Fear and Hope
Lest We Forget
Yesterday was Remembrance Day in Canada. The day on which we gather as a nation to remember those who served and fought to defend our way of life. It is the day we remind ourselves of the tragedy of war and say we will never let it happen again.
Except that it does happen again. Conflict is a regular feature of human existence and sometimes those conflicts break out into armed warfare.
I am not a religious person in any way. That said, Remembrance Day is my holy day. I studied history in university and quite a bit of those studies focused on war. I also grew up hearing stories from my grandparents. My grandfather served in the British Merchant Marine during the Second World War and survived the sinking of four of the ships he served on. My grandmother, her parents and sisters lived in London during the blitz and they survived the daily bombings of the city, including one bomb that fell on the church at the end of their street. I remember stories about life in the city during the blitz.
Resistance and Bagpipes
On Remembrance Day I think about those who served in the military. I also increasingly think about military families and civilians affect by war. I also think about those willing to put their lives on the line for something they believe in. They are not always the same as the people who serve in the military. They are the people who stood up as resistance fighters against the Nazis in occupied Europe. They are the people who resisted the communists behind the Iron Curtain and those who resist Vladimir Putin today. They are the people who rose up against governments in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. And they are the people who stand against the vicious government in Syria. They are also the people who fight for freedom and what is right by using their positions to protect those with those with less power than themselves.
So today I was thinking about all these people as I sat in the gym watching the Remembrance Day assembly at my kids’ school – and crying at the little boy playing the bagpipes on his own after his class finished their presentation. Bagpipes were for a time banned by the English who saw them a tool of resistance for the Scots. I am a sucker for pipers and the emotion of the past week caught up with me.
I was also thinking about Donald Trump.
Like many people – I am afraid of what he may do as president. More so, I am afraid of what his supporters will do.
I am not an American. I do not live in the United States and even if I did, the fact that I am a straight, white male would likely protect me from many of his more aggressive supporters.
We are hearing daily reports about violence and mostly racist abuse and attacks by those unleashed by Trump’s rhetoric. I haven’t encountered any reports of Trump-fuelled sexual violence, but with Mike Pence at his side, we can be sure that women’s health services and reproductive rights will be under assault. So far Trump’s America sounds like it is set to be a meaner, more violent place, particularly for those who are not straight, white men.
Today’s Remembrance Day ceremonies gave me hope and a sense of resolve. The world has faced men of Trump’s ilk before and survived. The forces of fear and hate can be pushed back and beaten.
Today as I thought about the civilians and resistance fighters from military conflicts, I also thought about those in America who are afraid for their safety in Trump’s America. I thought about those who will resist him and his attempts to mould the United States in his image. The resistance is already emerging in the form of street protests. Their challenge will be to figure out how to resist Trump and his supports in as peaceful a way as possible.
Fascists Get Elected
Donald Trump was democratically elected by a coalition of racists, sexists, xenophobes and many others who chose to turn a blind eye to the threat that this con man poses to their country. Some of them are people who feel left behind and think they need a ‘strongman’ in power to protect them and make their lives better.
That is how Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini and Vladimir Putin came to power.
Safety Pins and Resistance
I am a Canadian living in Canada. I will not bear the brunt of Trump’s vision for America. I do however need to resist him and those who support him. I need to resist to protect my country, my community, my friends and family. I am not quite sure how to do that just yet.
There is a movement underway in which people who are allies of those who feel most afraid and powerless, are wearing a safety pin as a symbol that they are safe. So as a start I will cover my clothes in safety pins and tell everyone what they mean. I will carry spare ones in my pocket so that I can pass them out to others who want to join the resistance and demonstrate their support for those who are afraid and at risk.
A Family Project
My partner and I will also start a conversation with our kids about what is happening and come up with ideas on what we can do as a family to resist. We can reach out to immigrant-serving organizations and become a mentor to a family new to Canada. We can invite them to dinner and help them navigate their new home. We can be a safe space to help them when they need it. We can talk to our kids about bullies and the need to stand up to them, especially if they are spreading hate. I’m not sure exactly what, but I know we can do better to support and raise up those with less privilege than us. I will encourage and support women who seek elected office. We can push back against hateful rhetoric and abuse. We can speak out against those who seek to take away liberties and propagate racist, sexist, hateful ideas and ideologies. We can and must do better.How can I help those who resist Trump and who fear for their own safety?Click To Tweet
How Can I Help?
I know that Americans will survive a Trump regime. It is possible that he won’t be as bad as he promised and as he has demonstrated in his life to this point. I am not particularly hopeful. We are here to support you, America. If any of you feel the need to flee to safety north of the border, drop me a line and I will help if I can. I am already helping one couple who are considering making the move. If you just need some respite, come and see us for a vacation, you can crash amongst the playroom toys and I’ll tell you about my favourite words that are properly spelled with a ‘u’. I will do my part to resist hate here in Canada and support those who are afraid, in danger and need help.
I am open to all suggestions about how we can help and resist. How will you step up?