Maybe I am a glass-half-full guy after all

Thom muses society becoming meaner may be more perception than reality

Canadian society is becoming much meaner.

Our rights are being eroded.

Political polarization is at an all time high.

These are sentiments that seem to be gaining a lot of traction, Lately.

I beg to differ.

We have never lived in more inclusive, tolerant or cordial times.

I am hardly an optimist. I tend toward the glass being half empty.

I also tend toward cynicism, my default position being distrust.

But when you look at the facts, it just doesn’t wash.

LAST WEEK: It all comes down to income inequality

Just three years before I was born, First Nations people did not even have the right to vote.

We may still have a long way to go to full reconciliation, but at least the conversation is being had.

In my own lifetime, we have gone from homosexuality being illegal to same-sex marriage being legal.

We even have a local church that recently became an “affirming ministry,” one that has officially declared itself to be “fully inclusive of people of all sexual orientations and gender identities.”

That same church (United) has a congregation in Toronto, which is led by an openly atheist minister.


Can you picture a horse? I can’t

Maybe I don’t know enough to be on Facebook

As for polarization, partisanship has always existed in politics, and, particularly since we are currently embroiled in an election campaign it tends to be front and centre. But on the whole, polling shows Canadians have never been less loyal to specific parties. The data would appear to indicate, what we really want is for our political leaders to collaborate to address real issues that affect our day-to-day lives, which is largely what happens in between election cycles.

Imperfectly, I admit, but governing is not easy.

If it seems like Canadian society is becoming meaner, I think it can be attributed to two things.

The first is basic human nature. We have lousy, or maybe a more appropriate word is selective, memories.

How many times have you heard a drinker, while nursing a Sunday morning hangover, say ‘never again’ only to, a week later, recall the festivities that caused said crapulence with nostalgia and do it all over again.

In short, we quickly forget how bad things used to be.

The second thing, of course, is the ubiquitous influence of technology. It has never been easier to widely and publicly disseminate extremist views, misinformation, disinformation and hateful sentiments, but they are hardly new, just perhaps more visible.

Videos of racist, anti-religious and homophobic incidents spread like wildfire, but are the number of incidents actually increasing? I can’t find any reliable data, and would never presume to speak for others, but I can speak for myself and say, over the years, I have noticed acceptance of my atheism has grown. Of course, that could have something to do with the fact people reporting having no religion are now the second largest group in Canada next to Christians.

There is danger here, I suppose, that the amplification of extremist views could shift popular opinion in Canada—as it seems to be doing south of the border and across the Atlantic—but we’re not there yet and it would take a pretty drastic downturn in our economic fortunes to change that, I believe.

Everywhere I’ve lived in Canada, I’ve found the overwhelming majority of us are pretty accepting of diversity. And that is backed up by data.

Can we do better? Of course we can, but we should not lose sight of how far we’ve come.

Hey, maybe I am a glass-half-full guy after all.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Witset chosen for housing innovation funding program

Proposal to build healing lodge for at-risk youth one of four selected in B.C.

Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation and hereditary chiefs agree to future meeting

Scott Fraser was in Smithers on Jan. 22 and spoke with Office of the Wet’suwet’en representatives

Unist’ot’en Camp say RCMP have changed 27 kilometre roadblock rules

Footage shows RCMP telling an unidentified lawyer they can’t re-enter the checkpoint

B.C. Indigenous communities receive funding for hands-on trades training

Nuxalk, Witset, Penticton Indian Band, TRU Williams Lake, and Camosun College among beneficiaries

Telkwa bridge struck by empty logging truck

The truck hit the bridge on its east side and appears to have damaged a wooden beam

VIDEO: Mass coronavirus quarantines seen in China won’t happen in Canada, authorities say

‘If a case comes here, and it is probably … it will still be business as normal’

Province’s oldest practising lawyer shares advice at her 100th birthday party

Firefighters bring Constance Isherwood a cake with 100 birthday candles

Vernon woman suing McDonald’s for spilled coffee

Woman seeking nearly $10K, says employee failed to put lid on properly

Diners’ health tax not catching on in B.C., restaurant group says

Small businesses look for options to cover employer health tax

B.C. comic wins judgment after club owner slaps cellphone out of his hands

Incident happened last summer when Garrett Clark was performing in Abbotsford

Mayors call for ‘calmness’ as highway rockslide cuts Tofino, Ucluelet off from supplies

Ministry of transportation expects to open road for “essential travel only” from noon-8 p.m. Friday.

Owner surrenders dog suffering from days-old gunshot wound to B.C. SPCA

The dog was also found to be emaciated and suffering from a flea infestation

B.C. man dies after police called for ‘firearms injury’ in rural Alberta

Victim is 30-year-old Greater Victoria man, say police

Most Read