A Big Day Tomorrow

by Rosemary Gray-Snelgrove

Tomorrow, May 2nd, is a portentous day. 

Close to home, a good friend will have major surgery to remove cancer tumours.  Same day, both Dave’s Dad at 88 years, and a dear friend aged 87, undergo their driving-license renewal tests.  A negative outcome in any of these, particular the surgery of course, will mean a big change in expectations for the persons involved.  Independence, freedom of movement, the scale of what can be planned for, are only part of what may be lost. 

For we who watch, and feel, we must learn ways to deal with the disappointments and blows that our loved ones suffer.   Can we be both supportive and not crushed by other’s struggles?

Communal ‘Hits’ including Elections

And then there are the events that have an impact on more than our personal circle – the large events that touch many many people.

Following  the wind-storms that blew through southern Ontario, there are now dozens of huge old trees uprooted, felled and gone from the canopy that gives us all shade and oxygen.   Very sad and bad for all of us.  The fight of the people around Orangeville to forestall the blasting into the earth of a massively deep quarry, to below water table level, when the impacts on the ecology of the whole region hasn’t been widely-enough studied: this keeps happening in the struggle to balance both what our society demands in  consumption and production (apparently aggregate has all kinds of uses) and the long-term impacts on life.  The awful disasters south of the border and overseas affect us in ways we don’t articulate.  These are shared losses on a huge scale that appear to not touch us directly but that must weigh on our spirits as well as on our hopes for greater peace and comfort for all.  Heavy happenings.

Of wide communal significance coming tomorrow is the big whammy – a national election in a country that seems fractured and frustrated but also ready to take small or big leaps into changing something.  Could be that more than 60% will actually vote!  Enough of these might be younger people who have different hang-ups than the rest of us.  And some are ready to vote differently from how they have ever done, because it’s not enough anymore to say, “I’ve always voted XYZ – matter of loyalty”.  But maybe I’ll decide to be loyal to fresh impulses and calls. 

What will tomorrow bring?

Political Loss and Danger – a Personal Perspective on the Communal Event

[Anyone who dislikes RANTS should skip the next three paragraphs.]

Seems to me a majority Tory government means death to much of what has been best about this country.  I do have a tendency toward the dramatic.  Maybe there are Tory virtues I just never noticed.  I know that life catches me by surprise again and again.  But then I think of Mike Harris and I’ll be darned if I can see anything of that era that felt positive.  (Oh, as well as dramatic, my partisanship is notable).   But absolutely dire is how I read the follow-through of a Harper majority. 

Trying not to exaggerate (Harper isn’t Hitler – more blinkered than racist, though seems to hate the races of Poor and  Thoughtful) but what was it like for liberal Germans and Austrians as they watched events unfold in the thirties, toward securing the status quo of the governing classes by policing and the military, with fear of the Other, the Outsider, fostered by those who could benefit by divisions between classes and races?

At this time, 2011, building huge jails and mandatory sentencing has, for me, the terrible echo of the fascist state in which reason and flexibility give way to hard and fast ideological rule, much of it happening out of public sight.  When the long-form census was scrapped, I experienced that as a significant shutting down of the flow of information.   Statistics Canada, working from census data, provides us with multiple snapshots of what is happening in reality, on the ground, among people in the real world.  Keeps us all in the loop of what’s going on in the country.  Without any significant reason (except that a few complainants found it intrusive) that’s been taken from us. 

Okay.  Growing up during WWII I had anti-fascist sensibilities drummed into my psyche.  Taught to be on the lookout for contempt for democratic process and watchful toward people who disrespect others (“The Canadian people don’t care about what goes on in Parliament.  They care about their finances”).  My parents are turning in their graves at the tendencies set in motion already and what is promised if the supreme ideologue Harper (with advisors like Harris and his troupe) get to run things the way they want.

How Do We Support Each Other in the Event of Large Political Meltdown?

To return to the notion that, for people who feel strongly connected to others, we have all to find ways to both be helpful, and to protect ourselves from being debilitated by the sorrows and mis-steps of the world around us, what is the way toward balance. 

Is it possible to both be involved and attached in a loving orientation (an I-Thou relationship) with the world and also retain the necessary perspective to celebrate existence and reality?  We do each have to find the means. If the election goes the ‘wrong’ way, lots of us have to find our way to grace.

A guideline for me has been the Taoist verse (with the “World” as that which is around us, and the “Way” as the path through the world to what is eternal).

Verse 48, Tao Te Ching

The World is gained by daily increment.

The Way is gained by daily loss,

Loss upon loss until

At last comes rest.

Another translation says:

The follower of knowledge learns as much as he can every day;

The follower of the Way forgets as much as he can every day.

Please let me in on ways that you find your way between turmoil and peace, negativity and rest – your comments matter!

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1 Comment

Filed under Rosemary's entries, Uncategorized

One response to “A Big Day Tomorrow

  1. Hamish Robertson

    I’m surprised nobody responded to this…. Mebbe we were all too shell-shocked after the election and the loss of Ignatieff. It seemed incredible to me: the Libs ran a very good campaign, Iggy seemed to be looking good, Harper’s lot were stumbling on from one disaster to the next, and then bam: they’re gone and Harper has managed – by doing nothing – to split the left and hold on to power. Aided by the complete collapse of the PQ. And I feel responsible: we came to Canada at the end of Thatcher’s reign, just in time for Mike Harris: now we have unrestrained Harper, doing his best to turn Canada into a clone of our dear gun-totin’ neighbour to the South. (Bye bye the long gun registry, by the way). I’m sure these people are following me…

    I doubt that the Libs would have made much of a dent in the whole complex of problems we and the world face – nuclear proliferation, exponential population growth, global warming, energy policy and our unsustainable lifestyle, to name but a few – but at least they would not have made it much worse, whereas I fear Harper’s lot will, mostly by enabling our crazy next-door neigbour.

    Ah well. Button down the hatches and hang on for five more years….

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