Gratitude makes the journey better and so does kindness

Tag: change

The Ripple Effect

Originally published as a column in NewsKamloops on December 4, 2015. 

BeautyIt was cold on Sunday. Midday came with gifts of sunshine as over one hundred people gathered for the Climate Rally at Riverside Park. Not a big crowd by many people’s standards, but enough to make a dent of some sort.

Among lots of green paper hearts with inspiring messages directed to the City Council, and people smiling as they had green hearts painted on their cheeks (or noses), hope reigned supreme.

Indeed, there is something about that recognition of a need to act together towards the greater good if the greater good is to be achieved at all. There is no question that the road is a bumpy one; global well-being is a tall order. Yet what choice do we have?

It has come to the point in time when we can no longer push the dirt under the rug and pretend the day can be filled with happy thoughts only (hope is happy, come to think of it, isn’t it?) but we have to take the proverbial bull by the horns and act.

In face of a challenging world climate, environmental, social and political, the one logical thing to do is to approach the said bull not individually but together. Strength is in numbers, and to that I’d add that inspiration and courage are as well. from times past until today, the concept of togetherness is one that helps build bridges where bridges have never been built and helps us climb mountains that any of us individually would find impossible to climb.

It felt good to see that on Sunday. Frozen feet and noses notwithstanding, a great heart was formed on the shores of the quiet, old-as-the-world Thompson River, and the rally ended with smiles. Now for the actual work.

Yes, as good and fuzzy the feeling, there’s lots of work ahead. Rally or not, the world is still warming up and that’s bad, but also good because we can use the heat in more constructive ways. Species are still disappearing (some faster than others) and yet there’s a heap of good people out there striving to share the word on saving them, starting petitions and raising awareness, adding clarity to our view of the world like never before.

There are many acute issues in the world. From climate-related to multiple war-plagued areas and the resulting humanitarian crises, clarity is perhaps what we need to acknowledge that unless we tackle them together, neither will be properly fixed.

The Paris-derived ‘Keep it in the ground’ campaign is the very case in point. India’s PM has launched an international solar alliance of over 120 countries, many of them developing countries where some of the people will go from no power to solar power and all the benefits that electricity brings along.

Environmental issues and poverty can be solved as the complex interwoven problem they have become. Killing two birds with one shot, except that in this case we would be fixing the said birds with one cure. That could save future unrest and maybe even wars.

It would not be boasting if we were to say that we’re witnessing history being made these days. Big in how we invest ourselves in saving the world and its people too. Big in how we make compassion and responsibility stand out, big in how big our hearts grow as we hold onto each other in order to breathe new life into the togetherness concept.

In times of unrest, whatever the nature of it is, usually more than one as everything is connected after all, finding solutions is an act of courage and a reminder that uniting over big warm-hearted purposes gives meaning to life itself, saving it at the same time.

Then again, big goals can appear intimidating at first. Which is why pursuing change in small steps and fixing the world, mindset-wise, starts in our own backyard.

BC has again, and infamously so, placed first on the child poverty list in Canada. This year again, 1 in 5 children in British Columbia are living below the poverty level. That is unacceptable. There is no sugar coating for this one.

In the days of thrift stores bulging with used items, landfills inundated with usable things and still lots of food finding its way in the garbage, the only word that can describe the situation, much to our shame, is “unacceptable”. Unacceptable indeed.

But many good deeds happen as there are many people putting money, time and consideration towards addressing the problem. It goes without saying that the provincial government has to step up to the plate and do the hard work on that end too.

Things are changing and for the better. Having knowledge is where we start. So let’s consider us walking the path already.

We can do it. Change how we treat the environment, put food on children’s plates and offer low-income families (single parents too) the gift of dignity. Address mental issues, understand the needs of those affected in our community and country-wide and press on to help war and disaster-affected people, the millions of them: those effected by the crisis in Syria and Iraq, those without homes and little food in Nepal, the tens of thousands in Sudan who are on the brink of famine.

Kindness begets kindness and we are all better when that happens. A single drop that falls in a lake will create ripples that will travel farther then we see with our eyes. The same with kindness. Our world deserves it. We, as its people, deserve it too.

In keeping mindful we are not living in fear but in hope. In unity over goals that honour life as we know it in all its entirety, we become better. Humbly so.

The Reality of Our Fast Changing World

Note: As of last week, my former Kamloops Daily News ‘The way I See It’ column will be published on The Armchair Mayor News website in the columns section. A new adventure begins! 

Both my sons attend Stuart Wood Elementary. For now. They might not, soon, if the plans to close the school are realized. I wish they will not. The board meeting on February 17 may or may not result in heartache.

Sure the building is old and the yard is rather small. The building is not suited for wheelchair or stroller access either and that is a problem. But shuffling children and removing the school hub from downtown Kamloops is also a problem. A big one.

Children nowadays witness change on a regular basis. Major changes that is. My sons have recently witnessed the dismissal of the Kamloops Daily News, and they see entire neighborhoods change whenever we visit Vancouver.

Old heritage houses with lots of life in them are tore down and new large villas and mansions take their place. Old cedar trees silently guarding back yards have been taken down for three-car garages. The school the boys attended for a couple of years disappeared to make room for a new top-of-the-line building.

Straight angles have never been straighter.

Change is part of life. It always has been. Nowadays though one cannot escape the feeling of change being pushed forth not out of necessity but sometimes for economic reasons, or simply because old is slowly losing its appeal due to its apparent lack of functionality.

In the case of Stuart Wood elementary school, creativity can be employed to retrofit the building to address current concerns. Many old buildings could be preserved at a lower cost than it would cost to tear them down and build new ones.

With them, the sense of community would also be preserved, and the history behind it. If learning is what we want our children to do, then a lesson in the history and importance of preserving the past would be a good one to start with. Roots are important.

In the age of everything moving fast and at a pace that we often have trouble adjusting to, grounding should be a community goal. I cannot think of a better way to express care for one’s home community, whether one is born in it or has been recently transplanted, as our family has.

Neighborhood changes are perhaps a projection of the larger scale ones. Or the other way around. Which makes it fair to say they are the cause and effect of each other, a vicious circle we witness daily.

Our children hear of species on the brink of extinction, they hear of changes in the world environment brought on by global warming, which can be traced to massive changes in how we exploit natural resources and dispose of what is deemed to be less modern.

Parents wonder what the world will look like when today’s children will become adults. How much of today will be lost and at what cost?

In every life endeavor pace is important. So is consideration for what serves a community best. Learning could start with a lesson in continuity and how creativity can salvage old beloved buildings. In a fast-changing world, continuity ensures grounding.

Changes based on necessity have the potential to foster healthy growth. Of people and communities. They also have the potential to teach children lessons that might become key to not worrying what the future holds for their children when they become adults.

It’s only fair to keep that in mind in everything we do.

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén