Sometimes, being single can be lonely. There are few feelings worse than showing up to brunch only to find that every one of your friends has brought their significant other, or having to grit your teeth while you tell family members that no, you won’t be bringing anyone home for Thanksgiving this year.
But there are many overlooked benefits of singlehood, too. Dr. Elyakim Kislev, a research fellow and assistant professor at Hebrew University in Israel, has studied the subject at length. He’s written about his findings in a new book, Happy Singlehood: The Rising Acceptance and Celebration of Solo Living.
“There is a huge misconception that being alone and lonely are the same,” he told HuffPost Canada. Not all single people necessarily want to be in relationships, and not all married people are happy. “Marriage is a [specific] level of commitment, and it doesn’t fit everyone.”
Kislev talked to us about some of the advantages to single life.
You’re not stuck in an unhappy marriage
It’s a mistake to assume that all marriages or long-term relationships are happy. That might sound obvious, but Kislev said many people get married because they’ve internalized stereotypes about what it means to be single.
“Because society does not accept singlehood as such, many people are pressured to marry, despite uncertainty over their chosen spouses,” he said. “They marry only to realize later they made a premature decision, which only leads them to long years of unhappy marriage, or even divorce.”
He was surprised by how commonly people cited the fear of dying alone as a major factor in staying in an unhappy relationship, he said. “It is quite amazing how so many people force themselves into marriage because they worry that no one will take care of them when they are old.”
Making choices now for the future you want in 40 years’ time can often backfire, he said. “In contrast, I found long-term singles to be skillful in weaving their social networks toward their later years, which made them feel ready and happy with aging on their own,” he adds.
Single people have stronger social networks
One of the biggest takeaways from Kislev’s research is that it’s always a mistake to neglect your friends when you’re in a relationship. A 2006 study found that married couples spend less time calling, writing and visiting with friends than single people do, and that married couples are less likely to provide emotional support or practical help.
That means, of course, that if your marriage collapses, you have fewer people to turn to. And that means you’re at more of a disadvantage than people who are unhappily single, Kislev explains.
“Many people don’t pay attention to this crucial difference, but the unhappily married usually lose twice,” he said. Because they usually don’t have as many friends as single people, they become “socially isolated in addition to their emotional misery.”
He adds that in his research, he’s found that “a single person who maintains his or her positive self-perception and invests time in social activities can be much happier than the average married person.”
Single people are better educated
Kislev looked at education rates among married people, divorced people, co-habitating people and people who had never been married across 30 different countries. The married people were the least-educated overall. Co-habitants were the most educated, followed closely by single people. Single women, Kislev points out, are even more likely to better educated than single men.
…but that doesn’t make their lives easy
Despite all these pluses, Kislev said single people sill face “hidden” discrimination. He’s found that singles often work harder for less household income than their married peers. Many real estate agents are less willing to rent homes to unmarried people, because they often seem less reliable than those in relationships.
And many people react with pity or disgust to meeting a single adult: “Just think of what many feel when they see an unmarried old guy, for instance.”
Still, the single population is growing. Increased global mobility in search of work, more independence for women and a decreased focus on tradition are all part of the rise of the single demographic, Kislev said. According to the Pew Research Center, a quarter young adults will never marry, and around half of those who will marry will get divorced.
How to be happily single
Kislev says one of the ways people can be happier while single is to simply be aware of the stigmatization. If you know that systems that prioritize marriage to the detriment of single people exist, you’re more likely to be “indifferent” when you come across a discriminatory comment, he says.
He also recommends choosing “single-friendly” friend groups or workplaces, where the people around you don’t make you feel like a weirdo for not having a partner. Being comfortable enough to defy social pressure and keep your head held high when you say you’ll be attending a dinner parter alone is a skill, but it’s a worthwhile one, Kislev says. “The happy singles I met were often able to change others’ perspective by pointing out that there is more than one way to live.”
He’d also like to see policies enacted that would make it easier for single people to get by: the growth of small apartments with shared spaces, for instance. He also suggests talking to children about “how to accept singlehood and live happily ever, after even if they will find themselves alone,” he said.
“We need to accept the notion of a full scale of what it means to be committed: marriage, cohabitation, living apart and being together, occasional couplehood, and so on, he said.
“The relationship landscape should be as diverse as we are.”
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In the Christchurch mosque massacre and its aftermath, two forms of racism have been put on display: a far-right Islamophobia that kills Muslims and a mainstream Islamophobia that normalizes the deaths.
Initially, the mass killings barely made the front page of The Globe and Mail: the news was relegated to page four the first day after the atrocity, and the day following confined to a small black box at the top of the front page (which was dominated by a picture of Finance Minister Bill Morneau, not connected to any pressing news story). Even the car advertisement at the bottom was given more space on the front page than the planned and targeted gunning down of Muslims in prayer (the death toll at the time was 49 and has since risen to 50).
While the shootings were allocated greater prominence in the paper following widespread criticism of The Globe‘s coverage, they have primarily been framed as a problem of gun control — not the white supremacist ideology of the man wielding the weapon.
On the CBC’s website, the top story the morning after the massacre was about corruption in American college admissions, and two days later about “three Montrealers who choose to wash dishes for a living.”
What a marked and devastating contrast to the wall-to-wall coverage dedicated to far less fatal acts of violence committed by Muslims abroad. By three days after the mosque attacks, they had already virtually disappeared from the online homepages of Canada’s two national mainstream newspapers, The Globe and Mail and National Post. While the Boston Marathon bombing (which killed three people) was memorialized in Canadian media on its one-year anniversary, will anyone in Canada remember the carnage at Christchurch one year from now?
As the eminent American historian Howard Zinn observed in A People’s History of the United States:
“Outright lying or quiet omission takes the risk of discovery which, when made, might arouse the reader to rebel against the writer. To state the facts, however, and then to bury them in a mass of other information is to say to the reader with a certain infectious calm: yes, mass murder took place, but it’s not that important.”
Media devaluations have no power to diminish Muslims’ inherent humanity — but they unquestionably imperil our safety.
The marginalization of the anti-Muslim killings in New Zealand is part of a Canadian public discourse that consistently serves to minimize the presence and extent of racism and white supremacy.
In its Christchurch coverage, for instance, The Globe and Mail included a piece about threats made against an Alberta mosque in a Yellow Vests Canada Facebook group, but conveyed the impression that this was a one-off incident. It completely neglected to mention that racist diatribes, conspiracy theories, and death threats are pervasive in Yellow Vests Canada’s social media platforms and protests — and that the group itself is not simply an “advocate for free speech and Canadian sovereignty,” as it was described, but a vehicle for extreme-right organizations like the Three Percenters militia, Soldiers of Odin, and World Coalition Against Islam.
Such erasures have enabled Conservative leader Andrew Scheer to be elevated as Canada’s potential “moral leader” by opinion commentators, and to outstrip Justin Trudeau and Jagmeet Singh as the “most ethical federal party leader” in recent opinion polls — even as Scheer continues to brazenly pander to the far-right by tweeting support for the yellow vests’ United We Roll convoy, and then speaking at their Ottawa rally alongside white supremacist Faith Goldy.
The obscuring of racist ideology sustains the popular fiction that acts of white supremacist violence, like those at Christchurch, are “senseless.” In fact, they are a manifestation of a prevailing common sense depicting Muslims and other racialized communities as inherently dangerous and therefore disposable.
This deeply entrenched and highly toxic common sense is propagated by state agencies like Public Safety Canada, which insists that “the principal terrorist threat to Canada continues to stem from … violent Sunni Islamist ideology” and that far-right “racism, bigotry, and misogyny … ultimately do not usually result in criminal behaviour or threats to national security” — even though far-right and white-supremacist ideologues have been responsible for more than nine times as many deaths as Muslim extremists have in Canada since 2001 (at least 19, as compared to two).
While Muslims are stigmatized as a source of regular violence by terroristic freaks, acts of racist violence are explained away as freak occurrences by regular Canadians.
Alexandre Bissonnette’s 2017 Quebec mosque mass shooting, for example, was deemed “strictly personal and non-ideological,” and so not “terrorism,” by the Quebec Superior Court last month.
And Toronto lawyer Mark Phillips was spared criminal punishment last April for his baseball bat attack on a Latino family he accused of being “ISIS”; although Phillips cracked the ribs of one of his victims, his behaviour was dismissed by the judge as “marijuana-induced psychosis.”
Contrast this with the treatment of Syrian immigrant Rehab Dughmosh, who swung a golf club and a knife at Canadian Tire employees while suffering psychotic delusions. She caused no significant injury, but was charged with 14 terrorism offences and sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment in February.
Through such disparities, the racist violence of white men comes to be treated like white noise: a random, meaningless nuisance that blends into the background; a fact of life not to be eradicated but endured, perhaps by blocking our ears to the disturbance.
The persistent, willful refusal to hear it is itself a form of complicity.
Azeezah Kanji is a legal researcher and writer based in Toronto.
Photo: Mark McGuire/Flickr
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LONDON — The British government is considering its response to the ruling of the speaker of the House of Commons that Prime Minister Theresa May cannot keep asking lawmakers to vote on the same European Union divorce deal they have already rejected twice.
Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay told Sky News Tuesday that the Cabinet would give “serious consideration” to John Bercow’s decision that the government could not bring the deal back for a third vote without substantial changes. May has been lobbying opponents in preparation for another vote on her plan.
Barclay says the government needs “to look at the details of the ruling.”
“The fact that a number of members of Parliament have said that they will change their votes points to the fact that there are things that are different.”
The Associated Press
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Minnesota House passes bill to fight opioid epidemic
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — The Minnesota House has voted to hold drug manufacturers responsible for the state’s growing costs for dealing with the opioid crisis.
The bill passed 94-34 Monday night. It would support prevention, education, intervention, treatment and recovery strategies.
The state would pay for them by sharply raising its annual registration fees for pharmaceutical manufacturers and drug wholesalers that sell or distribute opioids in Minnesota. The fees would bring in $20 million a year.
Democratic Rep. Liz Olson of Duluth says the costs to taxpayers have been huge. But Republican House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt says the bill will raise health care costs for all Minnesotans.
An opioid bill is also moving through the Senate and has another hearing Tuesday. The differences between the two versions would be resolved in conference committee.
Minnesota House backs hands-free cellphone rule for driving
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — The Minnesota House has approved a bill that would require motorists to use hands-free devices when talking on the phone. Sponsors say the measure will cut down on the rising level of distracted driving and save lives.
The House passed the bill 106-21 with bipartisan support Monday night. A similar bill is working its way through the Senate with an exemption for GPS navigation systems.
The bill’s chief House sponsor, Rep. Frank Hornstein, says he’s confident the differences will get worked out in conference committee. He notes that Gov. Tim Walz has indicated that will sign the bill.
Assuming the bill becomes law, Minnesota would become of 18 states plus the District of Columbia that require drivers to use hands-free devices while phoning.
CHILD CARE FRAUD-LEAVE
Human Services official on leave after child care report
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — The inspector general of the Minnesota Department of Human Services is on leave after a legislative auditor’s report on fraud within the state’s Child Care Assistance Program.
The department Monday said Carolyn Ham is on leave, but the reasons are not public under the Data Practices Act. The department says Ham continues to hold the title of inspector general.
The report last week found a “serious rift” between Ham and the department’s child care fraud investigators.
Ham told Minnesota Public Radio News she is being treated as a scapegoat for problems in the department.
The report by Legislative Auditor James Nobles found fraud is a problem with the program but no proof that money from it found its way to terrorist organizations overseas.
Republican lawmakers have called for Ham’s resignation.
Walz signs bill to expand disaster aid for barn collapses
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz has signed a bill expanding a zero-interest disaster loan program to help farmers dealing with buildings damaged by heavy snow.
Walz signed the bill Monday. The measure cleared both the state House and Senate without opposition last week.
Walz says the bill is “critical” for farmers hit by extreme snow and blizzard conditions. The governor has said Minnesota’s economy is under threat from the number of dairy barn collapses this winter.
The bill broadens eligibility for the Disaster Loan Recovery Program run by the state’s Rural Finance Authority. It adds uninsured losses from the weight of snow, sleet or ice to the list of damages covered by the program. It would be retroactive to Jan. 1.
CASTILE SHOOTING-CRISIS KIT
Prosecutor, Philando Castile’s mom develop crisis tool kit
(Information from: St. Paul Pioneer Press, https://ift.tt/169Vdiu)
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — The mother of Philando Castile and the prosecutor who charged the officer who shot him have teamed up with others to develop a tool kit for law enforcement to use in times of crisis.
Valerie Castile and Ramsey County Attorney John Choi spoke about the tool kit during a recent online video conference with about 70 law enforcement agencies and other groups nationwide.
The St. Paul Pioneer Press reports the kit gives prosecutors and police ways to assess how prepared they are for police shootings, and see how they can be handled better. Among other things, the kit says a prosecutor should be immediately assigned to a police shooting.
Philando Castile was killed in July 2016 during a traffic stop. Former St. Anthony Officer Jeronimo Yanez was acquitted in his death.
BCA: 3 found dead in home in northwestern Minnesota
OGEMA, Minn. (AP) — The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is investigating the deaths of three people in a home in Becker County.
Law officers were called to the home off Highway 34 in rural Ogema in northwestern Minnesota on Monday.
The bodies will be taken to the Ramsey County Medical Examiner’s Office for formal identification and autopsies.
No one is in custody. Investigators say there’s no indication of a threat to the public.
The BCA says the investigation is in the early stages and more information will be released as the investigation continues.
POLICE REPORTS-RESTRICTED ACCESS
Public access limited for about 275 St. Paul police reports
(Information from: Star Tribune, https://ift.tt/HvUHyi)
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Public access to about 275 St. Paul police reports was restricted by the department’s ‘lockdown’ policy from 2011 to 2018, which made the records invisible except to select police leaders and civilian supervisors.
The Star Tribune reports that police say the policy was used at the discretion of commanders and high-ranking officers to protect sensitive cases from prying eyes.
Department spokesman Steve Linders says information from reports can jeopardize investigations.
Most cases have since been removed from the classification after a department review.
Opponents criticize the practice for its lack of oversight.
Governmental transparency advocate Don Gemberling says the policy doesn’t include criteria for what qualifies a case for a lockdown and there’s “no clear lines of accountability.” Gemberling questions how the public should know if the practice is being used appropriately.
Some residents still displaced by flooding
JORDAN, Minn. (AP) — Crews in southern Minnesota are still working with backhoes to break up large ice jams that have forced rivers and streams over their banks.
In Jordan, the level on Sand Creek dropped nearly 3 feet Sunday as workers cleared one blockage, but then another dam formed near a mobile home park where 300 households had evacuated last week. The Star Tribune says about 13 residents remained at a Red Cross shelter Sunday.
An ice jam caused the Cottonwood River in New Ulm to rise about 5 feet by early Sunday. Some state highways remained closed due to high water, while other roads had standing water but remained open to traffic.
Heavy rainfall and snowmelt have led to dangerously high water in creeks and rivers across several Midwestern states , with the Missouri River hitting record-high levels in many areas.
The Associated Press
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OZARK, Ala. — A truck-driving preacher charged with killing two Alabama teenagers found shot to death in a car trunk nearly 20 years ago was tied to the slayings through a DNA match uncovered with genetic genealogy testing, authorities said Monday.
The analysis linked evidence that sat for years in a police freezer to Coley McCraney, 45, of Dothan, Alabama, police said.
McCraney was taken into custody Friday and booked Saturday on rape and capital murder charges, according to officials and jail records. He now faces a potential death penalty in the 1999 killings of Tracie Hawlett and J.B. Beasley, both 17.
Hawlett’s mother, Carol Roberts, said she went numb when she heard of McCraney’s arrest. She said that as the years ticked by, she began to doubt if the case would ever be solved.
“God gave her to me. He didn’t have the right to do that. I just want to know why,” said Roberts, who wore a button featuring her daughter’s photo at the news conference announcing the arrest.
McCraney, who has his own church and preached recently, is co-operating with authorities, said defence attorney David Harrison.
“My heart goes out to the victims’ families,” Harrison said. “It’s a tragedy. We don’t need to make it make three tragedies by convicting him.”
Ozark Police Chief Marlos Walker said he knew McCraney from living in the same city and was surprised when DNA testing linked him to the slayings. He credited science, diligence, and divine intervention with the arrest.
“I’m a spiritual guy, so it was all God’s work,” Walker said.
The girls left Dothan the night of July 31, 1999, to go to a party but never arrived. They were found the next day in the trunk of Beasley’s black Mazda along a road in Ozark, a city of 19,000 people located about 90 miles (145 kilometres) southeast of Montgomery. Each had a gunshot wound to the head.
Sherry Gilland, who lived near a convenience store where the girls were last seen, said the killings changed the community. Afterward, Gilland said, she was afraid to let her own daughter ride her bicycle or walk too far from home.
“It has been a cloud over the town, but now it’s lifted,” she said.
A judge had ordered McCraney to submit to DNA testing around the time of the slayings because a woman filed suit claiming he was the father of her daughter, court documents show. But he failed to submit a sample and was ordered to pay child support.
Last year’s arrest of “Golden State Killer” suspect Joseph DeAngelo in California — in which genealogy testing helped identify the suspect — helped prompt police to send their evidence to Parabon NanoLabs in Reston, Virginia, for DNA analysis, Walker said.
CeCe Moore, chief genetic genealogist with Parabon NanoLabs, said information from the crime scene DNA was uploaded to the genealogy database called GEDmatch, where people voluntarily submit their own information while searching for relatives.
Moore said they were able to identify an extended family, meaning at least one relative of McCraney had voluntarily submitted DNA.
The police chief said the genealogy work identified a family, and then investigators “ultimately narrowed it down to a single person.” He said they then obtained a DNA sample from McCraney and the state crime lab matched it to that found at the 1999 crime scene.
During the news conference, law enforcement authorities did not disclose how they obtained the DNA sample from McCraney.
District Attorney Kirke Adams said he would seek the death penalty against McCraney. The multiple capital charges against McCraney include one of killing Beasley during a rape, he said.
A different suspect was previously cleared after his DNA didn’t match semen found on Beasley.
McCraney is a Florida native who was born in the small town of Quincy, Florida, northwest of Tallahassee, his arrest report shows.
Harrison, the defence lawyer, said McCraney is an outstanding community member who is married with children and grandchildren. Aside from preaching, records show he worked as a truck driver for years for several different companies.
The slayings haunted the community for years and Harrison said he was concerned about his client getting a fair trial.
“It’s going to be difficult to find a jury that’s not already aware of the facts,” he said. “I might have to ask that it be moved to another venue to get a fair trial. A lot of emotions are flying.”
Hawlett had two elementary school-age brothers at the time of her death and Roberts said the whole family slept in the same bed for a time after the slayings out of fear.
Roberts said her daughter, who wanted to be a doctor since she was a little girl, would have been 37 this month.
She still remembers her last conversation with her daughter, who called to see if Beasley could spend the night with them and attend church the next day.
“Last words out of her lips were, ’Mama, I love you,”’ said Roberts. “Last words out of my mouth to her were, ’I love you.”’
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