By James Breckenridge. Watching the report of someone who had gone around Abbotsford the day before the Legion had gone around to collect the funds raised by the Legion’s annual Remembrance Day poppy campaign, I was struck by the wilful denial, the self-delusion reflected in the media coverage of this misappropriation of poppy monies.

The tone of the report, and of the individuals in the report, was of surprised indignation and self-righteousness.

The fact that it was considered surprising, coupled with indignation and self-righteousness, highlights the extent to which wilful denial and self-delusion have become an integral part of people’s, of society’s mindset.

I saw no reason for surprise given the fact the actions of the thief were aligned with the behaviours and mores of the society that Canadians have built; a society which Canadians for the most part, given the lack of contemplation and deliberation on the nature of our society seem, for the most part, happy with.

After all why would anyone be surprised that a member of a society where selfishness, not caring about the needs of others [and society itself], doing whatever will put the most $$$$ in their own pockets and maximize the ‘stuff’ they have, be surprised someone misappropriated the poppy funds to those same ends for themselves?

Yes, I know.

Which is why I spoke of the extent to which wilful denial and self-delusion have become an integral part of people’s, of society’s mindset.

The reality of a society doesn’t lie in the one off or special circumstances, it lies in the day in and day out grinding it out; not in the ‘I like or agree with this’ but in the ‘I don’t like, don’t really want to do this’; not in the ‘convenient’ but in the ‘royal pain in the ass’.

The bottom line of a society lies in its willingness and ability to face the hard facts, face the uncomfortable facts of reality and on a daily basis grind it out.

It is easy to be generous of spirit when a super typhoon slams into the Philippines; it is a lot harder to be generous of spirit to the annoying, aggravating drunk whose behaviour it is so tempting [and so easy] to judge.

Wilful denial, self-delusion provide comfort by allowing people to ignore that our society is created not by some mysterious ‘Others’ but by ourselves; the sum of our day in and day out behaviours, choices, decisions and actions is what results in, defines, our communities; the sum of the behaviours, choices, decisions and actions of communities give rise to our municipal, provincial and federal communities/society.

Have we become incapable of understanding that a shared locality [Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada] is not the community that gives rise to a healthy, desirable society or is it simply so much easier to define community, society based on a shared locality?

Do we lack the perception to understand that when we speak of society, ‘community’ must be inclusive rather than the destructive divisiveness of ‘community’ that refers only to those who share common characteristics or interests?

Does the fact we accept, embrace and vote for leadership that legislates and promotes the race to the bottom mean we have become a society that is incapable of the pursuit of excellence, of being the best we can be?

Let’s put this in terms of the society we have chosen to build, the society we continue to build.

In our pursuit of greedy self interest we have inflicted, and continue to inflict heavy damage on the health and nature of our economy. The economy our standard of living depends on.

Now politicians, their sycophants, corporations, business and the wealthy currently have a certain protection from the damage that has been inflicted on our economy – to this point.

The rest of us, the majority of Canadians, have watched our standard of living fall, debt escalate and the prospect of retirement evaporate.

No amount of wilful denial and self-delusion will change the economic reality that for the majority of Canadians their quality of life and standard of living will continue to fall without a major change in behaviour.

Now there is Irony with a capital I. Our self-centered greed has resulted in an economic reality where self-centered greed demands we act with consideration for others if we are to have any hope of simply maintaining our quality of life and standard of living.

Only through consideration of the effects of our actions on others can we stop the deterioration of the economy that everyone’s future, including politicians and the wealthy, depends on.

We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately. Benjamin Franklin

There are those who assert that human nature is such that we are incapable of striving for excellence and choosing to make ethical behaviour a primary consideration in how we act. That human nature condemns us to continue our race to the bottom – until we inflict so much damage on the economy it implodes.

Perhaps they are right and in demanding that we as a society, as Canadians, abandon our race to the bottom and strive for excellence, balance, thoughtfulness, common sense [which isn’t very common] ethics and spirituality I am tilting at windmills.

So be it. If I am condemned to living in the hell we are building I am going to have to be dragged kicking, screaming and fighting every millimetre of the way into that hell.

For more What’s Up With That? please look under Pop Voice in our Opinion Section or simply click here.

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