Be happy, dammit

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In this province, positivity is used as a weapon

Positivity is one of the most powerful narcotics available for public consumption.

In regular doses, positivity is extremely beneficial and necessary to keep everyone from falling into a black pit of nihilistic despair. But too much positivity, like too much of anything, is extremely harmful.

In Saskatchewan, most of the current people in power layer on weapons-grade positivity with a liberal brushstroke. You can’t drive on a highway in this province without seeing the garish “Saskatchewan Advantage” signs everywhere. You can’t even hold a press conference at the legislature to suggest that the government might have acted a little too quickly to axe the film tax credit without the government determining that you are a security threat and thus need to be supervised when you visit.

There is also a prevailing attitude that anyone who suggests the “Saskaboom” is not all it’s cracked up to be are whiny, entitled, and ungrateful people that should leave the province if they don’t like it. Because the logic of “if you don’t like America, then why don’t you get out” is the most well-thought-out and intelligent attitude to take towards anyone who disagrees with you.

At the city level, the reign of Pat Fiacco demonstrated the same sycophantic adulation. Any criticism of the mayor was seen as whiny and ungrateful, because the last six years that Pat Fiacco phoned it in were obviously a positive event for Regina. Fiacco had it so easy that in his last speech to city council, he felt it necessary to thank the media for being so nice and single out the Prairie Dog for its less-than-positive coverage of his reign as mayor. Because the mayor that presided over the destruction of affordable downtown apartments and the disaster that was the City Centre Plaza couldn’t have anything to be criticized about. It was all magically washed away by the “I Heart Regina” slogan and his brave threat to punch any journalist that had the audacity to suggest North Central was anything less than a glowing beacon of sunshine. Then again, I might just be bitter that he didn’t mention the Carillon.

Finally, we come to the university. Nothing sums up the administration’s desire to ensure the positive image of our institution more than the dangerous proposed changes to academic freedom protection at the university. It speaks to a deeper desire to “control the message” to make sure that our “positive” image attracts students from far and wide to Regina. In this pursuit, it doesn’t matter if students and faculty will ultimately be muzzled, so long as our image of a university where debate and controversy do not exist is maintained. Because an inane, non-critical “university” will guarantee continued funding. One wonders what price was high enough for us to sell out our principles.

I am not suggesting that I don’t love Saskatchewan, nor am I suggesting that I don’t love Regina or the university. I am suggesting that my love of these places does not have to manifest as mindless jubilation no matter what the people running these places do. The person that cares enough to be pessimistic will do a great deal more good than the sycophant that seeks only to spin everything in a positive light. In reality, a sycophant is more damaging to society than a pessimist. Sycophants are the people who applaud when the chocolate ration is “increased” from 40 grams to 30 grams per week.

We need to embrace criticism and negativity as necessary parts of society rather than demonizing them as whiny or entitled. Positivity is great, but when it is applied wholesale to anything and used as a means to silence dissent, it is a powerful weapon.

Edward Dodd
Op-Ed Editor

Photo illustration by Edward Dodd

1 comment

  1. elvisearp 4 December, 2012 at 10:59

    The bobbsy twins…double the original cost for the downtown piazza…let's build a stadium with public money while streets are crumbling…anyone who wants the details or the right to vote on whether or not to proceed is a whiner…let's sell off some more Crown assets to hide the yearly deficit and the rising debt in Saskatchewan. Just keep smiling…maybe no one will notice…

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