Dragons... does anyone really give a damn?

This is a series of pictures that put into context (in a way) what I have been discovering about people's perceptions of almost every issue. One of the first two pictures I presented back on December 14th in my first posting was actually the number 2 of this 4 pic series... take a look. They were all taken within seconds of each other. The top one here caught my attention because of the intensity of the colour. The #2 was just an adjustment to the lens to contextualize the original and the other two pictures allowed me to memorialize what Mother Nature was really showing us. To me they let 'us' see the Dragon for all of its Power, and maybe the 'quip' that the Devil is In the Detail. When I posted the other pic in the series, we probably couldn't see the dragon... actually, some may not see it now.

In the three weeks since I started posting here we have had several hundred visits to the blog. I have had about thirty emails and we have around ten comments on the blog. In addition, I have had countless conversations about the subjects of the blog, and others that I am hoping to post in the future. When I look at what I have learned from the exchanges, it comes down to the series of four pictures I took last summer... there are many ways to look at the same issue or idea.

The different viewpoints must cause a quandary for those elected to represent us in the legislature and parliament. It seems to me that to get elected the candidates must present them selves as all things to all people... and then have to choose between the details of the promises in order to move legislation forward. Perhaps that is the way it has been and maybe has to be.

On the other hand, when I listen to parents complain about the very poor quality of education available in the schools in Nova Scotia; family members complain about the lack of long term care beds in the province; almost everyone complain about the Young Offender's Act and practically everything else that comes up in conversation... I have to wonder if we are getting the options from the different parties in Nova Scotia... whether we are getting leadership, or lip service. It also makes me wonder if anyone cares one way or the other.

One of my friends and mentors who reads this blog (I think he likes the pictures) indicated to me this weekend, that perhaps I am wasting my time posting this blog. In reality, I am only communicating with a few hundred people, about half in Nova Scotia. There are another nine hundred thousand in the province that will not be a part of this discussion. Will it do any good to convince just a few that it is worth driving slower, or fewer miles; will it move people to lose weight or stop smoking if there are only a very few listening. I actually think my friend is correct, it will do little practical good. But at the same time, we can consider as individuals how we can improve our own lot in life, or our relatives' and friends' lots. We can do this through dialog, debate, and perhaps a vote here or there. We can also participate in the actual process, particularly those of us who have the time to do it.

This province has not moved forward in fifty years, compared to the rest of the world. That might be quaint for us today, but what about our children. Where will they go for their jobs? Who will be caring for the boomers when we are in need of a bed pan?

My friend agreed to let me quote from another part of his email to me about the current state of affairs in the province, based on a report recently published by the Greater Halifax Partnership... he wrote:

You wrote about changing attitudes in Nova Scotia. My attitude is a bit discouraged at the moment. Last week I received the January 2008 copy of the Nova Scotia Business Journal inserted in my Globe and Mail. In it is a report of a presentation of the Greater Halifax Partnership to HRM Council. To wit -
- young people are leaving
- the port's container traffic is down
- the Feds are shedding jobs
- the Black community hasn't been tapped into
- attitudes towards growth aren't great
- there's inadequate office space
- immigration is necessary but its acceptance is controversial
At times I just get overwhelmed by the immensity of the change that has to occur and the rapidity at which it is required to do so

I would like to hear from you about what you really think about the potential to change things here in Nova Scotia. Should we just roll over and let the political leadership stay in power to collect their pensions and do nothing? Should I just fold up the tent and enjoy what time I have left, doing the things retirees do... what ever that is? Come on people, what do you think, and put it on the comment pages below.



Max & Wink said…
Who's to say that changing even one person's life isn't worth the effort?

Maybe your mentor/friend is projecting his discouragement onto you and your blog.

Retirees DO change the world for better or worse, look at Germany which is seriously concerned about the drag old guys have on the German economy. This is the future retirees share in their respective societies.

So to earn their right to exist on the planet and consume limited resources, so-called retirees need to be optimistic, elders who understand the history of their culture and can impart guidance and wisdom, people who have nothing to risk in speaking out.

Fortunately people with your friend's kind of pessimistic attitude are statistically apt to die younger than those who have meaningful work and are making a positive contribution to the world. So do you want to follow this curmudgeon into the grave? Or do you want to have fun and live longer?

We can't imagine someone with all that Bruce has to contribute sitting on the sidelines and watching things fall apart around him. So you might as well give up that fantasy and get on with it. The Nova Scotia problems mentioned "-young people leaving, etc" are the same facing the USA. The pendulum is starting to swing the other way. We are adding our ballast to that movement and applaud Bruce and others like him who are weighing in for positive change.
Yknev said…
Hi Bruce,

Thanks to Dr. Rajaraman for forwarding your blog message to me. I share the concerns that you have expressed in the blog. And I also see that there is an awakening happening right now in Halifax, that is a good sign. There are certain things which are in the control of every well wisher of Halifax/Nova Scotia and there are certain things which we don't control.

To begin with, we can start doing our bit - when and wherever possible let us talk about a positive attitude towards growth, let us talk the good things that Immigrants have to offer, let us try and educate others about the value of diversity in workplace etc. These are the things that anyone with a little good intention can do. As for young people leaving the region, they will come back when the time is right. It is a symptom that shows that there needs to be more opportunities here. Let us not attack the symptom, let us look at the cause. Let us create opportunities that will keep our young minds here.

The Port's traffic is cyclical. It will pick up soon and there are a lot of people working towards that, including myself:-)

Keep up the good work. Let us write and speak about the things that we care about. I am sure we will be listened.

H, Big H, Hey U said…
A bit pessimistic - no? I believe that when things get to be the worst, whatever that is, people will situp and start change. Looks like you are just about there.

I would suggest that maybe it is time that you start to think about not joining and changing a party but maybe sitting down with like minded individuals and starting something new, exciting and worth while. We have known since we were kids how politics are in NS. Preston Manning and other like minded people started a new party in Alberta. Maybe not the best but it shows it can be done - maybe not by you and your friends but the seeds could be planted and change will come. Go find the best - see what you can do for the future of NS.

Go for it - the very least it will keep you busy.

Jeannie said…
First, thank you Bruce for developing your blog and providing a forum for Nova Scotians to discuss issues and offer opinions and suggestions.

Second, I've reduced my speed to within 10 km of the speed limit and comitted to staying under 110 km/h - That's the kind of direct impact you alone - one person can have.

But, I've spoken about the topics in your blog to 5 or 6 people and I'm sure others have done the same. If your blog does nothing else, it's a springboard for discussion in other offline venues.

By the way, I was shocked, so shocked by the photos you posted regarding your surgery. It's brave to share your experience with us that way. Thank you. I've told many people about how during your personal journey with cancer you kept friends informed by way of detailed emails and how your honesty through that somehow made us feel much better. Ironic that you had to help us when all everybody wanted was to help you.

Now with regard to this particular blog item...

I'm going to rant for a bit, so like Puck in a Mid Summer Night's Dream, I'll ask for your indulgence and apologize if my performance offends...

If change is going to happen, I believe it needs to be initiated by the business community and the citizens of Nova Scotia. If some well respected citizens could be encouraged to come together, brainstorm and develop a number of possible future scenarios (good and bad - 20 years out) and then this group could take these scenarios to Town Hall Groups throughout the province to get their input on what needs to happen to ensure we develop the future we want. (And be educated about what will become of us if we don't.) Then we could force politicians to speak to the issues we as citizens have identified and hold them accountable by justifying their actions relevant to moving us toward a future we say we want. (In reality, I think politicians would quietly welcome such action - we would actually empower them to make change instead of tying their hands)

During this process, educational materials/programs would need to be developed to explain to town hall groups why old ways won't work. Show why our health care system is eventually going to collapse, why our prejudices regarding immigration not to mention attitudes towards Nova Scotian minorities will hold us back and why our education system will eventually ensure that our children must move away to succeed - we have to learn that we're not competing against Upper Canada or Quebec or the United States. We're competing against the world. We have to accept the new reality. The world is in our backyard and this is where our children will play and work.

Politicians get a bad rap - they are damned if they do and damned if they don't. Why would anyone want to be a politician? We're handcuffed by our own system of 4 years. You can't design, implement and see positive results in the economy in that short period of time. Changes to our Health care and educational systems are going to take 5-10-20 years anyway.

I had a meeting with a young (42), successful entrepreneur on Friday last week. He has spent 20 years making money and just recently he was shocked (in a positive way) when someone introduced him to social capitalism and the ability of business to make a difference. He is now, for the first time ever starting to think about what he is able to do (something beyond how much more money he can make). He has some phenomenal ideas about re-inventing education. This many is a good indication that the brains needed to make change already exist right here at home.

We already have all it takes. We have to stop criticizing and underestimating ourselves. In order for people to feel empowered, they have to believe in their own ability. If you read anything on leadership (which I know you have), you find that there are some natural leaders, there are leaders who have the role thrust upon them and there are those who learn how to lead. We need to teach these skills. Acknowledge and reward leadership among our young people.

Nova Scotians need to stop criticizing each other - stop begrudging each others successes. When are we going to learn to be proud for others? to be happy for another's good fortune?

As Nova Scotians, we have stuff we should be proud of (Pugwash Conferences not least among them) Nova Scotians have made a difference on the world stage. Many But few Nova Scotians could name any. There are many Nova Scotians that go away and make good, we have ability! We need to create our own opportunity!

If momentum for change is going to build and an appetite for change grip this region then politicians should follow and business people and educators should lead.

The challenge is to find the core group that will spearhead such an initiative. A leader to start the process of assembling a core group of broad minded and innovative individuals passionate about this province, passionate about change and ensuring the future success of what we hope will be the home of generations of Nova Scotians to come.

Who are our innovators? Who are our potential leaders? How are we going to identify them? How are we going to convince them that we need and want good leadership? How are we going to support them when they take up the challenge? Maybe if Nova Scotians were really behind our leaders, maybe they'd have the guts to dare to dream or better yet...dare to act.


I'm a product of my environment so I'll end by again appologizing for the outburst.

Referencing Lucy Maude Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables - I know my tongue must be hung in the middle it waggs so but if you only knew how many things I think and never say then you'd appreciate the degree of self control I'm demonstrating. Jean

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