After nearly forty years as a clinical psychologist, I am not as hopeful as Rachel Giese that neuroscience may provide “a neat fix for what feels most irrational and inexplicable: our emotions and temperament” (“The New Normal,” March). Contrast mental illness with AIDS, which was virtually unknown in 1980. In just thirty years, the symptoms and course of the illness—as well as its underlying biological mechanisms, infectious agent, modes of transmission, means of prevention, and effective treatments—have all been delineated.
Psychiatric conditions, on the other hand, have been investigated for more than a century, and current diagnostic categories have been in place, with some refinements, for over sixty years. Yet breakthroughs remain “just around the corner,” with little more understood about causes, course, treatment, or prevention than what was known when I began my professional career in the 1970s.
Bricks and mortar just provide the site, essential though that may be. The development of effective treatment and compassionate care for our fellow citizens depends primarily on a well-trained, motivated group of professionals, healers, therapists, caregivers, doctors, and psychiatrists.
Too bad Rachel Giese did not discuss the organic Sunshine Garden, which CAMH clients maintain in partnership with FoodShare. The centre once paid clients to work in the garden, but it now relies on volunteer labour. The rationale: no money. CAMH is great in many ways, but it also disrespects those who need and want its services.
Mark Jaccard courageously blocked a coal train and suffered arrest to impede the fossil fuel industry (“The Accidental Activist,” March). But his demands with respect to coal-fired energy are too modest. We need both an end to expansion and closure of facilities. Ontario will stop burning this dirty fuel in 2014, and with a little time the Prairies and Atlantic Canada could follow suit. Alberta could drive the process through greater use of its extraordinary wind resource; Nova Scotia could further tap the formidable power of its tides. With Ontario’s historic decision, we now know that advanced economies can produce all of the electricity they need without coal.
The failure of climate policy is a result of a faulty education system. For those who live in a functioning democracy, civic awareness must be a major component of the curriculum, up there with math and physics and right behind literacy. Otherwise, we become victims of propaganda—and the advancement of corporate influence.
David J. Parker
— Peter Adamski (@AdamskiPeter) February 2, 2013
Thank you so much for this piece, and for this witness!
Bill McKibben (online)
Canada has about 35,000 named insect species, but there are nearly an equal number that are unnamed (“Fight of the Bumblebee,” March). Of the named ones, we do not know what the vast majority are doing, how they live, or where their immatures are. Of the estimated 33,000 unnamed species, only a fraction have been classified in the past thirty years. We are a long, long way from understanding our fauna: insect taxonomists in Canada themselves are a rare species and becoming rarer (I am the only full-time one in British Columbia). Why should the public care? Because insects do not just pollinate plants; they are decomposers, scavengers, parasites, predators, food for fish and birds, vectors of disease, and more. They are fundamental to ecological health. The more we know about them, the better informed our decisions will be about forestry practices, agricultural techniques, and management of our fisheries. Naming a species is the first step to understanding its ecological role and its history.
Salmon Arm, BC
Our community stands up for our rights and our title interests (“Losing the Land Again,” March). Because of that, we are proponents of the First Nations Property Ownership initiative. Our values tell us that we should be owners of our land, accountable to our own people. We should make the decisions about our land and its uses—not Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada. If we believe in our title and our rights, then we must also believe in taking responsibility for the lands we govern. The FNPO we are developing will give us the underlying jurisdiction we need to govern our lands, and the ability for our members to have the same property rights that all other Canadians enjoy. The suggestion that we are supporting FNPO because we are desperate, or that we don’t understand the relationship between economic development and political power, or that we will be fooled by the fine print is insulting and condescending.
Chief, Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc
@hayden_king The Land is not/cannot to be owned, only shared. It is not our’s to buy & sell. We would all do well to accept this truth, no?
— Dizzy (@TinDizzy) February 7, 2013
Gossip is a form of bullying, taken to extremes and spread, plague-like, across the globe thanks to cyber-connectivity (“Gossip Girl,” March). The fact that Elaine Lui blogs about celebrities is a red herring. She profits from writing about the misery of others, knowing that her millions of readers salivate for the next chapter in Tom and Katie’s divorce, or whether Britney Spears wears panties, or which member of Hollywood royalty punched another. That an accomplished Canadian short story writer would support this type of bullying is sad; that a respected publication like The Walrus would commission, let alone publish, a testament to “acceptable” bullying is shameful.
This appeared in the May 2013 issue.