I love the man’s music. I have deepest sympathies for the family, especially his kids. But that’s where it ends for me. Michael Jackson’s death is a personal matter for those close to him. I really wish the media and all his so-called ‘fans’ would butt out — like one of the characters in Gates of Heaven (one of my favorite movies) says, “Death is for the Living.”
People appear to want to draw attention to so many things that I believe should be low on the totem pole of attention. We have such short lives, why is it that we want to spend large quantities of it worrying about what Paris Hilton and Brittney Spears are wearing (or not wearing)? It all makes me want to be more concious about what matters and in turn, to be concious about what does not matter. Here is my list of things I am conciously deciding not to worry about.
Domestic poverty is off my list for two reasons: 1) I’d rather focus my attention on World Poverty and 2) Domestic Poverty is really a symptom of other equity issues such as support for mental health, access to child care, and equity, especially for those with disabilities. In my view, Canada is a country with tonnes of opportunity, and sufficient infrastructure to ensure that a population will not starve. This does not mean I will not donate to organizations like Feed Nova Scotia, but it does mean that my ears will shut off if you are trying to lobby on a platform of poverty.
The key to this statement is preserving heritage. I think heritage is important, but because it represents a living, breathing entity – not because it is old and needs to be protected. What I value about my elders is not that they old, but that they have a story to tell. Some things are historically valuable and need to be preserved, sure – but certainly not everything, and absolutely not everything at the expense of a living, breathing city environment. Librarians know all too well that an old rusty copy of War and Peace will do nothing to protect the value of Leo Tolstoy’s work. A new, fresh, exciting-looking copy will have people reading and re-reading the book — that’s the way you protect heritage, by helping people re-live the past. That means you weed the old and replace it with new.
Don’t get me wrong. I would never spy or harrass others or want to be spied or harrassed. Nor would I ever breach a confidentiality policy of any employer I may work for past, present or future. But, I feel that the wholesale protection of privacy is costing us immensely in terms of service, and therefore I am just not going to pay much attention to this issue. The lack of progress in a wide range of services in the name of privacy is astounding, and I’m sure that an audit of government would show a huge amount of time and money wasted to prevent that one case where someone discovers prematurely that their wife or husband wants a divorce, or that their young daughter or son is using birth control. So much of this information is already available on the web if someone wants to look for it anyway – I do not think we can pretend we have private lives for much longer.
Funding for Elite Sports
OMG! Another country might have more medals than us at the olympics! How will the next Sydney Crosby thrive if we do not put ourselves into massive debt to provide special facilities for sports? “Who cares?” is what I say.
What I see in a good amount of even semi-elite sports is not pretty. The level of single-minded “win at all costs and blame the ref when you don’t” attitude in many sports is astounding. The things that mattered to the originators of the Olympic Games concept have been pushed aside. Remember words and phrases like “sportsmanship?” “sound mind, sound body?” and how sports was tied to education? That seems all out the window in favor of money-making. I don’t believe in sports anymore. It used to be an opportunity to think about myself as a better person, now it is a crass illusion that parallels rather than promotes “success.” There are exceptions, where sports figures are respected for both mind and body (Steve Nash comes to mind), but that’s the exception and not the rule in my view.
“We Need More Funding For. . .”
Just the general premise that we will only solve problem x if our governments make problem x a priority and provide it with funds is just not going to resonate strongly for me. I believe in some of the work that John McKnight has done around asset-based community development, and agree with the general position that professionals invent problems and issues inside communities that they can solve and then use the community’s funds to solve those problems when the community had the ability to cope with those issues all along.
Here is a librarian example. A librarian does a study on university students searching only to discover what is the most obvious thing: university students are not the same as librarians! That is, students do not automatically use boolean operators or advanced searches to find materials for their research. Said librarian then uses this information to justify training sessions (ie. hire more librarians) so university students can become more like librarians. The thing the librarian does not ponder is whether university students need to behave like librarians to be successful at their research; nor does he/she consider the impact of increase education costs (caused in part through funds spent on librarians) on that student’s capacity to learn how to research more effectively.
In short, I really dislike any movement that blindly asks governments to give organizations more money. I do not think professionals do it on purpose, but it is a really bad habit that I see over and over again. Communities need resourcefulness from their not-for-profits, not funding. And most importantly, communities need not-for-profits that shine the light on what communities already do well, so they can encourage these behaviors.
Well, that’s my list of things I am going to conciously not spend anymore attention on. What is your list of non-issues in your view? Am I unfairly representing any of these issues?