Basic Income Guarantee in Ontario

Basic Income Guarantee…and how it is beneficial to Millennials and Generation Y

 

Toronto is regularly ranked as one of the most livable cities in the world but every year, without fail, Canadians are forced to pay an increase in Hydro or TTC fares and along with ballooning gas prices and inflation, disposable income is no longer so disposable.

Basic Income Guarantee is set to combat this financial dilemma as it is set to begin its pilot project in Ontario of April 2017. Basic Income Guarantee or BIG is a supplementation to anyone’s income that is below the poverty line of $19,930 for adults working full-time.  It simply ‘tops up’ the individual’s income so that they are above the poverty line. For example, if someone is working full-time and is not making $19,000, BIG will cover the difference so that the individual will have more than that baseline amount. During the pilot project, other social services or welfare programs will NOT be cancelled, and as a result, BIG will work with these existing programs to help individuals reach above the poverty line.

Jenna Van Draanen of Basic Income Canada Network revealed to me the benefits of Basic Income Guarantee and who it can potentially benefit the most. ‘We saw women taking longer maternity leaves; spending time at home with their kids and we also saw young men in high school staying in high school and finishing their diplomas.’

‘So those are the things I think represent positive changes in the labour market participation and it does combat what we typically think of you know; that people will quit their jobs or stop working.’

Basic Income Guarantee is a program aimed to benefit those in the low to middle income families. It simply produces an equal platform for all citizens of a developed country to play on. It endorses education for all those despite their economic backgrounds and it allows for healthcare and social services to all people. For those making above the poverty line, they will not be distributed any additional money and those in the high income bracket will not be allowed to participate in the program. Along with the revamping of OSAP and the redistribution of student loans, it may actually seem like the Canadian government is making an effort to shrink the gap that is income inequality.

At first glance it seems too good to be true that the government would hand out money to those who decide they don’t want to work. But upon further review of previous projects (in India, Libya and Finland), things tend to be a little more optimistic.

‘And I think the other thing that is interesting about the labour market participation in some of the international experiments in Libya and India, [is that] we’ve seen people be more likely to be entrepreneurial and start small businesses because it’s a little bit of protection,’ Van Draanen adds. ‘If the business fails and [has] to go bankrupt for some reason, you’re guaranteed at least to have the basic necessities and you don’t need to worry about losing your life.’

So essentially, Basic Income Guarantee is a safety net for those who do not have a steady income or who do not participate in the work force year-round. For instance, a real-estate agent who works solely off of commission, is judged based on their merits, and their income reflects that. If the real estate market is slow, or a family emergency prevents them from working, their ability to make a living and subsist will be severely hindered. But BIG will guarantee that this broker will not have to worry about being below the poverty line since BIG will ensure that this individual will never stray under $19,000 a year. Furthermore, BIG tends to incentivize entrepreneurs and small businesses since it provides business owners with the safety net they desire. Given that a business fails, they do not have to worry about sleeping on the street since BIG will ensure that they have food in their stomachs, water to drink and a roof over their heads. Van Draanen adds that since most labour jobs are beginning to be mechanized, the amount of jobs are slowly but surely diminishing and it is up to the government to stay up to date and to create infrastructure and programs that will combat these situations.

According to the Basic Income Canada Network website, it’s goal is to provide individuals with enough money to live above the poverty line, achieve basic necessities and to live with dignity. But what does ‘basic necessities’ cover and what does ‘living with dignity’ entail?

‘We believe that a basic income would simplify all of that and allow people the assurance of just the basic amount of money, nothing glamourous, but something that will allow for basic needs to be met and that will not have some of the restrictive things of the current welfare system.’

‘[It will allow] people to make choices best for them in their own lives. They can choose to invest in their education, they can spend a little bit more on housing, a little bit more on food, whatever meets their needs.’

These basic necessities would cover food and a place for shelter but it doesn’t cover some of the more modern necessities. It doesn’t include internet usage, a cell phone plan let alone a cellphone, and certainly not a computer or laptop; which for many Canadians, these things would be considered essentials.

Van Draanen explained to me that the current Canadian welfare system imposes a lot of restrictions on what individuals can and cannot do with their money. Moreover, welfare systems and social programs tend to incentivize individuals NOT to find work since a part-time or full-time job would decrease the amount of money they receive.

‘It’s an insurance policy, it’s a way to sort of stimulate the creative sectors, give people a chance to do something that they love without worrying about whether or not they’re going to end up on the streets.’ Van Draanen added.

I believe that the BIG program will be greatly beneficial to millennials and those employees who are filling in the gaps left behind by the Baby Boomers. Van Draanen is certainly correct in her assessment that the work force is being taken over by machines. Thus, it is important for the new, upcoming workers to carve out their own niche. This may be creating an app (Twitter, Uber, Snapchat, etc.) or building their own businesses, but it is certainly not the traditional path of working 9 to 5 until retirement. Basic Income Guarantee will allow the younger generations to take risks and pursue passions. It will give the newcomers the insurance that they crave to go out and take a leap of faith. Innovations and inventions weren’t made from a comfortable place; they were created from risks and alternate thinking. Without a safety net we will be forced to waste time and money creating our own, but given one by the State we can instead focus our time and energy on the betterment of society and the improvement of mankind.

For the full audio interview with Jenna Van Draanen please visit my YouTube channel, Basic Radio and for more information on Basic Income Guarantee, visit their website at http://www.basicincomecanada.org/.

 

 

 

 

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Interview with Ted Trush of BodyAthletica

In this modern day and age where FitBits are gaining traction (on pavement or treadmills) and fitness advice can be sought on YouTube free of charge, trainers and coaches alike have experienced competition like never before. With free apps like Myfitnesspal and a healthy portion of the public tracking everything they eat, it was a shock for me to hear a professional bodybuilder and coach tell me that he ‘doesn’t track calories at all.’

Ted Trush is a Canadian bodybuilder with over 25 years of experience and 12 competitions compiled under his career. His last victory was a 1st place trophy in the Superheavyweight Open Division and 2nd place in the Heavyweight Masters division at the 2011 Ontario Bodybuilding Championships. He is also the co-founder of BodyAthletica which helps athletes and individuals get in shape for competitions, big events, photoshoots, or simply for personal fulfillment.

So on one windy August evening when I called Ted and he told me that he didn’t track any calories, I thought I was going to be in for a ride on the ‘Bro science’ train. In his calm, controlled demeanor, he quickly followed up by saying that different macronutrients affect individuals differently and that the human body is akin to that of a soundboard or a radio with different dials and knobs.

‘Let’s say a radio with a bunch of dials and an equalizer…when you adjust just one dial, you have to adjust all the other dials as well, in order to get the sound you want. And that’s the way the body works, if you have an increase in insulin, it affects other hormones and it cascades down.’ Trush told me over the phone.

‘The body runs and produces hormones and it has a lot of hormones acting on each other. It’s been proven that you have to keep insulin levels low because [that’s] a fat storage hormone,’ Trush reiterated. ‘Let’s say you have someone on 1500 calories of protein and someone else on 1500 calories of carbs and no protein. I can guarantee you that the person eating carbs is not going to lose the weight. Because you’re basically giving [your body] a ton of fuel and the body doesn’t have to burn body fat as fuel.’

‘It’s not as simple as saying, well its physics, energy in and energy out kind of thing. It doesn’t work like that.’

Although current, updated studies have shown that flexible dieting or IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros) does indeed work, few to little studies have shown the implications on athletes that resistance train (over a long period, 3 to 5 years or more) and the efficiency of a diet composed of mostly whole and ‘clean’ foods versus a diet with an emphasis on staying under a caloric limit.

Studies have shown that both flexible dieting and the generic ‘Bro’ diet do work, but they have not yet deciphered which one is more efficient, allows for better adherence and is most optimal for the individual. Is the rate of fat loss in a generic ‘Bro’ diet, with mostly micronutrient- based food, faster than that of a flexible diet? Do ‘Bro’ dieters tend to maintain more of their muscle mass during their fat loss phase as opposed to a flexible dieter? Is it easier to adhere to a flexible diet in the long run than a bland bodybuilder diet? The philosophy of the flexible diet seems to be founded on the principle that one calorie is the same as another calorie.

But Trush seems to think differently, ‘different macronutrients will affect you differently…say you eat 100 grams of carbs, you are going to get a lot of insulin release. If you eat 100 grams of protein, you won’t. So that means the carbs will affect you a lot differently than the protein. So 100 calories [of carbohydrates] is not the same as 100 calories [of protein.]’

Trush continues, ‘I don’t generally count calories, I count macronutrients…..because there are two essential nutrients. You have essential amino acids and essential fatty acids, no such thing as essential carbohydrates. Carbs are basically used as fuel and that’s it. It’s like putting gas into your car. Some people can have a full tank and still burn a lot of fat, others need close to an empty tank in order to burn a lot of fat.’

‘So it really depends on the person, I start people high [on carbs] and then cut their carbs back slowly and see how they react. [With] some people you have to cut them way back, like for myself, I know I have to cut my carbs way back in order to lose fat. And I didn’t really know that until I started to compete and worked with a few guys who knew a lot and that I learned off of.’

Intuitively it seems right that certain foods, being that they are natural and from this earth, will be absorbed much easier by the human body and thus digested easier. Wouldn’t the body recognize 30 grams of carbs from a sweet potato or white rice differently than 30 grams of carbs from say Swedish Fish or Oreos? Moreover, from a biological standpoint, the consumption of food requires energy and as such, certain foods require more energy to be digested and other foods require less energy. Some foods have negative calories because it requires more energy for the body to digest the food than the caloric value of the food itself. For example, the body burns more calories digesting celery than the amount of calories the celery contains. So, adhering to that philosophy, eating certain types of foods would not only create a hormonal response but also a digestive response where the body burns calories to digest the food.

For Trush, who put in a lot of hours in studying nutrition and the human body, he was also gifted with the expert guidance of a Canadian Powerlifting Champion in Al Young. Young taught a beginner in Trush the fundamentals of the Big 3 (bench press, deadlift and squat) and soon his progression as a powerlifter reached a point where he needed multiple spotters to ensure his safety. Just like every other professional bodybuilder, Trush’s encounter with Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Pumping Iron soon forced him to switch over from powerlifting to bodybuilding and he has been competing and coaching clients ever since.

‘I want to be more of an educator. I’ve learned a lot from the people I have worked under and studied and I believe in a science-based program so I try to give the best advice [I can] and answer the questions that a client has,’ Trush explained. ‘And by doing that, I really never had to market myself or do whole tons of social media. I get clients through word of mouth and that’s been hugely successful.’

Compared to a lot of fitness giants these days, Trush’s approach is a drastic contrast to how they build their business. Nowadays, fitness YouTubers are gaining momentum and macro coaching has reached a new level of popularity. Along with Instagram and Facebook, coaches and trainers have been popping up digitally like never before. So how does a traditional coach like Trush still manage to keep his business afloat?

‘A number of reasons, the guys that are online, the kind of Bostin Lloyd type guys, they reach a different demographic. They’re going after young males, uneducated, no knowledge of how to train or nutrition and these guys like Bostin have no knowledge either.’

‘[They reach] the microwave demographic, they don’t want to spend 10 years in the gym doing things correctly. They want to spend 6 months in the gym and look like those guys. How much drugs can I take, what shortcut can I take to get there? I don’t want to cook it for 20 minutes, I want to put it in for 1 minute and be done with it, [the microwave demographic.]’

Trush goes on, ‘I don’t attempt to go after that demographic, I don’t want those clients because they don’t listen anyways. They go on YouTube to find ten different things and then say this guy says this and that guy says that. I always tell my clients, if your trainer tells you something make sure if you ask him a question, he has an answer for you. Because 98 per cent don’t have an answer because they don’t know, they’re just spewing hearsay and advice that someone told them.’

‘The more people that you satisfy and help reach their goals, [the more] they are going to tell other people and then your reputation will speak for itself.’ And with all the transformations and testimonials on the BodyAthletica website (www.bodyathletica.com) it is safe to say that their reputation is still going strong.

 

 

IFBB PRO – DAN KENNEDY

Elite Physique Article

 

From a school trip in high school to a professional career in bodybuilding, Dan Kennedy has transformed from a gym rat, to bodybuilder, to coach, and now to the position of co-owner of Elite Physique. Elite Physique is a company run by Dan and Michelle Kennedy, both of whom are IFBB (International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness) pros, which focuses on personal training and dieting services. With over 30 years compiled under Dan’s weightlifting belt, his expertise and experience in training, dieting and coaching will be uncovered within this article.

When a field trip in grade 9 involved going to the beach, Dan decided to get into shape. Although he didn’t ‘grow much’ within those two weeks, he quickly fell in love with weight training and built a lifestyle, family and career out of bodybuilding and fitness. With notable titles, such as the overall trophy at the 2001 Kingston Championships along with representing Ontario on a national stage on four different occasions, Dan has literally grown from that skinny kid in high school to a Super Heavyweight placing as high as 3rd on a national stage.

Nowadays Dan focuses his energy on training clients and athletes with his wife in hopes of getting people in shape for contests, shows, photoshoots, vacations, weddings and etc.

‘When I used to diet down for a [bodybuilding] show, you get a lot of people who hate it, but myself, I loved it. I absolutely loved getting up the next morning and seeing what’s changed in my body.” Dan told me over the course of our phone interview. “Nowadays, its more just tweaking little things in my training and diet to see what can carry over to my clients.’

Dan briefly tells me an aside about one of his clients who has a photoshoot in a week’s time and he prepped him for the photoshoot the same way he would prep a bodybuilder. “We get a lot of clients who want to get in shape but don’t necessarily want to get up on stage,” Dan stated. “We still treat them like they are going on stage. The foods may be a little more relaxed for someone who isn’t competing but it depends on the person’s goals. If they want to lose [fat] right away, they may have to go a little stricter. Say you have to lose 20 pounds in a year’s time, we can give you more lifestyle choices and common foods. Sometimes our clients get a restaurant list of where to go and what to get when they go out to eat.”

For most people wanting to get in shape, Dan tells me it’s the diet that is toughest for his clients. ‘It’s more of a mental game for most people, because for a lot of people it isn’t a lifestyle. It’s not a switch you can flip on 12 weeks before a show or 20 weeks before a show.’

‘Whatever you are eating during your contest prep, you’re eating the same thing but in larger quantities after the contest,’ Dan explained. ‘Most people go back to their old ways of McDonald’s and French fries… and another thing is that your friends and family don’t understand how strict you have to be. They can say ‘just have ONE candy’ or ‘just have ONE hot dog’ but in reality, you can’t.’

Dan attempts to combat the adherence issue of diets by allowing his clients to focus on a higher percentage of protein while keeping calories high. ‘So basically, the way our diets works is we are keeping protein higher than most diets. By keeping protein higher, you can kind of keep your calories higher than on a diet that is mostly focused on carbohydrates. Typically, I’d rather have a guy eating more calories and whittle down the food choices.’

Although one gram of carbohydrate is the same amount of calories as one gram of protein, medical studies have shown that protein is more satiating since it takes longer to digest, and sits in the stomach for longer allowing the dieter to feel like he/she is still full.

‘I think most of these fad diets do work, its all up to the client and whether they can stick to it.’ Dan adds, ‘Not everyone can stick to a low carb diet, especially if they want to carry it through to the offseason. We try to stay higher protein and higher carbs in the offseason and trim down as contest time comes so its not really so bad.’

With the advent of the internet and along with it bodybuilding.com, YouTube and Myfitnesspal, trainers and coaches have never before experienced so much competition from all sides.

‘Well, its experience. People need one-on-one, they need someone to report to, the biggest thing is to have someone keep you on track. When you check out something on a blog or [bodybuilding.com] forum, you don’t have anyone to report to.’ Dan explains, ‘Whereas with us, we are available 24/7 for our clients. We book our clients once a week if they want to see us and we are always available for phone calls or texts. If they are at a grocery store and want to inquire about a certain type of food, they can take a picture, send it to us, and we are always there to provide them with an answer.’

With Thanksgiving in the States just passed and Christmas and New Year’s just around the corner, many families are preparing for a sedentary, overeating holiday. For information on Elite Physique and the works of Dan and Michelle Kennedy’s success stories you can visit their website at http://www.elitephysique.ca/

For the full unedited transcript and/or audio interview, please visit my YouTube channel, Basic Radio.

Fishball Revolution

Fishball Revolution

Hong Kong citizens and Canadian-Born-Chinese have a good idea of what fishballs are, but very rarely are these Chinese delicacies intertwined with politics and violence. On the night of February 8, Lunar New Year, violent clashes broke out between protestors and police in the retail district of Kowloon. Hong Kong authorities issued tickets to street vendors who have traditionally always sold food during the Lunar holidays. Although technically illegal, since they operate without a health permit, Hong Kong has been touted as a tourist country due to their cheap merchandise and native street food including fish balls and stinky tofu. This Kafkaesque act angered many locals in Hong Kong, especially the ‘localist’ group Hong Kong Indigenous, who threw their support behind the street vendors and confronted the police. Violent clashes occurred regularly throughout the night until controversially, a policeman fired two warning shots into the air.

According to Shannon Tiezzi of The Diplomat, a magazine on Asia-Pacific relations, tensions have been rising since the Occupy Central movement back in 2014. Tiezzi and many other locals believe that the ‘Fishball revolution’ is about more than just street food. “It’s clear there are deeper motivations at play. There’s a lot of anger amongst certain sectors of Hong Kong society,” Tiezzi informed “A lot of [citizens] fear that their culture and way of life [are] being taken over by mainland China and signifying that Beijing is having more control.”

Hong Kong had been under British Crown rule since 1841 and not until 1997 was Hong Kong handed back to China. Under British rule, Hong Kong citizens experienced democracy unlike many of their northern counterparts in mainland China. Since ‘the Handover’ back to the central government, many locals in Hong Kong fear that their democracy and freedom would be eroded by the powers in Beijing. This led to the peaceful protest known as Occupy Central, where thousands of people stormed the streets and blockaded the financial and business district of Central. Due to the lack of conclusive resolution in the peaceful protest of 2014, Tiezzi says that these protestors have now ‘split into two camps.’

“Some of them continue to believe that peaceful protest is the way to go and they’re actually trying to win seats in the government,” Tiezzi said “There’s another camp that thinks ‘Our peaceful protest failed, so we are going to need to do something more drastic to save our society.’” Joshua Wong, 19, is one of those student activists who hopes to achieve democracy though peaceful means. As one of the organizers of the Occupy Central protests, he condemned the violence on February 8 and is currently hoping to the run in the upcoming Legislative Council elections. Contrarily, the other camp composed of ‘localist’ groups, calls themselves ‘rebels’ and are much more dangerous due to their unexpected nature. “Some of these localist movements as they are called are more primed to respond with violence when they’re met with opposition from the police because there’s a high level of distrust of the police and the current HK government already.” Tiezzi stated.

Although fighting for what seems like similar goals (democracy in Hong Kong), Tiezzi reiterates that there isn’t ‘a unified movement’ specifically. “There’s lots of different groups and people with different motivations. Some people want CY Leung (Chief Executive of Hong Kong) to leave, [others] have outright said that they want HK to separate from China and become its own country sort of along the lines of Singapore as a city-state.” “And then there are people in between who say they just want their local government to do more to stand up to Beijing when Beijing seems to be interfering in HK’s local government.”

In a public opinion poll conducted by Hong Kong University, over 40 per cent of HK citizens consider themselves as Hong Kongers (or HKers,) distinctly from Hong Kong and not from mainland China. This differentiation is indicative of the attitude HKers have in wanting to be a separate entity from mainland China. Back in 2010, the same opinion poll was conducted and only 25 per cent of residents consider themselves ‘HKers’, with the rest identifying as Chinese (from HK and China.) This indicates a drastic shift away from identifying as ‘Chinese people’ to strictly identifying as ‘Hong Kong citizens.’

In the end, it is hard to blame Hong Kongers for wanting to maintain the status quo. They have experienced democracy for nearly a century and a half and they will be reluctant to revert to the stifling arm of the central government. Beijing has been known to suppress dissent and that was evident when five Hong Kong booksellers simply vanished and then reappeared in China in early January. These booksellers were responsible for selling and publishing ‘gossipy, juicy’ stories on China’s leadership. They reappeared on Chinese television stating that they left Hong Kong voluntarily and that they confessed to the crimes the Chinese authorities accused them of.

“Most people aren’t buying that; most people think it’s suspicious that all five of those people voluntarily went to China within a few weeks.” Tiezzi analyzed. “And a lot of people [are] concerned with the legal prospects in Hong Kong and what that means for Chinese censorship in HK.”

Beijing proposed a plan where only those nominated could run for the top position in Hong Kong; Chief Executive. But locals lambasted that proposal and protested in Central as the bar was set so high that anyone who wasn’t affiliated with or had central government’s approval would not be chosen as a candidate. Hong Kong legislature blocked this proposal of direct election, and instead, the Chief Executive is elected via a council of 600 people ‘who are mostly handpicked by Beijing.’

“So I think Beijing has made it very clear that they are not going to compromise on this…It is crucial for the central government in Beijing to maintain tight control over HK,” Tiezzi said. “That’s why you are seeing so much violence, because a lot of people have given up hope that their peaceful protest can achieve their goals.” “The problem with using violence is that it gives both the Hong Kong government and Beijing an excuse to move in and use force.”

It is a bleak outlook for those hoping that central government will relinquish control over Hong Kong, but even more than a year away from elections, protests are slowly starting to get violent. Only HKers themselves know what they truly want as a country, but without a unified movement Beijing will only continue to enforce its will.

 

Dec 20, 2015

It is 11pm in downtown Toronto and I am sitting at the Comedy Corner Club with two of my friends. Stand-up comedians have come and gone, some produced great bouts of laughter whilst others left much to be desired. The one currently speaking, who also happens to be the uncle of one of my friends, is just about to wrap up his bit, “Has anyone seen the police brutality video?” he asks. An awkward silence ensues. He was doing so well! Is this the part where he bombs? I think aloud. “Anyone see the police brutality video?” He asks again. Two people in the back pipe up, “which one?” The response was almost immediate, “exactly!” he says.
In a day and age where the general public pine and rail against police brutality, the militarization of the police force and the misuse of their power, it is easy for many (including myself especially) to forget about the good apples of the bunch. It is important to remind myself and others that there are indeed real people out there who work, and perform duties not merely for a monetary compensation. But I digress, that is a topic for another time.
As the show wraps up, I can’t but help think how hungry I am. Seeing as it is 2am, what better place to go to than good ol’ Johnny’s Burgers. I promptly pull up and make my order of double cheese with fries and a strawberry milkshake. The heavenly odour is permeating out of the brown paper bag and into the atmosphere that is my car as I try and make my way home as quickly and safely as possible. And so it happens that just about 7 minutes away from my house, yours truly gets pulled over by a York Region police officer. Now seeing as this is not my first tango with the police (previous traffic violation of ‘disobey stop sign’ but I personally find it much less severe if it were to be renamed a ‘Rolling stop’… which is what I did) I think to myself Oh no, not this again. A white, male police officer (*insert eye roll) around early to mid-30’s taps on my windshield and informs me that I was going approximately 30km/hr over the speed limit. I apologize sincerely and he asks me if I have been drinking as I try to produce for him my ID and registration. I answer honestly that I have not at which point he takes his flashlight and shines it into my vehicle. I show him my bag of food and explain to him that I am simply in a rush to get home to eat my food. He asks me one more time if I have been drinking and I respond honestly, “not at all sir.” He seems to believe me and takes a look at my license and registration. I beg him not to give me a speeding ticket in hopes that he would cut me some slack but he tells me there is little he can do at 30km over the limit.
At this point, I am thinking there is no way this white cop is going to help me out. I am going to be slapped with a speeding ticket and a hefty fine and unfortunately going to have to deal with an insurance hike along with the full wrath of two Chinese parents. In fact, not only does he come back promptly but he also tells me that since I had no other previous speeding tickets he was going to let me off with a warning. I had never felt such relief and surprise simultaneously and in such equal doses. He gives me my license and registration back and informs me “Going so fast even for food is stupid. We’re always here [on Highway 7]”
At that moment, words cannot describe my love and admiration for that police officer. I don’t know if it is due to him letting me go, or the sheer shock of a police officer actually doing his job. I tell him thank you emphatically and he drives off. Although this encounter helped solidify a worldview of mine (once again, for another time) it also turned my beliefs on its head.
All my teenage life I thought that these power-hungry police officers didn’t care naught for the people they claimed to serve and certainly not in a day and age where a simple video search can reveal hundreds if not thousands of police brutality videos. So why was this any different? And why did I feel such admiration for someone that I told myself I never wanted to be?
It is because he is what is real in a world where everything is fake. In a world where politicians don’t work for the people, and doctors don’t cure for the love of saving, he showed me what a real police officer should do.
A police officer should be dedicated to the population, to keep the community safe and to ensure that rules are being followed. Now I certainly didn’t follow the rule that was placed on a sign saying limit 50km/hr, so why does that make him a REAL officer? Because he approached me in a way where I learned and would follow the rules in the future. He acted for my sake and not his wallet’s. He is a real officer not because he didn’t print me a ticket and let me go, but because the warning he gave me will last with me for much longer than any speeding ticket could have done. Maybe I am simply giving him too much of a benefit but it sure seemed to me that he pulled me over and talked to me in order to right my wrongs and not to hand out tickets to meet his quota. It was as if he performed a duty not merely for money or a salary but because he was looking out for me. He wanted to make sure I didn’t commit the same crime again so he warned me ‘We’re always here. Don’t speed.” He wanted to ensure that I was safe, and the road was safe, so he asked if I was drinking…twice. And lastly, but most importantly, he wanted me to improve and get better, so he gave me a warning and talked to me, as opposed to doling out tickets like the rest of them.

Is this the meaning of life?

In recent memory, I have been contemplating whether or not one can live a successful, thriving life without having a passion. A passion, dedication, longing and willingness to perfect and hone an art form. I say this because I truly believe that who we are as human beings are defined by our passions in life.
Taking a craft and learning about its intricacies, tendencies and little nuances and then adding one’s own spin or signature to it is having a passion. It is something that takes years of toil and labour, over hurdles and valleys, to be knocked down time and time again but to know that this is something that must be done. To acknowledge that giving up is not an option, and that failure is merely a learning experience. To know that this burning desire, this longing for greatness, this passion, which comes to life in the form of your art, is something that will engulf you and then slowly become you. This is a passion that burns so deeply that it engrains itself within you and becomes your life.
For instance, I consider Kobe Bryant a successful human being not only because he is wealthy and doing something he loves but because he has a degree of passion that is far superior to other athletes. Kobe’s art of slicing defenses on a basketball court has made his name as well as himself synonymous with basketball. His passion for the game is evident in his years of practice and his many All-Star and All-NBA accolades. It is safe to say that all professional athletes have a passion for the game but not all athletes are synonymous with their sport. The mention of Kobe comes in tandem with basketball; it is something that can’t be separated. His art of playing basketball has defined him as well as his life. That is who he is, and that is what he is known for; playing basketball. His passion and love for the game helped him excel and gain recognition as one of the greatest to ever plat but his passion for the game is superior to others because everyone knows Kobe Bryant as a phenomenal basketball player, even those who don’t watch basketball recognize that. Even after his retirement, Kobe Bryant will still go hand in hand with basketball either as a broadcaster, a team owner, or merely as a knowledgeable fan. Sports fans and the general public will still place Kobe Bryant in unison with basketball.
What I am trying to say is that I have many passions; reading, writing, fitness, and learning (getting smarter), that do define me, and make up who I am right now. But I do not yet know who I truly am or what avenue I choose to pursue. All I can confirm is that I am still a work in progress and I can only hope that with dedication and hard work I can finally figure out who I want to be.