Suppose you are in charge of something that performs well, but not well enough.
It could be:
Teaching a course
Chairing a department
Heading a company
Governing a country
The skill to improve this entity is managerial and spatial – figure out how it works and then identify a piece that will enable the puzzle to function better.
It could be:
A sprig of parsley
A classic reading
A friendlier receptionist
A new information technology system
More progressive taxes
In the summer and autumn of 2015, Canada had a federal election. There were many earnest politicians, many erudite experts and more experts judging the experts, all suggesting additional policies designed to improve the country. I find this approach too managerial.
Canada is prosperous, peaceful, inclusive and provides publicly financed women’s health programs, so there is a lot to be proud of. However our economic growth rate sputters around 1%, lower than the U.S. and China.
What to do? When a problem is deep, structural and will play out over many years, a time-based approach is more effective than a spatial, managerial one. My recent insight is that time solutions are between generations and need to take account of gender.
When Adam and Eve were extruded from the Garden of Eden, they heard a gender-based message. Adam was told that he would work by the sweat of his brow, and Eve was told that in pain would she bring forth her children.
In twenty-first century Canada, some summer work takes sweat, but mostly you have to go to the gym to work one up. Maternal death in childbirth is almost non-existent, while unbearable pain can be avoided with obstetrical anesthesia. Metaphorically, Canada has gone back to the Garden of Eden.
The reason we are not sufficiently holding on to success, risk and growth is that, when we went back to the garden, we let the serpent poison gender relationships. Young people after college do not rush into marriage and babies. Living at home with their parents, partying, they learn to mistrust each other. Some men become misogynist. Some women develop anxiety and depression from non-consensual sex.
Mature adults now have adult children on their hands. It makes sense that we sell Canadian companies and that we send start-ups to the U.S. where they do not absorb Canadian savings. We need the money to look after our kids.
Different tax policies may help us get our mojo back. But probably not. Canadians are smart enough to understand that when planning for our future we are naked. We must learn to see with a gendered, generational lens and develop courage. A fearful population cannot bravely stride forward.