Before you read another word I just have to say, “Relax, this is not another editorial about our holidays.” However, I did want to pass on one comment from a reader.
Our daughter was home on the weekend and she explained that my account of our volcano hike at Costa Rica did not convey the intensity and degree of difficulty that we encountered. The entire column could have been dedicated to that hike, but who would really care to have such detail, except experienced hikers such as Lew Bevan?
Getting back to the title of this week’s column, have you ever wondered what the final phase of your life would look like if a reporter shadowed your every move? If you were writing the final chapter of your autobiography, would it be gripping or bore readers into dreamland? For some reason that question flashed through my mind as I was preparing to write this week’s column, so I decided to go with it.
I asked myself, “If this was my last column, what would I write about?”
My reply was swift. “I would address all the successes I have personally seen.”
Success stories or positive achievements often result after a disaster strikes an area or a tragedy occurs. Thank goodness humans have the ability to rise above calamity and often turn it into something positive. I was reminded of this while listening to our oldest son (and daughter-in-law Danielle) give an account of their travels through Vietnam and Cambodia. Prior to overrunning the southern part of the country, North Vietnam was labeled a dreaded enemy of democracy by freedom guardians such as U.S.A. That was back in the mid 1950s. Now the country is a tourism destination and trading partner with nations in the Western hemisphere.
The Vietnam War was a bloody, senseless and protracted war in my opinion that resulted in several million people dying – military personnel and civilians. There were over two million military casualties and anywhere from 500,000 to four million civilian casualties by the time the war ended in 1975. Any war is bad, but this one set the stage on which conflicts smaller than a world war (and its atrocities) would be compared.
As I listened to our children tell tales of how many people eked out a living, especially some of the poorest residents who lived in mountainous regions, it reminded me of how we should appreciate everything we have in Canada, especially in a small town.
In any country, there is always a small number of people who are the wealthy elite. Hopefully there is a middle class (but it is getting smaller these days) and then there is the poor who are typically the most oppressed class of people. It is the responsibility of people in positions of authority to ensure those below them are treated fairly, and unfortunately that is often abused, even in Canada.
Getting back to the point, war is a colossal waste of time, resources, energy and life. However, that does not stop us from engaging in it every day. Depending on a person’s economic status, many people are forced to fight . . . figuratively fight from paycheck to paycheck. Like an ADD child, monthly bills constantly demand attention and they never grow up and move away. When there is a shortage of finances, it causes people to look at money as a solution for every problem – a god that will fulfill every need. On the positive side, it teaches a person to be resourceful, thrifty and grateful.
In developed nations, we live a very materialistic lifestyle in hopes of finding happiness. We blindly believe cash or a credit card will buy happiness, but it only results in an accumulation of toys and stuff that bring temporary joy. Some of the happiest people on Earth don’t have a lot, but they always have family and friends who truly care.
If this was my last column, I would be writing about my wife and children and the memorable moments we have enjoyed, although some didn’t seem overly pleasurable at the time. I would also write about friends who have assisted us over the years in so many ways that it makes my head spin. I guess that answers the question about me being a self-made man, a person of distinction who has made his own destiny. That individual I am not.
No matter how I examine myself, I always come to the same conclusion. I am most definitely a product of my environment and all the people around me. For that I am very grateful as it has made me a better person. This is not my last column and from this point forward they should get better, especially if I look to residents for inspiration.