Friday, July 26, 2013

Time to Re-Learn the Community Approach to Raising Children. By: C. Albrecht

Brianna Lopez

After immediately reading this article, I couldn’t trust myself to speak, move, or even write. My mind was racing, perseverating on what Brianna went through, and contemplating acts of revenge.

Seriously, how could the cruelty and torture - of an infant - exist so casually; tolerated by those who call themselves “family?"

Sadly, it came to me –  the general, apathetic response from bystanders, as well as the violent parenting involved, will not stop. Perhaps it is "nature versus nature", or a bit of both, but clearly this extended family is missing the basic rudimentary building blocks of parenting - e.g. loving your children. 

It became obvious that the family had endured abusive behaviour for so long that the unchecked abuse was considered the norm. Therefore, the behavioural circle remains unbroken.

The problem within this multi-generational family was that there had never been one strong person; someone to stand up and say, “Stop that! This is wrong!” The Lopez family was so clueless, they didn’t think twice about abusing their newborn child, nor were they worried about outsiders seeing the baby covered with bruises and bite marks. They saw nothing wrong with Brianna's upbringing.

What to do? Society (meaning ALL of us) has to go back to the Block-Watch mentality. Instead of apathetic observances, we will return to the neighborhood safe houses, and the emergency phone tree when there’s a concern. We have to become proactive about providing safety nets to those children, spouses etc. who are unable to recognize and/or do it for themselves. Instead of doubting our initial gut response and reaction to someone's parenting ability, we should immediately act on what we instinctively feel is wrong. We should also challenge the parents and their skills. If it turns out to be a false alarm, the parents should be grateful that we are alert enough to bring the issue to their attention. Giving birth does not mean we are automatically good parents - all parents can benefit from constant learning, listening to advice, and progressing accordinaly.

We need to revert back to those safety-in-numbers days, and we especially need to remember that it takes a village to raise a child. Starting today, WE are that village. Be alert!

Warning: This article includes detailed descriptions of Brianna’s abuse as well as pictures, as posted by “letsfindthem”. Do not open if such reading disturbs you.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Farewell Terrence Stephen Lowe (November 21, 1957 to January 24, 2011) BY Lezah Williamson and C Albrecht

Sometimes people come into your life in a way that is so mild and so inconspicuous that you don't realize what an impact they have made until they are gone. Terry Lowe was one of those people. I first heard of Terry from my friend Christine back when the two of us were in university. She was telling me about her previous life, a life that involved a rogue of an ex-husband, a life lived on the edge to a dangerous degree. But there was a guy, a roommate, she called Ratt - he was the touchstone that helped her to keep her life centred; he prevented things from spinning wildly out of control as she packed up a newborn baby and left the debauchery of her life in the big city to make a new life for herself and her infant son.

Fast forward twenty years, and Christine and I had re-connected through our mutual love of music. We decided to take that passion and throw it into an endeavour where we would write reviews, and interview musicians, of the shows we were seeing. But how to make this dream a reality? Once again, Touchstone Terry rose up to meet the challenge. He had stayed in Christine’s life the whole time; her personal cheerleader, pronouncing that she could do anything she put her mind to. He loved the idea of Swanktrendz, so he created an inventive program that would run our website, and did it for the steep price of a dinner out at a restaurant of his choice. Soon we had contributors from around the world adding to our cultural ezine.

That was one of the two times I met Terry. It's hard to know someone if you've spent less than two hours total in their company. But if I were to choose one adjective to describe him, that word would be 'comfortable'. Terry was a homey, comfortable person to be around; there was no pretense about him. He was a man who had three loves in his life: writing, art, literature, computers, and bikes. He flew the flag of all proudly, and was able, after I met him, to secure a job that combined biking and writing, acting as Editor for a local bike enthusiast’s magazine, Momentum. I heard that this was a shining moment in his life, but unfortunately, it was to be short-lived. Terry Lowe succumbed to a bout of pneumonia unexpectedly over winter.

He was a healthy-living guy who exercised regularly, avoided drugs, but enjoyed the odd beer. His death was a shock to all who knew him. The saddest thing for those left behind was that he died alone. Terry, the man who was always there for others in his own quiet, unobtrusive way, didn't have anyone there for him in his time of need. And for that, I am truly sorry. He deserved better. Terry, we miss you.

Thanks to Lezah who wrote most of the above. I had quit writing as I needed closure for my best friend before I could continue. Terry was my confident√©, my voice of reason and when I didn’t hear from him, I worried. However, I knew he often went home for Christmas. By the end of February my emails were being returned, his phone was cut off, and I knew intuitively I had lost a friend who truly understood me. He had bought me swanktrendz prior to his death and told me to get out there and write! I shall try, Terry, so long as you guide my hand.