Archive for the ‘United States’ Category

Dear America #canpoli needs a chat
June 12, 2018

We are neighbours.  And sometimes neighbours disagree.

And that’s okay.  Really it is. Normalement (as we say in French – which more of us speak that you might like to think). But these are not normal times. 

For the most part, neighbourly disagreements are of little consequence. They’re basically an invitation to improve a relationship. Your music is too loud is code for please invite us to your next party.  Your fence is on my property line is really code for why can’t we spend more time together than apart. 

Except for lately. You crossed a line. And that’s saying a lot for two countries that share the world’s longest undefended border. Like, as in, there is no line but you crossed it anyway. 

So, a couple things I’d like you, as neighbours, to keep in mind as we work our way through this major clusterfuck.

First – facts matter. We have a trade deficit with you. Not the other way round.

Second – reciprocity is key to human life. We are hard-wired to give and take and take and give. If you have fire and I have water. You can keep me warm, or I can douse the flames. We’re both safer because of each other’s willingness to share. 

Third, the US was colonized by puritans who sought exclusivity. Canada was colonized by extras. People who could not be put to work or properly fed, sent away on ships to seek a new life where food and work was plentiful. So, pity us for our misfortune but know that our appreciation for one another runs deep. We are not polite or kind by accident. We are polite and kind as a matter of survival, practice and scarcity. And if you don’t mind me saying, we are damn good at it. 

I’m careful to say colonized because that’s what we did. And our Indigenous Peoples suffer greatly and deeply to this day because of it. But that is for another post. 

Fourth – we put our money where our mouthes are. We fought along side you in WW1 and WW2 and Korea (I hope some of you see the irony of Trump’s early departure from the G7 in Canada to Singapore for a summit with North Korea). 

Fifth – remember Iran. Which ended Carter’s presidency and led to Reagan. That was not our goal. We got them home safe. That was the only goal. Or, if you’re not sure, watch Argo. 

Sixth – if you’re too young to remember Iran. Remember 911. And Gander. And see Come from Away on your bright lights of Broadway.  

Seventh – don’t even get me started on the Underground Railroad.

And eighth – we didn’t burn down the White House. That was decades before we were even a county, fyi.  

And there are 36 million (our population) reasons to make this relationship work and by all accounts, there are a 1/2 dozen of you who, as bizarre and yet undetermined circumstances would have it, are above their station, beyond their skill set and beneath their purpose who don’t share this view. 

And you are better than them. At least that’s what I want to believe. Because we are neighbours. And neighbourhoods are measured by their ability to include, to care, to show concern and to understand that universal kindness is our greatest ability to improve the lives of others never mind our own. And there is no tax regime, no tarriff, no rhetoric, no trade agreement, no TV pundits, no twitter hashtag that will ever supersede that. 

But grabbing a cup of coffee and having a proper chat over the fence might help. I’ll buy you a coffee at Dunkin’ Donuts if you buy me one at Tim Horton’s. And we’ll put this behind us. Because it matters. And it needs doing. The global neighbourhood is watching and they are counting on us. And if we don’t, I know that you know that no good will come of this.

Love,

Us, eh?

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Wear the Ruby Slippers
November 15, 2016

Trump’s victory was an emotional Kansas-sized tornado for me.

You see, as a Canadian, I really and truly believed the United States was ready to elect a female President.

I even teased my kids on the morning of the election that they wouldn’t have to do their chores until the US had a woman in charge.

Well that didn’t go so well.

It was the death of a dream for me and for countless other women around the world. Such were the feelings that ravaged my soul in the days following; the five stages of my grief.

First, denial. It couldn’t be. Something was missing. Had all the votes been counted? What about the West Coast. Why wasn’t that enough? I will never watch television news again. That was just Tuesday night.

Then anger. How could it be? Such vile intolerance had been on display. How could any electorate endorse that with a win? I will never go to the United States again ever. That was Tuesday night too.

Then sadness. On Wednesday morning I ventured out to do my radio show on Voice of the Shuswap with my friend Tracey. Our topic, as it happened, was The Art of Reflection. And reflected we did. Subdued but reflective. I came home straight away and wallowed in the sadness for awhile. I cried while watching Hillary give her concession speech, especially when she apologized to all the little girls who believed in her.

By Thursday morning, I was ready to bargain. After the President Elect met with Obama I actually considered letting it all go. If Obama could be that classy, why couldn’t I? But there are things that were said during that election campaign that will only ever be taken back with some sincere apologies and some drastic reversals of proposed policy.

Friday was Remembrance Day. So I was back to sadness yet again for so much more than any election. So many lives have been given to achieve peace. How could such hate overcome those sacrifices.

So I did what I often do when I need redemption. I cooked. There is so much satisfaction in taking simple ingredients and creating something for those whom I love so much. I cooked potatoes and pork and pumpkin pie and brownies and pizza. You get the idea. And just as I waited for the final batch of cinnamon buns to finish baking on Saturday night, I started watching the Wizard of Oz on television.

As I watched Dorothy, the lion, the scarecrow and the tin man, suddenly, acceptance came within view like “skies of blue on a cloudy day”. Maybe Trump is like the wizard. Just a guy, behind a curtain, who intimidates with loud words and big flames to keep those who are afraid, fearful.

And Dorothy knew that fear but she overcame it at every turn with courage (it’s what makes a King of a slave says the Lion.), and kindness.

Somewhere over the rainbow, lives the next Dorothy. We’ll have to wait awhile yet to meet her.

But in the meantime, don’t let the flying monkeys scare you. Peek behind those curtains every chance you get. And, in the absence of ruby slippers, wear red shoes.

Make. America. Great. Again. #fouremptywords
July 6, 2016

I feel as if I know why people like Trump. He tells it like we want to hear it. Let’s just Make America Great Again. Simple, right?

He does not, however, tell it like it is. Not great. Not a four word sentence. Not even a five word one. It took me six words to even say that. See the dilemma?
 
We want to believe there is an easy solution. Nope (one word). Not so much (three words). Nada (four letters for our delightful Mexican friends who might find themselves behind a wall they have to pay for). 
 
We are slaves to convenience. There, I said it in five words which will not fit on a baseball cap or win a Presidential election. Even if it’s true. We want to believe that someone, anyone, can wave some sort of mythical wand and Make America Great Again. There are big (I would say significant but that wouldn’t poll well) things wrong with that four word statement. 
 
Make – The United States hasn’t made much of anything these last few decades. Tax legislation passed during the Bush administrations made it much easier to produce goods in countries with cheaper labour. And while this has has led to a middle class in countries most of us have never visited, it has decimated a talented pool of communities who didn’t see it coming and were unnecessarily blinded sided by the shift. There is no shortage of talent in the US. There might have been a shortage of the understanding of those consequences. Queue Detroit. A memo might have helped. Even a plan. Just saying.
 
America – Believe it or not, for most of the world, both North and South America are “America”. Just like we refer to Spain and France and Italy (and until recently, the UK) as Europe. I cannot handle Europeans thinking of Canadians as Americans but that says more about my point of view than their perspective. The United States might be the most populated part of “America” but it’s not the only or the biggest part. Of course, that’s wouldn’t fit on a baseball cap either. 
 
Great – Ok – what does great even mean? Good? Better? Best? You know what is great? Products. A concert, a dinner out, a movie, a cup of coffee, an ice cream cone, eighties music. Countries are not great. They are complex systems made up of millions of people. They are not products. They are not hotel stays or casino visits or even mattresses but Trump lives in that world. He wants to make a country into a thing, a product with a marketing manager and a market share. But the United States is not a product. It’s a collective of people, some of whom are awesome and can send a space craft into orbit on freakin’ Jupiter while others shoot school kids with assault riffles. Harsh, but true. Not great. Just excessively complex and in great need of thoughtful and forward looking leadership.
 
Again – That word, again, is a huge assumption. Again, as in when? Recently? Obama might not be remembered as the best President in recent times by his own country but history will be kinder – just as it was to others – because he is kind and did amazing things despite great odds. So let’s go back to what again might mean – Bush, Reagan, Nixon – you have 43 from which to choose. I’d like clarification on that. But I won’t get it. Because I am not that “American”. I don’t buy that the US is a product for sale to the highest bidder.
And I want my friends to know, if you could vote or would vote for Trump, the price of that convenience is a null and void warranty. He is not running to Make America Great Again, he is running to Make Trump Great Again. That would fit on a baseball cap but it wouldn’t win him the White House. I’ll give him this – he’s clever and manipulative – but please don’t give him 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue or it’s more than baseball caps we’ll need. Much much more.