Friday, August 12, 2011

Yin Yang

Near the top of the list of Things My Mother Taught Me is that the best way to get something is to ask nicely. My mom knew I would hold her to her word, so she always added the notwithstanding clause that no request was guaranteed until approved by both the House (Mom) and the Senate (Dad), and that both had absolute veto power if the need arose. There was no magic formula for getting what you wanted, but you were guaranteed not to get what you wanted if you didn't ask nicely.

There are folks out there that must have missed this all-important rule of kidhood . . . like the yahoos in London who recently thought smashing and burning the town was a good way to make their point. Now the authorities are thinking about a ban on social media because the riots were organized to a large degree on Facebook and Twitter. This will likely get the freedom of speech guys upset, but if they want to be heard they'd better take the hint and ask nicely too. I haven't forgotten the boneheads of Vancouver by the way, just in case you think I'm throwing stones from a glass house.

I'm not taking sides here, and I'm glad I don't have to sort this one out. I like my Facebook account, but if I had to choose between it and having my windows smashed out, I think I'd choose unbroken windows. I don't think it's that simple though. Freedom and security are two opposing values in this yin yang world, and if we don't have both, things get lopsided pretty quickly.

Hydrantgirl writes about a less drastic type of yin yang in her recent post: Fire vs. EMS. I smiled at the post, because in a certain city near here, the rivalry between the two services is no secret. In Winnipeg, which is a little further away, I believe they are combined into one service, but I'm still not sure they always get along like ice cream and chocolate sauce. Even in Upsala we have upon occasion shared a little good-natured rivalry, but out here in the boondocks we need each other too badly to allow serious bad blood to develop between the services. Like freedom and security, the emergency services would be pretty lopsided without both Fire and EMS doing their part.

Then there is the volunteer firefighter vs career firefighter yin yang. Now that can turn into a truly scary topic. I've dodged the bullet so far by avoiding it pretty much altogether, but I keep saying that one of these days I'll write about the good, the bad, and the ugly of both. I don't think today is the day.

The final yin yang for this post is politicians versus hard-working citizen. For many years I hurled insults at politicians from the safety of my computer keyboard because they make easy targets, along with their non-elected counterparts, the bureaucrats. Remembering what my mother taught me though, I decided to try the "ask nicely" tactic last year. Both politicians and bureaucrats do play a part in balancing this odd society we've created, after all.

Being nice hasn't accomplished much so far, but having learned from the Londoners and Vancouverites, I at least didn't break any windows or set any shops on fire, so the window of opportunity is still open. You can read about my most recent attempt at asking nicely over at the CVFSA blog.

See Mom, it wasn't all in vain after all.

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