Clichés for the New Year

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Pontiac Perspective by Peter Gauthier


Pontiac Perspective by Peter Gauthier

The year 2020 is finally over! We can look forward to a new year. The pandemic will be brought under control, life will regain some normalcy. We will define this New Year with a standard set of clichés and reassure ourselves that “things” will be better. To reinforce this situation, examine some standard clichés, with notes that may be applicable.
Is the glass half full or half empty? Or are you optimistic or pessimistic?  However, this may hide a more fundamental question: “Is the water potable?”  The United Nations and the World Health Organization have identified drinkable water as a more pressing problem than climate change. While we are all optimistic about the
New Year, we cannot ignore some real problems that require immediate attention and long-term solutions. Optimism must include the need to find solutions to known
problems.
Think outside the box. The pandemic has certainly revealed some serious weaknesses in our health and social services systems. Fixing these will require new, better solutions than what has served us in the past. But in
finding new solutions, we should endeavour to find ones that aren’t liable to create new problems. It’s useful to ask two questions before we go outside the box: “What’s in the box?” and “Why is there a box?”  Answers to these two questions will help find a more complete solution outside of the box.
If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem. In the midst of the pandemic, everyone must follow the rules for safe distancing, wearing a mask and no unnecessary traveling. Not doing so makes one part of the problem. However, the situation can be a bit more complicated. The economic, social and health results from a lockdown may have serious negative long-term consequences. In applying this cliché, provision for help to those adversely affected must be part of the solution.
Read between the lines. This cliché is getting copious use as we attempt to understand and follow the different (sometimes conflicting) directives and regulations our governments issued during the pandemic. Beyond trying to make sense of the various proclamations, there is a sense that our governments, at all levels, were caught off-guard and are making the differing regulations on the fly.
This leads to the question: “Why?” as in “Why is there a shortage of
hospital beds, basic medical equipment and elder care workers?” Reading between the lines may be essential if we are to recover from this crisis and be prepared for future crises.
Clichés are used as a replacement for detailed and careful analysis. Some are so common that we often fail to realize they can embody basic truths. They are not, in themselves, a solution, but can be a catalyst to a more detailed expression of the critical issues that must be addressed.