Living in Interesting Times
“May you live in interesting times . . .”
According to Wikipedia, this double-edged saying/curse is thought to originate in China, although no one has been able to verify this.
I suppose whether one views it is as a blessing or a curse depends on your socio-economic position during said interesting times. It’s much easier to look upon global warming, rising sea levels and political instability with sang-froid from a heavily fortified house on high ground and with a private jet at the ready.
For the rest of us commoners—in the west at least—these times are nothing if not interesting. It has been interesting, fascinating even, watching the debate rage over the carbon tax initiatives of the federal and provincial Liberal parties. Here in BC it’s the supposedly left wing NDP that’s attacking the new initiative with their “axe the tax” slogan. In Ottawa it’s the most decidedly right-wing Conservatives who are pulling out all the stops to heap scorn upon the idea (and the hated Liberals, of course).
In the former scenario, it’s clearly a case of the NDP desperately looking for some political leverage to take into the next election. In the latter, I believe the Conservatives are driven as much by heart-felt ideology as the chance to make political hay. But whichever way one leans, it all seems rather juvenile. I mean, let’s get some perspective here. We may have to think twice about the road trip to visit the relatives in PEI this summer, given the rising cost of fuel, but you know what, over in the “other” part of the world, families are literally starving to death because of the rising cost of rice.
For all the hysteria, teeth gnashing and name calling, you’d think the respective Liberal parties were bringing in mandatory conscription or a one-child-per-family law . . . or perhaps sanctioning same-sex marriage. (Oops, sorry, that’s from a different rant)
I am no big fan of either the federal or provincial Liberals, but I give them full marks for taking the bull by horns, knowing full well they could get gored in the process (no pun intended, Al). It’s clear that life as we know it—plenty of cheap gas to fill our SUVs, an endless supply of water to wash them with, and an unlimited quantity of cheap food to load into them at the nearest Wal-Mart—is in mortal danger, carbon tax or no carbon tax. Whether one votes left, right, or centre, or not at all, it’s time to rethink our extravagant lifestyle, count our many blessings, and, in the words of Greg Brown, put our shoulders to the wheel.
In a mucked up dirty river
I cast my little fly
I look at that river and smell it
And it makes me want to cry
To clean our dirty planet
Now, there’s a noble wish
I’m putting my shoulder to the wheel
Because I want to catch some fish . . .
Oh yes, and in terms of sayings, I’ll take the Irish one over the (so-called) Chinese one any day:
“May your glass be ever full. May the roof over your head be always strong. And may you be in heaven half an hour before the devil knows you’re dead.”