Month: January 2017

The Canadian Way – Smile

My thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their families, and the airport staff affected by the shooting at the Fort Lauderdale Hollywood International Airport (FLL) yesterday. I can hardly begin to imagine the trauma of the attack. As a regular visitor to the gorgeous South Florida area I’ve passed through FLL more than 20+ times in my life. Watching yesterday’s events unfold on the news hit me hard. The smells and sounds of my southern home came flooding into my consciousness. This wasn’t some event happening in a far off land; this was very, very real to me. So much so that I felt the post I’d planned for this weekend seemed trivial. Inconsequential. I took a giant step back, slept on it, and realized I couldn’t be more wrong.

Our society is gravely ill. There is a vein of rage that has infiltrated the hearts and minds of so many. This paired with a bombastic sense of entitlement has created a perfect storm of sorts. You see this everywhere – seemingly decent average North Americans going about their day, and when the smallest thing goes wrong they simply don’t know how to process it. Some setting in their minds appears to be broken as they lash out with an undue level of force. Car horns are pummelled, screams erupt and sadly some people choose physical confrontation sometimes of a fatal nature! Civility, sheer humanity, becomes an afterthought.

I’d like to take a moment and tell you a modern parable…

This is the story of two men; a richer man named Joe and his less fortunate friend named Pete. Joe felt a little sorry for his pal Pete one day and decided to treat him to a coffee. Of course Pete, was tremendously grateful. He grinned widely and thanked his friend for the nice treat. The very next day Joe and Pete were together again, so Joe happily treated Pete to coffee again. This same thing happened for a of number days, so many, in fact, that the friends began to see it as a tradition. Well, the day came when Joe wasn’t able to meet with Pete for coffee. There was no malice towards Pete, he simply could not see his friend that day. Learning he wouldn’t get his free cup of coffee that day Pete was angry. He’d begun to depend of that daily occurrence. His initial gratitude was replaced by a sense of entitlement. Instead of recognizing that he’d been the beneficiary of much unearned goodwill he flew into a rage and vowed to avenge this imagined wrong.

The point of this parable is to show how easily people begin to expect things. How easily the mind becomes acclimatized to a lifestyle that has not been earned.

This scenario was played out in bold Technicolor in Vancouver this week. Recognizing that Vancouverites were woefully unprepared to face another burst of genuine Canadian winter, with icy snow packed streets, the City of Vancouver provided an opportunity for locals to collect free a salt and sand mixture for personal use. Trust me, as a born and bred Manitoban, raised to be prepared for any kind of weather at all times, this move by the city struck me as exceptionally charitable! Imagine that, getting something for free! Well, when the demand far outstripped the supply those who didn’t get their perceived entitlement of salt/sand were catapulted into an irate frenzy. Given the attitudes of some, you would be absolutely positive that they had paid twice the free market value of this commodity. To be fair some in the line-up did take more than their share. This is also, obviously, totally patently uncool.

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Genuine Canadian Winter on the West Coast!

This episode highlights behaviour that is so patently un-Canadian. This is simply NOT the way we behave here in my home and native land. For the longest time Canadians have been recognized world over for our polite and helpful dispositions. I’ve even joked that ‘sorry’ is Canadian for ‘hello’. I can assure you, dear sweet readers, this nouveau mentality is not isolated to the west coast. Imagine my shock this Christmas, as I chauffeur my sweet mama through the blizzardy streets of Winnipeg, when some short fused doofus actually honks at me for coming to a full stop at a stop sign before proceeding into a busy snow-banked street. Ummm – safety anyone?!

People, there is a cure to this disease. There is a simple inoculation to the continued deterioration of our beautiful society!

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Make GOOD choices. Ultimately we all have the power to choose how we act and react to the circumstances of life! Your neighbour’s grass may be greener; you can choose envy, or head over there with a lemonade and a smile, and ask him about his fertilizer!

Much ado has been made about the Grand Deplorable 2016; what a terrible no-good year it was. It was a year riddled with negativity, between the growing instability here in Canada, the US politics and their election, the violence in the middle east and the perpetual disintegration of Europe, it really did seem like the world was in an irrecoverable flat spin. Trust me, none of those things magically vanished on January 1! We didn’t enter into some bizarro world where those issues will just disappear. The only way of making 2017 any different than 2016 comes down to a commitment from you and me. Make a determined commitment to make better choices. Choose the future you want – not the one somebody else puts in your path! Choose an attitude of gratitude!

McDonalds Restaurants used to have a slogan on their menus when I was growing up, ‘Smiles are free’! They are entirely correct – it costs nothing to lead with a smile. While you might think this sounds like an incredibly stupid suggestion – try it for a week. Begin every interaction with a real genuine Canadian grin and build from there.

Restoring Canadian society isn’t somebody else’s responsibility. The job starts at home. Don’t misunderstand, I’m in no way suggesting we all become doormats; accepting abuse, injustice and bad behaviour from others and our inept government. Not at all… Never back down, never accept idiocy and ignorance. But even in your reaction to these things you choose your attitude; you can be gracious and kind, or disgustingly entitled! I’m in this with you, aiming to make 2017 my best year yet. How it turns out rests entirely with me…

So what does this have to do with yesterday’s events at FLL? A lot of people found themselves in the very worst situation of their lives yesterday. Yet, as TV reports came in from the scene throughout the day, I witnessed people making good choices. On the worst day of their lives no one was clinging to their entitlements, no one was taking more than their share of salt. Cops were risking their lives, FLL staff have worked tirelessly to try and help travellers find their way, and travellers themselves held, comforted and tended to each other. People were at their best!

Now – let’s CHOOSE to follow their example and make 2017 a revolution of civility, politeness and thoughtful consideration. Dare I say do it in honour of the 5 people who lost their lives yesterday!

Stay Feisty & Smile!
With much love,
True North

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