Let's not hyperventilate!Viewpoint by Isabelle Hudon

Text signed by Isabelle Hudon, president and CEO of the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal,
published in Voir on February 14, 2008.

Let's not hyperventilate!

With sensitive issues dominating the headlines – including the accomplishment of major development projects in Montréal, language, and immigration –, I've noticed that it's easy to hyperventilate.  Maybe it's the icy winter air that is burning our bronchial tubes, or the cold season that is stuffing up our noses – I really don't know.  But what I do know is that if we don't take a few deep breaths – through the nose, that is! – it's difficult to remain calm in our understanding of both the challenges facing us and the proposed solutions.

If we don't make the effort to understand the issues, we run the risk of hyperventilating.  And when that happens, the results are predictable: we get dizzy, our vision becomes blurred, and suddenly reason makes way for panic.

Sometimes, when I observe the public debates raging around us, it seems to me that I recognize some of those symptoms.  In the medical community, lung specialists often sum up the solution to this problem in two words: breathing re-education.  Patients must learn to stop what they're doing and breathe more slowly.  Of course, calmness and serenity are fundamental to this therapy.  You see where I'm heading with this, right?

Let's take the example of demographics, which leads us to the question of immigration, which is closely linked to that of language, and we find ourselves faced with a chain of issues it would be unwise to analyze in isolation without taking the time to recognize their deeply complex and delicate nature.  So I'm going to play doctor for a day and, stethoscope in hand, prescribe the following treatment: approach these questions in a calm, steady manner and examine the issues from every angle, seeking both the causes and the implications.  This is when it becomes important to breathe through the nose!

But I've observed that our respiratory problems, which may have been linked to the mid-winter blues, appear to be clearing up with the approach of spring.  In fact, many signs of collective well-being are already being felt.  I'm thinking, for example, of the Griffintown project.  The mobilization of Montrealers in favour of the success of their city and the development of its riches is taking place with builders who took the time to meet with all stakeholders so that we can work together to create the best project for the metropolis.  Another example, of course, is the entertainment district, which is starting to come together with the support of all government levels, the business and cultural sectors, and the public.

When individuals believe in their means and their ability to act, this is all the more valuable, knowing that when faced with complex problems, there's no point seeking simple solutions.  Healing often depends on a profound conviction that we can heal best by taking our future firmly in hand.

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