Mom is 90, it is February and none of us knows how many days we have. So even though there was work waiting, I took Mom cross country skiing last week. Within minutes of starting Mom fell going down a slight incline. The impact bruised her backside but she didn't mention being in pain at the time so we continued on. It was a perfect day, a few degrees above freezing with not a cloud in the sky so except for the odd bit of shade we skied in sunshine most of the way around a 3k track.

As we neared the end of the track Mom fell again on the same incline, this time face first. "It was nothing", she said as blood seeped from a split lip while I held snow on it to slow the swelling. Mom was in obvious pain and I was in agony. I deeply regretted allowing Mom to try climbing that rise. It was pain I didn't need. Daily living with Mom is painful enough.

It is not the kind of pain in the neck I can be. It is the pain I experience when I see Mom unsure of her balance, when I have to help her count the change in her purse, when I have to repeat pieces of information over and over, when she needs help to sort out her memories, when we now have to rest going up hills on our walks, when I have to raise my voice so she can hear, when she falls asleep more frequently. It is the pain I experience as I watch another feather fall from the wings of my angel on an otherwise perfect day. 

LIFE: an Olympic journey

There are within the Olympics a few nuggets of value but they are buried in a mountain of self-destructive waste. Trying to fill the void in our lives in any way is self-destructive. The Olympics is the epitome of trying to fill the void with preeminence in the sphere of sports/entertainment. The focus of the entire multi-billion dollar spectacle is the gold. The games allow one individual, an event team and a nation to proclaim they are the best in the world one day in the month of February in 2006. We celebrate one winner and ignore all the losers.

With the pursuit of preeminence dominating our present activities, it is difficult to see that in real life there are only winners. In real life we reach out to the limits of our capacities, to others and to God. The goal is not gold but self-realization. There is proof in "the games" that "reaching out the limits of our capacities..." requires an Olympic effort. However, what we don't see is that our capacities are irrelevant. Regardless of our capacities, self-realization gives each of us the same thrill as winning an Olympic gold medal and demands a similar celebration.

The motto of the present Olympics, farther, faster, higher, bigger, better is an unwitting recognition that the void can not be filled. So we really should quit trying to become the best in the world and focus on simply being the best we can be. If this becomes our goal the Olympic games will disappear; but in place of the quadrennial competition that creates a handful of winners in a world of losers will be universal daily participation in a cooperative effort to experience the thrill of achieving self-realization. Self-destruction will cease. Team Humanity will be the winner. see (the last why: the poem)


Death is inevitable. The way we live and die is not. By the law of human nature we have two choices. We can reach out to the limits of our capacities, to others  and to God. Or we can contaminate this ideal reaction to the void in one of two ways. We can to some extent either try to fill the void or give up.

The consequence of giving up is passive self-destruction. The consequence of trying to fill the void is active self-destruction in a mess of conflict, division, inequity, hopelessness and all other unpleasant aspects of our existence. The consequence of reaching out to the limits of our capacities, to others and to God is self-realization in a medium of peace, unity, connection, equity, hope and all other pleasant aspects of life it is possible to experience. 

Given our life circumstances there can be no disputing we are predominantly trying to fill the void and therefore are assisting in the suicide of humanity. We should  be convicted of contaminating the ideal. With our record we do not have the moral authority to  judge the few who assist those of us who wish to leave life on our terms. I am not talking about giving up. Though it is easy to understand why so many of us do, contaminating the ideal by giving up is also against the "law". 

However, even if we eliminate these two crimes against humanity, death in the "ideal" life is still inevitable and it should not be a crime to leave it the way we want to when our end is near. When our capacities are diminished and our vital energy is almost exhausted, we should be able to reach out to another for assistance in reaching out to God in life one last time. (see poem)


In a closing remark before the New Year a CBC host said, "Whatever it is you want more of in 2006, I hope it is enough." There is another possibility but tragically, when trying to fill the void, more will never be enough.

 There is not enough money or ways to spend it in the entire universe to fill the void in just one of us. If we had all the time in eternity to fill the void with religious/philosophical pursuits, they would fall short. There is no one fact that will fill the void, nor will all the facts combined. A family, regardless of its make-up cannot fill the void. There is not enough love in the world to fill the void in only one person. No occupation is capable of filling the void. Preeminence, no matter the sphere can not fill the void. All the alcohol, drugs, sex, gaming and other anaesthetic activities taken together would be insufficient to fill the void. Not even by combining the ways we try, can we fill the void. Still we try, we fight over inadequate resources and we self-destruct.

Though we can't fill it we can minimize the effect of the void by reaching out to the limits of our capacities, to others and to God. Because we have unique capacities, there would be no conflict. The resulting self-realization will be more than enough of what we want. (see poem)


A couple weeks ago I received emails from a cousin Susan, a nephew Gordon and Sven Latham, a man I only know through the "Blogwise" portal he has created. I receive other emails but these three created in me a feeling I struggled to describe. All the other emails keep me in contact; but these three I eventually decided made me feel momentarily connected. It is a feeling we all long to but rarely experience.

More commonly we feel disconnected from each other. It is a dreadful feeling but though common it is apparently unintended. The facts of life seem to confirm we all come with the hardware we need to feel connected. We have the necessary program too. It is to reach out to the limits of our capacities, to others and to God. One of the many consequences of this ideal reaction to the void is feeling connected. However, the program is optional.

We can, if we choose to, modify our common program by adding efforts to fill the void with a number of inherited reactions. The modification is not simple addition though, because space in the program is limited. Thus, when we add an amount of any way we try to fill the void we must delete an equivalent amount of "reaching out...", with only one restriction. The moment we delete the last byte of "reaching out..." we self-destruct. 

The relationship between reaching out to the limits of our capacities, to others and to God and feeling connected, is direct. The more we "reach out..." the more connected we feel; and conversely the more we try to fill the void the more disconnected we feel. By the definition of life we have to feel somewhat connected. At present however, we feel generally disconnected because our lives are predominantly efforts to fill the void. 

To feel more connected we need to delete our efforts to fill the void and reinstall our common program. By reaching out to the limits of our capacities, to others and to God we will create the human interconnect and commonly experience feeling connected.
see (the last why: the poem)



Shania Twain is among the most beautiful women in the world. She is among the most talented singers in the world. She is probably among the richest women in the world. Therefore, a couple months ago she was given a Governor General's award to go along with all her music awards. What a discouraging message that sends to the rest of humanity!

My mother is 90 years old, is not at all Shania beautiful, has no particular talent and is not wealthy. She dedicated the best 32 years of her life full time to her 5 children and until almost two years ago, 64 years to her husband. She has put at least as much effort into her life as Shania and has not received a moment of recognition. So according to the Governor General and our discouraging view of life, my mother is a loser. In fact Governor Generally speaking we are all losers. 

This example of our preoccupation with awarding pre-eminence so angered me I started another rant. Mom asked me to explain. I shared with her the essence of my thoughts. I concluded by saying, "You should get a Governor General's award." After a moment to reflect Mom replied , "You should get a Governor General's award too", paused a second, then said, "Every one should get an award." 

Mom is right; but we don't need the pins. We should simply "reach out to..." and award each other with the recognition that each of us is equally pre-eminent in the 'eyes of God'. see (the last why: the poem)


The most enduring image evoked by the experience of this past Christmas season is a 'plague' of shoppers swarming in the malls of the world devouring every available piece of merchandise. It is a month long documentary that begins with the scene of people being trampled by a frenzied mob breaching the doors of a Wall mart the day after the American Thanksgiving. It ends with a shot that showed blocks long lines of shoppers, many having waited over night to get the first bite of Boxing Day bargains, stampeding into opening stores.

The narrative that accompanied the documentary included the familiar themes like, "busiest shopping day of the year", "over 600 credit card transactions/minute", and some % "increase in sales". In addition to these there was a new one that especially caught my attention. At the height of the shopping spree reporters mentioned a scientific study which confirmed what has long been suspected, that the experience of shopping leaves elevated levels of dopamine at synapses in the area of the brain that creates the sense of pleasure. In other words, shopping provides the same buzz as mood altering drugs. 

So, for all these years we were wrong when we've said, "It is better to give than to receive". We now know it is better for us to get than to give. That's why we swarm in the malls. How fortunate that shopping is a legal, over-the-counter 'drug'. What a bonus that Christmas allows us to O.D. without social condemnation. How unfortunate that shopping is addictive, that more shopping will never be enough, that shopping can be as self-destructive as any of the other ways we try to fill the void.

The Last Why: the poem 


Our village is designed for walking and quite often my mother and I will stroll through it for a change of view. At this Christmas time of year it is illuminated by quite a spectacular display of lights. On a recent walk my mother just enjoyed the beauty. I too enjoyed the sight but in keeping with the various traditions of the season, I saw a "festival of lights".

From a catalog of faded memories I recalled an early Celtic tradition associated with new life after a dark cold winter. There is a separate memory, the Jewish "festival of lights" that remembers the purification of their temple after the dark years during which Greek-Syrians imposed their culture on the early Hebrews. The authors of Christianity adopted that symbolic purification of light to represent Jesus, "the light of the world" who was supposed to save all mankind from the darkness of death. In their attempts to spread this gospel, early missionaries 'fertilized' Celtic traditions and that encounter has evolved into the display of lights we see today.

Although specific groups continue to make valiant attempts to retain the symbolism in their "festival(s) of lights", generally it seems to have changed. The "festival of lights" I see on my walks and imagine replicated on streets throughout the westernized world, has come to symbolize the season during which we most fervently act on our belief in the ability of our god the economy to save us from the dark void we sense in our lives.

The Last Why: the poem




For at least the western world, the 24th of December is the day of the year when our materialistic reaction to the void reaches its zenith. This reaction permeates and dominates our existence throughout the year but at Christmas time we engage in an orgy of spending that is the supreme effort to fill the void in our lives with all the gifts money can buy.

We can try to disguise it in swaddling clothes or dress it up in an warm red suit but the real story of Christmas is how much more than last year did we spend. Increased spending is seen as a "godsend" to retailers. It is interpreted by economists as a sign of confidence in our god, the economy. Religious leaders view it as evidence of  greater "good will toward men". However, the simple, sad truth is that we have to spend more money, for regardless of the ways we try, when trying to fill the void more will never be enough.

No amount of spending nor any effort to recapture the "true meaning" of any celebration around this time of year will bring "peace on earth". Only by reaching out to the limits of our capacities, to others and to God will we enjoy throughout the year the gifts of life we receive with this ideal reaction to the void.

The Last Why: the poem


On November 21 I wrote an entry entitled "God's Plan". It was  motivated by the story of a man who lost his wife and 7 children in a tragic fire. The interviewer asked the man how he was able to continue on with his life in the face of such tragedy. He responded that he continued to believe in God's Plan. I found it so absurd to believe and offensive to hear someone say that the death of a woman and her 7 children was part of God's  plan I felt compelled to defend God, to put the blame where it belonged.

Mom noticed that I wrote into the early morning. She asked what was so important that it couldn't wait until a more reasonable hour. I said I would try to explain but added I wasn't sure she would understand. Mom always looks for the "silver lining" so when I finished my explanation I expected her to respond with a well worn cliché. Instead she astounded me by uttering the most profound, "Poor God". 


For me a soaring eagle is the epitome of freedom. I find that image impossible to reconcile with the view of life projected by our "free and democratic society". That phrase along with "freedom loving people" are among the most frequently used by President Bush to describe the collection of us who are not terrorists. Fortunately, we are not as far away from the image of a soaring eagle as we can get; but we are close to that distance and moving in that direction.

Indeed, we are not a "free... society". The U.S.A. alone is forced to spend $7 billion a month to wage the war on terror. I am not sure what they buy for that amount, probably the war in Iraq, homeland security, perhaps even their entire standing military complex. We don't need to know. The point is we can not claim to be a "free...society" while being forced to pay $10s of billions a month world wide to fight terror. 

Though terrorists are the visible 'enemy', they are not the force that restricts our freedom. They are merely a  tangible distraction. The real source of terror for us is meaninglessness, the void we sense is beyond the last why. It is our efforts to fill the void that restrict our freedom, in a spiral cage. We are restricted to the degree we try and our terror increases with our sense of restriction. The greater our terror the more we try to fill the void and so on to self-destruction.

This terror can not be defeated entirely. Certainly no amount of money can fill the void nor can any of the other ways we try. The effect of the void can be minimized; but only by reaching out to the limits of our capacities, to others and to God will we be able to 'soar' like an eagle. (see poem)


For a couple years now there has been a newsworthy controversy over whether one of the most beloved symbols of Christmas should be called a Christmas tree. Of course it should. The tree is a symbol of Christmas, a time in the year that is supposed to be meaningful to a significant number of people. The Christmas tree should not be forced to represent a generic holiday.

Since other groups also enjoy a holiday around the end of the year, greetings during this time could be more generic. If we know the significant event being celebrated by the person we greet, then we could use the appropriate specific greeting. However, if as is more often the case we aren't sure who celebrates what, then a greeting of  "happy holiday" should be acceptable. 

If we need a plant to represent this time of year for everyone, I would suggest a single red rose. We could call it the "freedom flower". It would symbolize freedom from the ways we try to fill the void in our lives which are the cause of all conflict from deadly wars to the petty squabble over whether to call a Christmas tree a Christmas tree. While giving the flower we could greet each other with simply, "Freedom". 

The Last Why: the poem 


Mom and I go for a walk about 3 times a week. Lately we've gotten back to hitting tennis balls once a week. We play scrabble every night. Ever since I bought my computer 02/05 our routine after scrabble has been for me to practice typing while Mom retired to the couch to read, watch T.V. or both. Though our activity together is probably at an acceptable level, now that my typing is respectable I began thinking I wanted to do a bit more with Mom. So several weeks ago I introduced Mom, who is one month shy of 90, to computer solitaire.

After a life time of playing with them, Mom knew the cards. I'd seen her playing solitaire but I'd never watched closely to see how well she played. If she knew the game at one time, she was definitely rusty. I had to help Mom quite a bit with the moves but she mastered the click and drag immediately. When we finished for the evening Mom smiled and said, "That was fun". Then she added, "I'm not too old to learn something new; never give up, that's me". 

Mom was clearly pleased and she had good reason. She had instinctively rediscovered the purpose of life which is to reach out to the limits of our capacities, to others and to God. Every night since, we've pushed the limits of her capacity to analyse, to concentrate and to remember. She is really improving and together we continue to enjoy the rewards of the ideal reaction to the void. (see poem) 


Last week a reporter for the C.B.C. did an anniversary follow-up interview with a man whose wife and 7 children died in a house fire. The first interview focused very quickly on the man's faith in God. After filling in background and getting up to date the interviewer focused again on faith by asking the man how he managed to survive such tragedy. He replied that he continued to believe in God's plan. The following evening 2 authors of letters to the editor said it was reassuring that the man could continue to believe in God's plan after such a loss.

Since the sample letters always represent the majority, I must have been the only one thinking it is so utterly absurd to believe and extremely offensive to hear that a woman and her 7 children died as the result of God's plan. That's an obscene distortion of life which in part allows us to sit by and watch millions of people die of aids and starvation while we are starting to spend multi-billions on gifts for Christmas. Neither these nor any other scenarios of death by unnatural activity can be in God's plan. 

God's plan is life by self-realization, the consequence of reaching out to the limits of our capacities, to others and to God. Though it is the plan, this innate ideal reaction to the void is not entirely compulsory. We can choose to replace it with any measure of the far easier reactions of trying to fill the void or giving up. Contrary to popular belief however, when we choose to follow our plan, God loses control to the extent we choose the easier reactions. The consequence of our plan is our chosen measure of self-destruction that in the extreme is best described as "all hell breaking loose". We can avoid "hell" simply by choosing God's plan. (see poem)



I might have gone to a cenotaph as a child but I was 14 when I created my first and only vivid recollection of Remembrance Day. I was in a grade 9 science lab. I recall the portraits of Queen Elizabeth and John Diefenbaker, the Prime Minister of Canada at the time, on the front wall. At 11 a.m. the bell rang. We were told to stand, bow our heads and remember the “fallen soldiers” with 2 minutes of silence.

The thoughts that flowed through my mind during those 2 minutes created channels that remain to this day. I wondered why I couldn’t remember. I worried that I didn’t know what I was supposed to experience. I questioned whether the exercise was for the living, the dead or both. If the latter, did the dead soldiers appreciate their deaths being honored with 2 minutes of empty silence? As I looked around I considered the probability others were feeling as uneasy as I was, embarrassed at our inability to experience remembering while trying to be ritually correct.

I now know we should feel the same gratitude toward “fallen soldiers” we’d feel toward the donor of an organ that gave us life; but do we? I still have serious doubts. Making the ceremony bigger and better over the years has not increased the depth of our gratitude. All this huffing and puffing just expanded the ceremony to occupy the growing sense of emptiness in our lives. The greater size creates only the illusion of gratefulness. I can only guess but I don’t think dead soldiers are honored by it all.

In fact, we’ve made such a mess of the freedom we were given, I can imagine the “fallen soldiers” regretting their gifts. We are less free than we have ever been of the views that create conflict . We really should be ashamed; and  instead of further empty expressions of gratitude we should be apologizing. Then to honor lives given to humanity we should be engaging in the “natural activity” that will transform two minutes of silence into an unlimited future of peace and unguarded freedom.




Paris is burning! Peace is broken. "The authorities are bewildered." Analysts suggest the causes of the chaos are racism, poverty, joblessness, lack of education, failed integration etc, etc, etc. A common man answers his own query with, "They have everything they need". President Chirac proclaims, "The law must have the last word".

The president is right. The law will have the last word; but it is not French law or any other law of Man that will rule. It is the law of human nature. The suggested causes of chaos are simple, recycled, superficial distractions. The real reasons, which no one wants to talk about, are a universal lack of common purpose and a growing sense of meaninglessness. We could tell young rioters from our own experience that even if they had everything we have, they'd still be unable to fill the void beyond the last why. 

To eliminate the real causes of chaos and at the same time to generate peace we simply must stop trying to fill the void. If we don't soon begin replacing our efforts to fill the void with the ideal reaction to it, "Paris is burning!" will be just another echo of the shout from Roman times. In these times though, it won't be only a single civilization that self-destructs. see (the last why: the poem)


David Dingwall, former member of the Canadian Parliament, former cabinet minister and recently former president of the Canadian Mint said it best for us all. He was appearing before an accounts committee to explain his $700,000 expenses over and above his $300,000 salary, over and above his multi-million dollar government pension. Asked specifically if he thought he should receive severance pay after he voluntarily quit his job he replied, "I am entitled to my entitlements."

During the middle 2 weeks in October, news broadcasts were filled with desperate pleas for aid to help victims of the devastating earthquake in East Asia, the tropical storms in the Americas and the drought and aids epidemic in Africa. The reports back informed us that the flow of aid was severely restricted. That could be due to the fact that during the same period Canadians alone were spending $1 billion on Halloween costumes and treats. It didn't matter fellow human beings were cold, starving and dying of preventable diseases. We are, apparently by God, entitled to our entitlements. 

The fact of life is that we have only one entitlement and that is to reach out to the limits of our capacities, to others and to God. Outside this ideal reaction to the void, all of what we consider to be our entitlements we take in our efforts to fill the void. These 'stolen' entitlements are not our rights even though we can create and force obedience to laws that make them legal.

Tragically, if we persist in demanding our perceived entitlements to try filling the void we will self-destruct in conflict over an inadequate supply. However, if we begin claiming our right to reach out to the limits of our capacities, to others and to God, the consequence will be self-realization. (see poem)


Abortion can not be justified in "real life", the existence we would create if all of us were reaching out to the limits of our capacities, to others and to Nature’s God, the ideal reaction to the void. This natural activity, which results in self-realization, begins at conception and we can only argue otherwise to the extent our activity is less than natural. Natural activity ends with an act of nature. Therefore, if the capacity exists, interrupting an individual's effort to "reach out..." at any stage of life for any reason must be a crime against humanity. In "real life" there is only one right and it is natural activity. All obstacles to, interference with and certainly interruptions of this natural activity are outside the definition of "right". If we can agree to call what is outside "the right", wrong,  then  clearly, abortion is wrong.

In what I see as our present much less than "real life", generally we do not consider all interruptions crimes against humanity. As members of groups we kill great numbers of each other in 'justifiable wars' with no apparent punishment for our crimes, unless as individuals we break the 'rules of war'. Then we risk being punished for some sort of war crime. In the same puddle of muddy reasoning we dither over definitions of genocide, ethnic cleansing and civil war. Millions of us allow millions of others to die of starvation without fear of retribution. We do punish to some degree individuals who kill other post-birth individuals. However, we give ourselves permission to abort the lives of unborn individuals trying only to become what they are capable of being. 

The apparent reason for these legalized abortions is that enough of us believe it is a basic human right for women "to choose". The real reason is that majority of us is predominantly trying to fill the void. In this context of unnatural activity we can justify getting rid of any obstacles, interference and interruptions because we believe we have the right to fill the void in our own way. When trying to fill the void, nothing else matters. I suggest one of the eight ways we try to fill the void is with our anesthetic reaction to it, which includes sex. When trying to fill the void with sex, all individuals who are killed at any stage of life are merely collateral damage, the innocent victims of the war against emptiness. 

My interpretation of our existence is that we are proving we can not win this war by trying to fill the void in any way. My sense is that if we keep exercising our perceived individual right to fill the void in our own way, we will self-destruct in an escalating rate of all crimes against humanity and Nature. If it matters, I believe we can reverse this wave of crime by simply exercising our common human right to reach out to the limits of our capacities, to others and to Nature’s God; to become what we are capable of being. (the last why: the poem) 


The teachers of British Columbia are striking to protest an unjust law. It seems they feel the law is unjust because it forces them to work under conditions to which they have not agreed. The Palestinians believe the laws they live under are similarly unjust. The laws passed to establish apartheid in South Africa and Southern U.S. were considered unjust. Nazi Germany passed unjust laws as did the British in India. All the people that pass me on the highway think traffic laws are unjust. Sadly we could go on and on for the only law that is just is the "Law of Human Nature". (see poem)

By it we are directed to reach out to the limits of our capacities, to others and to God, the ideal reaction to the void inherent in our being.  However, all of us, most to a greater extent, believe this law is unjust. So instead of "reaching out...", we try to fill the void or give up. Trying to fill the void  creates a problem not found in "reaching out...". Since we all have unique capacities, when "reaching out to the limits of our capacities..." we do so in the same direction. On the other hand, when trying to fill the void we direct our activities inward toward the void within, a direction that is opposed to the rest of humanity. 

Fortunately we don't try to fill the void exclusively. For if we did we'd self-destruct in an orgy of conflict. Rather, we compromise to some extent. We make laws to contain the conflict to the extent we agree to disagree. However, we can not take pride in compromise. The consequence of  "reaching out..." is self-realization. The consequence of trying to fill the void is self-destruction. Compromise gives us a measure of both with one  consequence dominating.

The amount of conflict in our existence and the number of unjust laws we pass trying to control it tell us how close we are to self-destruction. I think of how many laws have been created recently just to contain the threat of terror. I am afraid the settlement for the B.C. teachers is going to be another unjust law. 



Those of us who can give have been pounded by demands for charity this year. Apparently, neither hurricanes, nor floods, nor earthquakes, nor famines have been able to breach our 'levees'. There has been no flood of aid. The flow remains controlled and is increasingly restricted. The reasons given are donor fatigue, racism, diminishing compassion, dissipating responsibility, dissolving ties and fading obligation. These are merely superficial distractions. There is only one reason of consequence. We lack the common purpose of life.

Instead, increasingly we have the same individual purpose. With greater and greater urgency we are trying to fill the void in our lives with money and all that it can buy. This materialistic reaction to the void within us is causing the growing space between us that makes it easier to ignore our fellow human beings. To make matters worse the void can not be filled and the more we try, the more we need and the less we have to give. 

There is only one way to reverse this trend. We must reach out to the limits of our capacities, to others and to God, our common purpose. This ideal reaction to the void will close the spaces between us and fill them with a medium of compassion in which there will be no need for charity. (see poem)