Posts Tagged With: generation x

The Blame Game

Disclaimer: I’m no political pundit by any stretch of the imagination.  But I’ve got eyes and a fairly decent brain.  So bear with me.

For those of you unfamiliar with Canadian or Albertan politics, the current government in Alberta is the New Democratic Party, or NDP for short.  They were elected in last year by a majority vote of unprecedented and some would say, epic proportions and their election meant that the Progressive Conservative (PC) Party had been ousted after 40-plus years of power over Alberta.

Like any establishment after such a long reign, it could easily be argued that the PC’s were far too comfortable in Alberta having been able to maintain their political position more than four decades.  Some might even venture to say that they became complacent.  Lackadaisical, even.  I have lived in Alberta for nearly three of those four decades and in that time I have seen the ups and downs of their government.  Some good, a lot of bad, and mostly a lot of in-between.  Like any political party, they relied heavily on contributions from Big Business supporters, in Alberta’s case this is largely oil companies with a lot of clout and financial ability to buy the party which fits their agenda the best.

The trouble is that with such a long-standing relationship between a political party and its Big Oil backers, you lose sight of the ones who are in reality backing both.  The middle class not only votes in the people they feel are best suited to lead their provincial or federal governments, but also consumes the goods produced by Big Business and Big Oil.

Yes, it’s true that the PC Party was great at bringing in business and creating jobs, much of those jobs with the oil companies backing the party.  But ask yourselves this: at what cost?  We were all blinded at the prospect of a booming economy that we lost sight of the fact that the middle class was being stretched far too thin by their support of ridiculously large corporate tax breaks.  Much like an aging elastic band stretched beyond its capacity, it will start to show cracks and eventually break altogether.  Relying on one segment of the voting and tax-paying public to support not only the over-privileged rich and corporations, but also to support the social programs necessary to assist and raise up the lower income classes proved to be too much for most of us.

I believe this collapse primarily among the middle class was the impetus for such a landslide vote for a different party to have their kick at the political can.  After more than four decades ruling this province, the breaks promised to the middle class were rarely, if ever, delivered.  And many of us were far too jaded by then to think much of the small pittances promised regardless.

Worse, when then-premier Jim Prentice realised he’d lost the vote to continue, his outgoing speech was nothing less than childish and immature.  He pouted and walked off stage without so much as the grace to wish the incoming premier, NDP Rachel Notley, luck in her new endeavour in leading our province.

To many, this was classic Progressive Conservatism – they didn’t get their way and like any bully, they were unaccustomed to being shot down.

Now, this is not to say that I am naïve enough to think that the NDP (or Liberal, or any other) Party would have behaved any differently had the same thing happened to them had they been privileged enough to have retained power for that length of time.  What I am saying is that the game has changed and if you want to stay in it, you have to adapt to new rules and parameters.  The Old Boys who voted you in four decades ago are now dying off, figuratively and literally.  Your voters are younger but not necessarily less informed.  What’s more, they want different things than their parents and grandparents.

Further, regardless of who won the election, there would still be the same messes to clean up after having the same party in for the last four decades.  If we are, as we all claim to be, open-minded and progressive, should we not then by definition have the grace to allow the current government some time to get their footing and to deliver on their promises which got them elected?  Isn’t that the democratic process?  And yet, as soon as the NDP gained the provincial seat, the naysayers were already at it – claiming that things were better when the PC’s were running the show.

Remember, the older we are, the faster we used to run.  Sometimes you have to embrace change, if you want actual change to occur.

Besides, if you wanted so badly for the PC’s to stay in power, why didn’t you vote them back in when you had the chance?

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Categories: Random Crap, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Think.

They hold more, and they don't collapse in the back of your vehicle spilling their contents everywhere.

They hold more, and they don’t collapse in the back of your vehicle spilling their contents everywhere.

 

I went to junior high and high school in the 80s.  Prior to and during those years, I and my fellow classmates were inundated with such cheerful information as you’d better act now otherwise your planet’s going to die and nuclear energy is tantamount to nuclear war, and who wants that? and don’t wear fur, it’s murder!

This information was conveyed to us en masse in assembly auditoriums by such reputable and surviving organizations as World Wildlife Fund, Greenpeace, Amnesty International, Oxfam and Ploughshares Youth.  While these organizations share different mandates, they do share at least one common thread: make the world a better place.

Or, to paraphrase Gandhi, you must be the change you wish to see in the world.

All our music and media also reinforced this mantra.  We were essentially brainwashed, but is it brainwashing if the information being pounded into your head is actually true, awful as it may be?  After all, what is the point in living in denial about your own reality?

By today’s fluffy standards, that sort of information seems pretty harsh.  However, it was realistic.  Not to mention, helpful.  It spurred most of us into panicky high gear and we became desperately involved and interested in finding ways of trying to ensure that the bad things we were being shown would not continue.  In other words, WE would make the difference and fix our parents’ mistakes.  We would be the ones to effect change.

For awhile, we were really gaining ground.  Many of us became zealots for the recycling cause, the anti-fur campaign and human rights cause.  Many of us joined these organizations and participated in such things as shoreline cleanups and attended rallies.  We were making our voices heard, and were even the more energetic when faced with opposing groups who did not wish to hear what we had to say, so we said it even louder.  We made them pay attention, even if they tried not to.

But I look around now and wonder despairingly where it all went.  Mostly, I wonder when people evidently stopped caring.  I see people flicking their cigarette butts out the window on a dry, summer day and then stare around in utter amazement at the fires consuming our grasslands and forests.  I have seen people walk within inches of a recycle bin and toss their garbage ON. THE. GROUND.

I see people wearing fur on everything they can affix it to, including hair accessories.  They argue, baselessly, that the animal does not go to waste.  They are completely and willingly unaware that these animals are raised in horrible conditions, tortured, and their meat goes mostly into the garbage.  This topic alone will likely spur a complete other blog post but suffice it say for now that despite what you hear, the animals go to waste aside from their pelts.  After all, when was the last time anyone told you they had a lovely and delicious meal of mink?

I have to point out that it takes an incredibly Herculean effort on my part to not give in to my baser urges to throttle these individuals.  You’re welcome.

But I do wonder sometimes if my own efforts are worth it, given the apparent apathy of the people around me.  Whenever I do get those discouraging feelings, I try to take stock and so far I have been able to convince myself that if nothing else, I will have done MY part and if I should ever have to answer to anyone or anything at the end of my days, I can at least answer for that much.  So I continue my efforts, fruitless as they may turn out to be.

I often get asked WHY I care.  Generally, this question comes from people who fall into the Baby Boomer age category, or from people who are the offspring of the Baby Boomers.  Coincidence?  Not a chance.

See, when you are raised by people who regard everything as their RIGHT, and therefore at their DISPOSAL to do with as they please, then following that “logic” it must follow that whatever is at your disposal is, in fact, DISPOSABLE.  But where do you draw the line with this methodology?  Garbage?  Simply dispose or separate into recyclables?  Cars?  Do you maintain them, or do you instead replace them every year with attractive new lease and financing rates?  Where do you suppose those cars end up?  Houses?  Bigger and better seems to be the expected evolution from the first house you purchase to the last.  Pets?  Certainly disposable because, after all, if they don’t fit into your lifestyle, then get rid of them, right?  Never mind that they are also living, thinking, breathing, emotional creatures in their own right.  They’re not one of YOU, so who cares?!?

The troubling evolution of this mindset is that you see also that relationships and people become disposable as well.  Statistically it is said that half of ALL marriages in the western world end in divorce.  This may be because people don’t want to bother putting the time and energy into their relationships, i.e. riding out the storms which occur in every marriage, or perhaps it is because they didn’t put enough time and energy into their relationship before entering into marriage.  Either way, you end up with the same disastrous result: broken hearts and sometimes, tragically, damaged children.

What I’m getting at here, and thank you for bearing with me to this point, is this: if we do not care first about our own circumstances enough to ensure the survival of the planet on which we live, how can we be expected to care about anything else?  The basic needs in life are food and shelter.  If we can take care of our planet, we will be better equipped and more inclined to take care of everything else we need, i.e. companionship, love, children, et cetera.  At some point, you will have to take the good with the bad in equal measure.  Facing unpleasantness means that we learn how to deal with it, and hopefully put a stop to it to that we do not repeat the same behaviours.  By not facing the less pleasant aspects of life, you are simply turning a blind eye and denying the problem and therefore yourself.

Chew on that while you carelessly toss your plastics in the garbage can instead of the recycle bin. If you would rather be a part of the solution, instead of the growing problem, please visit http://www.wwf.ca/.

Categories: Baby Boomers or simply Big Babies? | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Familiar faces in strange places.

Very recently, I changed jobs.  Even more recently, I changed jobs again.  My last long-term position I held for three and a half years and was summarily and rather unnecessarily dismissed on Halloween, 2011.  I won’t get into the details of that here because I do not wish to allow that negativity to pervade here.  Suffice it to say, after that length of time and whether any of us intends it or not, you build what Douglas Coupland referred to in his tome, “Generation X”, an “Air Family.”  That is to say, a false sense of community experienced among coworkers in an office environment.

That being said, I have to admit that I am as guilty as anyone else and for three and a half years, I subconsciously viewed the people I worked with as members of a weird, extended family.  Like any members of an extended family, there were people within it who annoyed me, and others who I simply viewed as completely meaningless and a little bit mentally challenged.  Most importantly, there were people within it who, I am happy to say, continue to be part of my Air Family.

So anyway, in between that job and this one I have managed to pick up a few other members of my extended Air Family and they are as equally flawed and funny and familiar as the rest.

These revelations didn’t occur to me until I was sitting at my newest desk and one such coworker walked by my desk.  They didn’t stop to talk to me, much less did they even look at me as they passed.  It was simply the fact that they were there, and I got to watch them walk by with that particular tilt of the head, that particular and oh so familiar shuffle of their feet…  Just the sight of them was comforting in itself.  Knowing that all my previous experiences had somehow found a common ground, making me feel like a small part of my upended professional daily life was actually holding together with what little glue I had left.

So, thank you.  Each of you knows who you are and I’m happy to count myself amongst your ranks once again.  No matter where we all go from here, I will remember you.

Categories: Random Crap | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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