“...Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” by Margaret Mead

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Friday, 14 November 2014

2  Discovering Enough:  What can we learn from our elders?

My mother-in-law during her last months exclaimed, “I would like three, but two is enough!” With her advanced dementia, I have no idea to what she was referring.  I have come to believe, however, that it defines how she has lived her entire life.  Her needs were simple, she always shared more than she received, but it was always enough.

During a radio interview with an Amish elder, a large combine rolled down a nearby country lane.  The elder stopped and exclaimed, “What a marvellous machine! It has air conditioning, radios, computer, even GPS.  One man can harvest acres in a day.”  The commentator was puzzled and asked, “But you do no use such machines?”  The elder replied, “Oh no. It doesn’t serve our way of life.”  The values of his community came first, above what technology could provide.

Twenty years ago, while joining my father on his traditional evening stroll with the family dog, I queried him as to how life has changed over his lifetime.  His response: “While the quantity afforded to an individual has undoubtedly increased, the quality of life for society overall has diminished.”  Have we reached a point of individual wealth and consumption that allows a person to isolate himself/herself socially and spiritually from those around them?

August 24 of this year was my 67th birthday - a true baby boomer.  My parents and grandparents have all passed on.  My grandfather told me of the first electric lights he saw at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair;  the Chinatown that existed where the St. Louis Gateway Arch now stands;  the first airplanes;  the first two automobiles in St. Louis that crashed head-on into each other on Market Street.  He lived through World War I and World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam.  I once asked my grandfather if he could change anything during his life, what would it be? He replied simply, “Nothing.  It’s who I am.”   When I pass on, the stories he shared with me will also pass on, he will finally pass out of human history.

Now that the baby boomer generation has entered into the realm of elders, what stories and wisdom will we pass on to our grandchildren?

One of a series of personal opinion pieces as to where New Brunswick could head in the future.  Now that the citizens of New Brunswick have spoken through the ballot box that they are not in favor of unconventional hydraulic shale gas exploration or development (fracking), these opinion pieces will put forth alternate ideas for job creation within a sustainable economy.  Richard Lachance

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