Friday, November 16, 2007

For Better Or For Worse Cartoonist to Divorce

It wasn't for better or for worse after all. Lynn Johnston whose "For Better Or For Worse" comic strip is based on life with her husband, Rod Johnston, and their two children, intends to divorce.

"He fell in love with somebody else," the cartoonist known to a hundred million newspaper readers across North America, told the Chicago Tribune. "It had been over a long period of time," she said, pausing and adding that it had come as a surprise to her. In fact, she had been planning her retirement to spend more time with her retired dentist husband. Instead he left in April 2007 and she expects to be divorced by April of next year.

In an interview with CBC on Nov. 2, 2007, Johnston was asked about the separation. "I can't believe it happened, but it did," she said, holding back tears, not entirely successfully. "People change...feelings change," said Johnston who is now roughly sixty years old, and all you can do is wish them well. She added, straining to keep her voice stable, that the separation was being handled with "graciousness" and "care".

Johnston's children have not disappointed her though. "I'm just thrilled with my children, the fact that they are adults and they're not in jail," she said laughing. The fact that Kate and Aaron are both "my best friends" makes her feel as though she succeeded as a parent. She describes them as "happy, mature, strong, wonderful people." Kate is an art student, a potter, and Aaron works in television. She raised both her children with Rod Johnston, although Aaron was a product of her first marriage.

Johnston, who was raised in North Vancouver, lives in Corbeil in Northern Ontario, Canada. She moved there with her children and husband who became a flying dentist with his own plane.

In recent years, Johnston has developed a neurological disorder which at times causes a tremor in her arm. For that reason she has an assistant to help with drawings for her comic strip. But she told George Stroumboulopoulos on the CBC's, "The Hour", on Dec. 5 that the disorder is now in remission, which "is wonderful".

Johnston is winding down her comic strip for which she had a 20 year contract. She feels out of touch with "the new electronic age and all the new vocabulary...and the way kids dress and talk." She fears she would begin to come across like a 60 year old who didn't know what she was talking about.
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Farnworth Teary Over Tasering

Mike Farnsworth was teary-eyed on Wednesday night on the 11 o'clock news in Vancouver. It was when Global television was asking people for comments on the just released video of the taser gun death of polish immigrant, Robert Dziekanski, at the Vancouver airport.

First a Global reporter showed the video to Vancouver lawyer, Cameron Ward. Ward looked momentarily shaken after watching the video but he went on to comment. He pointed out that police – there were four RCMP officers standing with the victim when he was tasered -- seem to be using tasers to subdue people without having to touch them.

Then a reporter turned up at the office of Mike Farnsworth, NDP public safety critic, and played the video for him. After watching it, Farnsworth was so shaken that he had difficulty commenting; he couldn't seem to get the words out. Tears were leaking out and he was trying to hold them back. The camera crew left. But they continued to point their camera through the plate glass window of his office. As Farnsworth turned away, he could be seen putting his thumb and forefinger over his tear ducts, the way people do when they are trying to stem the flow of tears and don’t want to be seen crying.

"He’s a feeling person," I thought. He had watched a man being killed in front of his eyes and it bothered him. It was then that I moved closer to the television to read his name in the caption, "Mike Farnworth, NDP Public Safety critic".

The American therapist Arthur Janov has commented on the importance of electing officials who have not lost their ability to feel. A friend of mine, who has read everything Janov's ever written, explained his view that optimal intelligence involves the intellect working in conjunction with the feeling side of the person. Operating on intellect alone, having "fled to your head", won't cut it. If a politician has lost his ability to feel, if he's making decisions but unable to feel empathy with the people affected, Janov says, we're in trouble.
A quick example of people in positions of authority who have lost their ability to feel: the RCMP officers standing with Dziekanski when he was shot with a taser gun. Dziekanski was writhing on the floor in agony, clutching his chest, obviously not going anywhere, and one of the officers orders, "Hit him again!" Another officer shoots him again.
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