Comment: Money the root of the decline of our values
Dec 05 2012
I've watched Strathcona Park being brutalized by one government after another for my entire life, and I've always believed it was more than just a "park" problem.
I think it has to do with a glitch in human thinking that somehow allows us to become confused in our values. To put it simply, our thinking processes are short-circuited by money, to the point where we often forcibly push many of our other values aside.
Strathcona Park is a uniquely personal interest of mine, but in my lifetime, I've also watched us brutalize countless salmon runs and ancient forests into extinction in exchange for money. We humans are now doing this as hard and fast as we can, on a global basis.
Why? I think it's because money somehow blinds us to our other values, much the same as heroin blinds a junkie to anything but heroin, and becomes his or her reason for living. Why else would we be so willing to destroy our surroundings (and ultimately ourselves) for something so ultimately worthless?
But we don't just destroy our forests, our rivers, (not to mention our oceans) and all our other valuable natural surroundings; we also destroy our own institutions, which were created by us to serve our very own human needs and values. Not only that, but we seem totally mystified when our valued institutions begin to break down as a result of our own actions.
I'm not talking now about how we brutalize valuable natural creations, like rivers, forests and the contents of our parks for money. I'm talking about how we brutalize our own creations for the same reason. I'm talking about our health and education systems and many of our other valuable institutions, which are suffering so badly these days.
Everything in life is a choice. When we choose one thing, we lose something else. A junkie invariably chooses heroin. If we (and our governments) always choose money, we shouldn't be surprised when we lose other values (which are often more important to us) in the process.
The effects of choices made years ago by government are now becoming obvious in our failing health, education and social programs. It's easy to see the results, but it seems much harder for people to understand that the present problems stem from decisions made years in the past, by a government determined to balance the budget at all costs.
Politicians are reputed to have short memories, so perhaps this explains why it's difficult for them to comprehend that problems in the present can be directly related to actions they took in the past. I have a suggestion to help mitigate this particular political blind spot.
It might be a good thing if all politicians were required to grow a small garden.
Since the results of decisions made in a garden usually show up relatively quickly, (unlike the results of political decisions, which often don't become distressingly obvious for years) politicians could learn (and hopefully retain) some basic rules of cause and effect.
An unusually perceptive politician would possibly even notice that gardens are in many ways quite similar to human societies and institutions. Watered plants thrive. Brutalized plants wither and die. A really insightful politician might even begin to discover that there might actually be greater values in our lives than money.
Karl Stevenson is a lifelong Comox resident.