced upon people with whose stance on the issues they disagree. So those stigmas become your weight, and you're reminded of this by such people as that is what actually makes the burden. Keep in mind that they're violating a key element of our rights.

We have the right to associate. We also have the right not to associate.

By making the weight of the people with whom you choose to associate that much more burdensome, they are violating an important aspect of our rights and turning their backs upon the people who fought for those rights and brought them to Parliament.

By the same token, by making the weight of the people with whom you choose NOT to associate any burden to you, they are violating an important aspect of our rights and turning their backs upon the people who fought for those rights and brought them to Parliament.

Just because you don't want to carry the weight of stigmatization for someone else doesn't mean that you would throw them to the wolves, but people who make that weight as heavy as it is are violating your rights and they're doing nothing to unify people. 

If anything, they're creating the means by which we're divided and polarized. By being aware of this, now you're understanding our rights and what the people who fought for them endured.

More so, we're learning to understand their importance in the face of forces that would undermine all of our progress thus far and that is what defines us as human beings here in this existence.

Remember that while Gorbachev was being held captive, that it was Boris Yeltsin, a solitary man struggling with alcoholism that stood down a military coup by the USSR to regain control of Russia in 1991. How's that for proof that stigma really means little when it comes down to the power of principle. Even when standing down a superior force.

We are individuals and each of us unique, yet we are all a part of something much bigger than ourselves alone where neither the individual nor the group is the lesser, nor greater. 

These priorities fluctuate according our current needs relative to the needs of the other. The individual or the group. The individual (with difficulty) can exist without the group, but the group cannot exist without the individual. When the two work together, miracles can happen. The great thing about that fact is that when one of us wins, we all win and vice versa.

Please remember too that front line workers and first responders deal with these issues often and especially in the midst of the challenges of COVID-19. Our law enforcement, military and security too. These are trying times for us all.

I'd highly suggest staying away from the kind of people who'd deny you of your own identity or existence. The kind of people who'd replace your identity with someone else's or steal your output to fuel the lives of other people. That's a large part of what's happening currently, and unfortunately there's many people making that sort of thing possible or even perpetrating it. That's often what happens with my efforts here on Shhhh! Digital Media, with my own identity being denied me in my own community unfortunately.

If you're struggling with similar issues, don't let it bowl you over. We're all learning in this journey and we're all going to have good days and bad days and despite the stigmas of being us. The kind of people who take other people's identity or replace the identity of other people to make them carry the weight of others will eventually answer for doing so. 

When you see someone having a bad day, just remember that one day not too long ago, that was you, and it will be you again in the future as much so as there will be good days too.

When I was out and about doing my shopping and facing my struggles, I almost vetoed posting anything new for The Butterfly Dragon or A Lady's Prerogative this weekend, but I'm going to retract that decision and I'm going to post something for each, though the Epilogue for The Butterfly Dragon II: What Different Eyes See won't be ready until Sunday. I will however post the next part of A Lady's Prerogative II: Wounded Aerth as soon as I'm done editing. 

More YouTube posts at https://youtube.shhhhdigital.com to come as well...

Please stay safe and be well, 

Brian Joseph Johns



As usual, I don't play guitar or even have one and my love interest is a Mandarin Chinese lady and Opera singer with whom I've previously been involved. Of course as always, I've great affection for Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, India, Malaysia, Thailand, Europe, New Zealand, Australia, South America, Mexico, United States and Canada.