There are many things for which I am thankful.
I am thankful for my dog who provides me with inspired conversations. For my friends and colleagues with whom I have conversations that are even more inspiring. For my family, even though I dont see them much.
I am also thankful that I live in Canada where we enjoy a level of prosperity unequalled. We have a natural environment that is the envy of the world. We have cities and communities that are different and unique.
We have the right to free expression and free speech. More to the point, we have a government that long ago realized that the state has no place in the bedrooms of the nation. Canadians are free to love who they want and when they want.
We have a healthcare system that generally serves our needs and keeps us healthy (we live longer than our neighbours to the south on average) without the self-destructive rhetoric that we hear on the daily news. How can the United State - the richest country in the world - claim to be the land of the free and home of the brave and yet have so many of its citizens denied healthcare?
Canada is a great place to live so, yes, there are many things that we should be thankful for at this time of year.
However, there are also things that I am not thankful for. Bad poetry is one.
At least, I am presuming that the latest advertising campaign by Enbridge to convince us that the Northern Gateway pipeline is a good thing is supposed to be poetry. It is hard to tell but lets assume so and deconstruct the message.
It starts out: The ocean...
So far, so good. We know what we are about to talk about. And even though it is not the oceans per se that are raising concerns, at least it is in the right ball park.
I guess starting a poem with: The narrow, winding fjord that extends for over 80 kilometres into the British Columbia mainland from the ocean... just wouldnt have the same poetic value.
The next line goes on to say: vast, deep...
Sure it is vast when you consider it on the scale of human experience. Mountains are vast. Plains are vast. Heck, even some lakes and reservoirs - such as the Williston reservoir - are vast.
Being vast and deep just means that it is large and not much more, unless the intent was to subtly imply that there is so much ocean that it is beyond our ability to harm. If that is the case, then the author should have considered two things. The Douglas Channel is not vast and deep. And humans are making a mess out of the oceans on a daily basis.
The poem goes on to say: A limitless pool of life.
Limitless is an interesting choice of word. It means without limits.
The implication is that there is no end to the pool of life in the ocean. Yet, we know that over-fishing has reduced many of the worlds great fisheries to nothing. Just check out the cod stocks on the east coast.
The oceans are not limitless. They are limited bodies of water and we can not keep on damaging them without pay a price.
It is only a business that truly doesnt understand that we live on a finite planet with finite resources that would try to describe the oceans as limitless.
The poem then says: A playground for the tiny and giant things that live within it.
A playground? Seriously? The oceans are not a playground. The oceans are the home for all of the creatures of the sea.
They cant leave it when they tire of playing. They depend upon it for every aspect of their life. Just watch Shark Week on the Discovery Channel if you want to see the oceans as they truly are. Or National Geographic. Or the Nature of Things.
Any of these shows will quickly dispel the mythical notion that the oceans are a playground for the creatures that live within.
The poem continues with: And a gateway to the other side.
Sure. But the oceans are much more than just a gateway. There is so much more to their ecosystem. We arose from the oceans billions of years ago and life has always been strongly connected to the seas.
The fact that over the past five centuries we have come to view the ocean merely as routes for travel is one of the sad aspects of modern life.
The poem finishes by saying: The ocean should remain an ocean. Always.
Well, at least it got one thing right.
But as poetry, it does leave something to be desire.