The Canadian Imagination

What it means to be Canadian; examining and reworking Canada as a nation.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

The bottom line

When I saw a treasured heritage bridge, the last of its kind yet still sure and solid underfoot, condemned to be sold for scrap with the mayor's gleeful statement, "It is not every day that you can find $1 million to save in the city budget, just like that!" : I knew that one day, future generations will see us as the Dark Ages.

In previous times, we reduced the value of all things to virtue, or to reason, or to buying prime beachfront real estate in the afterlife. We don't build for the ages anymore. Today, we reduce the value of all things to their monetary cost. Even if quality or durability or even history must be sacrified, cheaper is better. If it cannot be expressed in black ink, it may as well be worthless.

Yet these are all human constructs. Not one of them needs be absolute unless we ourselves make it so.

To step outside our familiar value constructs is difficult. To step outside a money-dominated perspective during difficult economic times is as close to impossible as makes no matter -- but it is not impossible. What we build, today, can reflect the best of what we have to give the world and our own future generations.

Or -- we can do our best to tear ourselves down, and the works of past generations with us. After all, what is love and craftsmanship and engineering for the stars but just another indulgent vanity we can no longer afford? Consign it to the bonfire!


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