Friday, March 18, 2016

We’re Protecting Syrian Refugees–How About Protecting Canadian Children?

Throughout history, it has been the inaction of those who could have acted; the indifference of those who should have known better; the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most; that has made it possible for evil to triumph. - Haile Selassie

There is a higher court than courts of justice and that is the court of conscience. It supersedes all other courts. - Mahatma Gandhi

A story has come to my attention in recent days that I need your help in understanding.

I’m not a stupid guy, having IPOd a company while being blessed to count all but one of the Fortune 25 as clients of mine as well as innumerable government agencies, not-for-profits, etc., in multiple countries.

But I am asking for your help to help me understand a story that my mind simply can’t figure out.

Over the course of the past 6 months, the Canadian government has bent over backward to bring 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada.  This is a noble and essential effort and one that Canada has excelled at for years – bringing hope and love to those who lost sight of both in a life of despair, violence and complexity.

Even with the threat that some of these refugees may be terrorists imbedded within a stream of humanity desperately looking for hope, we accept the refugees anyway. We do so because we believe that it is better to accept such a risk – that we will deal with any miscreants should they surface while simultaneously helping the majority of the people who are floundering.

The reality is that if we always insisted that helping someone must always produce a positive result with absolutely no risk, then we would never help anyone at all.

What kind of world would we have then?

How would you feel if you needed help but were rejected because there was a risk involved in helping you?


So help me to understand something.

Some years ago, a Canadian citizen by the name of Alison Azer (her married name) fell in love with and married a man by the name of Saren Nazer.  He was an immigrant himself, coming from Iran.

His story is complex and is best told in a National Post article that I will reveal in a moment.

The long and short of the story is that this man, a man who raised so many flags with CSIS that his permanent resident status was constantly held up, married a Canadian citizen and had four kids with her.

This is also a man who was charged by the RCMP for uttering threats against his wife, causing her to seek shelter with her children in a woman’s shelter in Victoria.

He also became more and more radicalized regarding Kurdish independence and was tied by CSIS to potential Kurdish terrorist groups.

In other words, this person sounds like trouble.

It is the 21st century, a time when we allegedly defend battered women and children and protect the safety of Canadians against such people.

And despite all of this, in the custody battle that ensued as their marriage fell apart, this man was granted the right to take the four children out of the country for “a vacation”.

He never came back.

That was over 7 months ago.

Their heart breaking story can be found in the following links:

Here is where I need your help.

We are told that our government will go to the ends of the earth to protect us and to help us in times of need.

We have watched our government go to the ends of the earth to bring 25,000 Syrians here to experience real living in a nation built upon peace, love and opportunity.

Meanwhile ….

Four Canadian children somewhere in the world are crying to their mom for help.

A Canadian woman weeps for her children who have been taken illegally from her, with the courts subsequently having given her sole custody of them.

The government knows where the children are.

And yet our government does nothing to help them or her. Maybe it's because many of our elected officials seem to prefer to tackle the easy stuff that generates great PR / feel-good for their own needs rather than take on the important things for their constituents that is also more difficult to solve.

The media does little to carry the message into the light of day, preferring to pontificate ad nauseum about matters more sensationalist but no more important than the safety of Canadian children.

Mayors of major Canadian cities have no comment but tell them that a puppy is lost in their city and they are all over it.

And so my question is ….. why?

Why do we allow this to happen?

If we are a so-called great nation extending a hand of love and understanding to those who are lost in the world, why can’t we do the same to one of our own who merely wants her children back?

Wouldn’t you want your children back if this happened to you?


So why aren’t we doing more to help this woman and her children?

Can you answer that one question for me …..

…. please?

In service and servanthood,


Sunday, March 6, 2016

Women's Health - The Worthlessness of Words Without Actions

“Faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” – James 2:17b (NKJV)

Infuse your life with action. Don't wait for it to happen. Make it happen. Make your own future. Make your own hope. Make your own love. And whatever your beliefs, honor your creator, not by passively waiting for grace to come down from upon high, but by doing what you can to make grace happen... yourself, right now, right down here on Earth. - Bradley Whitford

My blog has been pretty quiet in terms of contributions these days.  Work has consumed much of my working time with whatever is left over for family, with the time spent comprising 2 of my 3 major projects in progress.

The third project is the one that torments me the most.

I am helping a woman rise above the vicious cycle of battery and abuse.

While I can’t get into the details of the situation because of court constraints and such, I am struck by the complexity of the situation.

Take a woman who has little sense of self-worth and self-value, having been battered or abused in one form or another, including verbal, financial and physical abuse, for over 50 years.

Add to that the place where she grew up and lived, rural towns in Western Canada, where statistics show abuse to be so shockingly common that it is almost considered to be normal by both abusers and their victims.

Then add to that a system that claims to care but then throws so many barriers in place that the abused woman has no idea what’s going on.  Imagine the confusion that comes from a dozen opinions from within the system, each contradicting the others and urging her to take action while doing everything it can to slow her down. In fairness, the ONE group that has stepped up is the RCMP.  They have been extremely supportive and informative and have offered everything within their power to provide assistance.  Unfortunately, they are also constrained by the rules of the law and can only act when the law calls for them to act.

And finally, add a series of actions that, if taken against most of us, would have stirred outrage in our hearts and minds and we would have taken action immediately.  Unfortunately, a battered woman has attained a level of desensitization over many years of abuse and the things that would affront most of us are either “minor” in the eyes of the battered woman or are actually defended – “it’s not a big deal”, “he’s just having a bad day”, “someday he will change”, etc.

When all of these things collide, it creates a bewildering scenario – a voice that alternates between cries for help and cries of defense of the abuser, a system not in a hurry to do much for the battered (but has plenty of processes that appear to defend the abuser) while urging haste, an enforcement system ready to defend the safety and honor of someone but who has its hands tied ….

… and a human being left blowing in the wind, not knowing what to do from one day to the next, with her fear alternating from fear of hurting the battered by her actions (yes – this happens) to wondering if he is coming in her direction to “express unhappiness” that his actions have been exposed.

As I stood on the 12th floor of the Provincial Courthouse in Calgary on Friday, the floor where EPO (emergency protection orders) are filed, someone said something that struck me as I thought through all of this.

A representative of the court noted that she was lucky that I was helping her because in most cases, people can’t be bothered when they see the complexity of what is required or the potential danger they place themselves in when helping someone throw off an abuser.

His comment has been rattling around in my brain all weekend.

It doubly struck me because a couple of weeks ago, I was on the receiving end of an argument by a couple of women who claimed that all men are responsible regarding the problem of abuse against women - that men are either committing the abuse or they are allowing the abuse to happen.

In the argument that ensued when I tried to explain that many men work hard to defend the rights and honor of women, I was told I was wrong.

When I asked what they were doing to help abused women, they said they were being quiet for now for reasons unexplained.

Battered women don’t need us to be quiet.

They don’t just need words of support.

They don’t just need feel-good rallies in the streets and rah-rah press conferences.

They need someone to stand beside them, to convince them that they are worthy on the days when they feel that no one cares.

They need someone who cautions them against falling into old patterns and returning to the lair of the abuser.

They need someone to guide them through the minefields within the court system, a system that through its checks and balances sometimes appears to the battered woman to be placing the abuser’s rights ahead of her own or through its detailed processes, exhausts someone who is already exhausted beyond measure on levels we couldn’t comprehend.

They need someone who can show them that what they have suffered is not normal or acceptable and that they must fight for the right to be treated with dignity, respect and honor.

And they need someone to prove to them that better days are ahead, brighter days than they have likely imagined are even possible.

Because when we stand on the sidelines and read statistics, pat women on the back and say “You can do this” and walk away, spend time in feel-good rallies or spend time on social media sharing articles about abuse and the like, we may think we are doing something when we are in fact doing nothing.

The battered woman often stands alone in the courtroom or at home (wondering if the abuser is coming to get her).

And I for one can’t accept this, especially from a civilisation that claims to be at the pinnacle of its enlightenment and justice.

Why do you?

What are you willing to do about it?

Someone is waiting for you to stand up beside them and for them.

What are you waiting for?

In service and servanthood,


Addendum - What Men Think About Violence Against Women in Alberta

A study was just released outlining what men think about violence against women in Alberta. Given how many cases of violence have been brought to the attention of police and given how many incidents are never reported, I wonder about this report (including how many abusers or victims answered their questions truthfully). The report can be found here.

Thought for the day: If we put as much thinking into how the victim feels as we do in feeling outrage when we consider the abuser's offenses, I wonder if we would be more motivated to solve this heinous issue in society.

What do you think?