He was driving quietly, some might say he appeared to be a bit reticent but I’m always curious about people and their stories so I tossed it out there to see if I could start a conversation. “It’s kind of chilly today, where did that sun go?”
” Oh, I know! Oh, it was so warm last week, so nice to be out in, but so early in the year!”he said,furrowing his heavy brows and shaking his head.
And from that point on the conversation flowed. We talked about concern for the farmers this year if the blossoms opened too early, putting developing fruit at risk of a late frost. We talked about last summers heat, about how the weather is showing extremes in many areas. Big storms, drought,floods, heavy snow, no snow… the world is clearly experiencing some changes.
” Yes,” he said,shaking his head again,sadly this time:” But it is our fault you know,humans, all of us.”
We turned a corner then, literally and figuratively: “You see these big companies making big pollution.The smoke is streaming out of the stacks.We make it worse than it needs to be.”
I looked at him as he talked while driving. Maybe mid to late forties, long beard glossy and well groomed and a beautiful deep rich red turban.Very educated but driving a taxi nonetheless as far too many professionals with credentials seem to be doing in Surrey,thanks to the barriers of having those credentials recognized here in Canada.And if you want to know what’s going on in any city the cab drivers will be able to tell you. Where the dealers are, where the crack shacks are, who the players are. One driver even suggested to me once that RCMP should partner with taxi companies as eyes on the street.
But I digress.
I told him some people didn’t believe that humans have any impact on the earth at all and this is just a cycle we are going through as the earth has done in the past. He asked me what I thought, looking at me intently as we stopped at the light.
” I think the earth does have natural cycles of its own. But I think it’s very foolish to think humans have no impact on the earth. I think we owe it to ourselves and future generations to mitigate our impact whenever possible.”
He nodded in agreement. But then he said something that struck me deeply,not just for his words but for the expression on his face as he said them: “But I don’t know what we can do.People want to do something but we don’t know what we can do.Companies and governments are just doing as they please. I don’t know what will happen one day.It seems hopeless.”
We reached our destination and he pulled over as I paid. But I didn’t get out right away because he really looked so sad over this thought. And I didn’t want him to feel like it was hopeless because I don’t think it is.
” You know, there are a lot of people who feel like you do. People who want to make changes and people who are working for changes. Things can change.”
He looked forward over his steering wheel, shook his head as if he didn’t quite believe me and said: ” I hope so… one day.”
I thanked him for his time and conversation,closed the door and walked inside.But his comments and even more so, the expression on his face while he shared them with me,stayed with me long after his car drove off.
It speaks to the heart of why so many people do nothing and ironically our conversation echoed another I had recently with a woman I know.
She no longer watches the news because she feels bombarded with all this ‘stuff’ that’s wrong or bad. “You turn it off and are left with all these feelings but they never, ever tell you what to do to fix it. So I don’t watch anymore.It’s too much.”
It’s not because people don’t care that things don’t change. It’s because far too often, people just don’t know what to do and there is no one there to guide them. There is also still a tremendous social pressure in some circles that negates progressive conversations about ideas and solutions,which leads to further frustration.If you can’t even have the damn conversations… well that’s one way to squash any new ideas or new solutions!
I’m not afraid to explore new ideas and new ways of doing things and you shouldn’t be either. But when people see the pushback that happens for progressive voices- which is entirely intentional in order to keep the status quo-they worry. And then those who benefit the most from keeping things from changing win.
This applies to everything and is a big reason for the turmoil we see in politics, in policies and yes, even in our communities. This is why I’ve written so often,posts specifically intended to try and inspire people to get involved and even more importantly, how to get involved.
But I firmly believe we can change that. Sometimes it does take a bit of turmoil to sort things out and find a new way. We don’t have to leave all of the old behind – history provides critical lessons if we can actually learn from them. So open your mind and not just your ears. Ask questions-remember there are no stupid ones.I’m always happy to answer a few or tell you where you can find information. Have uncomfortable conversations and try to find the points where you both agree…and go from there. That’s where it starts. There is still more that binds us as a society, than separates us. Build on that.
We can’t,as communities or as leaders, go back and make a brand new start. But we can start from now and make a brand new ending.
“Because it’s no longer enough to be a decent person. It’s no longer enough to shake our heads and make concerned grimaces at the news. True enlightened activism is the only thing that can save humanity from itself.”
― Joss Whedon
14 thoughts on “When an expression says more than words ever can”
Identification of the problem is common.
MSM does it daily.
Bloggers do it. Maybe unintentionally, but it’s done nonetheless.
Look at your own work.
You will see encouragement to get involved. But never suggesting a solution.
30 years I drove cab, and I sought solutions. Everybody could see the problems. They were and are obvious. Solutions? Not so much.
But I listened to thousands of people. To the point that I don’t know if I have a thought of my own. I am an amalgam of everyone I have ever met.
So I began to address problems.
Here you are, up to your neck in alligators. WHAT ARE YOU GONNA DO?
What will fix the problems PERMANENTLY?
Being mindful that everyone’s opinion is valid and should be taken into account.
I disagree wholeheartedly on that I don’t offer solutions. I do,as do other bloggers. Often those solutions are ignored,negated or said to be incorrect which is the pushback that I refer to here.
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I ‘like’ Mike’s comments. I agree. And, of course, I agree with LY’s observations and message of hope. I will, however, add this: ‘getting involved’ does NOT mean sending money. That is what they will eventually do at Attawapiskat, that is what they did in Newton (more cops) and that is what we always do. It just doesn’t work. It just doesn’t work. Why do again and again what just doesn’t work?
What works is what you do in your own backyard. Action. Effort. Something you CARE about. You have to raise your children to have good values, you have to know your neighbours and help them where you can. You have to know the schools and do some good there. You want to change the world? Start small. Start local. MAKE it personal. And, more to the point, you have to stop worshiping the almighty dollar. It’s a false idol AND it takes up all your time.
You want a solution? Laila and Mike….run for office. Laila – face it – that is what you want. So, $%$#@ DO IT! And, when you get there, don’t ‘do it’ the way it has always been done…you will only get the same results. Try something new. I.e. cops partnering with cabbies is worth a shot. Hint: make it a personal rule to actually physically do something for every meeting you attend. Fantasy solution: no one’s attendance at meetings allowed without physical effort expended and results in beforehand (think of all the time saved?).
Mike, or JDC could you give us some example of bloggers you follow not consciously identifying the problem or offering solutions?
The ones I read all are very good at identifying problems, and it sure isn’t unintentional. They and most of their readers are also good at offering solutions. I believe it is the MSM that only unintentionally gets it right once in a while.
Here are just a few examples:
Some examples from you to illustrate for discussion the second and third sentences of Mike’s post would be appreciated. Thanks.
In my view, challenging those who raise a problem for discussion to immediately come up with a permanent solution or to $%$#@ run for office is an old and lazy deflection. Not helpful, especially when directed at someone with a sterling track record of identifying a wide range of problems and proposing solutions to the point of being called an activist in a pejorative manner by members of the MSM.
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Sorry, Lew. I wasn’t clear, I guess. First, as regards LY (one of my favourite people), I meant nothing negative. I just feel and intuit that not only would she be good in office, she also wants the chance to try. I am projecting, of course. Running for office was exactly what I did when I recognized that when I was writing and doing, it was simply not enough. So, I tried to elevate my game and ran for office. I failed. I would encourage (not harass) LY to give it a shot. She might succeed. She’d get my vote.
With regards to the rest of what I said – well, I am sorry if that offended you (kinda). Not really. We, in modern society do a lot of talking, committees and meetings. We can shuffle paper. Do research. But we seem to have lost the ability to actually do. ESPECIALLY politicians. ‘Doing’ now is just throwing money at it. Admittedly, personal ‘doing’ is hard at the level we talk about – provincial and federal. BUT it is NOT hard at the local level. We CAN do at the local level.
Part of what you said is true, tho. I am old and lazy now…so, you got me. But I wasn’t. I did. I built. I ran. I put my mouth, money and energy where where my sentiments were and still are. PS. $%$#@ means ‘bloody well’.
JDC, don’t mean to brag, but I’ll bet I’m older and lazier than you; so there.
I sense, from my daily travels around the neighborhood and the blogosphere, that there’s a very large body of citizens ready to get involved and put their shoulders to the wheel, or even pitchforks to some asses, but as Laila says, they (or should I say, we) just don’t know where or how to effectively combine efforts. I’ve tried all the conventional approaches and have expended countless hours trying to have obvious breaches of public duty and legislation addressed through the system. It simply doesn’t work. Key public offices and the fourth estate necessary to do it have essentially been neutered.
I live in hope that one day soon a leader or a spark created by the final straw lights the way. Until then all this old bugger can do is keep making $%$#@ noise.
I’d vote for Laila too, but don’t really believe that’s her calling, for the reasons she expressed when she parted ways with the traditional media. She can be more effective and true to herself doing what she’s doing.
Love the votes of confidence and I am constantly urged to make that choice. But I think I can do more to impact change doing this right now. People are tired of the partisanship and need to see a reason to get engaged in solutions instead of party struggles for power. And I could never belong to any party that whipped their MLA’s.
No, this isn’t about running for politics. This is about sensing a growing frustration and helplessness that is rendering some people immobile for lack of direction.We must certainly point out what is wrong with leading governments and policies. But we must show alternatives and solutions as well. And while our audiences are growing quickly, there is far more we can and should be doing.
I don’t like people getting urged to stop questioning things because ‘we need jobs’. No one disputes we need jobs but what kind of jobs do we need? Ones that keep you in poverty? Ones that require you to have 3 to make ends meet? How can people upgrade their adult education when in a job thats so low paying? The province doesnt cover it any more?
People have to deal with so much and yet I strongly believe everyone wants to make a difference in some way if they can. And they need to know how to do that sometimes. Writing a letter, calling an MLA or city hall.Getting a community grant to do a neighbourhood project… these are all small things that can be done. Each is a start to something bigger.
So how do we start those conversations and move forward?
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Lew. I thought I was the only person older than JDC! And we’re not lazy, just worn out. And, sorry to say, I’m just about worn out commenting on the current ruling party’s misadventures. I(we) do need an alternate force to motivate us. I’m tired of waking up each morning to read the discouraging news in my choice of blogs. Better to go on oblivious to the damage and destruction foisted on us by the powers that be. Temporary happiness as opposed to daily despair.
Call me when you have some news to revitalize these old bones. JDC knows how to contact me.
John and Lew;
Ad me to the pile of lazy antiques struggling to stay motivated. The goings on and lack of answers or resolution, I find, is actually dragging me down and is that not exactly what the Christybelles of the world want?
The BC Corruption Corp. know how to weather the small squalls that blow their way; wait a few days and all will be forgotten. With a castrated opposition, we are hooped.
Transit cops ripping us off; Hydro ripping us off; Site C; Fracking; Developers; Sea to Sky; Mt Polley; Translink; ICBC; Carbon tax. Onandonandonandonandonblablabla.
It struck me the other day while reading one of Norms serious blog items…by posting repeats of old blogs he reminded me just how many years we have been giving ourselves ulcers over the same old stuff with zero intervention. None. Replies to blogs from 2-4-6-8 years ago might as well be on a loop. Would save a lot of time and angst.
Now, don’t anyone jump on me for criticizing Norm because that is not it. The criticism is that nothing is ever accomplished and those who can do something, don’t. By the way, where ARE Mr. Horgan, Fintrac, CRA and other Federal enforcement agencies?
Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha……..
To reach John: advertise FREE cauliflower in Craigslist. He’ll come to you.
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There are only three types of people. Leaders, followers and deviants. Deviants are just leaders no one is currently following. Leaders and deviants swap places now and then. i.e Castro. The Beatles. Gandhi. MLK. So, the answer is: deviate from the norm. Do it different. Do good but not the ‘old way’. Institutions are about status quo so that is NOT the way. Just do the right thing. Let ’em try and STOP you (sometimes they will). Frankly, I was a deviant and a leader at various times in my life and I never knew which way it was gonna go. So, I just went. Follow or not…I don’t care. Sometimes they did. Most times they didn’t. And I didn’t care. A man’s gotta do…right?
Right now, I have deviated ……. off the grid. Glad I did. Happy now. Don’t care if people follow. Don’t care if they don’t. Follow your little voice.
Don’t quote me.
It seems hopeless, because it is hopeless.
I still rage against the machine, but the odds are stacked against any meaningful change. There is too much control in the hands of politicians, corporations and the “back-roomers”.
How many of us want to risk public humiliation, discomfort, jail, beatings, ostracization, jobs, education, friends or home value to overthrow the system, or protest in the streets, to really get involved and not just complain? Answer – not many.
So what can we do? Even electing a different government in this province, or in Surrey seems impossible, let alone changing the mind-set of the current politicians in power to work on behalf of most citizens, and not their big donors and themselves.
Sorry to be Debbie Downer, but until and unless there are catastrophic events that forces us to change most people are too comfortable in developed countries to revolt very much.
I agree. Kinda. It is hopeless to expect hope from the ‘establishment’ systems. Those systems are in place to keep the status quo. They eat rebels and original thought for lunch. And history shows that the people won’t revolt until they are actually physically hungry. So waiting for a revolution is not a viable option. But EXODUS is an option that is often exercised. And I found it to be MORE than viable. It is desirable. Accept a bit of discomfort, reject the brainwa….education, sell the ‘home value’ to the next poor sap and get the hell out! There is much more to life than Vancouver. Btw….’Mosko’ and Debbie’ just don’t sound right.
Need to get off the Highway To Hell and back onto World-Class Way.
That cliff is nearing quickly.
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