Before I blog about what has gone wrong in the world recently and where we should, as citizens of the world, go from here…before I get angry and vent my activism…I need to close out this horrible week with some reflection. Then I can put this behind me and move forward.
On the heels of what could be the most depressing election I have ever witnessed, Canada lost one of it’s greatest voices. Leonard Cohen was more than a songwriter – he was a poet, a visionary and an artist in the truest sense. He was the one that so many turned to in our darkest hours, swept away by poignant lyrics and haunting music that made you close your eyes while the music wrapped around you. But even this hour was too dark for him and so a mere three weeks after putting out his last album, he told his son that he was done and could die now…and left us.
It’s strange watching events unfolding from Canada – from Brexit to the American election. We just threw off our Conservative government after eight long years…and even our Tories now look positively moderate by comparison. If there was ever doubt that we are nothing more than evolved apes, looking around the world right now it’s pretty apparent. I remember a time when people actually cared about each other. Is it just me or over the last couple of decades or so…has the world become increasingly mean and cruel? When exactly did we stop being one people and start only caring about what we could get at the expense of another?
There was a time when the goal of everyone was to be educated. For some, that meant going to a really good school. But now, with “safe spaces” and “trigger warnings”, young adults aren’t even able to fully express themselves. How do you learn to coexist with others, to truly learn what you and others believe if even Halloween costumes are regulated? For others, being educated meant learning for yourself. Getting out into the real world – working, taking part-time classes, reading – but when wages are so incredibly depressed and the wealthy are only concerned with how much more they can make off the backs of the working poor, who can manage to better themselves?
I have always held to the values I learned growing up in Tommy Douglas’ Canada. A society is judged by how it treats its most vulnerable members. That as fellow humans, those who have plenty, have a moral responsibility to help those who are struggling because only by sharing the load, can we all stand up together. That when you see someone fall, you reach out and help them. When I was growing up, we tried to lead by example. We had our envied healthcare system, our social safety net and on the world stage we were peace keepers. Wherever you traveled in the world with a Canadian flag displayed, you pretty much always got a smile.
Our star does not shine quite so brightly as it once did, although things may be changing for the better with our new government. Only time will tell. I would like to think that we still hold Tommy’s values at our cores but what I have seen from some of my fellow Canadians during the American election season makes me realize how fluid our border really is. I am scared for my neighbours and friends but I am even more scared of what this means for the future; not only for my country but for the world. We share one tiny planet in the vast universe, and we rise and we fall together.