a.k.a. don't shoot the messenger
i did some evangelizing today. what began as a seemingly innocent discussion of the local economy with my daughter's significant other today transmogrified into a session on my soapbox.
we live in a small (50 - 55 thousand souls) northern city that has seen a lot of boom and bust cycles. it's in an area that's rich in oil and gas, surrounded by forest that's among the best in the world for pulp and paper production, as well as lumber, first settled by farmers who discovered it's a pocket of rich agricultural land a zone or 2 warmer than other places this far north. during the depression that followed the 2nd world war, this area was not as hard hit by drought, economic downturn and food shortages as were other parts of North America. partly because the climate is moderated by our location between mountains and prairie, with lots of lakes and rivers, partly because the economy has always been so diversified, and partly because the inhabitants were self sufficient pioneer stock who knew how to keep things solvent with very little in the line of cash.
i'm not convinced there are many here today who could manage as well. it seems to be all about money now. so when the gentleman in question, who is head of a fairly large communications company here, asked me if i thought the local/regional economy was in trouble, he probably expected me to agree with his view that things are going down the toilet, and that would be that. he didn't expect a dissertation on how the wealth of the community was being sucked out by the big oil and lumber companies, and the big box stores. he didn't expect to be told that a community's wealth isn't measured in dollars and cents. he didn't expect (or enjoy) being told that the premise that exponential financial growth is the only marker of a business's success, was dangerously flawed. they live in a big house that they bought new about 5 years ago, in a trendy new neighborhood. they drive new vehicles, and trade up frequently. take lots of holidays to the tropics. he didn't like being asked "why? how much do you need?" when he said he wanted to make more money, have a bigger house.
none of this was particularly heated, it was all very civilized and polite. he's a kind man, who is very good to my daughter, granddaughter, and the rest of the family. he's a good neighbor. he recycles, pays all his bills promptly, and is considered by his employees to be an excellent boss. he's putty in the hands of a child, has pets who are treated like they're his own beloved children. he cooks! he cleans! a really sweet guy. just very materialistic, with no social conscience beyond his own doorstep.
i think there's a crack in the polished veneer, though. he's applied for a senior position in the fire department. says he thinks he might want to do something more 'worthwhile and satisfying'.
but i'm not putting the soap box away.