Examining The Big Reset, Newfoundland and Labrador’s Action Plan to Economic Growth, With a Compassionate Lens

Cultivating compassion and kindness in 2021 is calling all of us to respond attentively and wisely to the Premier’s Economic Recovery Team led by Dame Moya Greene, to the ardent voices of our wonderful community activists, and the extremely well written  parallel report from the “People’s Recovery” team. 

As a kind and compassionate Newfoundlander and Labradorian by choice, I offer my response to the Forward of the report titled “The Big Reset,” released on May 6, 2021. The report is a plan of action to respond to the province’s immediate fiscal challenges and plot a new course for strong economic growth.

First, I wish to express my profound gratitude to all members of this team who graciously volunteered their precious time to kick-start much needed healthy discussions and dialogue about how to address our very real economic crisis.

As a 64-year-old widow recovering from life saving and life-altering breast cancer treatment, I am extremely grateful to be alive. I am very committed to do all I can to give back to my wonderful, adopted community. My breast cancer diagnosis, on May 16, 2017, ended my wonderful career as an Academic Hematologist/Oncologist. I immediately began to study and train for a new career as a compassion, kindness, and meditation trainer.

This is a wonderful time to be alive and have time to study and learn. This thanks to the miracle of our wonderful information age. It is amazing how many incredible people everywhere are researching and bringing us the very best from all our collective great human wisdom traditions and cutting-edge science. Our children and youth are calling us to action, and we must listen and learn. Greta Thunberg, the tiny Swedish activist motivated many of us towards positive change. I hope we are responding to her clarion call with the best of our abilities.

During my wonderful career as a Hematologist, I studied all I could about our miraculous Hemoglobin molecule. Becoming eco-literate was never a requirement of my medical training or my ongoing continuous medical education. Hence, it never crossed my mind that Hemoglobin is in fact a mirror molecule to chlorophyll. I learned that this year as I began studying the incredible work of the Irish Canadian genius Diane Kroeger-Beresford.  

As I look forward to summer in 2021, I have learned enough to know I need to work hard to improve my personal ecological and financial literacy skills. I need these to know how best to integrate my new knowledge, to choose how to live and to use my energy and time wisely. I am studying how best to invest and manage my life savings. I have learned enough to be astounded that Dame Greene in the Forward of her report omits any land acknowledgement. I expect I will find a land acknowledgement as I continue reading.

Dame Greene and her team totally omit mentioning the massive challenge of inequality in our home province, across our beautiful country, and globally. To verify this is an unusual omission, I did a quick search using my web browser. I found many credible sources of information on this challenge, including a review hosted on the website of the Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada at https://www.cpacanada.ca/en

Locally, our own excellent Health Accord NL Taskforce clearly identified the social determinants of health as being critically important. We need to learn all we can, to choose wisely, and take appropriate action.

Engaging in the ideologically motivated structural change of our entire provincial governance system, whilst also cutting funding to our vitally important Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador, public education system, and publicly funded healthcare system, shows a somewhat zealous commitment to failed, fundamentalist Libertarian and Classic Liberal world views. These views were extremely popular among white male colonials in the Victorian era.

In 2021, I seek to enter into dialogue and discussion to work towards a more enlightened, inclusive, diversity and partnership approach to addressing our complex ecologic, ethical, economic, and existential crises. Thankfully for all of us, a gracious, generous, compassionate, kind, civic minded and humanistic group called People’s Recovery began e-meeting in parallel and have been working hard to create a much-needed data and evidence driven, more inclusive and nuanced, response to this very culturally, ecologically, and economically rushed and unwise report.

Ironically, I became an active member of the Provincial and National Liberal Party in 2016 for several reasons:

·      I was concerned by former Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s attacks on environmental scientists.

·      I was concerned by his deep bias toward the oil and gas industry. 

I joined the Liberal Party for several reasons. 

·      I enjoy finding common ground with others, and I love diversity.

·      I am deeply committed to reconciliation and restitution for First Nations.

·      I am committed to the survival of linguistic pluralism in Canada. 

·      I believe to maintain and improve our wonderful quality of life we must all relearn to deeply connect and live in harmony with each other and the natural world.

Over a decade ago, the wonderful Canadian Wade Davis alerted me to the links between linguicide and ecocide. Professor Davis was the first of many incredible scholars to awaken me to the reality that our ancestors were amazing human beings. Many had knowledge and skill unparalleled in our modern age.

In 2021, those of us with access to Wfi have an incredible opportunity to connect with our sisters and brothers all over our beautiful planet. We can access the great richness of our collective human Wisdom Traditions and our collective ancestors.

Thanks to the work of incredible polymaths and systems thinkers working in every field of human endeavour, we modern disconnected human beings are now learning the essential importance of individual and collective human health and well-being of relationship.

Professor Rianne Eisler teaches us the importance of always holding a partnership rather than a domination focus to create healthy relationships. Jeremy Lent is one of many working in the field of system change to create ecologically advanced civilizations.

Locally, we agree our province is in financial trouble. We need a very authentic and profound effort at soul searching to see how we got ourselves into this mess. We need to find the most enlightened way to move past the many dangers threatening our survival.

According to data from the People’s Recovery Team, unfair changes in our taxation system, coupled with reckless decision-making around developing massive hydroelectric projects along the mighty Churchill River, created a severe imbalance for our Provincial Government. Our government is becoming increasingly indebted. It is having difficulty borrowing money.

Every major economist and current thought leader identifies biodiversity with the rise in toxic levels of plastic pollutionand the challenges of industrial fishing, massive inequalityour local and global lack of nurturing equity, systemic colonialisma global economy founded on endless war combined with climate change as our challenges.

Apart from the dreadful effects of our recent Western European unwise pursuit of the  industrialization of warfare, animal husbandry, fishing and our collective human choice of recklessly and wantonly creating a toxic hydrocarbon linear, wasteful and totally inefficient economy, the problems we face today are no different than those faced by every generation that came before us. We need to re-evaluate our use of the words “progress, progressive, and conservative.”

Our ancestors and Indigenous Elders taught that we, the five-fingered ones, are part of an incredible web of life. The big reset needed in 2021 is for we who are disconnected modern professionals and indoctrinated to love technology more than ecology. We need to fall back in love with our own wonderful human capacity for compassion, kindness, connection, and creativity. We need to love and serve each other, and all life, to create abundance to the Seventh Generation.

Our precious babies and children are our greatest resource. We must protect all babies and children from being treated as mini machines to be exploited. We need a massive cultural, educational, and social paradigm change away from “normalizing” all forms of abuse, cruelty, greed, selfishness, violence, and wealth accumulation.  As Michael Clair so wisely wrote, we who are retired can contribute at this time of crisis, and most of us do not wish to place unneeded burdens on our beloved children and all the generations to come.

At this critical time, when most of us need to become ecologically literate, we need to become part of the vital circular economy, to replace plastic from every aspect of our lives, especially from our marine equipment, food supply, and hospitals. There is an incredible opportunity for us to become a Leader in the new life-affirming carbohydrate, seaweed, plant, and forest-based economies. Memorial is a wonderful university led by a visionary leader, President Vienne Timmons.

There is no question that we are collectively experiencing a massive ecologic, economic, and existential crisis. I experienced a long period of crisis starting in 2007. Reviewing my finances retrospectively through a prolonged period of family and personal illness, grief, and loss, I see I made many mistakes that I would not have made if I had not been stressed and unwell. I am deeply grateful to the wonderful people in my life who carried me through these past 14 agonizing and rewarding years.

With my late husband, Dr. Chau Nguyen, I experienced the dislocation and trauma of suddenly and unexpectedly losing a much loved and well-paid position. Our wonderful life was first really challenged on June 8, 2007, when he suddenly had his hospital privileges removed which prevented him from continuing to work as a physician. Tragically at the time, he was enduring the long-term effects of lifesaving and life-altering surgery and whole-brain irradiation for a malignant brain tumour diagnosed and successfully treated in 1987. 

Sadly, Dr. Nguyen was not treated with compassion and kindness in 2007 and 2008. Instead, his health and disability challenges were ignored. He was humiliated, shamed, and severely punished for his diminished performance. The reality is that his performance was diminished due to the late effects of his cancer treatment. Whole Brain Irradiation remains a very challenging area of cancer practice to this day. Sadly, for my late husband, our family, and many other long-term cancer survivors there are no programs for long-term survivors in Canada and no treatments to mitigate the effects. Also sadly, the literature is clear in that those of us who belong to visible and invisible minorities are all at high risk of workplace bullying and harassment. Current laws, policies, and procedures are totally ineffectual and in fact often make workplace environments even more toxic.

My beloved husband was never comfortable acknowledging his hearing and communication challenges. Instead, he suffered terribly from self-blame and shame. This often occurs to people who are highly ethical and motivated. All too often the best among us doggedly pursue excellence, whatever the cost. We are learning the cost of overwork is very high indeed. To add to the misery of sick physicians and their families, there are no retraining programs for ill specialist physicians in Canada.

As with so many facets of our modern life, cancer efforts and clinical trial research focus on the short term. Long term follow-up is expensive and forces us to address very uncomfortable truths. Our cancer centers focus their resources on treating people and developing treatments to prevent recurrence. Terry Fox famously sacrificed himself by courageously and doggedly running across our beautiful country from sea to shining sea to raise much needed attention and funds for cancer care. Appropriately, Terry is cherished as one of our truly great Canadian heroes.

Locally, Geoff Eaton courageously fought an incredible battle with leukemia and survived two extremely challenging allogenic bone marrow transplants. He devoted his incredible creativity and talent to supporting his beloved wife and children, and creating Young Adults with Cancer Canada. Geoff’s story is important when we need to think creatively and plan for abundance and health for the Seventh Generation.

Why am I writing so much about cancer and cancer care in my personal response to Dame Moya Greene? My personal experience with cancer, as a survivor, caregiver, and former clinical Hematologist/Oncologist, led me to see that as a society we are not great at addressing complexity. We much prefer to avoid focusing on long-term outcomes and quality of life. In our limiting focus on patients as independent individuals, we totally ignore the costs borne by patients and their families. We also totally miss how vital relationships are for all of us.

I very strongly disagree with Dame Greene that our children and next generations be asked to become more productive and efficient. In 2021 we know we need to collectively improve our ecological literacy. Life is a precious and wondrous gift to be enjoyed and cherished. There are abundant resources to provide a wonderful and healthy quality of life to everyone in our province, provided we learn that less is more. In clinical medicine, gentle, less aggressive approaches are often more efficacious and need to be championed.

Over the past many years an impressive number of Noble Prize-winning economists are working to reverse the brain washing campaign of Milton Friedman, a celebrity economist whose misguided notions cause grief today. Whilst we can agree that we are all faced with a profoundly serious economic crisis, I agree with the People’s Recovery Team – we are experiencing this crisis partially because of unfair and unsustainable changes made to our provincial and federal taxation system almost a decade ago. There are reasonable alternative sources of revenue our government can tap into. 

Here is a link to New York Times articles published under the title Greed is good. Except When It’s Bad. In 2021, we know privatization does not lead to peace, order, and good governance.  Drastically cutting and reorganizing our publicly funded education and health-care systems will cause chaos, take a lot of eyes off the ball, and hinder serious efforts to innovate and do better. 

In 2021, we know the answer to bad is always better. We know that under stable conditions better is very possible.

Over the next weeks and months, I will continue to study this report. I will encourage myself and others to avoid knee-jerk reactions and make a serious effort to become as ecologically literate as possible. 

The Netflix documentaries “My friend the Octopus” and “Seapiracy” may be a good place to begin comprehending the magnitude of the challenges we have created for the survival of life in our precious oceans.

Check out the interview with JACK CANFIELD!