Saturday, June 25, 2016

Children: What Memorable Moments Are We Creating For Them?

It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men. - Frederick Douglass

Each day of our lives we make deposits in the memory banks of our children. - Charles R. Swindoll

I was sitting with a friend and colleague yesterday when he was suddenly alerted by a text on his phone.  He checked it and proudly shared a photo with me – he was a Grandpa again!

Greg and I grew up in different parts of Eastern Canada at roughly the same time period and his newest addition to the family prompted me to ask him a question:

What memorable moments are we creating for the children of today?

Greg looked at me for a moment before he stated, “That is a VERY good question.  I’m not sure what the answer is.”

The question took us on a trip down memory lane, two guys in their fifties remembering events and actions (mostly funny) that if we ever caught our kids doing when they were younger, we would have had them severely punished for.

Greg shared a story from his youth that I would like to share to make a point.

In grade 3, Greg and his friend Freddy were fishing off a wharf in Nova Scotia.  They had found a bucket of square nails (a nail with a square cross section instead of a round one, common in construction up to the 19th century), which to Greg, didn’t mean anything at the moment.  Greg had been catching perch off the wharf in significant quantities and at one point turned around to see what Freddy was doing.  Freddy had used the nails to affix a hundred or more perch to the side of the fish plant building and it made for quite a mess.  The two hot-footed their way out of the area before they were caught.

We both laughed heartily at the memory, even though we knew inside that if either of us had been the owner of the building at the time, we wouldn’t have been very happy at all.

We exchanged other memories like jumping from ice pan to ice pan in the bay during the winter (known as copying in Newfoundland) and a collection of other things that would be frowned upon now for being too risky, too dangerous or too improper for one reason or another.  Even things like organized sport didn’t exist where I grew up and we were forced to find our own ways to play sports, in the process learning how to be creative, collaborative, resourceful and how to get along (most of the time) without the supervision of adults.  If we went to our parents to complain about someone not playing fairly, we were usually told to go back outside and play and we did, learning how to negotiate, be assertive, be malleable, etc. in solving the problem that we had thought we needed our parents to solve.

We then pondered today’s kids.  What memorable moments do they have?  Are the memorable moments tied up in victories in sports?  Are they tied up in memorable vacations?  Do they have any memories beyond an event in Facebook, getting a new X-Box, watching news media overanalyze a terror event, watching their country tear itself up over gender definitions and the like?

Most (sadly, not all) of my generation didn’t know much about evil in the world (or in our community).  The world contained as much evil then as now but ignorance was bliss for young people then.  We were allowed to be children, without having to be lectured about sex, terrorists or anything else when we were five years old.

And it caused me to wonder:

Are we making our kids grow up and "mature" too early with our noble intention to make them more informed than we were at their age?  Is our effort to make them more aware of the world actually destroying them instead?

Are we making them too aggressive by enrolling them in competitive sports where “winning” is more important than the things I mentioned when we were playing “pick up” games?  Do they really need such structure and discipline so early in Life?

Are we applying too much pressure on them by forcing them to be so deeply aware of the world’s problems at an age where they do not have the tools to understand the problems but they do have the ability to acquire more fears as a result?  Could this be one of many reasons why so many young people today need professional support to cope with Life?

Are we teaching them effective personal finance strategy when we tell (and show) them that buying things on credit (and thus satisfying a need immediately) is just as valid as waiting until one can afford something?

Are we removing too much of their potential to learn creativity by overloading them with forms of entertainment where they acquire some skills but many of the aspects of their imagination are filled in or provided for them?

Are we burdening them with too much hyper-connectivity, where they constantly text, FaceTime, Tweet (or something else) every update to everyone (and receive the same in turn) and where as a result, their brain never gets a chance to be quiet or to contemplate their own Life without being consumed by everyone else’s?

Are we ----- fill in your own question here -----?

The Bottom Line

I know it is easy to relive our memories with a fond sense of nostalgia, with most people preferring to remember good memories while forgetting (intentionally or not) bad memories.

But I wonder what kind of world we are creating for children as we push them to be permanently plugged in and overloaded before their malleable brains have had the opportunity to develop properly.

It is a question that calls for data and not just opinion.

By interesting coincidence, my friend Doug Picirillo posted this tweet today.

What remains of your childish fears and innocent hopes?  Too often, we cling to the former and crush the latter.

Doug’s tweet and the questions that I asked need to be addressed, since the manner in which we prepare our children becomes an investment in the quality of their Life and the type of world we are creating.

Are we, as Doug asked, investing in innocent hopes or do we fall to what some people tell us, that to do so is a sign of weakness or an improper means of preparing our children and so we should crush their innocent hopes as soon as possible to make children “sensible”, “responsible” and “mature”?

Do you know how you are impacting and preparing your children?

Do you know what kind of world your children will create as a result of your choices?

How do you know?

Does it matter?

Why or why not?

In service and servanthood,


PS A great musical group from my home province of Newfoundland and Labrador, Buddy Wasisname and the Other Fellers, once released a song called Shinny on the Ice, describing what it was like to grow up in Newfoundland “way back when”.

The song describes a life that was intentionally simpler.

Yes, evil happened back then and but most of us were blissfully unaware of it.  However, I don’t think I am the worse for not knowing what was going on in the world when I was younger.

Here is the song I referenced (and the lyrics).

Now if you will excuse me, I think I’m going to ask the guys in the office if they want to go play ball in the field for a while.

I will alert my parents to be on standby in case we can’t agree on the rules.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Alberta–Where Women’s Safety Doesn’t Matter

An abuser can seem emotionally needy. You can get caught in a trap of catering to him, trying to fill a bottomless pit. But he’s not so much needy as entitled, so no matter how much you give him, it will never be enough. He will just keep coming up with more demands because he believes his needs are your responsibility, until you feel drained down to nothing. - Lundy Bancroft

The scars from mental cruelty can be as deep and long-lasting as wounds from punches or slaps but are often not as obvious. - Lundy Bancroft

The purpose of human life is to serve, and to show compassion and the will to help others. - Albert Schweitzer

I have a question that perhaps you can help me with.

This is not a #1206 fiction blog that many of you have come to enjoy.

This is not, as my son describes, one of my parables.

This is not one of my skewers of some misguided politician.

And sorry to disappoint you, but I have no opinion on Brexit.

Here is my question.

A woman in small town Alberta has been chased from her property by an abusive son who was the son of a physically and emotionally abusive father.  The father died when the child was young and the child grew up to be an abusive son, coercing and manipulating his mother emotionally and financially.

He threatened her physically and drained her of tens of thousands of dollars in cash over a period of more than a decade.  She has been informed by the RCMP that she cannot return to her property until a way is found to remove him from the property (something that is caught up in “due process”), even though this property is her primary residence and her sole source of income.

An Emergency Protection Order (EPO) was requested but denied.  According to due process, a person with a documented anger issue, a drug abuse issue and firearms cannot be considered a threat to a person's health if they merely threaten the person's Life - they must take action first and then the EPO can be issued (hopefully with the idea that the person hasn't been killed already).  A judge said this week that due process in such cases is ridiculous and that she should just claim her property with him being automatically removed but due process continues to grind anyway.

He has four unsecured firearms on the premises and has been identified by a number of legal and enforcement officials as having a serious but as yet unidentified mental health condition.

He has admitted to the RCMP of addiction to a number of substances with cocaine being his preferred drug of choice.  People have called him and left him messages looking for fentanyl.

The property that his mother has been chased from has outbuildings which he has added new locks to to keep prying eyes from seeing “something”.  These outbuildings are used to generate an income for the owner but that income is in jeopardy since the equipment needed to generate that income is locked inside buildings that the owner cannot access because she is not allowed to return to the property.

He lives in a farmhouse that, once beautiful, has now been documented by RCMP as filled with garbage, feces and cocaine residue and is basically uninhabitable.  He stole a property marker from someone else's residence and put it on the property that he is located on with the hopes of hiding his address from police.

He has expressed on Facebook that he hates Life, Life (and the world) make him angry and that he has dodged being arrested in the past.

His self-esteem is at zero, adding a Facebook "Like" when people call him a "c**ksniffer", "homosexual douche bag", "loser", etc., making him a candidate for displaced aggression as he absorbs abuse from people and then redirects the negative energy he has absorbed to other people.

And yet despite all of this, after a court-mandated 24-hour health assessment was executed by RCMP yesterday, he was released within an hour.

Here are some notable quotes from one of the doctors who performed the assessment when interrogated by the mother.

Psychiatrist: I don’t know why he is here.  Why is he here?  We have no reason to keep him.

Mother: You are releasing him? Did you read the affidavit that caused him to be taken in (the affidavit describes 8 pages of propensity towards violent behavior mixed with possible drug addiction and possession of firearms)?

Psychiatrist response: I read some document about a messy house or something.

My observation: Attention to detail makes all the difference.

Mother: He has threatened me repeatedly, including making references to bullets and telling me that if I return to my own house, that something bad will happen to me.  He has posted videos on Facebook showing women being beaten viciously by men and he thinks it is funny.  He has fits of uncontrollable anger where he throws things at people.  These and other things are in the affidavit.

Psychiatrist response: People get angry, you know.

My observation: There is a significant difference between anger, which is not uncommon, and threatening to hurt someone, potentially by shooting them.

Mother: In addition to the threats he has issued, he was, in his own words and by my observation, abused by his father.  He has also told people that he hates the world and that the world makes him angry.

Psychiatrist response: That is not relevant

My observation: According to psychiatry texts, there is an established correlation between being abused and growing up with mental health issues as a result (including becoming an abuser).

Mother: He lives in squalor, living in his own garbage and feces.

Psychiatrist response: Maybe the toilets are not working.

My observation: The toilets work fine. It is not normal to live in one's own feces and garbage.

Mother: The court ordered a 24-hour health assessment, which means he can be held against his will while a battery of tests are conducted to determine what the concerns are.

Psychiatrist response: I can’t hold him against his will.  If he has issues, we will provide him with material so that he can explore programs available to him.

My observation: People who have specific illness often do not have sufficient capability to understand that they need help or how to obtain it even if they decide they need it.

Psychiatrist response: Does he hear voices or does he talk to God?

Mother: I don't know.  How would I know that?  Why don't you ask him that?

Psychiatrist response: Well, if he doesn't do those things, there is likely nothing wrong with him.

My observation: People of faith talk to God on a regular basis - it is called prayer and last I checked, wasn't considered a reason to be considered mentally ill.

Mother: What kind of questions did you ask him?

Psychiatrist response: I can't tell you - client privilege.

My observation: I wonder if the standard assessment tests were ordered and if so, how they could have been conducted so quickly (in less than an hour).  While the answers might be privileged, it is likely the case that the questions shouldn't be (if any were asked at all).

Two hours later when the RCMP found out he had been released, the constable on duty called the hospital and, on the record, tore a couple of layers off the doctor.  He also told the mother that he had half a mind to drag the doctor to the house to show the doctor what condition the individual was living in.

And now a person with an identified serious anger issue, hatred against women issues, drug addiction and firearm’s possession is back on the streets.  Hopefully he is not thinking revenge after the embarrassment of being brought to a hospital by police.

Here is my question that I am hoping you can help me with.


If this individual had attacked a member of the LGBTQ community, a Syrian refugee or an animal, there would be hell to pay (and rightfully so).

And yet, the individual’s mother has to wonder, as the system grinds its way through wondering how to deal with this, if she is even safe.  She is not permitted to return to her primary residence and her sole source of income is being threatened.

It sounds and looks like she is living in a third-world country where women's rights to safety don't matter.

The Bottom Line

The last time I checked, Alberta was supposed to be a modern province in the modern nation of Canada.

But if the system is going to allow women to be treated like this, protecting a predator while victims are left to scramble for their own safety and sanity, then it appears that we have more respect for the cattle that roam the prairies than the women who live there.

Maybe there’s the answer.

While we’re branding the cattle, we can just brand the women also and tell them to forget that they have rights or that there is never a sense of urgency when their emotional, physical or financial security is at stake.

I think we MUST do much better.

While the system pontificates over due process and the rights of everyone, this woman and women like her fear for their safety.  At the same time, people who need help as is the case with the person with the issue are left to languish.  Providing them with self-service offerings to help themselves, when they are not in a position to make lucid decisions that would enable them to avail of such services, leaves people without the help they need.  Hopefully, neither person becomes a statistic as due process takes whatever time it needs or wants.

I don’t think this is right or acceptable.

What do you think?

What can we do about it?

What are we waiting for?

In service and servanthood,



A police officer observed that even when they dropped off people who attempted suicide by slitting their wrists, they are often released within two hours.  Does this honor people who are in trouble?  I don't think so.

What do you think?

Addendum - Irony - June 30, 2016

In a twist of irony (and somewhat of an insult), the mother described in this story had a message left on HER voicemail today.  It was the Canadian Mental Health Association - they wanted to know how the son was doing.  Given the complexities that the mother and son are embroiled in within the legal system, given how the mother is the one who had her physical safety threatened and given the son's involvement with drugs (possibly dealing as well as using) it is an odd call that likely will not generate a reply.

Addendum - Warning - July 3, 2016

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Sunday, June 5, 2016

Harnessing the Power of an Abuser to Defeat Them

An abuser can seem emotionally needy. You can get caught in a trap of catering to him, trying to fill a bottomless pit. But he’s not so much needy as entitled, so no matter how much you give him, it will never be enough. He will just keep coming up with more demands because he believes his needs are your responsibility, until you feel drained down to nothing. - Lundy Bancroft

The scars from mental cruelty can be as deep and long-lasting as wounds from punches or slaps but are often not as obvious. - Lundy Bancroft

The purpose of human life is to serve, and to show compassion and the will to help others. - Albert Schweitzer

The #1206 “fiction” series continues …

Abigail sat in a quiet coffee shop, staring at her laptop screen.  She had endured one legal form after another for many months and still they kept coming.

“Will this thing ever end?”, she sighed to herself.

Sometimes she wondered if the system was designed to protect the people who hurt others.

“That couldn’t be true, could it?”, she thought to herself, “Maybe it was easier to give up and go back to him.  It seems less stressful than this.”

Her phone rang and she glanced at it for a moment before answering it.

She spoke to the man on the other end of the line for a few minutes but was suddenly surprised when he interrupted her, asking her what was really going on in her Life.

She hesitated a moment, wondering what to say and then said “Well, I’ve had a problem with him for about a year or so …..”

Suddenly the phone was taken out of her hand by a man who sat down across from her.

“Hello”, the man said into the phone, “My name is Gabriel.  Here is what is happening.  Abigail was emotionally and physically abused by her husband for many years and when he died, her son took over.  He has extended the abuse to …..”

Abigail waved her hands and shook her fists in anger at Gabriel as he outlined to the person on the other end of the phone about the 30+ years of abuse that Abigail had endured from her husband and now her son.

Gabriel listened for a few minutes as the voice on the other end of the call thanked him for bringing clarity to some things he had suspected for a long time.  Gabriel thanked him for listening, ended the call and passed the phone back to Abigail.

“What the hell did you do that for?”, Abigail asked, “Who the hell are you?  That’s nobody else’s business.”

Gabriel smiled at Abigail as he allowed her to release her anger against him.

When he felt she was done, he held up his hand to silence her.

“Before I answer your questions, I’d like to tell you a story”, Gabriel began.

Abigail started to protest but the look in Gabriel’s eyes silenced her.

“Good”, said Gabriel, “Blessed silence.”

He continued.

“There once was a friend of mine who was bullied incessantly in school, with some bullies accompanying him for his entire school Life, taunting him from grade 1 or 2 right up to when he graduated high school.  They did everything they could to keep him down to their level, a level filled with pain, anxiety and a desire to go nowhere in Life.”

“What happened to him?”, asked Abigail.

“Oh, he grew up and went on to quite a successful career”, replied Gabriel, “But it didn’t come without help along the way from people who helped him when he needed it the most.”

“In fact”, continued Gabriel, “They were sent to serve people and when their job was done, they left but he never forgot them.”

“What do you mean?", she asked.

“Well”, replied Gabriel, “One of them died of heart failure a year after high school.  Another, after helping her children get a good start at Life, took her own Life as the pain she had helped others overcome for years became too much for her to carry.  He still stops by to visit their burial places every year when he is in his hometown.”

“Why are you telling me this?”, asked Abigail.

“Excellent question”, replied Gabriel, “This man went on to a very successful career, far exceeding any plans he or anyone else had for him.  However, he never forgot what could have happened had the bullies of his youth been successful in destroying his belief in himself.  He also never forgot what people had done for him without any reward for themselves.  As the years went by and he became more enabled to help others, he realized that his experiences were not unique and that there were many people out there who sought to hurt or diminish others.  He believed that his career and Life experiences had prepared him to help others and so he set about to serve others and to lift them out of abusive situations.”

“Wow”, said Abigail quietly, “He must have been very bitter.”

“Not so”, replied Gabriel, “He had no patience for those who hurt others but he was always willing to find ways for people to heal themselves if they were earnest and honest about doing so.  Some years ago, he had returned home and found himself at a gas station standing next to someone who had bullied him as a child.  The person he observed was poorly dressed and had no teeth.  He introduced himself to “the bully” and instead of the bully responding harshly, the bully started speaking to him about how he was trying to turn his Life around.”

Gabriel paused but Abigail said nothing.

“My friend listened to the bully for a while before taking out a business card and offering it to him.  He told the bully that if he could help him in any way, then he should reach out to my friend.  The bully looked up at him with tears in his eyes and asked “Would you really do that for me?” to which my friend replied “Of course”.”

“They said goodbyes and went on to live their respective lives.  Two weeks later, my friend received a call telling him that “the bully” had died suddenly of a heart attack, not having reached his goal of turning his Life around.”

Abigail sat for a moment, taking in the story before saying quietly, “Life is short.”

“Yes it is”, replied Gabriel.

They sat in silence for a while.

Gabriel cleared is throat and began to speak.

“My friend has helped a lot of people overcome abuse over the years.  Do you know why he does it?”, Gabriel asked as he stared intently at Abigail.

Abigail shook her head but said nothing.

“Every time he sees someone battered or bullied”, began Gabriel, “He sees himself in their place.  He remembers how alone or afraid he felt and he thinks about what would have happened if they had been successful in diminishing his Spirit.  He doesn’t do this on purpose.  He actually can’t help it and in some strange unusual transference, he sees the person’s bullies and batterers as the ones who sought to diminish him as a child.”

Abigail swallowed hard, wondering what kind of person this was.

“He knows that his Life became what it was not only because he didn’t give up but because other people entered his Life at the right moments and lifted him in just the right ways.  They didn’t stay in his Life forever but he never forgot them and felt that to honor their gift to him, that he needed to do the same for others.”

“By the same token”, Gabriel continued, “while he has a zero tolerance policy for bullies and batterers, he never fought them head-to-head at their level because he knew this would only fuel what drives them.  He realized that his career provided much smarter, more effective ways of nullifying their negativity than direct, useless, angry confrontations.  In cases like the bully he met years later, he demonstrated that he could forgive but only if the person knew they needed to change their lives.  He did this because he knew that the man standing before him would be a great asset in helping prevent abuse of others.”

“Unfortunately that didn’t come to fruition”, said Gabriel quietly, “Life is short, as you noted.”

“When my friend sees someone else bullied or battered”, concluded Gabriel, “He simply must help them.  He feels that to not do so would not honor those people who helped him.  He also wants the battered and bullied to have a taste of the Life he has enjoyed, a Life only possible when one shakes off the yoke of intimidation, diminishment and abuse.  He sees your abuser as abusing him as a child.  Maybe it’s twisted but everyone has a motivation that is often unseen or not easily understood.”

“Wouldn’t he want to release this feeling and move on?”, asked Abigail.

“Why?”, replied Gabriel, “It provides him with a great sense of purpose beyond merely building successful companies.”

“Do you know what he would say to you?”, Gabriel asked, staring in her eyes intently.

“What?”, Abigail replied, unable to look away from his penetrating gaze.

“He would tell you to stand up for yourself and honor the divine Spirit within you.  You are worthy of so much more than an abuser wants you to believe of yourself.  You have aspirations and talents that will take you far in your Life.  Your abuser doesn’t want you to see this and in fact, wants you to see a Life constrained by their narrow view of the world and themselves.  In your weakest moments, fight the voice in your head that wants to give up and give in to the bully’s incessant pressure to diminish yourself.  If you give up, you trade away your Life, giving it to them to use in any way they see fit.  Unfortunately, they way they see it is filled with pain, hurt and diminishment for you.”

Gabriel paused for a moment.

“Forgive the expression”, he said, “But you are seen as a piece of worthless shit and will be seen and used as such until your end comes, whether that end be physical, emotional, financial or anything else.”

Abigail sat in silence, taking in the stranger’s story.

Gabriel nodded towards her cell phone.  “When you told your friend that this problem was a year in the making”, he said, “You in fact were lying not only to him but to yourself and to the Universe.  A friend asked you what was wrong and because you were embarrassed or didn’t want the world to know your secret, you diminished the problem.  Playing down a problem when the Universe sends someone to you tells the Universe you are in denial, inviting more complex, painful lessons to be imparted upon you until you are ready to accept and speak your truth.”

“When you speak your truth loudly”, continued Gabriel, “You invite the Universe to send people to you who will help you, just as my friend received help when he needed it.”

“Always speak your truth, Abigail”, said Gabriel as he stared at her intently.  “Acknowledge your truth, demand that which honors your Spirit and never allow anyone to diminish you. Help comes to those who do this.”

“And when I can’t do this?”, Abigail asked.

“In your weak moments, that’s when people like me show up in your Life”, replied Gabriel, his eyes glittering as he smiled.

He paused for a moment.

“After all", he said as he smiled, “The batterer who hurts you hurts me.”

Abigail’s eyes welled up as she realized what he had just said.

“And I really don’t want to be hurt”, replied Gabriel as he saw the truth dawning in her eyes, “I have too much living left to live.”

“So do you”, he said quietly.

Abigail’s eyes were momentarily blinded by the tears that flowed and she put her head down and wiped them.

Looking up to ask Gabriel a question, she realized ….

…. that she was alone.

To be continued.

© 2016 – Harry Tucker – All Rights Reserved


The story you have just read is a true story.  I am sending it as a long distance dedication to "Veronica" (name changed to protect her identity - she knows who she is).

We all have “Veronica’s” around us but we may not know their story or may know it but choose not to get involved.

It matters that we get involved.  CBC Television aired a program that demonstrates what happens when we don't take the subject of domestic abuse seriously.  The story of Basil Borutski, accused of the first degree murder of three domestic partners, can be found here.

As for Gabriel’s admission, I understand his position completely.

I am Gabriel.

And while bullies like Clifford, Gilbert, Barry, Paul and other people sought to diminish me over the years, I went on to a career that was filled with blessings.  Donna, who died in her first year of university, Bonnie who took her own Life when her demons overcame her and Tim who tried to turn his Life around but was cut short before he could do so, remind me that we are called to serve and that Life is short.

While IPOs and other things fill my Life and produce the most “awards”, the greatest “rewards” come from serving others.

We are given Life context for a reason.

Seeing this reason and doing something with it matters.

I could think harsh things about the bullies early in my Life who sought to diminish me but instead, I thank them.

They propelled me in ways they hadn’t hoped for and while I didn’t always know what I wanted, I knew what I didn’t want.

I also learned what I couldn’t accept, something that drives me to serve those who feel they are unworthy or who feel the pressure of others who want them to feel this way.

I know what it means when someone doesn’t let you fall and to honor them, I can’t let others fall either.

Oftentimes, the great career we build merely exists to provide us with the tools and abilities to accomplish something totally unrelated.  I believe that our lives are directed by a Higher Authority who fills our Life with experiences with a purposeful intention that goes far beyond the mundane lives we live.

Have you ever felt this way?

Someone is waiting for you to answer this question with your own truths.

What are you waiting for?

Series Origin

This series, a departure from my usual musings, is inspired as a result of conversations with former senior advisors to multiple Presidents of the United States, senior officers in the US Military and other interesting folks as well as my own professional background as a Wall St. / Fortune 25 strategy advisor and large-scale technology architect.

While this musing is just “fiction” (note the quotes) and a departure from my musings on technology, strategy, politics and society, as a strategy guy, I do everything for a reason and with a measurable outcome in mind. :-)

This “fictional” musing is a continuation of the #1206 series noted here.