I have a very dear friend named Greg. Greg has lived with schizophrenia for his whole adult life. After many struggles, psychotic breaks, pills, poverty, addictions and therapies, he has arrived at a very good place in his life. He has found a nice balance between the meds, his art, his friends and living. He has been on Income Assistance because of his schizophrenia for a while now. But recently, he has expressed a desire to get off I.A. and try to find a job. He’s in a stable housing situation, and starting to get involved in a few community and advocacy organizations around Mental Health. Greg will need his meds to be able to maintain a job though, and if he goes off of I.A. he loses coverage for his meds… you see the problem.
I jokingly said to him the other night that his situation now was a good symbol for everything that was wrong with the Departments of Health and Community Services. It is really not right.
So what does Greg have to do with why I’m voting Green? Well Green is not simply about the environment. It is actually about the approach. You see, approaching things in a Green way means looking at them holistically (David doesn’t like it when I use that word, because it’s flaky, and we are really trying hard to reduce the stereotype that the Green Party seems to still face in Canada and especially in Nova Scotia). Viewing something holistically means that you do your absolute best to look at it from all angles, and see exactly where it overlaps and intersects with other issues.
The reason why it’s Green, is because it is the physical environment first.
When David, Ryan (Watson) and I went to Dartmouth High last week, one of the kids there said, “so I’m going to die in 80 years and I don’t plan on having any kids, why should I care so much about the environment (he later admitted he was playing devil’s advocate). But I said to him… if our physical environment keeps going the way that it’s going, it might not be 80 years, but 40… and David asked if he wanted to go take a dip in the Harbour.
The reason why it’s Green is because environment means more than just saving the trees and putting up windmills… it’s about our social environment to. For too long our governments have been disconnected our selves from our environments, physical and social, for the sake of profit margins and powerful lobby groups.
Our physical environments and our social environments are intimately intertwined. We need clean air, clean food, clean water and protection from the elements absolutely first. Our survival depends on it. Yet, it seems as though it is too much to demand these things living in our democratic and abundant society. You may question the word abundant in these times of economic crisis, but we still have many resources at our disposal, despite the minuscule drops in our GDP.
Last night on CTV Atlantic, Ryan Watson was interviewed by Steve Murphy and he was asked, what do you mean by seeing opportunity in this global economic crisis? Ryan responded that when a crisis emerges, it is the perfect time to take a step back and examine why we have arrived at a crisis situation. It’s not about a few emergency room beds here and a few “green” jobs there… it’s about looking at the whole structure. It’s about taking a step back and examining whether or not we are delivering services in the most effective and efficient ways, it’s about throwing away the perspectives that got us in this mess in the first place… it’s about moving into the 21st century with 21st century ideas using 21st century technology and organizing our government in 21st century ways…
The Green Party is the only party suggesting that it’s time to move away from the GDP as a measure of our progress and province well-being, and instead adopt the GPI, Geniune Progress Index. The fundamental difference between the GDP and the GPI is social accounting. Social accounting is a difficult task because really, what price tag can you put on a human life? How to do calculate the human experience in economics? The current trend is to simply discount it as a part of the equation. The GDP calculates the value of the person as a consumer, and nothing more. The GPI considers the value of a person as a person, participating and communicating with their community.
I am so sick of being referred to as a consumer. I am a person damnit. I have a family and a community. My life is more meaningful than being part of the bottom line in some trans-national corporations year-end profit margins. Greg is not a mental health consumer, he is a person who requires a little more support in his community because his brain works a little differently than most.
I love my province. Nova Scotia is a gem. We have a perfect-sized population, a wealth of natural resources, and a creative class with great ideas. I believe in the 6 priniciples that the Green Party embraces: Ecological wisdom, social justice, participatory democracy, nonviolence, sustainability, and respect for diversity.
I am voting Green because I want to see structural change which reflects their holisitic approach to the issues. I am voting Green because I believe the citizens need an opportunity to participate in the dialogue.