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Greg Neiman - Red Deer Advocate

Greg Neiman is a former Red Deer Advocate editor who now contributes regular columns and blogs which can be found in the Red Deer Advocate and on RedDeerAdvocate.com. Follow his blog at www.readersadvocate.blogspot.ca

Let's remain civilized in 2013

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Red Deer Advocate

It's good to start the new year with an improvement in the weather, however slight. Somehow, it's easier to look forward to the turning of the calendar during a warming trend.

Especially when all this occurs during what we call the dead of winter.

Just think: wouldn't it have been nicer if New Year's coincided with the spring equinox? After all, since calendars are arbitrary constructs anyway, wouldn't it be better if we celebrated a new year that starts with the return of the sun, as opposed to two and a half more months of darkness and cold?

then again, who wants to worry about losing weight, getting fit or improving humanity when you can finally go outside without a parka?

But that's just me. Perhaps starting a new year in the middle of winter forces one to contemplate the near future in more personal terms. 

On the whole, 2013 is looking like it will be the kind of year when the positives are going to be personal, rather than economic or societal. With a world economy that can improve itself only modestly at best, and with a social fabric that's looking rather worn in western societies, maybe it is time people focussed on individual growth while we wait for the big picture to cycle round again.

Simply remaining civilized seems to be the major challenge here.

Learning about the insane shooting deaths in the U.S. over the Christmas season was agony. What sort of evil drives people to go into an elementary school and start shooting? Why would a person buy guns and ammunition for a clearly deranged neighbour, so he could set fire to his neighbourhood and kill the firemen who came to fight the fire?

Worse, why would someone in Alberta choose to use that as inspiration to threaten the same at a school in our province?

There is no good answer to any of that. All we can do is resolve to remain civil and rational in our own lives, while we keep watch over families and loved ones, without succumbing to nameless fears.

Maintaining ethics and integrity is another challenge for 2013.

There's not much we can do as individuals, while bureaucracies and people in power decide what to do as the chief of the Attawaspiskat First Nation starves herself on the doorstep of Parliament.

Elsewhere, violent revolutions have begun with similar acts (the Arab spring, for example).

But individual Canadians cannot hope to resolve injustices reaching generations back, which are as complex as the identity of the one, the culture of the many, and the machinery of government between.

What we can do is maintain justice in our own affairs, and insist on integrity from our leaders.

I believe that most people in Red Deer — if they had the power —would personally visit Chief Theresa Spence, and agree that a complete revision of our treaty relationship with First Nations is needed. She need not die to see that happen.

We would likely agree that the treaties signed so long ago were not fair, and were not kept. New strucutres need to be created, that maintain cultural dignity and right of self-governance for first nations, along with modern standards of democracy and individual responsibility.

Governments, bureaucracies and national representatives don't seem to act that way.

But while they learn how, we, on our own, can decide we will be civil to each other and pass along expectations that our leaders will do the same.

That would be a good start for 2013, don't you think?

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