It was inspiring today to see photos of women’s marches throughout the world including in Kamloops in resistance to the ideas of the newly inaugurated President Trump. His ideas are based on misogyny, intolerance and racism and hauntingly dangerous. His toxic mix of lack of intelligence, ignorance, and thin skin combined with the power he know wields is dangerous for the world. The women’s march was a welcome course correction perhaps slightly modifying the scary trajectory things are on, even if temporarily and providing an ounce of hope that things might not be that bad. The march was impressive in its size (bigger than the inauguration), its scale (global on all the continents), its diversity, and its message (peace, love, unity, not fear and division). I will admit though, it left me wondering where do we go from here. For as great as the march was, it will be but a small footnote in history in comparison to that which it is protesting against unless it results in meaningful action.
While the great fear is what will happen in the United States and what the United States will do to the rest of the world through its carelessness, we must remember that Canada, and Canadians are not immune to acting like Trump and his followers. We should not be naive. Stephen Harper nearly got elected with a platform of isolating Muslim people. Kellie Leitch, with the assistance of her campaign manager Nick Kouvalis is running for the Conservative leadership based in large part on a platform based on thinly veiled racism. Racism still exists in Canada. Institutionalized racism still exists in the treatment of Indigenous peoples (see the inequality in education funding as one example). Our smugness can blinds us to a reality that is not flattering. While we must allow people to express their thoughts and opinion, we must also not give air to those opinions that are based in prejudice. Heck, Don Cherry is still allowed to be on public television and he has been espousing bigotry for the last 30 years. Hopefully the women’s march will provide an awakening to Canadians that we must always strive to be better.
So where do we go from here? I am reminded of my friend Kathy Sinclair’s posting on Facebook the night of the election and her commitment to action:
‘I will fight. I will work tirelessly for the promotion of peace and social justice and good and welcoming of all in this world. In whatever small way I can. I may not be American, but I can do something.’
Kathy is right, we can probably do something. Seeing the women’s march today made me think of what I can do. Here are some thoughts:
- I will attempt to gain a better understanding of the experience of Indigenous people, LGBTQ people, people living in poverty, people in the Black Lives Matter movement, various minorities, and other people that have lived through different forms of marginalization. The internet can be a giant cesspool of crap but it can also be an inspiring and educational place to hang out and learn about what’s happening outside of our day to day existence and enables us to get the first person experience. For instance, while Gord Downie’s Secret Path project is important, there are many Indigenous people that have shared their lived experience in residential schools – those are the voices that we should be listening to.
- I will continue to support the arts in our community because the arts provides exposure to a diversity of people and of thought and they can create joy and they can cause reflection. I can point to watching plays, movies and TV shows and listening to different kinds of music as fundamentally changing my viewpoint on certain issues and shifting my thinking and perspectives.
- I will support a strong public education system because it’s through education that we enable creative and critical thinkers to evolve. While I don’t have kids in the system, I am in a place where I can support initiatives that help with kids educational experience, particularly in some of our schools that are not as well off.
- I will remind myself that I am a citizen first, taxpayer second. Taxpayers always seem to be angry while citizens are actively engaged in issues beyond dollars and cents. Citizens want to make their communities better; taxpayers want to lessen the impact on their pocketbook.
- I will try to be more community-minded and participate in initiatives that improve my community.
- I will try to create an online presence through this blog and social media that is constructive. I have been guilty of not doing this.
This list is not exhaustive and it’s not perfect. It may not even ultimately be useful. But it is a starting point. I would love to hear what others are thinking on this.
Trump may be the beginning of the end but if we distract him long enough on Twitter, we might have a fighting chance of righting the ship.