Category Archives: The Social Imperative

Reporting and risk

Tis a very cold, snowy day here in the Gatineau Hills. I don’t know how many of you experienced the great ice storm of 1998 but since that time, weather reports here seem to have changed. Many criticized ‘the system’ for not being able to predict the severity of the storm, but how do you predict an event that is so atypical and happens about once every hundred years? Life is random and chaotic, and if we are lucky, we will die in our sleep well into our eighties. Our perception or risk can be so distorted by what we hear, take the misinformation about crime currently being put out by our government and its impacts on seniors. I keep trying to convince my aging mother that crime rates have steadily been decreasing, but she doesn’t believe me, how do we get the real information out there when our political leaders rather than leading, are contributing to a culture of fear?

Our perception of risk is so shaped by our media and the integrity of our leaders–the information given to us. For example, going back to the weather, we now have temperatures reported with a wind chill factored in. We have severe cold warnings, I have never felt so cold! What has changed, in fact, temperatures and winters here in Ottawa appear to be getting milder. Winter is a magical time, when things slow down, a good time to reflect and write, to ski, to skate, to snowshoe. Yes, it is important to know weather conditions, but the context in which information is presented is so critical.

There is a tendency as we age to become more conservative, but I refuse to become fearful of my environment, of the magical natural world in which I live. What does an induced culture of fear do to our lives and how we play?

How to Save the World

This grey, dreary day in Ottawa has made me think about some of my earlier posts, our failure to communicate the urgency of environmental issues, and to spur people to act now. This video by Victor Frankel, a concentration camp survivor, who wrote Man’s Search for Meaning, has a key message. I read this book in my early twenties, which gave me the tools to transcend the tragic loss of a wonderful human being in 1998. Combined with the lessons in this second video, maybe we can change the world.

Perhaps One Solution

Came across this video, once again from one of my wonderful students, about human beings naturally being empathic creatures. Perhaps by revitalizing our natural empathic tendencies to extend to other species and the earth, we can move more quickly to reduce our impacts on the climate. The question is, how? One of the most important ways, I believe, is to reinvigorate the public sphere through dialogue, we have to start talking about what is important to us, as humans, to our community and for our children’s future.  How do we make it a national dialogue?

The other thing I love about this video is the animation, how the arts came in, and for some reason, I paid far more attention than if it was just a person speaking, lots of stuff here for educators.

Wants and Needs

I remembered a group of people who experimented for a year in buying nothing new, this is their blog, which provides some interesting insights into how difficult it is, even when committed. It makes me think that when I am unhappy it is hard for me to separate my needs and wants, and with some of the sophisticated marketing we are exposed to, it becomes even more difficult especially when consumption is now attached to ‘lifestyle’. But what is life without both form and function?

Fear and Trust

Spring is really here back East, we have not had snow since February 1st, 2010, it is the first time it hasn’t snowed in Ottawa during the month of March. I find the continuing debate and the use of front groups to deny the science of climate change so ironic, just use your common sense and ask how much of what we are experiencing, you have seen in your lifetime? What time horizon should we use to validate our sense of what is right or ‘normal in our world? Isn’t it just common sense to reduce natural resource consumption of a finite resource, regardless of why? Why not simply reduce our impacts on the world, and do no harm, or as little harm as possible? Remember the old tale, if I step on a crack I’ll break my mother’s back?

This is a picture of a wonderful young girl who came to our lake last summer, Noeme, who was afraid of dogs, not knowing them. Our dog, Odessa Yazar, is the most balanced creature I know and he quickly won her over with his calmness, his gentleness in spite of his huge size. And speaking of balance, I recently read Sue Monk Kidd’s novel with her daughter, and there is an interesting line in that book, if i concentrate on ‘being’ equally as on working, then my hypertension goes away. Perhaps there is a connection here with over-consumption, if I concentrate on . . .