Saturday, 24 October 2015

The Crow Reflects

So it’s over. The election hype that filled our newspapers, Facebook posts, and conversations – it’s all over but the shouting, as the cliche goes.  There may still be a lot of noise, but we know without doubt who won and who lost.

The Crow felt a wave of relief. She could back to tucking her head under her wing and keeping quiet.

And yes, there’s been noise. The newspapers are dissecting what happened, and my Facebook page features commentary, analysis, blog posts, and cartoons. Even some complaints and rants. When we get together with friends, the talk is still mostly about the election.

“I guess I’ll have to learn to talk Liberal,” said a friend a little morosely (his party lost).

The Crow raised her head. Hmmm. That doesn’t sound right, she thought. So here’s one last post about the election (Maybe!)

Really, politics is not all about left vs. right, liberal vs. conservative, East coast vs. west coast,  pro-this vs. anti-that, or any of the differences of conviction that guide us when we make choices.

Quote attributed to Butler Schaffer.
Politics is about the things that are important to all of us in life: freedom of expression and belief, justice, work, family, health, money, about how to create a community and a society where people are able to live and work together for the common good.

The thing is, though, we all have different opinions about what’s most important in that list, and how to go about achieving it. That’s when we begin shouting at each other, thinking we can convince the other of our rightness. That ain’t gonna happen! Research has shown many times that trying to convince someone to change their deeply held convictions is more likely to deepen the convictions then to effect a conversion.

Do we really believe that it will ever be possible to speak in one voice? To be unified and move forward under the banner of Total and Utter Agreement? That ain’t gonna happen! Even when all people passionately share a goal – for instance, declaring independence as the USA did in 1776 – they often have different ideas of what that goal means. So of the 55 delegates who gathered in 1787 to create the Constitution by which their land would be governed, only 39 signed it. Almost 30% were so strongly opposed they couldn’t go along with those who did sign.

There will always be tension. There will always be differing opinions and convictions. In a country that takes such pride in its cultural mosaic, there are many “others” and “thems” – those people who are different from us. That makes for an uncomfortable life. Wouldn’t it be nicer if we all shared the same political and cultural beliefs? Wouldn’t our neighbourhoods, our schools, our churches and other institutions be safer if we all thought the same? But common sense tells me that ain’t gonna happen, either.

Nor would it be good. We need each other. Each voice has something to offer, and if we listen hard enough, we will appreciate the gifts we all bring to the table. We are like a sweater that is knit together, each stitch looped into the one ahead of it and behind it, embedded in the row above and the row below. To drop stitches makes the sweater unwearable. It will unravel in the end.*

What has the crow learned from all this? Less squawking, more listening. Less division, more community. What we have in common is bigger and more important than the things that set us apart. Democracy depends on all of us.

It's like 13th Century poet Hafiz wrote:
Of a great need
We are all holding hands 
And climbing,
Not loving is a letting go.
The terrain around here
Far to dangerous 

(from The Gift: Poems of Hafiz, translated by Daniel Ladinsky.) 
Let’s figure out how to live respectfully and work with each other. If Trudeau and Harper can do it, so can we.

*The image of the sweater is from the play Grace and Glorie by Tom Ziegler. Thanks to friends who shared the story with me. What would we do without our friends for inspiration and insights?

1 comment:

  1. Weii I am glad it's over. Now I am wondering if all the promises will be kept!!!.