Working as they do for a think tank, Cardus staffers are paid to observe and critically reflect on the goings-on in the world around them. We offer commentary and propose answers to the questions that either are being asked or, in our humble opinion, should be asked.
If the only measure were this blog, it would seem the Cardus team has been in a collective mood of pessimism of late. One might even conclude that we are in a collective funk about the future of our own business.
For example, yesterday Milton Friesen wondered whether the 17% decline in think-tank citations reflected a reality that those in our business have not figured out how to deal with the changes in communication and network strategies that the new information economy require. The default answer to all things technological has been that the next generation will have a better handle on things, but then I read Peter Stockland's warning that in fact the old "are very much this country's future, albeit in the colour and shape of the demographic mushroom cloud hanging over our heads." Such sentiments seem unlikely to ignite optimism. Besides, if Rob Joustra was right on Wednesday, the only youth who are likely to get an internship in this sector are likely to be the rich kids anyway. I have nothing against wealth, but it is not always the single best hiring criteria.
To be fair, I have skipped a few of the more positive entries on this page, but I only need go back a few days further to cite Brian Dijkema's discursive on decadence and decline, Stockland's rant about the "programmatic idiots" running newspapers, or Joustra's dismay at the seemingly wilful blindness of those in the Canadian political science establishment as it relates to religion in public life.
Not only are these points valid on their own, but collectively they make also make a point. When Cardus talks about social architecture, our vision is a fundamentally positive one regarding how the various parts of society can work together to create a better big picture. But the work of building social architecture involves working in individual institutions and subsectors. There, much of the work is messy.
But such is the nature of all building. The mechanic gets dirty hands as he fixes my car. The carpenter creates a mess of sawdust as he builds a deck. Even the artist carries a rag to clean up the excess paint that would otherwise ruin the masterpiece.
The work of documenting brokenness is part of what a think-tank needs to do. But the apparent pessimism that might be concluded from this analysis should never be mistaken for despair.
Despair gives up. Hope comes to work each day convinced that by understanding what is broken, we can help in the process of fixing it.