Existential meandering: a key to understanding the political process

I’ve have almost always believed in the idea that the abstract randomness of thought processes is the greatest source of revelation to the soul of man. I don’t know what I mean by that; it sounds “intelligent”, at least, so perhaps going through one of my more recent mulling-over as to what I should be griping about this week might better illustrate the point I’m trying to convey.

As a mathematics teacher, I lean heavily upon Piaget’s theories on the development of cognitive behaviour – the study of actions one takes when encountering a problem whose influence upon one’s personal choices. Without trying to oversimplify its process, it goes something like this. Our learning for the purpose of survival takes place in four distinct stages. First comes the “innate” stage, that knowledge or skill set you bring with you when you are born. This is then followed by the acquisition of “rote” knowledge, facts that don’t really require much effort in the way of learning, sort of like listening to your parents if you want to survive teen-hood without being grounded, and which you can repeat in your sleep – I’d say like learning the Seven-times table, but I’m getting ahead of myself here.

The latter two stages, however, force us to consider resolving the basic problems of life on our own, or more academically stated as “applying of stored knowledge to the resolution of an existing problem and resolving its difficulties”. Personally speaking, however, I am finding that the selective watering-down of educational objectives, not to mention the influence of “helicopter” parents who believe that their rug-rats must be protected from all manner of evil, including the learning of knowledge application so as to continue to evolve as a species is creating future generations of drones who, as George Orwell predicted, when performing at their selectively acquired skill level as did his elevator operator, seeing the sunlight just as he opens the door to say “Roof”, marvels at the view, only to be perplexed at the lack of fulfillment that settles upon him as the machine again heads towards the lower floors.

I blame this pessimistic perception of reality based upon what I see daily in the actions of those around me, be it in their acceptance of knowledge being delivered in so-called “sound bites” (once being of 30 second duration, now shrinking even further to 15 seconds) and the Facebook Disinformation Network (also known as “Chat” and “social media”) which has shrunk our attention span to that of a gerbil in panic mode.

I can readily cite two such Pavlovian responses I’ve received from Saskatchewan Party “heavyweights” Joe Hargrave and Don Morgan: “tut-tut” rebukes of my perceptions as to the direction provincial politics is taking. To them, IF their wards (we, the voting public) momentarily escape the comfortable domain of our Skinnerian boxes by considering my words, they may be “cured” of the contagion by simply being reminded that I, who returns to the province in which I was born so as to bring this “foreign” knowledge to the masses, am regrettably “infected” with the “NDP “virus”.

This one-line denunciation is often found in lively political conversations on social media, where Skinner outcasts also dare to question the direction in which the Sask Party is dragging us, only to be rebuked by the various trolls defending the Bible of Jason Kenney Worship as preached by Mr. Moe and Co. As well, it is carried forward with even more venom in public, punctuated by acts of incivility and contempt upon those who are trying to understand why we put up with the childish behaviour.

One such incident of note recently came from a participant in a Shellbrook riding coffee klatch – the domain of our own premier. It went something like this: “Ryan Meili was raised in rural Saskatchewan, but still decided to “wash the s**t off his boots and abandon farmers.” I don’t suppose that the creator of that particular gem would care to comment upon the fact that Scott Moe grew up on a farm, but couldn’t even use that life skill to become a success at its practice. But no, when you’re in Opposition to the Sask Party, you either have to be damned, or worse, pitied, as was the tenor of a recent article penned by the Leader Post’s Murray Mandryk focusing upon the alleged “inability” of then-NDP leader Dr. Ryan Meili to deliver the Party’s message to voters.

Dr. Meili has admitted that his failing was that as leader he was almost forced to become the “attack dog” for the NDP. Personally, I think that this self-criticism ignores the reality of a government only too willing to pick on character nits. For instance, he had a women’s caucus to include Prince Albert’s Nicole Rancourt, Cathy Sproule and Danielle Chartier, as well as Nicole Sarauer and Carla Beck only too willing to leave blood and carnage on the Legislature floor; unfortunately, government MLA’s only perceived them as “chihuahuas”, readily excited by the roles they played in public, but perfectly behaved and willing to take notes when attending the Saskatchewan Party’s Executive meetings, as once did Nadine Wilson, or readily disposed of as was Jennifer Campeau, who while being courted by Brad Wall to fulfil a purpose within the Party, was booted when she dared to ask just what that role for her might be.

In Piaget’s scheme, however, there is a fourth dimension to learning, that being the abstract, the capacity to examine a problem for which there has never been a solution, and utilize the knowledge of application to resolve such dilemma. In the two women who seek the leadership of the NDP, Carla Beck and Kaitlyn Harvey, we already have two individuals who have achieved the ability to resolve issues of concern that the Sask Party itself helped to create, in particular those of an educational nature, the environment and climate change, and in the full and complete knowledge that rural Saskatchewan is finally coming to the realization that doing nothing but whine about Justin and his issues, as regularly does Scott Moe, is not helping to solve Saskatchewan-based concerns.

Their bites will be delivered in silence, with only the words of their policy outlines creating havoc for lack of response coming from the Saskatchewan Party remains – especially when both will inevitably be elected to the Legislature in 2024.

Considering my age, my “bark” will only be perceived as a sigh of relief.