Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Let's talk for a minute about Peter MacKay

Recently, a news story broke that Peter MacKay's office sent a Mother's and Father's Day email to the Department of Justice employees.  Both emails separately are actually pretty nice.  Together though, they've released a firestorm of criticism.  In the mother's day email, it talks about all the work mothers have to do before and after work (which, in at least my case, is all true).  In the Father's Day email, he talks about the responsibility father's have on shaping the minds of the future generations (which, I think is also very true).  You can read the full transcript of both here.

Listen, if you want to find a feminist, you don't need to look any further.  There is nothing that hurts me more than knowing that my daughter will grow up in a world that still doesn't value her as much as her brother.

But nothing in either of those letters is false, and actually I don't think either are offensive either (except for the fact that they are true).

Let's start by getting some facts straight about these letters.

1) The chances that Peter MacKay wrote these or even saw these letter is slim to none.  He's not sitting behind his desk trying to come up with material and thinking about the most malicious thing he can possibly say.

2) I highly doubt these letters were written to be compared.

Here's the thing: getting upset over the fact that he wrote one thing in one letter and one in the other, is kind of like me complementing my children each individually - calling my daughter nice, and my son smart, and then my daughter complaining that I shouldn't have called my son smart because 'I'm smart too!'.  I'm still complementing you, even if I'm not listing all your strengths.

And here's the other thing.  It's true.  Every morning I do change diapers, make lunches, think about supper, pile the kids in the car, etc.  Dave does these things too.  And every day Dave has an important role of shaping our children's minds and futures.  I do this too.

And although there are lots of men who change diapers and make lunches and think about supper, the reality is that gender roles in the household are still not equal.  I don't say this to diminish what men do, and I don't say it to diminish women's roles.  But gender equality has to start at home.

Being pregnant with my third has taught me this too.  Although I want full equality for women, it's unlikely to happen anytime soon.  I'm still the one who has to tell my boss I'm pregnant before I release it publicly.  I'm still the one who hears how 'having babies really puts a strain on companies'. I'm still the one who feels bad for being on maternity leave, but also gets criticized by my peers if I go off maternity leave too early (because I'm missing out on important year with my kids).  Dave doesn't have to do these things.  And although parental leave is an option for men, women still, for the most part, take it.  That year off?  That does detrimental things for careers too.  Let me clarify, I value and appreciate the maternity leave we get in Canada.  But gender roles in everyday life still aren't equal.

And the emails that Peter MacKay's office sent?  They weren't offensive.  They were different, but they were true.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Dear churches (a plea for better Facebook pages)

Dear churches,

I spend a good portion of my time on Facebook.  Partially for my job and (embarrassingly) I waste too much personal time on it.

But some of the time I spend on Facebook, I spend perusing your church Facebook page.  That's right.  I'm a church creeper.

I like to Facebook church creep for a couple of reasons:

  • Many of the things we do as a church, I steal borrow from what other churches are doing.  Some of you have awesome ideas - so I like to find those and see if they can work in our context.
  • I want to know what your church is like.  
  • I'm just generally nosy.
But often, I am disappointed by your church Facebook page.  Listen: I am no expert.  90% of what I've learned I've learned from trial & error.  But I'm going to put my advice out there for you anyway.

Here's why I am disappointed.  I look at your Facebook page and have no idea what your church is like.  Sure you post some sermon slides, your logo might be there, and even a picture or two of your building.  If I look hard enough, I might find a picture of your church organist, or the woman who serves coffee.  Which really, is sweet.  But as a 20-something who is (probably selfishly) looking for flash and excitement, you haven't yet convinced me that I should visit your church.

I over post pictures on our church Facebook page.  We try to take and post photos every week.  Yes, it is overkill.  But it has some benefits:
  • Tagging! If you are in a picture on our church's Facebook page, and I am FB friends with you, I'm probably going to tag you in it.  Yes, you may hate that picture of you - but I do it because when I tag you in a photo, that means that that photo instantly shows up in more people's newsfeeds.  Tagged photos also get better engagement which boosts how many people Facebook shows my posts too - it's a win-win for the church!
  • It makes you feel like you missed out.  We all know those people, the ones who come to church every second or third week (maybe wrongly, some of us even wish we were those people).  Well, when I post a picture of something fun the kids are doing, or some awesome activity we did upstairs, the hope is that for one second, maybe someone who missed this past week thinks 'Dang, I should have been there'.  And that's crucial.
  • You know what you are getting into.  Maybe you are really outgoing.  I'm not.  I don't like going to new places by myself, and I especially don't like going there if I don't know what to expect.  Sure, you write cute paragraphs on your church website that tell me I'm going to find a group of welcoming people - but I bet Westboro Baptist probably has that on their website too (never mind -I looked, they don't)   And also - how old are the people going to be there?  Will I find people my age?  Are there cool things my kids will be doing or will they be bored?  How busy is it?  Are there 5 people there or 100?  Sure, you say I don't need to wear a suit - but will everyone else be wearing one?  These are all questions that run through my mind before I visit a church.  Every one of them can be answered by some real pictures.
But, don't let them just be any pictures!  Later this week, I'll talk about some tips of capturing some appealing shots of your church!

What do you think?  Does your church have a Facebook page?  If you were going to visit a church would you check their Facebook page first?  Are you a church Facebook page creeper too?

Friday, March 28, 2014

Interest-free Student Loans

I've resurrected my blog! 

I got fired up about a segment I heard on our local CBC drive home program, Shift.  They were talking about how Nova Scotia has eliminated interest on provincial student loans.  Then, they played clips of what students in New Brunswick thought of the new program and whether these students thought NB should adopt a similar policy.  Well, here are my thoughts on the matter.

I think we've obviously done a great disservice to our young adults by not teaching them basic financial principles - we've created an entitled generation.  One girl interviewed on the program said that the government shouldn't charge more money when students are just asking to 'borrow' money from the government for their education.  Charging interest is the basis of our whole economy.  The government has to charge interest to make the loaning sustainable. If there was no interest, our savings accounts would never grow above inflation (if that) - which we would hate.  

I think we often forget too that student loans aren't the only option to be able to afford University - the government has great incentives for contributing to RESP's, students can work during the summer and throughout the school year to finance their education, and of course there are a plethora of grants or scholarships.  I'm not saying it is easy to finance post-secondary education without debt (or even possible for everyone) - but we tend to teach that it is impossible for anyone to get a post-secondary education without debt - which just isn't the case.  

We forget too that University isn't the only post-grade school option.  A University education doesn't guarantee you a job.  Nor does it, for the most part, train you to do a job.  Mostly, University teaches critical thinking - which can be important for jobs, and can be requirements for jobs, but a University education alone (without a plethora of other skills & experience) won't get you any job. 

And let's be honest, in my University days, I saw many people use their student loans to fund many things other than education - alcohol, gaming systems, and flat screen tv's to name a few.  We kid ourselves if we think that all this money that is loaned in student loans is going solely to educational expenses.

We need to stop feeling entitled to a University education.  We need to stop teaching this generation that starting life with debt is 'the smart move'.  And honestly, I wish we would stop using our tax payer dollars to make debt as accessible as possible - because with, or without interest, a huge debt load is an awful way to start your life.

**Edit: I want to note that I am only averse to student loans because I think they become a real burden on the person who has borrowed the money.  I don't think stopping student loans is the answer, because I believe education is important.  I do think, though, that we need to start teaching people at a younger age how challenging it is to live with debt, how to save money for education (or other goals), and we need to brainstorm ways to provide multiple alternatives to getting into debt.  So that instead of debt being a first resort, it becomes a last resort.

*Note: the opinions above are all my own.  I definitely don't know everything, I'm only 25.  I'm not mad at anyone who has student loans - and I don't think the people who have student loans are to blame.  I think we've done (as a society) a really crappy job of teaching other options.  And I think in the future, that needs to change.  So people don't start life as slaves to their debt.