Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Self-preservation in the Capital, Canada & Caribbean

Self-preservation- it's a basic human reaction.  When we humans feel threatened we go into self-preservation mode.  This reaction, rooted in fear, is a reality from the family to the international community.

Three places that are very important to me are my city, my country, and the Caribbean.  Every day I try to stay informed on what's happening in those three places.  What I noticed is that self-preservation can be seen everyday in Ottawa, Canadian, and Caribbean news.


At the regional or supranational level we talk about "Integration".  At the national level we talk about "Confederation".  At the municipal level we talk about "Amalgamation".  At the family level we talk about "Marriage".  At their core they all mean the same thing; they are the bringing together of individual or single units to make a whole or bigger unit.

Whether you're talking about Integration, Confederation, Amalgamation, or Marriage there is sometimes a tendency to go into self-preservation mode where any one of the members doesn't fully commit to the union out of a fear, whether legitimate or illegitimate, of losing their identity and individuality. 

As we speak Caribbean integration is being held back by fear that some CARICOM members have of losing their indentity and individuality.  Quebec leaders haven't fully committed to Confederation because of this same fear.  At the family level, the same can be said in marriages.  I could be wrong, but I think that's why so many women hyphenate their names or keep their maiden names (for some people it's culture and for others they want their old friends to find them on Facebook), and some men hold onto their old black books or pictures of their ex.  Again, these fears can be legitimate or illegitimate.

Sources of Self-Preservation

Why do we go into self-preservation mode, fearing the loss of our sense of identity or individuality?  Sometimes it seems to be hurt and victimization.  The Caribbean was hurt by centuries of slavery.  Quebec was hurt by the Catholic Church and marjonalization by English Canada.  Many people in marriages have been hurt in their past.  These hurts can hinder a union, whether Integration, Confederation, Amalgamation, or Marriage,  from maturing.

Some people go into self-preservation mode because they feel inferior.  They feel like the small guy and unless they protect themselves they may cease to exist.  In cities like Ottawa a lot of small businesses feel threatened when bigger businesses move in because it threatens their existence.  Many business organizations in Ottawa who are involved in economic development are opposed to the City having a single economic development agency because of the threat to their existence.  In Canada many provinces fight the idea of a national securities regulator for that same reason.

In Ottawa I get the feeling that the various communities have amalgamated on paper, but in reality they haven't.  We see that sometimes in families; the sharing of space but a lack of true oneness.  I believe Ottawa has four chambers of commerce because communities have the same fear of losing identity and individuality. 

The feeling that ones' identity and individuality is being threatened is a real concern; I would never belittle it.  At the root of self-preservation is fear and the threat may be real or just perceived.  At all levels, if a member of the new unit feels threatened it's up the other members to build safety and trust.  But the unfortunate thing is, whether it's in families, Ottawa, Canada, or the Caribbean, true growth can't take place until you truly become one, or at least give in to the process of becoming one. 

I will always be an individual with my own identity, but the needs of my family have to come before myself; it's called the greater good and it comes through compromise.  Imagine what my family would be like if I always thought about myself and ignored what was in the best interest of the family on a whole.  Many times what's in the best interest of the individual is also in the best interest of the whole, but sometimes it's not.  The same can be said of Integration, Confederation, and Amalgamation. 

What's best for the individual has to be balanced with what's good for the whole.  What's best for Quebec or Ontatio has be to balanced with what's best for Canada.  What's best for Barbados or Trinidad has to be balanced with what's best for CARICOM.  What's best for Orleans, Kanata or Nepean has to be balanced with what's best for the City of Ottawa.

I would love to see one Chamber of Commerce in Ottawa, one economy in the Caribbean, and one Canada, but to get to our destination we have to go through a place called True Oneness.

Kevin Bourne

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