Pretty well exactly a year ago (seems like a lifetime ago), I wrote a blog post called “Embracing those twenty bonus years“. I’ve borrowed the same cartoon for this post because its message seems to say it all; at some point our bodies age. That’s just the way it is. Unless. Unless the scientists – true believers – who have recently published books about their research on aging really are onto something. They are convinced that aging is really a disease that can be treated, in other words that aging is curable! But, I have to ask myself, if a large proportion of the population is going to reach, say, 120 or how about 150, is this really what we want?
Welcome to the world of the biology of aging – biogerontology. I encourage you to read about their work in these entertaining reviews of their books, Andrew…
Yesterday a fellow blogger introduced her readers to I Read Canadian Day. Thanks, Debra. I was a bit taken aback that I hadn’t heard of this special day before, but in looking it up I see that this is only the second year of its existence, so I forgive myself. I had also recently discovered, thanks to a come-on for a library donation from my alma mater, that Valentine’s Day is also Library Lovers Day. So many days, so many great ways to celebrate reading. So, as my act of kindness to my readers – since yesterday was also Random Acts of Kindness Day (although every day is a good day for a random act of kindness) – I’m going to remind everyone of the immense joy to be had from reading. And that you can read for free with your library card!
“Nature is a “blind spot” in economics. We can no longer afford for it to be absent from accounting systems that dictate national finances, or ignored by economic decision makers.”
At last, economics appears to be catching up with the real world. The Dasgupta Review, commissioned by the UK Treasury, has stated what has for long been the bleeding obvious. Our economics is not serving us well by supporting destruction of our natural environment, our home.
“Truly sustainable economic growth and development means recognising that our long-term prosperity relies on rebalancing our demand of Nature’s goods and services with its capacity to supply them.”
I’ve lost count of the number of pressure groups that have made this point over the past decades, but here is hope that at least the UK government is starting to listen, and perhaps it may influence the forthcoming biodiversity summit.
There are only so many rolls of toilet paper left at the store. Only so many jobs available. Only so many kids who get accepted to the Ivy League, only so many spots on the bestseller list.
So you fight. You claw. You might even kill to get what you want.
What choice do you have?
This is a lie we have believed since time immemorial, Alanis Morrissette sang on her latest hit song, “Ablaze.” That we’re in conflict with each other. That life is zero-sum.
One became two, and then everyone was out for themselves Everyone was pitted against each other, conflict ruled the realm All our devotions and temperaments are pulled from different wells We seem to easily forget we are made of the same cells
We have been struggling with this since the beginning, since the Stoics and beyond. Chrysippus, a competitive athlete, wrote more than 2,000 years ago about what scholars now call the No Shoving Rule. Yes, we’re competing with each other, he said, but we’re all on the same team. To cheat or trip or push an opponent? To do this is to lose, even if you win. Marcus Aurelius, the emperor of Rome, continually stressed this to himself. I am a citizen of the world, he said. We are all made from the same material and revert back to the same material. We all have an important role to play.
That’s what sympatheia is about. That’s what we can’t forget—even as we try to get ahead, even as we try to survive in this crazy messed up world. As different as we all are, we are made of the same cells. As different as our interests and needs are, in the end, we are all aligned.
Let’s start this week’s Map Monday with a map that those of us who have shared our lives with cats will relate to.
When I went looking for dog maps, just to be an equal opportunity pet reporter, I was surprised by the findings shown on this map below. Given that our entire town seems to be out walking at least one if not two dogs most of the time, I would not have guessed that cats outnumber dogs in Canada. But, of course, cats stay home and do their own thing, so we don’t see them as often!
Now for a few additional wide-ranging but no less significant maps. 😉
Scott Gilmore: You can’t be an effective national leader during a time of crises working from home over Zoom. It’s time to get organized, get down to work and get angry.
Trudeau appears at Question Period virtually during a sitting of the House of Commons on Feb. 3, 2021 (CP/Adrian Wyld)
I’m sending this memo to suggest a change in how you are managing the pandemic. Specifically, you need to stop telecommuting from your study and, like the rest of your G7 colleagues, return to work in the Prime Minister’s Office.
I recognize that most of us are still working from home, but you are what we consider an “essential worker.” Why essential? Well, you’re the national leader. And we have a few crises we need you to be focused on right now.
There’s COVID-19—a once-in-a-century pandemic that has killed over 20,000 Canadians. While we are making progress on the second wave, several new and more contagious variants are now spreading at an exponential rate. And, worse yet, some of these may not respond to our existing vaccines.
Speaking of vaccines, this may be your most pressing crisis. Canada is not doing very well on vaccination rates. In fact, compared to most peer countries, our performance to date has been abysmal. I realize there are lots of reasons for this. And many of your partisan supporters have been able to twist together tortured explanations for why none of these are your fault. But, and I am repeating myself here, you’re the national leader. The buck stops with you. You wanted to be Prime Minister, now you are, and whether you like it or not you are the single person in the country who is ultimately responsible for making sure we all get vaccinated.
These issues alone are reason enough for you to return to the office. Unfortunately, however, you also have to deal with the economic downturn, which has gutted our retail sector and led to hundreds of thousands of layoffs. Then, there is the accelerating climate change crisis. I know this has been going on for years now, but it’s getting really dire. Ask one of your scientists. They will explain. And there are several ongoing Canadian-specific crises, such as the fact that 27 communities still don’t have drinking water, six years after you were elected on the promise of fixing that urgent problem.
So, as you can see, there’s a lot on your plate. This is the moment you need to be the most effective leader you can possibly be. And we all know home is not the most effective place to work. Like you, we are all dealing with homeschooling, lack of space and lack of facilities. Unlike you we can afford a few distractions or disruptions. You can’t. You need to take advantage of all the resources available to you as Prime Minister. And most of these are not easily accessible as you work from home at Rideau Cottage.
Go back to the office, where you can interact with your team more effectively and more efficiently. Zoom can only take you so far. You need to focus. You need to lead. You need to light a fire under some arses, and face to face is the best way to accomplish that.
Set up a crisis room in PMO. Put some monitors on the walls tracking the spread of new variants and vaccination distribution in real time. Staff it 24/7. Right now, vaccination rates are actually going down on weekends—the virus doesn’t work a 40-hour week, and so why are we? Make sure this crisis room is within shouting distance from your office. (Yes, you’re allowed to shout. 20,000 Canadians have died. Thousands more will follow. You can get angry and demand results. In fact, we want you to.)
Give senior liaisons from every province a seat in that crisis room, so we can finally start treating this as a national crisis, and not a series of regional ones.
Stand up a small army to man a national test & trace system. If the premiers balk at it, go on live TV and tell them to “Go to hell—this is an emergency, not the time to moan about provincial jurisdictions.” Seriously. Use those exact words. Even your most ardent critics will smile with approval.
Your decision to work from home was a nice gesture, a year ago. Now it’s bordering on the absurd. You do get top marks for demonstrating solidarity and for modelling good behaviour. With a few unfortunate exceptions that’s something you’re very good at. Show, don’t tell, right? But, and I feel like I shouldn’t have to remind you of this, “do” is better than show.
If you’re worried that returning to work will spread the virus, then quarantine your staff and top government leadership in a hotel. You could even emulate Winston Churchill and put cots in offices. Administer rapid COVID tests daily. Set up whatever protocols you need to bring Canada’s leadership team together to work from the office.
You’re an actor at heart. Think of this as your big West Wing moment, the performance of your life. Roll up those sleeves, muss up your hair. Rush into the office. Gather your team around you. Set up a war room. Act like you’re a world leader faced with a massive crisis and responsible for the lives of millions of citizens. Because, Prime Minister, you are.
Two weeks ago I posted about self-kindness and the related benefits of being lazy. It’s hard not to be attracted by that advice! In reading about what other advice is out there, one expert suggests that you should concentrate on self-compassion rather than self-esteem in being kind to yourself. Hmm, maybe. But doesn’t that depend on the health of your self-esteem, and how specifically you define these terms? Along with the extraordinary stresses most people are experiencing during this never-ending pandemic, many people of all ages add to their stress – and distress – every day by continuing to measure themselves against some arbitrary societal standard. Surely, developing the self-confidence to be your own person and learning to like that person are important aspects of self-kindness. How can they not be?
Earlier this week, a fellow blogger wrote on this topic in a post called What Defines You? This…