If you have a job that requires you to publicly share your opinions and those opinions are anything other than “Everything is awesome,” sooner or later (definitely sooner) you’ll hear from people who feel you’re too negative. These people like positivity, so much so that they will exhibit it by taking the time to share sweeping opinions on strangers’ personalities.
It’s something of an all-purpose Nova Scotian response to any news that makes us uncomfortable. Bad news lacks positivity, so one can safely ignore it. In the medical community, they call this behaviour delusional, but what do those people know up there in the ivory towers?
Positivity has a nice common-sense feelgoodiness to it that’s as reassuring (and intellectually challenging) as a tepid bath.
A big part of my job is to ask questions and learn the stories behind things, which bothers some people. To them, “Why?” sounds a lot like “You’re wrong.” So they demand positivity. And you know what? I’m listening.
Positivity doesn’t come easily to me, but we Nova Scotians have a sunny role model to emulate: Premier Stephen McNeil. Don’t let his towering glowering façade and frequent outbursts of rage fool you; McNeil is a ray of sunshine.
No seriously. He is. Consider his Oct. 9 exchange in the Legislature with the Opposition Leader. Tim Houston asked: “How does the Premier feel about Nova Scotians having the highest cost of living in the country?”
That’s not a very positive question, is it? I mean, poverty is such a bummer. Think about working your whole life to rise from appliance repairman to premier and then having to answer a buzzkill question like that?
An inferior pessimistic sort of person would have replied with empathy and concern for the thousands of Nova Scotians living in or on the brink of poverty.
That same complainer might have even explained how he knows the cost of living is a real and serious problem, affecting the health, freedom, and quality of life of countless people. He might have even related a personal anecdote about a time he or a loved one struggled with financial need.
Can you imagine listening to that? So depressing. And that would mean acknowledging there is a problem. Negative Nellies have problems. Positive premiers, however, bubble baseless optimism like lava lamps.
So I’m proud of how my boy Steve handled Houston’s gaucherie. “We’re seeing wage growth inside our province,” was his non-answer. “People are making decisions based with their wallets.”
And he’s right. People certainly are making decisions with their wallets. Decisions like: Can I afford winter tires? Do I have anything I can sell so I can pay my power bill this month? Is there any way to afford my kid’s tuition? Can I go six more months without seeing a dentist?
Like Thanos, good ol’ Steve simply snapped his fingers and made the thousands of economically imperiled Nova Scotians cease to exist. There’s no place for them in his palace of positivity. “We have seen an increase in our population. We’ve seen more people repatriated back inside of Canada. The cohort between 18 and 34 is growing. The age of this province is going down.”
But our Premier of Positivity saved his best response to Houston for last. “He always has to be negative,” McNeil lobbed back. “He has attacked hard-working Nova Scotians.”
Attaboy, Steve! Pessimistic pendants may disagree (as is their nature) but I say there’s simply nothing quite as positive as responding to a simple question with a personal attack and some bizarre, irrational misdirection.
And with leadership like that, I’m 100% positive Nova Scotia will continue to grow and thrive. We definitely won’t see increasing poverty rates. The rich won’t keep getting richer while the rest barely subsist. And Nova Scotia will definitely be prepared for the incredible economic disruptions that are coming as the world painfully lurches from its dependence on fossil fuels.
Some people, whiny beta types mostly, would worry about those things. But not me. I’m positive everything is going to be great.