January 20, 2009


Something important I learned recently: if you put it out there, it will get heard. My on-line comments about an Albright-Knox Art Gallery event last September (one piano being dropped onto another piano with musical accompaniment) were recently cited in the Buffalo News “Arts Beat” blog. Naturally, I was impressed that my little entry was noticed, let alone publicized.

So here’s another…

In the summer of 2007, I watched a CBC news documentary on the “coming financial crash.” It seemed the media had got tired of promoting the coming “bird-flu pandemic” and the coming “Taliban take-over” and latched onto something juicier: money—a topic we can all relate to. Citing a stagnant market in the US, the item gloomily predicted an imminent and drastic drop in Canadian real estate prices.

Over the next few days, as I fretted about this impending loss to my property value, I began to notice a disproportionate number of properties coming onto the market. The media, it seemed, had sparked its own little “crash” as people tried desperately to unload their properties before they deflated.

Flash forward a year and a bit: everywhere you looked was news about the worldwide financial crisis. While it’s true that lost jobs and struggling economies are not simply a media fabrication, here’s the odd thing: I, who years ago vowed to dedicate myself to writing rather than hording money or working for corporations (my own little vow of poverty), suddenly found myself panicked over the crisis. I, who have not had a “real job” in years and have no investments or savings, suddenly found myself consumed by fear of “loss”. Why? Because the media told me I should.

What goes down will come back up. It’s the way of the world. Has an economy ever foundered so badly it never recovered so long as the country still existed? Has a market ever fallen so drastically that prices never got back to their level again? I doubt it.

As an artist, I see myself as a creator and a contributor rather than a consumer. (I have a sneaking suspicion God thinks the same thing, but maybe I’m wrong there.) I put things like happiness and personal relationships ahead of jobs and money (and therefore ahead of worries about getting ahead or starting wars to protect my property.)

Admittedly, my understanding of finances is very, very basic: if you have money, you can spend it. If you don’t, then you can’t. Simple me, but it’s true. And that’s how I live.

It seems to me many people put “having” ahead of “being” or “doing.” Where does this drive come from? I don’t know, but I’m sure the media have a lot of say in it if we’re at the point where we sell our properties and run because they say we should. A house that’s devalued is still a house. An acre of land that’s worth less on today’s market than yesterday’s still doesn’t get smaller. When do we start worrying about the real things we’re in danger of losing: the freedom to think, peace (of mind and country), tolerance and respect for others? These are the only things we should fear losing, if fear we must.

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