As a baby boomer it is too easy to fall into the “when I was young….” trap and condemn anything I don’t like as a sign of the impending end of civilization as we know it or even the end of the human race.
It is like walking a tightrope between standing up for our values and principles, for the things we believe are what made our Western societies successful and accepting that, just as it was when we were young, change is constant and essential for progress.
Just as there were many things that my parents did not like about life in the 1960s and 70s when I was trying to avoid the worst of the hippy era, there are things happening now that scare me witless. Some may in a few years time be of as little consequence as long hair, flower power and bell bottom trousers became a few years after they lost their power to offend my parents’ generation. Other things that seem strange now may become valuable, even life changing innovations for the benefit of future generations. Others are I believe, dangerous enough to require us to speak up and oppose.
It is more important than ever to be discerning in choosing our crusades. The media in North America has been almost completely focused on the shooting of one shoplifter by one policeman in Missouri for two weeks. The far more serious happenings in Iraq and Ukraine rarely mentioned.
As individuals, we cannot directly have much influence over events in either Iraq or Missouri. We could join causes, take part in protest marches, enjoy a moment of publicity in the media. Most importantly, we can elect strong leaders who will take action to stop the carnage in Iraq and elsewhere being brought back to our shores by some of our own nationals in the terrorist ranks.
I do believe that we are being conditioned not to think for ourselves in many important areas. That benefactors of our democratic systems should use their skills to wage war against our allies and in future, probably our own cities is a serious indictment of the failure of overly liberal policies in North America and Europe. Common sense and national security have been sacrificed for political correctness. Thousands of man-hours wasted on investigating and prosecuting alleged racist, homophobic or sexist comments, public tobacco smokers or (in Canada) legitimate gun owners while terrorists are being recruited in our cities. It makes one want to cry
Those same policies have encouraged many people to trade the discomfort of thinking for themselves to the perceived security of following the herd. A herd increasingly led by the most prolific users of social media. Not the most knowledgeable, experienced or qualified.
Resilience has not been needed by the majority for generations, since WW2 for most in the West. Life has paradoxically become easier and more stressful at the same time. Easier for most to cover the basics of food, clothing and shelter, more difficult for many to cover the costs of keeping up with the Jones’. Paying for electronic toys, entertainment, travel and experiences that “everyone” else seems to be enjoying.
If we were to plot levels of resilience compared to standard of living for large sections of Western communities over the last 70 years on a graph, I imagine it would look something like this:
Events like 9/11, the Boston Marathon bombing and bombs in London, England did jog some observers out of their complacency
There are clear signs that the landscape is changing. The recession of 2008 upset many people’s comfortable lives. Many of those had to suddenly develop resilience to survive. A recent article on the auto industry in Canada predicts a significant drop in manufacturing for that sector after 2016 with the loss of more jobs.
Now is the time to realise that change comes from the disruption of established patterns as well as through innovation. We need to think for ourselves and not just swallow what is fed to us by the media. Use the changes to our advantage, not become casualties through inaction and lack of awareness.
Nothing ever stays the same, the current crises will play out, new ones will emerge in the years ahead, some may provide huge opportunities, most will change the world as we know it to some degree.
We need to think for ourselves, make our own plans to survive the storms and enjoy the sunshine, not let others decide whether we succeed or not.