Gatineau week: a reminder that families come first
There is an awful lot of discussion about families in this newspaper – it’s a family paper! Family owned, destined for families, serving Aylmer, itself a community of families. Those families are defined in many ways, all of them accepted with pleasure, and the notion grows in meaning.
This is not a platitude. What we, especially as families, do in our city is already quite powerful, but we don’t always pay attention to this side of our lives, to the influence we can wield. Everyone’s so crazy busy! Busy being families, mostly.
Powerful is the right word, and if anyone doesn’t feel that, if he feels alone, bored, despondent, all he has to do is find others – create a “family” – with interests matching his own and which, by sheer numbers, allows him to magnify his influence beyond calculation. The strong, silent loner is a different trajectory – the shoot-out down at the corral. Most of us fall into the family category.
Local buying power is one of the biggest things families have at their disposal – all our spending, from rent and mortgage rates to cars and groceries, city taxes to insurance rates. Families wield considerable weight in all these things, in what becomes fashionable, and what is dropped. Policies undertaken by city council -- street repair -- are all influenced by families, especially when they themselves get together. We are all family, in some sense. We all have certain common interests, certain principles we support, goals we aspire to, for ourselves, for our communities, and for our nation.
Those interests are common, they can be as common as wanting summer jobs for teens and students, part-time openings for retirees, streets without potholes, clean meat in the stores, appliances that last, and educations that provide a multi-faceted preparation for life’s challenges. On and on, plenty of common interests.
And achieving these doesn’t fall from the sky. We create them, and are strongest in doing so if we act as families, and groups of families, and groups of grouped families! In turn, all this that we achieve modifies our future and even creates us, in turn. All social goods, from laws to unions, entertainment to education, all these things have been created by the conditions surrounding them, which means by us. Families. Neighbourhood groups. Student movements. Clubs and associations: families.
It is too easy these days to fall into the feeling of powerlessness which leads people to elect a Trump or to blame outsiders or different-language speakers. We will never be free of problems, but they become worse, not better, when we pursue wrong-headed goals or demagogic leaders. Look around, realize we are members of families, many families, and thus we are each powerful, having our small power magnified by its association with like-minded others. We can change city council’s direction; we can prevent destructive projects; we can support self-help and innovative efforts; we can be masters of our world, but it is a mastery, a power, that only works when it’s shared – and when it is actually exercised.