I don’t know how much the people of Moose Jaw pay attention to Regina news, but Tuesday nights fire on the north end of the city was a little bit scary for anyone like me who lives in that area.
Apparently, sparks from a passing train caused a small grassfire to spread southward along a road that divides a residential area from a Co-Op oil refinery. A business was lost in the blaze, but luckily the wind wasn’t blowing in a different direction or there may have been a death toll.
The fire burned for quite a few hours before it was finally extinguished, shutting down traffic and knocking out power in the Uplands area for most of the evening. It’s always interesting to watch people’s reactions when they are removed from the everyday comfort of the world we’ve built. With the power out, I was forced to use a small propane stove to cook up some meat to feed my hungry journalist belly. It felt like I was camping on my own front porch. What fun!
But I can hardly believe everyone in my neighbourhood enjoyed the blackout as much as I did. Cars piled out of Northern Regina, many people likely heading to restaurants where they can pay other people to do what they are just too inconvenienced to do in the dark.
Even my own girlfriend made a comment on how much the power seems to go out in our area, even if it is only for an hour or two at a time.
But it made me think about how much we have accomplished as a society. Massive networks of power lines, roadways, radio and cell phone towers, gas lines and even those pesky oil pipelines that seem to take up so many pages in our newspapers; all are a representation of man’s conquering of nature.
Humans, though surely not the biggest and strongest mammal of them all, have achieved this domination of the world through many things with the most important being brains. Our brains allow communication, emotion, and a thought process beyond simple instinct. The advances of science in the last hundred years have been huge.
But not every human in this earth shares these advances. Sitting in the dark on Tuesday night, I couldn’t help but think of people who experience rolling black outs on a regular basis, or those living in poor undeveloped countries where electricity is more of a pipe dream than a reality.
It bothers me sometimes to hear people complain so vigorously about things that are so unimportant. “This darn air conditioner isn’t working. How am I going to survive this heat?” or “This damn sidewalk is so beat up. What the hell is the city doing with all of my tax money?”
The truth is that we all complain about the little things, myself included. And it’s not that we’re not thankful for what we have, but we know that there are things out there that we don’t have.
The push for more has been perhaps the best and worst thing for mankind. The quest to achieve all that is possible has resulted in great advances, but also given us the sense that we can abuse every natural thing around us to get what we want. The push for more has left the majority of Canadians in debt, but given us amazing things like big diesel trucks, big screen TV’s, cell phones made from blood minerals, and stereo’s with unnecessary decibel capabilities. In the push for more, we’ve conquered Mother Nature, but have become rotten victors. It’s like a blown-out novice hockey game where we’re proud to be beating a weaker team 20-1, but will try to the death to score one more goal.
The funny thing is that I’ll go home tonight, I’ll flip every single light on in my apartment. I’ll turn on my big screen TV and watch the news. I’ll order food because “it was just such a long day and I can’t be bothered to cook,” and I’ll complain that the food was cold and that I have no money left in my bank account.
But it’s a good idea, I think, to every once in a while take a look at what we’ve accomplished as a society and just be thankful for what we have, and not be upset about the things we don’t have. After all, there’s kids in Africa that are starving, you know?