Saturday, February 19, 2005

Are We Really Better Off?

I like being a Canadian and a Torontonian. People of many different races, expectations and loyalties live here in apparent peace and harmony. We have a great standard of living. The world is our oyster.

However, as nice as it is today, it was better a few decades ago. In fact, if you look at the facts, you might conclude that we, as a city and a nation, peaked in the 60's and have been in slow decline ever since. For those of us who remember our past, there are some things going on today that indicate that we have already seen our best days.

Yesterday we knew and trusted our neighbours and our neighbourhoods were an extension of our homes. Our children could leave the house, find their friends, and play with them all day with parents showing no concern. Today we anxiously require our children to cling to us and stay close to home. We trust few people and know few of our neighbours. Our neighbourhoods, the very fabric of our society, have been lost to us.

Yesterday, families stayed together. Kids had fathers and mothers that lived with them, taught them and loved them. True, some families were less than ideal, but most made out just fine. There was stability. Today, many kids are born with no father living in the same house. Others go through divorce, end up living away from one parent, and are forced to live with total strangers who their parents take up with. Many children are drugged by parents who just don't have the time to deal with their shenanigans. Certainly, no one could rationally argue that these are positive societal changes.

Yesterday there were few gun crimes. Murder happened infrequently and when it did, it was a big deal. These days shootings and gun crimes happen daily. It is common for several to happen in any given weekend. We no longer feel safe in our city.

Yesterday there were virtually no homeless people wandering our streets. The mentally ill were housed in facilities geared to dealing with their difficulties. They had a warm bed and three squares a day. There were boarding houses for the drunks and unfortunate. Families were larger and people took more responsibility for their kin. These days, the mentally ill, addicted and other remarkably dirty vagrants are everywhere on our streets, begging for money and sleeping anywhere they please. Boarding houses became non-existent years ago as our litigious lawyer-dominated society took form. It’s just too risky to house the unfortunate these days. If one tripped in the kitchen, there’d be 50 smarmy lawyers scratching at the door salivating at the thought of a lawsuit.

Yesterday, kids respected adults. They took no for an answer and didn't talk back. Rude, disrespectful kids got a swipe upside the head. They learned important life lessons about respect, deference and humility. They were not the centre of the universe and they knew it. Today, kids talk back and rudely oppose their parents and other adults with impunity. Government funded, loonie leftist groups petition the Supreme court to make spanking a criminal offence. Parents treat their kids like they are the centre of the universe. Kids are no longer compelled to give respect and deference to adults, rather, they demand it from them.

Yesterday, virtually everyone was able to pay their own rent. There were precious few welfare housing units. These days there are 60,000 state subsidized apartments in Toronto. Imagine. 60,000 families depending on government to put a roof over their heads. And this is progress? I think not. It’s more like the creation of a society where people feel comfortable depending on the state to house them.

Yesterday, our streets were clean, water flowed through solid, sound pipes and pot holes were promptly repaired. Today, government has bigger fish to fry. Litter and filth clog our sidewalks and plazas, water pipes bust daily, and ubiquitous pot holes destroy passing cars. Meanwhile, our government debates which ethnic group should get grant money and creates a new department to fine people who cut a limb off a tree on their property. Basic services are a pesky inconvenience to them. Social engineering is a far more important priority.

Yesterday teachers were respected and trusted. They wielded discipline with an iron hand and taught our children how to read and write. Parents stood behind them. Today, teachers strike frequently and focus on teaching our children social values. Parents have responded by trusting them less and denying them the right to discipline their kids. Parents now have to spend too much time helping their children to read and write to compensate for the new socially sensitive educational focus. Maybe the change in the parent’s view resulted from the change in the teachers approach. I’d like to see a study on that.

So, here we are in 21st century Toronto, Canada. We don't know our neighbors or trust our neighborhoods. Many kids grow up in fragmented families with no stability. Many have no dad at all. Shootings happen all the time. Our streets are a battlefield. Homeless people are everywhere. Our kids are self absorbed and disrespectful. Parents work too much and parent too little. Our streets abound in filth and our infrastructure crumbles while our politicians spend our taxes on things they think are more important. Finally, our education system has become a social indoctrination centre focusing on teaching our children state sanctioned liberal values rather than ensuring that they are literate.

Anyway, I could go on all day. Many people think that we are advancing as a society and are better off than we were in years past. I think, in many respects, we are worse off. I leave it up to you to decide.


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