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Don't Step On The Flowers

Exciting day. For both children and parents across the land. First day of school.  Sonny-boy is in grade two.

I vividly remember walking him to his first day of kindergarden. For him it was a bit of a trip into the unknown; for mom and dad, a poignant little reminder of time’s inexorable passage. Grade two isn’t the milestone kindergarden was. It’s all old hat now, I suppose, until the next big threshold of junior high.

Ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-changes! The heart and soul of the Omphalos Cafe.

The latest issue of Harper’s Magazine was dropped in the mailbox the other day. In it former congressman, senator, and Presidential candidate George McGovern pens an open letter to Barack Obama. He points out the fact that in 1963 the defense budget was $51 billion; nowadays it stands at $700 bil. That’s a lot of money, he says, that could go to things like providing education and healthcare to a new generation of Americans.

However, this blog is not about taking sides, and certainly not about criticizing America or Americans. As a great American, author and historian Will Durant, would say, ‘forgiveness is the word for all.’

It’s about the changes, and how my son experiences the world today differently than I did at age six. To grasp that generational creep of experience is to comprehend something fundamental to the Omphalos Cafe. And it is something I am at great pains to convey.

His grade two Self is growing into a world far different from that which my grade two Self did. Through the internet the world is seemingly at his fingertips, but distractions abound accordingly. Again in Harper’s, the lead essay is ‘Getting Schooled, The re-education of an American teacher,’ by Garret Keizer. In it he paints a grim picture of a student body under siege, benumbed, bewildered, and suffering ADD.

And money! What was millions and billions for me is now billions and trillions for him. It has multiplied exponentially, but is it any more available?

The world is awash in money. It sloshes around the planet seeking out ‘returns.‘ And it just so happens that it has found tons in the form of the oilsands close to where I live. Something like $100 billion floods into the region, heads are awhirl because there’s wealth beyond imagining up for grabs.

Naturally when money on that scale pours into any place it ensures its own well-being. That’s rule number one. The government is put on the payroll.

Here in Alberta, complain about increasing class size, the dilapidated state of schools, the general neglect and underfunding of education, and you are met with…silence. Mention in passing that perhaps possibly we might consider the impact of unregulated unchecked expansion of oilsands development and the government trots out all its experts and spokespersons to counter.

That’s the power of Money for you.

The world has changed. Always has. Sonny-boy is up and says he’s both excited and nervous about his first day.

All is as it should be.