Double negative

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Why you might be concerned about the wrong things

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in the Other Press. November 18, 2015

What concerns us in day-to-day life differs from person to person; some worry about immediate problems such as deadlines and commitments, while others worried about situations that have no direct influence on them. I’m all for the former and not so much about the latter. We waste too much time concerned with aspects of the world that we cannot control, and when we do think that we are making a positive impact, we are often neglecting an issue closer to home.

The environment: it is the foundation of life upon Earth. Many of us make every effort to take care of it, but then again, we often forget to take care of ourselves—to protect ourselves. How often do I see commuters on bicycles swerving this way and that on the road without a helmet? I see it almost all the time, especially in urban areas. Riding a bike is better for the environment, but neglecting your safety is far from smart. Your wellbeing is a far bigger concern than the carbon you would emit into the air if you were driving.

The world at large is full of disruption and corruption. I remember this cliché line growing up: there are poor children in Africa that want what you have. Hell, there are poor children in Canada that want what I have. We often look at developing countries or countries in crisis, such as Syria, and offer our deepest sympathy. However, when we look at an unfortunate individual closer to home, what do we do? We call them lazy, we call them bums, and we call them stupid, and so on and so on. If you want to help people, start with those in your backyard.

Worrying is a type of escape, don’t deny it. Sometimes we get emotionally invested in things just so we can avoid the immediate problems with our lives. Look at sports for example. We put so much emotional weight on the performance of a group of people we don’t even know. The outcome has minimal effect on our lives. If we own a sports bar, we might benefit from the Canucks winning, but otherwise, it’s pretty much a way to misdirect attention from our own work ethics. We worry so much about how the Canucks, Whitecaps, and Lions are doing, but how often do we turn to our friends and family and show interest in their pursuits? Rarely. Working at an office or a restaurant is not as interesting as scoring a goal. Finishing an assignment is not as exciting as making the playoffs. But if you are worried about the successes and failures of complete strangers, why aren’t you worried about those who matter so much to you?

It’s okay to be farsighted now and then and be concerned about the world, but more often than not, we should look at what’s around us—there are problems everywhere that need to be solved. Let’s start with those.

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