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I Heart Myself

Steve Campbell

Steve Campbell

One of the advantages of aging at a rapid rate is that I get to look back and build a gauge of human progress.

I became politically aware in 1967 … pretty much the perfect time to be a teenager. It was Centennial year, and our Prime Minister was a vibrant Pierre Trudeau, rose in the lapel and all. By political standards, he was young as PMs go … usually it takes until you’re about 70 before you’ve made enough connections, paid off enough people, and decided it was time to retire from your career as a lawyer, and move into the big money.
In a blast of nationalism, for a brief shining moment, Canada was united – strong, proud and free, as the song goes.
We hadn’t seen this since 1812, and haven’t seen it since 1967.

In the course of time, we moved from the love/peace/hippie generation to the Me Generation of the 70s. The Me Gen was not selfish, as such. They were just the first young generation to have expendable dollars, so they partied the decade away. Political activism was no longer fun and even their parents had left the world of free love, pot, LSD and quests for government accountability and world peace – and went out and got real jobs with big paycheques.
We moved along through time, and someone birthed Gen X, a totally bored and entitled group. I had the privilege to meet them as a teacher at Loyalist College. I learned to hate the word ‘Whatever’, and found, by show of hands, that only two of the 30 journalism students had ever read a newspaper. I can only hope they survived the real working world, where this doesn’t fly.

So, after that long intro, it’s time once again for Steve’s version of Psychology 101.
I see a new and disturbing trend, delivered via TV which, I think Marshall McLuhan said, is the opiate of the masses, before real opium became readily available.
So this observation comes from a commercial for #RichKidsinBeverlyHills. I have no idea why they used the # sign in their name, other than to appear just below ‘#Aardvarks and their mating habits’ on Google.
Now, you know right up front that Rich Kids of Beverly Hills is going to provide some glimpses into stimulating conversations, deep insight into the global economic crisis, and where to buy really expensive shoes.
But that doesn’t bother me … I don’t expect to run into them at the Wellington Farmers Market. It’s the next part of the commercial: an obviously gay oriental guy on a bicycle stating, somewhat belligerently, “I’m me. Get over it!”
This is followed by the show’s tagline: I ❤ myself.
This got me to thinking. This, I think, is another part of our evolution I’m not going to like.
I don’t care if this guy is gay, or oriental, or a cyclist. In fact, I care nothing about him. It’s the part where he is making a loud statement about ‘what he is’.
Let’s explore this. In the 1960s – foolish and naive as it looks in retrospect – everything was about brotherhood and destruction of societal barriers. From feminism to racism, the mindset was geared toward acceptance: “Why don’t we all just get along?”
This was somewhat prescient when you look at the world today, in which Sunis and Shi’ites wage war with each other, with the world hanging in the balance – and they share the same religion.
Dozens of other examples prove that we are moving way far away from brotherhood in a global community of mankind.

‘I heart myself’ demonstrates how self-serving, individualistic and insular we have become. In the County, thank God, we still see ourselves as a community, still helping those around us who need help. The multitude of volunteer fundraisers, such as PEC Syria, Hospital Foundation, Rotary, etc., shows that we willingly share with those less fortunate. This was the British way when Canada was settled, and our whole national identity was built on that foundation.
Modern society – certainly in Beverly Hills – likes to assert the power of the individual. Not just being comfortable with yourself, but making a statement to the world about “what I am!”
You can see this everywhere you look: I’m gay, I’m vegan, I’m lactose intolerant, I eat gluten-free, I’m allergic to peanuts, I’m not just a Christian … I’m a Born-Again Christian (which possibly earns you better seating in Heaven).
Of course, some of these are genuine medical conditions, but still, the statement is the key. It’s one thing to quietly announce your preferences to a waiter, it’s another thing to loudly pontificate: “How can you eat meat? It’s disgusting!”
The statement moves the situation from personal need to a religion of sorts: “I’m me! I’m all about me … shouldn’t you be too?”

To me, hearting yourself is counterproductive to a functioning society. Here’s a classic example:
A woman approached her Council to cut down a 200-year-old oak tree, because it was on the path to school for her nut-allergic son. They complied, because the “all about me” attitude and the looming monster of liability were too much to bear. I say: “Teach the kid to not eat the nuts.” If he is stupid enough to stop, peel off the outer shell, crack the inner shell, and eat it, well … perhaps he just isn’t meant to make it.
I’m all for individual rights and expression. It’s a good thing that you’re happy with yourself. But it’s okay, you don’t need to share it. Just be happy, heart yourself to death, and be quiet about it.
A final observation: We used to define ourselves by our jobs, and how that fit into the social need: I’m a welder; I’m a mechanic; I’m an accountant.
Now we define ourselves by lifestyle choices, as if that’s important to the rest of the world.
Most of us occasionally need a mechanic, but nobody ever desperately needs a vegan.

Filed Under: News from Everywhere ElseSteve Campbell

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RSSComments (3)

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  1. J says:

    I’m sure your ‘whatever’ saying non newspaper reading gen x students know better than to use a racial slur. This narrow minded rhetoric is exactly what’s wrong with the county.

  2. Susan says:

    Freedom in the County. Big strong oak trees and pines that remain taller than a wind turbine. Teach your kids and don’t transfer responsibility on everyone else.

  3. Mark says:

    Excellent article. Couldn’t agree more!

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