Sunday, January 5, 2014

2014 and beyond? - the Peter O'Connor commentary

So, did you make your New Year’s Resolutions, even if only one such promise, to improve yourself or your behaviour in some way? 

No matter really, if you did not. Most of us have already broken any such promise we might have made to ourselves anyway. And it’s an old tradition, right, to solemnly resolve to do something to better our selves or our world. But even as we pretend to make these commitments to improve, we watched as the traditions of Christmas and the New Year—now collectively known as “the Season” or “the Holidays” are being swept away in a tsunami of garish lights and noise. 

I truly wonder what drives so many of us to festoon our homes in displays of coloured lights which can only cry out “look at my money!” Quite frankly, I would be appalled should one of my neighbours mount such a garish flashing display next door to me. 

Can you imagine it---I am sure those of you who suffer such neighbours can describe the inconvenience—a multi-coloured glow penetrating your drawn curtains, as even your bedroom flashes the reflections of Rudolph’s shining nose?

And of course these multi-coloured, flickering and flashing lights, symbols of the homeowner’s wealth, attract “sightseers” to your street, creating traffic jams with gridlock enough to prevent you getting into your home to enjoy your Christmas Tree, and its relatively modest and tasteful lights and decorations. The inconvenience that people create in order to show off their “Holiday” lights is of no concern to them. They are free to create these nuisances in a land where consideration for others does not exist.

But if it was not bad enough around your homes, this year someone created shock and awe in a section of the Botanic Gardens. This beautiful, almost sepulchral stand of trees has been transformed into huge lit columns, the wiring so tightly wrapped that there is no room for lizard, or squirrel or any little animals to pass to climb these trees. 

In the past we had discreet tree lighting, but now our trees are just support racks to see how many lights can be hung on them. Right now the Botanic Garden looks like Las Vegas. I am sure that makes some of us very proud. And of course sponsors’ banners hang proudly along the Garden’s fencing, indicating that this is really a commercial event, even if the sponsor is not being paid directly for this.

Now I might be in the minority, but I am certain that I am not alone in being shocked at how we translate “more” into “better” in almost everything we do. I just hope that we don’t reach a stage where the few trees we have left are only there as racks for “Holiday” lights.

But so much worse than the lights are the fireworks! These are sold everywhere now, and fired off everywhere too, without regard for safety. Fireworks are dangerous explosives, and while it is considered globally patriotic to have displays, we sell, store and set off fireworks in manners long banned in other countries. But it is our love of the noise, the macho feelings we release when the ladies squeal at each blast, which drives our childish whims to create this noise. And our pets and nearby wildlife become hysterical and flee our homes while we laugh at them and light another rocket.

Fireworks are controlled by law. But like so much of our law, the ongoing breaches make the law totally meaningless.

Fireworks cause genuine distress to the elderly, the sick and little children, not to mention the terror they impose upon domestic pets. There is no reason why inconsiderate people should be allowed to set off explosions all through the night.

So, as we leave the debris, literally and figuratively, of 2013 and fifty other years of sinking into the state we are at, my resolution for 2014 and beyond will be for Consideration. That we all commit to become more considerate of the feelings of others in our daily lives.

Surely this should be a reasonable and simple tenet for us all to embrace? That we temper and adjust our activities so that they cause no unreasonable distress to others? 

This would include how loudly we play our music, whether we block our neighbours’ driveways, how we dispose of our garbage, whether we light fires (without a permit these are illegal!) that blow smoke into our neighbours’ premises, that we step aside to allow seniors to pass, and that we simply do things that need to be done.

And this must start with you, and continue with you and by you. Our leaders do not understand this, so they will not be a part of it. Good Luck!

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Jai & Sero

Jai & Sero

Our family at home in Toronto 2008

Our family at home in Toronto 2008
Amit, Heather, Fuzz, Aj, Jiv, Shiva, Rampa, Sero, Jai