I am fascinated by how labelling changes our perceptions and then our behaviour.
Yes. I agree. A few examples would be helpful.
Edmonton is at 53 degrees latitude. The 49th latitude marks our southern border with the USA in the country’s western half. Around June 21, the sun finally sets at 10:10 PM. Likewise, in the winter, it sets before the end of the work day.
For years we were in denial, and we froze with inappropriate clothing or avoided winter by living indoors.
Out came another set of branding irons. This time Edmonton was branded as “a winter city.’ Wow! What a revelation. Who knew? So, what changed with the new branding? Many little things collectively continue to make Edmonton a better city.
We now have a growing network of city-wide bike lanes. Maybe the Scandinavians know something we didn’t know. It isn’t a universally accepted way to spend taxpayers’ money, but City Council is plunging ahead. Restaurants are extending their patios season with overhead heaters and placing blankets on the chairs to help keep our butts and legs warm. The summer festival season helped co-brand the city as a ‘Festival City.’ Why stop with summer? We now have festivals all winter long.
As we began to internalize the concept of living in a winter city, we began to see that denial and avoidance were not the only inevitable options. We could choose to embrace all the seasons.
Looking to the south and worldwide, we see increasing urban violence, rural crime, hate, and random moments of terrifying insecurity. When I hear discussions, read articles or watch and listen to broadcasts about the situation, the word ‘inevitable’ is often dropped in without a thought.
If we continue to accept something as inevitable, it most likely will come to pass. If we relabel it with the other extreme – ‘never happen here,’ it most likely will come to pass.
I think a more helpful way of looking at these big-scale situations is to pick a label, if we need to pick one, that helps us determine our collective destiny.
One approach I find useful is to ask ‘why’ this trend? Why now?
This exploration leads me to see the possibilities of solutions to avoid or reduce the negative impact of these trends.
Please give this a bit of a think. What is a trend – good or bad, that you could try not to think is inevitable? Is it global in scale or a personal trajectory of some kind?
I’m curious about your thoughts. Please share your bit of a think in the comment section below. It will come to me for approval before posting.
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