A mango a day keeps the doctor away.
A breadfruit a day keeps the hunger at bay.
One mango tree, one breadfruit tree,
A kitchen garden and a clustered fig tree
Feed several families, day after day after day.
(An ode to collective self-reliance)
Instinctively, I have always been uncomfortable with the idea that the world’s “problems” cannot be solved.
I have gone so far as to argue that the brunt of most challenges faced by each society, and by the world community at large, can be brought “under control” if we took the trouble to invest the relevant attitudes and resources into the pursuit of sustainable solutions.
Consequently, I am greatly comforted that quite a few persons are joining in the consensus opinion of numerous organizations, interest groups and now even political parties that Canadians are ready to tackle three challenges that have brought shame and disgrace to our doorstep.
While I do recognize the power of one person to start a process of awareness and change, I am now more confident that solutions are on the way as we address those three challenges: the Syrian refugee crisis; our chronic neglect of the rights, needs and enormous potential of Canada’s Indigenous Peoples; and providing for the needs and empowerment of the marginalized and vulnerable segments of our society.
In considering how we should address those challenges, I take strenuous objection to the suggestion that the Syrian refugee crisis should be given much lower priority over the two other challenges. As I demonstrated in previous columns, there are two sets of reasons why such a shortsighted suggestion should be disregarded.
Firstly, caring cannot ethically and logically be restricted to our own families, without due regard for the wellbeing of our neighbours and fellow citizens. Similarly, as members of the international community, it is in our economic and political interest to show the same respect and caring consideration for the wellbeing of other societies, especially when our international “activities” may have contributed to ills faced by those same societies. It is precisely our world community’s prolonged failure to apply political, geo-political, economic, developmental and ethical considerations that has landed us all in the huge refugee crises besieging Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
There is a second set of reasons that is particularly relevant to Canada’s developmental interests. Our country has an immediate and ongoing need to develop and maintain a sufficiently large population base to make our production and consumption of goods and services competitively viable and to guarantee a level of tax revenue strong enough to support the volume of government spending that matches our society’s needs.
The most economically significant aspects of refugee migration are the valuable human resources it brings at the outset and the even more valuable human resources that will be developed for our future needs, right here in Canada, by migrants’ children and grandchildren.
Returning now to the three challenges I mentioned earlier, they are all the result of neglect, discrimination and our failure to assume responsibility in a structured and continuous manner.
One critical aspect of such an approach to responsibility is our personal and daily involvement in identifying and implementing solutions. The involvement I most readily recommend is based on the collective self-reliance and sharing described in my not so original literary creation at the beginning of this commentary.
That home-grown approach emphasizes the principle that we must be the messengers. Our practical and direct involvement conveys the message that each and every citizen can and should assume the attitudes and actions that correct and invalidate the neglect, discrimination and non-responsibility that are the root causes of the three challenges. We become the live examples of the message.
The point is that our country’s success in addressing those three challenges cannot be achieved without broad engagement of Canadians in development of the awareness, positive attitudes, behavior patterns and the day-to-day action that are required.
By Michael Lashley