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The Outsider: I vs. we and finding common ground in the outdoors

I take a certain level of pride in the fact that with the page space afforded me by Pique’s editor and publisher, I have every plausible reason (or excuse, depending on how you look at it) to skirt most of the hot button issues of our town/prov
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The outdoors offers solace from the craziness of our current social discourse. Let’s look after it.

I take a certain level of pride in the fact that with the page space afforded me by Pique’s editor and publisher, I have every plausible reason (or excuse, depending on how you look at it) to skirt most of the hot button issues of our town/province/society and just write about the good ol’ times in the outdoors. While I won’t hesitate to take a stand on certain controversies—particularly those that affect the outdoor recreation and tourism communities—I tend to leave the electioneering out of it and let the other opinion writers in these pages take the reins on political takedowns.

But we are far from any sense of societal normalcy, and the timing of this election couldn’t be more inflammatory. Our somewhat cohesive, liberal-thinking community that tends to choose lifestyle over money and career, that is more often than not united on climate change issues (the fringe of People’s Party of Canada supporters in the Sea to Sky need not apply), that has (in my experience) always come together when we are faced with adversity, has fractured. A “free” society or an immunized society that has the freedom to carry on living without spreading infection to those vulnerable and filling up hospital beds? It sucks that it has come to this, but here we are.

In a work meeting last week, a colleague of mine explained the rationale for why he pushed to keep the pronoun “we” in a marketing slogan. He surmised that in 2021, it’s more about “I,” but for the sake of a brand being inclusive of everyone, “we” needed to stay.

When did “I” become so much more important than your fellow human being? 

My rights. My freedoms. My choice not to receive a vaccination. My personal expression that likens vaccine passports to tattooed serial numbers on the wrist of Holocaust victims. My choice to protest in front of a hospital and misdirect my frustrations towards exhausted healthcare workers. 

Insanity. But here we are.

There’s no convincing the inconvincible it seems, but whatever happened to taking one for the team? “We’re all in this together,” and all that? I’m the first to admit that there’s bullshitting happening on both sides of the vaccine debate, but the arguments getting thrown around social media in recent weeks have turned our Canadian common sense into a cesspit of culture war rhetoric more akin to what goes on south of the border. C’mon people. We’re smarter than this.

And so with the election coming next week and toxic doomscrolling at everyone’s fingertips, the one place we can turn for solace is outside. Climb some mountains. Hit the trails. Camp in the wilderness if you don’t mind encountering a bear or two sniffing around your tent. At least in the outdoors, “we” still resonates. And not “us we” versus them. “We” means all of us.

And what do we need to maintain this space, where we can all still run into other humans and feel like we can put differences aside because we’re having so much fun and enjoying all the great views? We need a climate policy that’s not going to let it all burn to the ground in future wildfire seasons. We need to stop harvesting old-growth trees that literally are the outdoors in our part of the world. If we can’t agree on this stuff, we truly are screwed.

So when you head to the polls on Monday, Sept. 20, remember it’s not all about “I.” We need people running the country—both in Ottawa and our own riding—to acknowledge and act on what is the biggest existential crisis of our generation (hint: it’s not mandatory vaccines or passports). When you weigh up all the economic, social, health and environmental issues on our shoulders right now it can seem like every candidate is a poor choice. But we still should choose, as is our right.   

 

Vince Shuley encourages you to vote on Monday, Sept. 20. For questions, comments or suggestions for The Outsider email vince.shuley@gmail.com or Instagram @whis_vince.