As the new year begins, I intend to look at the future of Maple Ridge with hope, although to everyone I have conversed with, 2016 was a year of great sorrow, individually and collectively.
Maple Ridge, along with the rest of western society, is in what I predict later historians will refer to as a spiritual crisis.
I am placed within this emerging group, called millennials. And as a millennial, I feel I may talk freely of the struggles of our generation, not to take away from the struggles of any other generation, within which you may reside.
Although a short blurb in the local paper could never sum up the truth of the matter, therefore my goal is simply to provoke conversation and inner reflection. I could rant on the issues of Maple Ridge, more specifically about homelessness, which I have. But, as always, I feel we must dive deeper to seek truth.
My focus is less on how to get the homeless off the streets, but (to put as simply as possible) to search the question of why are so many rejecting man’s current utopian ideals (democratic capitalism).
Collectively, we are disintegrating. I find it to be an odd thought to think of myself as a Canadian (although born and raised here in Maple Ridge). I have discovered I feel more separated from the idea I am a Canadian and more into the realm that I am a specific individual. This is more or less an observation I see bread within me and my generation, a people who have lost ties to their heritage and families – a generation more focused on themselves, rather than how they came to be, and how they influence their children coming to be. It is something I find will become very damaging to this city, and country; a patriotic Canadian – few and far between.
Individualism is the new wave, and in my opinion breeding the disintegration. It stokes a greedy view, that happiness and wealth mean more than anything else, albeit, hiding behind a persona – a mask we all find ourselves wearing (especially on social media), trying to represent an image of something we see as good and true.
We want to be an inclusive and loving people, especially when it comes to marginalized races and genders. Yet, as this liberal love comes to the marginalized, (and I am all for love), in my opinion, it is a fake and outward facade, following the trend of what people tell you to be tolerant of, and simply the new status quo.
And although we have geared this love towards the races and genders, I believe in Maple Ridge the true marginalized are the poor, addicted, and unhealthy.
As much of my research has nothing to do with statistics, but with conversation and observation, I find a desperately lonely people who are seeking nothing more than to be included themselves. And unfortunately, this breaks my heart, as 2016 has placed me within countless intimate conversations with friends and family who simply aren’t happy.
And as I write this, a 26-year-old who has witnessed a lifetime of heartache within a decade, I too feel the lure of giving up on what society tells me will make me happy. As I know in my heart, happiness can only come collectively when true love and acceptance are given and reciprocated to all, absent of a facade, status quo, or selfish ambition.
And so, I wish to simply look towards 2017 as a year of honesty, a year we can admit to our faults and failures; where we can say Maple Ridge and its inhabitants are in a bad way – because we are.
The first step in any recovery is to admit there’s a problem. My hope is that all of Maple Ridge can accept this to be true, that our city is less than perfect, and that each one of us, the citizens, contributes toward its imperfection. We have the power and influence to change this, and it’s up to us to steer it in a positive way. Let 2017 be a year to work towards fixing the problem, starting within each and every one of us.