Wednesday, September 5, 2012

So...we've got a PQ government. What now?

I was going to start this post off with a caveat, maintaining that I am not a "political" person, and so this politically oriented post might just end up being a bucket full of ridiculous.  But I really am beginning to think that we are all political people, in that we have hopes and desires, a vision of how we want our country, our province, our town to look like, be like.  The fact is, I am a small picture person, and understanding politics seems to require the ability to see the broader view.  So, when an election is coming up, I read a few articles, consult a few knowledgable people, think about it for a bit and then, when it is time, vote.

And then I, like all of Quebec last night, wait.  For the results.  Across the province last night, there were the sights and sounds of election night. Facebook and Twitter lit up like the first of July.  The air rang out with cheers, jeers, moans, praise, curses...and then, tragically, gun fire. 

Election campains are full of the big picture rhetoric.  Long range plans, big ideas and promises, visions of the future that require years of work to achieve.  Last night's gunshots brought it all down to earth.  A gunman showed up at the Metropolis Theatre where Pauline Marois was giving a victory speech, and shot two men, one fatally.  Forget issues.  Forget promises, or threats depending on your particular point of view.  This is about people.  People who make choices.  People who can deeply affect the world around them.  And when it comes to the question, "what now?" the tragic events of last night make the answer very clear.

Now, we make a choice.  Now, we choose to be what we want for our province, whether or not the new government agrees.  I don't mean anarchy.  We all know those pithy little sayings that are so popular with the Facebook/Twitter crowd.  The "I'm just glad I got to wake up to a new day/Just keep smiling" kind of stuff that gets posted in amidst the raunchy rap lyrics and whiney hate messages about the latest person who looked at the poster the wrong way at the Gap.  While most of these messages make my skin crawl, there are some that are surprisingly valid.  Like, be the change that you want to see in the world.  Or you may not be able to change the world, but you can make a difference in one person's world.

Many people are deeply concerned about some of Marois' policies, in that they seem racist, xenophobic, exclusionistic.  What can we do about this?  Maybe there are political things that can be done. I'll let the big picture people deal with that.  What can I do?  I can be as open and welcoming as possible.  I can choose to celebrate the diversity of our province, to be interested in the different experiences and ideas of people from other countries and traditions.  If others are denied the right to display their religious symbols in public, I can join them by leaving my cross at home, allowing my faith and the love behind the cross to be alive and burning in my heart rather than in a trinket I wear around my neck.  I can speak words of peace, of hope, of inclusion, of love into the world around me.  And, I can choose to love others, including those who would have Quebec separate from my beloved Canada. 

This is not a time for hate.  Words of hate may not be as loud as last night's gunshots were.  They may not pierce flesh and blood, or drain life from another human being.  But they wound, and devastate, and grow. And they can kill.  Hate reproduces at a terrifying rate.  It is up to us to shut it down, in us.

And that's the tough part.  It is so much easier when our government  sets the stage for peace, harmony and comfort.  Oh, that someone else would do it for us. Or at least pretend to do it.  Policies to fight racism and bullying.  Policies to help newcomers to feel included.  Policies to make everything okay again.

And when the government doesn't provide all of this?  It comes down to us.  And yes, it is harder to pour love on our PQ governed world when we have lost the election.  It's so much easier when the government leads the way, isn't it?

But if it doesn't, then we must.  If our worst fears are true, (and really, many of them may not be, especially with Marois only having a minority government) we will have to stand up and be what we want our world to look like.  Which means, we need to hold off on the weeping and wailing for a bit, and start reaching out.  Yes, even to "THEM". 

Oh, it won't be comfortable.  I remember being introduced to a practicing Muslim, and it was only once I had extended my hand for a customary Canadian handshake greeting and felt his hand, warm and limp in mine, that I remembered that his faith does not allow him to have physical contact with women other than his family.  It was awkward, I felt like an idiot, he was gracious, we never mentioned it and when we parted, I hugged his wife and waved at him and life goes on.  We live and we learn. 

Where does it start? For me, it starts with my faith, with a God that loves everyone completely.  We do not have a portion of His love.  Each one of us has His love in it's entirety.  It is a love that is big enough to relax in.  A love that banishes fear. A love that makes room for others. 

It is a love that is telling me, this morning, "Alright Child, take a deep breath,, just go and be."

Sounds like a plan.

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