If they put it to us in a clear plan, the majority of North Americans would say yes to an accessible universal mode of electric powered system of public transportation. But those who manipulate the strings and also us who love our vehicles will not say no to profiteering by traditional outmoded and environmentally destructive methods of conveyance. Most folks choose to sway to debt in what is truly a poor investment. Consequently vehicle accumulation increases the risk of death on our country's highways - a situation which is perfectly legal in Canada. At this point who could imagine that we may have numbered the days of the private vehicle? Consider Beijing and Delhi, which have up to seven-fold pollution rates implementing an odd-even plate number road rationing policy. I try to imagine folks here furious with no cars for a day finally discovering the joy of sidewalks.
A house in which a middle-class family can find shelter and make a home for itself has now become a tool for a few individuals to profit buying and reselling properties. The practice has become so rampant, and the rules so blurred, appointed referees are attempting to say no to the gouging, setting fines against non-compliant agents who see nothing wrong with what they're doing. Seniors and first-time buyers looking for housing suffer because of this while developers continue to profit from multilevel housing projects with stairs.
People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things.
Steve Jobs – Apple Worldwide Developers’ Conference, 1997
The other day I was looking over the stock of navel oranges in a local grocery. The attendant stood there fingering the fruit as if she was trying to tell me what was good to buy. They were $1.69/lb. She walked away entirely mute when I calmly suggested they would go fast if they were $1.29/lb. I reluctantly bought two for $4.20 before they all ended up in the garbage. It seems our civilization does not appreciate the true value of nourishment for what it really is so the grocery business becomes a means to an end.
That Steve Jobs quote is subtle. Is he suggesting we focus on keeping "an eye on the ball" while we decide whether to say yes or no to tasks consistent with building a healthy clean air society? And would it be one where everyone has an equal opportunity for shelter, safe transportation and full access to proper nutrition? Saying no to all the ways society deters us from this focus may be too overwhelming, and we may need a concerted effort. Or does saying no often keep us in a positive direction. Perhaps this could be an awakening point to what is happening in the present moment.
Photo by Lisa Susin (with permission)