I have been reminding myself to write a blog post for more than a week, now. We just spent a fascinating week in Mexico’s southern-most state of Chiapas with our adoptive Mexican family. We had a wonderful time, visiting small villages struggling to maintain their distinct cultures, museums dedicated to the rich heritage of the region, spectacular landscape. And yet…I am uninspired.
Events north of the border (from my Mexican home…south from my Canadian one) are sucking the passion from anything else. I’m spending far too much time checking news sites and Facebook for what has become sickeningly predictable: yet more signs that the world I’ve lived in for seventy years is on the verge of collapse. I sometimes find myself in tears when I allow myself to contemplate the possible—I dare not think probable—consequences for my children and grandchildren of the unravelling of the civil society which my generation, and theirs, have come to consider the natural order. Not that it’s always seemed so civil, but we’re being treated to a painful lesson in relativity.
Even though I can’t seem to stop myself from reading the news, the truth is I’ve reached a saturation point. I’m rarely learning anything new or surprising anymore. Indeed, the inability to be surprised is symptomatic of the depths to which we have fallen.
It’s rare these days for a personal interaction to conclude without “the conversation”, after which everyone present is enveloped in an aura of despair—proof that I, like most of us, live within my own bubble, insulated from those who are celebrating the arrival of Trump. My Facebook bubble, of course, is filled with stories—credible and less so—designed to raise the blood pressure and tickle the click-finger. I’ve never been much of a clicker, pausing before liking even pictures of my own grandchildren, let alone diatribes by persons unknown. I nod in agreement or shake my head in horror, but I rarely sign petitions or re-post.
As a partial explanation for this reluctance to take a public stance on the current crisis, I am following a long-held conviction that, as a Canadian, I am an interested bystander but not a participant in American politics. Of course, as a citizen of the world (and the country next door), I am a very concerned bystander. It is my world, after all. But it is not my country, and I feel a certain reluctance to jump into the fray across the border. Silly under the circumstances, I suppose, when the underpinnings of democracy itself are at risk.
Lately—perhaps in a frantic search for signs of hope?—I am sensing a subtle shift, both in the press and among my American (and less reticent Canadian) friends, from despair to determination. I am amazed at the resilience of people of my own generation, who are waking up from this nightmare ready to march and protest yet again, and heartened by some evidence that protesters of all ages are developing long-term strategies. If I were there, would I still have it in me? I don’t know. I suppose at least I’d be clicking more.
In this morning’s Globe and Mail, an opinion piece by Denise Balkissoon is urging us—all of us—to resist the temptation to turn inward in a time of crisis. World crisis. It’s time to crawl out of our cocoons, she says.
I won’t be clicking like mad on Facebook; it’s just not my style. And I still don’t think I should be marching on Washington or writing to U.S. senators. But as a citizen of a troubled world, maybe it’s time to pull the blanket off my head and actively look for ways to support those who are marching and writing and strategizing, determined to hold back the tsunami that threatens all of us, borders notwithstanding.
For my children and my grandchildren.