A little bit of worry goes a long way
Thanks for finally starting to take on the social infatuation with anxiety as a sign of pathology and something to be squashed or avoided (“The new worry epidemic,” Society, Feb. 17). For more than 50 years, we have known that low arousal (also known as anxiety) and high arousal are both associated with suboptimal performance. There is a sweet spot: Just the right amount of anxiety leads to the best outcomes. Avoidance of stressors leads to less capacity to adapt and become resilient, while successfully riding out the worry leads to better coping, more skills and the ability to better face, as Hamlet mused, the “slings and errors of outrageous fortune?.?.?.?and by opposing end them.” The anxiety everyone experiences when faced with a life challenge (also called stress) is not a problem. How we deal with it could be. If a person loses his job, he does not develop a depression. He may be demoralized, angry, frightened or sad, but he needs a job, not Prozac.
Dr. Stan Kutcher, Professor of Psychiatry, Dalhousie University, Halifax
We are looking at devastation on a global scale, which, in a few short years, will be irreversible. Worry? I would hope so! Worry enough to take action? That would be nice! But our narcissistic society shows a depth of ignorance and a lack of awareness that is mind-boggling. It is high time this became a priority in all our thinking. And, for those of us who do give thought to it, yes, it is a source of worry!
H.L. McFadden, Surrey, B.C.
I would like to thank the writers and editors of Maclean’s for my best LOL moment of the week. After years of parading apocalyptic covers on health, business and the world that even Chicken Little would argue are over-the-top, this week’s cover suggests that we should worry about worrying. In the worry epidemic, it appears to me that Maclean’s is Patient Zero.
Yves Beaulieu, Montreal
Not a fair fight
Coming in the week when the Harper government has introduced its Fair Elections Act, it is fitting that Paul Wells has reminded us that Elizabeth May was elected as a party of one (“A reason to listen to Elizabeth May,” Feb. 17). Real electoral reform would address the gross “unfairness” of our undemocratic first-past-the-post system and move toward proportional representation, as is used now in most of the democratic world. In the last federal election, for a total of 576,221 votes, the Green party got only one MP, Elizabeth May. Meanwhile, 35 of the 166 Conservatives were elected with a total of 540,191 votes. Is this a fair election? We can’t hope for change to come from a party that so obviously benefits greatly from the status quo. It is so obvious that increased donation limits will be of most benefit to the party with the most financially comfortable base of supporters. It will not equally help the political parties traditionally supported by Canadians who are financially falling a little further behind with each passing year.
Gayvin Franson, Saskatoon
Paul Wells is right: There are many good reasons why we should listen to Elizabeth May. One of the few MPs who puts her concern for Canada above politics, May speaks intelligently and respectfully about key issues that will shape the quality of life in the years ahead—most notably, the insidious dismantling of our cherished democracy and the perils of doing nothing about global warming. To those of us in despair over Canada’s future, May offers hope.
Karyn Woodland, Metchosin, B.C.
Evan Solomon’s letter in response to having been tarred with the “anti-Semitism” brush by Barbara Amiel (“Grasping at slurs,” Letters, Feb. 17) is a reminder that the slightest criticism of Israel results in accusations of anti-Semitism. To suggest the perception of anti-Semitism in every such criticism is itself a symptom of a stubbornly held prejudice.
Andrzej Derkowski, Oakville, Ont.
Why has Stephen Harper not appointed Barbara Amiel as chair of the CBC (“Dear Evan, about your letter?.?.?.,” Feb. 17)? I have not watched the CBC for a decade, other than sports. It’s too biased; I don’t believe a syllable uttered there. Time to shut down their Front Street cube and move its heart to Winnipeg or Markham, Ont., or Gatineau, Que., or Burnaby, B.C.—anywhere that represents Canada today.
Paul J. Larocque, Markham, Ont.
I’ve always found Evan Solomon’s interviewing and reporting fair and balanced. His interview with Foreign Affairs Minister Baird was no exception. I am willing to predict that, one day, Solomon will receive the Order of Canada for his achievements in journalism. In fact, I understand there is a recently created vacancy that he could fill!
Conrad Gregoire, Ottawa
Amiel’s motivation for peace is her fear that Israelis of Arab decent (“lions”) outnumber those of Jewish descent (“lambs”). Amiel demands equality in Canada while she encourages discrimination in Israel. Would she like Jewish Canadians labelled “a demographic danger” to Canada? If the answer is no, why encourage a parallel approach elsewhere?
Oni Ornan, Toronto
Barbara Amiel says Evan Solomon is a “good news reader.” Would it then be fair to characterize Amiel as a “decent typist”? What’s with the snide comment about Solomon having attended a private high school? How is that relevant? Amiel ends her rant with a condescending observation that Solomon has made himself a shooting target by arguing with her and that, while she personally doesn’t shoot things, he’ll perhaps “take this as a caution.” Amiel needs to give herself a shake.
Paul Gaffney, Ottawa
Evan Solomon states that he only asked questions of Baird about the new Canadian ambassador to Israel “and never stated an opinion at all.” Maybe he fails to understand that the kind of questions asked reflect preconceived opinions.
Isi Erez, Richmond, B.C.
Your Feb. 17 editorial poses the question: Can football reinvent itself as a spectacle of speed, skill and courage, without creating horrible brain damage or becoming indistinguishable from soccer? Yes, easily. Just reduce padding to a minimum and outlaw helmets completely. For a couple of games, there may be some pretty disastrous clashes. Give those players the Darwin award; they’ll remove themselves from the population. The rest will soon settle down to protecting their own heads instead of expecting helmets to do it.
Mick Price, professor emeritus, University of Alberta, Edmonton
Why pick on football? Boxing and MMA, “sports” whose intent is deliberately to damage an adversary’s brain, deserve banishment. These are gladiatorial combats better suited to ancient Rome than to societies that have supposedly been enlightened.
Frank Gue, Burlington, Ont.
My compliments to Maclean’s for an outstanding summary of the pipeline’s political issues (“End of the line,” National, Feb. 3). Writer Luiza Savage has done an excellent job in reporting the political nonsense down here in the States that seems to have infected virtually every decision Congress must address. Pipeline construction is a project that will eventually go forward. Unfortunately, not all the homework was done by TransCanada. If only they had considered the longer route, the pipeline would now be in service.
William Keller, Mesa, Ariz.
Jimmy Kimmel is not the sole surviving late-night talk-show host in Los Angeles (“So long, Los Angeles,” TV, Feb. 17). Award-winning Craig Ferguson does, in fact, do the Late Late Show in L.A., even though you lumped him in with the New York hosts.
Susan Devries, Maple Ridge, B.C.
A long, painful wait
I would like to share the anger my family feels regarding wait times for medical treatment (“Waiting is the hardest part,” National, Feb. 17). My 25-year-old son began experiencing severe hip pain in early 2012. His family doctor referred him to an orthopedic surgeon that February. We were never contacted by this particular doctor for an appointment, so, after a couple of months, we found another surgeon in our area and, six months later, we got an appointment. After undergoing X-rays and an MRI, he was again referred to another surgeon in London, Ont. We waited more than a year to see this doctor. We could not believe our ears when he told us it would be another six to eight months, at the earliest, before surgery could be performed. My son is in constant pain, is unable to work and cannot afford to live on his own. No surprise that Canada is at the bottom of the wait-time list, and the Harper government’s level of engagement on the problem is “close to zero.” It angers my son even more when he thinks of the money wasted by our governments at all levels, yet there are many people forced to live with pain while the “system” grinds on at a pace slower than a snail’s. One thing I am certain of, however, is that if Health Minister Rona Ambrose or Prime Minister Stephen Harper suffered from this debilitating illness, he or she would have surgery scheduled within days!
Pete Russell, Thornbury, Ont.
Leaving a fishy taste
Jacob Richler rationalizes his choice not to be “dogmatic” when he chooses seafood, by saying that a “great-looking endangered skate wing” is “already deceased, after all” (“Ocean Wise, but palate-foolish,” Taste, Feb. 17). To take that thought to its logical conclusion, we may as well lift the ban on the ivory trade because, hey, the elephants are already dead anyway, right? What a wonderfully facile and self-absorbed way to think. It must be liberating, but I hope your readers bring a little more sense to the table than he seems to.
Andy Chalk, Delhi, Ont.
Curl up with a muscle man
So Scott Feschuk has been told he has “the body of a curler” (“ ‘I wonder if this looks weird on TV,’ ” Feschuk, Feb. 17). He should be so lucky! Brad Jacobs and his team, who represent Canada at the Olympics, are ripped like proverbial Greek gods. All the current competitive teams take fitness and nutrition as seriously as any other athlete, and have the physique and stamina to prove it. Go for it, Scott! You could do a lot worse. There are calendars featuring the women of curling and the men of curling, available through the Curling News. Talk about eye candy.
Ann Chick, Maitland, Ont.
I own a skilled trades company in the construction sector. Young people always ask me: “Please, sir, how can I get an apprenticeship?” They have to be lucky or know someone or both. The last paragraph of “The German way” (Jobs Report, Feb. 17) really struck a nerve: “Yes, we need doctors and lawyers and accountants, but we need people who can work with their hands, too.” My local school board just closed two high schools. One had six technical shops, the other was a vocational school for a host of skilled jobs. This to make way for an “experimental” academy to pump even more kids into university—despite our huge glut of unemployed university graduates and a serious shortage of people who can work with their hands.
Kevin Hodges, St. Catharines, Ont.