Tag Archives: fear

Nuclear Tragedies Show Power, Influence of Information

By Jason Menard,

If there’s any question about the value of our Internet-dominated, 24-hour news cycle, look no further than the experiences surrounding the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant and a similar event a quarter of a century previous.

For many of us, Fukushima provides us with an eerie reminder of our youth — and an opportunity to reflect upon how greatly the world has changed for the better in terms of sharing knowledge. Continue reading

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The Unkindest Cut?

By Jason Menard

Nov. 14, 2005 — With all due respect to the band Europe, I’ve officially entered into my own Final Countdown – and I don’t know if I’ve got the cojones to go through with it. Or, more accurately, I don’t know if my cojones will let me go through with it.

Approximately four years ago, in a fit of empathy (or lunacy) for my wife having given birth to our second child Juliana, I decided to show my devotion to her following a difficult pregnancy and birth by announcing that, when the time came, I would go under the knife and have a vasectomy.

And while I had hoped there would be some debate, some discussion, or gentle commiseration from my wife upon this announcement, it was greeted instead with a savage enthusiasm akin to watching a shark pounce upon a bleeding victim!

“You’re damn right you will!” Or something to that effect (I reserve the right to take liberties with the statements made at that time, due to the fact that my wife had just given birth and I was kind of woozy.) “After what I’ve gone through giving birth to two kids, I think it’s your turn!” Instead of a gentle acceptance, the ol’ calendar was whipped out and a date was circled, underlined in triplicate, and festooned with little gold stars.

Nov. 13, 2006 – just over five years after my little girl’s birth the boys would be saying goodbye.

So now, the final countdown starts. And, like many other men before me – and currently in my position – we go down this lonely street alone, or accompanied by womenfolk who anticipate the procedure with glee, blissfully unsympathetic to the steps we’re taking.

The arguments are many, persuasive, and wholeheartedly biased towards us men-folk going under the knife. Yet, despite the common sense aspect of the procedure, there is a much deeper-rooted psychological barrier that exists between men and women when the subject of vasectomy comes up.

As a social activity, get a group of couples – if they’ve had kids, all the better – and pose the question of who should have the ultimate birth control procedure. Like a cabal of contraceptive witches, the women will pounce on the topic, demanding men take their share of the responsibility and wholeheartedly enjoying the idea of a man’s testicular region subjected to surgical intervention. Oh, they’ll crack jokes, make snip-snip sounds, and laugh uproariously.

The guys? We’re sitting slightly hunched down with our legs crossed. All the while knowing better than to speak up in the contrary, lest our significant others decide to take the issue of circumcision into their own hands, so to speak.

Ask any man and we know we’ve got it easy in this life. We don’t give birth, we don’t deal with menopause, and we live our lives relatively pain-free. While our wives suffer in order to bring life into this world, most of our injuries result from playing football with the guys or stubbing our toe searching for the remote. It’s hardly a fair swap.

But what’s lost in this debate is that we’re all little boys at heart. Growing up and well into our manhood – if not throughout our entire life, our testicles play a big part in defining who we are. So what does it say when, through a little snip of a doctor’s scalpel, they now become as ornamental as the male nipple – existing on the body, but without any real purpose.

It’s hard (no pun intended) not to feel emasculated when you’ve effectively been neutered. And despite the fact that as we grow we understand what’s between your ears matters more that what’s between your legs when it comes to being a man, the fact remains that there’s a certain sense of loss and disenfranchisement from all that we’ve held dear (again, no pun intended.)

It is the stallion that garners the most respect and notice, not the gelding. A bull is full of vigour and toughness – a steer is no more than tomorrow’s steak. So can we not be forgiven for feeling that a part of our youth and manliness may be sacrificed by going under the knife?

In the end, while I know that undergoing this procedure won’t result in the unkindest cut of all, let’s just say there is a vas deferens between what I know I should do and what I really want to do.

2005 © Menard Communications – Jason Menard All Rights Reserved

Environmental Paralysis

By Jason Menard

The old adage states that you have to walk before you can run. So doesn’t it go without saying that we need to be shown a little affection before we can fully go out and hug every tree we see?

A recent study predicted that, due to global warming’s effect on Himalayan glaciers, southeast Asia and China could be facing a devastating lack of drinking water within 50 years. We’re now also being told that the devastation caused by hurricanes in the American South-East is partly our fault, due to increased water temperatures caused by – you guessed it – global warming.

It seems that no matter when a natural disaster strikes, there are always willing environmentalists ready to jump on the pulpit and start wagging their fingers at us. It’s a morbid game of “I told you so,” and it does nothing to help the actual problems that exist in this world. While some environmentalists feel we’ve been burying our heads in the sand and ignoring the problem, the reality is that we’re weighed down by the enormity of the issues.

In general, people want to do the right thing. We all want to leave this world a better place for our children and grandchildren. We all want to save the environment, breathe cleaner air, and make a commitment to a greener life.

However, we find it hard to move when the weight of the entire world is on our shoulders. For years, environmentalists have been stating that we need to make drastic, wholesale lifestyle changes to save the world from human-inflicted doom. But, instead of sparking us into action, statements like this end up overwhelming us with fear and paralyzing us into inaction.

Worst-case scenarios don’t help. They only serve to make us feel powerless to make a difference – they make our efforts to reduce, reuse, recycle, and be better global citizens seem insignificant.

The Utopian world that the most rabid environmentalists see as being the solution doesn’t exist. Our society isn’t set up for it. We’re too dependent on fossil fuels. We’re too enamoured with convenience and disposable items. To cut society off cold turkey would paralyze it.

So, what we need to practice what we preach. If one message has come forth from the assortment of telethons and fund-raisers we’ve been exposed to over the past little while is that every small action adds up. Individually we can only do so much, but when our actions are multiplied exponentially by all Canadians, and then all the citizens of the world, the impact we can have is astounding.

But we don’t hear that. We never hear the positives of our actions. Our current efforts at living a better and greener lifestyle have been met with a collective, “Yeah, but…” from the environmental community. As earnest and honest as they may be when forecasting global doom and gloom, what our environmental advocates are missing is that we, as average citizens, need positive reinforcement. We need to be encouraged with tangible results for our actions. And we don’t need to be chastised for the sins of our society’s past.

No matter how small the effort we make as individuals may be on a global scale, we need to know that it’s having an effect – even if it’s an infinitesimal impact. That way, when we see the results of our actions, we’ll be encouraged to do even more. When our baby steps are acknowledged, it will give us the drive to work ourselves up to a full-scale run.

We need that organically grown carrot dangled before us to make us strive for greater things. We’ve seen what power society wields when it comes together in a common cause. Whether it’s been Tsunami relief efforts, or the overwhelming funding coming in for those impacted by the devastating effects of Hurricane Katrina, we’ve seen how each and every dollar counts. Yet, nowhere has there been a person chastising us for not donating enough. Simply put, every dollar counts.

That attitude of communal support and encouragement needs to be extended to the environmental world. Instead of doomsday predictions and earnest declarations of impending doom – no matter how true they may be – the point remains that to mobilize our society you have to engage its belief in the fact that it can make a difference. Just as every dollar counts, so too should every recycled can and every time you choose to walk to the store instead of drive matter!

Because, when we’re told that all of our current efforts have gone for naught, it makes us want to throw up our hands in defeat – and that’s when we all lose.

2005 © Menard Communications – Jason Menard All Rights Reserved