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Thursday, May 5, 2011

After the Election, what now?

Canada is behaving like the annoying little sister of the United States, following in their footsteps, tagging along, even when the example it has set is dangerous and destabilizing. My country, the country that believed in peace, order and good government, the country that was moderate almost to a fault, the country that was happily mocked as boring, is now about to change.

My country will spend its collective money and energy integrating with the United States, working towards their visions. We will build prisons and criminalize more people, and hire their "experts" to help us. We will do this even as this policy is now questioned by the same people who have exported it to us. We will buy helicopters and more from the US military industrial complex. We will privatize our health care and dismantle a system that, although flawed, is still the envy of much of the world. We will cut taxes, even as we watch the US deficit spiral out of control. We will make corporations more profitable, even as we observe the growing gap between the rich and the poor and the disastrous impact this has on social cohesion. We will tear the fabric of our tolerant society with a war on abortion and join their culture war. We will bring religion and superstition into our secular society, deny science and create an echo chamber of misguided opinions presented as fact.

It is not going to be a good four years. But, what some are calling our Bush years will come to an end, just as theirs have and the tag-along sister will follow suit a few years later, I expect.

As for the movement I am most closely aligned with, the reproductive rights movement, I have had a recurring image over the last few days about my work. I am like a mother who wants the best for her child. I save money for an education, I shelter and feed and clothe her. I do my best to nurture and to guide. I want her life to be easier than mine was; I want her to have more than I had. But sometimes the child goes its own way. They get in with a bad crowd. They quit school, take the college money and blow it on crack, they live in a hovel. They imprison themselves with bad choices. They choose a path I recognize as impossibly hard and infinitely damaging. Yet, I have no control over that. As I weep for them, I realize I have no choice but to sit back, watch it happen, and be available and forgiving when and if that child returns.

When you return to us, we will be here. We will not say "I told you so," no matter how much we want to. We will invite you to rebuild y/our rights with us. We will tell you how we did it "back in the day," how we won the rights you tossed aside even while we know these methods won't work for you anymore. We will be there to give you a framework, a new/old vision. We will help you again when you are ready.

And while you are dismantling the rights we hold dear, we will look at you with deep sorrow and search our hearts for the seeds of forgiveness. We will keep talking to those who helped us create this world you are casting aside. We will seek solace in each other, in each other's visions and dreams of a better world, a world where we strive to build justice, a world in which we recognize our individual well-being depends on the collective well-being, a world in which we recognize equality is not sameness, but fairness. And we will send out occasional missives to you, reminding you there is another way. We will try and find allies among you. We will connect with our base, restock our shelves, realign our efforts. And we will be ready to rebuild.

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