It is my belief that all of us are shaped by three factors.
One is the genetic factor and there is little or nothing that we can do about that.
The second one is the sum of our experiences in life and that is a mixed bag of changes we can make and changes we have no control over.
The third is the influence of the environment in which we live and that can sometimes be changed and sometimes not. What does not change is that whatever happens in our lives, shapes us to what we are today.
In my case living through The Second World War left a mark on me.
When I think back, the whole war period seems like a sickening nightmare. By the time I was 13 years old, the war was over and by the time I was 15 things were somewhat back to normal whatever that is. As time progressed I started to hear and learn things that shocked me to the core.
As if going through a war was not enough, the reality of what happened behind the scenes prior to and during that war was a blow to my trust in big time politicians and big business from which I never recovered.
Thousands and thousands of Canadian soldiers who freed Holland are buried in Dutch cemeteries because they believed or were told that they were fighting for freedom and to a large extent they were.
At one time the Nazi movement could have been stopped at its violent roots, but business interests and all too many governments looking the other way watched it grow out of control.
As a consequence, 60 million people died as a direct result of that war.
It did not phase on the Dutch Government that not even a year after being freed from oppression by the Nazis, waging a war in the Dutch East Indies to keep it as a colony was beyond belief.
The oppressed became the oppressors. I could not understand the disrespect for freedom while the Canadian soldiers lay buried, fighting for our freedom. The patriotic little Dutch boy carrying ammunition in a double bottom milk jug for the Dutch underground lost his respect for his Dutch Government.
After serving in the Dutch army like every Dutch boy has to, I came to Canada in 1954 as a married man.
It took a while to get settled into a different way of life and get on my feet and by 1960, I was a Canadian citizen.
My first participation in a big protest march was about preventing super tankers going through the Straight of Georgia. Again I was reminded about the true nature of big business. After the protest march Shell Oil promised to donate $10 million to environmental causes. What happened was that $1 million went to the environment and $9 million to a big advertising campaign praising the environmental awareness of Shell Oil.
In 1979 our family moved to the Cariboo where due to the big Bowron clear cut I became president of the first environmental group in the Cariboo and because of that I started writing for this paper.
I know there are some people who believe that I am a left wing socialist, but nothing if further from the truth. I despise extreme left wing socialism as much as I despise extreme right wing capitalism. What both have in common is they create degradation and misery for the people unfortunate to live under either system. My big fear is that any further control by the Corporate sector over our right wing Governments both Liberal and definitely Conservative will eventually lead to a dictatorship that is equal to what the North African people are now fighting for and that is freedom. Large corporations already have too much control over our government, our food, our natural resources, our media and our water.
I love my children and grandchildren and I will do what I can to raise awareness and hopefully prevent my offspring having to live under a dictatorship.
Bert de Vink’s a long-time Quesnel resident who wrote for the Cariboo Observer from the mid 80’s to the late 90’s. The Observer is pleased de Vink once again decided to put pen to paper.