Friday, February 3, 2017

The Power That Resides Within All Of Us

We live a world where far too many decisions are heavily influenced, if not determined, by economic considerations. The cost of everything, and the value of nothing, seems to be today's ruling ethos, to the point where we regularly seem to be little more than cogs in a giant mercantile wheel. That can be a source of despair, but it can also be an opportunity for all of us to rediscover both our true power and our essential values.

I recently wrote about my personal decision to boycott travel to the U.S. for at least the next four years. In this update, I provide links and brief summaries of those who have made the same choice; I will end with a letter in today's Star that echoes the same theme.

In a commentary, Mark Bulgutch, a former senior executive producer of CBC News, offers his thankfulness at being born a Canadian, and cherishes the life Canada has given him the opportunity to pursue.
But now the United States has decided to shut everyone out if they were unlucky enough to be born in one of seven countries, which happen to have mostly Muslim populations.

That is a policy we can’t ignore.

There are a lot of things we can’t control in our lives ... But no one tells us where to spend our vacation. And no one forces us to cross the border to buy a sweater or a TV set.

So let’s not do it. There’s no need to start a campaign. Just make a personal decision to avoid the United States whenever you can as long as the cruelty persists.

It’s not a terrible sacrifice. Wait four years. We can hope the Trump presidency will then be over. The Grand Canyon will still be there. The Golden Gate Bridge. Mount Rushmore. Disney World. They’ll all be there. And with any luck, the Statue of Liberty will still be there too.
Sheryl Nadler is another Canadian who has come to a similar conclusion. She talks about trips she and her girlfriends have regularly made to nearby Buffalo, a venue that offers them opportunities for shopping and nurturing their friendships:
...this weekend we made the call. Our next girls' weekend will be in Canada. And while I get that it's pointless to try to boycott the U.S. or to punish businesses of Americans who do not support Trump policies, that government's recent ban on immigrants and travellers from predominantly Muslim countries is abhorrent. The rolling back of women's reproductive rights, and the wall with Mexico are unthinkable. And the Trump administration's refusal to acknowledge the murder of six million Jews in its statement on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, essentially aligning itself with Holocaust deniers everywhere, is pretty much what I've been taught to fear my whole life.
Well-known Canadian author Linwood Barclay is making a similar choice, going so far as to cancel the U.S. part of his book tour, even though that may have negative consequences for sales.

The chaos caused by Trump's Muslim ban was a turning point for Barclay:
At this moment, entering Trump’s America feels akin to patronizing a golf course that excludes blacks, a health club that refuses membership to Jews.

I struggled most of the weekend with what to do. I spent a lot of time talking it over with my wife as we watched the news. I have never cancelled an event before. I had made a commitment to people. I had made promises.
For the writer, the other deciding factor was the mosque murders in Montreal which may have been influenced by the exclusionary policies favoured by Trump. as well the firebombings and vandalism of American mosques.
So I pulled out of the Arizona book events and went on Twitter to say that at least while the travel ban is in effect, I will be foregoing U.S. events and invitations.
It is not just individuals who are making the same call.
More than 4,000 university professors, administrators and researchers have signed a petition to boycott international academic conferences in the U.S. to show solidarity with Muslim colleagues affected by U.S. President Donald Trump’s travel ban.

“The reality is these international conferences are large money generators. They are important economic drivers. We don’t want to give the economic support to the U.S. in this situation.”
And finally, there is this letter from David Wentzell, of Milton, responding to a recent column by Heather Mallick:
Re: You must decide if you are a Sally or a Sean, Feb.1

The more than 4,000 educators who have committed to boycott conferences in the U.S. have demonstrated that they are “Sallys” and not “Seans.” As Mallick exhorts, we must all, individually, make this decision. In what we hope is a “Sally” statement, my wife and I have committed to eliminate all discretionary travel to the U.S. during the Trump presidency.

I encourage your readers to take the next four years to discover the glories of Canada, instead of Florida, Arizona and California, or the other 47 states. As a modest encouragement, your paper could eliminate coverage and promotion of U.S. destinations from the Travel section. Mallick wonders if Canada can “obstruct America’s dark path without paying a price.” A U.S. travel boycott is a way for individual Canadians to do just that.
There are other ways to convey one's opposition to the repressive regime to the south. I will try to look at them soon.


  1. If they shut the door, Lorne, why knock on it?

  2. .. bravo .. your explanation is quite intriguing .. At the same time .. I suggested to the estimable Mound.. to update that passport.. and for sure if he has interests in Washington State etc.. or Oregon. Our families back some generations went back and forth for work or home to North Dakota - Manitoba as well as Seattle - Vancouver & Montana - Alberta .. so it gets personal.. any obstruction at those borders or Toronto - New York.. Right now I don't care except that my fiancées sister, husband and kids can do what my forbearers did often as a daily routine.. hell you could walk across a grain field or just follow the train tracks.. So right now that's all I care about.. don't have any urge or need for my presence in the US of A .. my interests are near tropical reef walk in snorkelling & documentary photos above & below...coral reef

    But how do folks keep from letting the American nation become just a distant receding abstract? (I know that's what habit I fall into) .. I dunno.. will have to think that one over ..

    1. Your observations are well-taken, Salamander. And as I said at the end of the post, there are other actions that one can take in lieu of a travel ban that carry with them an economic sting, such as refusing to patronize stores that carry Trump products. An extensive list can be found here:

  3. Hi Lorne...Good post. Not spending our money in the U.S. is a very good idea. And it's so important to communicate to people in this perilous time, that they are not helpless. If we allow Trump to bully us, he could do this country enormous damage...

    1. Hi Simon. Glad you liked the post. In these times, I think each of us has to find our own way to make our voices heard, whether it is a travel boycott, a shopping boycott of Trump products, etc.