Have you noticed how important individuals seem immediately following their birth and for the two or three months immediately prior to their death?
And for the rest of the time,...ho hum,... oh well,... we really are pretty busy, and we certainly don't want to interfere in another's life, by calling them up and asking how they are, now do we?
Individuals have become a means to an end, not an end in themselves! We seek them out when we need someone to "do" something like paint, clean, repair the house, the car, the cottage, the office; we seek them out when we need their professional services, when we are transacting a business deal needing legal expertise, or when we suddenly realize that we have a sore ________ (fill in the blank) and need to have a doctor/dentist/nurse practitioner/chiropractor/attend to our discomfort.
We also seek out individuals when we are interested in purchasing their "goods" like a piece of real estate, a car, an appliance, a travel vacation.
And, of course, there are still some who find, perhaps not exactly seek, others in neighbouring pews on Sunday or Saturday or Friday at church/synagogue/mosque.
However, for the most part, Canadians "stick to our own business" at the computer, or at the TV, or at the wheel of our vehicles...and interact when and if we are obliged to do so.
Attendance is generally down in churches; recruitment has virtually spiralled to zero in service clubs leaving perhaps our commitment to our child's athletic/artistic/employment/academic activities, and then we encounter others of a similar "bent" with a few common intersts.
Especially in the smaller villages and towns, there is still a lively interest in the health of our neighbours, especially when it takes a turn up or down. Those signals remind us of our own health and our place on the continuum of years.
And yet, certainly in North America, the eccentric has been either eliminated altogether, or has withdrawn to his/her private place, conscious of his own rejection perhaps most notably even by his family. After all, the families of today, being so driven to perfection and social status and social approval,(you never know when you might need a good reference!) wish no evidence of non-conformity to be associated with their good name. Conformity has reduced both the U.S. and Canada to what could be termed "high school lands," given the propensity for conformity in housing, in apparel, in auto and vacation selections, even in dietary choices...have you noticed the dramatic increase in fibre consumption and the obesity epidemic?
Watching an American evening newscast, one gets the impression that all viewers must be craving some new and more effective chemical injection/pill for some new and plaguing pain, or discomfort.
Like lemmings, we know we are drowning in our own effluent, including personal, corporate, chemical and industrial;
like lemmings, we know that western medicine is worshipping at the feet of the pharmaceutical companies (and in the U.S. the insurance companies)and yet we accept and support the "elevated" professional status of medical practitioners and their recommendations;
like lemmings, we know that war is wrong and yet we let our leaders walk into or up to the very edge of military engagement;
like lemmings we purchase more than we can comfortably afford;
like lemmings, we all wear sports/casual/relaxed and yet "upscale" wardrobes (at least as upscale as we can afford);
like lemmings, we gluttonously gulp/burn/unpackage fossil fuels and throw away more packaging and excess food than any other continent on the globe;
like lemmings, we circulate around the cocktail tables, and the club lounges "on the make" for a relationship, a deal, a piece of gossip, a network "contact" or simply a drink in which to drown our depression.
like lemmings, and led by the lemming media, we instantly point the finger and the tongue at anyone/organization/corporation that screws up, as if we are proud not be the latest target of public contempt without demonstrating a hint of compassion and/or forgiveness!
like lemmings, we are addicted to our own perfection, and sadly also to our own self-sabotage
Will we (Canadians and Americans) grow up before it is too late?
I remember, as a little kid, being asked, and not so rhetorically, "If everyone went down to the town dock and jumped off, and drowned, would you follow and do the same?" To which I answered, obligingly and obediently,"No."
I wonder if anyone else was ever asked that question...seriously.