Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Fight Must Continue

Because I am quite a private person, I rarely discuss anything personal on my blog. But I will, to a small extent, break that general rule today to convey something I have come to understand.

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.

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.
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.

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.

10 comments:

  1. The barbarians aren't at the gate. They've been tearing up the place the last 36 years. Politicians let down the gates for a percentage.

    Trump ain't no different. But he will provide the catalyst for change. (Bush Jr. made for a perfect Herbert Hoover. But he wasn't good enough for all these neoliberals. So now we get Trump.)

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    1. I don't really dispute your assessment here, Anon, but I like to think that while they may have breached the gates, they haven't won total control as long as there are still people who oppose them.

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  2. When they get inside our heads, Lorne and Kirby, they win. The place where the battle begins is inside our heads.

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  3. Sharing this analysis with you if you have not seen it:

    " ... Trump’s election was enabled by the neoliberal policies of the Clintons and Obama that overlooked the plight of our most vulnerable citizens. The progressive populism of Bernie Sanders nearly toppled the establishment of the Democratic party but Clinton and Obama came to the rescue to preserve the status quo."

    And this: "The age of Obama was the last gasp of neoliberalism. Despite some progressive words and symbolic gestures, Obama chose to ignore Wall Street crimes, reject bailouts for homeowners, oversee growing inequality and facilitate war crimes like US drones killing innocent civilians abroad."

    Thus Trump's election was really no surprise when seen from this perspective. Hillary and Obama are what the author called "wedded to the reign of Bog Money", and "meretricious polticians".

    While Trump understandably frightens and reviles people, Hillary would have been more of the same failed neoliberal policies with a very dangerous warmongering neocon foreign policy. She would have been death by a thousand cuts if she did not kill us first with a nuclear war with Russia or China or both (Johm Pilger, Eric Margolis, and others think she is more dangerous to the world than Trump). Trump could either turn out better than expected (unlikely) or, more likely, would bring death but it would at least be with a big bang. Have I cheered you up? Lol.

    Cornel West, the author, was a very strong supporter of Bernie who likely left the Dem. and Bernie a very disappointed man. He joined the Green Party when Bernie decided to endorse Hillary instead of running as a third party candidate.

    Here is the link: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/nov/17/american-neoliberalism-cornel-west-2016-election

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    1. Thanks for those comments and the link, Anon. One can only worry that with Americans rejecting, quite rightly, the failed status quo, they have not gotten something far, far worse.

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  4. We have our own fight to continue here too - Trudeau is approving Kinder Morgan and Line 3. Darn. I am now beginning to suspect this may be part of the reason he may be reneging on electoral reform. As he will be losing seats in BC, he will be unlikely to hold on to his majority, perhaps even manage a minority, in 2019 unless he either continues with FPTP or he implements AV/IRV (mistakenly called "ranked balloting" which presumably would be advantageous to the Liberals). With PR, he would likely only be able to form a government if he forms a coalition with another party when he loses seats in BC and elsewhere because of his broken promise on handling climate change.

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    1. I understand that an announcement is imminent, and the scenario you describe, Anon, is the likely outcome. Your analysis of Trudeau's foot-dragging on electoral reform makes a lot of sense as well. I saw the minister in charge of Democratic Institutions, Maryam Monsef, the other day on CTV's Question Period, and she was evasive on the question of whether there will indeed be any reform, claiming the will of the people is opaque, despite all of the citizen consultations and the parliamentary committee that has been studying it.

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  5. Absolutely, Lorne. We have to work hardest to maintain our own integrity in the face of the upheaval around us and then hopefully others will recognize it's possible to be kind and compassionate in a hate-soaked atmosphere. But it does takes a conscious effort. The more Trump picks monsters for his staff and Trudeau sells out the environment for his oil buddies, the more people I'll look in the eye to smile and greet on the street each day.

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    1. Individual contributions to the overall good, Marie, are now more important than ever; it does take a conscious effort, as you suggest, to overcome the atmosphere of hatred that has been facilitated by the election of Trump. More efforts like those of this man from Texas are needed: http://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/texas/article/Man-stands-against-Islamophobia-as-he-stands-10639045.php

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