Life is a four letter word
So is love……………..
Life is a four letter word
So is love……………..
This is a little more local than I usually post but it is my column for the newspaper this week. In Canada we do not have to register as a Conservative or Liberal or NDP or a member of the Green Party–we get to vote for whomever we please. In municipal politics in my town we vote for five councillors, a mayor and deputy mayor. I have been a municipal reporter on and off for 30 plus years. Hope this does not bore you–but I think that there are a few good points in here that if followed would make any election or the voter better.
“It doesn’t matter how you vote, just make sure you vote.” – Oldest bromide in Broadcasting
I cherish my right to vote. Yes, you heard me right—I cherish it. And I do my homework before I vote—I consider my options, who best answers my concerns, and who I believe in. As I have mentioned before, I am a died-in-the-wool non-partisan voter, and I believe that I have voted for all the major parties at one time or another. Though I do admit to favouring one above the others, I consider the times, the promises, and the person or people making the promises before I cast my vote.
An opinion piece I found truly enlightening appeared in the local daily this week, written by an economics prof at McGill University by the name of William Watson. Titled: “It really is best to let sleeping voters lie”, he does not agree with the above captured bromide that “It doesn’t matter how you vote, just make sure you vote”. Watson has put some thought into his view, saying “If…. people feel they really haven’t been paying attention and aren’t familiar enough with the issues or the candidates to make a considered judgment, well, I’d be inclined to thank them for staying out of the decision-making they don’t feel themselves qualified to participate in.”
We will be hosting two elections this year in Ontario—a provincial, possibly in the spring and our municipal election in the fall. I think of the two elections as different beasts. In municipal politics, you are generally going to know at least some of the candidates—they will be your uncle, or cousin, grandma or good friend (the combinations of course are endless) and you will have some idea of how they stand on issues. But you will not know all the people who are going to run—and these are the people who are going to be making some decisions that will be pretty important to you. We need to find out more about these people and consider whether we want them in office – have they made themselves aware of municipal policies; do they have a good head on their shoulders; or are they just trying to find something that will bide their time?
To be fair, most people who run for municipal office care about where they live—but they need to have a balanced view of the whole municipality. Over the years I have sat in hundreds of council meetings, in Leamington, Gosfield South, and Kingsville (for the last 15 years) and I think I am a pretty good judge of what makes a good councillor, deputy-mayor, and mayor. First of all, I am very impressed with people who are thinking about becoming candidates when they attend the council meetings long before they decide to run. And then I am impressed by those who throw their hat in the proverbial ring and start to attend the meetings to find out the mechanics of the job they are vying for. I like it when people educate themselves taking nothing for granted. Because I have been attending council meetings since 1981 (first as a stringer for CHYR Radio, then on and off at the Reporter) I know that these meetings can be long, some of the issues none too tantalizing, and the seats uncomfortable after about two hours. But the meetings can also be lively; you can see where your representatives stand on issues when they comment; and you can learn more about the place you have set down roots.
Provincial politics are a whole different game. The stakes are a bit higher. The degree of harm the government can do reaches millions, not thousands—so we should give serious thought about who we vote for. I am of the same ilk as Professor Watson and believe as he does that: “If, as a rule, people don’t pay any attention to politics, they should think twice about whether they want to cast an uninformed vote. And we should think twice about encouraging them.” I will give him the last word on this and a thumbs up. Voting without being somewhat informed is like having seatbelts in your car and not using them.
Next week: some lighter fare—what’s in your refrigerator (not your wallet—that is much too personal)
Melt, thaw, freeze, snow, wind
Rain, fog, ice, shy sun, clouds cry
Spice of life: winter
Heavy boots trudging
Through demanding sludgy snow
No lightness of step.
“Know the rules well, so you can break them effectively.” ~ Dalai Lama XIV
Admit it—sometimes life is just that little bit too complicated and we need a ready-made set of rules in order to navigate. But sometimes we don’t. Need rules. Sometimes we get a little rebellious and want to break a few rules. That is why I bought the book, “The Rules to Break” by Richard Templar.
Well, I must say I am disappointed as the rules he “allows” us to break are then followed by other rules—so in essence I was not getting the freedom from rules that I was looking for. I was lured into buying the book by the Introduction which started out in a positive light in terms of what I was looking for. He said:
“When you’re young you’re told all sorts of things; the best things in life are free, familiarity breeds contempt, patience is a virtue. And others personal to your own family or teachers…..Trouble is these principles, given as ‘advice’ from well-meaning people often aren’t true.”
Alrighty then (I channel Jim Carrie sometimes), this guy is onto something I thought (a thought that turned out be somewhat premature). He had me with: “So here are the so-called rules that I encourage you to break…” but then he bursts the bubble of rebellion by saying: “At the end of each entry, I offer you a more reliable replacement or proper rule….” Apparently we can break rules as long as we replace them with other rules. I should have known there was a catch. Templar seems as ensnared by rules as the rest of the world–as long as they are his rules.
Rules are valuable—they give us structure, they point us in the right direction, and they govern us. What I do not like about rules is that they sometimes control us to the point where we no longer think for ourselves. Templar states that the message he is trying to get across in his book is to “Think”—“question everything you’ve been taught, and don’t live by other people’s rules until you’ve considered whether you agree with them.” Okay, I am starting to warm up to the guy. He says that we should give rules “a poke to see if they really do pass muster.”
Playing games would not be the same without rules (though I have been known to make up a few especially in Scrabble). Chaos would reign without the rules of the road; and cooking (even the kind that I do) needs some kind of road map. But these are not the rules I take issue with. Albert Einstein is purported to have said: “You have to learn the rules of the game. And then you have to play better than anyone else.” Since he was a bit of a genius I am thinking there may be some wisdom to his words.
Here are a few other words of wisdom having to do with rules—choose your favourite:
1. “Hell, there are no rules here—we’re trying to accomplish something.” – Thomas Edison (a light bulb moment brought by the guy who invented it.) Given that he lit the world as we know it by introducing *“the world’s first economically viable system of centrally generating and distributing electric light, heat and power….” I think he can be forgiven for tossing aside a few rules.
2. “Civilization has too many rules for me, so I did my best to rewrite them.” – Bill Cosby. A man of many honorary degrees, Dr. Cosby uses his wit and wisdom to beguile us still. The purveyor of Fat Albert and those iconic words of wisdom and compassion: “Hey, hey, hey….”over the years he has persuaded us to be kind and change the status of the underdog from loser to winner.
3. Marilyn Monroe (that philosopher of unrecognized truths) and Kate Hepburn (one of my favourite actresses) seem to be of the same mind when it comes to rules. Marilyn is reputed to have said: “If I’d observed all of the rules, I’d never have got anywhere” and Kate pipes up with “If you obey all the rules you miss all the fun.”
I am sure you have your own set of rules, and rules you have broken, and I have no argument with either. Some rules are reasonable and following them is prudent, even shrewd. While not all rules are meant to be broken, many need sober second thought or as Franklin D. Roosevelt said: “Rules are not necessarily sacred, principles are.”
End of lecture—class dismissed—now go out and break a few rules—but keep your principles intact.
*Gerald Beals, author of The Biography of Thomas Edison.
Take the time to read this–it is well worth it and may bring back some memories or create some new ones for you……….
I grew up near the banks of the Blanchard River. Our house was at the top of a hill, our farm was gently rolling, and looking out our kitchen window to the east was a field that we called “the riverbottom”. It was a wet field, frequently flooded. It was definitely not our best producing field because often the crops would get washed out early in the season when the spring rains came fast and hard. In the summer a heavy thunderstorm would cause flooding of crops trying to grow and mature, and in the fall, when harvest was near, any rains would make it difficult to move the harvesting equipment into that area. No amount of tile could change Mother’s Nature’s drainage plan so my Dad learned not to expect much out of that particular part of the field.
The southern border of that field was marked by…
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Candy is dandy
Liquor is quicker ~ Ogden Nash
Torn, bedraggled, and tattered
Create today’s quilt.
I am reblogging this as I need to be reminded of the wisdom and to stay relatively calm if I want anything done.
Forbes: How Successful People Stay Calm:
TalentSmart has conducted research with more than a million people, and we’ve found that 90% of top performers are skilled at managing their emotions in times of stress in order to remain calm and in control. If you’ve followed my work, you’ve read some startling research summaries that explore the havoc stress can wreak on one’s physical and mental health. The tricky thing about stress (and the anxiety that comes with it) is that it’s an absolutely necessary emotion. Our brains are wired such that it’s difficult to take action until we feel at least some level of this emotional state. In fact, performance peaks under the heightened activation that comes with moderate levels of stress. As long as the stress isn’t prolonged, it’s harmless.
While I’ve run across numerous effective strategies that successful people employ when faced with stress, what follows are ten of…
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