When I began to ponder the things that I might address in this my last column in this space, I was confronted with many issues and subjects that are both important and timely. After some contemplation, I realized that parting words should be the most important words you can leave behind. They should be the culmination of the articles which impart some kind of insight, as it were, “From Ten Thousand Feet”. Not exactly an easy task, but one, if guided by passion, would emerge as “parting words”.
Over these past years, I have interviewed a number of innovative individuals from our region and learned a great deal from each one about how to succeed in making change, the result of which, has taught me how critical it is for a community to embrace positive change. It doesn’t come easily, but it is essential to the health of our institutions and communities. A parting word: change is necessary; we will die without it – it is not something to fear.
I have written about environmental challenges and have been very concerned about the future of our planet. The direction we are headed doesn’t seem to take into account the consequences of our actions, while the media barrages us with daily doses of climate change press releases. It is hard to take them seriously while we ignore the pillaging of the oceans, the raping of the Amazon basin, the clear cutting of rain forests and the “harvesting” of billions of trees that feed this planet. The dichotomies and the intensity in which one issue gets all the attention at the exclusion of all others raises these questions: “where is this going, who is driving it forward, and why?” Then you read the US carbon tax law(s) the answer becomes evident. They are selling a world-wide carbon tax which is the equivalent of a “Orwellian Coup”. Read the legislation – it will make the US and its allies masters of the planet and will redefine the meaning of democracy and freedom. Only the ignorant and naive see it as a solution to our environmental problems. A parting word: any carbon tax should be opposed at all cost – it is a Trojan horse.
Nothing, seemingly, is within our power to change the world by ourselves. Gandhi’s quote: “You must be the change you wish to see in the world” challenges us to be part of the solution knowing that big changes happen little by little and every little bit helps. A parting word: by modeling an alternative set of values and making them known, we influence our surroundings and challenge the things that need to change. Conformity is highly overrated.
The less noticed element in that quote is that it takes many people who, together, affect the desired change. It is through collaboration and collective intention that individuals can create big change. This is a scientific, measurable phenomena, best demonstrated by the power of a team of two horses being able to produce a 25% increase over their best individual efforts simply by working together. A parting word: in a world which strains for efficiencies, this unexplained power of collaboration still doesn’t get the attention it deserves.
My tenure here in this space has indirectly addressed another core concern about the fabric of our “Canadian Community”. In the course of raising many issues, I have more often than not discovered the media to be an integral part of the problem. They have trivialized news into entertainment and polarized and embittered the right against the left for their own benefit. News in North America has become wide, but it isn’t very deep. It depends on (hand-picked) experts to tell us what to think but experts are not dependable. A parting word: you can find an expert to support any point-of-view and they usually do.
Another concern I have raised numerous times in this column has been the consolidation of the ownership of the media in Canada, a problem the writers of the Broadcast Act foresaw and addressed because of the media’s critical role in a true democracy. They, however, could not protect us from the CRTC. Currently, the Commission is reviewing the biggest acquisition in Canadian history – the Bell take-over of Astral Media. A parting word: reducing the choices and the voices hurts Canadians (again), but will make investors and bankers dance in the street – again!
And finally, the Internet has changed the world and has provided unscrupulous people the ability to tilt the buying process in their favour. Truth in advertising doesn’t exist anymore. Bell was fined $10M for deceiving their customers with false advertising. Now, they Roger and Telus are being prosecuted by the Competition Bureau for false advertising. They continue to deny they did anything wrong? It is a travesty that we have a bill of human rights but there is little that protects the consumer from a whole new set of abuses. Parting words: it is only going to get worse and only new laws that protect the consumer will make it better. We need a Consumer Bill of Rights in Canada and an agency to enforce them.
It has been a great learning experience writing for you, and a pleasure serving this community, but now it’s time to start a new chapter…if you ever get to Costa Rica look us up.