..and when the sun rises again tomorrow, we'll see how far we've come ...

..and when the sun rises again tomorrow, we'll see how far we've come ...

... just to remind myself why I'm doing this ...

Depending on our personalities, the world can be a crowded place or a very lonely one. For those who seek comfort in numbers, there is no shortage of hangers on, but for those who avoid that circus, keeping thier own counsel can leave them feeling quite alone and disengaged from the mad place we call home. Life is a trade off and most of us choose how we live it.

For me, I'd rather work things out as best I can, using my own thoughts and feelings to sort things out. Following the crowd has never been a temptation to me, but that has its price, one that I'm totally comfortable with every day I get to stand up and be the person I aspire to be. When I sometimes lose track of who that is, I come here to remember, to reconnect and to resume my quest.

These posts are a reflection of some of what matters to me and it's a privilege to have the opportunity to collect these thoughts as they form in my head, as they prepare the way for my life, as it evolves from one day to the next. They re-inspire me when things seem to be floating about, with no particular aim or purpose, and it does happen from time to time.

So, today I had these thoughts that I think are worth writing down for the future me to look back on when I need to ...

Saturday, May 31, 2014

"simply complaining" is for the lazy and the cynical

Daily, every newspaper and newscast presents some share of voices complaining about something that's being done, directly or indirectly to them, with which they take great and passionate exception. Some resonate more than others, but they all feel justified in their views and positions. The ability to freely make their concerns known is precious, and "priceless", as one credit provider would say. Not much to object to there.

The issue here is one of reasonableness and moral 'rightness'. Lots to argue on that level though. Not everyone possesses or has earned the moral capital to expend on their particular beef. Furthermore, too often, just voicing a complaint stems from laziness, or just plain cynicism, and should be ignored as being just such.

Let's look at elections. Elections empower people with specific viewpoints to apply them to the creation or revision of the laws we are all bound by in our daily lives. That makes those choices critical to our lives. Yet, why do so many eligible voters simply ignore their responsibility in making that choice? So many of those same voters have little trouble crying foul if things don't go the way they want. They should know full well pretty much what the landscape holds once the decision makers are empowered.

Somehow, the lazy and cynical voters, the ones that either can't be bothered, or the ones that don't care enough, or the ones that claim there's no point, or the ones that just don't take the trouble to become and remain informed in order to decide on a choice of representation at the discussion table, still believe they have the unassailable right, and own the moral right, to voice their displeasure with the results of those discussions at that table.

Well, I for one, begrudge them that 'right' and I would deny it to them if it were in my power to do that. But, at the same time, I would exercise that same power to do what I could to provide an environment that holds legitimate promise of improvements. With that option before them, there'd be no room for any of the excuses to be lazy or cynical. In providing such an environment, it still places the responsibility for action, upon the individual and does not absolve them of it in any way.

Of course, becoming informed in order to make a choice is only a part of the whole. Once informed ourselves, we also have to inform our representatives of our views and expectations. Our own inertia causes us to wait for the candidate to come to us, to make a pitch, and we decide if we like it enough to support them instead of telling them what we're looking for. Consequently we're faced with choosing options that can only hope to touch on our specific quests. It's no wonder then that we're going to be left wanting and disappointed in the results. The whole mess is of our own making by not being engaged enough to let our problems, issues and concerns be known by those who have the influence and some of the power to effect the needed results that help the system to function as it can.

The long and short of this piece is simple. Simply complaining is the lazy man's medicine. Offer something more than a critic's wail and you'll have a much better chance of doing something worthwhile. Then your need for complaining won't even have a snowball's chance.

too late to the party...and a nickel short, to boot

As one would admittedly suspect, the OMB has "ruled" by giving its approval of the agreement between the Town and a developer re the Legion condo deal's height proposal. One of the remarks attributed to the member should be a clear indication that the decision was predetermined and that the "hearing" was a mere symbol of public accountability, something it clearly was not.

The member was reported to have said that if the agreement had not been penned, and if the proposal for 6 stories had been on the table, it would have been approved. That statement proves the predetermined aspect of the decision. Without hearing evidence, objections and arguments for and against a 6 storey proposal, a truly impartial decision could not be honourably rendered. Yet, the member did just that by making the statement she is reported as making. Based on this evidence, it's fair to conclude that the "fix was in". Also supporting this suspicion is the Mayor's reported statement that he didn't want to take a chance on the Board approving 6 stories so he supported the 5 storey agreement. What would cause him to assume that 6 would be approved in the absence of the agreement?

This brings me to my point here. The OMB interprets the rules already in place when it comes to adjudicating conflicts in development proposals. The rules are public knowledge and have been publicly approved by Council under the Official Plan review process. It's all about applying the laws already on the books. The only question arises in their interpretation and that's where the OMB has final say, short of the judicial process which is always an option. Unfortunately the resources needed for such a challenge are usually much scarcer to the challenger than the proponent, who can always recoup them from the eventual proceeds from the project. That makes judicial challenges unlikely and the proponents usually bank on that by pushing for the limit-plus. The place where these excesses and abuses need to be stopped or mitigated is at the OP review stage. Sadly, the public has little in the way of forward vision in these matters, usually becoming alarmed only when the proposals come forward, taking advantage of this lack of diligence on everyone's part. Of course, as evidenced by this latest Johnny-come-lately fiasco, by that point it's clearly too late to slam that particular door shut. Anyone who disagrees with that view should, the next time we have an OP review, have a look at who and how many actually take an active interest. Exactly my point.

I'm no big fan of the OMB but I do see that as one reason for their apparent impatience in such cases. That's not to say that they don't have an obligation to listen to all relevant comments and concerns when thay affect the disenfranchised in such matters. But that also does not absolve that same public from its responsibility to remain engaged if indeed they believe they have any kind of stake in the issues they feel drawn to from time to time.

For any of the aggrieved parties to qualify for affected or interested party status in development matters down the road, they need to acquire that status by becoming familiar, to a degree, with the provisions of the planning rules they might come to disagree with at some time. Then their voices will have meaning and likely an impact on the process, which is presumably what they are looking for in the final analysis.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

society has become lazy ... and too dependent on government

"the government should..." is a phrase that has come to exemplify society's dependence on and demand for direction, protection and oversight by those all too willing to provide it, albeit at a staggering and some would say prohibitive price.

Tune in to any newscast, day or night, here or there, locally or abroad, and we are reminded of what the masses want, demand, from their governments. The underlying caveat is that they also expect someone else to foot the bill, usually meaning those that are seen to be the unfairly anointed wealthy, and powerful elite. The masses want government to step in and re-balance the books, so to speak, and redistribute the power and hoarded riches among the more deserving. What escapes them in this quest is that it takes resources, money, influence, to become part of the governing body and only those that already have those qualifications stand a chance of achieving their goals. It then follows that the governing body will essentially protect those assets upon which they rely for maintaining their own positions. On the other side of this equation is the reality that the masses have little to offer in this regard and are therefore likely to hold little sway with those who do. That's not to say that they are ignored entirely but the essential reality in the end is that only the crumbs are available for redistribution while the hope for more is always prominently offered.

Apart from the money and power aspect, the biggest, and possibly the single most difficult challenge that governments face is the utter impossibility of satisfying all the participants in the same space at the same time and to an equitable degree. It just can't be done because, at the extremes, the demands themselves are often contradictory and not reconcilable. That means that when the chips are down, the nod goes to the ones with the greatest potential for contribution to the status quo. The greater their skill in convincing the masses that they indeed have even a hope of getting closer to their demands being met, the ever more secure the entrenched will be in their position of influence and power. The paradox is that the masses look to the powerful to help them get what they want while what they want will have to come from those same wielders of  influence and power. Like that's ever going to happen!

On the infrequent occasion when a member of the masses does manage to elbow their way into the power structure of government by convincing their supporters that things will change, those few quickly come to the unavoidable realization that the battle is no less difficult when waged from inside, that it will be a long and difficult one, and that to continue the battle, they end up engaging the same corrupt tactics that they pledged so convincingly to eradicate. Thus lives the charade.

This perpetual struggle only survives and flourishes because the masses live in hope. What else is there for them to wake up to every day when all they think they can do is depend on someone else to do it for them? Because they choose to be dependent on government to provide for them, they pin their hopes on that arrangement rather than take the initiative to deconstruct that concept. It would be much more beneficial in the long run to take hold and fend for themselves than continue to let go and allow others to set the path. It would definitely be far more difficult to do so but, while filled with uncertainty and fear, the rewards are potentially far more satisfying and liberating.

In the face of such options, those with the means obviously act to convince otherwise by making endless and sparsely fulfilled promises that seem just lucrative enough to suppress the notion that self-reliance has its benefits. By delivering minimally on the hopes they empower, the governing cohort maintains its hold and its opportunity to continue the harvest of resources it needs to sustain this profitable dependency. The seemingly prevailing conclusion then says that the inherent instability of replacing dependency on government with individual effort is too high a price to pay for the hope of future security, however inadequate it has been up to that point. While individual cases and circumstances vary greatly, and faced with a difficult choice, clearly, in the overall context, demanding more while doing less is seen to be more attractive and productive than the alternative.

Monday, May 5, 2014

legacies, ... self-serving memorials or well-earned tributes?

Among the more well-to-do, a legacy appears to be the one lasting thing they feel they can leave behind them once they've passed on or away, (depending on one's beliefs). I think that's a "testament" to the fleeting nature of material affluence of which many spend most of their lives in pursuit.

What is a legacy anyway? I guess that depends in large part on one's assemblage of values. That could also mean then that a desireable legacy can be an objective that keeps changing along the way. I'm not even able to accept that a legacy is something that one has to plan or create with intent. I think that what some would label a legacy, I would describe as an accumulation of one's achievements both good and questionable, and is not something that one actually creates to be like a time-capsule to be opened at some time in the future, or a book left on a dusty shelf for no-one to thumb through.

For me, I feel no overwhelming need to create or leave such a thing as we call a legacy. I aspire to something more personal, aimed at soothing my own spirit while I'm still of this corporal world. I aspire to experience the benefits of a maturing wisdom that I can pass on to my children as they grow through their lives, and perhaps do the same for theirs.

My comfort comes from the notion that when my world goes dark, my light shines in the minds of those who are important to me now. I think 'love' is for the living. I don't think we can 'love' someone who has passed, but we can experience the memories of love held for the once living. For those that held material affluence above emotional wealth, a legacy may be the way for them to continue that aspect of their time spent among others. They may want their light to shine upon their billboard, their legacy, which announces whatever they want people to remember about them.

For me, the idea that I've contributed to the richness of my children's lives is the most gratifying accomplishment I can imagine. That would be a true legacy for me to leave to the world they forge for themselves and their families.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

is it wise to try to 'FIX' a mistake?

I got to thinking about what we call "mistakes". Are they actually mistakes, and if so, why? I think we tend to call a decision a mistake when things don't turn out the way we expect after making a decision. So in reality, mistakes are only decisions that have outcomes that do not reflect our intentions. When that happens, we just try to fix the 'mistake' and carry on.

However, it has also occurred to me that fixing a mistake, any mistake, is nigh impossible. I say that because once acted upon, the circumstances that led to the decision that led to a mistake have been affected and have therefore altered the arguments involved. Essentially you have a new problem or issue before you, not the one that existed before the mistake was made.

Perhaps we'd be wiser to re-evaluate the new circumstances in their own light as opposed to the glare of a decision gone wrong, a 'mistake'. I think that looking at such a decision from a fresh perspective instead of seeing it as a repair job is more likely to produce a better result than what a patch job might. A fix will likely be based on the original circumstances that brought about the original decision and will likely not take into account the changes that were introduced when that decision was enacted. Inevitably, that will also not result in the newly revised intended outcome and result in yet another "mistake". That process will simply repeat itself as long as the objective is to 'fix' the problem.

While experience brings with it many benefits, it is after all, only a compilation of results realized by many, many decisions, and the underlying circumstances that led to those decisions. Experience without wisdom is a waste of time. It's the wisdom component that evaluates results based on their originating circumstances and not the conglomeration of endings they produced. I think the best application of experience is achieved when attention is aimed at prevailing circumstances and the intended result, regardless of what has happened up to that point. It's about stringing together a series of such processes at a smaller scale and having each such decision set up the next circumstance to be evaluated in light of the objective. The final result will more likely be the desired one, regardless of any 'mistakes' made along the way to those decisions.

I would illustrate this concept by using the example of a ship navigating by applying course-corrections all along its route. Every correction sets up a new course with new circumstances such as different wind and current directions relative to the pre-correction course. It would be folly to make corrections based on the original plan, leaving little chance of reaching the intended goal.

Mistakes are actually just tools in the arsenal one needs to evaluate circumstances that present during the decision process and therefore should not be seen as a problem. 'Mistakes' are inevitable; 'mistakes' are indispensable; 'mistakes' are invaluable and I'm not going to call them 'mistakes' anymore; to me they're decisions with outcomes that are different than what was intended, that's all. That way, I won't be deterred from making decisions that have the potential for outcomes that are not what was intended. Who knows how that will affect the future? I'm betting on breakthroughs more than on predictable mediocrity.

All of this brings me to the thought that started this whole mental exploration, using history to extrapolate the future. It seems that all too often, history is seemingly all we have to draw some degree of guidance when we want to lay our future plans and chart a course to get us there. I've also come to the conclusion that such an approach is much closer to the ship example earlier than to the application of the wisdom component of using experience to guide us. My approach to decision-making on where to aim my future is not going to be determined by the potential for having outcomes that are different than what I intended. My future is going to be much richer in outcomes, intended or otherwise, and the pursuit of ever deeper wisdom is my goal.