Tag Archives: change

Episode 40: Losing Sight

It’s been almost two months since my last post, and for that I apologize. Life has been pretty busy, and I just didn’t really find much to inspire me to rant and rave. Recent developments, however, have changed all that…

In the news the last little bit, we’ve heard about someone getting stabbed at the Toronto Caribbean Festival, and then two deaths and several ill after taking shady drugs at the Veld Music Festival. A friend very aptly pointed out that where there are large gatherings of people, your odds of finding violence or death increase. Fair enough. But then someone commented, and I responded by mentioning that the root of a lot of these problems is children not being raised properly. That parents don’t really take the time anymore, and (to use my own words) the deck is stacked against us in terms of improving the situation and making positive change. Now of course, you all know the internet. That comment sparked a war of sorts, which was resolved when I summarily tore apart every single one of the arguments against me (you think I’m kidding, but for a change I actually just tore them all to shreds).

And then up crops this foul-mouthed article (blog post?). It’s an interesting read, and a view that I have shared before, and occasionally continue to share. A lot of what he says, I cannot deny. But his message is largely a negative one. The only time he displays any positivity at all is at the very end, where he hopes that we can still have hope. But let’s be honest, even that isn’t very positive.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t disagree with anything he says in his rant (except maybe one or two minor points). It’s very well structured, his arguments are sound, and most importantly they match up to the opinions I had already formed. My only issue is his outlook for our future. Yes, I agree that things look bleak, but I just can’t shake the feeling that things have always looked bleak, and yet as a species, we’ve always managed to pull through in the past. My greatest concerns aren’t what we’re doing to each other, but rather what we’re doing to our planet. We’re surprisingly resilient creatures. We can bounce back from things that some people might consider impossible. The planet is resilient too, but there are now over 7 billion of us on the planet all clamouring for the same limited resources. That would put a strain on any eco system.

And yes, some might argue that the scarcity of those resources is exactly why there’s so many problems with the “elite” and the poor. Fair point. But as a species, we will still push past that crisis. Even if there’s mass starvation, and the greater portion of the population dies, still there will remain some, and they can begin the process of repopulation.

Oh, but every life deserves to live, you’ll say. True, they do. But should it come down to scrambling for resources where only the fittest and richest survive? I would surely never make it out alive either. I’m not saying my life is worthless, but we all know the consequences of having too many of us on this single planet. That’s just the way things go. Sure, it’ll suck. But what can I do? At least I’ll know that the fittest, smartest and (hopefully, but doubtfully) nicest of us will survive. We will go on to become greater as a species than we were before.

That being said, we’re not at that point yet. And we don’t have to be, either. Change would be good, and if it can be acheived, then so much the better. But it’s a long, wearisome process, and it requires all of us to work together. Not just on our own partisan ideals, but on a genuine, better-for-everyone, goal. Perhaps it’s interplanetary or interstellar travel, so we can populate new worlds and therefore ease the strain on this one. Perhaps its to spread the resources more evenly (although in my opinion that’s a temporary fix). Or perhaps we should engage in mass murder and genocide (but I think Hitler and many others have shown us how that one will turn out).

It’s a fascinating problem, and I don’t have the answer. I don’t know where we’re headed. But I’m going to focus on enjoying the journey, no matter what that means for us, and I suggest you do too. It’s not all bad, you just have to keep your eyes a little more open to see the good. And if you don’t empathize with your fellow man (and woman, of course), you can never hope to see the good, because after all, we are all in this together.

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Episode 39: A Broken System

So today Ontario voted (is voting? Not sure when the polls close, to be honest with you) for a new provincial leader. So the question we all asked ourselves (or those of us interested in politics anyway) was who to vote for.

Tim Hudak, with his “million jobs” plan? Kathleen Wynne with her 1.9% for an “Ontario Pension Plan”? Or perhaps Andrea Horwath and her tax credits for businesses that create new jobs? On the surface, each has their own merits and failings. You could spend hours agonizing over who to vote for. I mean, there are so many fine details that set them apart.

But here’s my problem, and I think the problem that a great many people have (especially on the younger end of the spectrum)… None of these options suit us. Now most people simply don’t bother going to a polling station, or else they spoil their ballot by doing silly things like writing in “Lucifer” as another option. Lately, the new trend is to “decline” your ballot. Basically, we’re given the option of refusing to vote. To decline the ballot, you have to go down to the polling station, and then immediately after they hand you your ballot, you hand it back. They record it separately from people who don’t show up to the polling station, and theoretically it’s supposed to signal to the politicians that you’re not happy with any of them and they’ll change their tactics.

But the problem goes deeper than that. Sure, we don’t like our options. But the reason why is that when you boil it all down, all politicians are the same. They have the same basic personality. And unfortunately we don’t believe that personality is compatible with being a good leader.

Not only that, but the system we work within is broken. It needs a complete overhaul, and unfortunately that’s unrealistic until such time as the system actually collapses. In which case it will be too late to change. So what do you do when your entire societal system is broken and there’s no fixing it? Well, a wild adventurous side of me screams anarchy. Total chaos and destruction would bring about change, but it would be tantamount to the collapse I mentioned earlier, and in the wake of the chaos, there’s a very real possibility that things get even worse.

So what is left to us then? Well the only solution I see is for some of us who see the flaws to enter the system and change it from within. But one or two alone won’t be enough. Many need to rise up and only collectively would we be able to create the change. I’ve said this before, people. Alone we are weak. It’s only when we’re working together that we accomplish great deeds.

A time of change is coming soon, people. Whether it’s for better or worse is entirely up to you.

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Episode 37: Watch The World Burn

Today inspiration actually struck twice. They will both be posted, but I figured I’d let one of them wait until tomorrow, so look forward to that, yeah? But now onwards to today’s topic! I’m afraid it’s not a particularly happy one, but as per usual, I feel the need to weigh in on a trending topic.

So last night in Moncton, New Brunswick (that’s in Canada-land for those of you who aren’t), a lone shooter killed three RCMP officers (aka: mounties) and wounded two others. The latest I’ve heard has the shooter still not found or arrested, but the search is on, and for a good long time people were being urged to stay indoors and lock all their doors and windows. The suspect they’re searching for is Justin Bourque, who by all accounts, is a troubled soul. Seems he took issue with the police, and lately had become quite an angry fellow.

Now, I wasn’t originally going to write anything about this, because unfortunately mass shootings have been happening far too often lately for it to be shocking and worthy of comment when it does happen. But that’s when a friend of mine posted on Facebook, saying that we should take Justin’s lead, and question the government. That there’s more to this story than just some guy who went nuts and killed people. Now before I get yelled at by this friend, I should point out that she absolutely does not support his methods. Nor do I for that matter. But her discussion of the message intrigued me.

I think in this case it’s fair to assume that there is an intended message. That this poor soul wants us to understand something, even if it’s just where the source of his anger and frustration lie. Now, I agree that we should question our governments. You should never just blindly accept what anyone says, for that matter. Always do your research and understand every viewpoint before you make your decision. But there’s no way I can agree with his method. As far as I’m concerned, you can question all you want, but when you decide that violence is the way to get your message across, you cross the line from activist to lunatic.

Look at what Mahatma Gandhi or Nelson Mandela achieved in their lives. And neither one of them had any need for violence. They effected change through impassioned speeches and pacifistic resistance. In most cases they change the system by becoming a part of it, not apart from it.

Now, our current systems desperately require change. Especially our governments. But they need to be rebuilt from the ground up. We need the types of people who would never actually want to be politicians to be our elected officials. They’ll be far more likely to do a good job because they won’t have the self-serving self-aggrandizing personalities that real politicians do. They’ll make sensible decisions that benefit the entire country, not just a select few.

And if you get enough of them into low-echelon positions then sooner or later they will move up the ranks. The current generation of politicians has to retire someday, right? Once you’ve managed to get sensible people into enough government offices, then they can legally effect the changes that we need.

Think about the issue of same sex marriage. Fifty years ago, no one would have even considered tabling a bill concerning it. But because more politicians are being sworn into office that either ARE gay, or else have been brought up to be tolerant in respect to this issue, many countries have not only tabled, but also passed same sex marriage laws. Soon enough, maybe even in as little as five years’ time, I could see marijuana laws being passed in Canada to make it legal to own or grow small amounts. Hell, we’re already halfway there, with the medical marijuana laws.

So honestly, I haven’t bothered to look into this Justin Bourque fellow too much. And I doubt I will. But there’s more to this. If he was trying to effect change, why didn’t he target much more important people? Three low-level RCMP officers don’t make the laws, they merely enforce them and then return home to their families. Killing them won’t change anything and will only make him out to be a villain. Was he trying to inspire others to question the things they take for granted? How could he think that anyone would really focus on that when he’s given them something far more sensational to focus on?

But what about his mental state? To be driven to the point where you think violence is necessary takes a hell of a lot. I would venture that a lot of the pressure and stress he endured was self-inflicted. I have a lot of experience with stress, depression, and an otherwise generally unhappy life. But none of it will get better unless I make the changes necessary. That being said, I know the kind of effect that is to be had just from knowing that one of my friends cares enough to say something to me when I’m not feeling my best.

What’s the real lesson here? That we should question government and authority? Well, sadly yes we should. But that’s not the lesson. Is it that there are better ways to spread a message of change? There’s that too. And we’re getting closer to the lesson, but that’s still not it. The real lesson is that we are all fragile, emotional beings. And no matter how stalwart or stoic one may seem, we all need a little support from time to time. We’re in this together, and it’s only by sticking together and helping each other out in our times of need that we’ll live to see a new era.

Give what you can of yourself to those around you. You might just be surprised how much of an impact it has.

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Episode 36: Random Acts Of Kindness 2

Last week, I posted about how I’d become inspired to do one random act of kindness per day for a full week. So this week I thought I’d give you folks a rundown of the sorts of things I did. This way if you thought maybe it sounded like a good idea but didn’t know how to go about it, I could give you some ideas. I think I might have listed some of my acts in the previous post, but I don’t remember which ones, so I’ll just start with day 1, and move from there…

Day 1:
While at work, I bought water bottles for the people I was working with that day. They were 50 cents apiece, so it proved to be a highly affordable option, and also featured tangible evidence that my actions had an effect when one of the girls told me that she’d paid it forward later in the day.

Day 2:
Being a holiday (Victoria Day in Canada), I stayed home most of the day. But even then I managed to find an option. I helped my mum with some housework that I don’t normally do (yes I live with my parents at the moment, there’s a very long and unnecessary explanation that goes with it, so just forget about it and let’s move on).

Day 3:
I was at work and overheard an elderly couple discussing purchasing some artichokes. I had the box of fresh ones already and was set to work on the display shortly, but instead of waiting, I let them know that I would be filling it that moment, and if they wanted some of the older ones for a reduced price, I could get a bag’s worth ready for them. I even filled the bag a bit more than I usually do. From the thanks and smiles, I think it safe to say mission accomplished for day 3.

Day 4:
Again, a small gesture (notice a trend here yet?). I simply taped enough money for a chocolate bar to the vending machine at work with a little note explaining what it was, and asking for the recipient to pay it forward. I tried to add a little humour to the note also, so that it might inspire that extra little smile.

Day 5:
Finished work for the day and waiting to head home, I saw a woman loading bags of soil into her car. I went over to help her (despite the fact that normally when I’m done a shift I could care less about doing more work), and at the end a smile and a thank you were waiting for me.

Day 6:
Went to Tim Hortons (a coffee shop) for breakfast and bought the next two coffees after me. I suppose anonymous acts are more in the vein of a proper random act of kindness so this is a more appropriate example, but really I think doing anything you wouldn’t normally do counts.

Day 7:
I wanted to finish with more of a grand gesture for day 7. As the final day of the challenge, it seemed somehow appropriate to have a grand finale. Lickily, I knew just what to do. I’d recently met a girl who’d been pretty much forced into moving to a new area (conveniently the area I live in), and not only had she seemed pretty bummed about the move itself, but her birthday was coming up soon, and she didn’t really know anyone in the area, so she wasn’t planning on celebrating and seemed down about that too. Now interestingly enough her birthday landed on the same day as day 7 of my challenge. So I thought about what I could do. Then I remembered one of my friends loves to bake. So I called in a favour with her, to bake a cake themed to the new girl’s favourite chocolate/candy. Today was the day for the reveal, and you should have seen how happy and bright she became. It was a thing of beauty, folks. Truly a finale fit to be called grand.

So now the challenge is ended, and what have we learned? Well, I learned that not only do I give the world hope for a better tomorrow, but that from my inspiration, others are bringing hope as well. I learned (or I should say was reminded) that it’s not always about what you do or how much you spend on it, but rather just that you’re doing it at all. But also I finally realized that all those times when people have said that it’s better to give than to receive… They were absolutely 100% right. This has been one of the best and most fulfilling weeks of my life so far, and I am seriously considering making this a life-long challenge. It’s hard to keep thinking up new ways to perform a random act, but it’s good for the soul, and it’s good for those around me that I’ve touched with these acts.

They say you should be the change you want to see. Well, I’m doing my best, what about you?

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Episode 35: Random Acts Of Kindness

It’s been a while since I’ve posted here, but part of that is because it’s mostly been business as usual for me. Nothing terribly special has happened or given me pause and the desire to write. I’ll grant you, I specifically didn’t want to give myself deadlines so I wouldn’t feel pressured to making less than worthy posts, so technically I did nothing in the wrong, but still I feel like I’ve been neglecting this, and that was not my intention. However, with that said, something has come up, and it’s something I feel I should share with you all.

Yesterday I decided on a whim to perform a random act of kindness. It was nothing major, I simply bought bottles of water for some of the folks I worked with. It cost me very little, and not just in terms of money. And interestingly enough, I heard back from one of the girls that she’d paid it forward and paid for someone’s order at Tim Hortons (a ridiculously popular coffee shop, for those of you living outside Canada). Now alone in and of itself, my act had me feeling pretty good. Here I was, having done something nice for others. But then to hear that my actions had had a ripple effect and passed on to another, I wondered how far that ripple might go. It’s amazing what one simple action can set in motion, sometimes.

But the deed having been done, I soon moved on and went about my business. After all, they’re small gestures, and not truly something significant, right? Well I was wrong. A friend of mine posted today about his own random act of kindness, and proposed a challenge: one act every day for a week. And I thought, why not? I could certainly do that.

And that’s when it hit me. Each small gesture has a grand effect. Not only does it help restore faith in a world quickly becoming mired in selfishness and entitlement, but it also inspires others to do good in their own lives when they hear the story. I wasn’t the one who benefitted from my friend’s actions, but his words inspired me to take up the challenge and to inspire others to do the same. I posted a status to Facebook, urging my own friends to take the challenge, but still that didn’t seem enough. Still I thought I could do better.

Which brings us here. To WordPress, where the world can share in the story, and with any luck be inspired to change the world. You don’t have to take up the week-long challenge like I did. Just try to start with one thing. And should you do so, leave a comment with your story so that others might be inspired as well. Share this post on Facebook so that your own friends will be inspired. I know it seems like a bit of an attention grab, but to be honest, I’ve just always wanted to do something that would make the world a better place. I know I can’t do it alone though. And so I ask you: help me plant those seeds, and together let us watch them bloom into a better world.

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Episode 12: Take A Moment

Well, it’s the Canadian Thanksgiving holiday, come around again (just like every year, go figure!). And with it comes all the usual all-day prep/cooking, over-eating, and the undone belt buckles. And let’s not forget the million different pies. Mmmmm, pie… No, seriously, I don’t understand how anyone can be unhappy about pie.

But putting delicious pie aside, the entire point behind today is to be thankful for what you have (who knew, right?) be it to some deity, the universe in general, or to specific people. It doesn’t matter where it’s directed to. What matters is that you’re thankful at all. But let’s forget about how you should actually be thankful every day of your life. Because you should. Even if your life is terrible, there are still things to be thankful for. You might have to look a little harder, but those things you find are all the more important to find and be thankful for.

But this holiday, as so many others have before it, has mostly lost it’s true value and meaning. People are not as interested in the meaning behind it as they are the food (or in the case of other holidays, the gifts or the candy for instance). Being thankful takes a back seat to just being full. Consumerism trumps the social bonds that link us and as a result we start to lose them. Society has been breaking down, but it’s not because of money, or material goods or anything, really. It’s the greed and self-serving attitude that has broken things down. It’s the ignorance and reluctance to step up.

And the sad part is that I don’t know if it’s too late to change our destiny or not. I want to believe we still have time, and everything that I write, or say, is with that in mind. We have to start one person at a time. With friends, family, or even complete strangers if you’re feeling bold. We may have to start from small islands of sanity, but if each person convinces only one other to change, then given enough time everyone will be affected by the change.

But let’s aim for more than one person each, shall we? The sooner the world changes, the better.

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