Choosing our own path forward

I believe that it’s good to be aware of what’s happening in the world, but it’s best to focus one’s efforts and resources on building a sustainable life style while ensuring the health of the small part of the planet one inhabits. However, it’s difficult to stand by quietly as our democratically elected leaders attempt to block true progress in the name of so-called economic development.

I shudder when reminded that solar and wind energy projects were abandoned at great taxpayer expense in favour of fossil fuels and nuclear power.

Something is very wrong when protected lands and endangered species are considered obstacles to progress.

Of all the carbon sinks on earth, trees are the most effective, easy to plant and conserve. A small child can plant a tree, watch it grow throughout their life and leave it behind to live on throughout the lives of their children and grandchildren. Trees, like all green vegetation, breathe in carbon dioxide and turn it into biomass. They usually live for well over a century and during those years capture a phenomenal amount of carbon and in return give us oxygen, food, building materials, and shade. Trees stabilize soil, absorb water, moderate temperatures and provide vital habitat. We learned all this in school. Why then do our “well-educated” leaders cancel a program like “50 million trees” which has been working with landowners to reforest vacant land and provide an effective long-term solution to our climate crisis?

Then there is a question of moving fossil fuels to market. I don’t think there’s any doubt that pipelines are safer than railway transport. But why is the demand for fossil fuel around the world increasing when scientists from all countries have determined that the burning of fossil fuel is responsible for climate change? It’s not someone else’s problem. We’re all in this together. Reduced demand is the best way to get powerful investors and lobbyists to use their billions to invest in green energy rather than extracting more fossil fuel.

Conservation authorities across Ontario have provided valuable services and leadership at a local level. Many of the lands they oversee were donated by private landowners in good faith. They are instrumental in ensuring the health of our watersheds and do the work necessary to help mitigate flooding and provide leadership during times of drought. If they have such an important role to play, especially at this time when climate change is bringing more severe weather, why are they considered superfluous and in the way of progress?

Why are educators under attack when the only hope for civilization is the nurturing and education of our youth? Children are society’s most precious resource and deserve our attention and utmost respect. We need to listen to them, facilitate learning, and provide all the resources and support they need to thrive. Rather than cut any services to children, we need to increase emphasis on outdoor play, outdoor education and life skills. We need to encourage collaboration rather than competition. What we can’t afford to teach them is how to maintain the status quo. Perhaps the children can teach us a thing or two about taking a whole new approach.

When we cut services to the most vulnerable in society, we damage society as a whole.

There is something sinister about leaders who appear to undermine the work being done on the front lines. It is disturbing that the people in government who were elected in good faith can do harm to the people they are here to serve. We expect them to be fully aware of the challenges ahead and show foresight, vision and leadership.

It seems that those who govern are merely puppets of the very few who were never elected but do whatever necessary to hold immense power behind the scenes.  

It takes a very special public servant and elected official who constantly reminds themselves of the true function of their position, to put the good of the whole ahead of the ambitions of a few privileged individuals, to stay focused on the big picture and see beyond the end of their own nose.  Too often, what we see is a blatant betrayal of trust and abuse of power.  We see leaders who prefer to ignore the science and demonstrate absolutely no wisdom or vision.

The onus is clearly on the individual to make a difference.  Governments come and go but ultimately the power lies within each one of us to use our insights, knowledge and vision to take the initiative that moves society forward. 

We need to move forward in spite of government. We can’t count on effective leadership from our elected officials.

Our true leaders are those who are quietly supporting biodiversity, planting trees, reestablishing natural areas, and providing habitat to species that are succumbing to the overwhelming threat posed by so-called progress.  Our greatest leaders are those who have learned that true fulfillment comes from within. This makes it unnecessary to seek social status and acknowledgement, buy more stuff and travel to more places.

When I was a child, I had the good fortune of knowing a couple who lived in the town nearby.  They both worked in a local factory and would get there by bus.  At home, they gardened their tiny lot that was bursting with fruits and vegetables.  They had bee hives on their little piece of land and set up more on our farm.  Their tiny house had only the bare essentials.  They never owned a vehicle.  They would take what others considered trash and turned it into compost, structures and useful items. 

He was an innovator and philosopher.  She was practical, down-to-earth and never wasted a thing.   They knew the value of living simply and understood the essence of living in harmony with Nature. They appeared to be out-of-place in the community, but their influence on me has been profound.  They represent the true leaders in our communities who demonstrate, not on the streets, but in their way of living.

We can’t count on government to provide leadership in moving society forward.  But we have the power to help create a caring society that sees itself as part of Nature.  We can collectively choose a new path with the government in tow.

Published by Natural Themes Farms

A small scale farm located in Frankford, Ontario specializing in working with nature to grow and sell: * North American trees, shrubs, wildflowers, vines and ferns. * fruits and vegetables, grown without the use of chemical fertilizers or pesticides.

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