It’s all too easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of fear-mongering and dreadful outlooks within this world. It’s easy to look up and be blinded by darkness, the negatives seem to carry more weight than positives throughout the world. Seemingly no one is concerned with good news. Almost like “you’re doing well? Well, no one cares, we’ve got our own problems.” I can’t argue the logic of this argument, because it holds true in most accounts. Every country has their own issues; every province, city, neighbourhood, household, and individual.
Stress and negative circumstances are seemingly omnipresent, but it’s our attitudes towards them that makes it seem so perpetual. As an individual who felt cursed with depression for an extended period of my life, it’s all too real.
I’ve stated in previous articles the immense changes I’ve made in my life to extend the positive circumstances and take control of what I could in life. Yet, even though I’ve battled my way out I find myself susceptible to dwelling on negatives. It takes constant work and reminders to continue to remain positive and optimistic.
Here’s the cool thing. Despite what we’re led to believe by flashy news headlines or what ideals we’re fed by politicians, humans are absolutely incredible.
In spite of having the cards stacked against the majority (irony at its finest), civilization continues to solve problem after problem no matter what obstacles stand in our way. Whether we realize it or not, society has advanced immensely over recent decades.
Right now the world is turning itself upside down over the victory of Donald Trump, but there’s one thing everyone seems to forget; we drive the ship, politicians merely steer it. No matter what they say or do, we hold the power, even though it doesn’t really feel that way sometimes. Let’s look at a few examples.
Renewable energy has been in the hot seat in recent years, with incredible pushback from the fossil fuel industry. Of course they don’t want to see renewables in the forefront of our energy production, because then they lose. The oil and gas industry rakes in trillions of dollars annually worldwide. For them to fathom the idea of a steady decline in profits is a nightmare. Yet, despite the fear mongering, despite attempting to polarize the populous to protest the idea of renewable energy (especially here in Alberta), renewable energy is slowly taking over. Solar and wind energy costs have dropped exponentially, while also becoming increasingly more efficient. Costa Rica, Norway, Iceland, and Ethiopia are prime examples of just how far renewable energy has come. Costa Rica operates from 100% renewable energy, and Norway, Iceland, and Ethiopia are close behind at approximately 99%. The movement is happening, and it’s happening fast. It should almost be a crime to push for fossil fuels to be the dominant energy source at this point!
Speaking of crime, the rates of crime have gone down immensely over recent decades. Despite news sources glorifying every incident and promoting fear, this country has gotten much safer for us to live. Crime rates in Canada peaked in the early 90’s and have steadily declined since then, in all areas. Even homicide, which has coined the nickname Deadmonton for our dear city, has been on the decline. It’s the fact that murder is now sensationalized that it appears to be on the rise.
We’re staying alive, which is wonderful! In fact, life expectancy has risen a full decade since 1960 from 71 years to 81. Why? Well, it’s not because of our Prime Ministers and politicians. It’s because of individuals dedicating their lives to research, medicine, and serving the people. Advances in medicine have allowed people to go from being diagnosed with a sure death sentence, to being able to overcome that illness to live a full and rich life. I’ve seen first-hand in my own family, three of my grandparents overcoming cancer, and right now the fourth is currently mid-battle. Instead of feeling helpless, he’s staying positive and is still hungry to stay alive. There is enough evidence around me to prove that he can make it.
Despite this, I felt the need to express my feelings to him and let him know exactly how I felt about him and how he positively impacted my life. What an amazing feat, being able to express ourselves in any way we want. Freedom of expression is what I call the mixture of free speech and the ability to not be ostracized for unpopular expression of our feelings and emotions. 50 years ago, a gay man expressing his love for another was seemingly unfathomable, and in 2016 we had our Prime Minister marching in the Pride Parade. This wasn’t because of politicians, this was because of the people pushing for gay rights. No matter what ideology, religion, sex, or race you are free to express yourself. This isn’t to say there may not be backlash, but you are free to express it regardless.
We must keep in mind that everyone is entitled to having an opinion, even if it differs from the cultural norm (keep this in mind when trampling Trump supporters). Not everyone who has a differing opinion is a bigot. Opposing views, even when unpopular, are what drive humanity forward. When we use this freedom of expression to have constructive, balanced discussion from both ends of the spectrum we can incorporate ideas from all walks of life. When we obtain this, humanity wins. When we silence opposing views and ridicule anyone who doesn’t think in line with us, we’re taking a step backwards.
The goal of multiculturalism is to incorporate these ideals and have balanced, well-thought out discussion. Having a fully multicultural society won’t happen overnight; we can’t force the hand of nature. However, we notice in Canada a distinct shift in the classic “rich white man” politics to a seemingly more welcoming, diverse group of politicians. Our attitude as a whole has shifted immensely from that of the days of old. We’ll always be a bit uncomfortable when new ideals and situations are forced upon us, but as they say “life happens at the end of your comfort zone.” If our generation wants to have a positive impact we need embrace our new brethren from all walks of life.
I had a moment the other day at a Remembrance Day ceremony. I’m doing my practicum at an inner city school which has a large population of immigrant families. Some parents can barely speak English, but they brought their families to Canada for a better future. These parents showed up to our celebration in waves, and showed an incredible amount of pride for our forefathers and our country. I shook hands with a father of one of my students; he could barely comprehend what I was saying, and had very limited English, but he had a poppy over his heart and he sang O’ Canada loud and proud. It was a rather sentimental moment in my mind, because nothing makes me happier than seeing these individuals not only embrace Canada as home while feeling welcome, but to take pride in their new home.
The politicians steer the ship, we drive it. I’m proud to be Canadian and I’m proud to dedicate my life to making this country and this world a better place. No matter what our government spews out, it’s dependent on us, the populous, to make real change.
Remember these points next time you feel overwhelmed by negativity. The world is a beautiful place, it just doesn’t always seem that way. Together, we can continue to move forward and advance as a society to perpetuate these sensations of righteousness. These reasons and more are why I love this world.