Encouragement

Moment“Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be”

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882)

There are times in our lives when we need someone to encourage us, either through words or in the midst of comfort through silence. Too often we brush the value of encouragement aside, often taking it for granted when it is given by others, or benefiting from the encourager, but never reciprocating encouragement to the people in our lives.

Being an encourager does not simply mean to give periodic support, confidence or hope to someone. It means to actually build up, inspire, and empower someone to become what he/she is capable of, and then stepping back to watch him/her flourish and mature. As such, being an encourager for someone is a lifetime investment and a critical factor in mentorship.

How often do we realize the potential in another but only offer periodic episodes of encouragement? How often do we realize that, as an individual, we are full of potential, but there are no encouragers in our lives to help us grow? Unfortunately, herein lies the problem with today’s society. We are so focused on the self that we forget the importance of another human being.

Self-centeredness is not sustainable.

Instead, it is through giving that we sustain not only our own being, but also others around us. Start by giving simple words of encouragement to those in your life and then invest a little more over time. As an encourager, you will not only see the impact that you have in another person’s life, but will also receive a sense of tremendous joy that can never be taken away. Therefore, becoming an encourager lends oneself the privilege of not only positively sustaining another person, but also sustaining the self.

The complexity associated with prostitution

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The Supreme Court of Canada has struck down three prostitution provisions in the Canadian Criminal Code. They have found that legislation which criminalizes the operation of a common bawdy house, anyone who lives wholly, or in part, off the avails of prostitution of another person, and communicating in public for the purpose of engaging in prostitution or obtaining sexual services, is unconstitutional.

The Canadian Government has one year to devise a new legislative agenda.

It is disappointing when citizens of a democratic country allow an unelected judicial body to dictate when to make or change laws. The right to enact legislation lies solely with the people. Going to the judicial system on a constitutional challenge completely undermines the principal of democracy and does not hold elected officials accountable to bringing issues of national importance to Parliament to be debated.

As a result of the Supreme Court of Canada ruling, there are a number of special interest groups lobbying for the adoption of the Nordic Model into Canadian Law. Member of Parliament Joy Smith has also requested individuals who support the Nordic Model to sign a petition (the first step in initiating new legislation). Adoption of the Nordic Model would mean criminalizing the purchasers of sexual services.

The issue of prostitution is a controversial subject not just for Canada, as it is linked to other issues involving human trafficking, women’s rights, child exploitation, social stigma, organized crime, drugs, and health and safety.

A sustainable approach is required to strike a balance between those who wish to abolish prostitution versus those who wish to openly embrace it without regulation. Despite the two sides being on opposite ends of the spectrum, common ground is met on three points:

a) Prostitutes should not be criminalized

b) Sexual exploitation should be criminalized

c) Services should exist for those wanting to exit prostitution

It is likely that the government will enact a specific criminal code provision and nation-wide stance to encompass all three abovementioned points. Where the debate will be is whether the government should regulate prostitution or have the exchange of sex for money and all its related activities completely decriminalized.

If criminalizing purchasers of sexual services is adopted into the Canadian law, there will be debate as to whether prostitution should be regulated in a way to prevent social nuisance. For example, licensing of brothels may be required, health and safety inspection of brothels may be required, or brothels may only be allowed to operate in commercially zone areas versus residential areas.

As for enforcing the three prostitution laws, whose fates are currently in limbo, officials may be reluctant to or uncertain as to whether they should charge anyone under these specific Criminal Codes provisions within the one-year grace period. If criminalizing the purchasers of sexual services is adopted into the Canadian Criminal Code, this may require increased funding and resources to police departments so that sting operations can be performed to catch johns in the act of purchasing sex. Further, if the prostitution laws are revised to incorporate the caveat of sexual exploitation, processing a violation of the criminal code involving exploitation, in the judicial system may be problematic, as the burden of proof may lie on victim testimony.

Therefore, there is no easy answer to enacting new legislation and policies when it comes to the issue of prostitution.

Light and love

Love

Darkness cannot drive out darkness – only light can do that.

Hate cannot drive out hate – only love can do that.

~Martin Luther King Jr (1929 – 1968)

Criminalizing the demand side of prostitution in France

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The National Assembly of France has passed a bill that will criminalize the purchase of sexual services. This is similar to the law Sweden enacted in 1999.

Although there is still controversy regarding the Swedish law, the Swedish government reports that since the inception of the law, prostitution and the number of foreign women trafficked into Sweden for prostitution has decreased (read more about the Swedish law).

Once the French Senate approves the bill, those convicted of purchasing sexual services will be subject to fines ranging up to 1500 euros. Repeat offenders may incur fines up to 3750 euros. Offenders are also required to attend education and awareness courses on the harmful effects of prostitution. Importantly, the bill also provides social, educational and professional assistance for those seeking to exit the sex trade.

A passing of such a law in France is welcomed, given the inextricable link between human trafficking and prostitution (see previous post). As more and more governments around the world begin to realize that human trafficking for sexual exploitation and prostitution cannot be separated into distinct entities, the more we empower victims of sexual exploitation to take back control of their own lives. No longer will those who are sexually oppressed be looked upon as merchandise by purchasers or ignored by society. Instead, those who are sexual exploited will be viewed as human beings in need of compassion and viable alternatives and assistance to exit the sex trade.

The central longing of our hearts

iStock_000022599375XSmallLarry Crabb in Shattered Dreams writes that “…we’re not self-aware. We’re out of touch with the central longing of our hearts”.

What Crabb says is true. We are often out of touch with the central longing of our hearts. When this happens we feel that something is missing and there is an emptiness inside. When we are out of touch with our hearts we cannot truthfully say that we are happy, that we feel real joy and that we are pleased with the life we are living.

There are so many instances where we know in our hearts that we should take action in a certain way, but we rationalize with our minds to do the opposite.

We indeed live in a world where we are conditioned to separate emotion from rationality when it comes to making decisions, but our emotions are what makes us unique. We cannot ignore the fact that we are created with emotions and that all humans are emotional.

What is one of the most common phrases used when a relationship breaks down? He/She doesn’t care or I don’t care. This statement signifies that there is no longer an emotional attachment or bond, and when this void enters into the equation it hurts.

Would things be different if more people were better “in touch” with their hearts? Probably.

There is a saying that goes something along the lines of: The longest journey is from the head to the heart. However, the journey does not necessarily flow one-way. Instead, the journey is determining how to align the head with the heart. Hence, consciously being aware of the central longing of our hearts. Therefore, if we are able to introspect (practice) and accurately align our hearts with our heads, this may allow us to truly experience joy, happiness, and a sense of fulfillment, despite whatever struggles we may encounter in life.