Editorial – It’s All About Me

Part of what keeps our society (reasonably) civil is the somewhat nebulous notion of the greater good. In general, we’re aware that our actions affect everyone around us, and we do our best not to be self-absorbed, insensitive clods.

But every so often, a story pops up that demonstrates how incredibly obtuse some people can be when it comes to the idea that, sometimes, a clear benefit to our community is more important than our own desires.

A case in point is a recent article in the Toronto Star. A woman named Sandra Cassidy lives in a custom-built home in an upscale Ajax neighbourhood. This lovely location came with a hefty price tag?one that included a $100,000 premium to look out over Lake Ontario. As Cassidy told the Star, ?We paid a lot of money to have the only custom-built home in a very special subdivision.?

Apparently, Cassidy believes that having paid a bundle for her house entitles her to deny municipal services to her neighbours; namely, a two-kilometre bus route that she doesn’t like passing in front of her home.

Cassidy is lobbying Durham Region Transit to reroute the buses, complaining that they’re too loud and she ?can’t even hear the TV when a bus goes by.?

Never mind that neighbours are now able to leave their cars at home and use the bus in an effort to be environmentally friendly. Never mind students who may rely on the route to hold down after-school jobs. Never mind that rider numbers are good (an average of 34 riders per hour, compared to the standard of seven to 28, according to DRT’s deputy general manager of operations).

And never mind the senior citizens who rely on it to remain independent. (Cassidy dismisses their needs as inconsequential, saying ?I’m sure there are a few elderly people who want it.?)

When the transit commission’s executive committee meets to consider the matter on September 3, Cassidy seems confident she’ll get her way. Her husband, Wayne, is an architectural technologist who designed the subdivision and, as Cassidy told reporters, he ?has some clout with local politicians who know him through business and charity events.?

?Not to sound like I’m bragging or anything but we have more (influence) than the average person,? she said.

Perhaps she does, but instead of using all that time and influence to serve her own needs, maybe Cassidy could put it to better use. Maybe she could lobby for cleaner, quieter buses, or use some of that clout with local politicians to set up an innovative, benchmark municipal transportation system, one with improved bike routes and carpooling.

Not everyone has the money or influence to effect major change, and it seems like an incredible waste when those who do, pursue personal desires to the detriment of the broader community. Because in the long run, on a planet shared by more than six billion people, it isn’t all about them.