Category: Workbook #15

A collection of fiction, poetry, and prose.

How do we remake ourselves?

I. A starting point

We are told to face facts, to be realistic, to accept change. Change is a decision that is not ours to make, it does not require our consent.

We are encouraged to make way for The New Normal, an idiom best applied to economics.

The truth is that sometimes we, too, want out.

II. Our culture

We live by rote, glued to and by routine. We grow tired of paying the price, of being told that we have nothing left to lose. We adjust.

Resources (both natural and human) devalued by those that twist tight the purse strings, selling assets — mining operations, pulp and paper mills, grain elevators, car factories, tire manufacturing plants, food processing plants: dairy, fish, seafood, tomato — to those with pockets deeper and a workforce cheaper.

We are a community made up of no one who would not trade it for all the grey concrete and cold noise of a large city.

We like to see the sky at night. We like our work on the line. Our simple pleasure is not synonymous with simple minds. We are strong, hardy stock like agriculture that lives within our town’s reach. The only folks we distrust are the ones handing us pay packets.

It is a young person’s dream to escape, an adult’s want to return.

III. Leaving/Staying

A chance to remake ourselves, some of us leave.

Away, we grieve our loss.

We are always trying to get back. Connected, forever, to that which we leave behind.

We crave starlight, not city lights.

When someone moves on, someone is left behind.

When manufacturing moves out, high-tech does not always move in. Just as well. The age of zeros and ones is unappealing to those with their heads in the trades and their hands on their work.

Our skills unwanted, our lives depreciated. Our jobs outsourced. We are left. Fractured.

IV. Oppression

They are always trying to keep us down, we say. We’ve been saying it for years.

The Establishment, The Boss, The Man. We feel exploited. We feel inferior. We rail against their success and against our defeat, always pointing to authority as the cause.

Trained to follow orders, we quell our uprising. We remind ourselves that we are good people, that there is honour in following orders. This only serves to keep us down.  The power remains, the advantage theirs.

Profit can be political. And it is always worth the battle.

When the numbers in accounting ledgers decrease, owners shut down businesses. With our mills and factories closed, how do we remake ourselves?

V. Rebellion

We rise up at dinner tables, in coffee shops, in the stands of hockey arenas. We rally in church basements, in schools, in shopping malls. The volume of our opinions and ideas turned amplified, yet unheard.

We understand that some decisions are not ours to make.

There is always someone on the other side of the fence. There is always opposition. We expect it, we live with it. The adversarial pose, the hostile opposition is ours to hold. From showdowns to shutdowns, antagonism is not arbitrary. Union leaders against business owners. Rivals within: outside workers/inside workers. Industry versus commerce.

Battle is about resistance. Surrender is about change.

How do we remake ourselves, now that our livelihoods emptied of purpose?