Category Archives: Social Justice

Human Rights For Everyone—Including Our Babies

I think we can all agree that babies are human beings just like we are—albeit with quite a few developmental accomplishments ahead of them.  However, I find that we have a hard time putting this concept into practice.  Actually, to be blunt: it is amazing to me how disrespectful we are of our little one’s rights.

Now I don’t want you to think that I am someone who believes that parents shouldn’t discipline their kids and that they had the right to make their own decisions about everything from the beginning.  Of course not; that’s what parents are for.  But at the same time, children have certain rights from the very day they are born.  It’s based quite simply on the fact that they are noble, spiritual creatures.

My Baby Isn’t a Doll

While some parents dress their children in outfits that I personally don’t like, because said outfits are basically miniature, cute versions of what their parents wear, I feel that the child as a person is being respected.  But there are cases where the parents’ choices really make me uncomfortable; these are the cases where the child comes off as an over-the-top candy or clown.

But I realised early on that this is a personal choice as well, and that I should respect other parents’ choices.  But by the same token, it means that other individuals should respect my choices.  That means that I will not be dressing my baby up in any outfit that is gifted to us.  On the one hand, I am grateful for the token of love and generosity; but on the other hand, if I don’t feel that the outfit is befitting my baby’s true nature as a noble, spiritual being, then I won’t be using said outfit.

Individuals who are upset at the fact that I don’t use their tokens of love have the right to be disappointed, but I really hope that they understand that my baby is not a doll for them to dress as they please, and that they are happy that my baby has an advocate dedicated to her well-being.

My Baby’s Body Isn’t Yours To Enjoy

I love holding babies and hugging them.  They are so sweet and cute, so innocent and filled with hope of a bright future.  And they smell so sweet!

But just like I don’t go around hugging adults randomly, I wouldn’t pick up a baby randomly, even if the parents give me their OK.  I would make sure that the baby is OK with me picking him up, and that’s because from the very beginning, he has the right to determine what happens to his body.

It is particularly distressing to me that people don’t respect the baby’s right to determine who can hold him.  I’ve been told that babies don’t have an opinion on the matter, that they are too small to know better, and that parents need to chill out.  But time and again I have seen the signs quite clearly when a baby doesn’t want me to hold him.

I can’t help but wonder what we are teaching our babies when, in short, we do not give them the right to determine who can do what to their bodies.  If anyone who wants to is allowed to touch them at that age, what’s to say that this trend won’t continue into the future, however subconsciously?

My Baby Isn’t a Toy

This one is like the doll but more so.  Don’t move my child’s limbs around ridiculously.  I know it’s safe for her physically, but you are insulting her spiritual nature by treating her as a toy for your amusement.

Another thing I noticed a lot of people seem to like doing is to use a baby as a prop or a doll.  They will hold its arms and make ridiculous gestures, they will make them walk around, they will propped them up in a certain way that amuses them, things of the sort.  This one also bothers me because, well, would you do that to an adult?  Isn’t it an insult to her noble, spiritual nature to treat her like a puppet that does silly things?

My Baby Isn’t Totally Helpless

While babies are dependent on their parents for so many things, they are also intelligent human beings who can achieve a lot.  But they are learning; they need more time and don’t do things the same way that we would.  When you see a baby trying to reach for something, don’t give it to them, however kind your intentions.  By doing that, you could be sending the message to the baby that it will not be able to reach the item in question, and so he just might as well not try.  Rather, channel your good intentions into encouragement; cheer babies along as they learn the basics of life.

My Baby Has Moods Just Like You Do

You know how some days, you are not cranky, but you just feel quiet?  Those days during which you would rather listen than talk, observe rather than participate?  It’s the same with babies.  It’s important not to label babies and children, especially with negative labels.  My baby isn’t cranky and antisocial.  My baby is just in a quiet, observant mood.  And ironically enough, she is in that mood more often around people who treat her like a doll, don’t respect her body, see her as a toy, and think of her as helpless.

Final Thoughts

Treat babies like real people and you will be surprised by how well they will respond to you.

Petitions and Boycotts: Why I Am Boycotting Nestlé Products

The transformation of the world from its current state to a place where every individual can participate actively in their personal material and spiritual development as well as contribute to the progress of humankind as a whole is going to need the upending of a lot of things—and I mean, a lot.  This means that we need to do more than just sit around and point at the things that are wrong, or to superficially address various issues through petitions and boycotts.

However, I also think that there is a place for petitions and boycotts—as long as they do not count for the bulk of our contributions to social transformation.  I personally have and will continue to sign petitions and boycott specific things.  The latest to have made the list of things I boycott is Nestlé, in an attempt to contribute to chipping away at unethical corporate practices.  As a number of readers have asked me about this decision of mine, I decided to share some of my reasons for boycotting Nestlé in the hopes of engaging more of you in this important and interesting discussion.

Most, If Not All Companies Have Unethical Practices, But Nestlé’s Are Too Blatant To Ignore

The level and scope of Nestlé’s unethical practices are too blatant to ignore: from the CEO’s belief that water isn’t a human right and should be privatized—leading to Nestlé’s draining of water reserves even during droughts (which is happening in Ontario as well)—to infant formula and other foods holding dangerous levels of various toxins, there is a lot of scandal surrounding this company.  (You can test your anger management by watching the documentary Bottled Life!)

Granted, there are a lot of companies that are not as big and therefore not as investigated as Nestlé; and granted, as an individual, Nestlé’s unethical practices came to my attention through organizations such as SumofUs.  And granted, we have to be careful not to demonise anyone or any company.

However, I can’t sit by idly and do nothing at all.  By choosing to boycott at least one company, I am taking a small step into become a more conscious and conscientious consumer.  And a full transformation needs to start somewhere, even if that place is extremely small.

A Related Challenge: Finding Alternative Products

One of the benefits of engaging in this conscious boycott of Nestlé is that I have had to find viable, ethical alternatives to the products I am not allowing myself to buy anymore.  It’s tough, because Nestlé and its subsidiaries are everywhere!  But it has really helped broaden my perspective on a lot of associated issues and topics.

I have also had to reconsider my budget, ethical products being slightly more expensive than unethical ones.  This has allowed me to realise just how much I have been buying that I don’t actually need, contributing to building a simpler lifestyle.

It Gives Some Power To The People

Not that it has been or continues to be easy.  I am still at the beginning of this process and discover daily things that are contradictory between my beliefs and my purchases.  But it also has been an empowering process, as an increasing number of viable, ethical alternatives are available to me—and thus, to you.

The funny thing about empowerment is that it brings a significant amount of light even in the darkest of places.  And I can tell you that it is really nice, in the face of all the darkness in the world, to know that there is a little something that I am doing all the time to help bring light back into the world.

It Creates The Opportunity To Hold Important Conversations

Although I wish I had all the answers, I really don’t.  And neither does anyone else, for that matter.  What we do have are pieces of the answer—each one of us holds a little something that, when put together, will reveal the greater picture.  By engaging in concrete action, I am building a life that is different from that of those around me; this inspires questions which lead to some amazing, eye-opening conversations, that help all of us inch slowly but inexorably towards the truth.

And that, my friends, is very exciting indeed.

Noticing the Glimmering of the Lesser Peace

I recently read an article, which talks about the relationship between poor housing conditions and the 25% of children in Montreal who suffer from lung disease, and suggests that the province of Quebec should invest not only in hospitals, but in home construction as well. Before, such articles would just make me so angry at the injustices happening even in a lovely city like Montreal. But this time, I saw glimmerings of the Lesser Peace and, albeit much more faintly, the beginning of the march towards the Most Great Peace.

Very simply put, the Lesser Peace is peace out of necessity; it is the day when all of the nations in the world will make a firm commitment to ensure peace, knowing that, due to the big strides in weapon development, a single war would cause massive casualties around the world. The Most Great Peace will come out of unity and love amongst the peoples of the world. We will go from edgy defensiveness but relative international security to being, well, one big happy family.

In the abovementioned article, there are clamours in a major metropolitan city in Canada to upgrade the housing of the poor. Currently, their housing is of such bad quality that the ensuing excessive humidity and related mould problems cause major lung problems in children.

The discourse is currently one of social justice and economics; it isn’t fair that children suffer the consequences of the economic hardships of the parents, all the more that their ensuing bad health becomes an economic burden for the entire population. And so, we are moving toward making a commitment to give them good housing. Doesn’t that remind you a little bit of the Lesser Peace?

But try as you might, social justice cannot be separated fully from love for humans. And so one day, perhaps this concern will grow into a love amongst the peoples of the world that would ensure this situation doesn’t even occur; all houses will be built as if for a family member, and so, although economically viable, a construction company will never even consider building something he wouldn’t let his closest of family and friends live in. By the same token, the concept of poverty as a barrier to basic health would be abhorrent to everyone, to the point that were a family to hit hardships, all their friends and neighbours would spontaneously arise to help them.

You might think that I am a naïve optimist, but you know what… I really do see glimmering of the Lesser Peace in the news, as well as the faint traces of the beginning of the march towards the Most Great Peace. And it is the best feeling ever to carry around as I continue trying to figure out how to contribute, however humbly, to building a new civilization.