This week has brought two first anniversaries that I am familiar with that started last August – the 21st and 22nd to be precise. The first event was the tornado in Goderich, Ontario. This was the only tornado I have ever decided to be present for, without my advanced knowledge that it would occur. I had plans to visit Goderich for a week, and arrived there just 26 hours before the water spout came up from Lake Huron and swirled through Goderich causing much destruction to its buildings, and plenty of shock and other emotions of its community members. The hydro was out for several days, and citizens had a lot of work ahead of them in the wake of the F3 that tried to mess with the town (with only temporary success; the town has endured and will continue to endure much longer than any Tornado. It was inspiring to see the community come together and work to rebuild the town, through initial clean up such as clearing away trees and bringing some semblance of order to a disorderly situation to ensuring those who became homeless had the basic necessities available to them. Still months after, on Thanksgiving weekend (the Canadian one in October 2011), the town was coming together as a community, with the Out of the Storm benefit concert that lasted all day on October 8, 2011 with many entertainers as well as vendors selling food, beverages and souvenirs etc. The day of the concert was much different weather-wise; it was nice and sunny, warm and peaceful. About a year after the storm, on Sunday, August 19th, Goderich saw Windstock, another kind of concert/celebration. This time featuring bands such as local bands Fermented Oranges and Builder Refused who have played local pubs and such together on more than one occasion. When the music is alive and well, we unite as one and come together for the sake of community; in this case in somewhat of a rebirth of Goderich.
The day after this event, on August 22, 2011, Jack Layton passed away from cancer. He was the leader of the NDP party of Canada, during the election that brought the party to Official Opposition status in the current parliament. The fact that the party went from generally a third place win in an election to second place, being Official Opposition, says something about his leadership and his ability to draw the public toward him—his charisma. Some may not have liked him, and others may not have liked his party, still others may disagree with both. But many people came together in community during the 2011 Canadian Federal Election to try and bring the NDP into power as a voice for change. They elected 103 seats, in what was dubbed “the orange wave.” His final message through his letter is very inspiring to remember, and also seems as though it fosters community growth/development: “My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.”
These qualities are crucial to building stronger community and a more positive society I would say. If we’re always angry at each other, how will we ever be at peace? If we’re always fearful, how will we ever do so much as approach anyone, for fear that they will hate or reject us? If we’re living in despair, where is the hope of a better tomorrow? Thus, it is best to “be loving, hopeful and optimistic” to make the world a better place to live. Perhaps there is something in this about why I prefer not to label myself politically or otherwise for that matter. There are connotations that go along with labels, things that separate me from you. Instead I have some values/beliefs that may or may not fit within any particular political boundaries. I do believe it is the right thing to vote, because we can only get the best representation of what the country wants through as much participation as possible, but to me it is more about who I believe would make a good candidate than about which party they stand for (or not, since theoretically a person requiring the use of a wheelchair could be the best candidate and they wouldn’t necessarily stand at all—but they may still use the language of “standing for” something.)
I believe that we should all be independent and strive to achieve all that we want in our lives. When we run into tough times, after working hard and not quite getting where we are yet, those around us should realize our efforts and stick by us in times of need. I get caught up in the (ultimate) brain debate of money vs. happiness whereby I confront the concept of working for money or working for enjoyment and achieving money on the side. I think of all the expenses that exist in modern day Western society and think a high paying job may just be the answer to everything. But wait, there’s my mental health–my happiness, joy, and genuine satisfaction in life. Where would that be, if I had that high paying job to pay for all the perks of the Western world in the 21st century? It would be probably non-existent, or severely lacking is my guess. I’m starting to ponder what community would have been like back in other civilizations of the past, or even different cultures. I also ponder whether the technological advances that may have brought the civilization of Atlantis to an end were anything connected to community and the coming together or lack thereof in the civilization.
I’d love to hear others’ thoughts on this post, because I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s thought of money vs. happiness, or been in situations where this competition arises in life. I’m also probably not the only one that has an interest in, or ponders life in ancient civilizations. I’ve read some about them but not a whole lot at this point, so there may be more answers I just have not stumbled upon yet.