COMMENTARY – Can we talk? Really talk?

by Jeff Burgar

I am worried. Perhaps you should be too.
Oil price? Inching downwards, perhaps soon to be in the $30’s. So why am I paying top dollar at the gasoline pump still? Will such prices save local jobs? Worrisome, but it isn’t that.
Immigration? Like, where are we going to put 25,000 Syrians? Are our northern Alberta towns going to take their fair share? Are they all going to end up in Toronto or Calgary? As a note here, Canada takes in around 225,000 immigrants every year.  Numerically speaking, this means Falher should see about 25 foreign newcomers every year. Slave Lake perhaps 100. Are they actually arriving?
Oh, so many issues. Too many to list here. But, what I am really worried about is the past. The past of my last almost fifty years of writing opinions and commenting about the world. Looking back, I think I messed up many times. Fortunately, many times I was shown the error of my ways. And probably more than a few times, loyal readers just gave up on me. Oh well.
I’m still worried. It has to do with all those people who, rightly or wrongly, were trashed from their political careers by opinions or actions coming from “discoveries” online. The guy who peed in a cup in somebody’s kitchen. All the people accused of racist comments. And now the lady, Justin Trudeau’s newly appointed minister of Science, being ripped apart over her opinion from a few years ago. That had to do with her advocating investigation into so-called “liberation” treatment – the widening of neck veins to help Multiple Sclerosis victims. So people dug deeper, into a Norwegian bacteria expedition. Horrors! What they found from the late 90’s!
Most days, when a politician babbles, the favourite excuse, “I was misquoted.” On the internet, if it was your written opinion, that doesn’t work. Maybe “What came out of my fingers wasn’t what I meant to say” is hardly a rebuttal. Double so when you make some point over and over again.
The old story “You can’t please everybody,” is now “You have to be continually on guard to please the politically correct and vocal people.” That could be translated as, “You better not have a strong opinion about anything.”
It’s a complicated situation. I’m really worried there is little conversation. In one breath, we hang people for having perhaps a foolish opinion. In the next breath we admire people (think Donald Trump) for being outspoken. Speaking up. And having many foolish opinions!
Somewhere, speaking out, having honest discussion, speaking one’s mind are all things that very likely will come back to haunt some of us. Perhaps rightly. I think, in too many cases wrongly. People do move forward. People learn and improve themselves. People do change their minds as new information is available.
It was always a world where our opinons defined us. However, it’s becoming a world in which nobody knows whom, or what, to trust.
Buying the wrong food today, fueling up at the wrong gas station, reading the wrong newspaper might all make us targets in a future world. In fact, it already does in some places. Big data is just one step behind.
Peeing in a cup is somebody’s kitchen is plain stupid. So are many heartfelt, but misguided, opionions. But not being able to have an opinion and voice it, or even live a normal life, because what the world might think five, ten or twenty years from now? That should worry everybody.


Share this post