Share the Road: A Legal Right?

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When it comes to honouring the legal rights of cyclists on the highways and byways of North America, it is a grey area at best. While cyclists, in my home province of Saskatchewan, have many specific legal rights to the road (i.e. are considered to be legal vehicles or vehicular traffic), the general public does not always perceive it that way. In my opinion, a few motorized vehicle operators, especially in the city of Regina, would just as soon run us over, than yield to a slower moving vehicle.

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Many motorcyclists have the same issues with less-than-courteous or dangerous automobile drivers within the city. The exorbitant increase in insurance premiums (due to automobile-motorcycle accidents) by the provincial insurance monopoly, Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI), has forced many motorcyclists, especially sport bike riders, to sell off their now heavily depreciated motorbikes and quit riding altogether. I was one of those “insurance cost” casualties, bit the bullet, and quit motorcycling indefinitely.

As strange as it might seem, Harley riders and road cyclists have more in common than each group realizes. I often get a “low-five” by a passing guy or girl on a cruiser or sport bike. It is almost like we have a shared love for padded shorts, the open road, and an equal dislike or loathing for SGI. Birds of a different feather flock together?

Leather and spandex is a little kinky ūüėČ

Sounds silly, I know, but over the years I have been the object of a whole lot of flirting by women, clad in leather, straddling their Harleys. I usually just stand there, feeling rather naked in my skin-tight spandex kit.

“Hey…honey…are you a Racer? Love the shorts…and the colours…do you know Lance Armstrong?” ūüėČ

I just smile and try not to turn fifty shades of red.  I am probably old enough to be their father!

But…I digress…

Recently, a fellow cyclist (Randonneur) and friend, in his Seventies, was assaulted on a bike path in the city. The outraged attacker started swearing and yelling that a #%%%* cyclist has no business on the bike path, and proceeded to push him into the bush. The cyclist was laying on his back, somewhat shaken up, when the attacker came at him a second time. A well placed “kick to the nuts” ended the unprovoked assault in a split second. It was the attacker who was now lying on the ground in agony. The cyclist remounted his bike and just rode away.

I was astounded at this story, and equally surprised that the long-distance cyclist did not report the incident to the police. More disturbing was the fact that a pedestrian did not think a cyclist had any right to be on a bike path (now known a the Regina Multi-use Pathway). Bizarre…really bizarre…what kind of person would attack a seventy-year-old man on a bicycle?

You can see where I am going with this…

Cyclists in my neck-of-the-woods are damned if they do and damned if they don’t!

If I had a dime for every motorist who has %$$@@ at me for cycling on the road, I would be a wealthy man. Retaliating by shouting back or giving them the middle-finger-salute only serves to enrage an already out-of-control motorist.

Anger management….

It is a no-win scenario for a cyclist to take on several tons of steel, and the arrogant driver knows it. We have all heard of stories where an angry driver, succumbing to road rage, had turned around and ploughed through a peloton or group of riders intentionally, seriously injuring or killing the cyclists.

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To be continued…

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Moving Towards a More Tolerant Society

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I have managed, over time, to develop a courteous association and friendship with a young woman on social media. We have never met in person, although, from time-to-time, I think about her as I would my own adult daughter(s). I genuinely do care about her well-being and that of her family as they start a new chapter of their life in North America. We share a love for reading, writing, and history. We value the liberal democracies that we live in, and tend to look at modern culture, religion and politics from a moderate point of view.

Although we have grown up in remarkably different societies, we share a strong interest in understanding the world that we live in, including the desire to step out of the ordinary in order to truly understand the extraordinary. For a young woman, she possesses an incredible amount of wisdom and grace, pointing to many positive influences in her life including, perhaps, immediate family and friends. It is almost as though I know how she thinks and feels  Рa kindred spirit as it were. We may not always agree on various aspects of modern culture, politics, and religion, but I value her directness, honesty, and that ever-so-British politeness.

I think that is what tolerance is all about – learning to listen to the points of view and perspectives of others without being dismissive and/or judgemental. It is when we genuinely care about the lives of others in a personal way, that the dividing walls of gender, race, religion, country of origin, politics, etc., come tumbling down.

I may have developed very strong convictions and beliefs in the religious and political arenas, but God help me if I neglect to LOVE another human being. Alas, this is where the rubber meets the road – loving others and exercising tolerance for individuals and whole societies that differ from our own.

There are many views of love and an equal amount of opinions on the subject. The love that I am referring to is something I am still working on – a work in progress, so to speak.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NIV

Recently, I read an excellent article, an opinion piece by Fareed Zakaria, published on CNN in June of 2016. Fareed could rightfully be considered as a moderate, who attempts to correctly differentiate between Islamic terrorists and ordinary Muslim people. Fareed, in discussing the current conflicts, asks the question:

How can we bring an end to this?

And then provides a succinct answer:

There’s really only one way: Help the majority of Muslims fight extremists, reform their faith, and modernize their societies. In doing so, we should listen to those on the front lines, many of whom are fighting and dying in the struggle against jihadis. The hundreds of Muslim reformers I’ve spoken to say their task is made much harder when Western politicians and pundits condemn Islam entirely, demean their faith, and speak of all Muslims as backward and suspect.

I tend to agree with him. Islam is not a stagnant belief system any more than Judaism and Christianity. Muslims around the world do want to reform their faith and modernize their societies. When one takes exception with Islamic terrorism, and works towards the peaceful coexistence of Jews, Christians, and Muslims in society, they are moving in the right direction. We may not concur on various elements of our respective faiths, but we can live in peace and mutual prosperity, demonstrating tolerance, respect, and love towards each other.

Utopianism you say? I know…I get a lot of flak from friends and foes alike when I publicly espouse the ideals of freedom of religion and conscience in society. Yes, I lean towards being an idealist who expects great things, not only in myself, but in others also. I hold on to the biblical concept that “we are our brothers keeper” wholeheartedly, and try to extend the same grace towards those outside of my own inner circle.

I am also a realist and truly understand, from my own life experience, how difficult it is for even like-minded people to mesh together in a continual peaceful coexistence. Nevertheless, if the Jewish and Muslim people of the Middle East could peacefully coexist for hundreds of years (before the tragic wars of modern times), there is hope for North American cultural, religious, and political plurality.

Fareed Zakaria said it best:

But if America is about anything, it is the idea that people should be judged as individuals with individual liberties and rights.

I agree with his sentiments. If that makes me a Liberal, so be it.

The Willow Tree: Part Two

The Willow Tree:Part Two on Vimeo.

Without a doubt there is no shortage of images, video, and stories on social media espousing the extraordinary and the mundane. For me, life is about the simple things that combine and/or synchronize together into the complexity of life.

As a conservationist, I have always been fascinated by our natural environment and silviculture in particular. Our forest resources, whether natural or in a horticultural sense (i.e. the willow tree in my back yard), are renewable. If we treat our environment with respect and care, each new generation of our respective families, not to mention greater society, will benefit greatly.

The large willow tree in my backyard was cut down because the trunk had split, probably due to old age, and the willow tree was threatening to come down on the roof of our house, or perhaps the fence between us and our neighbours. It is conceivable that the majestic tree could have lived for another decade, but the risk of the perpetually strong prairie wind blowing it over was no longer acceptable.

According to one of the team members of the company that we hired, the wood chips will be recycled as ground cover for new trees and shrubs in private and perhaps public areas in the city. The useable firewood will likely be donated to someone in need.

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Motorized and hydraulic stump grinder in action.

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Butterflies are free to fly…

 

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Children understand the delicateness of freedom. Photographed in the river valley near Hamilton, Montana. © 2017 All rights reserved.

Sweet freedom whispered in my ear
You’re a butterfly
And butterflies are free to fly
Fly away, high away, bye bye

Written by Bernie Taupin & Elton John

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Happy are the PeaceMakers

“…evangelicals have more in common with conservative Roman Catholics than they do with liberal Protestants.”
 
As one who is culturally most comfortable amongst Catholics and yet holds to many evangelical doctrines or beliefs, I must admit that my choices and worldview are a bit of an enigma. I have invested the better part of my life walking that thin line between these two sociocultural and religious groups in order to bring peace and focus on that which unites us rather than divides. This has often put me at odds with the hard right or left thinking of both groups, yet I have remained true to my sense of calling to be a peacemaker and mediator, not only between these two diverse Christian groups, but between a predominantly secular humanist Canadian society and Christianity.
 
True peace can only be achieved on the basis of truth and not falsehood, exemplified by tolerance and respect for others who have been created in the moral image or likeness of God.
Tolerance and respect are ideals, that if we are truly honest, are ideals that we all falter or fail at from time to time. But, we should never give up in our pursuit of these noble ideals.
 
God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God. Matthew 5:9 NLT
 

The Nature of Discovery: A Journey of the Mind

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Life is an open road

I would like to take a moment to thank each one of you who have chosen to follow my blog, EclecticChoices. Today marks a milestone for me Р101 unique followers. Thank you for your participation on WordPress.

I started this blog five months ago to demonstrate that people from many different nations, cultures, political and religious beliefs, educational backgrounds, etc., can find common ground in just about anything in life. We may not agree with each other on any number of ideas, concepts, or philosophies, but we are all here to learn from each other in a common sense and respectful way.

I chose the name EclecticChoices because that is an apt description of my entire life. I have made many unique and somewhat unusual decisions or choices in my life. Some of those choices have led me off the beaten path to both metaphorical and literal places of intrigue and wonder. As a Canadian with a cultural heritage of Norwegian and German, my wanderlust seemingly has no boundaries. Yes, I have physically travelled to many places on this great blue planet Рeach one eclectic and unique in its essence. At the same time, and perhaps so much better, I have endeavoured to go on a journey of the mind.

There is infinite truth to discover in this life. The joy of that journey is not so much in the destination, but rather the process. In other words, each new day, I delight myself in the process of learning and discovering, rather than worrying about the destination or purpose and end result.

I am not ashamed to admit that I am a sincere follower of Christ. It is through His leading and guiding, that I have come to experience those things magnificent – joy unspeakable. At the same time, if you have actually read a few of the 200+ articles on EclecticChoices, you know that I am just a human being subject to the same weaknesses and faults of all those around me. And that, my friend, is the beauty and wonder of walking together in this life.

One of the greatest ideals that I have sought after, with an almost unstoppable passion, is to exercise tolerance for those that may differ from my own worldview. This is not an easy thing to do, in a world of so many people with differing viewpoints. But, does that mean we should not continue to try? Of course not!

So, it is with that in mind, love and tolerance for each other, that I would encourage you to continue to walk with me on this journey together. Please feel free to comment on any post here with that notion of kindness, respect, and tolerance in mind. Thank you.

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A Safe Place

San Juan
A facsimile of a Sixteenth Century statue of Mary, mother of Jesus.

I have had the opportunity to attend a Christian church over the last few years that is composed of predominantly young adults often labelled as Millennials. People my age (middle of the spectrum) probably represent less than 5 percent of the congregation. Sometimes, that makes me feel old and out-of-touch with the Millennial specific cultural norms. Yet, regardless of generational and cultural differences, I think it is important to listen to the younger generation Рtruly listen. When different generations collide together without some intrinsic principles of tolerance and respect for one another, polarization and division is often the end result. One of the underlying principles of our young and rather exuberant church community can be summarized as follows:

We will be known for what we are FOR rather than what we are AGAINST.

Essentially, what that means to me is that we will be known as people who love God and love each other rather than what we oppose. Pretty simple stuff, yet for each one of us, it necessitates a trial and error PROCESS of living out our faith from day-to-day.

It would be an injustice to claim that rather imperfect people, from widely different age-groups, and equally variable social, economic, and ethnic backgrounds, can mesh together flawlessly at all times. Living under the banner of love for God and love for each other is merely the beginning of a life-long journey for most. If one expects everyone to be in perfect harmony right at the onset, and requires that relationships work like clockwork Рthey will be end up being disappointed.

True love for others cannot be scripted. All relationships take time to grow and develop to fruition. Our love for God is but a faint reflection of his boundless love for us, and is demonstrated by our love for one another.

Someone once said that life is where the rubber meets the road. As a road cyclist, I can understand that metaphor quite well. A bicycle tire is pumped up to a considerably high pressure, three times that of an automobile tire. The contact patch of the bike tire on the pavement is actually quite small [about one square inch (2.54 cm squared) in a rather elongated pattern], and yet we still experience the effects of friction and resistance that slightly impedes our forward progress. The rougher the road surface, the greater the resistance. Loving God and loving others is like that Рthere always seems to be a little friction and resistance going on, but we are still moving forward. Somewhere along our journey together we hit a rough patch, and things get much more difficult.

May I suggest that this is where mutual¬†acceptance and forgiveness comes in to play. We all make mistakes and sometimes we really mess things up. As a result of this, it¬†is quite natural for human beings¬†to desire¬†a safe place where we can be loved, accepted, and forgiven for our¬†inherent faults, character weaknesses, tendency towards selfishness, and so forth. The theologically educated will notice that I did not immediately use the word SIN. The¬†Greek¬†word hamartia,¬†translated into the English word¬†“sin”, essentially means to miss the mark (as in archery) and/or to intentionally miss the mark or standard that God intended for us.

Historically, I think that the concept of a family unit was intended to fulfill that need for a safe place in the context of a larger society. Unfortunately, for many of us in North American society, that ideal did not necessarily work out so well. The seemingly endless cycle of broken relationships and high rates of divorce has deeply affected generation upon generation of young people and adults alike. For better or for worse, this is our story.

Millennials understand the concept of a SAFE PLACE. They practically invented the idea on our university campuses throughout North America. The difference, however, between a predominantly secular humanist notion of a safe place and a Christian concept of a safe place is literally worlds apart. The former emphasizes shutting out even the abstraction of a personal God and any person(s) who holds to a worldview that contradicts their own, the latter is far more inclusive and tolerant of opposing ideas and welcomes God, as we understand him, into the conversation.

How do I know that? By my own life experience. I want to be loved, accepted, and forgiven like anyone else. To be respected as a person who has inherent value as a human being is something we all want.

As for me,¬†I have chosen to¬†hang out¬†with a bunch of Millennials that have often been the brunt of a whole lot of stereotyping and criticism by my generation.¬†I feel that I am an¬†ordinary person living in an extraordinary time in human history. ¬†Our little church community¬†is just a minuscule part of something much bigger than all of us.¬†It’s an honour¬†to experience that¬†together.

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