By Rob Wipond

The recent wave of labour unrest made it hard to ignore the troubling direction our society appears to be taking. From strikes and dissolved contracts to job losses and slashed wages, everyone, regardless of their political leaning, found reasons for concern. The culmination of these events was even more unsettling – the looming threat of a province-wide shutdown of numerous critical services.

Exploring the Root Cause of Conflict

Throughout these troubling times, one question frequently came to mind: What is truly driving this conflict? While most answers pointed towards economic factors such as wage disputes, resource allocation, job security, and privatization, there were sporadic references to more personal and emotional factors like respect, shared values, and understanding.

Understanding Economic Relationships

Delving deeper, it became clear that understanding any economic conflict between individuals requires recognizing how our economic relationships intertwine with powerful human emotions and motivations, such as fear, greed, compassion, and respect.

Respect Over Remuneration

Personally, I would be satisfied with minimal compensation or even sometimes no remuneration if I felt genuinely respected, valued and saw that my efforts contributed to a worthwhile goal. Yet, if I perceived any form of exploitation or disrespect, no amount of money could compensate for it. This sentiment, though often unspoken, is widely shared. While everyone needs a basic income for survival, we also seek appreciation for our efforts and a sense of contributing to society. Our culture is indeed in dire need of these shared values, understanding, and respect.

Content Background

Acknowledging Each Other’s Contribution

The past month raised questions about how often government representatives express genuine gratitude for those who serve our needs in hospitals and how frequently workers speak admiringly of public servants striving to address social issues. While these sentiments don’t require financial investment if mutually expressed, could they foster better relations?

The Dissolution of Shared Community Values

Unfortunately, shared community values are currently being eroded in our increasingly volatile economic landscape. Middle classes are dwindling, the wealth gap is widening, and the disparity in income levels is growing starkly visible in our local communities. Is this the path we wish to follow?

The Future Outlook: An Economic Divide

Looking ahead, we can glimpse the potential fallout of such economic polarization by examining situations in countries further along this trajectory. A stark divide between poverty-stricken inner cities and fortified affluent suburbs, marked by frequent protests and aggressive strike-breaking, could be our future if we don’t address these issues.

A Complex Economic Continuum

However, branding this as a conflict between “rich and poor” oversimplifies and exacerbates an already complex issue. In truth, it’s more about how everyone is trying to improve their financial status, often at the expense of others. Thus, we find ourselves in a vicious competition fueled by unchecked self-interest.

Rebuilding Our Foundation

The ultimate question, then, is, can we replace this self-centredness with understanding, respect, and compassion and let these values guide our economic decisions? Although challenging, it’s essential to remember that our community’s true foundation lies in the values we cultivate within ourselves and foster collectively.