Fragments Of Me

fragments

To make the script, you need ideas, and for me a lot of times,
a final script is made up of many fragments of ideas that came at different times.

[David Lynch]

This essay is just such a project.  It combines many fragments of ideas that came at different times yet each has been warring for attention in my brain all week.  For a few weeks, really.

Election drama. Honesty.  Racism.  Women’s rights.  Gratitude.  Grace.  Fragments. Fragments, but complete entities. 

Election Drama

I loathe the polarization that is happening globally and detest how it is ripping through my country, pitting Canadians against each other.  I worry about how far this trend might mushroom should we fail to find common ground.  Viewing life through aplanatic lenses – straight lines – is the equivalent of wearing blinkers.  A dangerous perspective.

Jacobin forces are pushing otherwise rational folk into corners which are the political equivalent of armed encampments.  When, I wonder, did we lose our passion for debate, for honest and open discussion of contentious issues.  My parents’ generation considered politics and religion to be the kryptonite of social banter.  My generation cheerfully disregarded this social more, respectfully deliberating at our dinner tables, in our neighbourhoods, in pubs, ‘round the water cooler – amongst family, friends, neighbours and colleagues.  Despite our ideological differences, we always parted good friends, happy to agree to disagree. 

Election 2019 has been shockingly enlightening for me.  There sure are no Sunny Ways In this campaign!  The behaviour of most electoral candidates is utterly appalling.  The taunting, blaming, bashing, insulting and accusing in this election all feel ever so much meaner; more abusive, personal and nastier than back in 2011 and 2015 when the competition was vigorous and fierce but the tone less insultingly abrasive.

This election is basically a two-horse race and most Canadians seem resigned to having a minority government, to being stuck with one of those two party leaders who have both been, at times, combative, antagonistic, belligerent and petulant.  Some choice!  It is a sad state of affairs when the chief election strategy is decrying each other’s lack of ethics.  Their invidious behaviour has roused tempers, widened the gap of diverging opinion, and further isolated many voters.

It’s no wonder so many people feel dismayed, as if they’ve lost something very important and precious.

In a few days’ time, one of these leaders will have to abruptly change gears – from hostility and division to cooperation and collaboration – in order to make a minority government work.  Close attention will have to be paid to the ways and means of bringing all sides together in their new government, and to how they might unify our fractured Canadian spirit. 

I wish them Godspeed.

Honesty

At the beginning of October, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton were interviewed on “Good Morning America”.  Mrs. Clinton was asked, “What’s the gutsiest thing you’ve ever done?”.  Her candid response was twofold; politically, of course, it was to run for president, but personally, it was “make the decision to stay in my marriage.”  Chelsea admitted to being astounded by her mum’s answer.  Shock and aftershocks reverberated through social media, where despicable trolls, armed with keyboard courage, let loose with a stream of judgmental ignorance.  Staying was brave VS  Leaving would have been braver.  The discussion devolved into Princess Diana mode;  “Well, there were three of us in the marriage, so it was a bit crowded.”  No one was in the Clinton marriage except President and Mrs. Clinton.  No one but Mrs. Clinton is qualified to interpret and assess her decision.  That war of words aside, I was gobsmacked by her instant, gritty honesty.  Though I’ve been an admirer for many years, her stock skyrocketed in my book.

Standing on the shoulders of giants!

Racism 

Look, it’s unrealistic to pretend that racial prejudice doesn’t exist.
It does!
It’s one thing to have a set of laws,
and quite another to change the hearts and minds of men.
That takes longer.
I do not consider my blackness a problem.  I think it looks rather nice.

[Jessye Norman]

A gracious, inoffensive comment that still conveys exactly the dire nature of racism in North America.  Ms. Norman, one of the finest operatic sopranos of all time, won five Grammy Awards, four for her recordings and one for lifetime achievement, plus the coveted Kennedy Center Honours and the National Medal of Arts.

On the last day of September the world lost the operatic amazingness that was Jessye Norman, at the still too tender age of seventy-four.  Her voice was magnificent, she was beautiful inside and out, so smart, kind, strong – special in every way possible.  (I’m shamelessly fan-girling here!)  It is unfathomable to me that a woman with such an enormous talent would have experienced racism.  

Standing on the shoulders of giants!

Even more odious is the overt racism we witnessed in Gatineau prior to the English language debate.  Honestly, I am frightened of a bigotry expressed so casually, openly and brazenly and by how very normal, relaxed and natural its expression appeared to be.  No fear of legal or personal consequence.  No sign of embarrassment or shame.  Simple, audacious, narrow-minded prejudice.  

Man: “You know what?”
Mr. Singh: “What’s that?”
Man:  “You should really cut your turban off and you [will] look like a Canadian.”
Mr. Singh: “I think Canadians look like all sorts of people. That’s the beauty of Canada.”
Man:  “In Rome, you do as the Romans do.”
Mr. Singh: “This is Canada. You can do whatever you like.”

With no sign of retaliation, it was a calm, measured, gracious response in a pressure-cooker situation.  Mr. Jagmeet Singh is the first member of a visible minority to lead a federal party into a Canadian election – a campaign overshadowed by the leitmotifs of racism and racial identity.  Mr. Singh’s elegance of expression, his poise and obvious decency have won him fans from coast to coast.  Whilst it will not be this year, with some additional political experience (Foreign Affairs/Finance/Justice) Mr. Singh will be Prime Minister of Canada one day, and he will be a damn fine one at that!

Standing on the shoulders of giants!

If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.

[Isaac Newton]

In an older post – Let’s Shine Redux: Mentoring – I wrote about some of those feminist giants from a historical perspective but of course, walking amongst us, everywhere, there are modern-day giants galore!

Women’s Rights 

In the context of reopening the abortion debate in parliament, and heard most vehemently proclaimed at the 7th October English language debate:

We will never allow a single inch of retreat
from the hard-earned rights of women in this country.
Not one inch!

[Elizabeth May]

Standing on the shoulders of giants! 

Gratitude 

At the hospital this week, a chap in our unit suffered a cardiac episode and a Code Blue was called on the PA system. Immediately, medical staff came running, full-out, from every possible direction, pushing crash carts, a gurney and oxygen canisters.  Security staff arrived to control and secure the area.  Within scant minutes, the ailing gent was lifted onto the  gurney, cardiac leads attached to his chest and he was rapidly wheeled away.  Then, and just as quickly as they’d materialized, the docs and nurses vanished.  Efficiency personified!

It makes me feel ever so safe and confident to be in their care.  It is a medical team I am always oh-so-proud of and grateful for.  Each and every one is a giant walking amongst us.

Standing on the shoulders of giants!

Grace 

A couple of weeks ago, whilst watching the Packers beat the Cowboys, the camera panned to one of the private boxes where George and Laura Bush were enjoying the game with Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi.  We thought nothing of it.  

Again, bolstered by keyboard courage, internet trolls bombarded twitterverse with hateful, inflammatory and threatening messages aimed at shaming Ms. DeGeneres (a staunch Democrat) for associating with (her friend!!!) Mr. Bush (former Republican President).  The level of hostility and malice was nothing short of harassment and abuse.  Yet, displaying tremendous grace in the face of mammoth adversity:

We’re all different, and I think we’ve forgotten that that’s OK.

and

When I say be kind to one another,
I don’t only mean to people that think the same way that you do.

[Ellen DeGeneres]

Standing on the shoulders of giants!

Election drama. Honesty.  Racism.  Women’s rights.  Gratitude.  Grace.  These are all fragments of me.

There has always been and will always be a broad spectrum of political, social and religious dogma.  We all need to remember that it is not unavoidable that we despise, attack and belittle each other because of these differences!

I do worry about us finding (or perhaps not being able to find) our common ground.  It could be that those giants living among us right now are a good place to start.  Sharing their stories, giving those heroic souls some attention and praise might just be the restorative, positive, unifying and uplifting tonic we are all craving because we truly are all standing on the shoulders of giants!

Here, at the end, is the exact point where I began writing this essay, with the words of my favourite Canadian hero, a giant sadly no longer walking amongst us.  His words inspire and uplift and motivate.  Always.  

Love is better than anger.
Hope is better than fear.
Optimism is better than despair.
So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic.
And we’ll change the world.

[Jack Layton]

Let’s change the world!

‘Til next time, y’all…

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