I went to my daughter’s school ceremony for Remembrance Day this year. As I sat there listening to these children recite poems, play music and sing songs, I kept thinking of the recent US election and how it’s apparent to me that we, as humans, insist on relearning our lessons every couple of generations. I am afraid—afraid that we will never learn without the spilling of blood, no matter how much we say we want to.
We wear our poppies “lest we forget”. But we did forget. We forgot how terrible hatred is, how divisive it is. Our parents and grandparents fought against racism and hatred of the “other” yet here we are again, facing the same thing.
The first two days into the President-elect’s time have been filled with an increase in hate crimes, a spilling out of homophobic, racist, and misogynistic graffiti, physical attacks and intimidation.
And what exactly do these public tantrums serve? To anyone who’s lashed out—does it make your life any better to slam a young woman to the ground and rip off her hijab? To those who’ve scrawled racist graffiti on private property—have your job prospects improved by this action? Does yelling “go back home” to someone who was born in the USA, give you anything that you feel your life is lacking? We teach our children to control their emotions, we don’t cave in to our children’s tantrums so they learn to ask politely.
How is it possible that only 48% of American citizens actually voted? I am horrified that my family and my friends in the USA and Canada have to live with this president for four years because people couldn’t be bothered to vote. I know some people were turned away at the polls but half of all registered voters?
So what is the solution here? Personally, I want to turn back the clock to early October and insist that everyone I know in the USA gets out and votes. I can’t just blindly say “let’s give him a chance”. I’ll be okay, I’m white and Canadian. But my friends and family aren’t all safe. What I’m afraid of is them being caught up in this, wounded physically or emotionally by hatred because they are “other”. How does their “otherness” hurt Trump supporters? Being lesbian doesn’t damage hetero relationships. Being PoC doesn’t take away jobs. Being an immigrant/refugee doesn’t mean it’s harder for other Americans to get medical care.
I think—I pray—that this is a pendulum swing back to the past before it swings forward again into the future that Gene Rodenberry envisioned, a future that is diverse and equitable for all.
The last performance at this morning’s ceremony was my daughter’s choir singing “Put a Little Love in Your Heart.” If we want the world to be a better place, we need to start showing love to all of us, not just those who are exactly like us.
Yes, we need to remember. But it's not enough to remember the past.
If we don't change our behaviour based on what we've learned--we're only paying lip service to the sacrifice our soldiers have made.