Pass the Salt Please? Thank You!


Gordon Wilson

I’ve learned that the things I learned at the dinner table are not the same thing others learned. However, my generation, (I was born in 1952), for the most part were taught table manners. Simple things like;

  • You don’t reach across the table, you ask politely. That means using please and thank you.
  • You don’t interrupt someone else when they are talking. When you do speak you do so respectfully.
  • Angry and insulting outbursts are not permitted.  Such behaviour means banishment from the table until such time you can comply with the expected norms of behaviour.

It seems to me these are good rules to follow regardless of the social context. I would especially like to suggest public dialogue should follow these rules. While the Internet has made it possible for more people to participate in the public debate, it has also showed us the least desirable of that debate.

Here are some observations that I have made about life:

  1. It is easier to overeat than to eat in moderation.
  2. It is easier to eat unhealthy food that healthy food.
  3. It is easier to be inactive than active.
  4. It is easier to be undisciplined than disciplined.
  5. It is easier to develop bad habit than good ones.
  6. It is easier to be selfish than to be generous.
  7. It is easier to want more than to be satisfied with what you have.
  8. It is easier to expect others to make sacrifice than to do it yourself.
  9. It is easier to want it now than to wait.
  10. It is easier to criticize than to give compliments.
  11. It is easier to find fault than to find the positive.
  12. It is easier to take offence than to ignore it.
  13. It is easier to blame someone else than accept responsibility.

Since the number 13 is considered a negative number, this may be a good place to end the list. I’m sure you can think of some other things to add to it.

The amazing thing about all of the items on the list is this, if you consistently carry out the more difficult practices, life is more enjoyable for you and those around you! You are simply healthier spiritually, physically and mentally. The converse is also true. Practice the negative behaviours and you will feel bad and those around you will too.

Unless you have had your head in the sand; like the proverbial ostrich, you are aware of the world financial crises. As a province and country we are not immune. For the average citizen it is easy to say, it is not my fault (see # 13) and someone else needs to fix it. While it is true the big decisions need to be made by our governments, we as ordinary citizens can have a profound effect on those decisions. How we speak and conduct ourselves on a daily basis contribute to the environment around us. We can create an environment of criticism and acrimony where all we do is complain and become victims or we can create an environment that encourages creative thinking and positive solutions.

The politicians we elect to public office are not our enemies, they are our representatives. Why do we gain the sense they do not want to talk to us? Maybe it is because they don’t. Maybe they don’t want to talk to us because all we do is criticize badly? Criticism done correctly can be positive. Everyone makes mistakes. Criticizing a policy or decision doesn’t have to include criticizing character. Why is there the assumption that politicians need to have all the answers? Clearly they don’t and no time in history has it ever been the case that they did.

If we want our elective representative to talk to us more, we need to create an environment where they can feel like they’re not going into the proverbial lions den when they do. You and I have the power to do that.

Now there is a difference in being wrong and doing wrong. I’m not for a moment suggesting that we lower ethical standards for our politicians. What I am suggesting is that we raise them on ourselves!

 Gordon Wilson
CARP Fredericton
Chapter Chair