I for one love living in Canada. Not wealthy by any means, but with pensions and seniors benefits and a little diligent financial planning, I will in all likelihood spend the rest of my days comfortably. Although it took a lot of years of patient endurance to achieve it, I’ve never really had to do without.
All through my working life I was able to help others not as wealthy, or by our standards, impoverished. Often, we pat ourselves on the back, or others would do it for us because we helped folks all over the world. Do you know that this country holds the record of the most donated dollars per capita in the world?
In our travels on Vancouver Island, we were able to spend time at a B&B near Comox where I started this story. We met up with others who like us are retirees with a lot of time on their hands. The couple that run the B&B have developed an acre of land into a small park with paths through gardens that put a lot of city parks to shame. It was an awesome experience to get up early as I usually do, grab a cup of jo, then take a leisurely walk around the beautiful grounds in the morning sunshine.
As I was enjoying this relaxation time with friends and family, it hit me that in this fair land we are ever so blessed with a wealth great enough that allows us to spend so much time and money just to do nothing for days on end while so many in the world cannot. I don’t mean to cast a pall on where our lives are at right now in Canada, but I do feel that we should never forget others who are not as fortunate.
It has made me think of the fact that in almost all department stores we can buy goods and clothing dirt cheap; made by people, (including children), who work long hours in terrible conditions, earning only pennies a day. Whereas we have so much, we don’t even use pennies anymore! These folks will never get to a point in life where they can retire and enjoy life in their waning years; they will in all likelihood have to labor right up to the time of death.
Although we do have poverty in this country, with the resources available, no one has to go hungry or without clothing. It may not include three squares a day or designer clothing or footwear, but with our socialistic system, people can even chose not to work and still live reasonably well. No one here needs to starve or freeze to death. I believe a lot of our impoverished people are so by a choice which is influenced by addictions but also by conditions such as lengthy unemployment and or psychological influences.
It is not that these people should be pitied or used to raise funding for their conditions, rather, we should use our resources not just to prolong their life on the street, but to find ways to re-establish their rightful place in the community. Because of our affluence we have not only promoted but almost insisted on a lifestyle that is excess at best; a lifestyle that is not sustainable. Our presently troubled economy and the number of folks on the street is proof of that.
What if we reduced our non-productive indulgences and concentrated more of our wealth and time into building relationships with those who truly need our help and then through those relationships be able to restore those who desire to do so to their rightful proper places in society.
It might just prove to be a healing time for the idle affluent as well.
Chris Salomons is the kitchen co-ordinator at Potter’s Hands in Red Deer.