Basic human decency


The Occupy protests have disappeared, both physically in the parks and visibly in the media. Yet what will emerge from the ashes of the initial campouts is not quite clear.

What is clear, however, is that most of North American society continues to revel in the bliss of ignorance at the best or stupidity at the worst.

Our social problems will only increase in the future especially as those worse off in society are left behind and continue to be further marginalized. The recent elections of conservative governments, both in Spain as well as in this province are a testament to the departure of social-minded governments across the globe.

While the initial model of the welfare state may not be the most efficient model for the organization of a modern society, it is an evolution of this very model that will serve society best into the future.

If you didn’t find the actions of Lt. John Pike, the UC-Davis officer who indiscriminately pepper sprayed student protesters on Nov. 18, both a senseless use of violence and a disturbing violation of basic democratic rights, then perhaps you need to reconsider what it is acceptable to do to other human beings. In video of the incident, the college students were clearly and brutally pepper sprayed at point-blank range for nothing more than engaging in their basic rights of protest, assembly, and free speech. Ironically, it would seem that those very rights are being suppressed by a university administration that is fearful of engaging in discourse –  the very thing that universities are supposed to encourage in their students.

We live in a world marked with contrasts. We all know about the existence of poverty, the battles that people wage against inner and outer demons, such as a variety of addictions as well as abuse, bullying, and discrimination. When we hear or read about the unemployed or the homeless, we never think that could be us.

However, Canadians carry more household debt than they are able to effectively service on a monthly basis. You do not need an economics degree to know this is poor personal fiscal policy. Our provinces and this country are writing ever more debt as the days go by. One of our largest trading partners is virtually broke and yet continues to be in denial about it. It is no wonder therefore, that social responsibility is taking the proverbial political backseat these days.

Americans operate in the jaded belief that anybody could be the next millionaire CEO. That is, in fact, the basis of the “white picket fence, wife with 2.1 children and one dog” American dream. Work hard, be honest, and you too can one day share in the spoils of that great country.

But for how many Americans is this dream only an illusion? Does this dream even exist or was it only ever a figment of people’s imaginations?

As the western world sinks evermore into denial about its true fiscal situation and as its citizens continue to allow themselves to be deceived, we shall see a marked rise of social unrest and inequality that is met with government force that will go beyond proportional. Life is still good for CEOs and the government, and both will be loathe to allow the system that made them wealthy change in favour of the people that they exploited to make their billions. The resulting clash between government authority and the authority of the people will certainly be violent. 

As we enter into another Christmas season, we must remember that messages of peace and love of neighbour are still important and relevant in the 21st century, and that these ideas can be applied to how we respond to the very legitimate concerns of our less fortunate. You do not have to be religious to see that a little bit of harmony and respect in the world can go a long way to create a better society for today as well as for tomorrow. It is my sincere wish that the virtues extolled at Christmas are kept alive for a full 12 months. Too often all of us forget that social justice, peace, and love of neighbour are required year-round and not just in December.

Sebastian Prost

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