Letters: 'I hope all kids have a chance to do yoga at school'

A seven-year-old reader writes in about meditation and other letter this week

Photograph by Cole Garside

Photograph by Cole Garside

Stretching in school

My mom and I read your story about yoga and meditation in schools (“Schooled in meditation,” Society, June 23). I do yoga at school. I think it is a really good idea to do, because it relaxes your body, it makes you calm and it helps you think better. I started doing yoga in school when I was four years old and now I am 7½. All the kids in my school really like doing yoga. I think it helps us get along. I hope all kids have a chance to do yoga at school.

Cairo Rampersaud, Vancouver

I was pleased to see that the education system in some schools is providing a very important gift of learning to young students through meditation or mindfulness. Obviously, the educators and students are more enlightened than some of the parents who think this is a waste of time. I’m sure that regular meditation by children would help reduce the often misdiagnosed attention deficit disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Children learn to focus much better and are able to take time to calm themselves and relax. It also helps them to face some of the stresses that are the reality for many of them. Meditation will probably stay with students throughout their lives much more than some of the subjects taught.

Bernie Merrett, Toronto

Mourning in Moncton

I applaud you for the article regarding the three RCMP officers who lost their lives in Moncton (“Running toward danger,” National, June 23). While gone, they leave a legacy of trust and commitment that is so obviously the attitude of most RCMP officers. Their sacrifice will never be forgotten. But, in the future, let’s not provide such recognition of the person who commits these type of crimes. To the officers lost and wounded: Thank you so much for your service, and thank you so much for running to the horror. To all other RCMP officers, and police forces in general: Thank you from the bottom of my heart for what you do for us each and every day.

Phillip Rody, Miramichi, N.B.

Shame on you for making that monster front and centre on this week’s cover (“What made him snap,” National, June 23)! As a north Moncton resident, the whole incident hit way too close to home; the last thing I want to see when I open my mailbox is that photo—again. I feel that a more empathetic approach would have been to feature the RCMP officers who lost their lives that day; that image would have been much warmer to see, although still heartbreaking, rather than the kid with the guns. The residents of Moncton just want to move on. We will never forget our fallen heroes, but we would like to forget the image and the fear instilled by the accused.

Samantha Delorme, Moncton, N.B.

“He grew up a middle-class kid in a devout Christian family.” This sentence on your cover about Justin Bourque has a whiff of “so how could this happen?” to it. It’s as though you’re puzzled that his inoculations didn’t work. Strangely naive.

Cheryl Moore, Winnipeg

There are never any clear-cut answers as to why a person snaps and commits atrocities like the one that occurred in Moncton on June 4. Jason Bourque was a regular pot smoker. I am a product of the ’70s, when smoking pot was very much the norm for many—but we never connected pot smoking with mental illness back then, because the pot we smoked was not the stuff people get today, with its high THC count. My own son has had mental illness directly related to his use of today’s pot, and many of his friends show definite signs of mental illness after using over time. Not everyone who consumes this new form of pot will have problems; only those who have a predisposition to its ill effects. Jason Bourque’s marijuana use should be considered part of the problem that led to this tragedy. It can never be fully explained, but every possible cause should be fully explored.

Valerie Whiteford, Ottawa

Good Point

Leave it to our esteemed academia to come up with a solution for global warming: Sell your shares in fossil fuels (“Unloading on fossil fuels,” Special Report, June 16). They don’t seem to understand that, incredible as it may seem, beyond the initial public offering, the company receives no money from the sale of shares. What they are doing is transferring ownership of their part of the company to someone else—which has no effect on the company’s operations, and certainly will not reduce carbon dioxide levels in the air by one part per million.

Joe MacDonald, Repentigny, Que.

Guns on the street

I am a firearms owner and a member of the NRA, among other groups, but I really don’t see the need for such blatant theatrics as the “open carry” laws being advocated in the U.S. (The Editorial, June 23). While I have major problems with many facets of the current gun laws, there is, frankly, no need for these open-carry displays. By all means, carry in the home or at the range, but not on Main Street.

Andrew Tyler, Victoria

If a stranger in your neighbourhood is covered in bandoliers of ammunition and is holding a loaded firearm “at the ready,” odds are, he isn’t there to do good; this is obvious. Your hysterical anti-gun rant guarantees that the millions of law-abiding gun owners will now have to endure even more front-lawn police takedowns, RCMP harassment and false prosecutions stemming from the phone calls of   “concerned citizens.” I already shut the blinds when I clean my firearms, and I sneak my rifles out to the car when I go to the range for fear of “neighbourly overreactions” and the inevitable police visits that follow. With help from Maclean’s, Canadian gun owners will continue to feel scrutinized, isolated and persecuted in our own communities.

Mike Dixon, Abbotsford, B.C.

When I went to college in Guelph, Ont., in the early 1960s, my dad had a friend who took me hunting in rural areas north of the city. I kept my double-barrelled shotgun in my residence closet and, on weekends, I often walked, carrying it and wearing a shell belt, down my street until I reached the woods where I hunted ruffed grouse. No one paid any attention to me, or was alarmed. Now, although I live in a rural area, my guns are locked in a gun cabinet when not in use. Times have changed, but there was a time, in my memory, here in Canada, when someone walking down the street, carrying a gun, was not unusual, nor a threat.

Bill Davis, Nobel, Ont.

Shhh, I’m running things

I have been a leadership researcher and a business executive for more than 30 years and see more and more narcissism in business (“The invisible in your office,” Society, June 23). My doctoral research was on the psychology of leadership and the effectiveness of CEOs in large corporations. I discovered that the most effective CEOs were, and are, quiet leaders. They did not need a great deal of attention, public or otherwise. They simply wanted to attract the best people and do the best job possible for their shareholders. It is truly unfortunate that HR professionals and search firms seem to accept that “aggressive,” “outgoing” and “dynamic” are important characteristics of leaders.

John Morrissey, Silver Hill, Ont.

Where no one is safe

Whenever technology makes drivers feel safer, they drive faster until they reach their comfort level of risk; thus, vehicle performance technology will never save more lives (“The cure for killer cars,” Society, June 16). In Alberta, other than in school zones (where enforcement is good), our government pretends to enforce the laws and drivers pretend to obey them. Police cars are clearly marked and obviously located; photo-radar locations are announced on the radio and posted online. Drivers slow down in the critical areas and proceed to speed after passing them. Red-light-camera locations are also posted online. Radar detectors are legal. Cellphone use while driving is legal, as long as you have a hands-free device. It seems that our provincial government treats traffic safety as a game where, if you buy enough technology and are smart and observant enough, you are above the law.

John Leahy, Calgary

Transgender trends?

I would like to thank you for the quality reporting and balanced approach of the article about the visibility of transgender characters on television, as well as the activist activities of my friend Kristin Beck (“ ‘A revolutionary moment,’ ” TV, June 16). I found it interesting that Laverne Cox had a problem with trans issues being a “trend,” warning that we may soon be out of fashion. If, and when, that happens, we’ll still be around, fighting our private battles and winning our secret victories.

Megan Madison, Cranbrook, B.C.

The true Turing test

The Turing Test, measuring a computer’s ability to be mistaken for human intelligence, doesn’t call for a 30 per cent success rate; that was Alan Turing’s prediction for what computers could eventually achieve. Eugene Goostman, the Russian computer program created to simulate the mind of a 13-year-old (Newsmakers, June 23), doesn’t simulate a mind, but is simply a chat-bot that scans and repeats phrases. The expert judges in the test weren’t experts, but celebrities who don’t know how to spot simple manipulation. It’s cheating to call yourself a 13-year-old Ukrainian boy, giving the program an automatic pass on language missteps, knowledge gaps and communication snafus. Better programs exist already; Eugene is hardly better than Eliza, which was created decades ago. None of these programs is skilled enough to really pass the Turing Test in the sense it was intended. Yet.

Andy Gryc, Ottawa

In defence of 12-step programs

Having worked full-time in residential addiction treatment programs for more than 15 years, I was very interested to read your discussion with Dr. Lance Dodes (Interview, March 24) and read his book, The Sober Truth. I was expecting to read a scholarly review of 12-step programs and residential treatment. Yet, Dodes’s review of the research was heavily distorted. He leaves the reader with his “fact”: “If addicts can learn to address their rage at helplessness directly, then it manifests simply as an assertive act. When people act directly, there can be no addiction.” In support of this “fact”? His anecdotal evidence. The apparent treatment? Months of psychotherapy, possibly a few times a week, perhaps at $200 an hour? My objection is not to psychotherapy, which can clearly be very helpful for a variety of problems, including addiction. Rather, my concern relates to the grandiosity of the claim that this is the sole cause and treatment. One hopes that individuals using and benefiting from the 12-step programs for various disorders will not be discouraged, or further stigmatized, by this book.

Dr. M.A. “Mel”  Vincent, Edgewood Addictions Treatment Centre, Nanaimo, B.C.

Capital confusion

Please be informed that, for almost a quarter of a century, Abuja—not Lagos, as implied in your June 23 “Bad News” item (“#BringBackOurGirls—all of them,” This Week)—has been the capital of Nigeria. Thus, lawmakers in that city, not Lagos, are the ones who perhaps bear some responsibility for rescuing the girls and young women kidnapped by Boko Haram.

Fred Helleiner, Brighton, Ont.