But The Difference Doesn’t Always Ensure a Refuge …

… from violence and hatred. Even here!

Six people worshipping at a mosque near Quebec City were killed last night, and several others were injured; five are hospitalized.

We don’t yet know about motive, weapons, or how any weapon/s were obtained. Two suspects have been arrested. [Note: As of 01-31-17, that has been reduced to one suspect. The other person turned out, instead, to be a witness to the shooting and has been released. The remaining man, 27-year-old Alexandre Bissonnette, remains in custody.]

CBC news continues with updates here.

Is It Cowardly For Americans To Move To Canada?

“Now that he’s been elected, it’s time for me to seriously consider making the big move or not. Part of me wants to stay and see what I can do to help fight the good fight, the other part of me wants to get out of Dodge.” (American Kerry O’Shea, who also holds an Irish passport, quoted in Irish Central, November 12, 2016)

As the daughter of an Irish immigrant to the US, Kerry O’Shea has the option of moving to the Irish Republic. Though she has no intention of migrating to Canada, her dilemma resonates with many Americans who are considering a move to their Northern neighbour but feel uncertain, conflicted, and quite possibly guilty.

Uncertain, conflicted, and guilty … in this mental state, it’s next to impossible to actually make and execute the plans that enable a citizen of one nation to become a legal resident (and potentially a citizen) of another. It’s a complicated process, as I’ve noted in some previous posts, and you must have your wits about you.

To complicate things, pundits, commentators, and politicians typically attack or ridicule those Americans who express an interest in leaving. The left wing is as dismissive as the right – perhaps more so. Note this exchange between MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow and Senator Elizabeth Warren:

 

When Rachel Maddow brings up the “moving to Canada option” (within the first minute of the interview), Warren shakes her head firmly and begins to  scold: “No.”

Maddow sets her up further: “You can’t move to Canada, can’t move into your shell, you have to fight back, but how?” The disapproval of the Canadian option by these two women is palpable. A few minutes later, Warren returns to the subject: “You can lie down, you can whimper, you can pull up into a ball, you can decide to move to Canada, or you can stand your ground and you can fight back!”

Fight, fight, fight, say these famous, prosperous, middle-aged women, both with good jobs with benefits and great health care plans, with book deals and paid speeches around the corner if the good jobs turn out to be not as secure as expected.

Of course Rachel Maddow and Elizabeth Warren don’t consider leaving the good ol’ US of A! But do they have to look down on others who do, people perhaps just starting out in life? Or on others, older and more established, but who come upon the famous “Two roads diverg[ing] in a yellow wood” and consider following the one that “was grassy and wanted wear.” (A nod to Robert Frost here.)

At this point, it appears that the left has bought into American exceptionalism almost as much as has the right. If the USA is and always has been, since its inception, “The Greatest Country On Earth,” the free-est, strongest, and best-est, then how can any American justify choosing another place to live?

The prospect that a significant number of its citizens might leave – not just for a visit, not just to explore new opportunities for a time, but to put down roots – shakes the American identity to its core. So anyone even thinking about it must be cautioned, even ridiculed. (“How could you possibly think such a thing, you whimpering, shell-living, lying-down-in-a-ball coward!” say these two tough ladies of the left.)

During the campaign, the immigrant origins of most Americans were cited with admiration by anti-Trump commentators when discussing his alarming nativist values. Yet for present-day Americans to actually become immigrants is somehow a step too far.

But, to me, it appears to be an obvious lesson from history. If it was good enough for Great-Grandmaw, it was good enough for me!

And for those who DO want to fight, there’s a lot to fight for here in Canada – things like gun control, reproductive rights, gender rights, universal health care – programs and values which already exist but which must be protected, kept current, and improved upon.

There is also the fight against climate change, an issue which is far from settled here (but which is, at least, generally acknowledged to exist). Canada always needs good fighters and committed citizens.

In the US, it appears that so many things are slipping backwards. But here in Canada, a person might be successful in her or his own lifetime by fighting for these things. Hardly a place for cowards.

There is, of course, a need for Americans to work at home to change things. It’s a perfect goal for those who can’t conceive of starting new somewhere else. Home is home just where it is – and always will be.

But why discourage those open to a new start? This rapidly changing world need both kinds of people, those who stay and hold things together and those who go and discover what else is out there, who take “the road less traveled by.”

If that’s not a lesson from our common human past, we wanderers out of Africa, I don’t know what is.

 

The Trump Man Cometh

He’ll be inaugurated an hour after I begin this piece. I am on a Trumpian-inspired retreat, in the best suite of an off-season hotel in the resort community of Grand Bend, Ontario. There’s an indoor pool across the parking lot and a jacuzzi in the room and a complementary bottle of wine, much of which I consumed last night.

I’ve come to write, to read, to enjoy nature (weather permitting), and to NOT watch Trump’s inauguration or read or hear anything about it.

If I stayed at my mother’s house in Michigan (where I’ve been holed up much of this winter) I know the television/s would be on all day, and I would get sucked into the web that he began to spin in June of 2015 and is just about to complete.

So there!

Already, I’ve had a lapse. The wireless connection on my laptop wasn’t working for some reason, and I turned my cell phone back on and went on-line. I more or less had to check a newspaper to make sure that the connection was working and that the phone’s browser wasn’t displaying a cached website.

I went to The Guardian and there was the Donald with his current wife (and soon-to-be First Lady) on the front page. He had his usual goofy grin and she looked actually happy for a change – not inscrutably, Slavicly distant (as though the mountains of Slovenia are permanently in her thoughts), but happy. A lot of people are, but not nearly as many as are usually happy on this date every four years.

I’m not.

I originally thought of going to Washington today and taking part in the Women’s March tomorrow. It somehow seemed right … I marched around the White House back in 1969 while Richard Nixon watched a football game and kept bombing Southeast Asia. This would be a “bookend” sort of march, proof that I still had it in me.

But when I first looked into the demonstration soon after the election in November, there weren’t many specific plans. I thought about how I’d get there, where I’d stay, and what I’d do if my injured knee flared up again (which it did). I pictured limping around a strange city in the cold with no place to stay. The picture wasn’t appealing so I came up with a new plan. This one.

In the interim, the planning for the Women’s March has proceeded and buses have been organized, along with “sister” demonstrations occurring around the country and even in Canada. But I still have a bum knee and it’s still cold(ish – hasn’t been much of a winter at all, but still nasty).

Lolling around a hotel room, swimming, soaking, and drinking wine isn’t much of a protest (actually sounds like fun!). But that is is only how I’m spending this particular weekend. I have more up my sleeve.

I’ve gotten some inspiration (as have many others) from the following article by Charles Blow in the New York Times.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/05/opinion/the-anti-inauguration.html?_r=0

I’ve also found this one in the Atlantic helpful (despite its denigration of my own “move to Canada solution”):

http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2016/11/how-to-cope-with-post-election-stress/507296/

But you can’t just read yourself into a better political environment in North America (and the world); so, following the advice in both of these pieces, I’ve decided to find a specific cause to support in hopes it will not only survive the Trump-man but even flourish.

For me, I’ve decided it will be reproductive rights for women. It’s not (now) under serious attack in Canada; but if we aren’t vigilant, it will be. And, in any case, I don’t find what Trump and his minions have in store for American women to be just or honourable, and I want to do what I can to stop it.

Plus, another response to the Trump Man and what he stands for: I’m going to write in this blog as much as I can!