I really enjoyed reading the novels in the series "Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators" by Robert Arthur as a boy. These are very well written mystery stories for young readers. Of the three characters in the novels, the Third Investigator, Bob Andrews, was my favourite. His job, as his title on the The Three Investigators business card indicates, was records and research. He maintained the files, typing up reports of the Investigator's cases and worked part-time in a library. He also gathered information for the Investigators as they worked on cases. Once in a while I like to read the novels anew as I still find them entertaining. The character of Bob Andrews resonates with me all these years later as records and research is what I do for a living as a librarian and blogger. In the library I create and manage catalogue records for music scores and sound recordings. I use the skills I acquired in library school in carrying out my own research for the articles I publish. Who knew all those years ago when I read these novels that like Bob Andrews, records and research would become my vocation.
I am no white knight. What made me think of this is an incident, a robbery in progress, I witnessed in the spring of 1996. It was a rainy Saturday morning as I drove to work at the Cumberland Public Library. Despite the rain I had the window open in my car and as I made my way down Percy Street, just past Gladstone, I heard a woman screaming. I glanced in the direction of her screams and saw her chasing a man running away as fast as he could. The two of them turned at the corner of Percy and McLeod Streets and I followed in my car. I drove up alongside the woman who stood in the rain, gasping for breath. She told me between gasps that she and another woman were waiting at a bus stop on Gladstone when a man snatched the other woman's purse. She gave chase, screaming, in an effort to draw attention to the robbery. The mugger dropped the purse as he ran off and the woman retrieved it. I asked her to take a seat in the passenger seat of my car, offering her shelter from the rain, while we waited for the police to respond. Before long I saw a police car in the distance and flagged it down. The woman police constable drove up and after I explained what happened to her, let her take over. With that settled, I continued on to work.
I heard a woman screaming and reasoned that she must be in distress. I offered her assistance that she gratefully accepted. In doing so I offered assistance to a fellow human being in distress. That it was a woman who needed my assistance was incidental. I would do the same for a man in distress. I did not view her as a damsel in distress. Hardly, she put herself at risk in chasing a mugger on behalf of a stranger. I happened to be on the scene when this little crisis erupted and chose not to remain a bystander. This does not make me noble or gallant; just someone extending a little kindness to a fellow human being in need. I like to think most people would do the same if confronted with a similar situation, not so they may be lauded as heroic, but because it is the right thing to do.
If you view my published writings you will find I am an equal opportunity critic when it comes to religions. Most of my analysis and criticism is directed at the Abrahamic faiths. While I am not shy about directing criticism at religion, I look for the good in religion and religious folk. I give credit where it is due. The reality is we live in a world where great swaths of humanity practice one religion or another. I interact with religious folk in my daily life as a gay man. I live openly as here in Canada every citizen is equal before the law and discrimination on the grounds of creed and sexual orientation is against the law. Moreover, in Canadian society tolerance is a principle by which we live.
Chechnya is a state in the Russian Federation. Sunni Islam, its scripture and traditions is the foundation on which Chechen society is organized. Currently, the Islamic clerics who determine social policy decided God and His Messenger demand that Chechen society rid itself of gay men. A pogrom is under way and there are reports of torture and killings of men suspected of being gay. This is more than immoral; it is criminal. Yes, religion is behind this gross abuse of human rights and the religion is Islam. I am doing nothing wrong in pointing this out and condemning it.
In doing so, I am neither pointing my finger at every Muslim across the world nor inciting bigotry or violence against Muslims. I have observant Muslims among my friends who see what is going on in Chechnya and condemn it. They are just as appalled as any reasonable person is at this deplorable conduct. This in no way represents their expression of the faith.
Beyond that, if this were happening in a neighbouring state in the Russian Federation where Orthodox Christianity is the dominant faith and whose clerics incited a pogrom against gay men, I would condemn it without hesitation. I would not care if the religious sensibilities of Christians across the world were offended either. Religious belief, no matter how passionately kept, does not justify such flagrant abuse of human rights.
Recently I struck up an informal acquaintanceship with a young Mormon Missionary whom I met on the bus as I rode home from work. He is nearing the end of the two years of missionary work young Mormon men are required to undertake. He was seated by himself across from me on the bus so I asked if he were alone, noting Mormon missionaries usually travel in pairs. He replied that his colleague was seated nearby. During the ride along Bronson Avenue to my stop we had a discussion about faith and Mormonism. I am familiar with Mormonism, having studied religion at university and through my acquaintanceship with ex-Mormons. My young acquaintance was duly impressed with my knowledge of his faith and accepted that I am not interested in converting. This came as no surprise to me; Mormons are generally good people. When the bus reached my stop, I bid him good day and thanked him for the discussion. He responded in kind.
Two weeks later, we met again on the bus and resumed the discussion. He told me he found our first discussion inspiring. It was just ahead of Easter and I told him though I am no longer practicing Christianity, I keep Easter in my own way. Easter resonates with me as it makes me think of loved ones who are no longer alive. It helps me keep their memory alive. We parted company once more as the bus reached my stop. I find myself hoping he and I will meet again some day as he is a charming young man and open to discussion of different ideas concerning his faith.
I enjoy writing and publishing articles and find inspiration for my writings in life with my husband Mika and caring for my dogs, Hera and Stella.