As I am reading the Globe and Mail on the 29th of January I am struck by two articles about Newfoundland. A feeling, which may be akin to nostalgia appears, a feeling enhanced by a large dose of Newfoundland through movies, books and old acquaintances which all have appeared over the past few months. I say akin to nostalgia because I feel nostalgia usually has with it at least some degree of positive ness.
What I am feeling this morning is a much deeper sense of foreboding. The feeling, because it is a mixed sensation, maybe sparked by a lifetime of memories. This feeling is weighted by the reality of seeing another attempt at systemic rape of resources, and diminishment of Newfoundlanders by those from away (of course aided and abetted by a few from within). But then, it has always been, that those from away know what’s best for Newfoundland.
These attempts to pillage Fisheries Products International (FPI), under the guise of Free Markets and Globalization, are just the latest saga being wrought on the poor and the unfortunate of that province by those that supposedly have. It is just outright plunder not dissimilar to the feudal lords of times just past. This endeavor, if allowed, will again wipe out more local communities, family legacies and quality of life. But supposedly, this is what we call development in the 21st century. Development of what I wonder.
As I witness these shenanigans being carried out, with local support, so called corporate legalities and less than gentle persuasion, I wonder. Here we have a place with untold natural wealth, that has spawned innumerable brilliant and hard working individuals and a sense of passion and patriotism unlike any seen anywhere by those that truly belong. Yet continually, blind eyes are turned to the evident devilment, ruthless pirating and blatant patronage that rivals the most corrupt regimes in the world. Again I wonder.
I realize that it is the way it is, the way it has been since settlers struggled to survive in this land since it was first discovered. People were merely chattels, like the natural resources, to be used by the wealthy, the powerful and the brutal who had control. The brutality is evident to any that have a glimmer of history. It is evident in the very ethos of “being” to those that live in a place without belonging. Newfoundland is the place where I was born, and lived but never quite belonged.
To those who belong the brutality has most often been hidden, by the promise of a better way, by the illusion of better prospects or the delusion of creating something much bigger and better that is in existence elsewhere. The brutality has always belonged to those who managed to have control and who could make the biggest promises and offer the greatest dreams. It has been the domain of the many saviors who have come to rescue Newfoundlanders from their very depths of despair.
Yes, I sit here this morning reading about the latest savior, come to lead Newfoundland to another promised land of a more efficient, more viable and more rewarding fishery. All it requires is a little sabotage, much complacency and a good deal of gullibility. And I do wonder how this could ever happen in such a modern, sophisticated and intelligent world. I really question how such travesty can once again be perpetrated in a world when moral outrage to terrorist acts now has no bounds.
Why then is there so much silence by the educated, the wealthy and the privileged. Surely it is they who will ultimately pay a hefty price for the folly of a few. Why indeed are so many willing to allow this skullduggery, remnant of a feudal time when merchants ruled this land? Why no outrage to the eventual forced out migration reminiscent of the political resettlement folly of more recent times? Why no mass uprising of such a wholesale rape of resources that rivals many of the outright resource giveaways of times not even very long ago? This time there is not even the illusion that it is being carried out under the guise of development.
As I reflect beyond my reading and scan the world I realize that it is perhaps just a human trait. It will take the realization that all is lost, that the scalawags have it all or the dastardly have had their way before people will rise up and demand their just rewards. We see it in Argentina; we witness it in Afghanistan and feel it in the massive dysfunctionality that is Africa. Ever so sadly it is our grandchildren who will ultimately pay the real price for our passivity, neglect and lack of courage. I do wonder, will we as humans ever learn.
I do believe, in the depth of my heart, that we are about to learn the historic lesson of all previous generations. That lesson suggests we, as humans, still have not learnt that there is another way rather than need and greed to exist on this planet. We only have to look beyond the bravado of the United States, the political gamesmanship so evident in Canada and the corporate follies of big business and governments everywhere to realize that lesson time is nigh at hand and reality is once again going to show its more pragmatic side.
Perhaps this time, we will learn that there is no savior, only people themselves, who, with faith and belief in a higher power and respect for themselves and others, can change the world, into a more equitable place for all. It is only people collectively, who can build a society where caring, sharing and compassion prevail, where true freedom and justice are the cornerstones of living and the appreciation of nature and its resources are the purview of everyone (and not the right of a few).
But as I read the second article about the upcoming 100th anniversary of Newfoundland’s anthem the “ Ode to Newfoundland” the negativity faded. I was reminded of the resilience of humankind and the wellspring of hope that maintains us beyond the pragmatism of realism. I was heartened as I read once again those words and recognized a spirit that aspires us to continue, to seek, to search and to dream of a world where despair is unknown, where brutality is non-existent and respect is shared by all. It is often the little things, the faded memories, the friendly reminders or the simple tunes that bring forth the aspirations buried deeply within each of us.