The catalyst for today's post is a comment that Kirby Evans made in response to something I posted yesterday, two videos depicting the empowerment of homophobes and racists now that the demagogue Trump has been elected president. Kirby is one of the bloggers that I read regularly and deeply respect for his heartfelt convictions and analyses. Since he made the comments public on my blog, I am sure he will not mind me featuring them in this post:
I must admit, Lorne, that I have largely lost heart. I avoid the news, can't bring myself to write blogposts. I just feel like all the years of fighting have left me drained and bereft of my humanity. In my dad's last years he was continually predicting the return of the 1930s because he said that the spirit of hate is too strong to keep down. As sad as it sounds, I am glad he didn't live to see this stuff. I know I need to keep fighting for my daughter's sake if nothing else. But I just don't know how any more. I feel like the tide of history has changed and we are just going to lose.Here is what I wrote in response:
I felt the same way in the immediate aftermath of Trump's election, Kirby, but somehow found renewed purpose. I hope you will regain your spirit, Kirby.What I didn't mention was the catalyst for my renewed purpose, which is where the story gets a little more personal than I am usually comfortable with.
Thoughtful, reflective and analytical voices like yours are far too important to be silenced. The war, in my view, is always worth fighting, if only to deny final victory to the rabid right, the morally twisted, and the outright bigots who live amongst us.
It was probably two days after the Trump victory that I received a phone call from an organization looking for someone to canvas on my street for their charitable cause. Although it was a worthy one, I immediately responded by telling her that I wasn't interested. It wasn't my refusal that was noteworthy, since it is not the kind of thing I do, but it was what I felt when I refused, which I will come back to momentarily.
Probably the same day, or perhaps the next, I was coming out of a library branch and walking to a nearby grocery store when a man sitting on a bench asked me if I had some spare change for a coffee and a doughnut from a nearby Tim Horton's. As is my usual practice, I said "No." (I should add here that I usually refuse such requests in the full knowledge that the area where I live is well-served with organizations providing breakfasts, lunches and dinners seven days a week, and we prefer to donate to organizations rather than individuals.)
My refusal was not delivered with any rancour, and his response was, "Oh." Yet something didn't feel right to me. As I continued my walk to the store, it occurred to me what it was. It was not that I had refused his request or the request of the telephone solicitor that bothered me. It was my realization of a certain mean-spiritedness I felt in issuing those refusals. It dawned upon me that I had, indeed, been deeply affected by the repudiation of my values and principles thanks to the Trump election and I had, in fact, allowed that victory to infect my own psyche. In a word, I think I had momentarily surrendered to the power of darkness cast by Trump and was, in fact, acting as a Trump supporter would have.
I am not sure if I am explaining myself clearly here, but the fact of my refusal was not the issue. I will repeat, it was what I felt when issuing the refusals. To counteract that, upon my return from the store I went into Tim Horton's and bought a gift certificate, hoping the man was still on the bench down the street. He was, and he once more made the same request of me. I handed him the gift card.
Such gestures may be largely meaningless, and certainly are unusual for me. But it hit me with full force that the only way to combat the darkness enveloping us now is to be proactive, to be on guard against such psychic infection, and to carry on as best we can in fighting the forces that would have us devolve into a lower form of existence.
I hope Kirby Evans at some point finds a renewed sense of purpose and resumes his blog. Win or lose, we all have a role to play in this fight, if only to deny final victory to the barbarians at the gate.