Saturday, May 25, 2013

Whistling Past the Graveyard

“Whistling past the graveyard.” That is how Eric de Place of the Sightline Institute describes BC and Washington’s overreliance on energy exporting projects.
Projects in the planning stage include:
  Five new coal terminals.
Two expansions of existing coal terminals.
Three new oil pipelines.
Six new natural gas pipelines.

British Columbians take note: eleven of these 16 proposals are in our “green” province.

These ventures will produce 12 times the total amount of CO2 currently emitted by BC. Please note again, this amount doesn’t include the greenhouse gases that will be produced by mining, processing or transporting these products; this is just the CO2 emitted by the final user.
Imagine what the total figure that takes in all aspects of our resource based economy would be. Imagine if only half the above projects go through. Imagine then the future of our children.
I know, I know, jobs are important and we need to (pardon the pun)“fuel” our economy but do we really have to bargain away our children’s chances for a sustainable life? Do we really want to leave a legacy of ice free polar regions, smog filled air, polluted water and toxic land?
Global warming, oil spills, poisoned water and contaminated soils caused by resource mismanagement and good old fashioned human error is part of our current reality.  Why are we whistling past the graveyard and continuing to pursue this past of destruction?
And, in case anyone is thinking that there is nothing they can do about it, think again.  Think about it when you drive rather than walk to the store; ask for a plastic bag when you have access to reusable ones; forget to turn off the lights; use banned pesticides; throw batteries in the garbage; have extra long hot showers; use environmentally damaging detergents and bleach; and … the list goes on.
You and I, the end consumer of all our modern conveniences, hold the key to tomorrow’s problems. Change can only happen if we demand it: if we stop and think about what we are buying, how we are living, and what we are throwing away. We can do something about it… we are the only ones.

Read more: Check out Pete McMartin Vancouver Sun

Saturday, May 11, 2013

The Fear Behind Dislike

Does fear always lie behind what we dislike? I invite you to read my thoughts below and tell me yours…
Dislike is an often used word. We speak of it on a daily basis to describe how we feel about food and movies; people and their behaviours. Some of the time the word is used when, in fact, we are merely disinterested. For example, I dislike watching golf on TV. Truly, I have no antipathy towards the sport, or any fear, I just have no interest. So boredom aside, I ask again, are all of our dislikes fear based?
I started thinking about this after a conversation with my father during which he asked that we not talk about a certain subject.  Although he would never admit to this, I know his displeasure in this particular topic was not about disinterest but fear. I won’t go into the details but in his fear, he shut down. That is what many of us do—we close all doors when we don’t feel safe. In this place of fear, rational thought disappears and we react with well known defences: we freeze, lash out, say awful things or retreat into our shells. 
Fear is a strong emotion. Dislike, on the other hand, is not so strong; it can be quite mild. Still, I wonder if it is just a fa├žade…. the first defence used to protect us from exposing our vulnerabilities?
Here’s a rather benign example: I dislike eating soft apples. Taste, of course, is a big factor in my apple eating preferences but biting into a soft apple will always leave me slightly repulsed. I sometimes even spit it out—a fairly strong reaction. I do this because something within me equates soft apples with decay and rot.
If we deconstruct my behaviour, we know there are no health benefits to eating rotten fruit except to provide necessary calories if you are really hungry. In fact, moldy fruit can be a detriment to one’s health. Is the revulsion I feel at eating a soft apple some instinctual fear that I am harming myself? Is my repulsion akin to the automatic recoil some have at seeing a snake or the desire to step back when near a high ledge? I would conclude then that my dislike is somewhat based in fear.
The same could be said of strong tasting vegetable like asparagus or brussels sprouts. Few children will eat what many adults consider to be tasty morsels. Is it because their body is telling them to be cautious; to be wary of food that can be bitter to the taste? Is their dislike then based in fear?
I also have a dislike of working for others. Oh, I do it because I have learned to "work" with it but it is not one of my great joys. If I dismantle this dislike I find it is more about distrust in authority. Looking back at my youth, I can see how authority was problematic enough to make it a healthy thing to fear. My current dislike in being told what to do, i.e. being an employee, could, in some part, stem from a childhood fear.
And one more rather pedestrian example, I dislike vacuuming. It is not the disinterest that many folk have; I clearly like a rug free of dust and dirt. But is my dislike based in fear? I am slightly embarrassed to say yes. When I was in my early twenties my place of dwelling was infested three times: carpet beetles, fleas and ants.  I learned many lessons from these experiences; one of which was to keep a clean house. However, when I vacuum, there is a miniscule fear (I really had to look for this) that I might find, or worse, miss, some burgeoning colony of insects. To add to this I absolutely hate the noise. (But do I fear the noise?)
I could go on but it makes me think that whenever I express dislike for a person, place or thing… I should give it some exploration. I have done this in several areas of my life, like food preferences and … vacuuming, but I am not always so diligent when I dislike a person. The issue with this, as said above, is that when there is dislike a door closes. And, when the door is shut the possibility for changing perspectives or even feeling empathy decreases.
Would it not be better then to engage a person I dislike? We don’t have to become best buds but why push away when there may be some common ground? Why create separateness—which only perpetuates fear and otherness—when compassion and understanding can breed respectful mutuality?
Why let fear rule my preferences?

Saturday, May 4, 2013

The Miserable Day

I had one absolutely awful day at my part-time job last week. It happened despite the fact that I took care of my needs the morning of, meditated before leaving and was quiet relaxed on route. All I know is that as soon as I arrived I wanted to leave or, to be more exact, cancel the day. Customers and colleagues seemed insufferable, time dragged on, fatigue dogged my heels, I hated my job, everything felt meaningless and, on top of it, my ego got trashed when someone from my distant past came in with a “Jo-Ann … is that you?” I was misery defined. And, even though I am well versed in numerous techniques for getting back to a centred space ... and while I also knew my indulgence was merely perpetuating the mood, I just couldn’t motivate myself to change—it just seemed so futile and, most of all, too much work.
An ex coworker, who has since moved on to greener pastures, came in to do some shopping. He asked how I was. I told him the truth. He nodded sagely and said: well, at least you have a job. I gave him the gimlet eye and replied back: no philosophical statements, no moral aphorisms or platitudes, please. I have not the patience or the tolerance. He was slightly taken aback before acknowledging his faux pas with an apologetic smile. He’d been there before.
In fact, we have all been there. Oh, there are people who never admit to having days like this but eventually it shows: the unconscious mannerisms, the physical ticks, the stress upon certain words and, most of all, the intolerance for others who are having a bad day.
I am thankful that the days where no amount of knowing how good I have it (and I know I have an excellent life especially compared to probably 80% of the world’s population) are few and far between but they do come. What happens on those days is that I lose my self leadership, abdicate self responsibility, forget about interdependence and wallow in self pity. I understand the truth in this but I also accept my humanness and know (sometimes) when it’s time to let go.
So I surrendered. I let the day be miserable. And then I let life and all its tumultuous feelings do what they do best: change.
The next day dawned bright and true.
I was back.