I have been reading a variety of blog posts this summer regarding citizenship, community, and democracy. Most of these blog posts have been investigating the reasons why fewer and fewer of us participate in the democratic process and the...
I have been reading a variety of blog posts this summer regarding citizenship, community, and democracy. Most of these blog posts have been investigating the reasons why fewer and fewer of us participate in the democratic process and the feelings of isolation and lack of influence many of us are feeling these days as a result.
It was a blog post titled The myth of the silent majority, written by Glen Pearson that really got me thinking about the challenges the trucking industry faces and what our responsibilities are as individual drivers to influence positive change. Glen summed up the silent majority this way:
“How can drawing in people to care more about their community possibly be wrong, especially in times of great transition or challenge? And how can the presence of a silent and ambivalent majority possibly stand as a viable excuse for the lack of citizen accountability? The presence of a majority of citizens refusing to face impending struggles on behalf of their own community is hardly a testimony to the vigor of the democratic legacy.”
A week or two before reading Glen’s blog, I was stuck in a line of stalled traffic on Hwy. 17 west of Kenora. The 20-kilometre long line of traffic was a result of a fatality accident that had occurred near the Ontario-Manitoba border. I learned this by turning on my CB radio.
But it wasn’t long before the trash talk started over the radio, at which point I joined what I believe to be the silent majority of drivers and turned off my radio. CB trash talk is all about bigotry, hatred, ignorance and fear.
Those feelings have found fertile ground for some in the changes that are taking place around us.
There isn’t any doubt that the trucking industry is in a time of great transition and that we are all facing huge challenges as a result.
The shortage of qualified drivers, holding drivers to a higher standard through stricter enforcement, exponential growth of technology, the push to adopt that technology in the cab, pressure to improve productivity, pressure to hold down wages and the impact all of those things have on our lifestyle add to our feelings of angst.
Much of the bigotry and ignorance that prevails over the CB airwaves revolves around immigrant drivers. It has more to do with a fear of change within the North American trucking culture than with driving skill or knowledge. Leaving your homeland and moving to another country with a vastly different culture and lifestyle is about pursuing a better life for your family and it is something that is incredibly difficult to do. I can speak to this with some limited experience.
My family immigrated to Canada from Great Britain 45 years ago. Although I was still a child at the time I can still remember the challenges we faced as a family, despite sharing a common language and similar cultural norms. The last thing an immigrant family is looking for is a free ride.
My parents saw Canada as a land of opportunity that could provide a better life for their family and it certainly did.
But there were no guarantees. Success came through hard work and commitment.
These are two qualities I believe all people striving for a new beginning in our country share. I think the silent majority would agree with me on that.
There is much room for improvement in how the rules around safety and compliance are enforced. There will always be debate about the validity of some of those rules and whether they are necessary at all.
But the fact is, the laws governing conduct and the rules of the road need to be in place.
Many of those rules have been put in place more for the benefit of the commercial driver than anyone else.
I think it may very well be a silent majority of drivers that prefer they are limited to a 70-hour week.
As a group, we drivers often complain about the lack of camaraderie today in comparison to the ‘good old days.’
That feeling is fueled by negative talk over the radio. Many of us have dealt with this by simply turning our CB off. But is that the right approach?
Ignoring that attitude certainly doesn’t make it go away but at the same time, I admit, that when you engage with drivers on the radio, it usually degenerates into a pointless shouting match.
It appears that as individuals there’s not much we can do to stop or at least tone down the trash talk. I think we can agree there is a silent majority of professionals out there.
But in our silence are we allowing the voice of the minority to dominate? Ignoring it certainly does not seem to be making it go away.