The Sad Life of Outliers

IWUZ considering the lonely existence of “Outliers”. (This is not about belly buttons so read on). Outliers are outsiders – with somber overtones of actually being an outcast. What got me thinking about this was a column by Jeffrey Simpson; a prominent, left leaning columnist here in the Great White North. He was bemoaning the fact that, under a Conservative government Canada has – along with the US and a few others, become an outlier. How did we get to this sad state?

First of all, Canada, (and the US), have refused to borrow money to lend to the Europeans. By increasing our debt so the Europeans could increase their debt, we would help them solve their debt crisis. Got it? So by giving the appearance of exercising common sense, (and the Canadian PM suggesting that the Europeans look for some, which Simpson called “hectoring”), Canada has become an outlier.

Mr Simpson is also upset by the fact that Canada was not given a seat on the UN Security Council. In this case, Canada is an outlier because it supports Israel. Since Israel is a democracy, and the Security Council has, over the years, steered the world towards peace with the guidance of thugocracies and kleptocracies such as Egypt, Syria, Iran, and Iraq; actual democracies are all pretty much outliers at the United Nations. They are really good only for their money.

I suppose, to regain some prestige, Canada could have sought an ambassadorship with the UN’s World Tourism Office. After all, Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe was given an appointment as a World Ambassador for Tourism. Instead, on principle, Canada withdrew entirely. No wonder it is an outlier. Common sense and principles are so passé at the UN.

Back on planet Earth, the Republicans of Indiana rejected long time Republican Senator Richard Lugar as their candidate for the November elections, and installed a Tea Party Republican in his place. Senator Lugar was an “Inlier”. (Don’t look it up because I just made it up). Mr Lugar was famous for being able to work together with his opponents and get things done. Even President Obama said he could work with Senator Lugar. The Senator and his comrades worked together so well over his 30 year career that the United States is now $16,000,000,000,000 – that’s trillions, in debt; and is adding nearly 4 billion per day, or 120 billion per month. Isn’t compromise grand!! Each US citizen, including children and grandchildren, now owes about $50,000 as their share of the debt. Teenagers have a reason to be rebellious. Newborns have a reason to cry.

You might remember I mentioned Preston Manning a few blogs ago. He was the ultimate outlier politician who preached “We’ve gotta stop borrowing; gotta stop borrowing, gotta stop borrowing”; to the derision and disdain of the left and the mainstream media. But then one day the World Bank warned Canada that its position was precarious, and The Wall Street Journal named Canada an honorary member of the Third World, and Canada finally noticed the cliff. Fifteen years later Canada is in relatively good shape.

So what’s my point? Well, when you’re trying to avoid going over a cliff, compromise is a dirty word. When you know you are right, keep talking. The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane. And never give up.

Let’s go back for our future


Alberta Politics Politics US Politics

Strengthen what remains

The soil was muddy all the way down to the bottom, 18 inches or so. The moisture may have gone farther. In any case, the earth was unusually wet, and the hills were unusually green. The flatlands were also green, but then they had been green since my grandfather pioneered this land 110 years ago; and together with neighbors, brought water to dry land. A few decades earlier the Palliser Expedition had called it a desert.

Pete Reesor had heeded the call to; “go west young man”, and settled on the banks of Battle Creek in this, “dry as a bone” area of the Northwest Territories. When he arrived, there were no roads, no fences, no power lines, no telephones, no telegraph, few neighbors; and the nearest town was a 50 mile horseback ride north, over the Cypress Hills. (Fifteen years before, Sitting Bull had found refuge in those hills from the US army, upset over a battle in Montana that had not turned out well for General Custer).

South of the hills, it was dry, short grass prairie. But Pete and couple of other visionary ranchers hadn’t seen dry, short grass prairie. Instead they saw irrigated farmland, hayfields, feed for livestock, and insurance against drought. Pete had also seen a sort of prairie oasis; with shade trees, and gardens, and fruit trees, and buildings; and a wife and family. And, after decades of digging, and ditching, and planning, and planting; it all came true.

Grandpa had sold land to the Canadian Pacific Railway for the town site, and provided a few acres for a cemetery overlooking the town site and the valley. Fifty years ago, he was buried there in the family plot; followed by my Grandmother, and my Dad and Uncle. A week ago, under blue skies scattered with white clouds – she loved clouds; we placed Mom’s urn in the blessedly muddy soil beside Dad’s; a half mile from the village where she had been born, and a mile from the farm where Dad was born. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, earth to earth.

But, Mom’s ashes are all that we buried.

We didn’t bury memories, or life lessons imparted, or standards to live by, or the importance of our faith; or, of pursuing dreams. In fact; having our ancestors buried and memorialized in a specific place gives us and our descendants a place to go back to and be reminded of all those important things. Bob Dylan, borrowing from the Apocalypse in the New Testament wrote; “When ya gonna wake up, and strengthen the things that remain?”

Last weekend, we buried what was necessary, and strengthened what remained. It was good.

Going back for our future.


PS – For years I have had the quote above over my desk; ascribed to Lucretius. Jennifer Wainwright pointed out it is by Marcus Aurelius. I do need a good editor! The quote is not meant to imply that I get it right all the time; only that simply being in the minority should not sway you from a carefully, and courageously thought out, and honestly held position.