First published in the February/March 2013 issue of North Simcoe Community News.

People can’t change the truth, but truth can change people. – Unknown

December 21, 2012 came and went without violent upheaval, as some predicted, but I still felt a shift in our fate. If, instead of a cataclysmic event, the “apocalypse” was perceived in light of its Greek origins, then we experienced “a disclosure of knowledge, hidden from humanity in an era dominated by falsehood and misconception”. (Wikipedia)

For, despite the constant media onslaught of falsehoods and misconceptions, truth is being revealed. We are learning about forces that breed widening gaps of inequity in our society, about the vulnerability of our economic system and the limitations of our government, about how human activity negatively impacts Earth’s natural systems, and about the dangers that lurk in our modern foods and household products. We are realizing that media is often a communication tool for special interests, and not an impartial source of information. In general we are waking up to the realization that the system is rigged, and we are what Goldman Sachs reportedly calls “Muppets” – clients that are easily manipulated for profits.

These revelations can change our world. In a speech aired on TVO’s Big Ideas, Jordan Peterson, University of Toronto Psychology Professor, explained how we make a better reality through a never-ending quest for the truth. (To see the speech google big ideas redemption.)

Peterson said that the ancient wisdom of the bible addresses our inherent need for redemption (today we might call it meaning, well-being or happiness). The stories tell us that redemption is not a state to be achieved. Rather, it is an on-going process. In the face of constant disruptive events, aim for the greatest good, speak the truth, constantly revise your beliefs about what is true (only possible if you are deeply aware of your own ignorance), and let the truth guide your actions.  Doing this will transform you and those around you. To aim wrong, Peterson says, is the original definition of sin.

What does it mean to aim wrong? It is to do something without regard for the negative impact on others.

We don’t have to look far for examples. In Greg Smith’s new book, Why I Left Goldman Sachs: A Wall Street Story, he reveals how the financial industry rips off clients, in particular pension funds and philanthropic institutions, for their own benefit.

In John Perkins’ book, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, he details how the US corporatocracy (an alliance of corporations, banks and governments) exploits other countries and destroys cultures while enriching American corporations and banks, and securing the loyalty of foreign governments through debt enslavement.

We can also look at ourselves. If everyone on the planet consumed like Canadians, we would need the resources of more than five planet Earths.

We live in a world with seemingly little regard for the greater good. But maybe that is about to change.

On March 20, 2013, when day and night are of equal length, the world will celebrate its first International Day of Happiness. The United Nations is promoting the development of  “a new creative guiding vision for sustainability and our future, one that will bring a more inclusive, equitable and balanced approach that will promote sustainability, eradicate poverty and enhance well-being and happiness.”

Currently the economy dictates our vision for the future. But, in the words of David Suzuki, “How much value does (the economy) place on breathable air, drinkable water, edible food and stable weather and climate?…Let’s hope this year ushers in a new way of living on and caring for our planet.”

Let’s do more than hope. The International Day of Happiness on March 20 is an opportunity for us to open a dialogue with friends and family about what really brings us happiness, about what well-being really means. It’s time for us to prove that we are not Muppets, that we can think for ourselves and use the truth to realize a better reality for us all.