My Day Off

canadaI am sitting in my house on a day off, reflecting on what I will do with my day. Being a resident of Vancouver Island, I thought to myself, Should I head down to Sombreo for a surf or should I take the kayak for a spin down the gorge waterway? I feel very lucky to have these options and to have British Columbia as my home. Instead, I have decided to sit down and have a go at writing about some of the things that are happening at the moment.

I want to address issues that need to be a primary focus for people who love their lives and their homes. I know we are all busy with our lives, many much more than I, and people need to work, pay the bills, put a down payment on a house, let the dog out and so on. I believe that, to an extent, this can keep us occupied and, at times, pull the wool over our eyes.

Social media has brought in a new era for people and given us an opportunity to choose our media, develop our own means of getting news, and keep up to date with events happening all over the world. We choose the stories we want to hear. This is something our parents never had. For me, it has been life changing.

One of my favorite examples of media is the documentary, Black Fish, which I recommend everyone watch. It is a great example of how we are able to shed light on important issues that society needs to be confronted with.

I want to first say these are only my opinions. I am a liberal and have been very lucky to spend most of my 20s traveling and working hard, experiencing life around the world and having profound experiences in the natural world, mostly due to my passion for surfing. I have recently felt more and more obligated to place a small part of the blame on myself for many of the things that are happening in Canada that I don’t agree with. This weighs heavily on my mind. I believe that the world is at a breaking point and deteriorating at a rapid rate. But, in my mind, this creates an amazing opportunity for positive change on a massive level. The evidence is all right in front of our eyes. I am 29 years old; I have watched the world unfold at an astounding rate. I remember watching America vote for President Bush… twice. I have seen the ice caps melt thanks to a documentary, Chasing Ice. I have witnessed the bank bailouts on Wall Street, I have experienced the industrialization of the food industry, the mass extinction of a large percentage of the world’s animals, the BP oil spill and saddest of all, I am watching the ocean suffer because of Fukushima and many other terrible tragedies.

All of these things have happened in front of our eyes, and they are continuing to happen. If each of us does not take personal responsibility, then we will fail as a community. The even bigger issue to me is the fact that the answers are available to us. Scientists have provided us with answers to many of the world’s biggest problems. All of this talk of a bleak outcome for the economy and no jobs for the youth of today, so what do we do next? The answers to these questions are the opportunity for us to have meaningful careers, to work in collaboration with the world and to spend the next 100 years trying to save it! I urge you to, please, instead of turning on CNN, watch at least one TED talk. It will give you some great insight as to the possibilities we have as a global community.

I write this because, as a British Columbia resident, we have a collective opportunity to learn from our mistakes, an opportunity to take a moment and think about how we can show the world that we, not our government, have the power to decide our fate on this planet. Harper has shown time and time again that he has no respect for our beautiful country. The opportunity to stop the pipeline in my mind is a huge win for humanity, and because here in BC we are lucky enough to have the mountains and ocean and for many people, including myself, an identity. We are lucky enough to have a relationship with our land, so therefore we have a responsibility to protect it. I have a lot of faith in BC and its community. Our backbone is the salmon; we cannot let that be destroyed. I believe a small victory like stopping the pipeline is a step in the right direction for all people. If we continue to let our government make awful decisions and accelerate the destruction of the earth so they can fill their pockets with money they don’t need, then we will fail.

One clear solution to the things that are happening around us is simple but complex, It is called critical thinking. It’s an opportunity to learn from mistakes that we have grown up with; it is a concept that has been evolving for thousands of years and is a practice that politicians should be forced to master before they are even given an opportunity to make a decision for a country. I would ask that if you read this and find yourself agreeing, even a little with what I have said, then please, Google “critical thinking” and take 10 minutes to read up on it.

I believe that our generation will be the main contributing factor as to which direction this giant experiment we call the world will go. If you have been lucky enough in your life to have experienced the natural world, if you are lucky enough to not to have to worry about how you will get your next meal, to have access to the Internet, or to live in Canada, then I ask that you ask yourself if you are OK with the state of the world, the actions of your government and whether you feel comfortable with your children growing up in this world.

In conclusion, Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia, puts it this way: “You can’t just keep trying to make a flawed system work. It’s like coming to an edge of a cliff, you don’t simply keep going. You stop, turn around, and then take a forward step.”

By Ryan Mitchell

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