Daniela Ginta, The Mindful Writer

Freelance Writer and Photographer, Author of the Mindfulness Blog

Tag: social conscience Page 2 of 3

If You Believe In Making Good Things Happen, You Need To Vote

Originally published as a column in the AM News on Friday, October 31, 2014. 

It is a time of turmoil, social and political. A few days ago, thousands were present for Cpl. Cirillo’s funeral in Hamilton. Next is Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent’s funeral, who will be laid to rest on Saturday in what the family requested to be a private, no-press-allowed, ceremony. Lest we forget.

As the dust settles and other news will boil over, one can hope that the troubling questions left behind by the sudden and violent deaths of the two soldiers will be answered sooner than later. Much has been said about the charismatic smile of Cpl. Cirillo and his good nature, less so about why he was shot by someone who managed to run amok in an area that has at least one surveillance camera.

Presumably, someone was watching that screen at all times, in which case, how could a man with a long gun be overlooked. And if he wasn’t, where were the security forces that were supposed to come out in a blink and contain the situation before anyone got killed. Answers are not easy to come by, and accountability is an elusive creature we want to see materialized among politicians.

Then we have the lingering, growing as we speak, energy-related issues that transform people into rabid partisans of the pro and cons arguments. We see it all over the country, and we see it in our own city.

Ideally, our elected officials should be able to sort it out in a way that will be good for all and there will be someone who will answer the tough questions or pay the actual price of damage should any damage occur after all precautions have been taken. Or oppose a project unless it is done right, which is the latest case of the David and Goliath type of confrontation between Kinder Morgan and the city of Burnaby, mayor and people standing together. Accountability is what helps with that.

We can toil over these issues and more all we want; truth is, there is no easy solution. Problems arise daily, some bigger than others, and it is often that people feel helpless about them. Expectedly so, when questions fall of deaf ears. Which is why voting becomes the one thing anyone can do to lessen the feeling of helplessness.

Unless we go out and vote whoever we think will do a good job at addressing issues that have to do with the state of our democracy, our environment, education, health, housing problems, and so much more, nothing will be done in a way that feels right.

Someone said to me ‘if I do not vote, at least I cannot say I voted the wrong person when they don’t do their job…’ But is that the point? It is never a matter of whether a politician does it right or wrong by me only. I can voice my concerns, I can express ideas and if I feel in any way betrayed by the ones I chose, I have to take it further than just sanctioning their activity in my head.

I do not vote my personal councilors and mayor, just like you do not either. It is a concerted effort and, as always, my deed (vote in this case) will affect your life and the other way around. A community that can vote is a community where good things can happen.

There is no escaping this one if we want to see changes and issues dealt with in a responsible manner. Freedom of speech and freedom to vote are two important assets in a democracy and they should be exercised by the people who have them.

There have been multiple instances of freedom of speech being impended (see the case of Canadian scientists being silenced to the point of scientists from other countries expressing concern over practices that are unbecoming of a democratic government) and there are cases of truth being withheld for various reasons.

There are decisions being made in regards to pipelines, mines and fracking that are questionable to say the least. There are accidents such as tailing ponds ruptures, oil spills and chronic health issues in many who live near exploitation sites and no one has to live with the consequences expect for the people who suffered in the first place. There are provincial parks that may be having their boundaries redefined just so pipelines could run through it.

All these matters have to be addressed in a responsible manner. More than that, the government officials who address these issues and more, have to be accountable to voters and open to having dialogues as needed.

In which case, one wonders, where are such perfect politicians hiding?

There are no perfect humans, politicians or otherwise. But in case of politicians, they have to understand their mission and the trust they are given by people like you and me.

More so, they need to be able to stand up right, be accountable and make truth their ally. If we all speak the truth, things are bound to get better.

I guess the best way to describe my expectations for what’s to come is to say that we elect representatives that will keep on growing to become great politicians rather than go for the perfect ones from the start, because truth is, no one is perfect and everyone should be given chances to grow and do better every day. What I do ask though is openness and a social conscience.

For that, I will go vote and I urge you to do the same. It is a privilege to have choices.

Speaking For The Trees And More Is No Longer A Trend But A Necessity

Originally published as a column in the AM News on Friday September 12, 2014.

It took almost two weeks for the trees across the street to be cut and sliced. There were four of them, all old and showing it in impressive girth, some guilty of a modern-day crime: having grown too close to the power lines.

Many early mornings of loud electric sawing later, the power line pole stands by itself, clear of potential danger. It had to be done, the team on site said. Two trees got too close, and the other two… well, it was decided that taking them down could prevent future problems.

Without pulling any Lorax tricks and jumping out of a stump to speak for the trees, I shook my head and wondered if maybe maintenance of a live tree would not be worth more than cutting it. After all, many a tree come down for various reasons, and some of the reasons support wants but not needs. A quick look at the increasing amount of flyers in our mail box in the last two weeks confirms it.

Throwing them and other bits of paper in the recycling bin offers little if any consolation. Trees came down for me to know that I can get pumpkin spice latte for only $3 during the month of October, or two pizzas for the price of one plus an oversized cookie.

I grew up in a yard that abounded with trees. We had a big pear tree that gave us pears and lots of leaves to clean each fall, a walnut tree that provided walnuts, great climbing and a slight amount of leafy grief to our neigbour’s gutters once it grew too big, many apple and plum trees, and a peach tree that was worth its weight in gold.

The gutter issue was solved by sawing off the rambunctious walnut branches and the tree lives to this day.

I remember my dad’s joy when planting yet another fruit tree somewhere around the yard or on the boulevard. I remember the day he showed me a fragile baby walnut tree in the back yard, proud of having saved it and talking about how it’ll grow into a beautiful one. It did. Many years later the fragile beginnings have been replaced by an impressive crown. My beloved dog was buried under it, my dad thought it that way…

One of the most powerful revelations I had as a kid was when I realized the depth of a simple, vital truth: trees provide oxygen for us to breathe. To live. Many strolls through beautiful forests of various kind later, the wonder of that astounding truth is humbling, more so because I know that we have the tools to terminate a 300-year-old tree but also countless, strong reasons to keep it alive.

Conservation of existing forests and wise decisions in logging should align with that. We need our forests more than ever before, given the increased pollution levels and the ever-growing threat of climate change.

A recent report published on September 4 by Global Forest Watch revealed that 8 percent of the world’s remaining pristine forests have been lost since 2000. Canada leads the way, deforestation-wise, the same report points out.

Tree planters may argue that they have been replanting ad nauseam, a welcome enterprise for sure. Yet it is worth remembering that old growth forests are not easily replaceable if at all. New trees simply cannot do the same as the trees of an old virgin forest that has developed a unique ecosystem over many thousands of years.

It is hard not to ask ‘Why?’ and ‘Why us again?’ in the context of many questionable environmental practices that have put our reputation at risk lately. Natural resources are to be exploited on a need-to basis and only after careful consideration, yet reality reveals the opposite.

This year saw the fisheries science libraries being dismantled, many scientists lost their jobs and many revealed a level of censorship defined as ‘muzzling’, which should never be allowed in a democratic society and in a country that has incredible natural resources that should be guarded in a way that befits their worth.

We hear of increased rates of cancer in areas where natural resources exploitation is at an all-time high yet governmental scientists deny it; we hear of tailings pond spillage that independent scientists classify as natural disasters given the way they affect human health and the environment, yet governmental organizations tell us there is no big danger; we hear of high levels of deforestation from international organizations but not from our own leaders, so it’s only natural to scratch our heads and ask who is right, where does the truth lie and whether our democratically voted leaders are truly watching over us and our country the way they should.

The levels of political interference that prevents truth from being revealed by independent scientists here in Canada should be worrying enough for everyone. Our land carries much wealth inside and out, and harvesting it without a conscience can lead to consequences that will haunt us and many generations to come.

Every tree we look at should become a reminder of the great wealth we were entrusted with by past and future generations alike. It is only natural that we make our voices loud enough and our intentions clear enough to save what can be saved and use only what we need. There is enough science to back us up, starting from the roots up.

The Magic Of Rain And Leaves

(Originally published as a column in the AM News on April 11, 2014 under the same title.)

Tale tellers...My dad knew how to tell whether the day would be a rainy one or not. He would choose when to sow seeds in the garden in early spring that way.

Thin clouds piling in all shades of orange over the hills as the sun was setting told more than the story of a day ending; they talked about the day to come.

Swallows flying close to the ground were also a sign of impending rain, I was told from early on. And just like that, I knew that if I found freshly-woven spider webs during my stroll through the garden in early morning, there will be no rain; a good thing during the much-loved summer vacation days.

In the woods or around the yard, I knew which berries were good to eat and which were not. I knew that the leaves of raspberry bushes were good for tea and that when baby chickens come out of the egg their puffy coat is all wet.

On April 7 the boys’ school (and the whole School District 73) hosted ‘Day of Sucwentwecw – to acknowledge one another,’ a first ever celebration of this kind. Students got to listen to an elder talking about the traditional people around Kamloops.

The boys brought home a newspaper, The Secwepemc News. There were stories of people who worked or work to preserve the culture and to revive it. There were stories about traditions and how life was lived according to seasons, and how knowing about nature kept people alive and thriving. Nature-inspired stories passed on from elders to youth and children were never just entertainment but lessons.

It was the drawing of rose hips that sent me back to growing up and to everything life meant back then. I remembered the tangy deep orange tea my mom made from rose hips and how it was one of the best drinks in winter because rose hips are very rich in vitamin C.

The thought of today’s children sprouted without warning.

Equipped with smartphones and getting used to opening a package to find food, how connected to life can they be and how much of a feeling of belonging to the place we call Earth can they develop as they grow?

20140412_121358Will they know that certain herbal teas can take care of headaches or stomach aches and how to read signs of spring in the world around them? Will they know how to forage for food if they had do?

It is a refrain we hear often enough: eat what’s in season. Yet how many adults know what’s in season where they live? A couple of generations ago people’s connection to nature meant avoiding starvation.

Do today’s children have a chance to learn about that connection?

Ushered from school to classes to stores and then tucked into bed at night, how much time is there to understand how nature does its thing? If a bee is but a bug that flies from flower to flower and looks very much like a wasp – can you tell the difference? – but the vital connection between bees and crops and food on the table is never made, will children grow to understand the consequences of bee colonies collapsing?

If children never understand that medicine once meant knowing which leaves to pick to make tea out of and that picking ripe fruit and veggies is the result of sowing, weeding and knowing how to keep the earth healthy by feeding it not chemicals, but compost or manure, and thus completing a circle that was never meant to be broken if we are to stay healthy, they are robbed of what should’ve been a birth right.

If we gave an older person whose connection with nature has been strengthened by passed-down knowledge and experience a smartphone or a high-tech device that many of today’s children can handle with their eyes closed, they’d look awkward in their lack of understanding of how these devices work.

Yet they have the knowledge of putting food on the table and of how to survive based on signs that nature gives freely to all, which most of today’s children lack.

Now imagine combining the two types of knowledge. They should not be mutually exclusive of each other. Their co-existence means that children can have a true measure of life and they can be raised in gratitude of it.

Stories of oldThe slow pace of acquiring life and nature knowledge, the trials and errors that have guided people from the beginning of times in their quest to stay alive, is what we cannot afford to leave behind.

They give us and our children a chance to reconsider our choices, shape them to match the past knowledge and accommodate the future.

The knowledge of the past and the facts of today is what we have to build our future with.

Resourcefulness dictates that we make use of both if we are to provide our children with a sense of where they come from and where they are headed.

Simplicity — From Choice To Necessity To ‘Only Way Out’

Originally published as a column in The Armchair Mayor News on Friday, March 21, 2014. 

AliveI start my days with browsing over news, mostly science and environmental. Some morph into feature articles, some crowd into the ‘later’ folder to be mulled over, and all of them point repeatedly to the same recurring question: is simplicity the answer?

It took having children to have it sink in fully: it’s about today and it’s about tomorrow as well. And it’s in how we live both.

The world evolves at a mind-numbing speed. Gadgets keep on sprouting. Some may rise to the ‘necessary’ status while some will stay in ‘whim’ forever. To some we add justification and thus make them ‘necessary.’ Then there are the consequences of having more.

Every gadget, appliance, new technology, and that includes the green ones, comes with an environmental price to pay. By us all, today and tomorrow.

Reports point to resources being mined to exhaustion, or being mined where they should not be because they throw things out of balance or sicken people. They point to the exploding economy as the major cause of increased global warming.

We risk tomorrow with many of today’s forays into limited resources.

At a time when news of smog-enveloped cities strengthen the request for clean air, deforestation and harming the ocean lower our planet’s ability to gulp our carbon dioxide and give us oxygen.


The impact of today’s modern lifestyle is undeniable. Just two days ago, a prestigious science society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, released a report about the risks of climate change stating three things: firstly, that climate change is caused by human action and it is past the point of debatable.

Secondly, that changes are slow to happen at the moment, visible as they are, but there is a tipping point (more melting of ice sheets, more droughts, heat waves and floods, food shortages and an increase in species extinction) from where things will roll downhill at a speed that’s hard to comprehend right now. Or easy to ignore, whichever comes easier.

Thirdly, that there is still time to act. Another recent report, UN-generated, concurred.

Simplicity in living today, is that the answer?

There is letting go in simplicity. Not to say that whoever opts for simplicity can claim that it has stumbled across the truth of life, but it comes pretty darn close to that.

We need less than we have and even less than we want. Wants are immature, mostly motivated by impulse rather than rationale. Wants often come with a sense of entitlement that prevents clairvoyance at a time when it is badly needed.

It’s uncomfortable to think that some of what I have today will not be available for my sons when they grow up. Clean enough air, clean enough oceans and enough blue sky to allow joy. Not applying the doom scenario because of a case of sudden environmental drama, but because I do not know for sure which human-inflicted changes are reversible and which are not.

Our lives are dominated by fear nowadays. We buy life, home, car insurance and the word premium brings sighs with relief. The juxtaposition with the absence of the biggest fear that should be – fear of destroying our world – is striking.

Most of us know that we can do with less. It’s our choice to do with more.

The recent sublimation of snow in Kamloops – a phenomenon I deeply enjoy as it spares us the end-of-winter slush less dry areas go through every early spring – invited to gardening.

This year we will extend the garden to grow more food, with humble dreams of homesteading one day.

Growing food makes simplicity real. So does realizing that letting go of many things you don’t need makes room for what matters – time spent right. It allows for a deeper connection to the place we’re in. From the patch of land we live on, to the community, town or city and beyond.

I came to realize that ‘seeing’ the world has nothing to do with traveling, but rather with acknowledging the uniqueness and utmost beauty of a place that has been a fountain of life for millions of years, harmonious in all its details and awe-inspiring in its seamless functionality.

To think that we are interfering with it all, creating long, deep trenches of wrongs that our children might not be able to deal with is troubling.

Life’s biggest question ‘Why are we here?’ awaits an answer still. The more I think of it though, the more I am inclined to say that the answer is right in front of us, every day, if only we let ourselves see it.

Life is about living today with the awareness that we are leaving something behind, but we ought to do it with the elegance and depth of a species aware of the honour of being guardian to an entire planet and all the life that it holds.

So that plants and animals can still exist and people can still breathe. Simple. Perhaps that’s the answer after all…

A Moral Dilemma And Its Dire Consequences

We were recently thrown into the car buying world by having our old vehicle succumb to a seized engine.  I admit to not liking shopping, less so when it involves visiting car dealerships or car shopping in general.

We browsed, assessed, test drove and by the end of the day decided on a used car. With a ‘let’s sleep on it’ attached to it. So we did. The next morning we took another look and midday saw us started on the ownership procedures.

Before the final handshake we were asked about the one thing that has emotions and judgment part ways and though it’s not a race, the latter loses. Yep, it is the extended warranty issue. For peace of mind, we were told. In case anything breaks down, they’ve got you covered. To a certain extent, that is. We decided to consider it, so we were handed the chubby envelope. Shake hands, congratulations, drive safe and enjoy.


For the next couple of days we consulted with knowledgeable family and friends, read reviews, articles and opinions from both car and financial gurus, asked a mechanic, and decided, with no second thoughts whatsoever, to cancel the extended warranty. Too many nauseating clauses and not enough backing up of the actual warranty.

This has been a good learning experience. For starters, reading the list of exclusions from coverage has been an eye-opener. I read it out loud, twice here and there. I had to; the lingo is a mind-twister, so buyer beware.

As expected, this small bump caused some afterthoughts, such as why would someone, anyone who believes in keeping their conscience clean, agree to sell any product that is not backed up by a no-loophole policy. While some extended warranties may be valid (I choose to remain on the skeptics’ side) the truth is that the majority have loopholes that have to be carefully assessed. Everything is a compromise in the end.

But the afterthoughts spilled into bigger ones, triggered by recently released news about the Alberta oilsands. Yes, again, the oilsands, but this is not just any news, but news of underreported data about pollutants like mercury and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons from the oilsands tailings ponds. They are present in much higher amounts than reported and they are toxic and/or carcinogenic. Killer news indeed.

The common denominator is the same: lack of?… Why wouldn’t someone come clean about the tailings ponds? The oil extraction causes pollution which has severe adverse effects on health and the environment, but it also creates wealth and jobs, so if one is to be objective, all the premises have to be considered. Yet regardless of which side of the arguments you are on, truth should not be distorted or withheld because it is the solid ground we have in establishing whether an enterprise is worth pursuing or not. Why not report objectively then and make the necessary adjustments in order to reduce impact before someone gets hurt, wildlife trampled and the environment soiled.

The old story of money and conscience… When large sums of money are at play, there is a risk of people’s conscience hiding behind arguments that have an expiration date.

I see it often and it is troubling every time. I wrote many features about chemicals we come in contact with every day. They are cancer-causing, or have endocrine disrupting capabilities, or are associated with neurological problems. Or all of them together.

The common refrain from the industry that manufactures or the companies push them into use is the same. These chemicals may be dangerous but they are present in such low amounts that people should not be worried. Independent studies show the opposite, and the conclusions are chilling: the said chemicals have adverse reactions at very low doses.

The question is again: how could someone sleep at night knowing that they have the power of deciding to stand up for what’s right and they don’t? How can they look at themselves in the mirror knowing that they voted to keep a certain chemical in household products, or they were part of those who decided to underreport the true state of cancer-causing pollutants despite the fact that research points to dreadful, long-term effects.

The latest news regarding the exploitation of natural resources in Canada point to a reality that is hard to ignore. Despite environmental committees suggesting that certain projects pose too high a risk for people and the environment and need to be reviewed or reconsidered, people behind the projects push for their completion regardless of possible dire consequences.


I’d say lack of social conscience. Detachment from the understanding of what a community really is, and from the age-old truth that people and their environment rely on each other to stay alive.

I am inclined to say that this is a new reality, that things were perhaps different back in the day. I do not know for sure if that’s the case. What I know is that even though information is present in huge amounts and transparency is possible, the sheer amount of information in all walks of life, the number of problems that inundate people like you and me, make us lose track of things. Many important issues that affect all of us are taken care of behind closed doors by people who have the power of decision but often leave their conscience at home.

Where do we draw the line? From an individual level to communities and countries, integrity is a valuable quality.

When our house got broken into and stuff was stolen, I kept asking why and found no answer. Someone left their conscience outside the door and went through our things, trampling over beds and looking for valuables.

Were they at any point after that haunted by the wrongness of it or by the faces they saw smiling at them from pictures scattered around the house? Who knows. It may be that repeated episodes like that lower the threshold to remorse-free levels.

What can be said about people who sell questionable products, or withhold vital information, distort facts that could end up hurting entire communities and rip pieces of land apart?

Is is possible to return to acceptable levels of social conscience? After all, and I said it many times before, we all live on the same planet. The consequences of our actions will collectively affect us.

The way I see it, the worst outcome would be to have these people say it wasn’t worth it in the end, because by then the consequences of their actions will be painful and they would’ve realized that no amount of regret will make things better.

Even in the land of the ever apologetic Canadians, there is no ‘I am sorry’ to fix the long-term effects of a missing social conscience, whether at a individual, corporate or government level.


These Are … Whose Games?

It’s snowing white plump butterflies and all I can think of is snow tumbles and plain silly fun. Snowfall with chubby snowflakes is as quiet as can be, but also loud in what it evokes in one’s soul. Winter magic, you know.

To that, one could add the titillating countdown to the Winter Olympics in Sochi and there you have it: winter fun, hard work, celebration of people dedicating so much of themselves for the love of the game. Soul inebriation at its best. If you have severe tunnel vision that is…

Why? I will explain.

I was never a dedicated armchair sports fan but the Olympic Games have a way of tying most of us down and making us rub our hands with excitement and anticipation. Witnessing the magic in intoxicating, isn’t it?

Yet as the time of the Sochi Olympic Games approaches the magic fades, only partially, one could hope, making way for the somber reality to set in.

The games this year are the most taxing so far in the history of Olympic Games, according to many experts. Sochi residents are confronted with the least glamorous side of it. They are poorer than ever before and have given up the hope that their neighborhoods will be upgraded to livable status. There are half-demolished outhouses that you have to wade through muck to get to. The contrast with the sparkling details of the side of the community where the games are taking place is shameful at best. And humiliating, in the midst of all that winter sparkle.

No one could have predicted the present decrepit reality of the ‘invisible’ Sochi seven years ago when the rather worn-out Black Sea resort was awarded the great honour of hosting the Olympic Games.

Stop at that for a bit. Honour.

There is no honour in pushing people into squalor. Socially speaking, the games will unfortunately increase an existing inequality.

It’s a struggle to find the concept of honour reflected in most aspects of this year’s big games, which is a shame and an insult to all athletes and their supporters. Estimated to be the most expensive, at a cost of over $50 billion dollars, the Sochi Games have, for starters, an environmental footprint that will take years, if at all, to erase. Large areas have been deforested, rivers and large patches of land have been soiled, and sponsors like Gazprom have their name up in gold letters as supporters of winter fun.

A petition originated by SumOfUs.org is fighting to get people to boycott the imprisonment of two Orca whales in a dolphinarium at the Sochi Olympic Games. Bad karma? You could say so. Our actions paint our image after all. We are what we look at, you’d have to agree. Imprisoned animals in this case.

There are stories of corruption and large sums of money being pocketed by the already rich ones just like there are stories of many migrant workers who were not paid their hard earned wages after the work was done. Inequality hurts terribly when you’re on the wrong side of the equation.

There are threats of terrorist attacks from groups that have claimed a couple of suicide bombing attacks last month in the nearby city of Volgograd.

In the light of all of this, the question is: What has become of the glory of the Olympic Games? There are giant concerns, some of which were briefly shared above, and more will come to light. Athletes should not have to concern themselves with possible terrorist attacks, social or political issues that taint the coming together of many nations in celebration of winter sports.

Sochi citizens should benefit from being the hosts of such a major sports event. Instead, they see a parallel world that is being built right in their backyard (for some literally,) a world that is surreal and glamorous, a world that most of them will never get to even visit let alone enjoy once the games are over.

The Olympic Games should be about the joy of competing and displaying the fruit of years of training hard and believing you can surpass your wildest and highest expectations. A celebration of sportsmanship, a learning experience of gigantic proportions and memories to last a lifetime.

I know what you’re thinking. Big games are also about big money. And politics finds its way into the big games as well. True enough. But principles should be there too. As a sign of respect to the nature of the game, as a tribute to humanity and as a way to elevate people’s spirits. The Olympic Games should not just be for the benefit of a handful of athletes, sponsors or organizers. After all, the Olympic flame is still burning after many years, the image of an ideal that is not allowed to die. Why do we allow our common values to take a plunge then?

The question remains: Why take away so much of the magic of the games from the people who work the hardest to get there, from those who offer their space to host it and from all of us who believe in witnessing such monumental events? There’s sweat and dreams rolled up in hope, there’s expectations and joy. They should not, at any time, be soiled by less than acceptable standards, environmentally, socially and politically speaking.


Short-term Blindness

UntouchedIt was after bedtime that Sasha and I sat down to read about ocean life, which is, according to his own classification, ‘his main focus.’ Bedtime strictness be gone, motherhood pays sweet dues to such clear and worthwhile endeavours. So we sat to read.

‘Mom, I will always remember you.’

What would you have said to that? Composure is not an attribute I possess. For a writer with no serious case of writer’s block I should have no excuse. Yet I said nothing but smiled. So will I. Both of you. The gift of open heart when you least expect it. Thoughts of years to come.

Then the thought struck like a most inelegant electric eel. Everything is becoming short-term nowadays. From cell phone contracts to how we think of our impact on the world around, we look at today, this month, this year, if that far. We’re getting used to thinking short-term, we’re being trained to do so.

The attention span of children is reduced by a few seconds with each generation (and what a big virtual chunk of brain power that is) and the objects and contracts we’re told we need to sign up for are measured not in their true value, but in what we have to pay every month and or in how we can make best use of them today.

We’re surrounding ourselves with trees (some of which fake and taking the place of real ones) and we fail to see the forest.

Many think they want to live forever but life is knitted with the thin fabric of something that’s meant to last today and tomorrow.

We think in return policies, exchange for new if something breaks, throw-away and replace with new model; we pay an acceptable-to-budget amount every month without looking at the big picture.

We buy toys for our children’s entertainment today without thinking about the impact of all the broken, thrown-away toys over the years. We feed them refined food they like today, questionable treats that make them grin today, without assessing the impact of the short-term joys on their health, on their world, on ours.

To say that long-term awareness has been short-circuited in favour of the short-term one might sound harsh and I am, yet again, the Grinch that steals today’s fun. But perhaps a refreshed view of the Grinch might save the original, and it may as well save me right now. Dr. Seuss’s wicked thoughtfulness sparkles through. The end of fun was in fact the beginning of real joy. Stripped of all that was short-term glitter, joy stayed put and it came from inside. An act of giving if you will.

Today’s short-term jolly adventures are dangerously plopping themselves in front of long-term thinking, shadowing judgment and making us sign up contracts with words too small and too many to read in one go. Someone must be watching over us rushed people, we assume. Life is happening fast, we are happening with it and the gulps of short-term jolliness make the ride more fun. So be it, where do I sign?

But is the ride more fun? Not quite.

It is refreshing to think that there is still time to think long-term. A rather un-capitalistic view of life, a return to ‘cradle to grave’ objects and concepts alike, perhaps revising investments to make them apply to human richness, in spirit and open-heart goodness rather than have them confined to the financial realm. No one gains money when people’s hearts and minds grow richer but that is the kind of richness that lasts, the one you don’t find in a bank account.

It is fitting of us to consider that while today only comes once and now is a chance we’ll never have again, the long-term concept is building itself out of every today we churn in our rushed existence. The one big problem is that we will not live forever and the generations to come will have a today made from that patched-up, somewhat crumbly long-term we’re building handicapped by our short-term blindness.

Whether Sasha becomes a marine biologist or not (his second choice is to become a carpenter, inspired by a kind, generous toy maker he’s met not long ago) it is not important. My peace of mind comes from knowing that we sat down long enough to read all that he wanted to (hopefully,) we saw enough ocean to understand its boundless wonder (hopefully) and we had enough challenging topics at the dinner table for both of them to understand that us humans honour ourselves and the gift of life by understanding  roots and future (we have.) The roots are being handed to us and the future we create. A heck of a long-term responsibility if you ask me.

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