The short answer:
Cultivate non-egoic consciousness.
The rest will take care of itself.
That being said, here is the long answer:
There are several threads we need to pursue with all of our collective strength and resources. Before identifying the specific measures needed to restore our environment and Canadian society to viability, we must begin by acknowledging our responsibility for the status quo. It is purely by virtue of our own choices that we had a decidedly un-progressive Conservative government, that Canadian society is now become both socially and economically polarized -to the near-breaking point -and the environment, humankind’s Earth Mother, is all around us imperilled. Democracy can only be democratic to the extent we individuals are willing to work in order to make it so. It is seductively easy to let those who tell us they know what to do, do everything for us. They may or may not know, but how can we tell?
We begin by choosing to become knowledgeable with respect to social, governmental, and other quality-of-life affecting issues. We cannot make informed decisions, if we are not informed. I believe our erstwhile Parliamentary Budget Officer, Mr. Kevin Page, knew this and invested everything he had to give, so that Parliamentarians and Canadians would have the opportunity to make informed decisions. We remain forever indebted to this man.
Awareness presupposes right action. If we are not aware, we may easily do harm, or allow others to do harm, to Canada and other Canadians, without intending or even realizing. We cannot do right if we do not know what to do; we will not know what to do if we are not informed. Let each of us take advantage of the grand opportunity that is provided us by Mr. Page. In order to do so, many of us will have to re-evaluate our own personal priorities and commitments.
As John the Baptist said in the movie, Jesus of Nazareth:
Before kingdoms can change, people must change.[i]
Michael Jackson put it this way:
If you want to make the world a better place,
Take a look at yourself and then
Make a change.[ii]
And, finally, in the words of the Mahatma:
You must be the change you wish to see in the world.[iii]
Governments and societies must do everything within their power to remove all impediments along the individual’s path to being all that he/she has it in them to be. The individual must always endeavour to be true to him/herself, and by extension, to their family, neighbours, community, society, and past and future generations; in short, to every other individual soul God will ever create.
Without a government and society which truly and relentlessly pursues the best interests of all of its citizens, the individual will fail. Without individuals who truly and relentlessly act in the best interests of all other individuals, the government and society will fail.
Individuals are the building blocks of society. The best way for society to ensure its own viability is to hold paramount the happiness of every individual in it. Individuals perform at their best, and are best motivated, when they are happy and free from anxiety and regret.
The recent trend toward the socio-political right is a bottoming out of the human condition. It represents the last gasp of ego-dominated thinking, and of the societies and leaders ego begets. The mindset and vision many of our leaders appear to have cultivated is reactionary, short-sighted, coercive, divisive, and intolerant. This approach to governing has never worked; yet the attitude seems to be a pervasive feature of modern governments and societies. War can only be justified, scripturally, if it is in defense against aggression;[iv] otherwise, thou shalt not kill. Judging by the current state of the world, it does not appear to be God’s Voice that is guiding many of the world’s leaders’ actions and interactions, but rather the voice of ego. A salient example is the continuing absence of a two-state solution for Palestinians and Israelis; another is radical jihadism. The examples throughout human history cannot be numbered.
I would like to end this section with a quote from Sri Chinmoy, who was made known to me by a nice lady named Margaret:
When the power of Love
Replaces the love of Power
Man will have a new name:
I interpret this to mean that when each of us learns how doing for others trumps doing to others, we will exist in total reconciliation with God; at which point we become conduits through which God’s Love and Message flows throughout the world. This will happen when non-ego replaces ego as humankind’s default mode of consciousness. Only ego can interpret Sri meaning that, each of us is god. That is patently false, and as ridiculous as one human blood cell believing that it is the human individual. All that exists was created by God, and is part of God. There is only one God; but there are as many ways to express God’s Love and Mind, as there are conscious beings to act as conduits.
The mind of ego is concerned with answering the question, what am I? The mind of non-ego just knows: I AM.
The end of ego’s dominance heralds the beginning of a wonderful new age. Individuals will not lose their distinctiveness; they will simply lose their preoccupation with it. Their focus will simply shift from what the world is doing for them, to what they are doing for the world. They will shed all impediments to their happiness.
What are the conditions society must create, in order for its citizens(and by extension, society), to achieve self-actualization and to ‘be all that we can be?’ Maslow’s hierarchy provides an excellent basis upon which to structure the answer to this question. Proceeding from bottom to top, Maslow postulates the fulfillment of the individual in five stages:
- Physiological Needs – Clean air, water, healthy food, viable shelter, sleep, sex
- Safety and Security
- Love and Belongingness (community)
- Self – Esteem
- Self- Actualization – Vitality, creativity, self-sufficiency, authenticity, playfulness, meaningfulness.
The shift to the political, reactionary right is imperilling the chances of a growing proportion of Canadians to fulfill even the lowest level. To ego, so long as the ‘I’ and its ‘tribe’ have comfortable shelter and enough to eat, nothing and no one else really matters. In a society of egoic individuals, nearly all of the time and energy of the economically-vulnerable is used up just to keep them from falling out of the bottom of the pyramid. More than three million Canadians are struggling with this.[v]
Many Canadians are so occupied with making ‘ends meet,’ they have little time and energy to properly inform themselves about what is happening, and about where our nation is heading. This of course does not apply to the denizens of the wealthier classes who might have resources and energy in reserve; what they need to know, they can pay someone to provide them with. Please note that ‘the wealthy’ in Canada and around the world are not the problem, neither is a certain degree of wealth inequality the problem. The phenomenon of wealth accumulation is the problem Canada and the global community are now facing.[vi]
Although it may be arguable that the Conservatives would have succeeded in bringing us (up or down) to Maslow’s second stage – Safety and Security – I believe the price to be exacted from Canadians is one of Orwellian magnitude. Since they have taken over the government, Canada trends apace toward fear-based and socially/nationally divisive government. Most of us big-city folks are running around in a state of mistrust: of strangers, neighbours, people whose skin colour is different from our own, or who worship God in a different way.
Fear-based government – a trademark of totalitarian regimes – will prevent us from ascending to Maslow’s third stage, Love and Belongingness, en masse.
The election of a government such as Harper’s is symptomatic of a society whose fabric is perilously weakened. Those people, judging by their policies and national vision, are incapable of achieving the best for all Canadians, or of appearing serious in the attempt. By the time of the 2011 federal election, this should have been obvious to us voters; still, we gave the Conservatives a majority.
Individual citizens may have already navigated the bottom two tiers of Maslow’s pyramid, but will find themselves bogging down in Maslow’s third stage – Love and Belongingness. Community. Reaching out to others. Giving and receiving at one and the same time. With the exception of smaller, more rural communities, we have widespread marginalization of individuals amidst rampant mistrust and fear. The democratic base, or at least 90% of it, is therefore divided, preventing any potential and truly effective grass-roots initiatives from taking hold; preventing us from ever truly being unified and casteless; this in turn preventing us from ever getting truly (and practically) accountable government.
‘Community’ needs to be renewed. No individual should be marginalized – unless they are a threat to others. The mechanisms for achieving all-inclusiveness are discussed in the next section. For now, it is enough to say that inclusiveness can only evolve out of a milieu of tolerance, mutual respect, compassion, and trust – all attributes of non-egoic consciousness.
No relationship, however convenient, is viable if it is not based on trust; and there can be no trust without honesty. There will be little honesty without tolerance and the highest regard and respect extended to all of God’s creations.
The second highest level of Maslow’s hierarchy is Self-esteem. This is a no- brainer, and requires little discussion. All too many people enjoy tearing down other people even to the point of driving children to suicide. I recently heard of a young girl of only 11 years who killed herself and left the message to the effect that she was just a bad child who no one would want. How can anyone come to think of themselves in this way? How can a young child of eleven come to think of themselves in this way? Each time I think of her, I feel the tears coming. She never wished harm upon others, or thought the world would be better off without them. Because of her way toward others, she would be inclined to believe that no one would say such terrible things to or about her, unless they were true. She hadn’t yet learned about people who tear others down in order to keep entertained and to bolster their egos.
Bullies, whose souls spin negatively, build their self-esteem by destroying that of others. The ones they target are most probably those whose souls are rotating correctly and are in fact reconciled with God’s purpose for humankind. Sadly, these children were lacking the support they needed, and were feeling too unworthy to even ask for it.
Souls thus targeted by bullies convince themselves that they are no good and somehow deserving of this treatment. Given they could not do it to someone else, they conclude no one would do it to them, unless they deserved it. So great becomes their shame, they might not dare even tell anyone what is happening to them, and what they are thinking to do in order to make it stop. This is so sad. The ones who are victimized and driven to suicide are fortunate in one sense – they have been released from the 3rd Emanation. With their new existence and the corollary diminishment of ego, they now know they did not deserve to be bullied. They now know that the ones who made them feel bad enough to commit suicide, are in fact the ones who were sorely deficient. That young eleven-year-old is probably right at this moment doing everything she can think of doing to ‘turn the corner’ and keep the bully from doing further violence to themselves and to others.
These victims of ego are now free. They are aware of who and what they truly are. They will be back one day, to help return the material world (and human societies) to proper balance. They will help to fix the disconnect among people, and between people and the environment.
People need to feel that they are worthy. People feel better about themselves when they feel included, when they do not feel condemned for being different, when they feel acknowledged, listened to, respected. No individual can feel this way if others cheat them, lie to them, ignore them, or dishonour them by presenting a face that is not their true face.
The top of Maslow’s hierarchy is Self-Actualization. Vitality, creativity, self-sufficiency, authenticity, playfulness, meaningfulness. It is interesting that Maslow has identified creativity as the individual’s highest achievement. Creativity is both an end in itself, and the means to an end. Creativity is both the expression of Love and an operative in the evolution of the universe.
The concept of self-actualization, plainly stated: As you could be, so you must be. These are the words of a Toastmaster World Champion, Mark Hunter. No society can apply this goal to only a fraction of its members and continue to be viable. Conversely, any society that maintains the goal of self-actualization for all of its members, will remain strong indeed, since, according to Maslow, all of the requirements for social stability must be met before the actualization of the individual can even happen.
Forming the intent to create a lasting state of joy for ourselves and for others, ensures success on all fronts. In doing this, we honour our responsibility and commitment to past and future generations. Please do not allow the noble natures and sacrifice of Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Mohammed (PBUH), John Lennon, and Jesus – and of all innocent victims of violence – to amount to so little as it appears these days.
What might Maslow have recommended for Canadian society, were he charged with the task of directing it? What follows is a series of specific steps we might consider taking, so that the citizens of Canada and of the world’s nations are enabled straight to the top of Maslow’s pyramid:
1 – Cultivate a non-egoic perspective of Community and of the World –
We must promote our innate social-consciousness to the forefront, while at the same time relegating the “egoics” to the backbench.
As we cultivate non-ego, we learn to discern right from wrong in a social context. We learn how best to get along with others, from members of our own family to strangers. We require fewer police officers, since fewer people will be committing crimes; in particular, violent ones. We avoid the social and national tragedy of the totalitarian police state. This is the direction in which we have been led by the Conservatives, and in a less obvious way, by the Liberals. Justin Trudeau may be the first Liberal exception to this claim, since his dear papa was guiding our nation.
Loci of community will emerge and thrive. Ego-manufactured suspicion, intolerance, and separation will no longer be a factor in human relationships. There will be safer, happier, communities. There will be fewer people marginalized. There will be fewer cases of addiction, mental illness, and suicide. Why? We people will be caring for and engaging one another; this to such an extent that the unhappy circumstances we see others living in will move us to tears, and then action. It will be as though it is happening to us. Unless I am mistaken in my belief in only one version of Canadian citizen, if it is happening to any of us, then it is happening to all of us. We will regard a community member’s misfortune as an SOS, and respond with offers of help, rather than turn our backs on them, putting their misfortune out of mind. It will also be an opportunity for individuals to take initiative, rather than passing everything off on the government and upon government institutions.
2 – Restore the Environment – If the Earth Mother cannot support us, we are in serious trouble. We must, with all our will, rescue the environment from ourselves. We will be saving ourselves in the process. To do this we must:
Reduce the global population to a sustainable level – we cannot continue with the business paradigm of growth, growth, growth. Nothing can grow forever. Inevitably, if a species does not experience periods of positive growth followed by periods of negative growth, the absence of the growth-decline cycle ensures extinction for the species. Cancer cells ‘know’ this. Our world can only absorb so much waste, and only so fast. We must reconcile human activity to the environment rather than continue fooling ourselves into believing that we can re-engineer the environment to accommodate even higher levels of human activity and waste. Hasn’t global warming and desertification taught us anything?
Invest in green energy solutions and innovation. Even if their original plans prove faulty, the fact that provincial governments in Ontario and Quebec, among others, are leaning “green,” shows they have taken the first bona fide step toward achieving green. If we seriously get going on this, without politicizing the issue, it might not be too late for us to develop technologies that will satisfy our energy requirements while allowing our dear Earth Mother the opportunity to heal Herself. Vision blended with commitment inaugurates a process of change that is both proactive and pragmatic. In thinking green, governments and citizens provide themselves an opportunity to take the lead in developing practical, long term solutions which the rest of the world can follow. As a bonus, an early start will provide commercial opportunity, down the road, while we act in defense of our planet. We need not persist in developing energy sources that poison and destabilize the environment, not to mention the world economy. Global warming, cancers, and disasters such as the Deepwater Horizon, the Valdez, and the human tragedy of Lac Mégantic – need I say more?
3 – Understand that Wealth is Not the Holy Grail –Money and the pursuit of wealth were never intended to be the endgame of social progress, but rather stepping-stones in support of the self-actualization of individuals and societies. A wonderfully safe, happy, and prosperous society is certain to arise out of the collaboration among self-actualized individuals. Business is required to fuel society’s engine. Business focuses on the generation of wealth. But societies do not exist only to create wealth anymore than individuals exist only to consume. There is much more purpose for us, and the societies we form, than that. Maslow has identified four more levels for us to navigate before we reach our ‘destination.’ The role of business is to provide the means to a much greater end than profit-making.
Society does not exist to support the goals of business; rather business exists to support the goals of society.
Societies around the world are economically polarized. The wealth at the top depends upon business and on the accumulation of capital; it is natural wealthy people should want society to be structured in a manner that facilitates these goals. Structuring a society according to the business model is wholly inappropriate to the success of society and of business processes within society.
4 – Embrace Diversity – The Francophone- Anglophone-Aboriginal plurality has historically provided Canada with a unique national character. It has been far from perfect for the Aboriginals, and it is for this generation of Canadians to offer whatever assistance our Aboriginal brothers and sisters need in order to become ‘all they have it in them to be.’
Canada is home to members of nearly every ethnicity and nation on Earth. We are still evolving and will soon become the very paradigm of collaboration, trust, and tolerance the entire world needs to follow in order to survive; or we will fail. The adage, United we stand, divided we fall, is not a ‘wouldn’t-it-be-nice’ kind of thing; in these days it is the formula for survival.
5 – Incorporate Consideration for the Future into the Initiatives of Today – What effect will the decisions we make now have on us twenty-five years from now? Fifty years from now? Even further into the future? And not only the choice to utterly reject the development of non-renewable resources. We need to include choices in behaviour as well. Specifically, we must make a choice to collaborate, not only across ethnic boundaries but economic-class boundaries as well. If we do not pool our resources and work collaboratively; if we do not choose peace over war, collaboration over coercion, tolerance over imposed uniformity, sometimes less over always more, a viable and sustainable environment over a conveniently manicured one, we doom ourselves. We must also work toward interspace travel since one day our Sun will supernovae and the Earth will be consumed, along with everything living on it. Long before that happens, odds are we will get walloped by a wayward asteroid. Long before that happens, we will have destroyed one another through war, exploitation, and exchanging appearance for reality at every possible turn. Do we really want the lack for trying to be our generation’s legacy to those who are living on the Earth at that time?
6 – Recognize that individuals are ultimately responsible for the world’s problems – In other words, if we do not clean up our own shops as individuals, then by extension humankind and the world will fare no better. The buck stops (but also begins) with each one of us.
7 – Restore our judicial system to its true purpose – Create a system of justice and government accountability which is based on deterrence and intent. This will involve rethinking our prison system.
Our justice system must be redesigned in order to serve its highest purpose: not rehabilitation, or retribution, but deterrence. No victim has ever been helped by punishing or reforming the perpetrator. What the perpetrator has done cannot be undone. It is best that the crime never happened in the first place. Describing what to do would require volumes. For the purpose of this writing I simply assert we will need to forego our egoistic sensibilities and realize that criminals in the penal system must be subjected to an arduous life -the kind of life no one would want – as proper reward for choosing to do what no victim wanted them to do. The human rights of violent criminals must be respected, however due consideration of the fact that they chose not to accord any such consideration to their victims must be given. The prospect of life in jail, as it is currently advertised, is just not cutting it. The prospect of a life in prison must so inspire fear among people that they it would be easy for them to choose not to do the crime. The quality of prison life must be commensurate with the crime’s effect. Those people who murder children, for example, should never have a life outside of prison, because they denied their victims any future at all. But society should not act as evilly as these people have done, and so the death penalty is not an option.
Gandhi has said, There are many causes for which I am willing to die; but none for which I am willing to kill.
No death penalty.
What sort of punishments could we consider? We might make the incarcerates do labour for several hours every day, perhaps making the length of the workday commensurate with the severity of the crime. We might render their accommodations and ‘free time’ more Spartan. The length of the prison term would of course match the crime. In the case of sexual violence, especially against children, the term must be natural life. By the perpetrator’s own hand, the child’s life is changed forever. If any such person claims they are ‘truly sorry’ for what they have done, and then asks for their own life back after a few years in prison, `a la Guy Turcotte, has done, how penitent can they really be?
Having said that, we protect everyone, from sinner to Saint, with our Charter of Rights and Freedoms/Canadian Human Rights Code (CHRC) – even those who do violence and murder to children. We protect child-killers from the abuse of their fellow inmates and custodians. This encourages more of these terrible crimes because the perpetrators know, even before they commit the crime, that they will be protected from anything similar being done to them in prison if they are caught. Although we Canadians believe that a truly progressive society will extend its values and support to even the most wretched among us, these values receive woeful misapplication when applied to the treatment of violent, predatory criminals. We ignore the reality of our current approach even as it sets the stage for the next wave of violence against the innocent. The notion of making life miserable for anyone is anathema to Canadians in general. This is very much to our credit; however, a life of ardour should not be construed as compounding the crime. Rather, we must see it as offering an avenue of atonement; one that the criminal may or may not choose. The ‘humane’ treatment of violent criminals is not helpful to anyone – even criminals are denied an opportunity which is best afforded in an arduous environment: the opportunity to fully and properly atone for what they did.
8 – Recognize that the application of business models to societies represents an inversion of natural processes –The apparent shift to the right in Canada and elsewhere is a fear-based, reactionary phenomenon; one which benefits no one. People in recent years experienced such heavy financial losses (especially among the middle class), that many now have chronic ‘economic-anxiety.’ This inclines us to give an ear to people like our erstwhile Harper neoconservatives -those who trump themselves up as being capable of making the hard economic decisions, for everyone’s good. It sounds good, but has all the substance of a corporate jingle.
What the neoconservatives really mean by “making the hard decisions” is to focus on certain parameters and demographics, while treating others as if they are of no consequence, or simply paying lip service to them. Anyone who was paying attention in Grade 8 Algebra knows if Z = X + Y, Z can only be equal to X if Y = 0. If we let X represents the Canadian business/investor classes, and Y represent all other Canadians, does anyone really imagine they can solve the equation by setting either X or Y to 0?
Canadian society cannot remain viable if it is governed in a manner that arbitrarily denies to its own citizens the support which, as members of society, they have self-evident right. This right is not self-evident in the world of ego. When we elected the Conservatives in 2011, we were not voting for something -to wit, the neoconservative vision; but rather against something – the status quo. Ironically, many of those who gave their trust to the neoconservatives in the last election are not any better off; neither are their children and loved ones better off.
You cannot allow the market to structure social policy. You cannot allow the market to determine the value of the individual –unless you look at other people as nothing more than commodities. Societies must structure business with one goal in mind: to enhance the opportunity and means for each member to get to the top of Maslow’s pyramid.
9 – Accept that socialism is not dead; rather the traditional egoic application of socialism by individuals and governments is on the way out – I watched two television pundits discussing the death of socialism. They were saying no one wants socialism; that socialism never worked. When they say, “no one wants socialism”, they mean until there is not enough food on the table to feed and clothe their children, or enough money to take their sick child to see a doctor, or permit them to play hockey, or go on to university or college, and make a better life for themselves and their families. I believe socialism’s past failures are not the result of some flaw which is systemic, but rather the result of the egoic misconstruction of the ‘welfare state’ by self-serving national leaders who saw socialism as a means to advance political agendas and social controls; in much the same way as religion has been used as a social regulator. Many here in the ‘West’ are no longer as motivated out of fear of God’s judgement as they appear to be by the possibility of missing a profitable opportunity.
These same pundits also agreed that “capitalism works, albeit not perfectly, but most of the time.” With respect to the times it does not work: we have children starving, young women earning a living on the street, homeless people, people stealing in order to eat, children growing up in a milieu of poverty, drug dependency, violence, crime, and no viable opportunity to make something better for themselves and for their children. This is not only unacceptable in a country as wealthy as Canada, it is criminal. We don’t see it that way, yet, but we will.
10 – Reverse Globalization’s Effect on the Working Poor -The working poor? Hello? For Canada and Canadian workers, Free Trade and Globalization have been a disaster, a disaster other government policies are compounding. We Canadians have adopted legislation to protect Canadian workers (employment, health and safety, unionized labour, human rights, and even privacy laws). We have adopted legislation to protect the environment, but are now facing direct competition with businesses in countries that have not. The cost of legislative compliance to Canadian businesses is huge. This creates a distinct competitive disadvantage for Canadian businesses vying for markets within Canada and around the world. In order to compete, Canadian businesses must keep production costs comparable to that of global competition. If the cost of materials is the same, and the cost of doing business due to government policies is fixed, then the only real opportunity for Canadian business to pare costs down into the global competitive zone is through reducing direct employment costs (wages and benefits, including retirement benefits).
Our environmental and employment-related laws have resulted in Canadian manufacturers opting to produce in underdeveloped countries where the cost of doing business is significantly less than at home. At one time, our manufacturing sector was the best-paying sector, with the capacity to employ the most workers.
Here is how globalization has played out thus far with respect to Canada and Canadians: We ship our value-added, job-creating, manufacturing capacity to the U.S. and Mexico and also overseas. We hope to make up for these losses by expanding the sectors of primary resource extraction, service, and retail. Most of the new jobs our government is creating to replace manufacturing sector jobs are in retail – the so-called “Mc-jobs.” Retail pays their workers less, much less, than value-added manufacturing is able to. This has directly resulted in the erosion of the middle class in Canada, widening economic inequality among citizens, and hyper-expansion of the fastest growing class of Canadian citizen: the working poor.
Canadian investment in China is driven by the need to avoid the costs of doing business associated with Canadian social and environmental values. The pursuit of profit is in nowise motivated by social conscience; were it so, investors would be loath to invest overseas, and governments loath to enter into trade agreements that provide greater advantage to people with ample funds to invest and spend, while further disadvantaging those who are struggling to provide for their children. They certainly would not invest in places where the workers are being treated badly. Would these investors tolerate their own families being treated in this way?
We, as a society of conscience, must avoid such blatant hypocrisy. Those countries with whom we establish a business relationship must be dedicated to achieving the Canadian standard of social conscience; otherwise Canadians are suborning the gross mistreatment of other human beings when we trade with them. The reality is, even at home, we are persecuting many Canadians by dooming them to a life of low pay, low benefits, and little or no opportunity for their children – children who happen to be our Canada’s future.
How do we address the effects of our own hypocrisy, among them, the plight of workers in other countries? Tariffs per se are not the answer, because they will invite strongly negative reactions from egoically minded trading partners and will hurt Canada economically. If we are unable to apply a naked tariff on goods entering Canada so as to provide Canadian manufacturers a fair playing field, might Canada adopt a different approach and achieve the same end? Could Canada discover a way to preserve the Canadian standard of social conscience at home and establish the Canadian standard of social conscience abroad?
Here is how we might accomplish this: we first determine the cost of doing business in Canada that is directly attributable to our labour and environmental controls. For each type of business, we determine a specific tariff; for example, in paper manufacturing, we might levy $50 CDN per tonne of newsprint we buy from China. The environmental portion of the tariff would be used to offset the cost of sending Canadian environmental contractors to China to implement the necessary technical upgrades to match Canadian environmental standards. The rest of the money collected from tariffs, that is, the portion that pertains to the fair treatment of workers, could be applied toward the continuance of humanitarian aid to every country that lacks the wherewithal (but not the commitment) to support social, environmental, and employment programs comparable to Canada’s.
The effect of this approach will promote global-market competitiveness while preserving (or building) people-oriented, socially-conscious societies, at home and around the world. This way is much more effective than bombing the heck out of people.
Rather than import the lower social and environmental standards of our competitors, let us export our higher social and environmental standards to the world.
11 – Tiering of Health Care and Other Services – We must abolish any sort of tiering of services. Unless I am mistaken, there is only one type of Canadian, and therefore no bona fide justification can exist for providing different levels of service to Canadians, determined by ability to pay. Healthcare, education, due process, and an adequate standard of living, are things a society must provide to all its members for it to be, and to remain, truly viable. Two-tiering is contrary to the direction in which human societies must evolve in order to remain viable. What we should do is:
- Adopt a user-fee system – where the total cost borne by the user does not exceed a certain percentage of their gross income. A supporting formula must be designed to accommodate the fact that some will need to avail themselves of more services than others.
- Adopt an effective sin tax – Simple. If you smoke, the price you pay for cigarettes will include the projected health care costs you will likely incur as a result of yours (and my) bad habit. If this renders cigarette manufacturing unprofitable, even better. An effective sin tax would also apply to alcohol use and alcohol-related crimes, to recreational marijuana use, to fast-food, and to driving your own automobile to work when public transportation is highly accessible. The formulae governing the sin tax structure would perhaps be similar to that which insurance companies use to establish rate structures.
- Reconsider our notion of universality. Limit universal benefits to those who need them. People retiring with savings or holdings above a certain threshold should not be paid CPP and OAS benefits even though they paid into it. They have been amply rewarded by Canada and by God in being able to retire on the fruits of their own labour.
12 – Establish a National Community Network That Is All-Inclusive -We simply cannot have people spending their whole time, just passing the time. We simply cannot have people going through life feeling as though they do not belong anywhere, that there is no place where they are welcome and may feel part of. The sense of community – a natural phenomenon in small towns – becomes lost for perhaps many individuals living in big cities. We need to re-integrate the marginalized, and not allow them to stay lost in the crowds. Everyone needs to belong somewhere. Involvement ensures that everyone is doing something which is of value to someone else. Anything which needs doing can be done by someone, and with all of the volunteering going on these days, perhaps some of the time pressure on volunteers could be relieved by mandating people having no other employ, but capable and with time on their hands, to perform these tasks. This type of work would of course be supported by a guaranteed minimum salary, sufficient to keep them above the poverty line; something every working-age, independently living Canadian should be entitled to. The administrative logistics of such a network may be discouraging; however I am hopeful that if we divide up the bigger areas into smaller scale administrative units, and allow these administrative units to establish their local job-priorities, we may yet create net value for individuals, for businesses, and for society.
There are compelling reasons to reinvigorate the family’s standing as the atomic building block of Canadian society. Societies of humans are as beholden to Nature and natural processes as animal societies are. Individuals are organized into families. Families are organized into communities. Communities are, in their turn, organized into counties, then provinces and territories; finally culminating in our dear Canada. Canada itself forms a part of a global organization of societies.
The Family is the first level of organization. Think about the significance of this for a moment…
No society or nation, built upon a crumbling foundation, is able to remain standing for long – any more than a brick which rests upon bricks that are crumbling is likely to stay in place. In social organizations, no level above that of the family can maintain viability if the family itself is not viable. The family represents the first level of social organization. It is the foundation upon which all societies must be built., and an unavoidable step in the spiritual evolution of individuals.
This is where the liberal philosophy has either gone awry or been hijacked: societies cannot be built directly from individuals any more than houses can be built directly out of grains of sand. There must be an intermediary step in the process. The family unit is that intermediary -the first stage agglomerative mechanism for viable societies. If we want children to grow up capable of forming durable connections with others, we must cultivate a milieu which favours this particular outcome. It is in family where newly born souls receive their first opportunity to learn about, and to experience, personal connections and hierarchical organizations. Their first socialization experience is framed in an environment of nurture. Members of your own family are, by nature, more emotionally invested with respect to your general wellbeing than they would anyone else’s, including their own. That is natural.
Imagine the death of a neighbour you are quite fond of, and note how that makes you feel. Then imagine the death of someone you care deeply for – perhaps one of your own children. Note how that makes you feel. Both will profoundly sadden you; however, the intensity and depth of sorrow you would feel for the loss of a neighbour, although it is great, cannot compare with what you would feel over the loss of your child; a loss you would carry with you for your entire 3rd Emanation sojourn.
The structure of hierarchies is such that any corruption at the top will diffuse into, and permeate the levels below. A society which is governed by ego-bound people cannot remain viable, because they will enact policies designed to weaken and ‘dissolve’ the family unit, for example. Governments given to ego believe that uniformity is desirable; when Nature teaches us that diversity and variability are a specie’s best defense against extinction.
The egoic interpretation of legislative power and social responsibility weakens the social fabric. Furthermore, no legislative system or system of government can be made immune to the abuse and wiles of ego. Efforts to cover ‘loopholes’ ultimately render them cumbersome and stultifying.
Oftentimes, as with the federal Conservatives ‘poison-pill’ approach to policy making, the corruption of ego is enacted into law and becomes institutionalized.[vii]
A society can only be as healthy as the individuals which comprise it, and only to the extent these individuals are working together. If the seedling is given proper support and nurture, it will grow straight and eventually produce good fruit for itself and for its neighbours. A healthy family milieu is the first step Nature and God have defined for the individual on the road to becoming happy and socially responsible.
[i] The quote is actually from the movie, Jesus of Nazareth, and is spoken by John the Baptist. It does not actually appear anywhere in the Judeo-Christian bible. The truth of this statement, is, however, irrefutable.
[iii] Cite properly: retrieved from mobile.brainyquote.com 30 October 2014. No title. Quotes appear by themselves.
[iv] Citation: St. Thomas Aquinas, the just war, Summa Theologica
[v] This figure is from a Star article, based on Stats Can info. There is a wonderful infographic provided by tvo (it’s on the phone and I’ll copy it into the info sources for this book). There is also the www.makepovertyhistory.ca which is quoting 3.5 million in poverty. Retrieved 30 October 2014.
[vi] I refer you to the writings of Thomas Piketty. His opus, Capital in the 21st Century, provides a thorough analysis of the problems the modern world is facing, and the way out. His suggestions are not an attack on the wealthy, or the employer classes. He simply notes that market capitalism is not self-regulating with respect to the distribution of wealth. At the risk of oversimplification: if an apple is taken to represent the Canadian economy, and the apple increases in size by g% every year(the rate of economic growth), and if the first bite taken from the apple every year is r% is the rate of return on capital, then if r > g, then that ‘first bite’ is growing faster than the apple itself is, and there is less and less of the apple remaining after that first bite, over succeeding years. That means there is less of the apple to be paid out in wages, government infrastructure and social programs, and the other things societies rely on their governments to do. Eventually, a war or social upheaval occurs, as a sort of economic ‘reset.’ The cycle delineated by Piketty has repeated itself throughout history, but there is a way to avoid the ‘hard boot:’ and Piketty’s book explains what to do. It preserves wealth but recommends a progressive tax on wealth, which can be structured to support small business, while obliging corporations to pay their proper share. Only progressive government policy, and financial transparency, nationally and globally, is required to avoid the misery and violence. This dubious pair are the certain outcome of wealth inequality. Wealth inequality is the certain outcome of an unregulated market capitalist economy. The progressive tax scales must be properly structured, but the overall strategy must be to tax so that r is always lower than g; that way, over time, more of the apple will be left to share among income from labour and production, and less of a bite taken by returns on investment, which can be ‘hidden’ from, and useless to, the economy and the nation.
[vii] I have in mind the Conservatives’ anti-terrorism legislation, Bill C-51. The ‘sugar’ of this poison-pill is measures facilitating a more pre-emptive approach to fighting jihadism. The poison is permitting law enforcement to do end runs around the constitution and charter, the things that define the Canadian spirit and vision, and also Canadian democracy.