Activism, social engagement, volunteering and the big picture.

 You don’t have to be a millionaire to become a philanthropist in the lives of others: you simply have to be open to the needs of those around you and those whose paths you cross, and see what you can do to help them. Very often it will cost you nothing and you will be rewarded with a smile. For more than twenty years I have helped people come back to the game or discover the magic of our national sport, hockey. Move and shake off the old self before it sets in, in order to take advantage of the life and freedom that we enjoy in this part of the world. It’s the kind of activism that I perhaps enjoy the most, as my actions and those that I support through various fund raisings make the world go round instead of watching it go by.

In a different but related area, I was heavily involved for some time for the preservation of our collective heritage through my actions and letters in order to safeguard a building that deserved to be saved from the proposed plans of a municipal administration which did not respect either the law nor the voice of its citizens. I refer to the Eric Sharp arena in St-Lambert. A sacred place for some, this “sporting cathedral” was at the mercy of unimaginative individuals and threatened by bulldozers, as they intended to replace this architectural masterpiece with a bland arena similar to so many others. You don’t need to love hockey but simply to be sensitive to beauty, the warm ambiance and the unique character of this place to realize that the proposal of the elected officials hided a personal agenda that had nothing to do with the well-being of the community. To destroy instead of preserving and show casing an architectural gem that elevates the spirit. Me and a group of citizen eventually were abble to save the arena from distruction. All of which brings me to the following thought:

 We should take immediate steps to stop electing people who are only interested in power in order to enrich themselves and their friends. It is of the highest importance if we want things to really change to start by replacing those who are at the helm of our community (not to mention banks). By electing sensitive and intelligent people with practical experience whose main purpose is to REALLY change the living conditions of their fellow citizens, we will see change. Let’s put an end to enquiry commissions, let’s change the laws, put lobbyists aside and take control of our lives and of our land. 

To listen to the excuses of people today that they can’t do this or that, unwilling to help one another, move, play any sport, or getting organized but resorting only to the zapper, I find pathetic those who look away instead of helping, getting involved and standing up for what they believe in. Everybody wants the system to be optimal so that there is no waste and that we achieve socio-economic summits. Quebec and the western world in general suffer from too much comfort and indifference. We want it ALL as long as someone else does the dirty work for us.

People are half-awake and yet find a way to complain. They have children without really thinking about the consequences and put them in the hands of others for their education while putting their own future in the hands of crooks in suits or skirts who take all the decisions for us. Wake the fuck up!!! To try to change the world even if only slightly during our passage on this earth would be possible in a less neurotic society where the family unit exists and where a handshake and or your word are worth more than a slip of paper.

Taking into account the quality of the people who lead us all the while stealing from us, I doubt very much that things will change unless an individual emerges from this collective social morass who will realize the dreams of a just and equal society instead of simply talking about it, as I am doing now comfortably sitting on my ass at the end of my counter.

To finish on a happier note, having volunteered with kids for more than ten years in another life and having raised funds for Leucan, The Montreal Canadiens Children Foundation and Sun youth to name a few, I believe that all beneficiaries, students and those who abuse the system should give back to society through different programs set up to help children as well as seniors. Single parents, handicapped persons, municipalities and schools subject to budgetary cuts etc. In fact the most effective way to destroy a person’s individuality is to give him or her money to do nothing. That’s why moving, helping, doing something for others would benefit them in return and who knows would perhaps inspire them to contribute to the collective effort instead of sitting in the middle of the boat while watching the others row. To be socially engaged does not mean being part of the parade while hitting pots and pans, but rather it means carrying out actions that will have a tangible result on the life of others and on our own. Forgetting the ME by concentrating on the US, realising that respect and empathy for those around us are just as important, if not more, as the goal to reach, thereby stimulating something other than the economy but rather the people who are part of it. Considering the resources and the hydro-electrical surpluses in Quebec, isn’t shameful and altogether useless to let people die of cold or heat? The homeless, prostitutes and low income people should all be taken under the protection of the State. Let’s open a centralized community center where all would be welcome with a meal, showers and a bed. A safe haven to receive “clients” and on the other side of the building an area where low income people could have access to all the food which is wasted all over town year long, not only at Christmas time. Let’s recuperate the old Forum or l’hôtel-Dieu (please not more condos!!!) and give them a social calling under the auspices of Hydro-Québec. The same concept could be used throughout the country. Let’s maximize our resources and go for it!

While I’m ranting about utopia, each new immigrant, family or individual should be welcomed and taken care off by active and caring members of our society so that they become well integrated, sharing the values that make Quebec unique. In return these welcoming guides would have access to lakes, mountains and other resorts where they could bring their new immigrant friends to discover our great outdoors. Skates, tuques and skies for everyone!

These are but a few ideas amongst many others but could very easily be put into effect with a view of creating a new era where everyone would play a part. Let’s take out the garbage and start recycling our resources, putting an end to the existing system as it only works for the so-called elite. Do you need a drawing?

JFD