Thursday, February 5, 2009

You know, it's not all gloom and doom

So here's the deal: Lord knows there are plenty of reasons available in today's environment to bitch, moan, complain, kvetch, and hell, just toss it all in.
For the glass-half-empty crowd this has got to be the closest thing to Nirvana we've experienced since...well, since the last time the economy went in the tank only a few years ago, and a few years before that, and a few years before that. There are however hopeful signs on the horizon and right at hand.
I recently started working with one of Canada's leading wineries. At the same time I've begun to volunteer with the Community Foundation of Oakville (CFO). And, of course, I'm still a work-at-home Dad raising my now 16-month-old son Gabriel.
What do these all have in common and why the photo of the newest book by Don Tapscott?
In both the case of the winery and the CFO we're challenged to broaden our market to include a younger demographic. In this circumstance what many call the Millennial generation. Learning about these young folks has been illuminating as all get out. They are in fact very little like you might expect. If your image is of a group of self-absorbed, narcissistic gamers who care little about anything save themselves and their ability to enjoy life with little commitment to anyone or anything - you couldn't be more wrong. This is a generation of people who actually think their parents are pretty cool and that their grandparents are especially cool. Their role models are not Britney, Jessica and Madonna but Bill & Melinda Gates, Warren Buffett, Oprah, Barack Obama and George Clooney. They are civic minded. They value friends and family and they want to participate positively in improving life conditions for their families and people around the world. They may well be the first truly global generation. I encourage you to visit www. to get a real glimpse into how they are transforming what our generation and others almost wrecked.
On that last point, the following is a short excerpt from Tapscott's greatly insightful book.
"Comedian Jon Stewart put it well in his frank commencement address to the 2004 graduating class of the College of William and Mary: "Let's talk about the real world for a moment. I guess this is as good a moment as any. I don't really know how to put this, so I'll be blunt. We broke it. Please don't be mad. I know we were supposed to bequeath to the next generation a world better than the one we were handed. So, sorry. I don't know if you've been following the news lately, but it just kind of got away from us. Somewhere between the gold rush of easy Internet profits and an arrogant sense of endless empire, we heard kind of a pinging noise, and uh, then the damn thing just died on us. So I apologize. But here's the good news. You fix this thing; you're the next greatest generation, people."
So there you go. Amidst all of the pissing and moaning there is some good news and a highly motivated generation who are ready, willing and able to help us bail out this sunken ship and refloat a new world of hope and glory.
I refuse to succumb to the gloomer and doomers. Get a grip people and let's work together to move this thing forward in a positive fashion.
Oh, by the way...get involved in your local community foundation or volunteer somehow to make a difference. Tapscott's book. You'll learn - ALOT.

Recommended reading

The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini
It seems that for centuries the country of Afghanistan has been at war. Very few people, even some with special insight and historical knowledge of the region, expect that the country will ever know anything but conflict based upon centuries-old tribal rivalries, biases, faiths and beliefs.
Recent events and social, political and economic pronouncements - particularly from the United States and our own Canadian government - produced a demonization of all things Afghani. Taliban or otherwise we've become anesthetized to the plight of the people of Afghanistan. While we can perhaps all agree that the Taliban quest to take the country back to a former fundamentalist religious base, how did it happen that we came to lose sight that there are people just like us living in Kabul. I know how incredibly naive this all sounds...that someone in my position should just realize that he's fallen prey to the manipulations of the Bush/Harper governments and their minions BUT...better that we become aware than never aware at all.
All this is written solely to encourage you to read this book. It will help you regain perspective and get back to the emotions and qualities of all of our lives that really do matter.
This book is lyrical and violent. The author has an uncanny ability to find the poetry in devastation and the hope that springs from grounds which by all accounts should be forever barren. If you read no other book in the next short while...make it this one.
The following brief passage will I hope entice you to seek it out.
"Alas the Afghanistan of our youth is long dead. Kindness is gone from the land and you cannot escape the killings. Always the killings. In Kabul, fear is everywhere, in the streets, in the stadium, in the markets, it is a part of our lives here, Amir agha. The savages who rule our watan don't care about human decency. The other day, I accompanied Farzana jan to the bazaar to buy some potatoes and naan. She asked the vendor how much the potatoes cost, but he did not hear her, I think he had a deaf ear. So she asked louder and suddenly a young Talib ran over and hit her on the thighs with his wooden stick. He was screaming at her and cursing and saying the Ministy of Vice and Virtue does not allow women to speak loudly. She had a large purple bruise on her leg for dayds but what could I do except stand and watch my wife get beaten? If I fought, that dog would surely put a bullet in me, and gladly! Then what would happen to my Sohrab? The streets are full enough already of hungry orphans and every day I thank Allah that I am alive, not because I fear death, but because my wife has a husband and my son is not an orphan.
"I wish you could see Sohrab. He is a good boy. Rahim Khan sahib and I have taught him to read and write so he does not grow up stupid like his father. And can he shoot with that sling-shot!....I am a very proud and very lucky father."