Sunday, 31 May 2020

Seniors “just” rant.

 Seniors “just” rant.
Safety is very important to seniors and so are leisure activities. I am sitting at my window watching my pond. In the spring it is often filled with water from the Blairmore ski hill runoffs. This year it is overflowing and flooding the whole forest behind it and ducks are swimming, some nesting. Right next to it is my fireplace, as safe as humanly possible to make, but I can’t enjoy a fire since there is a fire ban. Someone in the establishment believes that we can’t have fires even if we practice all the rules of safety. It may be the same person who decided not to provide the usual training to the firefighters. Who knows?
Two years ago the pond didn’t fill in the spring. There were crews of firefighters paid by a government grant, clearing dead wood from the same forest in front of my place, and they were burning piles of branches right in the middle of the trees. What has changed?
I hope that my MLA is reading the Pass Herald and he will provide an answer. After all, nothing changed. The oil market was depressed than as it is now and Alberta had the same income. Why are we being punished? It is Seniors’ Week, and the community is honoring us. YEAH. Thanks for the praise but we are old enough to know that praise is cheap and action is valuable.
Now the Pandemic will be blamed for all economic ills, I am sure, but the dreaded Corona Virus didn’t change the big picture. It will kill a whole lot of us older folks, who become dependent on others towards the end of life.
We took care of the young and worked hard to build a good province and country. Many of us fought and died to provide for the future generations, trusting that towards the end we will be cared for.
What we failed to do is predict the level of greed that the future generations would develop and some did. Not here in this community but in the cities which filled up with people from other places who came to make money and leave. An example is the private nursing homes paid by the public. Look at the Army reports coming out of eastern Canada for details.
All of us contributed to our health care and pensions. Some of us, especially those unionized, paid sizeable sums towards additional pensions. We watched the funds privatized and governments take control over how to invest the money and use it or lose it for political reasons. The people who worked for Alberta towns just heard that their pension funds lost a third of its value by investing in oil companies who didn’t make it.

I am an old man now and I thank the Lord profusely for all the blessings, but I wonder. Why did we, the common people, have to fight for everything? Why did we have to win at great suffering, or lose ground? I was a child when we were fighting for a piece of ground to live on. When I was a young teen we, and others like us, fought for the right of colored people to be accepted as humans. Soon after, it was the fight against being sent to die in unjust wars. This we and our generation won, and we were fighting for equal pay for women and human rights for people to love each other without “guidance” from the state.
I was a young man when we gave up on fighting and tried to achieve social equality by working and studying hard. In thirty years we almost lost the middle class and all the previous gains.
Now we are seniors and should be resting from a life of hard work enjoying the fruits of our sacrifice and saving. There is no break. Greedy politicians go after our prepaid benefits, privatizing some aspects and cutting off our care. Should we be happy that there is a Seniors Week?
In my younger days, I and my friends worked hard to help our families. We did it on the farms and in the cities. No-one even considered complaining. When we got married, we labored even harder and raised families. None of my friends had their higher education paid by their parents. We bought starter homes, fixed them, and worked our way up.
Our work and ingenuity, saving, and volunteering caused the improvements we see today. Just look at a picture of Calgary or Edmonton fifty years ago compared to now and see the difference. Compare what we did it with what is available now after we contributed our share.
Now we are old and have no choice but to depend on those whom we brought up. We are happy that they did well and beam with pride, yet should we be expected to be tossed aside like useless garbage?
It is not what our kids or those around us are doing that I am complaining about. They are simply peaceful as we taught them to be. They don’t realize that you get nothing if you don’t fight for it. It is the political climate that changed.
Somehow we entered an age in which productivity increased, we built infrastructure, technology improved many times over, and there is no money for our needs. We are facing fewer doctors and nurses, fewer more distant hospitals, less public transportation, and dilapidated care in long-term facilities. If one in a couple that’s been married for fifty years falls ill, they separate us.
I hate sitting here and ranting, but I feel that the story must be told. It’s useless to praise people when they don’t do their homework or give participation trophies to those who don’t try. People who didn’t contribute as we did, organize events to honor us, give speeches, and benefit themselves and their friends out of our savings and the systems we set up. Governing is a difficult job.
Here is a link to my blog:  Feel free to check other articles and comment.

Monday, 25 May 2020

The fight between “more” and “enough.”

The fight between “more” and “enough.”
I don’t remember if I read the story or heard someone tell it, but it remained with me over the years.
A tourist stayed in a little town in Mexico where he met a man with a little boat and asked him what he did. We often begin a relationship by asking what a person does for a living. The Mexican answered. I eat my breakfast and go fishing to catch two fish. One I eat and the other I sell in the farmer’s market to buy some vegetables. I take a siesta and go for a walk on the beach. At night I meet some friends and we sing and party before going to sleep.
The tourist said to the Mexican, you can do much better. You can catch lots of fish, sell them and buy another boat or two and hire people to fish for you. You can rent that empty building beside us and start a fish canning business. The Mexican answered, why should I? The tourist answered, to make lots of money. The Mexican asked what for?
The tourist said, you can do this until you get old, sell the business and retire in comfort. The Mexican said why? You will be like me, answered the tourist. You can take a vacation by the sea, go fishing, have a siesta every day and party all night. The Mexican looked at him and said, That is what I am doing now, isn’t it?
The debate has been going on for a long time about who is right. Here in North America we measure our success by the growth of the economy while there are many others who don’t see a point in constant growth. Some people are content with what they have and don’t want more. You don’t see them in airports and they don’t work in high-rise buildings.
The two types of people can’t co-exist peacefully since those who are like the tourist in my story must use those who are like the Mexican fisherman to get rich and force them to work.
We know many people who say on Fridays, thank God it's Friday. They also watch the clocks for quitting time. People want jobs and hate their jobs. It’s not common to find folks who are happy with what they have or what they do. It is most popular to want more and those who don’t are considered lazy.
There is fierce competition for good jobs and politicians promise to create, save, or fight for jobs. No-one points out to them that as a country we have more than what we can use, that fifty percent of the food produced ends up in the landfill and that women carry the heaviest burden of this life full of consumer’s junk. We don’t realize that for everything we throw away people are working cheaply and hard in other countries. China didn’t ask us to move all of our manufacturing industries overseas, but now they want to join our club and we don’t like it. Japan did a long time ago.
I am trying to think, who do I know that is happy with what they have and don’t wish to have more. I can’t find anyone. All the people that I know at least wish to travel to other places and tell each other that they did. They all have cabins or second homes in Arizona or perhaps by a lake. I can’t find people I know who don’t desire more.
So, I stretch my imagination and look at how the world is shaping up for the future. Traveling is taking a setback, and so is tourism. There is a growing, well-based fear now that mixing up with other people may cost us our life. That is an outrageous price and those who don’t “believe” it soon will. After the wave of pandemics, every person will know someone who perished. The second wave usually arrives in the winter after the first wave.
Prices will rise. The jobs that are often done by women or less educated folks will now cost more, as society will rediscover the actual value of that under-appreciated work. Humans must have care in the beginning and at the end of life and women are those who provide it, often voluntarily. As we realize it, they will unionize and start demanding proper compensation, as they should. Immigration will slow down, and small businesses will disappear. The vacuum created will be filled with large corporations that will take advantage of the situation and increase the prices for all things. Our economy which existed on a credit bubble before COVID will come down crashing.
In poor countries, people will starve again as they were some years ago and the population will become dangerous to the affluent. Countries on mass will have to invest more in defense and what we call “terrorism” will sharply rise. Desperate people exercise desperate behavior. Even life in rich countries will change drastically. Gated communities will be in stark contrast to their surroundings. Security will demand that we will lose much of what we view as our God-given freedoms.
We became used to the idea that some people are entitled to a life of plenty and some of us believed that we can all have it if we work hard enough. Cheap credit gave us a taste of it. Now we will realize that there are limits. Time to pay the credit cards.
A most important fact to remember is that now China surpassed America in practicing Capitalism. The West is out of the race and must change to save face. After the COVID devastation, it will be the best opportunity to do so.
Our problem is that we only hear what we wish to hear and get shocked by the truth. Now it’s happening. We will have to live within our means and share fairly with those who truly work hard. 
Here is a link to my blog:  Feel free to check other articles and comment.

Monday, 11 May 2020

A world after COVED.

  A world after COVED.
When I turned six years old, it was time to go to school. We lived on a farm a few kilometers from school and an old guy was charged with the task of taking four kids from three farms to school and back. We went in a wagon pulled by a white horse. The kids all wanted to sit in front to see when the horse went poo. The old guy enjoyed talking so he would tell what he knew about the news. News came from newspapers and was passed on from person to person.
Now, people are worried about fake news and conspiracy theories. In my younger days, news reporters and editors had a code of honor and tried hard to tell the truth without taking sides. However, people often mixed into the news stories some of their personal experiences and a little bit of the stories they read in the popular fiction at the time.
The old cart driver would talk to us kids while the horse slowly hauled us to and from school. He probably influenced us more than our teachers and parents combined. He spoke with us at our own level. His favorite subject was the early space explorations, mostly by the Soviet Union and the stories of Edgar Rice Burroughs, one of the first Science Fiction writers.
At the time only a few people had radios and people treated what was said on the radio as God’s truth. I remember the wagoneer saying that scientists are planning to try to contact people from space with radio and that he thought it was dangerous.  We may bring around some creatures that we can’t fight against.
On the other hand, the wagoneer surmised, the “things” from space may be completely different from us. They may not use the radio, not even see and hear as we do. They may be a virus that just eats people from inside. Now after all those years later I remember his words.
I am sitting in my truck on a hill. The old Crowsnest Pass towns are behind me in the mountains and a prairie town is in front. The towns look like medieval cities under siege by an enemy. The streets are empty, schools and shops are closed and only a few people quickly move from buildings to vehicles. There is fear in the air. A lonely train snakes its way in fields dotted by cattle that gained a few more days of life while the meat processing plants are closed. They don’t mind.
From my vantage point, I can see mountain peaks over the border in the US. The invisible enemy is attacking both countries the same, but the response is different. Here the government is helping the people survive during the most dangerous part of the unusual health crisis, while there the push is to force the population to walk into danger or face hunger. I am so glad to be a Canadian, even though I feel that we could do more.
Everyone around us is concerned about how we will come out of the mess. Can we survive without everyone working? Those who need to work for the rest of us to survive are working. The farmers and ranchers, store employees, and postal staff risk life to keep us afloat. The health care workers and government workers who dispense money, keep us safe, and plan how to deal with the crisis are working more than they normally do. Someone is driving the train below, others are taking care of it and transport trucks are on the road.
The Canadians whose work is detrimental to society are not staying home taking government handouts. There are too many to name. We are calling them heroes but in “normal” times we try to cut their wages or working hours to save money, money that will be given away to large corporations. I look from my vantage point and consider the injustice of it all.
We need shelter, food, health care, and other essentials and we have it. Most other things we can wait for. A lot of us make a living doing things that are “nice” but unnecessary. When we spend the emergency allowance from the government, we will keep the economy going. However, the much bigger economy next to us can’t maneuver as easily as we do.
When their hundreds of millions begin to starve or walk into death traps where the jobs are, there will be a reaction. If the reaction weakens them, they will lose their ability to keep their empire together. There are others on the sidelines ready to run into the field.
We can go on very well if we forget about expanding the economy and always having MORE. There is enough room at the top to divide and keep all the people fed, housed, educated, and in good health for a while if we stop expanding and producing more junk. We can have sustainable homes, vehicles, and a few trips, but we must stop. Calgary can’t keep spreading over more farms forever.
I see the possibility of riots and disorder spreading if people find it impossible to stay alive. I see a shift in public opinion coming where people will believe science and quit politicizing genuine dangers. Above all, I see women finally becoming equal to men when they save the day. COVED will expose it.
The push towards producing more things cheaper will soon die off as the world will react to what humans are doing. People will discover that there is value to human beings that is greater than what they can make and sell.
In the Bible, it says that we are the yeast of the Earth. What does yeast do when you make wine? It keeps growing, multiplying slowly, then faster and later quickly producing heat, and eventually, spirit.
We humans are not yet at the stage in which we can comprehend a transition to spirit, but we are getting closer. 
Here is a link to my blog:  Feel free to check other articles and comment.

Monday, 4 May 2020

Life is a story.

Life is a story.
I was less than a foot tall, (a Primie) not equipped to survive even three hours without help. I couldn’t see or communicate more than scream for a brief time. Something changed. Twenty years later I could survive on my own and function in a complicated society. How did it happen?
The chief ingredient was and is what I believe. I believe what comes to me from stories. Even what I see or hear remains in my mind in the form of stories I recall and tell myself. Do I remember what happened when I was learning how to walk? Not really, but my parents told the story and I remember it slightly differently. I recall the story in my own words.
Stories shape individuals as well as societies. Stories, which are just words; create. The stories we believe are true make us who we are and even determine what we will do or not do.  There are stories that we treat as an art form while there are others that we believe to be a reality. A superb example in our age are the stories about or by science. It’s proven and we can’t doubt it. The world is a ball of magma hurling through space; we have seen it. We live on the thin surface, shielded by a little bubble we call the atmosphere.
I learned how to read early in life, perhaps around five. The first book of stories, which I still have, was a volume with translated stories by Hans Christian Andersen, a most famous Danish writer. His children’s stories more or less shaped the thinking of the North European people. 
The Little Match girl thought me compassion for poor people, The Little Mermaid was all about love while The king’s New Clothes demonstrated another life lesson. People will believe in any impossible story if they can benefit from doing so. Believing is based on proof, like science, but can be altered by a greedy mind.
The other influence that shaped me came from Old Testament Biblical stories, which I learned in school. Good stories they were until I began to read the Bible on my own. By the age of sixteen, I decided that I didn’t believe in God. Shortly after we moved to Canada and for the first time I had my personal copy of the New Testament and became a convert to my own religion. Here was a story that appealed to me.
In Canada in the late sixties, I purchased a little black and white television set which opened my mind to alternative stories. The most influential upon me was the series of Star Trek. Here was a story about humans becoming an admirable species using technology yet undreamed of. They explored worlds that offered other possibilities that we never considered possible.
Above the fascination with technology, Star Trek dealt with two other major interests of mine. First was the possibility of human beings training themselves to be honorable, curious discoverers, and willing to fight for principles above all peace. The character of Spock was extremely interesting. A superman, in a way, he was half Vulcan. His people had a rough past and learned to suppress their emotions and use logic to solve all problems.
The next aspect I was very much attracted to was the philosophical theories that were dealt with on different planets that the Starship Enterprise visited. The crew of the ship often found themselves on planets similar to Earth but where societies grew to believe in a variety of philosophies.  
I imagine the Starship Enterprise coming to a world like ours today. They discover a world of humans where an elite of wealthy humans is in the process of replacing the labor force with Artificial intelligence and robots. A deadly pandemic is reducing the poorest population who are helpless against an advanced military force beyond their ability to fight against. The elites are drowning in comfort, involved in sex, even pedophilia, and like to keep things as they are. They own the Inteligencia, which in that age are the Theoretical Physicists. The impoverished masses are looking for ways to survive.
In comes, the Starship governed by the old USA constitution trying to restore balance and save billions of innocent lives. In their story “we the people” rule themselves for the benefit of all.
Imagining a story is not easy. The author must present a problem and discover a way to solve it. What would be a reasonable way to solve a conflict of a species immersed in inequality that will destroy a beautiful world? The answer comes from the history of Humankind itself. People value most their own lifetime and life is only precious if it exists relative to all that surrounds it.
In my Star Trek story, the captain finds a few of the elites who are abhorred by the plan to replace most humans and hand the world over to a few lucky corrupt individuals. Some, more humane elites, join up with intellectuals and people of high morals to spoil the takeover attempt. They discover a cure for the pandemic and convince the armies not to fight against the common people.
My memory of the old Star Trek episodes is fading. All I remember is that there were a few that dealt with the exceptional power of faith and belief.  
In one a weapon was used which had no physical means to harm people but in the right hands, it killed. Officer Spock explained that it was similar to the well-proven placebo effect. My studies show that it is possible. My historical observations demonstrate that we are the stories we tell ourselves, but we must “know” that the stories are true. You can’t believe what you don’t know to be true or know something and not believe. 
It has been many years since I read the story about “The King’s New Clothes”.
Here is a link to my blog:  Feel free to check other articles and comment.

Big and little bullies.

Big and little bullies. The year was 1958, and the world was changing as it always does. My parents moved from the farm to a new town a...