Canada 150: Turning the page

More interesting than all the hoopla to me is what comes next. Canada does not have a perfect human rights record, far from it, but it is my hope that as we turn the page on the last 150 years we will begin this new chapter on more inclusive, wise and compassionate terms.

Also, I turned 50 this year and somehow this has led to a deeper sense of connection and responsibility where my life as a citizen of this country is concerned. I am thinking a lot about how best to proceed on a personal level when it comes to the issues arising in the wake of the widening gap between the rich and the rest of us – the importance of generosity and kindness in particular.

For example, it has occurred to me that if I expect those with ‘disposable’ income to play a larger role in the economic well-being (and therefore physical, mental and emotional well-being) of others not so fortunate, then I need to examine the ways in which I am tight-fisted with my own money and attitudes, and perhaps addicted to being more comfortable than is necessary for living a happy, engaged and productive existence.

Which is to say, is it reasonable for me to expect the guy who can afford a Maserati Alfieri and wants a Maserati Alfieri to say no to that, if I myself am not willing to do something equivalent at my own economic level? He doesn’t need a Maserati Alfieri to be happy or comfortable or fulfilled just like I don’t need a lot of the goods in the marketplace that I likewise may hanker after.

Part of what needs to happen here is a recalibration of what it honestly takes to be happy and fulfilled. Chasing various highs whether it is the speed and sex appeal of a well-designed fast car, or something else, is not to be confused with being deeply and pervasively engaged with life – i.e. being happy.

I can’t take anyone else’s journey in life any more than they can take mine, but I can try to empathize with the circumstances of others (rich or poor) and the way it affects their physical, mental and emotional well-being – there are ripple effects after all that it would be unwise to ignore or write-off as ‘none of my business’.

Bottom line: If we are to proceed from here on more inclusive, wise and compassionate terms, generosity and kindness need to be the rule going forward not the exception.