Wednesday, 19 April 2017

The Quality of Your Life

Social Studies Lessons for Kenney 4

What makes your life a good one? 

Back in the day, the majority of Canadians might have agreed that a good life was one with a well paying job for dad, a mom that stayed home and cleaned and cooked and raised the 2.5 kids in a 3 bedroom house, safety, freedom and three weeks holiday in the camper.
Me and my mom, Trail B.C.
Nowadays, now that we understand more about what people value, our ideas are different. Maybe it means mom working outside the home, or two moms, or a single dad, or a single person living happily alone, or a family with ten kids. Maybe it means living out of your van, as a musician I know does quite happily. Or living off the grid, in a colony, on the rez, or in a downtown apartment or surviving off the land. Maybe it means living in the frozen north or on a beach. 
Fort Resolution, 1988.
Maybe it means having lots of money. Maybe it doesn't.

For my neighbours, driving a quad through the waterways is something they love. Every time I see them, that makes me angry. I feel like saying "Get off your butt and walk somewhere, you lazy bastard! Quit destroying the natural environment!" Meanwhile they are probably thinking "What the hell is the matter with you? You live in the bush and you don't own an off-road vehicle?"  

Likewise I see huge families and I think "Why are you overpopulating the planet?" When the whole idea of overpopulation was something my family thought about long and hard before deciding on having a third child.  To the absurd point I asked my childless cousin if she would give me her "quota" of kids so we could have another child. And yet I know for these families having numerous kids is something they value deeply. Perhaps they don't feel the need to provide for their education or have a house large enough so each kids has his/her own room. I know many of them feel sorry for those of us with small families. They cannot understand why anyone would make that choice.
Cemetery, Sarajevo

Sometimes the thing that makes my life good interferes with someone else.What principles do we use to determine where we legislate to achieve the common good? A simple vote? A referendum? Majority rules? Charter rights? "Inherent" rights? 

The more connected we are in our globalizing world, the more these questions matter. We cannot go back to the past , much as people like Donald Trump and Brexit voters and Marie Le Pen would like. The good old days weren't that great for everyone. 

Now we understand what "quality of life" means, we have to navigate into tomorrow's complicated world and its unknowable future. And that means recognizing that we are all unique, yet connected. That means trying to understand other people's views. Otherwise we will allow for the tyranny of the majority, the oppression of minority viewpoints and a world in which some people's way of life intervenes with the rights of others.

Inequality in Mumbai's slums

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