Am I worthy of your time and attention?
Anyone with access to the Internet is permanently in a state of information overload.
There is always email to read, web sites to visit, and things to download. TED talks and cute cat videos compete with a friend’s Facebook posts and a relative’s Flickr or Instagram galleries. The Economist, The Globe and Mail and the Guardian all publish good stuff faster than I can read them, and if I do catch up I wonder if I should see what the National Post or Al Jazeera’s take on the issue is. Then Toronto Public Library kindly dumps a new audiobook in my Overdrive account and Netflix releases all 13 episodes of “House of Cards S03”. It is all good, but sometimes it is also too much.
Why add another WordPress Blog to a world already overwhelmed by bloggers?
For one thing, I find it fun. As a kid I kept a diary, a full page a day, for a decade. I have written blogs about my African travels, and enjoy reliving the moment by going back to them. I get a kick out of remembering meals I have eaten by checking out my Tripadvisor posts. So if this is only my personal and public diary, that is enough.
If I express my opinions in the hope of changing someone’s mind, what is that?
It is easy to put it down to vanity. I am not the world’s leading expert on anything (except, perhaps, the flora of Oak Hills Farm). There are some areas, such as healthcare and environmental issues, on which I am reasonably well informed, but it would be wrong to take my thoughts on how to deal with Russian expansionism, ISIS, or the perpetual conflict in the middle east, too seriously. I don’t have a solution for world poverty or the answer to climate change.
But I do care about the world I am leaving to my children, and I do take the trouble to keep myself informed. I do think about which paths are better than which other paths, who seems to be leading us towards the light and who seems to be acting mainly in the interests of himself, his buddies, and especially in the interests of those who have the money to help keep him in power. (Yes, Mr.Harper, Mr. Putin, I am thinking of you!).
I am concerned that the mega-rich are getting mega-richer, while the millions of poor are getting poorer.
I am concerned that states around the world are using the threat of terrorism to excuse gathering data on ordinary citizens, and then abusing that data. It is not unrealistic to worry that the Canadian Revenue Agency may decide to audit me because I have written a post critical of Harper. That may be already happening to some Canadian charities.
I am concerned about climate change, and I am beginning to think that those who believe we have to leave most of our oil reserves buried in the ground to avoid global catastrophe are probably right.
I am concerned about the future of healthcare. As we have more people living into old age, and as we develop more, and often, more expensive, treatments, we need to have a rational approach to ensure we provide the appropriate care at the right time. It is too easy for the media to use the terminal suffering of a few individuals to advocate for spending huge amounts of money on marginally effective treatments, and ignoring the other ways in which that money could be spent on helping more patients at a less advanced stage of disease. At the grass roots level, we need people to be educated enough to understand the difference between a quack cure and scientifically proven treatments, while at the government and big pharma level we need a way of encouraging the development of effective and useful medications over “me-too” lookalikes to existing medications, and pharmaceuticals which do more for drug company profits than for population health.
What can one person do about these huge issues?
Voting once every few years does not seem enough. Supporting one political party over another only makes sense in areas where there is party which both supports your political viewpoints and has a chance of getting elected. Supporting relevant charities makes sense. Personally, I am not a big joiner of groups, and I have, for better or worse, never engaged in a public protest. I am more of a writer than a marcher.
So, here I am sitting at my laptop, hoping that I can persuade a few people to think along the lines I am thinking along, to support the things that I support and to eschew those things I think are poisonous. As someone who has had the benefits of a long education, who has some time and some money to use wisely, I think that is almost a duty.
If this makes sense to you, please check out my blog from time to time, and I will try to be interesting and informative on some of these issues. If not, here’s a link to some cute cat videos.