I am Canadian.
Or so says my passport.
But I’ve lived away from Canada most of my life. I spent 4 years in Kenya, 6 in Tanzania, 10 years in the United States, and 7 in Canada. I feel Canadian enough… but I regularly have conversations where I realise that I don’t really know what it feels like to grow up here or be “from” here. But I feel like that about all the places I have lived, and I grew to love each of those places in their own way. I have lived in the United States longer than any other single country. Which is probably why I feel so sad about what is going on there.
I won’t say a whole lot about the politics of all this, because people far more eloquent than myself are doing plenty of that. What I will say is that the current president of the United States does not strike me as a decent human being. He seems mean-spirited, vengeful, and erratic. He seems to be driving fear and hatred into the hearts and minds of his supporters and his administration is dividing the US in a way I find deeply disturbing. Before them, liberals and conservatives could vehemently disagree without questioning each others’ belonging to one nation. Now, it really feels to me like America is being forcefully split, and what makes it worse is the destabilising way in which the administration operates.
The Women’s March in Vancouver, like the marches throughout the world, was fuelled by a sense of outrage by the way women, minorities, and other marginalised people have been treated or spoken about by the president and the people surrounding him. But it felt like an extremely loving, open, and inviting event. There were powerful speeches, there was music, there was marching, and even a bit of chanting. There was certainly anger against the administration on display, but it was also a very welcoming atmosphere. In fact, it seemed like every other placard and banner had the word “Love” on it. Even the speeches about the terrible ways in which Canada treats its indigenous people were focused on doing better, rather than fighting each other. They spoke about the need to protect and respect indigenous women, in a society that has placed them at the bottom of the social ladder. They spoke about how men need to talk to and encourage each other to do better in the way we treat women and marginalised people.
To me this was a striking contrast to the tone that the White House administration uses when discussing the hurt felt by people in the US. That tone is usually a hateful one, directed at a vague enemy, that could be interpreted to encompass far too many people.
I hope that sentiment of welcoming, acceptance, love, and sharing of experiences is the direction our world goes in, but with the United States going in the opposite direction, it’s hard to see that happening at the moment. I guess that’s why we, as citizens of the world, have to push for that world if we want to see it exist someday! Stay hopeful. Stay loving. Remember to listen. Remember to take action in the ways that work for you.
Quick note on the photos… they were all taken with the Nikon 50mm 1.4D with Ilford HP5 film in a Nikon F90 body.