Here’s my question: On October 20th, will Canada be any different than it was on October 19th?
Will Canada be more compassionate if Tom Mulcair is Prime Minister?
Will Canada be more embracing with Justin Trudeau at the helm?
Will Canada be more united with Stephen Harper in charge?
The problem with these questions is that none of them actually reflect the reality and complexity of people. You see, the narrative the media has bombarded us with is that PM Harper and the PC party have stoked the flames of racism and xenophobia. It’s a sensational story that many (including myself) have believed. But, if we looked deeper and talked with people who support the banning of niqabs, we’d discover that to many of them it’s about the unfairness of allowing a certain demographic to not play by the rules that everyone else is playing by. To them it’s an issue of fairness. It’s not about racism or fear, but about the equality that Canada stands for. Isn’t that what we all want Canada to be about? Of course, I am not ignoring the reality that there are people motivated by hate and ignorance.
But, can I tell you what doesn’t help us move forward towards fairness in this country? It’s the reductionist, caricaturing, demeaning, and vilifying rhetoric that we scream at one another. We’ve become blind to our own narrow-mindedness that we so easily accuse others of. We use veiled insults and propaganda as a way to get our message across in hopes that people will change their minds. Has that ever worked on you? If anything, it makes us dig our feet in the ground deeper and retaliate with greater vengeance. I know this because I’m guilty of all of the above. What would happen if we accepted that our political allegiances do not define us as humans? I know PC supporters who are intelligent, progressive, embracing, and fierce advocates for social justice. I know NDP supporters who are wealthy, fiscally-conservative, entrepreneurial, and heavily involved in their churches. Humans, I’ve discovered, are beautifully complicated and contradictory.
Regardless of who is in power after October 19th, we, as individuals, will wake up with the same values, prejudices, attitudes, character, and intellect we went to sleep with. In other words, we won’t wake up any different because of who is running our country. I wish there was an option on the ballot box where I could vote myself into becoming a better human because that’s a campaign I can fully support.
What is a ‘better human’ you might ask? Different religions and philosophies offer a variety of answers to this question. To me, I see it exemplified in my wife. She was born here in Canada. Her ancestry is Scottish, Irish, and English. When I told her about what I had experienced at the polling station and sent her an early draft of my post she said to me, “I feel upset at that man and was running scenarios of what I would say to him. I want you to know that I am proud of who you are and part of that is your soft brown skin! I know I can’t relate but your hurt is mine as well. Your post provoked me to educate myself on these issues so that in situations like this I can say something to challenge an ignorant thought, respectfully of course!”
I want to believe that there are millions of other humans like her in Canada. In fact, I know there are. You’re probably one of them. It’s just that it’s difficult to remember that amidst the pile of toxic memes, articles, and videos that saturate our Facebook walls and Twitter feeds.
So yes, let’s vote with conviction and passion, but let’s not assume that our role in shaping this nation ends at the moment we mark an “X”on that ballot. (As if things were really that easy!) We have a million interactions ahead of us with people of all genders, religions, and cultures to live out and embody the Canada we want before the next election comes around. Even if we can’t all agree on what that Canada is, for now, at the very least, we can agree that we all want a Canada that possesses a 2015 Major League Baseball Championship-winning team.