By Mike Andrews
How many times have you thought that “the grass is always greener on the other side”? By our human nature, we all have done it, not once but likely many times in our lives. The last month has certainly made me reflect on this. I genuinely feel we live where the grass is the greenest. Upon reflection two words come to mind: “gratefulness” and “empathy.”
Gratefulness. Despite all of its flaws, Canada is a wonderful place to live, have a family, and own a business. We are allowed to disagree with our political leaders, even voice our own concerns loudly, and with that comes the freedom to vote and exercise influential change. However, at times, I feel I lose sight of the fact that individual freedom is not entirely free and that there is a responsibility/cost for freedom. We all know that sometimes we have to put ourselves behind someone else, so we can continue to enjoy what we have. For the “collective good.”
Empathy. What is occurring in Ukraine might stir this feeling in us. One day, living peacefully, having a job, owning a business, raising a family, and spending time with friends. Then within a month, you are packing your bags, leaving the country, hoping to find a safe location, food, and some real peace. Men between 18 and 60 are being asked to help their neighbour and country by staying and physically fighting a Goliath. What’s admirable is seeing how pervasively Ukrainian citizens are doing it with pride and honour because they seem to understand that there is a shared cost to their freedom.
Our federal/provincial government leaders, although we might not agree with them all the time, are not the true antagonists. I believe our attention would be better focused on being grateful for where we live and empathetic for people, through no fault of their own, who are suffering both in Russia and Ukraine. The true antagonist is well beyond our borders, where actual freedom is threatened, severely restricted, and severely punished for.
As a country, we will send financial and military aid. As individuals, we can support our neighbours who may have family and friends impacted. As investors, it will be a choppy ride, yet again. Geopolitical events result in greater volatility because of the uncertainty it creates. With Ukraine in particular, there will be an impact on our agriculture and gas prices. The sanctions and global businesses pulling out or shutting down business locations in Russia in support of Ukraine causes further strain on profitability and stock prices. Although painful, it is only temporary, as I have seen over 35 years with other major geopolitical events. We will continue to prosper financially as long as we stay focused and disciplined. Despite the potential feeling of discomfort, let’s remember that we, different from Ukrainians, are going to continue to go to work, run our business, enjoy retirement, and spend time with friends and family. We will not be packing our bags and leaving our country. How fortunate is that?
Gratefulness and empathy are feelings that go a long way in bringing a family, a community, a country, and the world a bit closer together. Yes, the last month has caused me to pause and reflect. It initiated an insightful conversation with my daughter and reminded us, “how green our grass is,” and for that I am thankful.